316 - 10 Ideas for Families With Kids in SF.

10 Ideas for Families With Kids in SF.

By: Myk OLeary
Category: Opinion > Other
Read the article on Judy’s Book.

We’ve been to SF quite often, and have been there twice so far this summer. Someone asked about things to do with toddlers. here are some thoughts for kid spots in SF:

1) Walk the golden Gate Bridge. Why would a kid find this interesting? Well, it’s a massive structure that is almost a wonder of the world. These tidbits should catch any kid: “They never stop painting the bridge. By the time they are done, they have to start over. It’s also orange, not red. The real paint color is OSHA Orange.”

2) Pier 39. Where else can you find sea lions chilling out in a city? They bask in the sun on old un-used docks. (BTW, there are also Bison in Golden Gate park if you head over there. It might be the only chance the kids get to see these marvelous creatures…)

3) Go west on The Embarcadero from Pier 39 and look for bush man. He’ll be the homeless guy hiding on the edge of the sidewalk behind branches from a bush scaring the crap out of passers-by. Tons of kids were laughing at the people he caught.

4) If your family is at all religious, check out Grace Cathedral. It is the most amazing cathedral in the continental US. They also have one of the few full size labyrinths in their yard. It is a contemplative beautiful experience. It might give the kids a chance to reflect on what religion is.

5) If you have over 5-8 people at once, go to Ghirardeli Square and eat at the deli. They serve a sundae called the “earthquake” which is HUGE (8+ scoops of ice cream, PLUS fruits and toppings). It will take the whole party of people to finish it. If your kids like ice cream, their eyes will have never been bigger than they will be when they see this monstrosity.

6) Our four year old loved the interactive projected computer display at the Metreon. You can control the games with your feet and arms while running around the “screen” which is projected on the floor. While there, hit the carousel, but skip Zeum, it’s for older kids.

7) The Exploratorium is awesome. You will need a full day there. Especially once you see the Palace of Fine Arts. You will want to walk around it for a bit. It is an absolutely amazing example of Roman architecture (or something old like that… :)

8) Alcatraz. Scare them straight. Tell them bad people who lie and commit crimes go to jail, and this is what a jail is like. Make sure they see how much they suck.

9) Cable cars. Yeah, it’s cliché, but no where else in the country do they use still use these on a daily basis. If you go skiing at all, you can compare the system that runs the car to the rope pull they’re already familiar with.

10) The ocean. You just can’t beat the majesty and beauty of it. Especially by the rocks under the Cliff House. If the kids can take a hike of moderate vertical drop/gain, go to land’s end and hike down to the beach where you can get a view of the golden Gate from below. The beach here is incredible.

314 - More than you could ever imagine.

More than you could ever imagine.

By: Myk OLeary
Category: Opinion > Other
Read the article on Judy’s Book.

Please JB, do something to make becoming a CE something of pride. Maybe only have so many per city, maybe earn them by actually having reviews instead of drivel, maybe, maybe, maybe. Anything but this…

Other ways to piss the hell out of people on JB:

1) Write a review and when done make another post as a question asking your friends if they read it. Well, no, you just wrote it!!

2) Answer questions and attach a totally irrelevant review of something entirely tangential to the discussion at hand.

3) Do nothing but ask questions. Even if it’s an article or review. Because hey, that way everyone will read it.

4) Beg and plead for friends so you can become a CE.

5) Beg and plead your friends to invite your other pleading friends so they can become CEs.

6) Wonder why it takes more than a day for everyone on earth to know you’ve become a CE.

7) Take the stage like an Emmy winner and praise the breadth of JB for helping you achieve this monumental accomplishment.

8) After all of this, complain to JB for not sending you your “earned” gift card. You remind me of the paperboy in “Say Anything”.

And no, I don’t care who likes rain, who had a tire swing when they were kids, who sleeps nude, and who ponders the meaning of life on their morning commute.

Somebody shoot me and put me out of my misery…

BTW – yes, yes, no, and yes.

311 - Best Bargain Site is BargainShare.com

Best Bargain Site is BargainShare.com

Review of: Bargain Share
By: Myk OLeary
Rating: 5
Read review on Judy’s Book.

There are a lot of deals sites out there: bargainshare.com, fatwallet.com, slickdeals.com, anandtech.com, etc…

NONE are as good as BargainShare.com. FatWallet is nice, but the crowd is really gruff and rude. They don’t have as good of an attitude, and they’ll apply for freebies they have no need for just because they can.

BargainShare.com does have less people and less deals, BUT the people are MUCH nicer, and the deals are all really deals. There’s not nearly as much cruft as there is on other deal sites. I love BargainShare because I know the deals I see are good solid deals, and the threads I read aren’t going to be polluted with trolls.

