What Is the Problem With Netvibes?

Don’t know if you’ve been keeping up or not, but I’ve been using Netvibes as my chief RSS aggreation service, in part because it has the flexibility to pull in all sorts of different data/feeds/sites (text, podcasts, videos, misc news services, etc.), but right now, we are knocking on a 24-hour period where the site has either been down or just unable to load my customized page.

How long do you wait on a web-based service like this before you write it off as too unreliable?  I don’t think a day is long enough for me to do that, but I will definitely scout around the webs for other options (I will have some normal news-reading time on my hands, after all).

This sort of occurrence always leads me back to my position that if you want to rely on the Internet, you’re better off hosting it yourself.

PS – If anyone actually knows what’s up with Netvibes in general right now, by all means, do tell…

Who Will Help Me Watch The Watchmen?

The biggest superehero movie geekfest ever is scheduled to drop on 3/6– 9 days from now.  I will be busy on opening day, but I am willing and able to go on Saturday, the 7th.  I think it would be very cool to see this flick at that iPic theater @ Bayshore.  Since you get reserved seats there, and it’s 21+, I would call that the makings of a good time.

I’d love to hear from anyone that might be interested.  There are several showings throughout the day on Saturday, and it looks to cost just 9 bucks for a matinee.  Starting at the 6:30 show, it’s $12.

My copy of the book is in pretty sad shape; I think I’ll try to find a paperback on Amazon or something before next week.  Wondering if Hoping that this flick makes my 2009 as geektastically awesome as The Dark Knight did for 08…

The Most Optimistic Brewers Preview You'll Read This Year

Tomorrow is the Brewers’ first spring training game down in Maryvale.  The team looks a bit different than last year, but overall, a lot of familiar faces are back.  Still, the concensus from the national and regional prognosticators is that the Crew will be lucky–very, VERY lucky–to experience the sort of success and playoff run that they had last season.

But I’m not a sports writer or a broadcaster; I’m a baseball fan, so for people like me, spring is all about optimism, and seeing the silver lining around each CC Sabathia-shaped cloud.  With that in mind, here are the Top Five (Perhaps Overly Optimistic) Reasons the Brewers Will Have a Great Season:

  1. Our young pitchers will each start at least 30 games and win 15 apiece. Yovanni Gallardo is going to come back healthy from his knee troubles in 2008, and it will be shown that he racked up enough bad luck last year to last for a while.  Manny Parra will really come into his own in his second full season in the majors, no longer hampered by the nagging inconsistency that was troublesome at times in 2008.  The young 1-2 combo in Milwaukee will draw comparisons to Ken Macha’s Oakland A’s teams that featured Tim Hudson and Barry Zito early in their careers.  Speaking of which,
  2. A change in managerial demeanor will be reflected throughout the clubhouse. I was never a Ned Yost basher– he guided the team that was a laughable riff-raff at the open of 2003 and helped transform them into serious contenders in 2008.  But you can’t deny that by the end, he was wound a bit too tight and the feeling seemed to be reflected in some of the players.  Ken Macha will be more relaxed, and having two more members of his coaching staff with managerial experience will help, too.
  3. Trevor Hoffman will be a steady, if not spectacular, closer from day one, and the trickle-down will lead to clearly defined roles in the bullpen. The Brewers were scrambling to get all their pitchers into a groove in 2008 after Eric Gagne blew his first save on opening day, Carlos Villanueva’s struggles in the rotation led to McClung bouncing back and forth, and a variety of injuries meant guys had to shift around.  This year, Hoffman will be the one and only closer, Villanueva will be where he belongs (in relief), and the rest of the group will be healthy enough to stay comfortable.
  4. Our big guns (Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder) will continue their meteoric rise. Another year under their belts, both comfortable with multi-year contracts, Prince having taken care of himself a bit better in the off-season, our 3- and 4-hitters will each hit at or near .300, blast 30-40 homeruns, and knock in over 100.
  5. The “other guys” will see a reverse of fortunes, too. Bill Hall’s improved eyesight won’t quite return him to 2006 form, but he will hit for a respectable average from both sides and earn his every-day job back.  Corey Hart will shake his post-all-star mental block and rediscover consistency.  Jason Kendall will get some occasional rest from playing every day, and that will reflect itself in an improved offensive game.  Rickie Weeks will benefit from the tutelage of bench coach Willie Randolph in the field, and hitting coach Dale Sveum at the plate as he becomes one of the top lead-off men in the National League.

