Recently I’ve seen a bunch of articles on the Firefox extension, Greasemonkey (Slashdot, Wired, misc. blogs) lately and thought I’d join in with my own praise of this really neat tool. I’ve been using GreaseMonkey for a while now, and it is kind of one of those tiny novelty things that just makes life a little bit easier while you’re surfing the web.

Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension that allows you to change how a webpage is laid out in your browser with simple DHTMLgmail delete scripts. It works similar to the CSS model where you can change little things or add little things to a page with and external script. I’ve found a few that I use regularly. One of the most handy is the “delte button for Gmail” script, which does just as it says and adds a delete button to the Gmail interface (why they don’t have one there by default is beyond me). This handy Greasemonkey script is just one of hundreds available to change how the sites you visit are presented. A few more that I have found really helpful are scripts that turn off ads in, and one that turns off the big full-screen ads on ucomics. Another fun one, called Book Burro, will bring up a little price comparison window when you view a book at several online bookseller sites.

If you want to give Greasemonkey a try, it’s really simple to get up and running (you must be running Firefox):

  1. Download and install the Greasemonkey extension.
  2. Restart Firefox
  3. Find some scripts to install – GreaseMonkey User Scripts.
  4. Follow the script link to the javascript code page.
  5. Select “Install User Script” under the Tools menu in Firefox.
  6. Visit the site that the script you just installed is supposed to modify.
  7. Rinse… Repeat!

200th Mobile Photo

As of last Sunday night there are now 200 photos in my Mobile Phone Pics gallery. It all started on October 20th, 2003 at 3:52 PM with a shot of my computer monitors at work taken with my first camera phone . Before you go exploring, be forewarned, it’s really random!

Earbud Replacement Foams

earbudsI was kicking myself last week because I lost one of the foams on my earbuds. So one ear was comfortable and one was uncomfortable while I listened to music. After a little digging, I found some forum posts in an iPod forum listing several places to get replacements. This afternoon I ran out to RadioShack and checked out their selection. For $2.99, you can get a package of four replacement foams that work just as well as the original ones. So if you lose the original spongy things from your earbuds, the RadioShack replacements will definitely do the job.

2005 Webby Award Nominations

Webby AwardsDo you have a computer in front of you with a connection to the ‘net, and some time to kill? Check out this year’s Webby Award Nominations, and vote for your favorites in a large collection of categories.

  • Connections
  • Entertainment
  • Features
  • Living
  • Marketplace
  • Media
  • Services
  • Society

There are some pretty cool sites out there to dig through.

Good Eats

Alton BrownSince I dropped cable a little while back, I’ve been enjoying my new IP-TV, and especially all of the additional channels that I now get. Taking a look at my new viewing habits, out of all those channels, I really didn’t realize how much I missed the Food Network. Back when I lived in Coralville, I had extended basic cable (including Food Network), and I dropped down to basic (a.k.a. almost no real channels but about 20 shopping networks) when I moved to North Liberty last August. Now that I’ve got more channels than I know what to do with, I find myself watching a lot of Food Network: someUnwrapped, and a lot of Alton Brown’s Good Eats.

What is Good Eats you may be asking yourself. Well, it is sort of a cooking show for geeks. I was first turned on to Good Eats after reading an article in Wired Magazine. Since I enjoy cooking, and am a self-proclaimed geek (note: geek does not mean nerd!) it’s no surprise that I enjoy this show. Basically it is similar to any other cooking show in that there is usually a theme or a specific ingredient and they teach you how to make something. Where this show differs is that the show’s host, Alton Brown, not only shows you how to cook something and gives out the typical recipes, but Alton shows the science behind the food and tells you what exactly is happening when you mix something, or cook something. For instance in the “I Pie” episode, Alton has a gigantic model of a slice of Lemon Meringue pie to explain how the meringue sometimes gets yucky and slides around on top of the custard layer.

