Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Summer of Productivity Weekly Update #1

Hello again,

As I stated last week, this has now officially become the summer of productivity here in Big Digital-land. Its now been a week since I set some goals and parameters to guide me through the summer. And we'll call this week the "Proof of Concept" week, i.e. while the last week was far from perfect, I did prove to myself that it can be done. A large part of this past week's lack of productivity will be credited to the holiday weekend (my schedule only applies on weekdays), and yesterday's post-holiday ramp-up. On the positive side, I did get up at 7:30 3 days last week (4 if you count Sunday when I was at the church by 7:30), and was in bed by 11:30 or midnight nearly every night.

Just yesterday I made myself a spreadsheet on which I could track my compliance, so look forward to more quantitave data and perhaps even some statistical analysis further down the road (I have to put my prestigious education to use somehow, right?).

And don't worry, there's still 4 more cartoons left in the countdown along with some honorable mentions I need to get out before the countdown is done.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown #5: Voltron

Among the classics cartoons of my childhood, a special place belongs to Voltron. For any of you who somehow aren't already familiar with this show, basically there were some evil space bad guys trying to take over the universe, and Voltron was a robot designed to defend the universe against these kinds of threats. Then, somehow this robot was broken up into 5 pieces (lion-shaped robots) that required someone to drive them and put them together to form Voltron.

Voltron and Lions

5 space explorers were sent to the planet where the lion robots were to be the ones who would put Voltron together in time of need. The explorers were:

Keith (Red suit, black lion). He was the leader of the Voltron force and also the pilot of the black lion that formed the head and torso of Voltron.

Lance (Blue suit, red lion). He's the wiseguy of group, cracking jokes and what not. He pilots the red lion that forms the arm of Voltron that holds his Blazing Sword.

Pidge (Green suit, green lion). Pidge is the little kid of the group. I personally, was never sure whether Pidge was a boy or a girl. The clothes Pidge wears often feature some kind of fringy trim, and Pidge is often shown with some kind of headband or barrette holding his (her?) hair in place. The green lion forms one of Voltron's arms.
voltron green
I'm supposed to believe this is a boy?

Hunk (Yellow suit, yellow lion). Hunk is the strongest member of Voltron force and pilot of the yellow lion that forms one of Voltron's legs. Spends a lot of time hanging out with Pidge.

Princess Allura (pink suit, blue lion). Princess Allura is the reigning royalty on the planet where the Voltron robot is. Originally, I'm not sure for how long, the blue lion was piloted by a guy in a black suit named Swen who was injured in an attack which forced Allura to take over piloting the blue lion, and also resulted her being the token female (we're still not sure about Pidge) on Voltron force. She often talks to some mice who live in her castle. Oh, the blue lion is one of Voltron's legs.
Note: You can see Swen in this picture. He's in the black suit.

Pretty much each episode consisted of the evil space people coming up with a plan to stop the Voltron force from forming Voltron, then sending a giant space monster down to the surface of the planet in a large coffin shaped landing pod. This giant would then get ready to wreak havoc, which would spur the Voltron force to enter their lion robots -- each of which came from a special color-themed location on the planet. The blue lion was under water, the red lion was in a lava cave, the green lion was in the woods, the yellow lion was in the desert, and the black lion was disguised as a statue in front of the castle.

Then, in their separate lion robots the Voltron force would attempt to defeat the monster, unsuccessfully of course. Then they would, wisely, decide to join together as Voltron, which resulted in this impressive checklist of technical jargon:

"Ready to form Voltron! Activate interlock! Dynatherms connected! Infracells up! Megathrusters are go!"

Then the lion robots all came together to form Voltron, who then proceeded to use a variety of again unsuccessful attack methods (shooting lasers, launching limbs at the monster, etc.) before finally deciding to "Form the Blazing Sword!" which was the ultimate weapon in the universe and always successful in dispatching anything that dared to defy it.

Some thoughts about Voltron:

-Why didn't they just always go straight to the full-on Voltron with Blazing Sword attached mode? Seems like it would have saved them some time.

-Why would the people who wanted to control the universe always attack the planet Voltron was on? He didn't seem to be capable of space travel (maybe I'm wrong) so why not just move on and leave him alone?

-The "live action" children's show Power Rangers was such a blatant Voltron rip-off that the first time I watched it I predicted the appearance of a blazing sword and was shocked to be right. The only real difference between these two shows was that the Power Rangers had different kinds of animal robots that went together to form the big robot.