So even though we don’t have CC or Ben Sheets, the world is not going to end.  We’ve got an exciting and talented group of players ready for another season.  It’s going to be a good 2009…

Weathered the Weather

The weekend didn’t quite turn out as we planned, thanks in part to Saturday’s snow storm.  We made it to Sunburst on Friday evening (a day early, as it turned out), and had a good time skiing for a few hours.  It’s not a bad little hill they’ve got up there, although we could tell on Friday that most of the snow was man-made.  Jason Hill said that he had a successful evening of remembering HOW to ski, too, so the trip served its purpose.  Now if only we can get enough people together to go up to Rib Mountain next month…

Saturday morning, we were greeted by a blanket of fresh snow that we hadn’t quite been expecting; I read the forecast the night before, and didn’t quite realize that the storm would be lasting through most of the day.  Consequently, Michelle and I had to cancel our plans to head up to Oshkosh for Dave’s birthday celebration.  Fortunately, he is going to be in town on Tuesday (actual day of birth), and we’re planning to meet up with him and his brother for dinner.

Michelle was tentatively planning to go in to work to make up a few hours that she missed earlier in the week because of a class, and I met up with some friends for the Lakefront Brewery tour.  A handful of new pictures in the Milwaukee gallery are from that excursion.  Later that night, Michelle and I stayed in and got a nice specialty pizza from Pizza Shuttle.

On Sunday, I was at Pulaski High School for a few hours for College Goal Sunday.  The event was a success, but it wasn’t the best-organized thing I’ve ever participated in.  I ended up spending about three and a half hours of my day there, where I was only productive for about 90 minutes or so.  I guess that’s one of the things you put up with when the whole thing is done on a volunteer basis…

Had to do some laundry to get ready for the work week; right now, I’m thinking of getting to bed by 10 so I can be good and rested when the alarm goes off at 5:15.  These weekends sure cruise by in a hurry.

Oscar Fail

Despite the effort to get out early and knock out those contending flicks, Jen and I did not see all the Best Pic nominees.  Sadly, then, I cannot reasonably offer any critique or prediction on the outcome Sunday’s show.

On TMJ this morning, they did mention the predictions of some sort of math genius who likes movies and has been mostly spot-on with the “big categories,” over the last few years.  Take that for what you will.

Other than that, I will open it up to you, my comrades, about the nominees you may have seen this year– what are your thoughts?  Here is a quick summary of an Oscar-related talk I had with Schneidie via phone yesterday:

  • Ben Button — really, really, REALLY long.  Gump-ish, which is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just that Gump has been on cable like twice a week for the last 10 years, so everyone in America has seen it like a million times.
  • Slumdog Millionaire — nice movie.  Truly.  But what’s with all the hubub?  The way some people are talking about it, it BLEW them away in a Star Warscirca ’77 sort of way.  For the uninformed, they have had motion picture technology in India now for more than a couple decades…

Enjoy the show, if you decide to watch it.  I usually only catch the last 30-40 minutes, then review the recap of winners in the morning.  Maybe I’ll watch The Producers, at home from my Netflix right now…

Oh, the Frakkin Humanity.

Our office is in the midst of our annual “department training,” where we get together for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week for about a month to receive a daily lecture on ALLL the procedures for every job in the entire office.  Yes, even the ones that you’ll never have to do!  Sometimes, there is really good information shared about a change to a process, or a new program, but a lot of it is the regurgitation of things that we’ve all heard before.  It can get extremely boring.

We have reached that stage for this year.  Today’s training was the dullest yet, and I took the opportunity to compose a List of Countries That I Would Like to Visit, in no particular order (that is, the list is in no particular order; but actually, the sequence in which I visit these countries doesn’t make much different to me, either):

  1. Canada
  2. England
  3. Ireland
  4. Japan
  5. China
  6. Vietnam
  7. Australia
  8. India
  9. Brazil
  10. Cuba
  11. Czech Republic
  12. Poland
  13. Italy
  14. Spain
  15. France
  16. Germany
  17. Belgium
  18. Switzerland
  19. Morocco
  20. Algeria
  21. Greece
  22. Egypt
  23. Tunisia
  24. South Africa
  25. Russia
  26. United Arab Emirates

Is It Too Late for Anyone to Take Anything Back?

