Friday, October 28, 2005

Who's that in that Picture

I received an email today in a mailing list I subscribe to talking about riya. It is a service that automatically identifies who is in pictures on your hard drive. It also appears to do some text recognition of words in pictures. This would be so cool, especially with family history photos. Imagine identifying who you know then having the program find them in other family history pictures that aren't labeled, or pictures held by other relatives.

There are two things I would worry about with it 1) keeping my information private. Yes I have information about myself posted on blogs, websites, and other internet venues, but I am careful to be vague about my location. The problem comes in with photos. Suppose I appear in someone else's photos. They don't know who I am. This program, because a friend identifies me by name, identifies me. Potentially a stalker could track me down that way. 2) keeping my children's info private. Someone else who isn't as picky, posts pictures of their kids with my kid identified (say from a school party). Now other pictures where my child appears would be identified perhaps with enough surroundings to identify where my child goes to school.

Now granted, these are only issues assuming someone is willing to spend a lot of time looking for my child in specific, but there are people who deal with issues like that.

I would feel OK using this service if I could control who could see the people I have identified. I wouldn't have a problem releasing pictures of people long dead and for family history I think that would be cool. I think I'll sign up and see if my security concerns are addressed.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cold Remedies

In honor of my first major cold of autumn, here is my dad's nose drop recipe. This is a super-powered version of the saline spray you get at the drug store. It works great to stop a runny nose. My mother and father both swear that if you start with the drops several times a day as soon as you notice symptoms, the cold will be a lot milder and a lot shorter. Another remedy here.

Nose drops:
1/2 c boiled water
1/8 tsp. salt
2 drops regular chlorine bleach (not the super concentrated kind or the scented kind, just regular old bleach)

mix ingredients together and put into saline nosedrop bottle you can get from the store. Solution will smell like a swimming pool.

  • To get the top off the saline drop bottle, I use needle nose pliers, rock the dropper part back and forth, and pull really hard.
  • optimally, each member of the family should have their own bottle, don't share!
  • To use, tilt your head back and put drops down each side of your nose. Try and get the solution into all four sinuses. Some will run down your throat, this is normal.
  • If your head hurts worse after using these, you might want to use it again. What happens is the gunk in your sinuses gets loosened and moves around. Using it again will help wash it out.
  • Right before bed, put drops in twice. Put in the drops, blow your nose, and wait 5 minutes. Then put the drops in again and let them sit there as long as you can. (This is really good for stopping the flow of gunk long enough to fall asleep.) I like to put vicks on my nose after the second set of nose drops, it helps keep me breathing well for most of the night.
  • Warning: I am not a doctor. Consult with your doctor. Be careful with bleach, it stains and only use a little bit because bleach can be a poison. Just use common sense.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Baby's 12 days of Christmas ... Work in Progress

(to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas)

On the first day of Christmas my baby gave to me a slimy baby binky.
On the second day of Christmas my baby gave to me 2 spit-up spots,
On the third day of Christmas my baby gave to me 3 sleepless nights,
On the fourth day of Christmas my baby gave to me 4 blown out diapers,
On the fifth day of Christmas my baby gave to me 5 far flung fries
On the sixth day of Christmas my baby gave to me 6 shattering shrieks,
On the seventh day of Christmas my baby gave to me 7 smashed up O's,
On the eight day of Christmas my baby gave to me 8 dripping bottles,
On the ninth day of Christmas my baby gave to me 9 dirty socks,
On the tenth day of Christmas my baby gave to me 10 toes to tickle,
On the eleventh day of Christmas my baby gave to me 11 minutes to myself,

On the twelfth day of Christmas my baby gave to me 12 toothless grins ... oh come here, you're so're Mommy's little angel.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Are you related to Calvin Coolidge?

My husband and I went to the Brigham Young University Computer Alumni Association Dinner last week. Dr. Sederberg (one of my favorite professors) gave a talk about some of the cool family history projects he had worked on.

One project allows you to print out a pedigree chart on a 3'X4' piece of paper. This is cool because on a normal chart, for each individual you need 2 spaces for his or her parents. This means very quickly the chart gets huge. But most people have a lot of ancestral lines that end fairly quickly and only a few that go back really far, so the program uses the space from the lines that end sooner to fit lines that go longer. (I'm not sure if that made sense, here's an example). They'll print it out for you too for $20.

