Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Simple Juggling Video

I had a little time on my hands and so I grabbed the video camera and did a little juggling so I could see what I looked like. Here is some of that. Some simple diabolo, 4 ball and 5 ball juggling. No tricks to speak of, just basic stuff. So if you are easily bored, don't watch :) And hey I'm even wearing my WJF t-shirt. I'm sure Jason Garfield would be proud (or would hide his head in shame that I am in any way assosicated with the WJF)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Start of Our Adoption Journey

Well, we got the news last week that we have been accepted by an Adoption agency to begin the process of adopting a child internationally. This is pretty exciting and hopefully in the next 12-18 months we will go to El Salvador and pick up our child. There is lots of paperwork and expenses to the dealt with between now and then and we are trying to get everything in order for it to happen. All told, it will probably end up costing somewhere between $15k-$20k dollars to complete the adoption process, but we are holding fund raisers and are being supported by our family to help cover the costs, but even still it is going to take a lot. If you or anyone you know wants to help by making a donation, send me an email If you can not help financially, that's fine, but we would appreciate your prayers as we follow this path.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Juggling with an Oddball

I've been working on 5 balls for a while now, I don't get as much practice as I would like, so I have been trying to make the most of the few minutes I get here and there. One issue I have with 5 balls is counting throws. I am trying to get certain throw counts solid before moving on.

I have been stuck at 7-8 throws for a while. So last week I picked up 4 balls of one color and 1 of another to act as a sort of "tracer". Now I place the odd ball in the 5th ball position. For me, this is in the palm of my left hand (I start on the left)

Now it is visually very easy to see throw #10 is the 2nd throw of the odd ball. It is also easy to figure other #'s of throws this way. If you wanted 13 throws, put it in the 3rd ball position and it will be the 3rd throw. You just need to know in what order you throw the balls.

Now I'm sure this is not rocket science to anyone, and certainly not a new idea, but I must say in a matter of a couple practices I have gotten to 16 throws after a couple months of only having had qualified a couple of times. Now I can qualify most of the time and am ready to make some upward progress.

I have also thought of a way to introduce an idea that I used to use whe practicing the guitar. I would set my metronome to a tempo where I could accomplish what I wanted to play. Then I gave myself a few tries at that tempo. If I played it to my satisfaction I would bump up a notch, otherwise after a few tries I would go down. So applying this to learning 5 balls. I start with a flash. When I do it well, do 6 throws. Now if I don't get 6 within 3 tries, I go back to 5. If I do get six, I go to seven throws. 3 tries at 7, if I get it I go to eight, otherwise back to six. You get the idea. So using this in conjuction with the oddball, once you learn where to place the oddball for 5-25 throws, it should be an easy game to play to help get the pattern solid without making yourself go insane counting to 8,9,8,9,10,11,10,11,12 etc.

What are your thoughts? How did you work through the initial hump? Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Happiest Place on Earth

Ok, so Me, my Wife and 4 kids piled into the minivan, drove 1000 miles and spent a week at Disney World. We had a great time. Let me give you the run down on what we did and my recommendations...


If you ever go to Disney on a non-peak week, you will never go at another time again. We went the week after labor day and never spent more than 15-20 minutes in any given line. Most waits were between 5 and 10 minutes. When you have small kids with you, this is tremendous!


Since September is a slow month for Disney, they were offering the Disney Dining Plan for free with certain packages. This plan gives each member of your group a Snack, a Counter Service Meal and a Table service meal every day of your visit. We tried our best to keep track and we totaled about $1000 worth of meals. So if you are going, check this out. It saved us a chunk of cash and allowed us to eat some meals that we probably would not have eaten. The $25 Prime Rib at Boatwrights was especially good. :) I also learned not to ask for Ketchup at the Wilderness Lodge resturant.

Magic Kingdom

I don't know how they do it, but the Magic Kingdom never ceases to amaze me. I really think it is Disney's attention to detail that really draws you into their parks. Every waiting queue for every attraction is in some way decorated so that you want to check it out.

Disney / MGM

3 things really stood out to me at MGM:

1: The Lights,Motors, Action Stunt show. This was a really cool car/motorcycle stunt show and was very impressive.

2: The Tower of Terror. I went on the ToT in 1997 and it was fun, but apparently there was an upgrade in 2004 that added random drops. That made it much better!

3: The Rockin' Roller Coaster. Ok, the lamest name ever, but the best thrill ride at Disney. A linear induction coaster goes from 0-70ish in 2.8 seconds, and sends you into 3 inversions including a really nice corkscrew, and all in the dark with some blacklight scenery and Aerosmith blasting in your ears the whole time. mmmm fun!

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom was a nice park. The safari ride was cool, some nice views of the animals. The River Rapids ride was good, but really short. The best ride there is definitely The Everest Expidition. So good drops and some good speed and some backwards coasting as well. I was a little surpised about the "kiddie ride" area it felt almost like a midway at a county fair. Some of the rides seemed like they were assembled that day. Strange for Disney.


Epcot was fun as always. They have done a lot of updating. The Test Track ride was pretty good, especially when it goes outside for the banked curves. I took my 7 year old on the tame version of Mission: Space. I would like to go on the intense version next time.

We saw the afternoon main street parade, the Spectralmagic parade, the Illuminations show and the "Wishes" fireworks display. I think sitting in front of the castle watching Wishes was a real high point for everyone.

So all in all, it was a great vacation. I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New WJF Site

Well, after a lot of tweaking, the WJF is now running its new website design. You can check out the work I did at:

Jason had a pretty good idea of what he wanted, so it has been a matter of assembling the site and making it work. It is pretty graphics intensive, so there are still some optimizations to take care of. But at least we got it launched in the timeframe that we had initially wanted.

The site is not completely done yet, there are still some sections to convert from the old site (like the videos) and some new stuff in the wings, but that is for after a well needed vacation.

So go check it out, and while you are there buy some quality juggling balls and learn to juggle :)

For me and my family, it is off to Disney World. We have been planning a vacation there for months and the time has come. We will drive down to FL and spend the week. Wwill have missed Hurricane Ernesto, so I think we just have to deal with the regular Florida weather.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Movie Review: Snakes on a Plane

I got a call last night at about 8:30pm from some old friends who were going to go see Snakes on a Plane. I hadn't seen them all in a while and thought it would be a fun night out. So we headed up to the Globe Theater in Greenville, IL. Where I shelled out $7 for my ticket and $4.50 for my drink and popcorn, which in my opinion is a bit steep for the size of the theater and non-stadium seating. But hey, it's the only theater within 20 miles.

