When did MT get so darned complicated…?

Man, Movable Type has really gotten… fluffy.  Used to be such a lean platform… and I’ve always been a fan of how it handled things… but the new MT is just so full of goosh.  I’m going to have to go through all these ‘interesting new features’ with a fine-toothed comb and see what’s going on here.  Especially when there’s offerings from WordPress and TextPattern that are still simple, easy, and quick to use – and josesierra.com has been on each of those platforms at least once during the last 6+ years.  

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Technorati still a player…?

Image representing Technorati as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Back in the day, Technorati used to be something of a player in the blogosphere… of course, this was back when blogs were nowhere near as common and the question really was “Why should I even start one?”  

Once the world started to realize the amusement-factor of blogging and commercial interests started to realize how effective they are as a marketing tool, well, then we really started to see some exciting new communities and tools crop up.  One of these was Technorati. 
I was a big proponent of being involved with Technorati in those days, but it seems that their relevance seems to have waned in favor of the nine point six billion social-networking sites and site aggregators out there.  I mean, there’s really no shortage of websites that will take your feed and combine it with countless variations of information… it’s actually pretty interesting.  Feedly is a great example of this… and I’m a big fan.  Now, granted, they don’t quite do what TR was doing – putting together content based on relevance and authority – but they haven’t done much at all for years and years.
So the question remains, is Technorati still a player?  Is it still relevant, or does it join the masses of obsolete social media concepts that had their day in the sun but have since been eclipsed by the onslaught of people doing exactly the same thing?
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Gotta love the South.

It’s only funny ‘cuz it’s true. A collection of short stories about the South… 

Alabama 
 A group of Alabama friends went deer hunting and paired off in
twos for the day. That night, one of the hunters returned alone,
staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck. 
“Where’s Henry?” the others asked.
“Henry had a stroke of some kind. He’s a couple of miles back up the
trail,” the successful hunter replied.
“You left Henry laying out there and carried the deer back?” they
inquired.
“A tough call,” nodded the hunter. “But I figured no one is going to
steal Henry!” 
Georgia 
The owner of a golf course in Georgia was confused about
paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some
mathematical help.
He called her into his office and said, “You graduated from the
University of Georgia and I need some help. If I were to
give you $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?” 
The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, “Everything but my
earrings.” 
Louisiana 
A senior at Louisiana was overheard saying ….. “When the end
of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana.”
When asked why, he replied, “I’d rather be in Louisiana
because everything happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in
the rest of the civilized world.” 
Mississippi 
The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and
said to his buddy, “Bubba , somebody just stole your pickup truck from
the parking lot!”
Bubba replied, “Did you see who it was?”
The young man answered, “I couldn’t tell, but I got the license number.” 
North Carolina 
A man in North Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the
side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of
the car and one behind it. Then he got back in the car to wait.
A passerby studied the scene as he drove by and was so curious he
turned around and went back. He asked the fellow what the problem was.
The man replied, “I have a flat tire.”
The passerby asked, “But what’s with the flowers?”
The man responded, “When you break down they tell you to put flares in
the front and flares in the back. I never did understand it neither.” 
Tennessee
A Tennessee State Trooper pulled over a pickup on
I-65. The trooper asked, “Got any ID?” The driver replied, “Bout whut?” 
 
Texas 
A Texas Sheriff pulled up next to a guy unloading garbage out of his
pick-up and into a ditch. The Sheriff asked, “Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don’t
you see that sign right there over your head.”
“Yep”, he replied. “That’s whah ah’m dumpin it heah, cause it says: ‘Fine
For Dumping Garbage’.” 
You can say what you want about the South, but you never hear of
anyone retiring and moving North.

The Android Community – always lookin’ out.

Check out this interesting TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) analysis done on the Nexus One and T-Mobile’s service.

Heavy on the wierd-sauce…

I’m not even sure how I stumbled onto these websites, but they are… fascinating.  Not necessarily in a good way.  Possibly in a sort of train-wreck way.  Definitely interesting and definitely difficult to avoid delving further into.  Don’t believe me?  Well, here you go…

Let start with Ravishing Beasts.  Sound pornographic but don’t worry it’s not.  This site is all about strange and awkward taxidermy.  Of particular interest is the taxidermy pic of the week.  Take the time to go through them – believe me, you’ll get sucked in.  The thing is, there’s actually some really creative stuff going on there.  You can’t deny (nomatter how much you might want to) that there’s no small amount of skill being exercised to create some of these things.