The other project allows you to see if you are related to famous historical people. I found out I'm distantly related to Calvin Coolidge, FDR, William Taft (my GGM is his 6 cousin 3 times removed, who knew?) , Brigham Young, Dr. Livingston (I presume), and my husband is fairly closely related to the President of BYU (Hubby's FMMFF = Pres. Samuelson's FMMF) To use it you need an AFN number for your ancestors. You can get by finding your ancestors on . (I had to use my great-grandparents because my grandparents, parents, and I are still living, so I couldn't find the AFN number.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What PDA / Handheld should I buy for reading ebooks?

Well, like anything else, it depends on what you want. My primary purpose in buying a PDA was to read ebooks, so I wanted good screen resolution, good battery life, a memory card slot, and low price. If this is you, I'd suggest the Sony Clie SJ-20 or the Dell Axim x30 312 mhz and wifi.

Things to Consider:
  1. What operating system do you want? Palm OS or Windows Mobile. If you are going with Windows Mobile, I'd go with Windows Mobile 2003 SE or newer. If you are used to Windows on your laptop or desktop machine, Palm OS takes a little getting used to, but isn't too bad.
  2. Do you want to use your PDA for anything besides reading ebooks? I use mine to check my email and read ebooks. Some people want to play games or use it as an organizer. I used my clie to keep packing lists and shopping lists.
  3. Do you really need a color screen? Color screens drain the battery faster. If you are mostly reading, black and white is just fine.
  4. Do you want Wifi /802.11? Wifi / 802.11 allows your PDA or handheld to communicate wirelessly with email and the internet (assuming you have a wireless router). I use wifi to check my email around the house (no need to boot up the desktop) and to check my RSS feeds. Be aware many websites are not Pocket PC friendly. You can view them on a Pocket PC, but it isn't fun. Some PDAs advertise wireless, but they are actually talking about bluetooth (see below).
  5. Do you want Bluetooth? I have yet to see a need for bluetooth, but some people might want it to connect a wireless keyboard or their cell phone.
  6. What kind of ebooks do you want to read? If you want to read recent releases, check the specifications for the software you want to use and make sure it will run on the PDA you want to buy. The sj20 might be too old and not have enough memory, it depends. I mostly read books in the public domain, so I use Plucker on the Clie and Vade Meecum on the Axim mostly because they are free and open source. Plucker will convert webpages or text files into something the PDA can read. If you want to read the Scriptures, there are additional choices.

The Sony Clie SJ-20

  • My choice if you don't need wifi
  • Runs Palm OS
  • Has a black and white screen
  • Pros: great battery life (I recharged once a week), great screen resolution, plenty of free programs
  • Cons: must use graffiti to enter text, can only support the original Memory Stick and only supports up to 32M additional memory (don't quote me on that, check the manual), Screen is easily scratched
  • Many reviews note that the screen is easily cracked, but this seems to happen in the first 6 months or so. If you buy a used one older than that, it probably won't crack.
  • Cost: $60 - $100 used (on ebay)

Dell Axim x30 (312 mhz and Wifi)

  • My choice if you want Wifi
  • Runs Windows Mobile 2003 SE
  • Has a color screen
  • Check and double check the ebay add to make sure it has WiFi.
  • Pros: battery life (I recharge overnight, you can get away with less if you don't use WiFi much), good screen, WiFi, Bluetooth, MP3 Player,
  • Cons: stylus is lousy, battery life
  • Cost: $200 - $250 used on ebay.
  • Remember: the faster the processor, the faster it will eat your battery

Accessories you will need/want:
  1. Carrying case. It will protect your PDA if you drop it.
  2. Screen protector (I've scratched my screen several times on both PDAs before I wised up)
  3. Memory card (some PDAs have limits on how big a card they can accept, so check the manual) . The internal memory fills up fast. I have a 64 Meg card for my Axim which is enough for me to store about 20 pictures of my kids, my (limited) MP3 collection, and about 35 ebooks.
A Note on Prices and Ebay
As with anything, be careful when buying. Watch the eBay auctions for awhile so you can tell what price is fair. Read the auction carefully to make sure you are getting all the manuals, CDs, and wires you need. Also, the prices on used PDAs may appear to be the same as new. This is sometimes true. In that case, buy the new. In other cases, the used PDA is coming with a case, memory card, and screen protectors and is a better deal since you don't have to buy these items yourself.

Don't take my word for anything, research this out yourself :) I like and for researching. Good luck.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Umm... You realize we can't sing Happy Birthday

In this NY Times article (registration required) it talks about how hard it is to make a legal documentary. One example from the article, your cell phone rings with a ring tone from a popular band. Is it legal to use it in the film? Iffy. The lable owns the copyright and to get permission can cost a lot of money (like $5000 for 6 seconds of a song). Or you want to include a clip from a movie (costs money again, anything after Mickey Mouse's Steam Boat Willie is still under copyright courtesy of Disney). Or you want to include scenes from a birthday party (happy birthday is still under copyright).