After a lot of previews the fun began. Since leaving the movie last night, I have been trying to come up with the genre of this film. It is a campy-action-survival horror-horror comedy-thriller-cop movie with an improbable plot and over the top action, it was great. Besides, it's Samuel L Jackson! I do have to warn you that there is a fair amount of profanity, violence, gore and breif nudity. It really took me back to the pointless action movies of the late 80's combined with the tongue in cheek horror films of the same time. Where you can find yourself in one second laughing cause a poisonous snake just bit someone on the bum followed by going ugh when someone get bit right on the eye, or more tender areas. If you get easily squeemish with snakes, don't see this movie. If you get stressed from airplanes in peril, don't see this movie. If you want to go see a movie thats sole purpose is a fun action filled time with no regard for logical plot, this might be a good one for you. So... Check your movie critic attitude at the gate and get on board "Snakes on a Plane".

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Juggling Tricks

So here is one of those 'nobody really cares' posts but I'll post it anyway cause it's my blog and you can't stop me!

I've recently been working on a few club moves and made a little progress. I was having trouble throwing more than 1 double throw in a row, but can now do a 3 club flash and continue juggling. Not exactly a killer move but it is at least progress. I also have been working on body throws with one club trying to get the throw correct. I can generally throw a reverse body throw (back to front) and last night actually caught a regular body throw (front to back) without the club smacking me in the head or flying away from me and crashing into something. I am also able to hit a 3 ball 3-up 180 pretty regularly now too. I've attempted a 3 up 360, but they are still not working. I need to spot my props better cause I still get a little dizzy after the spin. Oh well, small steps.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager

Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager (episode 1)

I was winding down after a few hours of programming last night and I ran across this video at YouTube. Of course I have always loved Star Wars, so I love things like this and other fan videos like Troops. This one is great; Chad Vader, Darth Vader's less-talented, less-charismatic younger brother. Enjoy.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Vova, Olga, Jason and the WJF in Time Magazine

So I guess the title leaves little to explain, but in next week's Time magazine (July 24th,2006) there is an article about Vova and Olga Galchenko, with references to Jason Garfield and the WJF. Here is a link to the story online,9171,1214960,00.html

This is some great publicity for the Galchenkos and also for the WJF.

You can check out more about the Galchenkos at

and more about the WJF at

Google Local Ads?

I was skimming over some videos at youtube and saw a ad for a candidate for a judge. I thought that was kind of strange especially when I saw it was for St. Charles, MO. The video had nothing to do with judges or St. Louis. So I wonder now if google is taking IP address location as well as page content into consideration when serving up adsense ads. Since my IPs are out of Collinsville, IL which is pretty close to the St. Louis area. Very interesting. I wonder how far Google will be able to push this trend to serve local advertising content down to the end user. So those targerted ads just got a little more targeted.

The problem I see with this is for people like me who live out in the sticks. My IP addresses are served out of a city that is 30 minutes from here. So, my 'local' advertising will be just St. Louis based. I think until Google can pin me down to a closer radius, local advertising will only work for people who live close to where their IPs are registered.

Digg This Entry

Saturday, July 15, 2006

3 Ball - 3-up 180

Well I took a break while programming tonight and had a short practice. In which I finally started hitting some 3 ball 3-up 180s. I had done it once before and was not able to replicate it, but tonight I did it 15-20 times. Something clicked. I think a major part goes to a tip Jason Garfield gave me on how not to get dizzy while doing 360s. He said that 'spotting' the balls was very important on giving you a focus point. So instead of throwing the 3 balls, turning and hoping they hit the right spot, I followed them through the turn, not only was I not dizzy, I could see where the balls were (imagine that). This may sound like common sense to some, but it made all the difference. Now that I can do the 180, its time to make that 360 work.

5 balls is still troubling me, I still need to put a bunch of work into it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

We Have a Winner!

Well, its official. I just checked the website and my 3rd bee video "Bee Checks the Mailbox" has won the 2nd round of the Barterbee "Be the Bee" contest. So what do I get for this accomplishment? Well, I let my wife pick the prize, telling her if I won, she could have it. Well she chose the iPod Nano 2gb. I hope she likes it. Anyway, I guess I can call myself a prize winning animator now (or something like that).

You can watch the video here

I owe some thanks to and Diggnation since it was the Diggnation podcast where I first heard about Barterbee. Thanks guys!

There is also some cool news coming up as I have begun working with the World Juggling Federation on some media projects. I'll write more about this later.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another Barterbee Entry

Well, after thinking for a while, I came up with this entry for round 2 of the be the bee contest.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Barterbee.Com: Lost Round 1

Well Barterbee's round 1's winner was headed up by a 2 year old in a bee costume bringing new games and movies to complaining kids.

I hope that all the rounds are not won by the cutest video since the rules specified the winner would be chosen for "humor and/or uniqueness", not cuteness. But I digress. But not to be defeated, I'm heading back to the drawingboard, since the 2 videos that I did are now not eligible, I will have to come up with something new for Mr Bee.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 Video Competition

I don't enter a lot of contests due to the fact that I have terrible luck. But, when I got an email from BarterBee.Com concerning their Bee The Bee video competition, I decided to enter. The competition is for 1 of 3 prizes per each 2 week session (an iPod Nano, A PSP and a Toshiba portable DVD player) then the 6 winners are pitted against each other for a 42" plasma tv. So I fired up blender and made a couple of short "bee" themed videos.

The first session ends tomorrow and the 1st winner announced on the 26th. Wish me luck :)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Vova Galchenko's Fatboy Slim Video

For those of you who think that the Chris Bliss juggling video was an awesome display of juggling ability, watch this video and see what can actually be done with juggling.

This video is Vova Galchenko's entry into Fatboy Slim's music video competition with this well made video showcasing some great 3-7 club juggling as well as some 5+ ball juggling. Vova has really shown how good he is in this one. I bet over the next 10 years you will see him doing some even more amazing things.

On a side note, I must say I was impressed when I posted a question on the WJF video forum about the differences between Renegade clubs and Px3 Vegas clubs that Vova took the time to record a video response.

Anyway, check out the video, cool tunes and great juggling!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jason Garfield Response Video

Jason Garfield Response

In this video, Jason Garfield responds to questions about Chris Bliss, the WJF, etc. For those of you who think Jason is a total jerk and is hurtful all the time, I think you might find that this video clip from the WJF discussion forum on YouTube might surprise you. Sure you may not agree with his opinions, but the attitude he sports in some of his other videos is not how he is all the time.