I stumbled across this link to The Consumerist’s post about Facebook’s revised terms of service earlier this evening, and I also read a few of the responses to it, and the responses to those responses.  Suffice it to say, even though they claim they would never do anything to hurt you, the loyal user, I am glad that I have never “uploaded” anything to Facebook.

The question that this fiasco raises for me is this: are we COMPLETELY deluding ourselves to think that there is any information left out there that we can share with nearly anyone, in nearly any capacity, that is also still somehow under our control?  With the possible exception of information you share with your lawyer or with a medical professional, what hope could you possibly have?

The fact is, creating a profile about yourself, the things you like, things you do, and places you go, but also desiring anonymity are mutually exclusive ideas.  You can’t have both, and you sort of need to get over that.  While I have railed against the Facebook in the past, I don’t begrudge the people that are on it.  But as a user, you have to know that you have not only ticked a checkbox to an agreement that you never actually read; you have also signed a social contract that says, “OK, world– I don’t have much to hide.  You’re going to find certain things out, and I’ll have to deal with the consequences.”

Every one of us who has talked on a cell phone, or filled out a survey, or used any sort of web-based service has given something up.  We’ve passed the point of thinking we can get it back.  If that makes comfortable, it’s a life lesson; but that person is no victim.  Make no mistake; the world is shrinking.  There is less you can keep hidden all the time, and so if that’s what you really want, be diligent about it.  But if you sign up for a FREE service whose goal is to CONNECT PEOPLE WITH ONE ANOTHER, then you are surrendering some of those rights to complain.

Sometimes I teeter on the edge of saying “to hell with it, just take all the data and information that I have, there’s no way I can protect it.”  But another part of me wants to toil in the face of futility, and that part takes comfort in the fact that I could unplug my server tomorrow.

Successful V-Day

Michelle and I had a nice weekend up north.  We left MKE around 6:30 on Friday night to head up to Eagle River.  We stayed at Mom & Dad’s house, and then left for Indianhead to go skiing the next morning.  We almost considered a couple other hills, because we realized kind of late that there was no night skiing at Indianhead.  We were glad we still went for the 12-4 afternoon.

Granted, I still have enough fingers to count the total number of times I’ve been downhill skiing EVER, but these were definitely the best conditions I’ve seen yet; there was fresh powder from the night before, and it snowed most of the afternoon, so all the runs were in great shape.  Indianhead is pretty big, as Northwoods skiing goes, and so there was plenty of variety.  It was cool to take some runs that lasted more than a minute, too.

At one point, we made our way over to the pair of double-black runs.  Michelle tried to explain to me that a good way to control your speed on this one would be to make wide, criss-crossing turns on the way down.  That might have worked if there wasn’t 3 inches of fresh new snow on the top.  Neither one of us had a successful run down that one; we might as well have just popped our skis off at the top, thrown them down, and went summersaulting after.  Later at dinner, I told Michelle that when she wiped out, it was like when Charlie Brown gets knocked out of his clothes by a screaming line drive.

We ended up staying in Ironwood, but drove back to the resort for dinner.  Very nice and not very expensive at all.  We enjoyed perusing the placemats, which were laminated 60s-era brochures from the hill.  Funny to think about (a) riding up to Ironwood by train, and (b) paying $4 a day for renting wooden skis.

The only bad part of the weekend is that I was feeling pretty sick by Sunday.  We made more than one stop trying to find a combination of meds that was going to work for me.  Ended up getting some decongestant that works pretty well, but Michelle did all the driving home on Sunday, and I stayed home from work today anyway.

If you’re off work today, enjoy the Presidents’ Day!  And if you’re not, then remember you had off for MLK Day last month.  Err, wait you didn’t..?

Down, But Not Out

I have caught a whiff of whatever illness befell Michelle earlier in the week.  I seem to have the symptoms under control with a steady dosage of generic Day-Quil every 4 hours.  I am not about to let a little cough and runny nose keep from going skiing on one of my last available weekends of the winter.

So, we are overcoming both weather and illness in order to persevere– rather than staying at home for a quick day trip to Cascade Mtn near Madison, we will be driving up to E.R. this evening, staying @ Mom & Dad’s, and then we’ll head up to Indianhead on Saturday.

I better get done packing before Michelle is out of work; enjoy your V-Day weekend, however you choose to spend it!