The whole extended copyright thing bugs me. Basically, anything copyrighted is copyrighted forever. This creates orphan works, works no one can use because the copyright owner is unknown.

Do I think copyrights and patents are bad? No. It is fair that when someone puts work into something, they should see the benefits from it. But it shouldn't last more than 20 years past the life of the inventor/author.

Buffalo Pal

In this article from the NY Times critics are complaining about a buffalo hunt to take place in Montana. In short:
  1. Buffalo live in Yellow Stone, but, as the song implies, "where the buffalo roam", they don't stay put. Also, Yellow Stone can only support so many buffalo before there isn't enough food.
  2. Buffalo carry a diseas that cattle can catch. Montana could loose it's disease-free status if there is a chance of contagion.
  3. To control the buffalo population, Montana is allowing a hunt and trying to make the hunt fair.
  4. These buffalo aren't afraid of people, thus a hunt isn't really a hunt because the buffalo won't hide (where would something like that hide anyway) and won't run away.
Stupid question, but how are they going to learn to avoid people if they aren't hunted?

Having a one ton wild animal that isn't afraid of people seems to be asking for trouble. (Although, it isn't as big a problem as a preditor that isn't afraid of people.) Unless the buffalos' fear leads them to charge unsuspecting tourists, I don't see why there is an issue with making the hunt fair. As far as I can tell, the hunters aren't going to leave rotting carcases about; they are going to eat their kill. Why is this any more of an issue than buying a buffalo steak at the supermarket? I don't know what an alternate would be other than having game wardens shoot the buffalo humanely (and then have a barbeque).

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Bean there...

So I was worried about what to do with my pinto beans that are still on the plants. I've just left them outside to mature. They seem to be doing OK so far. Some of the plants are starting to die their natural deaths and their beans are yellowing. Hurray!

Updated (11/15/05): About 3 weeks ago I pulled off all the beans. (Most of the beans were at least yellow at this point.) Then I let them dry in a paper bag then shelled them. I don't have much hope that they will be any good as seed, but they look like normal beans. In the next few weeks I plan to eat them, so I'll find out how they taste.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Moon with flash

Moon with flash
Originally uploaded by rcstanley.

This is a picture my husband took with the flash accidentially on. I think it looks really cool.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Review: Costa Vida restaurant

Name: Costa Vida
Location: 1621 N. State St., Orem, UT
Phone: (801) 226-8432
Type of restaurant: big burrito
Rating: 4 stars (out of 4)
Cost: around $6.50 a plate, smothered burritos extra
Review: My husband and I have been looking for a good big burrito restaurant since the Durrangos on 800 N closed. Costa Vida seems to fit the bill. The restaurant has this cool wall of water and is sort of beach themed.

I had 2 sweet pork enchiladas with mild tomatillo sauce. My husband had a burrito with sweet pork and the hot sauce. Both were excellent. I think pricewise, the big burritos are the best deal. The tomatillo sauce was good (although not as good as the stuff I make). The sauce my husband ordered went really well with the sweet pork. For our kids, we paid $.99 for a quesadilla, be warned it is only one tortilla folded over with cheese. They helped us eat the burritos and enchiladas, too. Portion-wise, I ate about 2 bites too many.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Frosted Beans

Fall has descended once again and my pinto beans still aren't mature (I planted them late). Here in Utah we've been having frosts. The question I've been researching is, should I leave them on the plant to finish maturing or harvest them and dry them inside?

For soybeans, (from umn extension)
Frost at the R6 growth stage and earlier, assuming that the plants did not completely freeze at this time, will result in a yield reduction and damaged beans with greenish color and wrinkled seed coats. Protein content should not be affected by frost; however oil content will generally be reduced if frost occurs before R6 (full seed). Fields should not be harvested until pods have a mature color, even if a killing frost occurred when the pods were green or yellow. Studies have shown that beans on frost-damaged plants will mature and change color at least as early and perhaps earlier than undamaged soybeans, however, the frosted, dead leaves will remain on the plant, and some beans may retain their green color.
This seems to imply it is better to leave the immature beans out on the plants until they turn yellow. I have some hope for my plants because, while the gourd and corn got nipped, the beans appear to be untouched by the frost.

I also want to know if there is any chance that the seed from the frost damaged beans will grow next year if I plant it, or if I should just eat them all.

Update here.