Next is Rogue Taxidermists.  Most interesting is the profile of Takeshi Yamada, who is apparently the man responsible for much of the strangeness one witnesses at carnival ‘freak-show’ events.  Okay, maybe he’s not responsible for them, but his work is… undeniably… good?  Regardless, it’s interesting to see such fascinating works.

Then we have Top Hat Taxidermy, which touts itself as the “world’s leading online retailer of taxidermy.”  Without doubt, there’s some seriously taxidermized animals for sale here… including pets and other interesting creatures.  I’m particularly fond of the photograph on the home page of a woman walking in public with her stuffed toucan.  Because we should all walk our stuffed pets at least once a day.  Yeah. 

Finally, there’s Curious Expeditions.  This particular site doesn’t concentrate on taxidermy, per se, but it definitely travels along similar paths.  There’s a particular section, a visit to a museum in Italy that contains a lot of wet taxidermy, specimens held in jars of formaldehyde and other preservatives.  I don’t know why but I found it disturbing.  There’s lots of other odd content there… it’s a really fascinating site to flip through and has a lot of potential to lead to even more awesomely wierd sites.

Interesting sites, all of them.  I’m not sure I understand the fetish for stuffed creatures.  I hunted for years and have always regarded any creature hanging on a wall as a trophy.  I’ve been exposed to trophy rooms that held hundreds of such trophies, but each and every one was hunted and killed by the owner of the trophy.  The whole concept of purchasing an animal’s head seems… awkward.  Perhaps not too terribly much more so than the simple fact of having an animal’s head hanging on a wall, but awkward nonetheless.  Keeping stuffed pets is somethind I simply don’t understand.

The idea of keeping animals in formaldehyde, particularly creatures like birds and monkeys, now that just freaks me out a bit.  I’m not sure what it is about it that bothers me, but perhaps I feel that the body needs to decompose after death, that it needs to return to its component particles, and that taxidermy – particularly ‘wet’ taxidermy – doesn’t permit that ‘final rest’ for the creature.  I couldn’t say for sure, but it definitely feels wrong. 

Years ago my ex-girlfriend brought home a small shark in a jar, suspended in formaldehyde.  She named it and put it on a shelf, where it sat for about a year before we split up.  To this day the memory of that shark haunts me, floating upside down in a small jar, staring with lifeless eyes.  Extremely uncool, that.  

That being said, it didn’t stop me from marvelling at the images, peeking into the world that is clearly important to at least some small segment of our society.  It’s a kind of voyueristic thrill to experience another’s fetishistic passion, particularly one for which I feel conflicted towards.  On my most recent visit to NYC and the Museum of Natural History I saw a whole freakin’ enormous building filled to bursting with stuffed animals, and I found it interesting not just for the fact that I was looking at lifelike representations of creatures that I would never see (simply because they existed in areas of the world I’m not likely to visit, or because they’re extinct) but because I was looking at lifelike representations of dead animals.

On that same trip we visited the MFA (Museum of Fine Art) over by Central Park.  One of the pieces was a big ol’ shark suspended in formaldehyde in a big ol’ tank (I know, I have some kind of wierd thing with dead sharks in formaldehyde.)  When I say ‘big’ I mean big, it was at least 12 feet long.  Monofilament held the shark suspended in the tank, so it gave the impression of being alive, rather than squished against the bottom in a heap of dead fish.  Again, being stared at by a shark with dead, gray skin and dull, clouded, lifeless eyes was not one of my happiest moments.  Kinda creepy even. 

Without a doubt, stumbling across these websites has completely derailed my productivity for the evening in favor of philosophical introspection and a strong desire to go and hug something alive and well.  And warm.

Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4 with Recoil Engine

Okay, so I got that G&P Defender running like a top.  Super fine, super reliable, thing shoots lasers.  Love it.  But after doing a little research online and speaking with the guys at Players First, holy cow the Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4 with recoil engine is just the absolute must-have AEG right now. 

It has several features that are neat, and several features that are absolutely amazing for an electric AEG… features that until know where the realm of the gas blow-back M4.  First and foremost, it has recoil.  Seriously.  Not just ‘blow-back’ like some other airsoft guns out there, but actual recoil.  And it’s pretty significant too.  I expected some goofy jittering or something equally ineffective, but I gotta say: it’s not too far off from the recoil of a real M4.  I had the pleasure of firing an AR-15 at the range fairly recently, and while the recoil isn’t quite the same, the fact that it’s there and pretty close to reality is something to smile about.

