Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: The Leonardo

The Leonardo
Location: 209 East 500 South  Salt Lake City, UT 84111-3203

(801) 531-9800
Cost: $12 a person or you can get a family 4 pack for $40.  Kids under 5 are free.

Review:  I've been hearing lots of advertisements for this museum on KSL.  I'm a sucker for museums, so for my birthday, my family and I went.  Parking wasn't too bad, there were metered spots near by and they were free for 2 hours (at least at Christmas time).  The museum was a mixture of art, creativity, and technology. 

On the ground floor was a few large art pieces (one of which scared my two-year-old).  There was also a creation area where we made cardboard puppets for use upstairs in the stop motion animation studio.  I had fun making my puppet.  There was also a cool interactive floor map, but we never got a chance to try it as it was always in use.

Upstairs we tried out the a 3D motion capture room. You moved around in a room and an animated elf copied your motion.  My kids had a blast playing with a green screen.  My four-year-old had fun playing with a touch screen computer that she could use a paint brush on.  We didn't get to try the stop motion exhibit since all were in use.  We didn't get a chance to really explore the artificial limbs exhibit or other things as this museum was not holding my youngest child's attention.

All in all, I liked the museum.  It would be OK for kids four and up, but ideally probably six and up.  My main complaint with it was that we always had to wait.  Most of the exhibits, only one person could use at a time and the exhibits could be used for a long time.  It was not crowded when we went, and we were always waiting.  I look forward to see what else they add.  It's worth a trip, but not if you have young children.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Review: Kindle with Special Offers

I got a Kindle for my birthday, yay.  I've been wanting a dedicated e-book reader.  Right now I am using an ipod touch for reading which has a few disadvantages 1) the screen size is small and I need to use a larger sized font, so there's only a few sentences on the screen 2) my children / husband are always borrowing my ipod.  A Kindle has a much larger screen, and it doesn't play the games my children like.  I wanted to stick with Amazon since I've bought e-books from them in the past, so I have a library of them.  I couldn't decided which Kindle I wanted, so my sister and Mom decided for me :)

I like the Kindle with Special Offers so far.  I don't find the adds annoying.  There's an ad on the screen when it sleeps.  There's a small ad at the bottom of the home menu (similar to a banner ad).  I find the adds unobtrusive.

I like the e-ink display.  I like that I can read it in bright light.  My sister said she thought the letters looked a little fuzzy to her, but they don't to me.  My husband doesn't like the font it uses.  (Yes, he cares about stuff like that.)  You can change font size, but not the font itself.

I've been reading on it pretty heavily in the days I've had it, and my eyes aren't any more tired than with reading a regular print book.  I like the larger screen and can read quite a bit before having to turn the page.  I did make my thumb hurt the first day pushing the next page button, but I think I was just pushing it wrong.

Entering text with the four way button isn't too bad, but if you plan on typing a lot you will definitely want to get a different model.  I've been typing on it a bit because I've been setting it up, but I think after this first week, I won't type much at all other than the occasional book title.  I prefer to browse for new books on a desktop.

Battery life has been pretty good.  I haven't used up the battery yet.  I've had it 5 days and the battery bar is still almost full.  I'm hopeful I'll get a few weeks per charge.  This is much better than my ipod touch that needs to be charged every night.  This also means that if I want to read a paper book or my ipod is more convenient for some reason,  I won't come back to my Kindle and find its battery dead. It will still be ready when I need it.

The size is not as convenient as I had hoped.  It is about the size of a paperback book, but sticking it my coat pocket won't work (if I leave it in its case).  It does fit without the case, but I'd need to make a sleeve for it first.  The ipod touch is much more portable.  Basically, I can take the Kindle where I'd take a book.  It is very thin and light though.

Following links is a little annoying since you have to use the 4 way button to get the link you want, and you have to "click" twice to actually follow the link.  I think in time I'll get the muscle memory to do this, but right now, it's a pain.  If the books you read have many links, I'd suggest you look at the Kindle Touch.

I have put PDFs  and other mobi format books on my Kindle.  I've used both the usb cable and the e-mail method.  Both work fine.  PDFs seem to be a little annoying since your choices seem to be "fit to screen" or big (which doesn't work well when information is in columns).  I'm going to work with it some more and see if I can't find something that works better.

All in all, I like my new Kindle.  I'm glad I have it.