While you are at it, check out the WJF video forum. It is strictly video (which is a great idea since you can see what the person's body language and attitude is as they say things rather than infering it from their grammar.) although it may inhibit some people from posting due to a lack of camera. There is only one thread at the moment, but hopefully people will catch on.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Good Practice

I had a good practice last night. I started out with a little 3 ball high flashes before moving to 5 ball cascade work. No great strides there yet, but it will get there with time. I moved back to 3 balls for a while and was able to pull off some 3 ball 1 up 360's (not too impresive) and did manage to get a 3 ball 3 up 180. I was pretty happy with that.

I moved on to clubs and spent a good deal of time working on my 3 club cascade with double spins. I'm only adding extra throws as I can add them cleanly. I know this comes easy for some, but I'm working hard to get it.

Overall a good workout and at the end I was happy with a couple little moves that I was able to pull off.

I have been starting to put thought into organizing a juggling club. Here in Greenville, IL there is nothing close and it would be cool to generate some interest. It's just in it's conceptual phase right now and who knows how long it will be if I can make it really happen. The big problem I have is that as the founding member, I am no juggling star. So, I have to approach it as such. Anyway, that's about it for now.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Barterbee Part 3 and Dance Dance Revolution

Ok, so after my first round of Barterbee action did not work out as well as I had hoped, I started again. I cancelled my first request and finally got credit for the movie that I sent out. So armed with 20 points I requested DDR ultramix and today it came in excellent condition. So now I just have to get a couple of dance pads and away we go.

If you have and DDR experience with the XBox, let me know which pads you think are good. I hear the quality is all over the place. I would prefer not to waste too much $$$ on stuff thats gonna break in a week, but then again I don't want to lay out $80 per pad.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Barterbee Update

Well it has been almost 2 weeks since I sent out my first Barterbee movie and have not gotten my points for it yet. Also, the game I requested was never sent, so I had to cancel my request in order to get my points back for it. I gotta say, that so far, I have not been too impressed with how this thing works. I emailed Bbarterbee last Friday, but have not heard anything from them. If you have had better Barterbee experiences, let me know.


Of course, the day I write this, I get my points for my movie :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

getCals 0.21 Released

This update to getCals adds the feature of inserting the calendar name into the iCal file. This effects your downloads so that they will not all end up in an "other" calendar on your iPod, but instead will create different named calendars. This has been requested many times and so here you go!

Monday, May 15, 2006

While listening to Diggnation, I heard their ad for So I decided to check it out. It is a service where you list your DVDs, CDs and Video games for 'points' which are then spendable on other items listed on BarterBee (each 'buy' also has a $1 fee). Now if you listen to Diggnation, listen to the sponsor section for a coupon code for BarterBee. When you sign up, you usually get 5 points and $1, but with the coupon code, you get 10 points and $1. Since most movies/games are in the 10 point range, you basically get a free movie, cd or game just for signing up. Then if you sell 5 games a month you get additional points to spend on top of your point price for your item. I've listed a couple of movies to see how it goes, and have already spent my 10 free points (my wife wanted DDR for Xbox, that should be fun)

So, check it out and listen to Diggnation for their coupon code, and then check out and trade some stuff!


About 12 hours ago I posted 2 movies. X Files and Blade Runner, I have already had a request for X Files.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Flow of Juggling

I first heard of Flow from a boss I had while working at Greenville College, I was a programmer there for several years in the IT department. At the time of his arrival, everyone in the department pretty much did their jobs and did tech support for anyone who walked into their office and asked for help. One of the first things that this new boss did was make a separate support team and left the programmers and network admins to their specific task. Even so, the non support folks would still get interrupted if people thought the support team was too busy and would just walk back to their office and interrupt them. To fix this, a lock was installed on the department door and no one was allowed to come back unless they were authorized. There was a lot of fuss about this, but Will (my boss) explained it this way; People like programmers get into a state of Flow. In this state they get their whole project into their head and have access to any of it. Everything else is zoned out and they work extremely efficiently. The problem is that it takes 10-15 minutes to enter this state and any interruption can break the state and the person will have to re-enter it. This seemed to be a good explanation and we liked not being interrupted so much.

Now it was about the same time that I started to juggle. I find it very enjoyable, but most people are either impressed that I can do it, then move on, or they sit and ask "why are you doing that" or they just laugh. I have tried to explain how calming and stress relieving juggling can be and they say "I would be more stressed if I juggled". I can't seem to get anyone to "get it".

I was reading some blogs and came across this article at on how juggling relates to flow:

It makes a lot of sense. I recently taped a short practice of mine and watched it back 10 minutes later. I thought "Oh, here I do about 5 attempts at a 5 ball cascade". Then I watched as I did about 25-30 attempts on the tape. The same thing held true though the whole tape. I had no perception of time while I was juggling.

Also the state of flow makes things slow down. I have noticed this as I have been working on my 5 ball cascade. At first a 5 ball flash is so fast. But then as you go along, it seems to slow down. The times I have gotten runs between 10-15 catches (hey I'm still learning) the pattern seems to slow down even more.

Read the article, it may shed some light on your enjoyment of juggling or someone you know's enjoyment of juggling.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Practice Journal and PocketMod

I tried really hard a few years ago to be a good Palm Pilot user. Well, it didn't work. I was terrible at the Jot script and it took too long to take a simple note. The organizational idea works, but the execution doesn't (at least for me) .

Well I was working on my practice journal for juggling and was given a tip on rec.juggling by "Little Paul" for a nifty little app. It is called PocketMod. It is based off a folding pattern for paper that creates a little 8 paged booklet. The program lets you choose from a variety of page templates (shopping lists, checkbook registers, contacts, games, reference, etc) and place them into the pages of the booklet and then you print, fold (and make one cut) and you have your PocketMod booklet. Perfect size for slipping into your back pocket or wallet. As of this moment, it looks like you need to have flash to create pages for PocketMod, so if you want to customize it beyond the pages they provide, you need their other program PDFtoPocketMod.

PDFtoPocketMod takes an 8 page PDF file and creates a PocketMod out of it. So I grabbed my practice journal page, made the cells a little bigger and made a PDF of it. Here is the result.

Juggling Practice Record PocketMod

If you don't know how to fold it, go here click on "Create a PocketMod" and there is a link for the instructions in the online version of the app.

So anyway, check it out, you might find it useful. I'm certainly going to give it a go.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

WJF Juggling Balls and My Practice Journal

I was pleased to find a package today from the WJF with my 7 new white juggling balls. At first pickup, they have a balloon filled with sand sort of feel. They are a little bigger than I am used to, so it will take a little time to be comfortable catching 3 of them in one hand. They have a nice heft to them. 5 feels good with them although since they are a bigger size then I am used to, I have to work on my pattern. Having matching props makes a huge difference. If you are trying 5 with mismatched props, stop! I thought my throws were extremely inconsistent and now it seems that part of the problem was the props I was using. Apparently I wiped out the WJF store's supply of large white balls, cause they are now out of stock on the website. I like the white, they have a good look to them.