It stops shooting when you’re out of ammo.  That may not seem like a big deal, but for anyone trying to get a touch more realism out of their airsoft experience, or anyone whose airsoft gun fires so clean that the difference between dry-firing and bb’s shooting out is so minimal as to be unnoticeable, this is A Good Thing.  Heck, I’ve played in night games where I couldn’t tell if I was shooting or not, so I just reloaded.  This feature is due to a sweet new magazine design (yep, it uses proprietary mags) that has several cool features, aside from the ability to stop the AEG once it’s out of ammo.  It can switch from midcap to lo-cap.  That’s right, a switch in the magazine changes it from mid to low.  Also, it’s the right size… many people don’t know this, but airsoft M4 mags are actually about an inch smaller than real magazines.  That’s not a tremendously huge deal, obviously, but again: for those players out there looking for just a little more realism (and gear that requires full-size mags, LOL) this is A Good Thing.

The hop-up unit has been redesigned and seems to perform well.  Once I’ve had a chance to roll out into a combat situation I can determine just how well that hopup unit really does.  It seems to be barrel-style, much like the SA-58 or the Classic Army SCAR-L, which is arguably a superior design to the circular knob on the average M4.

It has a bolt-release, by the way.  So after reloading, don’t forget to hit it or the gun won’t fire.  Again, it’s the little details that set this gun apart from the standard AEG.  Full-metal, extremely well-finished externals featuring actual Colt trademarks and markings are all part of the package.  It looks great, inside and out.

Did I mention the recoil engine?  Tokyo Marui calls it the shoot-and-recoil engine, and they’ve really outdone themselves.  The single-fire recoil is interesting and adds a touch of realism, but on full-auto is where it really shines.  I’ve had AEGs that were shimmed roughly and have hammered like they were recoiling, and I’ve used AEGs with blowback that also kind-of sort-of felt like recoil, but the TM SOPMOD M4 actually really feels like it’s recoiling with every shot.  It is an experience.  You really need to shoot it to see for yourself, and once you do, you really will want one. 

In my opinion, the Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4 sits between the super-high-end and ultra-realistic Systema M4s and the high-end ‘standard’ AEGs.  At the pricepoint it sits at (roughly $500USD) it is more expensive than all but the most high-end AEGs, but completely blows them out of the water in every way.  At the same time, that pricepoint puts it well below the least expensive gas-blow-back airsoft guns, and well below the Systemas and the Deep Fires, and frankly, it seems to outperform all of those as well.  The gas-blow-back airsoft guns have great ‘feel’, but they have a host of issues that simply makes their extremely high price tag untenable, and Systema is struggling to keep up, performance-wise, with the rest of the airsoft market.  Systema hasn’t been worth the price-tag for a long, long time.

Lots of folks are picking up the Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4 – retailers can’t seem to hold on to them for any amount of time – so you should get a chance to play with one at your local field when some lucky player gets his (or hers.)  See for yourself… Tokyo Marui has really brought a new dimension to airsoft, and has really defined the term AAEG (Advanced AEG) for the market.  I can’t wait to see what kind of aftermarket accessories will start cropping up, and you can bet Players First will have each and every one of them.

6mm-Spec (six-mil-spec), an airsoft resource

I recently discovered a relatively new and little-known blog about airsoft called 6mm-Spec (pronounced six-mil-spec).  The website, in fact, is www.6milspec.com, and it’s an interesting mix of reviews, information, tips, industry news, and lots more.  There’s info about new airsoft guns and accessories, tips for airsmithing, upgrading and repairing an AEG, announcements for new sites and retailers, and even game info.  Color me impressed.

There seems to be several guys running it, each one specializing in a few different things.  The interesting thing is that they don’t seem to mind overlap… for example, there are several reviews of the Tokyo Marui SOPMOD M4, since several of the 6milspec guys own one.  That’s neat in that you can get several perspectives from different people, and I know it helped me when I chose to pick one of those TM SOPMODs up.

An interesting airsoft blog with interesting information, worth taking a look at, maybe even subscribing to the RSS feeds. There’s not a ton of websites out there that really cover the airsoft community (airsoft being relatively small) and this one seems to have the potential to be both interesting and informative.

Let’s hear it for the Ro-Beast!

Robot Chicken has it’s moments. Not a heckuva lot of them, mind you, but the Voltron/You Got Served sketch is frakin’ hilarious. And “Lemmings: Nature’s Retard”. Gitterdun.

Oh, but wait, there’s one more reason to love Chuck…

And so, one more reason to love The Chuck:
When Chuck Norris goes fishing he doesn’t use a fishing pole like normal people – he ties a rope with a huge hook on it to his massive erection. He then swipes the fish into the air and roundhouse kicks them to their death.
Special thanks to Danny Boy for that extra oomph to an already staggering collection of reasons to love The Chuck.