If you want a REAL community site for deals, you now know where to go… BargainShare.com.

310 - Options for using TV as Monitor

Options for using TV as Monitor

By: Myk OLeary
Category: Opinion > Other
Read the article on Judy’s Book.

There are a couple ways to do this:
1) a VGA to RCA converter (they have a special name that is totally escaping me right now…) They work like those old pong style video game converters, but take a VGA monitor cable as input.

2) S Video works as well if you have a computer with S Video output and a TV/VCR with S Video input. A lot of PC laptops have this now a days. You should be able to find a custom video card that has it if you have a desktop. Just look for S Video out.

3) DVI is the best way. Unfortunately, most TVs with DVI input are plasma TVs. If you have one, you’re in luck! The video cards with DVI out are not standard (unless you’re MAC users like us… 😀 so again, you may have to buy a custom card.

The VGA converters are not a good option, they blow out fast and frequently and when they do work long enough, the resolution is for crap. I went through three with my old laptop before I gave up on the idea.

I have used S Video once and the resolution looked much better, although it could still use some work. It’s a very cable option, especially if your video card already has an S Video out.

The DVI out from our MAC to our plasma was a site to behold. If you can swing it, I’d go that way, but S Video works well.

After you get it hooked up, don’t forget to look for a good wireless mouse and keyboard. No sense sitting so close once you get this going.

I’d suggest a RF or Bluetooth based set and to NOT go for the IR wireless. The required line of site and diminished distance are not nearly as good…

309 - 18+ Email Accounts

18+ Email Accounts

By: Myk OLeary
Category: Opinion > Other
Read the article on Judy’s Book.

* 5 personal project website emails
* 3 personal emails (one retired, one for friends, one for spam)
* hotmail – mostly spam, but a few messages here and there
* yahoo – mostly spam, but a few messages here and there
* 4 gmail – one joint with wifey, one personal, one for list-servs to send to my sidekick, and one for a network disk drive
* work email
* aol mail – haven’t used for much, but signed up to get another email bucket on my sidekick since I hit my limit with accounts I use regularly.
* sidekick one through tmobile – I use this for bargain web site alerts since the email is pushed to my sidekick upon receipt.
* dot mac – joint with wifey. Don’t use much, but do use dot mac for PIM syncing

Plus, I have AIM, MSN, GChat, Yahoo!, and dot mac IM accounts, 3 prepaid phones, a Skype account/number, and subscribe to round abouts 600 RSS feeds.

Yes, I am the definition of information overload…

308 - ONLY No-Catch Free Credit Reports

ONLY No-Catch Free Credit Reports

Review of: Annual Credit Report
By: Myk OLeary
Rating: 5
Read review on Judy’s Book.

There are a bevy of sites that offer free credit reports. Many of them request your report for you from one of the big three (1-Experian { http://www.experian.com/consumer/ }; 2-Equifax { http://www.equifax.com/ }; 3-TransUnion { http://www.transunion.com/ }) reporting services and then subscribe you to a credit monitoring service trial. They will then charge you if you forget to cancel the trial.

EACH of the big three credit reporting agencies allow every US resident to receive a free credit report every 12 months. That means you can effectively get three free reports per year.

Go to AnnualCreditReport.com ( http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ ) to sign up and receive the only TRULY free credit reports. This site is sponsored by the big three reporting agencies and results in nothing but your credit report. Go there and check out their FAQ, it will answer all your questions.

307 - TMO Sidekick 3 is Datalicious

TMO Sidekick 3 is Datalicious

Review of: TMobile Sidekick 3
By: Myk OLeary
Rating: 4
Read review on Judy’s Book.

I got a Sidekick 3 a couple weeks ago and have been using it almost exclusively (I still have $40 and $60 prepaid on two other phones I need to blow through – let me know if you want to buy either for the minutes… :)

This is pretty much the only reasonable data choice for prepaid minutes. Amp’d does offer a VERY cheap data plan for their prepaid plans, but the form factor there is not as nice, the features aren’t as full, and the voice minutes are more expensive.

1) Delicious data goodness. And, at only $1/day for all I can eat.
2) IM, E-mail, web, SMS, camera, and music player in one device
3) Always on. I have several alert systems setup to get data to me when deals are announced online. Now that I have this phone, they all come to my hip instead of my laptop. I don’t need to be near it when the latest Woot! or Steep and Cheap offer come out. I can order from anywhere. I have made money on deals above and beyond the cost I have paid for service to date. talk about a device that pays for itself!
4) Access to AIM bots. Yeah, they are the bane of desktop existence, but when you’re out and about, being able to track down an address or phone number from YellowPages, or a weather forecast from SmarterChild just plain rocks.
5) The form factor is improved over previous models that I never bought for being too clunky
6) The thumb wheel is device navigation at it’s finest. The 4 “major” keys top out the UI as a masterpiece of mobile user experience.