Part of Jason Garfields Theory and Practice talks about keeping track of your progress and such, so I have started working on a PDF file to use as a practice journal, to keep track of progress. You can get a copy of it here. It has places for you to enter the # of balls, the # of catches (or time if you are doing long runs), the number of completions at that catch level and any notes you might have. It also has blank lines for you to keep track of any other tricks you may be working on. Let me know what you think, or if you have other suggestions for basic tricks that should be pre-printed on the sheet.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Movie Review: MI:3

On the rare occasions that my wife and I get a chance to go see a movie, we try very hard to go see something good. We have made the mistake of using our date night on movies like "The Day After Tomorrow" which was terrible. So in planning on seeing MI:3 we had high hopes.

We saw the movie at the Orpheum Theater in Hillsboro, IL. If you have not seen a movie here, you should. The price is right at $5 a ticket and with that ticket you not only get your movie, but you also get a soda and a bag of popcorn. They even have a wide selection of flavor powder to add your popcorn (this stuff) mmmmm. To add to the viewing enjoyment, the back row of the theater is a row of nice comfy couches. I gotta say, a great place to see a movie! Now as a bit of disclosure, I am friends with the owners of the place and have to say they are some of the nicest people you will meet and they know how to run a theater.

So on to the movie. There were 4 previews beforehand
  • XMen 3
  • Superman Returns
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean 2
  • Nacho Libre
The first 3 are on my to-see list and would like to at least see the first 2 in the theater. Nacho Libre might be better suited for a rental on Blockbuster Online when my queue is empty.

Now MI:3... I had not seen many previews of this one, I only knew it was coming out. I really liked the first one and the second one was good, but a little over-the-top (John Woo-wise),but I still like them both and would watch either of the first 2 any time. When my wife told me that this was a JJ Abrams movie, I was very happy. We are both big Alias and Lost fans, so I was interested to see what he could do in a movie. Now I got to say after seeing most of Alias and All of Lost, There were lots of times in MI:3 that I saw JJ's touch. Especially with the whole "see a later part of the movie early on" technique. Very Effective. The movie starts off high intensity and really doesn't let up much. There are a few breaths, but they are short. You can tell that JJ has been writing and directing for a time limited format for a while, because he is always pushing the story forward with every frame of this film. You never feel like "ok, enough of this scene already" it is just, bam bam bam. As for Tom Cruise, I would say his acting is good as usual in this film and the supporting roles are a good compliment to his. As always I enjoyed Ving Rhames return as Luther Strickell. There is enough playful banter between him and Cruise to keep things light and make it seem that these 2 guys know each other well. Philip Seymour Hoffman was freaky, he creeped me out in this one. Very well done. Also Laurence Fishburne's part was small but well played. Of course anymore I expect him to say something about Kung Fu, and "The One", but I digress. Of course it is enjoyable to see some JJ Abrams usuals like Keri Russell (Felicity) and Greg Grunberg (Alias, Lost (he was the pilot of the plane who gets killed by the monster in the pilot episode)). The storyline is well written and relatively simple with enough mystery to keep you guessing, but not as twisted as the first one.

So, overall a great night out at the movies. I would recommend it if you liked the other MI movies or are a fan of JJ Abrams.

Also, if you are within driving distance (to see a movie) of Hillsboro, Illinois, check out the Orpheum Theater, it will be worth your while.


Friday, May 05, 2006

6 Ball Flash

My wife went to scrapbook with her friends tonight, so after I put the kids to bed, I hooked up the iPod to a pair of old computer speakers in the garage and did a little practicing. After some focused work on 5 ball cascade (which averages 7-10 throws clean these days) I decided to try my hand at 6. Now I do not have my new beanbags in yet so I had to use 5 12 panel bags and 1 4 panel bag. After a few attempts, I caught 5 out of 6 pretty clean. With a few more attempts, I flashed all 6 pretty clean (only 1 foot stepped forward) I managed to pull off about 4 more 6 ball flashes after that too (all Asynchronous Fountain pattern). After that I stepped back to 5 balls (which seems slower after 6) and managed to pull of a pretty clean run of 15 catches. Now I am really anxious to get my new bags in.

I also did a little bit of 3 club work (since I only have 3 nice clubs) and that is a workout in and of itself. I'm not so good at clubs. I'm working on adding in an occasional double spin in my regular pattern but height and spin don't always go as planned :) Also if you are thinking about clubs, remember that they have a woden dowel core, so if you manage to catch them with your fingers between the handles...ouch. Once I can get a good continuous double spin cascade and flashes going, I'll probably order 2 more of the clubs that I already have. I already have 3 95 MM Renegade Clubs, so at $25 each I can at least have a set of 5 for only $50 rather than shelling out $37 a club to start a set of Px3s. After shipping 5 Px3's would be about $200. A little rich for me at the moment. I like my Renegade clubs, but then again the only thing I have to compare them to is a set of Empire clubs that I was given as a gift when I first started juggling. The empires are shorter and do not have a center rod, so they are very light. Actually through a comdey of errors I was given 3 sets of Empire clubs, so I had nine. I gave 3 to my brother-in-law and still have 6 of them. I've been temped to cut them open, chop up a dowel rod and make them into something worth throwing. A little tape and work, and they just might work out...

I also have 3 rings. I guess I just don't get rings. I picked them up and threw them a little, but they are just not quite as fun for me.

All in all, a good night for juggling. Now I am tired and want to surf the web and maybe catch some TV before bed.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Placed My Order for 7

I placed my order for 7 white juggling balls today at the WJF store. So hopefully within a week I can retire my homemade, non-matched set of 5. I emailed Jason Garfield about these balls as far as finish and size. He responded that they seem to be pretty resistant to dirt buildup (my concern with buying white) and that for him they are the perfect size for juggling 7.

I guess that the only problem with this order is that it removes yet another excuse why I am not a great juggler. I can't blame it on bad equipment any more :)

I'll let you know how they are when they get here and I get a chance to use them for a practice or 2.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Filling your iPod with Video

So you bought an iPod with video and are getting tired of buying $2 shows off of iTunes. You want to move some of your videos from VHS or the internet to your iPod for viewing? Well look no further. Here is a little post on how you can fill up those 30 or 60 gigabytes with whatever you like (within reason).

