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.