With Phase 1 of construction well under way, its time that we ponder Phase 2. Now here’s a fact: this device [points to pie] needs to be assembled while that base custard is piping hot. That means we’ve got no choice, but to make phase 2 the meringue. And that’s tricky business because a meringue is really nothing but a foam. And what is a foam after all, but a big collection of bubbles? And what’s a bubble? Its basically a very flimsy little lattice work of proteins, draped with water. Now in the case of meringues we’ve got some advantages. We add sugar to the structure which strengthens it. But things can, and do, go wrong.
[noticing balls of ‘water’ on top of the pie model] Mmm, hmm. Hmpf. Just as I suspected. Beading. This is what happens when sugar-saturated water oozes up to the surface of the meringue and sets in the open air. Probably means we’ve got trouble downstairs too.
[pulls back meringue layer to reveal ‘water’ between the custard and meringue] Oh, yes. Look at that layer of water. Well, let’s just pretend its water. Its a model, okay? This is the same moisture as we had up there. Only since there was no air, it didn’t set into beads. But this is even worse, because it means that the meringue layer and the custard layer will never stay bonded together. Luckily, this can be prevented.

See what I mean… the fun that is the science of cooking. I think you can probably see that Alton is a geek too (he also has a blog).

Good Eats will show even those culinary challenged folks how to create a delicious dish without problems since the recipes are broken down to the very very basics. Well, now you’re probably just itchin’ to make something in the kitchen (ha… that rhymed), but what happens if you don’t get the Food Network? Well, all of the Good Eats Recipes are available on the Food Network site or you can also purchase episodes on DVD. There is also an incredible fan site that includes all the recipes, show scripts, screen grabs, and a special Good Eats Humor section.
Enjoy, and bon appetite!

New Spring/Summer Theme

Summer ThemeWinter has been over for a while now, and yet the winter theme stayed put. I’ve finally found some time to create a spring/summer theme for Techory (and remove the winter theme!) You can change the theme (like always) by clicking on the colored swatches in the upper right hand corner of the page (the one on the end with the flower is the spring/summer theme). Enjoy!

Adobe Buys Macromedia

Macromedia + AdobeAdobe announced today that they will buy Macromedia for $3.4 billion!

I’m very torn about this purchase. I really like Macromedia as a company and the applications that they produce. I also like Adobe’s applications. I just don’t know if I want them coming together. They both have their own areas of expertise and if they start to merge products together it will become a big mess.

Macromedia makes products geared for the web. Dreamweaver is the most popular HTML editor on the market, and is head and tails above anything else out there. Flash pretty much has the web animation market cornered. Fireworks is great for putting together quick easy web graphics. Adobe has in the past attempted to take away Macromedia’s web market with their own tools. ImageReady for web graphics, LiveMotion for web animations, GoLive for HTML publishing. I’ve tried every one of these products and they really just don’t cut it when compared to Macromedia’s offerings. What scares me is that Adobe may attempt to bring in elements of these applications and wreck an already great Macromedia product. I’m also a little worried that Adobe will hurt Macromedia’s website and support. Macromedia site (despite the fact that it is created entirely in Flash) is an incredible resource with help notes and updates going as far back as the software’s original release. There is a great (very active) forum area that is monitored by Macromedia staff. Adobe’s support and website pale in comparison. I really don’t want to see such an incredible resource for Macromedia get gobbled up in Adobe’s poorly executed attempt. Don’t get me wrong, Adobe has some great products of their own, PhotoShop (the industry standard for photo manipulation), Illustrator, Premiere… etc. I wouldn’t want to see any Macromedia stuff going into these applications either.

My (totally uninformed guess) as to what lead to this merger is Adobe got a little scared of Macromedia’s movements into some certain key areas. They have started focusing a lot of attention into mobile delivery of flash content and their new FlashPaper. With the availability of Flash in just about every web browser out there, they could seriously start to hurt Adobe’s Acrobat format (which if you ask me, is big and slow and bloated), which is their big money-maker product. Plus with content delivery to mobile phones growing like is, the flash mobile player could hold a major position in that industry.

This merger will be interesting to watch. I just hope that these two companies together don’t start hurting each other’s products by trying to bring too many things together.

Google Local… Mobile

googleYes, I know two Google posts in a row is a little much… but what can I say, I love Google, and they keep adding new stuff!

Do you use Google from your mobile phone or from your wifi enabled PDA? I know I sure do! Well, now they offer their “Google Local” in a handy small (pda/mobile phone screen) size. So if you need to know where to find the nearest pizza parlor and you know your zip code, it’s as easy as pulling up the new Google Local Mobile on your phone or pda. You can also get driving directions (no mobile maps yet).

After playing around with it a little more, I realized that there is a small map displayed when you do a local search. I couldn’t find a map for the directions, but they do show you little tabs on a map identifying the locations in your search.