Here's the updated countdown:
#10: Underdog
#9: Thundercats
#8: G.I. Joe
#7: Superfriends
#6: Scooby's All Star Laff-a-lympics
#5: Voltron

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

And so begins the Summer of Productivity

Lately I've been feeling a little unproductive. I'll be honest, I'm far from the best person to motivate me. Self-starter I am not, at least not on the things I think I need to do. If all I needed to do was surf the web and organize my iTunes music library, pencil me in as self-starter of the year. Unfortunately there are things that I'm not so good at getting myself to do. But all that has changed, starting yesterday. I've made myself a daily schedule with things that I need to do on it that looks like this:

7:30 Get up, exercise
8:30 Shower, Get dressed
9:00 Eat Breakfast
9:15 Read Scriptures
9:45 Leave for "work"
10:15 Arrive at "work"
4:00 Leave for home

11:00 Get ready for bed
11:30 Go to bed

In addition to the fixed items, I've also made a goal to each day pick some task that needs doing and get it done. Maybe I can make 4:30, when I get home from "work" my daily task time. Yesterday it was grocery shopping. Today its folding the laundry I washed on Monday that been sitting in the laundry basket since then. Tomorrow -- I've got some bills that need paying. I'm also going to need to dedicate time most days to my new church calling (Executive Secretary for my bishop) as there appears to be a limitless supply of people who need to meet with him, but I'll probably get a better handle on that as time goes on.

As far as "work" (my research project) goes, I figure that if I at least am here at my desk for nearly 6 hours a day I can't help be manage to be productive. I realize that may be a stretch, but considering all the other changes on the above list, I don't want to try to do too much at once. I have some other things I'd like to improve on as well.

So far (1 day) I'm batting 1.000. I'm sure I'll face some challenges along the way, most likely in the form of things that I'll have to do early in the morning some days that will throw a wrench into my schedule. I'm not sure what I'll do on those days, but I think the key is not to let it mess up my schedule for the other days. I'd like to say I'll worry about that when it comes up, but I think its probably a good idea to have a plan in advance. Any ideas?

I'm planning to post a weekly update, more for me than for you, as a way of holding myself accountable. Feel free to skip over those updates if you like. Not sure what day they'll be coming. Maybe Monday, maybe Wednesday. We'll just have to see.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown #6: Scooby's All Star Laff-a-lympics


Similar to last week's entry (The Superfriends), this week's entry is another all star cartoon of sorts. Scooby's All Star Laff-a-lympics was a show where in each episode 3 teams of Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters would travel the globe participating in Olympic style competition. At the end of each episode, one team would be declared the victor and get the gold medal.


The three teams were the Scooby Doobies, the Yogi Yahooeys, and the Really Rottens. The choice of who went on each of the first two teams seemed fairly arbitrary, and of course the Rottens were made up of bad guys and villains from a variety of cartoon shows.


I can't recall everyone on each team, but I know the Scooby Doobies had Scooby Doo, Shaggy, Scooby Dumb, Dynomutt and Blue Falcon, Hong Kong Phooey, and Captain Caveman. Yogi's team included Yogi Bear, Booboo Bear, Cindy Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, Augie Doggie, Doggie Daddy, Wally Gator, and the Grape Ape. The Really Rottens were made up mainly original characters including such baddies as Mumbly Mutt, the Dread Baron, an evil magician named the Great Fondoo and his magic rabbit, and Orful Octopus.

For each event, each team would pick a team member or two to compete. The Really Rottens, shockingly would usually try to cheat to win, but more often than not would get caught and lose points as a result. The other two teams seemed to win fairly often, although the Scooby Doobies won more than the Yogi Yahooeys.

Overall I thought this show was a lot of fun to watch, as each episode had a brand new variety of events and it was always interesting to see who from each team would participate in the event and how their specific abilities would affect their performance.

Some credit for this entry is owed to Wikipedia and this page.

Here's the updated countdown:
#10: Underdog
#9: Thundercats
#8: G.I. Joe
#7: Superfriends
#6: Scooby's All Star Laff-a-lympics

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown Honorable Mention: Star Wars Droids


Star Wars Droids: The Adventures of C-3PO and R2-D2 is a cartoon that I remember as being exciting because anything to do with Star Wars back then was exciting. Basically this cartoon was set in the time before Episode IV and after the yet to be made Episodes I-III. C-3PO and R2-D2 basically were on their own looking for someone to be their master. They'd find someone and spend a few episodes with that master before circumstances led to their moving on to finding a new master.