Before I begin, make sure that all video that you copy for your iPod is legal for you to be copying and that your use of it falls under fair usage. It is in your best interest to not share any video that you have converted that you did not create or that you do not have explicit permission to distribute from the original creator of the content.
There are several sources for video content that you can tap into.

from iTunes

Of course you can buy premium video from iTunes, but there are an increasing number of video podcasts that might be interesting to you and the nice part is that podcasts are free!

from Google Video

Google is amassing quite a collection of video on their site Now there are 2 types of videos on their site, free and premium. When you pull up a video, you will see a price if it is premium. If it is not, it should have a download button. Now I have noticed that not all videos have a iPod video choice for download, but a lot of them do. So all you need to do is select download for iPod video and press download. Then save it to your hard drive, then import the file into iTunes and sync it to your iPod. You can do this in a couple ways: Drag it from a folder into an iTunes playlist or go to the File menu and choose Add File (or Folder) to Library. This is the process to add any video to iTunes. But make sure the video is in iPod compatible format or you wont be able to sync it to your iPod.

from VHS

So you have a video on VHS and you want to transfer it to your iPod. You will need a little bit of hardware to make this work. You will need the following
  • A VCR
  • RCA Cables
  • A Capture Device
So you probably have the vcr and the cables, but what is a capture device? Well it is something that can take the analog signal from your VCR (coming over the RCA cables) and convert it to a digial format. I use my Sony Handycam DV camera for this task. I plug the av cables into the output of my VCR and then hook it up to my computer via firewire. Other devices that work are like this which take an analog signal and convert it to firewire. You can then capture the video using Windows movie maker or whatever software came with your device. After it is captured, edit it if need be and save it to your computer. It is at this point that it is ready to be converted to iPod format (unless your video software has an iPod setting, which mine does not). iPod video is a form of mpeg4, so your iPod will not play any wmv or avi files that windows movie maker spits out. See the section "Other Online Videos" below for how to transcode your movie files into something iPod friendly.

A note about Macrovision:
Macrovision is a technology that protects video content. If you are trying to capture a copyrighted movie from VHS, you will probably see it get really dark then light. This is copy protection. This probably means you are copying something that you shouldn't be copying.

from DVD

I am not going to tell you how to rip a DVD and put it on a iPod since one step in the process (the actual ripping part) has to decrypt the DVD. Decrypting the DVD is a violation of the Digital Mellenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and therefore not something I would recommend. Although there is good news on the horizon that Apple has been in talks with movie studios about including iPod versions of movies on Blu-ray discs when they become available. So you may get your movie on the iPod fix legally...eventually.

Other Online Videos

There is lots of video on the web, and it is in lots of different formats. avi, wmv, mov, mpg, etc. How can you take one and make it play on your iPod? Well there is a great little program called Videora iPod Converter that does just that. It takes the movie file (it handles many formats) and 'transcodes' it to iPod format, ready to be imported into iTunes and synced with your iPod. This is what you will need to do to any videos that you capture or create on your computer as well, since it is likely that they will be in a non mpeg4 format such as wmv.

If you know of other places to get quality content that is easily converted to iPod format, please let me know. Leave a comment here and share with others how to fill up their favorite little media device!

If you liked this article, Digg It!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

So you want to Learn to Juggle?

I get a range of responses when I tell people I juggle. From the dismissive "um..ok Johnny" to the somewhat interested "cool, I never learned to do that", most people's interest perks up a bit when I mention I am working on 5 balls, then they comment on how they would not be able to juggle if they tried.

Well for those out there who never learned and think it you can't, I have a little video clip for you. This is the most simple, straight forward, 3 ball juggling tutorial I have seen. It is done by the World Juggling Federation president Jason Garfield. It is actually part of the "Theory and Practice of Juggling" DVD that I reviewed in an earlier post.

Here is the link to the video

you will need quicktime installed to view it, so if you don't you can watch it here in lower quality

So go ahead and try it. I would suggest getting 3 balls that are not too large and not too bouncy Don't use foam balls, because they are too light. For best results, use actual juggling balls which are either beanbags or "stage balls". Stage balls are hollow plastic balls that don't bounce. But I would recommend getting beanbags. As you may have read in this post my first beanbags were hand made, but I am about to get a full set (7) of high quality bags from and I'll let you know how those work out after I get them. These of course are only for if you want to lay out some $$$ since they are $5.50 a beanbag. So for my set of 7, I'm looking at $45 after shipping.

But I gotta tell you, it is an addictive pastime. Its one of those things that there is always something harder to try. No matter what pattern, trick or amount of balls you can juggle, there is always more. That is why I am getting 7 balls this time. I'm only working on 5, but I know in the next couple of months, 6 balls will be on my mind, and probably 7 will be taunting me too.

So what can I say. I like to juggle, I like to think about juggling and I like to talk about it too. Most people do not, because they don't get it. Thats ok, I don't get a lot of things that other people can't get enough of (NASCAR, Baseball, Fishing, Working on their car, etc). Does it make me abnormal to be really into a solo sport that takes concentration, determination, skill, patience , precision and endurance? Rather than someone who likes to watch Baseball or Football with a beer in one hand and a bag of chips in the other? I guess I am just abnormal.

Monday, May 01, 2006

2 Crazy Weeks

Well I gotta tell you what, the last 2 weeks have been crazy. I have gotten more traffic on my blog and website in the last 12 days than all my other web stuff in the past combined. Adsense is my major tracking key, so it is a rough number, but it looks like in the past 12 days I have gotten somewhere around 7500 hits. Now before you say that is not a lot of hits (cause I would agree) I must admit that for something I have done, it is pretty cool. I peaked the day I released getCals, but since then have been getting a steady 300 to 500 hits a day. Thank you all who are coming here and 'supporting' my blog and the little bits of software I have been writing.

Now I did have something cool happen today. I had a user of getCals email me with a problem. I helped him out and got it working. He responded by taking me up on the part of my readme file that indicates you can use the software for free, but are welcome to send donations to my paypal account. So if you are a smalltime developer like me, know that some people are willing to compensate you for your time without being forced to do so by some sort of crippleware. But instead by making it free and open and giving them the opportunity to respond in a manner appropriate to how well they like your software, you can feel really good about what you are doing for people.

For those of you who would like to make a similar donation, you can check the readme file that came with getCals, getFolks or getFeeds and it will tell you how, or you can always send me an iTunes gift certificate via email. I like those kind of surprises. :)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

5 Ball Video

Here is a little video of me doing 7 catches of 5 balls

I know it is nothing special, but check it out anyway.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

juggling: Qualifying 5

I was doing a little practice last night and managed to run 10 throws/catches of 5 balls. For those of you non-jugglers out there, that is called a qualifying run. Which means that I ran through the pattern 2 times. I managed to do it 2 times during the practice, but that was about it. So if you are working on something hard, be it artistic, athletic, work or hobby related and can't seem to get past a certain point, keep trying and practice correctly. Figure out a way (or learn a way) to practice it that makes sense, rather than practicing doing it wrong. You will get it eventaully.

getFeeds - An RSS feed downloader for iPod

getFeeds is a small rss reader that parses them items of an RSS feed into seperate files and places them in a named folder in the notes folder of your iPod. You can read them offline from there. Right now it only gets the Title, Link and Description. More data may be added later. I am also planning on adding Atom feed support in upcoming versions.

