Phonebook Fail: One of these things is trash, the other is a public service

Phonebook Fail: One of these things is trash, the other is a public service

One of these items is a piece of trash that was discarded into my front yard. The other is a public service. Which one is which?

Fun With Wood: How to be a "woodworker" and make furniture without wasting time

When I was a kid I spent a fair amount of time with my mom, dad, and papa working on various projects. We would build things from bare wood up to something fun (go kart! fort!) or practical (furniture!). But I would never consider myself to be a "woodworker" or really good with wood. Wood is fun - the tools and techniques for handling it are fairly cheap and easy - but it is also really tough to do "well." So, here are my secrets to having fun and making decent wood projects, in an environmentally friendly way. I've listed the secrets as part of narration of a little counter that I built for an empty spot in our kitchen. Our stove left an 11 inch gap going to the wall. Given that we lacked counter space, gaining that 11 inches of extra space became a welcome improvement to cooking happiness.

1. Start with Scrap Wood

It's not just good for the environment, it's good for your bank account and your creativity. Start with scrap wood!

These are leftover pieces of wood selected from among the rotten pieces we tore down when we replaced our fence. We're giving life to something that would be trash. It also gives a fun feeling to the end result: weathered and full of character from the first minute. If you don't have your own scrap wood, go to a construction site and scrounge from their dumpster. They'll be happy to let you do that because it's less waste for them to pay to haul off. Other great sources include your local dumpster, the alley, fence replacement projects(!), any business that deals in large goods delivered in crates, wooden sign companies (they have to take them down too...).

Dealing with scrap wood also helps with secret number two.

2. Measure twice, cut once, but only if necessary

Summer Concerts in Colorado 2009

Following on from my post last summer about Concerts in Colorado here's a few summer concerts I plan to attend and a new service.

Punch Brothers at Living Room in New York

My Summer Concerts in Colorado

I just saw the Highland Ramblers at Dulcineas which was passable, but not great. I have big hopes for this band, but the venue choices are not awesome. Where is Denver's intimate theater setting for quality music? These guys need it.

I'll be going to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival this year. I'm nervous. It should be awesome, but I imagine I won't sleep nearly enough. Oh well. After that my only plans are seeing Punch Brothers at Chautaqua Auditorium which should be epic because we're in the front row and the Chautaqua has really solid sound.

After that, Leo Kottke in Breckenridge in August should be pretty fun. I plan to head up early, maybe go mountain biking, see the show, and spend the night up there. Should be a solid time.

Finding Concerts Near You

I started using two new services: Bands In Town and Songkick which both have "add an artist" feature and you set your location and then they alert you when those artists come to your town. Great feature, but I wish that they also alerted me when artists like the ones I like come to my town. Seems like a perfect opportunity for Pandora integration...but it doesn't seem to work well for either of them.

Anyone else have summer concerts

Is Adobe Air the New Java? Bringing bloated and slow cross-platform capabilities to the web-age

Is Adobe Air the New Java?  Bringing bloated and slow cross-platform capabilities to the web-age

This image shows the memory usage (resident and virtual) for a variety of applications on my machine.

  • Firefox sits at the top (it's been open for a few days with thousands of tabs opened/closed each day)
  • In position 2 and 3 are Mac Operating System processes like the kernal and the WindowServer.
  • Eclipse (Java based, fairly complex application with 3 PHP Projects with several megabytes of code are all "Open").
  • TweetDeck - posts content to a webservice. Gets content from a webservice. Consumes a shit-ton of memory. Written as an Adobe Air application.
  • Safari (native Mac application that I use only lightly)
  • OpenOffice.org! Really! Less memory hungry than these other applications
  • Thunderbird - Based on the same code as Firefox...I use it for 7 e-mail accounts, and yet it's not all that memory hungry apparently...

I also used Twhirl for a while - it had memory usage similar to Tweetdeck. Which brings me to my conclusion:

Java is famous for being a slow/bloated (you can argue that's not true, but it is famous for it). Now that Java is old news and AIR/Silverlight/Prism are the new HOT - Is Adobe AIR going to be the next cross-platform bloated/slow language that we grudgingly use?