Not much stands out to me from this series, other than somehow through this series I was informed that C-3PO and R2-D2 were characters in each of the Star Wars plots that George Lucas had written, even though at this point I don't know that Eps. I-III had even been green lighted for production.

Also of note, Anthony Daniels,the actor who voiced C-3PO in the movies, was also his voice in this cartoon.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Got Lame?

Apparently the Got Milk? ad campaign is the single most awesome, creative advertising campaign in the history of advertising. Because if not, then why in the world would everyone else be just ripping it off for their own Got Something? campaigns. I mean c'mon. Got Milk? has been around for years, can't we come up with something else?

A little searching led me to this page, where the Got Milk? folks have rounded up 100 of their favorite Got Milk? ripoffs. I'm sure they love to see people keep on reusing their oh-so-creative slogan, since it makes the original look that much better by comparison.

Just last year the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) the academic society to which I belong unveiled their new Electronic Health Record promotion campaign, with a super creative title: Got EHR?

Its getting pretty ridiculous people. I expect better.

Classic Cartoon Countdown #7: Superfriends

The Superfriends cartoon was, in my opinion, pretty much one of the coolest ideas ever in cartoon history. Get all the superheros together as one all-star team of heroes and pit them against all their individual arch-enemies and some collective enemies. How could this fail to work? If you ask me, it didn't.

Basically, you've got the Justice League of America (Good thing America is always there to save the world and even the universe at times. You can't tell me the UN could put together a team like this.) consisting primarily of:

Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
Apache Chief
Black Vulcan


They are based out of the Hall of Justice

Their enemies go by the name of the Legion of Doom and include such baddies as:

Lex Luthor
The Riddler
The Toyman
Black Manta
Captain Cold
Solomon Grundy


They hole up in a little place that looks like this:

While logic might imply that someone like Superman would be sufficient to handle any number of bad guys, but luckily logic doesn't need to enter into the argument when cartoons are in the mix. Each episode allows different superheros and supervillains to take center stage and often allows them to team up with exciting results.

The lists above do not include some heroes who also appeared in some of the other seasons. I remember the Atom, Green Arrow, and some kind of girl that hung out with Green Arrow. A large number of these comic book heroes (and villains) I would probably have never heard of if not for this show. It allowed these lesser known supes to get their day in the sun, while drawing in those of us who'd never heard of the get to them know them along with folks we'd already heard of before.

Here's the updated countdown:
#10: Underdog
#9: Thundercats
#8: G.I. Joe
#7: Superfriends

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown Honorable Mention: Dungeons & Dragons


Dungeons & Dragons is a Saturday morning cartoon that does not seem to have had the syndicated success that some of the other cartoons of its era enjoyed, but was certainly an interesting show. At least to my and my brother. I'm sure some if its popularity with us was due to the fact that our favorite babysitter happened to be familiar with the whole D&D scene and even ended up leaving us his multi-sided die collection (He left us with 4-, 8-, 12-, and 20-sided dies).

The premise of the show was that a group of kids were on a Dungeons & Dragons ride at an amusement park (don't ask me why an amusement park would have a D&D ride) and somehow got teleported over into the real realm of Dungeons & Dragons with each kid being assigned to a certain character class (Ranger, Thief, Acrobat, Barbarian, etc.)

D&D Kids

Their main goal always was to return home again, but each week they needed to achieve some other objective either as a step towards their return home or as some kind of side quest that resulted from their desire to help everyone in their path or avoiding one of their several antagonists. Each week the Dungeon Master popped up and gave them some cryptic advice on how to try to get home next, only to disappear just as magically.

D&D Dungeon Master

One of their enemies were Venger, a fairly evil looking dude who looked like the bad guy in Legend but with only one horn.
D&D Venger

Another was Tiamat, the 5-headed chimera dragon with different heads that each spit different bad things (Fire, Ice, Lightning, Acid, and Toxic Gas).
D&D Tiamat

I distinctly remember one episode where the kids managed to make it back to the amusement park, but one of their friends had been turned into a Merman of sorts, so they returned back because they didn't want him to have to remain a merman in the real world.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Why shoot the 3 when you are only down by 1?

Its a rare sports-related post from me, but I guess I just want to ask the world at large a question, inspired two of the Cleveland-Washington games in this year's playoffs.