Download getFeeds

There is a simple .ini file to edit and away you go. There are examples in the file for the Front Page feed of Digg and my Del.Icio.Us feed too. Enjoy, and as always I like to hear your feedback!

Digg This

David Crowder*Band

Last night I got a chance to see the David Crowder*Band live at the Agape Music Festival in Greenville, Illinois. Now I don't have a real fun review as I had taken my 7 and 5 year old sons along with me, so my attention was split a little. But let me just tell you that these guys are great. They really put on a good show and reproduce their 'sound' well in concert. I was not dissapointed at all (except when I had to leave before the last song cause the kids were getting too tired to stay up and were getting cold). The interaction between David Crowder and the audience was really good, he definitely enjoys what he is doing. If you like thier music and have not had a chance to see them live yet, I would highly recommend it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

More iPod Ideas

Ok, here is my next idea... getFeeds

Same sort of app as getCals except instead of an ical url, you add a rss feed url. Then you put if you want it 'all in one' or 'broken up' Then the rss file is transformed into iPod notes for later reading.

I just need to do a little research on the rss format and away I go...

getFolks 0.11 - Updated Google Gmail to iPod Contacts

If you don't know what getFolks is, it is a little app to convert your exported Google Gmail contacts into iPod ready vcf files, if you want to read the initial release post, look here.

Well, due to some suggestions, I have made some slight improvements to the getFolks app. The output of the vcf files should be a little cleaner. Addresses and phone numbers should now show up on the iPod (a little syntax error was to blame for that not working all the time).

I am still open for suggestions and as you can see, turn around time on these little apps is pretty quick.

Download Here Version 0.11 here

Thursday, April 27, 2006

getFolks Connecting Your Gmail Contacts to the iPod

getFolks 0.1

EDIT- A new version has been released, check here

The younger sibling of getCals has arrived. getFolks converts the exported contacts list from Gmail and converts and copies it to your iPod. Unfortunately, there is no quick link to your Gmail contact export like there is to the Google Calendar, but with a few clicks you can update your iPod's contacts. Enjoy and let me know what you think! Email me if you have any trouble, questions or suggestions.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

WJF DVD and Conference Update

I recently received an update email from the WJF. It was concering the recent airing of the 2005 convention on ESPN2 and the great reaction they have gotten from it. I especially liked this quote...
"That same day Vova Galchenko was recognized on the street by someone who had seen the shows. Pretty cool."
The DVD of the 2005 convention is getting finished soon and some of the features that will be available on the DVD are:
  • Both shows as they aired on ESPN2
  • 2 extended interview tracks
  • Behind the scenes making of the shows
  • Outtakes
  • The option to watch the shows without any commentary
Jason went on to talk about plans for the 2006 convention which will be held August 2nd - 6th, at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino and the Lied Memorial Boys and Girls club in Las Vegas. It sounds like it is going to be quite the extravaganza. 5 days of practice time, workshops, exhibitions, and competitions. Unfortunately for me, I doubt I can go this year, but I have my sights set on 2007, perhaps by then I might not be embarassed to juggle in public. Some highlights of the 2006 convention will be:
  • Vova Galchenko defending his club title
  • Thomas Dietz defending his overall title
  • Vova Galchenko in the advanced ball competition
  • Entries from Finland and Norway (Jouni Temonen and Kristian Wanvik)
The rates for attending the convention will be going up from $99 on May first, so get your registration in now if you want that rate. The hotel is offering special rates for WJF attendees. $49 for the weekdays and $89 for the weekend days. So I guess your hotel will run you about $330 for the whole convention (3 weekdays and 2 weekend days). American Airlines will also have special pricing for attendees. There should be a convention code for these on the WJF site soon.

Make sure to check out the store at the WJF, they have expanded their offerings to a full line of PX3 clubs (which look very nice). And of course, balls, rings, along with tshirts, posters and other such merchandise.

So, check out the WJF website, and try to get to the convention, buy the DVD when it is available, get some great gear, and help promote sport juggling!

That's all for now....

Monday, April 24, 2006

Juggling Progress

So, I've started using Jason Garfield's method for juggling training. I got to say it is hard. The method really forces you to see how bad your form actually is. At first I was thinking, ah 10 well thrown 3 ball flashes, even height, no frantic grabs, etc...1,2,3, wide throw, 1,2,3,4...not even...1,2,3,4, moved feet. Man I stink at this. But after 2 weeks of a little practice every day and a couple of longer sessions, my throws are starting to even up. It is also hard to keep to the 10 perfect tries before moving on. Naturally I do 3 or 4 perfect tries and then want to move on. Patience.

However, all that being said I have been working on my 5 ball flashes and am hitting them a lot more often then I was 2 weeks ago. In a fit of not wanting to run 10 perfect 5 ball flashes, I have tried to do 7 throws and have gotten it a couple of times clean and I got 8 throws clean last night. So this is definately progress and I'm gonna keep with it. I can feel 5 balls 'setting' in. It is not quite so frantic to flash 5 (it really is slower than it seems) as it used to be. Although, I must say I really need to get a nice set of evenly weighted balls, cause when you move to 5 you can really tell the difference between the balls if they are not the same weight. But I spent all my 'juggling money' on a recent book and dvd set :), so I gotta save up, which is hard to do with 4 kids to feed.

I have also started working on trying to get a 3ball 3up 180. So I'm guessing a bit and using the breakdown/buildup method, I'm trying to get 1 ball 1up 180, Then do a 2 ball (crossing) 2 up 180, then to 3. Now before you all laugh at how pitiful that is, it seems like the most basic steps to me, so I'll build from there.

All in all, I'm very happy with my progress so far and am very encouraged to keep going with this.

getCals 0.2beta Available

Ok getCals 0.2 is ready for testing. This release adds the ability to download and convert iCal files to outlook csv format and gives the ability to add a seperate location for them. I don't use outlook, so I'm gonna need help testing this one. I followed the format as best I could, but I imagine there are probably still issues, I'm guessing with the time fields. Also as of this release, alarms are not set in the csv file. I hopefully will have that set once 0.2 is no longer beta.

download here


Friday, April 21, 2006

1000 Diggs!

Well there it is in all its splendor. My little app with 1000 diggs. I think it is about done on it's Digg ride, but once I get this timezone stuff worked out with the CSV converter I'll be posting an update.

getCals 0.2 Coming Soon...