Free LDS resources for Kindle users

I got a Kindle for my birthday. Yay! I can't say I love it yet, but we are definitely in a serious relationship :)

I was looking for free copies of the LDS scriptures, music, and the children's Book of Mormon Stories.  I knew there used to be links in the .mobi format on the old site, so I went and found them.
(Updated 10/21/12):
There are now apps in the kindle store for the standard works, hymns, and children's song book, plus lds tools.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Initial Thoughts: Tracfone Samsung t404g review

I've now spent a couple of days with the Samsung t404g.  I bought it for its slide out keyboard and decent battery life.
  • I love the slide out keyboard.  It is so much easier to enter contact information, calendar events, and text messages.  
  • I like the interface.  It is much more intuitive than my old Motorola phone.  
  • The camera takes OK pictures. 
  • There's a java facebook app that runs on it.  (I don't plan to use it much, too expensive in minutes, but it might come in handy on trips.)
  • It takes a microSDHC card.  I can copy pictures onto and off of the phone
  • You can add your own ring tones (I think).  The file has to be less than 300k though.  (I haven't actually tried this, but the functionality appears to be there.)
  • Battery life appears OK.  I charged it when I got it 5 days ago, and I'm charging it again now.  It got down to 1 bar on the battery.  I'm optimistic that battery life will be longer from here on out since I've used it a lot more than usual entering contacts, trying all the options out, and playing game.
  • MP3s sound fine to me on it. (Warning: I am not an audiophile.)
  • It has limited photo editing functionality.
  • The Browser button is the same as one of the navigation buttons.  I haven't hit it accidentally yet though.
  • It really is bigger and heavier than my old phone.  The size given for it on Tracfone's website is with the slider closed.  It still fits in my front pocket though.
  • Camera has definite low light issues (blurry inside), but I'm not expecting much from a cell phone camera that doesn't have a flash
  • It only comes with one game: a game that is like a cross between snake and bejeweled. (I don't usually play games on my cell phone, but I know some people like to.)
  • No headphone jack.  It does support bluetooth. (haven't tried it)
  • It made the image on my CRT computer monitor wiggle occasionally when I set the phone nearby.
I'm happy so far with my phone purchase.

Here's a few pictures of it with the Motorola w376g and an ipod touch for size comparison (the 404g is the one in the middle).

Here's picture it took.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rag rugs

I've tried making rag rugs recently.  I used directions from this website.  It was actually pretty fun.  I used old t-shirts and an old queen sized sheet.  It is easy and fairly relaxing.  A fun thing to do while watching tv. 

Here's some things I learned:
  1. You want your cloth strips to be all about the same width.  If they aren't you have to go through loops extra times or skip loops to make it even out.  This can look a little odd.
  2. ripping the cloth is easier than cutting it.  I ripped the sheet.
  3. If you want to cut the cloth, use a rotary cutter.  I cut some of the strips with scissors and the edges were jagged and tended to snag.
  4. about half a queen sized sheet and one adult sized large t-shirt make a rug a little smaller than a door mat.
  5. the t shirt material likes to roll around itself and make a rope, very convenient.

Friday, September 23, 2011

tracfone Samsung t404g vs lg 500g

I'm considering a new phone once again.  My current phone is still working fine, but I'd like a keyboard for texting.  I don't need any other smart phone features.

The two phones I'm considering are the Samsung t404g and the lg 500g.
Samsung t404g:
  • Longer battery life (7 hrs talking, 14 days standby)
  • slider
  • triple minutes for life.   The triple minutes pays for itself after buying 1000 minutes (pre trippling).  So for me, it would be about 2 years.
  • slightly smaller than the lg500g
  • 2 mp camera and video recorder
  • heavier (4.55 oz)
  • not a lot of reviews
  • cost $60
Lg 500g
  • lighter (2.93 oz), this is less than my current flip phone
  • generally favorable reviews 
  • cheaper ($20-30  depending on where you buy)
  • shorter battery life (5 hrs talking, 9 days standby)
  • keys more exposed
  • 1.5 mp camera (doesn't really matter, still better than my current phone)
Pros to either phone:
  • takes video and better pictures
  • takes a microsd card so I can actually get pictures off my cell phone
  • has a texting keyboard
  • plays mp3s (don't really care, but it couldn't hurt)

Cons to either phone:
  • Screen isn't protected like my current flip phone.
  • larger than my current flip phone (I carry my phone in my front pocket)
I ended up getting the Samsung t404g.  My review is here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Study in Scarlet

Apparently a school district in Virginia has "banned" (according to this article) the Sherlock Holmes story "A Study in Scarlet") because they thought it was derogatory to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints .  I used the word banned in quotes because really, it seems to be they are changing the curriculum of its sixth grade classes to include a different Sherlock Holmes story.

