Archive for July, 2008

Roadmap: PocketMod for MouseCal

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

I have been a fan of the Hipster PDA for years now. I carry it everywhere I go. So when I created MouseCal, I had a desire to “integrate” it with the Hipster. I have been trying to figure out the best way to do this. One idea that I have is to implement a PocketMod with a calendar/agenda of events. I have some incentive to try and develop something soon, as I will be going to Disney World at the beginning of August. This will be a good oportunity to “field test” a PocketMod with MouseCal data.

Surprised at Starbucks, morning coffee was free

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Starbucks linking logoI was very surprised this morning at my local Starbucks. I stopped by the drive through window after church for my standard grande cappuccino. There was a car in front of me. When I got up to the window, I could see that there were a larger than normal number of customers inside the store. When the barista handed me my drink, I had my Starbucks card ready. But she said not to worry, it was on the house for having to wait so long. I said thank you very much.

I wonder if this is related to Starbucks refocusing on customer service and providing good coffee. I was impressed by the local store’s ability to allow a front-line employee who interacts with a customer the latitude to provide a free drink. This is the type of discretion can also be found at my favorite vacation spot, Walt Disney World. I didn’t complain about the wait, but the server provided a pleasant customer service experience for me. She was proactive. And it made me write this post. (Though that won’t get them a lot of free publicity. It is mostly my family who reads this, and they aren’t coffee drinkers.)

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog… YES!!!!!

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

I just got done watching all three episodes of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. IT WAS AWESOME! It is a self described “supervillain musical”.

I don’t know too much about how this show came to be, but I was happy it was made. It appears that Joss, Joss Whedon, the creator of the TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“, was looking to do something different. He was inspired by last year’s writer strike. He set off to create a show without the studios. (The people who the writers were “negotiating” with.) I would say that he achieved his goal of creating a story that was high in quality while independent. I think that what makes the show successful is the story and writing. It doesn’t matter that there aren’t a lot of highly glossy special effects. The writing is so good.

Anyway, go over and see the three acts quickly. They are up until midnight Sunday, July 20, 2008. They have plans to then release the show as a download and eventually a DVD. I definitely plan to purchase the DVD and support everyone responsible for this.

(I was right. The female news caster was Marti Noxon, a producer from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. She was also an actress in the musical episode “Once More, With Feeling” portraying the “Parking Ticket Woman”.)

MouseCal

Friday, July 18th, 2008

I have just launched MouseCal. MouseCal is a web application that publishes the operating hours of the Walt Disney World parks in iCalendar format. The iCalendar data can be displayed in online calendars, like Google Calendar. This can be very useful when planning your next trip to Walt Disney World. For instance, after adding a park calendar to Google Calendar, you can visually see when it opens and closes. It will also include any Extra Magic Hours that the park has for the particular day. This information can be useful not only for determining when you plan to visit the parks, but also in planning where you will eat. Dining at Disney has become quite popular. It has become common that you need to make advanced dining reservations for many of the popular locations. For instance, I just made an ADR on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 for January 12, 2009, 180 days away, for breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table. This is a “character meal”, where the Disney princesses visit you while you eat, inside Cinderella’s castle. (The icon for the Magic Kingdom.) The calendar information from MouseCal can help you decide when to make your ADR. For instance, you may see that a park is open later with an Extra Magic Hour evening so you plan on a later dinner. Or you see that the Magic Kingdom will be open until 2 am; so don’t make an ADR for breakfast the day after–you’ll probably want to sleep in a bit. (Yeah right! How can anyone sleep at Walt Disney World. I mean, it is too exciting to sleep. :-) )

Hello, Android

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

So, July 11, 2008, came and went. What happened on July 11? The iPhone 3G came out.

But I don’t have an iPhone. The other big thing is that the Apple iPhone App Store opened. But I don’t have a Mac, so I can’t run the emulator or create my own apps for the emulator.

So, I celebrated by creating my first Android app.

Hello, Android

This is the “Hello, World” version of an Android app running in the emulator. It was very easy to make. What made it easier for me is that Android apps are written in Java. (I am a Java developer by day.) The “Getting Started” tutorial even shows you how to use Eclipse.

I have only created the sample app so far, but it looks pretty easy for a Java developer to write an “Activity“. But, of coarse, the apps currently can only run in the emulator. But the emulator can be integrated very easily into Eclipse.

Though, it is not like having real hardware like the Apple iPhone. :-)

Strange thoughts from CNN: High gas prices anti-terrorist tool

Monday, July 7th, 2008

So, this morning I was watching CNN. They had a commercial for an upcoming segment about how “spy” weapons were being used to keep the upcoming presidential nomination conventions safe. And then Ali Velshi did his normal update about the price of oil and new airline fees. So, in the spirit of Bruce Schneier’s Movie-Plot Threat contest, I wondered what would happen if you mash the two together: What if the high gas prices were actually welcomed by some security providers as a terrorist threat deterent. By making the cost of travel in general more expensive, gas prices rise, airline tickets increase, etc. this would reduce travel throughout the US. Thus making it more costly for terrorists to arrive at their target (though, if they are paying in Euro’s it would actually be cheaper as the dollar falls) and filter out normal citizens who give up travel because it is too costly. At some point, normal citizens can longer afford to fly, only terrorists will be flying.

[This is only fiction. It was not meant to be taken seriously. NSA, please do not report me. :-) ]