I've been putting some work into getCals 0.2, the major new feature being a csv type that will let you download an iCal file and convert it to Outlook importable csv. So you will be able to add a type of csv to your ini file. I have had a lot of requests for this particular feature. I've still got some timezone bugs to work out and I need to work out if there will be a seperate location for csv files, but it is coming along. Hopefully I'll have something to show in the next couple of days.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

the Gizmo

You may (or may not) have noticed the addition of a little mascot in my titlebar. He is a work in progress called the Gizmo. He is being made in Blender 3d a free open source 3d design and animation package. I have been invovled in Blender developement for a few years in one form or another. Right now I've been laying low in the Blender world except that I keep a current CVS build on my machine at all times. You can really do some cool stuff with the software. If you are interested in what other people are doing with this free software, check out the first Open Source Movie Elephant's Dream from Project Orange.

Through the Grapevine

getCals is showing up everywhere. The story about getCals hit the CNET News site and so it showed up on a custom Google homepage. Chris Cenci was kind enough to send me a screenshot of it!

Dan Coulter left a comment on the Blog about it being picked up by the Lifehacker Blog

getCals has also just broken the 800 digg mark on :) Front Page!

Well, thanks everyone who Dugg my little app! When I went to bed last night I had 39 diggs and thought my story was just about buried. But when I woke up this morning I had almost 400 diggs and was on the front page. I even took a screenshot to commemorate the event. Talk about making my day. Now if Kevin and Alex would just Digg it and get it on Diggnation ;)

As far as development goes, I'm fleshing out my configuration ideas and will get back to you all as soon as I have something for you to try.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

getCals Getting Some Attention

I placed a news story on about getCals and have gotten a fair amount of traffic. So people are at least interested in the idea of getCals. Thanks for coming by and if you came here from digg, please digg me :) I'm stuck in that 30ish dig area (37 at the moment) where you are not a 2 digg article but not quite front page material :)

I have gotten a little bit of feedback so far and getCals seems to be working alright for people. Please let me know your experience.

I am trying to come up with some ideas on how to enhance getCals. Right now it is very bare bones. Which is good. But there is surely room for improvement. As you use the software, if you think of things that might be useful, please add you comments here. The one major thing I need to add is a gui configuration tool so that people do not have to manually add or subtract from the .ini file.

I hope you enjoy using getCals, and if you do, please consider making a small donation per the readme file. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

getCals 0.1 Available

-Update: If you are interested in syncing your Gmail contacts, click here for getFolks

---Link To Download---

Update Version 0.11 - Minor Bugfix - Adds Trailing slash in location if not there.

So, I've done some more work on my little script and have compiled it into an exe. You can use it for free and if you feel like making a contribution if it works well for you, there will be instructions for that in the readme file. If you have any troubles feel free to email me at

Digg It

-I'm not sure which Ipods have calendar functionality, but at the moment this works on the Ipod with video and also the Nano.

-To get the ICAL address from Google, go to your calendar view, click on the down arrow next to your calendar name and go to "Share this Calendar". Choose the "Calendar Details" option, then click the ICAL button next to the "Private Address" section

Monday, April 17, 2006

programming: Perl,Google Calendar and the Ipod

So, I wanted an easy way to update the calendars from my google account to my ipod. Since I don't sync my calendar with software on my ipod, I manually copy the ical files to the calendar folder and that works fine. But in google calendar, that means clicking on each calendar, clicking on a tab, clicking on the ICAL link and saving the file to the ipod. I currently have 2 calendars, so updating my ipod will be a hassle. In comes my favorite superglue programming language, Perl! This script automates the process and with one double click the script downloads and saves my 2 calendars to my ipod.

I am working on an EXE version , I'll update more when I get it done

Saturday, April 15, 2006

juggling: WJF on ESPN2

April 14th at 2:30pm est on ESPN2 the World Juggling Federation 2004 advanced clubs competition, 2005 Advanced balls competition and advanced clubs competition were shown. Since I was at work, I had to tape them. I'm glad I did. It is really amazing how much better people got between 2004 and 2005. If you get a chance to see them they are pretty cool. The 2005 shows were much better. I like Penn Jillete and all, but the color commentary by him and Ben Jennins on 2004 was more than a bit distracting. Penn as an emcee is good, but that should have been the end of it. You can tell that this was the first year of the show and it was not clear to all involved that this was supposed to be fun, but serious. If juggling is going to be taken as a serious sport, the first displays of it on TV cannot be so flippant. Even still, there was some good juggling shown. The 2005 shows were much better. First of all, the commentary was provided by Oewn Morse and John Wee from Passing Zone and was very informative. The competition in 2005 was much tougher. I was amazed by some of the stuff I saw. If someone can watch that and be impressed by a 3 ball cascade ever again I would be surprised :) If you are in doubt about the skills of Vova Galchenko, just watch.

Now, if you dig a little deeper, you find that this whole deal is organized by the president of the WJF, Jason Garfield. After reading his book, I bet he is pleased with the 2005 event. It really made watching juggling as accessible as watching (gulp) figure skating. Good commentary (the 2005 shows) helped you understand what was going on and showed the non-juggler that juggling is just as organized and intense as other 'form based' sports (figure skating, gymnastics, etc). A more in depth scoring guide would be cool for anal folks. (Hey Jason can you post this at the WJF?) Overall, I'm gonna keep this tape and watch it again. Next time I watch, I'll do a new post and review the routines (from my limited perspective).

I guess unless ESPN2 replays these again, the only way to check them out is by buying the DVDs from the WJF store, but unfortunately only 2004 is available at the moment..

Friday, April 14, 2006

Google Calendar - More Goodies

While using Google Calendar, I've found some more goodies!

  • The ICal link works great with Thunderbird Lightning Extension

  • If you click on the + next to "Other Calendars" there is a tab for Holiday Calendars with a lot of countries and religous holiday calendars.

  • Quick add also recognized this statment as an all day event "Day off on May 1st", that made adding my work days off really easy since they rotate and are not the same every week

  • It is very simple to move items between calendars, just by editing the item

One problem I have noticed is the the "Where" field can be parsed out as a google map, which is cool, but, I like to have the name of the place there and not just the address and it is not apparent if there is a way to format the name/address so that you can have both.

I'll keep playing with it and see what else it can do.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

juggling: A review of The Theory and Practice of Juggling

The Theory and Practice of Juggling by Jason Garfield

a review by Johnny Matthews

So, I was happy to find in my mailbox today a package from the World Juggling Federation. I ordered the Book and DVD last Saturday and so it arrived quickly.