If you are down by just 1 point with a chance for one last shot, wouldn't you want to try to get a shot close to the basket? I mean, this might be going out on a limb, but it seems like shots are easier to make when you are closer. That's why you get an extra point for making one that is far away. But if you are only losing by 1, then you don't need to make a 3 pointer to win. A regular old 2 pointer will give you the victory. And I'll concede that it might be harder to get an open shot in closer, but even when these guys had some room to get closer without going right into the defense, they made sure to stop behind the 3-point line, as if they need to make sure its a 3 pointer. I mean I think I'm pretty good at math, and last I checked 2 points would have put them 1 point ahead.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown #8: G.I. Joe

A Real American Hero. G.I. Joe is There. G.I. Joe....Go Joe!

G.I. Joe while perhaps not the most popular cartoon of my childhood certainly deserves its ranking here among the top 10. G.I. Joe came on every afternoon and was part of my daily regimen of cartoony goodness.

The premise was that the American armed forces were battling against C.O.B.R.A. some kind of terrorist group that was always trying to take over the world.

The Joes were made up of a crew of military men (and at least one woman) each of whom had their own special skills. Duke seemed to be the only regular soldier, and perhaps because of that he was the leader. Snake-Eyes was always my favorite and dressed like a ninja. There were also characters who specialized in nautical stuff, or drove tanks, or were a girl, each with their own inherent specialties.


C.O.B.R.A. was the biggest crew of freaky terrorists ever dredged up I'm sure. The COBRA commander hid his face behind a metal mask, and he was shortly joined by Destro who had a face apparently made of metal and flew around in some kind of flying chariot. There was also a guy (my research reminds me his name was Zartan) whose skin changed color in the light.


G.I. Joe had a very popular line of action figures, and I may have even had one or two at some point. I remember being surprised to find at my grandparents house some of my uncles old G.I. Joe action figures which were much larger than the ones we got, and not nearly as cool in my opinion. The old ones seemed much more like dolls than action figures.

Some of my favorite memories from the G.I. Joe cartoon were:
-an episode where Snake-Eyes was trapped behind a wall while a room filled with toxic gas and radioactivity of some kind, (Kind of reminiscint of Spock in Star Trek II) as the cliffhanger of an episode that I never saw the end of.
-actually sending in a postcard to some kind of drawing they used to have. I don't even know what you could win, but I remember when they used to roll that drum full of cards hoping that this would be my chance.
-the PSAs that would come on at the end of every episode where we learned such things as how to escape a burning building, not to swim right after eating, and the heimlich manuever. These always ended with the awesome lines "Now I know!" "And knowing is half the battle." Truer words have never been spoken.

Here's the updated countdown:
#10: Underdog
#9: Thundercats
#8: G.I. Joe

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown Honorable Mention: CBS Storybreak with Captain O.G. Readmore

To tide you over til tomorrow's entry in the countdown, I thought I'd throw out a fuzzy memory from the past: Captain O.G. Readmore:

og readmoregif

The CBS Storybreak was a cartoon where each week they would take some children's book, cut it down to make it fit the time slot and animate it. It was hosted by this cat dressed up as a sailor, Captain O.G. Readmore. In fact, he's probably even more O.G. than Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.

Anyway, this was a show we didn't watch much because it didn't come on until nearly lunchtime (maybe even after lunchtime) on Saturdays and at that point we were usually out playing with friends or doing whatever we did on Saturdays back then. But O.G. was always a featured commercial during the earlier cartoons encouraging us to read books and of course tune in for his show.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sounds kind of like whining to me

With the initial test release of Internet Explorer v.7 having recently occurred, Google is complaining that the new browser's default search engine is MSN. Basically, IE 7 will have an embedded search box the same way that Firefox does. (IE 7 will have a striking number of similarities with FF. Shocker.) And the default setting for this search box will be MSN search. Another shocker. You build a browser, why not set the default search to your own search engine. The search box is customizable in a way that I'm sure that Firefox works. You can switch between search engines and add more to your list of possible searches.

Google, however feels like this is a deliberate attack on them, and not only that, but that it borders on the kind of anti-trust stuff that Microsoft has gotten raked over the coals for before. But you know what? I'm not buying it. I think Google is just being a whiny baby because the most popular browser will have its default search set to something other than Google. You know why I feel that way? Because Firefox and Opera come pre-configured with Google as their default search engine. Google is trying to make Microsoft consider some wacky setup option that would require a user setting up IE 7 to either enter the URL of their preferred search engine or choose it from a list.

Keep in mind, that I am happy with Firefox and I use Google as my preferred search engine and am blogging this on Google's blogger service. But it just seems whiny of Google to try to imply that Microsoft is breaking the law here. If people want to use Google to search they will. Google didn't have any problem being the default search engine on other browsers, so for them to complain here makes them start to sound more and more like Microsoft every day.