Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big Numbers

In the late 1980s or so, Alan Moore started a new publishing company and began writing an epic comic book story about and American mall developer building a shopping plaza in England. Oh also, the Mandelbrot set was involved (fractals and all that). I was psyched! Even better, the art was by Bill Sienkiewicz! Amazing! Their previous collaboration was a short parable about American imperialism that involved a bald eagle drinking in a bar.

Anyway, only two issues of "Big Numbers" (the mall story) were published although stories always mention that Sienkiewicz quit the project (schedule problems) and his assistant at the time, Al Columbia took over.

Well, turns out pages for issue 3 were completed and never saw the light of day. Until now. And on the internet. They're here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nicholas Brothers

I'm just posting this link to a YouTube clip to remind myself to show the kids the most amazing tap dancing ever. The first half is good. The second half is better.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Traveling with an iPod Touch instead of a laptop

I had this great excuse to buy an iPod Touch: I told Julie that I would bring it on our trip to Chile. (I got the Apple iPod touch 32 GB (2nd Generation); my brother-in-law helped justify the purchase and I loaded it up so it was definitely the right model to get.)

Well, it turned out great.

This is what it replaced:
portable DVD player
Spanish phrase book
address book
music cds
photo album (we were visiting family)

This is what it let me do:
play videos on the iPod for the kids on airplanes, or in restaurants when they were restless
play videos on hotel televisions as an alternative to Spanish tv
play music on hotel televisions (in some cases I found I had to stimulate the video to activate the audio, so I would put on a photo album slide show); this was nice at Christmas because I could play Christmas music and it was actually quite reflective to see photos from the last 12 months
check e-mail (most hotels and many stores, restaurants and cafes had wifi)
keep up with the news

Now, if you've got one of these, you know that it's not super convenient for surfing the 'net--not as fast as running a browser on a laptop and tabbing through your favorite sites--but it's fine. When we really had to type something out or read something, it wasn't hard to find an Internet cafe or hotel computer to use.

Important information! If you load up videos on the iPod using iTunes, they take up a LOT of space. However, if you download the free software Handbrake, you can convert DVDs to MP4 files for iPods which creates a much smaller file. For comparison, Handbrake converted MP4s run less than 500 Mb per hour. The Apple specs 10 hours for the 8 Gb Touch, so that puts it at about 800 Mb per hour. Makes a difference.

I should note, too, that along with the iPod itself, I had (bought in Chile! Authorized resellers in Santiago and Vina del Mar) the composite AV cable that provides a power cord for recharging and has the cables that lets the iPod play on televisions. Looks like there are cheaper, non-Apple manufactured cables available on Amazon.

The one thing I might have liked was a microphone attachment to make Skype calls back to the States.

So: recommended! Happy Travels

Sunday, March 01, 2009


While in Chile, on the island of Chiloe, we managed to get on the last tour boat of the day to see some penguins in their natural habitat.