There seem to be a number of opinions on this.  Some people think it's a good idea.  Some people seem to say its censorship, and it provides a great opportunity to teach.

Here's my take.  Why was the story chosen?  If it was chosen to allow discussion about incorrect information in stories, then keep teaching it.  If "A Study in Scarlett" is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest work, then keep teaching it.  (It is the first novel that introduced Sherlock Holmes.)  I don't remember thinking it was particularly great compared to his later works.  However, I suspect the story was chosen to check off "read a mystery" in the sixth grade curriculum.  In that case, change the story.  For example, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" or  a set of several of his shorter stories.  The inaccurate information in "A Study in Scarlet" about the Mormons is distracting to the reason the six graders are reading the story.

Some people were likening the curriculum change to removing "Huckleberry Fin" from schools.  I think Huck Fin should stay.  1) It is taught to an older age group, usually high school where students should be well aware that books aren't always accurate.  2) It is reasonably historically accurate.  That is how things were.  (I will freely admit however that in "A study in Scarlet" I fall into the category of those who are being incorrectly represented where I don't have the same problem with Huck Fin)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What I want in a house -- What I actually got

So, we're we're building a rambler with a basement.  Here is my list of "things my house must have" and what we ended up with. 

  • walking distance to schools  -- no, but they bus, so it's kind of a yes
  • near freeways and shopping -- yes
  • driveway faces not-north -- northfacing
  • not a split level-- yes
  • at least 2000 sqft-- yes
  • not on a stripy street (ie no lines down the middle, indicator of busy street)-- yes
  • no powerlines overhead -- yes
  • not right by a hill where a forest fire or mud slide could come down-- yes
  • kids near by -- yes
  • not in a flood plain -- yes
  • not a steep driveway-- yes
  • not steep to get out of neighborhood-- yes

  • about same size as we have now -- yes
  • place for garden-- yes
  • shed or room for shed-- yes
  • fruit trees or a place for them-- yes
  • automatic sprinklers-- not yet
  • fenced -- not yet

  • double car garage -- yes

  • plenty of counter space-- yes
  • pantry or lots of cabinets for food-- yes
  • (wish) center island-- yes
  • above stove microwave (or ability to add one)-- yes
  • (wish) not visible from front door -- no, well, it isn't visible from the door but it is a great room style, so guests will see the kitchen

  • 5 bedrooms-- yes
  • (wish) master suite-- yes
  • (wish) walk in closet-- yes

  • bathroom on every level-- yes
  • at least 2 showers-- yes
  • (wish) jetted tub  -- no

Other rooms
  • office / craft room-- yes
  • family room-- yes
  • front room-- yes
  • storage area for food storage-- yes
  • storage area for storage-- yes

  • faster internets accessible-- yes

Friday, January 07, 2011

Things a house must have for me to consider moving

My husband has jokingly talked about moving, so here is a list of things a new house must have for me to consider moving:

  • walking distance to schools
  • near freeways and shopping
  • driveway faces not-north
  • not a split level
  • at least 2000 sqft
  • not on a stripy street (ie no lines down the middle, indicator of busy street)
  • no powerlines overhead
  • not right by a hill where a forest fire or mud slide could come down
  • kids near by 
  • not in a flood plain
  • not a steep driveway
  • not steep to get out of neighborhood

  • about same size as we have now
  • place for garden
  • shed or room for shed
  • fruit trees or a place for them
  • automatic sprinklers
  • fenced

  • double car garage

  • plenty of counter space
  • pantry or lots of cabinets for food
  • (wish) center island
  • above stove microwave (or ability to add one)
  • (wish) not visible from front door

  • 5 bedrooms
  • (wish) master suite
  • (wish) walk in closet

  • bathroom on every level
  • at least 2 showers
  • (wish) jetted tub

Other rooms
  • office / craft room
  • family room
  • front room
  • storage area for food storage
  • storage area for storage

  • faster internets accessible
(We're building a house.  See how it rates on this list here.)