Google Adds Satellite Imagery to Maps

satelliteGoogle has taken their already-cool maps/directions tool and added yet another great improvement. They’ve integrated their Keyhole technology to bring satellite images to the maps. So now instead of looking at cartoony maps, you can view locations or directions with actual satellite images.

To view the satellite images, simply enter your address or location into Google Maps, and click the “satellite” link in the upper-right. You still have all the same features that Google Maps offers (searching, dragging the map, zooming) only with satellite images.


Want to destroy your favorite (or least favorite) website with a natural disaster?

  • Meteors
  • Nuke
  • Flood
  • Mars attacks
  • Dinosaurs
  • Fried eggs
  • Spilled coffee
  • Slow burn
  • Worms
  • Mold

These are all options for your destruction!

cFree Wireless Network

cFree Wireless NetworkFor about eight months now, I have been spending a chunk of my free time working with a great group of people on a side project to bring free wireless access (cFree Wireless) to key public areas in what started as the Iowa City area, but has expanded recently to include the entire corridor (Iowa City, Coralville & Cedar Rapids). A little while before I joined group, it was just an idea being tossed around that it would sure be nice to sit out in Iowa City’s Ped Mall and check your e-mail or browse the web. It started to grow from there as we began our search for equipment and service providers and most importantly financial backing. From the beginning we wanted this to be totally free wireless access for the community. The network would be sustained by ad revenues posted on the network sign-in screen. The network would only be for public urban and park areas. We didn’t want this to become your typical coffee shop wireless.

Things started to move once we found an ISP to provide our bandwidth and began talking with some wireless equipment providers. We began mapping out how this whole system would work. Word starting getting around that we were looking into this, and the city of Coralville (right next door to Iowa City) said that they were interested in helping out, so we ended up adding another city to our list. We widened the scope of our project to the two cities and kept plugging away.

Around three or four weeks ago, our group heard from another group in Cedar Rapids (25 miles to the North) that was looking to do the very same thing, but weren’t as far along in the planning stages as we were. We decided that it made sense for our groups to join forces and expand the project to the entire corridor. What came out of this partnership was The cFree Wireless Network, and a new non-profit group from our combined efforts.

This past Monday (March 28th), The cFree Wireless Network held a press conference in Cedar Rapids announcing the partnership and the launch of our new group with the goal of bringing free wireless access to key public spaces in the Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids areas by the end of this summer. Things have been moving very quickly these last few weeks with finding sponsors ( has become our presenting sponsor), getting things organized, and really pounding out the infrastructure for this (what has now become a) fairly sizable project. There has also been a good deal of media coverage this past week as well. All the coverage and information about the project can be found at the cFree Wireless website.

Soon you’ll be able to take your laptop or PDA to any of these three cities and plop down in a park or city area and check your e-mail or surf the web… without wires… and without paying a dime.

Independent Games Festival

Independent Game FestivalThe awards for the Independent Games Festival were announced (a while ago). I knew this was happening sometime in March, but totally forgot to check the site again until yesterday. The Independent Games Festival is an outlet for independent game developers to show their creativity and get some recognition for some really creative games. These aren’t your $10 million budget first-person shooter games. The entries developed for this festival/contest are usually really interesting think-outside-the-box games.

If you’ve got a few hours to kill, I suggest you check out the list of winners. Most of the games listed provide a demo or even a full download-able version of the game.

New Mentos Sours!

While waiting for the flight to Phoenix last Saturday I was looking around the magazine shop/news stand in O’hare Airport in Chicago and discovered a new type of mentos… mentos sours.
They’re actually pretty good. They come in three flavors in a new green striped box. The flavors are sour apple, which doesn’t taste too different to the regular apple, lemon, which is noticeably more sour than the regular lemon, and watermelon which is very good!

I’m not sure if this is just a test market thing, or if these will start to show up in other places as well. Keep your eyes peeled for the new sour mentos!

Firefox 1.02 Released

I’m a little late posting this since I was on vacation, but Firefox 1.02 was released a few days ago. There aren’t a whole lot of changes, mainly security fixes and updates (which are always good to take care of). Here is what’s new according to Mozilla:

Firefox 1.0.2 is a security and stability update that is part of our ongoing program to provide a safe Internet experience for our customers. We recommend that all users upgrade to this latest version.

Get it while it’s still fresh!