1) Even with a 1GB mini-SD card I can’t increase the amount of stored information. I’m limited to 6MB mail, 2000 contacts, 50 tasks, etc… I can understand this since the data sits replicated on the Danger servers; however, allow me a storage folder for email at the very least that is no longer synced but just sits on my device’ storage card.
2) Only 3 POP/IMAP accounts past my main TMO one are allowed. I squeaked a 5th one on by using the AOL Mail application now that AOL Mail just went free.
3) No custom mp3 ringtones despite having a player able to play them. My wife’s Sony|Ericcson W600i can do mp3 ringtones… :(
4) IMAP accounts are not true IMAP, they do NOT sync changes back to the mail server. Why have the option if all they do is act like POP?
5) The OS changed so much, the entire catalog of applications needs to be re-written. That makes the download catalog temporarily weak, but it will improve (and has over the past two weeks…)
6) No real alarm clock. I have to set calendar alarms, which really bites since I sync the data with iCal, since these appointments show up on my laptop… >:|

There are other pros and cons, but these are the ones that float up to the top of my head. There may seem like there are more cons, but they really don’t come near to outweighing the pros. Not even close. I just list them to be fully candid for others who may think they do. Also, they are the reason this device only gets a 4 star rating from me.

Regardless, this is THE data device to get if you’re prepaid, and one of the TOP choices to look at for postpaid service.

306 - The Wonder of Drive In Movie Theaters

The Wonder of Drive In Movie Theaters

Review of: Drive-Ins.com
By: Myk OLeary
Rating: 5
Read review on Judy’s Book.

I remember going to drive in theaters when I was younger. The one specific time I remember to this day is the Jungle Book/Zorro/Jungle Book/Zorro back to back double feature we went to with my parents.

If you want to re-live this miracle of cinematic experiences, go to Drive-Ins.com ( http://www.drive-ins.com/ ) and search through their list of operating theaters.

My wife and I have been to at least a dozen movies with our kids since they were born four and one year(s) ago (two different kids…) We go to the Valley Drive In in Auburn, WA.( http://valleydriveins.com/ ) although for Puget Sound residents there are also ones in Kitsap and Everett. The Auburn one is best at 5 screens strong.

Let me just tell you how much regular theater crying rooms suck. Stuffy, crowded, and only four seats at the main Seattle one. Plus, you get ONE choice. With our drive in, we can see any major release we want and not have to worry about bothering anyone at all. They are THE way for parents to see movies when they have kids and can’t get a babysitter. Netflix only works for so long before you want to be “up to speed” on culture.

Drive-In.com is a great resource for finding drive in theaters near you. They even have a drive in movie reward card accepted at some theaters for gifts, prizes, and discounts.

304 - Costco Photos Are Cheap and VERY High Quality

Costco Photos Are Cheap and VERY High Quality

Review of: Costco
By: Myk OLeary
Rating: 4
Read review on Judy’s Book.

They aren’t online, but if you know someone with a membership, you can get prints for 0.19 cents apiece.

They are of good enough quality to sell (trust me, I’m a digital photographer and have sold the 4×6 prints in custom greeting cards at art fairs)

Service is quick, and you bring the photos in on CD or flash cards. For the more serious photographers, you can even download and use a custom .icc profile file that EACH lab provides.

They usually can get them done within a couple of hours. Go early and you have a better shot of getting them by the time you’re done shopping.

Just remember that here and with any online processor that you’re images WILL be truncated. The aspect ratio of digital camera files is different than the aspect ratio of prints. This means you’ll get bars cut off the top or sides until the two match. If you have an image editing software you should try cropping to the ratio of 4×6.

303 - (SF) Pretty good Pan-Asian

(SF) Pretty good Pan-Asian

Review of: Citrus Club
By: Myk OLeary
Rating: 3
Read review on Judy’s Book.

I went to Citrus Club with some friends this weekend on a trip down to SF. It’s at the park end of the Haight, not more than a block or so away from the McDonalds.

The wait was a bit long, and the tables were pretty close together. Not the best place for a claustrophobic to eat.

I had the Peanut Noodles, which while good, were still a bit plain and bland compared to peanut sauce dishes I’ve had elsewhere. Not too spectacular.

What was spectacular however were the edemame tossed in a garlic soy sauce mix. These were so amazingly good, I’d consider coming here for a double or triple takeout order of just them.

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