The Book

The book is 59 pages and was a quick read. Let me qualify that last statement. The book was a quick read, but the information is such that I will find myself re-reading it many times over, highlighting and underlining as I go. The book has several distinct parts that serve different functions. The theory in the book is more the theory of practicing as well theory on Ethics and what constitutes good juggling.

Now I was a bit mortified to find one trick that I was pleased with myself about learning to pull off (mills mess) in the "Don't Do This" chapter. But I got over it.

I found the formatting in the "Basic Moves" chapter rather sparse, as each level (1 ball to 11 balls) is each given a page, some of which are pretty short so there is a lot of blank space, but the info is good.

When I emailed Jason about this book, he warned me that I will probably need to take a step backwards in my skill to get better, and now I understand what he means. In including 1 and 2 balls, you are given the foundation for a good 3, 5 and 7 ball pattern.

There is a short glossary of terms at the end as well as a chapter from the WJF concerning teaching a PE class how to juggle. There is also a page of rules for the WJF competition (which I doubt I'll be competing in anytime soon)

Overall, I would say this is a great book for learning the foundations of good juggling, and not just learning how to keep 3 balls in the air. From what I can tell, it is Jason's style to keep things to the point, but would be interested if a 2nd edition of this book had some more fleshed out parts.


The DVD contains about 25 minutes of training material followed by a montage of about 5 minutes of additional moves. As well as some bonus footage and promos for other WJF titles. And it's all done with Jason's unique sense of humor.

The bulk of the training material is taking you from 1 ball to 7 balls. 8-12 balls is touched on, but come on if you can do 7 as well as Jason, do you really need a training video. The beauty of the DVD is that these sections are kept short but packed with good shots. At the end of each # of balls he does a little routine of tricks with that number. I would like to see some of those broken down a bit more, but perhaps we can look forward to that in TAP2!

There is a good section on breaking down tricks, where Jason breaks down 3 club body throws and 5 club backcrosses. The tricks here are not as important as what Jason is trying to accomplish, in showing how to practice a complex trick, by building up.

It really seems that Jason's goal in this book/DVD set is to teach you how to practice and not individual tricks. If you want a step by step guide to every juggling trick, this is not it. You will be disappointed. If you are interested in getting a good foundation, for learning those tricks on your own, this is more your speed.

Things I would have liked to have seen on the video
  • Basic club moves: as with balls, it would have been nice to see a progression of club work, you do get some, but for someone like me who stinks at clubs, it would have been nice.
  • 360/180: The book talks about 360's and 180's, but it would have been nice to see these on the DVD
  • How to throw more than one ball out of your hand at the same time at different heights. I just don't get that. I need help!

Overall, The $15 dollars for the book and $25 for the DVD were worth it. I would recommend them to anyone wanting to get better at this sport. If you want more instruction and less theory, the DVD would probably suffice. But if you learn better by reading too, the the book is a good addition.

Anyway, that is my review, now on to practicing. I'll blog my progress here.

Google Calendar

So, the long awaited Google Calendar is here! Using I was able to log in with my gmail account and away I went. After a little use, it seems pretty slick. Everything I need in a calendar program. Here is the rundown, that I have seen so far.

There are options for Day,Week, Month, Custom and Agenda view.

There is a printable view option that creates a pdf of your current view.

Adding Events
Adding Events is very simple by clicking on the time slot or the Create Event button

A very slick "Quick Add" which takes a sentance and makes it into an event. For an exmaple "Date Night with Chrissy 6:00pm tonight" created an event

There are plenty of recoccuring event options

I don't have any friends on Google cal yet, but there seem to be lots of options for sharing calendars. There are also options for XML and ICAL links for both public and private calendars. (I'll use this for my ipod!)

Event reminders, New invitations, Changed invitations, Cancelled invitations, Invitation replies, Daily agenda can be sent via Email or SMS, Events can also have popups (if you are in calendar)

Overall, It looks like Goolge has created a simple, slick and powerful app, akin to Gmail. I look forward to using it more.

Monday, April 10, 2006

programming: Ruby on Rails

So I was hearing all this buzz about Ruby on Rails and having been out of the web design business for a while doing sysadmin stuff, I decided it was time to play a little catch-up. So I checked out and got my copy of instantrails. Other than the fact it took a loooong time to decompress the archive file, after that getting a running ruby app going was relatively simple. I had been messing with the idea of redoing our company intranet for a while and so I started looking at how RoR might be of use. So far so good. I did some searching for RoR tutorials on the web and found that although there only seems to be a few good ones, there is enough to get your feet wet. It seems if you are a tutorial type person like myself, that you need to glean little bits out of each tutorial if you want to do anything complicated. My big issue at the moment is looking for correlations between PHP and RoR. I'd been doing PHP coding for a couple of years in my previous job and think in 'that way'. So I need to figure things like multi-level user authorization out. Though I gotta say when it comes to DB access and setting things up super fast, you just can't beat the Rails scaffold. I'm not sure if it is for me yet, but I'm still playing with it. Anyway, if you haven't checked out RoR, its worth at least a cursory glance, and who knows you might even like it. What are your thoughts on the matter?

juggling: Restarting

So, a couple of years ago out of a fit of wanting to learn something new, I surfed around the net and found some good resources concerning juggling. A co-worker and I started learning together. I made some custom juggling balls from here (did the smallest 12 panel ones)

and began. I learned 3 balls pretty quickly and was happy with my progress. I learned 2 in one hand and then a 4 ball fountain. I got up to an occasional 5 ball flash. I learned a bunch of simple patterns (reverse cascade, shower, half-shower, tennis, etc) but nothing too outrageous (I can do a little bit of mills mess, but that is about it) So then nothing. I have gotten no better even though I tried, so I let my new skills fade a little. I hadn't picked up my juggling balls in a long time and felt a cringe every time I walked past my gym bag filled with beanbags, stage balls an $90 worth of renegade clubs.

So, I'm looking over google video the other day and stumble upon the Chris Bliss / Jason Garfield videos. I had seen Jason's stuff before and was always impressed, and this was hilarious. So it inspired me to check out his website for the first time in a while and also the World Juggling Federation website.

I emailed Jason and asked him a couple of questions, then decided to get Jason's teaching DVD and book to see if they could perhaps help me in my juggling woes.

It is supposed to ship today, so I anxiously await their arrival.

I have no delusions or grandeur, I do not expect to skim his book and be able to do 7 club backcrosses the same day (which is good cause I only own 3) But I really have my heart set on being able to pull off a really nice 5 ball routine someday. So, is this a bloggable subject? Does anyone care? Who knows! We will see what the future holds.

I will write a full review of the book and DVD and also give you my first hand account of a lousy juggler trying again with a new method.