Touring Breweries in Fort Collins

We went up to Fort Collins this weekend and had a great time. Here are some tips to make your trip up there even better:

1. get tickets to New Belgium early

We started the day with lunch at coopersmiths. Good food, good beer. Not bad. Unfortunately, we should have started the day around 11:30 at New Belgium getting tickets for the afternoon tours. Then we could have gone to lunch and then O'Dells and finished at New Belgium.

As it was, we took the "self-guided" tour of New Belgium, which was great, but not as good as a full tour.

2. O'Dells Suprises: Environment and English Style Ales

O'Dells is a bit of a "yeah, they're OK" beer in my mind. They changed that with the tour. First, they mentioned their commitment to the environment and "being a good neighbor" in whatever ways possible. I loved that and love that they do it in an understated way. They were also really pragmatic about it - New Belgium is going for national presence...national presence means lots of shipping...shipping is bad for the environment. Wha? The O'Dells folks also pointed out "we use skylights as much as possible - sure we've got wind power for the electricity we do use, but it is better to not use the electricity in the first place." Right on.

They also explained that they make English Style Ales! Now that explains it. They've always been a bit too malty and not quite spicey enough for my liking - this explains it! I'm more of a Belgian/American ale drinker...and in the context of English Style Ales, I'll say O'Dell's was pretty good. Well done, guys.

Frankly, I've never really loved O'Dells

Sara Gallegos - Silly Ditties for Kiddies from a Denver Teacher

CD Cover for silly ditties for kiddies

This past weekend I spent a bit of time helping a good friend set up a new site: Silly Ditties For Kiddies.

Sara Gallegos - Teacher, Musician, Entreprenuer

Sara and I worked together almost 10 years ago. While the jobs have long ended, our friendship has remained. She decided to leave the technology consulting field and become a teacher. She also started playing music again (having played flute in high school) and incorporated singing and music into her classroom. She created her own songs to help teach the various concepts in the classroom and it seemed to really help her students learn the concepts.

Silly Ditties for Kiddies - CDs available now

After a few years of using these songs in the classroom and building a big group of well polished songs, Sara sat down with some professional musicians (and friends who aspire to be professional musicians) and recorded the best songs she has for her students. She is now selling them on her website.

About The E-Commerce System: Ubercart and Drupal

Sara and I spent a few hours working together on a weekend morning and built the whole site. We used Ubercart which is built on the Open Source platform Drupal which is the system I use for work. It was really fun to build a simple site like this for a friend when I spend most of my time working on big sites for people far away (not that those aren't fun too...but...variety is nice).

Bike to Work Month (at least for me)

"Officially" bike to work month is in May. That seems like a reasonable time: the weather is pretty warm and it's early enough in the year that any converts will likely keep biking throughout the summer. I'm taking a slightly more hardcore approach. My bike to work month is February. If I can bike to work most days in February I think the rest of the year will be easy! We should also be able to see if this has any impact on our fuel consumption since I started tracking that a month ago. I'll be updating this post with my experiences:

Day Where was the ride? Notes Miles Biked Miles Driven
1 To breakfast at mona's, to Kaladi for some beans, and back. Make sure your wife has some gloves so her fingers don't get cold. 5 6
2 To work and back. Always wear your gloves. Always. Also: need new parking solution at work. 1 0
3 Work, boulder by bus, back so far so good. 4 0
4 work and back 20 degrees today! 1 0
5 work and back 20 degrees today! 1 10
6 work and back 1 0
7 no biking :( 0 5
8 no biking :( Went swimming. 0 1
9 no biking :( Neck pain from swimming! No biking. 0 1
10 no biking :( Neck pain from swimming! No biking. 0 1
11 no biking :( Snowing! No biking. 0 1
12 Work and back! Cold! No excuses. 1 1
13 Work and back! 1 1
14 Weekend stuff... 0 3
15 Weekend stuff... 0 6
16 Was in a rush :( 0 1
17 Work and back! Bug rode too! 1 0
18 Work and boulder and back! Bug rode too! 3 0
19 Was in a rush :( 0 2
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