Heath

This user hasn't shared any biographical information

Homepage: http://www.heathallyn.com/


Posts by Heath

Screw IE, Mozilla, and all the others! It’s Crazy Browser!

So like 90% of the web surfers out there, I have been a long time Internet Explorer user. For quite some time I have heard about what a great browser Mozilla is, too. Well recently I heard about how Mozilla (a free open source browser) had the “smart pop-up killer” ability. Basically this prevents any unwanted windows from popping up, but still lets windows pop up if you request them (like if you click a link that opens a new window). So I decided to give Mozilla a try.
Mozilla is built on Netscape’s engine, so it pretty much looks like netscape. The smart pop-up killer worked great, and was very cool. However as I sued it I noticed more and more quirks. The first thing that bugged me is the complete inability to customize the toolbar at all. When I run IE, I completely reconfigured the tool bar to be very efficient, and compact. With Mozilla, you get the layout they give you, and that’s it. Now I know they are working on this for future releases. I also like to install the Google toolbar so I can search directly from my browser’s toolbar. Luckily there was an equivalent available for Mozilla. However, Mozilla did crash on me quite a few times, and any time it needed to open a “browse” window, such as when I wanted to save a file, the browse window took ages, and ages to open. Now, note this only happened on Windows 2000, but still annoying. The final straw came when I found I couldn’t use my online banking at all. The page was just totally screwed up in Mozilla. Now this most likely isn’t Mozilla’s fault, but the web designer’s fault. However, regardless of blame, I couldn’t use my online banking. One BIG advantage of Mozilla (and several other browsers) is “Tabbed Browsing”. This allows you to have only one browser window running in your taskbar, but within that window you can have as many windows as you want, which each show up as a “tab” in the window. Just click on each tab to go to that browser window. This is especially nice for people like me who like every window that opens to be maximized instead of opening up in a smaller window. Why IE has not implemented Tabbed Browsing, and Smart Pop-up Killing (which is very simple to do) baffles me.
So having had one too many quirks in Mozilla, I went back to IE. I then decided to see if there were any plugins or anything that would allow Tabbed Browsing, because it absolutely rocks. This is when I stumbled upon pure gold. Crazy Browser. This has everything I liked about IE and Mozilla, plus more. Now it does require you to have IE installed. I’m not exactly sure on the whole technicalities of how it works, but basically, it’s a stand alone program (not a plugin for IE), but yet uses certain components from IE to render web pages. It is so utterly customizable, your head will spin. I easily moved my toolbars around to my liking, and customized what buttons and menus I wanted. I told it what I did and did not want to open in a new “tab”. For example, by default, anything you click on in your favorites menu, anything you type in the address bar, and several other things all open in a new tab (basically a new window within the browser window). Well I unchecked a few boxes, and then it behaved just like I wanted and only opened a new tab for things that would normally open a new window when clicked on. There’s also an option you need to click if you want to be able to run more than one instance of Crazy Browser. For example, let’s say you’re researching llamas, and looking for web pages about giraffes. You could have one Crazy Browser open with 5 pages about llamas open (each having their own tab within the browser) and then open another browser and have 5 pages about giraffes open there. Of course if you wanted to you could also have all 10 pages open in one browser with 10 tabs. The important thing being that if you do want to run more than one instance of Crazy Browser you must check a box within the options.
You can also save “groups” of tabs. Taking the example above, I could save my 5 different llama pages as a “group”. then in the future I could click on that one entry titled “llamas” and it would open all 5 pages, each on their own tab. Let’s say you don’t always want to open all 5, but sometimes you do. Then you could just save each page individually in your favorites, and put them all in their own folder titled “llamas”. Now when you open your favorites, you see your “llamas” folder, and you can either click on any individual web page OR click the handy link at the to of the folder labeled “open all links” and open every link in that folder (in this case, our 5 llama pages) just like a group.
Now since Crazy Browser is it’s own program and not a plugin for IE, you can’t use the Google toolbar. At first I thought I would miss it. I don’t. It’s own built in search feature is very nice. You open a little sidebar, type in your search and click on which of the many search engines you want to search. The results then appear in their own tab in the browser. I did miss being able to just click on my search term in the Google toolbar and have it highlighted on the page, but this is a minor quibble which can also be accomplished, albeit not quite as elegantly, by hitting ctrl+f to bring up the “find” box.
Pop-ups are virtually extinct. I have had a few which fooled the browser and popped up in a new tab, and a few of those annoying ones that appear on the same page you’re browsing, but all in all, my browsing is almost pop-up free now. The smart pop-up killer works incredibly well.
There’s also cool drop down menu beside the address bar that lets you translate websites from one language to another using Altavista’s Babelfish function.
So far the only “flaw” I have found (and it’s only a flaw if it bothers you personally), is that you can’t re-order your favorites. They appear in alphabetical order. If you want to do anything with them, such as rename them, change their properties, or delete them, you have to go into the “organize favorites” menu. Also, if you have more favorites than will fit on a page, you have to click on the arrow at the bottom of the list to scroll it. It won’t scroll if you just hover over it like IE will.
Aside from the weakness in the favorites menu I have not found a single flaw. I’ve been to web pages using Flash, Shockwave, etc., and it appears that if the plugin is installed in IE, then Crazy Browser will work with it.
In my opinion, Crazy Browser is everything that IE and Mozilla should be. It is hands down the absolute most incredible web browser I have ever seen. I think that some of the default settings (such as almost everything opening up in it’s own new tab) could initially annoy you, but if you take the time to customize the settings to your personal preferences, I think it quickly becomes the perfect browser. It is completely free, and therefore does not have any kind of official technical support at all, so if you have a problem, you’re pretty much on your own, however I don’t see this is as much of an issue really. It’s preformed flawlessly for me, and I’ve had no problems figuring out all the options for myself without even looking at the help file included with the program. Give it a try, tweak it, and give it some time. Once you’ve gotten used to the change, you’ll never want to go back to any other browser until they get on the ball and put out something of this caliber. I haven’t been this impressed with something in a long time.

So you want to sing “Hey Jude”…

Ok, then, listen up. This is important. Hey Jude is one of those big, feel good, everybody sing along songs. You can just feel the tension rising as all of us wannabe Beatles lie in wait like hungry predators for that grand finale of an ending where everyone sings “Naaaa naa naa na na na naaaaa, na na na naaaaaaa, hey Jude”. However, here’s where we run into the worldwide epidemic. Let me demonstrate…
“Remember to let her under your skin, (the anticipation begins, the wolves are salivating) then you begin to make it better, better, better, better, (people are on the verge of aneurysms now…here it comes) BETTER, BETTER, YEAH!”(YES! Finally!)
Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude”
>>>JUDE JUDE-A JUDE-A JUDE-AY JUDE-AY JUDE-AYYYOOOOOWWW! YOW!<<< That guy. That guy just ruined it. Anyone know why? Anyone? Bueller? Because Paul doesn't shout that for another 3 rounds. However, that guy just can't wait to yell JUDE "JUDE-A JUDE-A JUDE-AY JUDE-AY JUDE-AYYYOOOOOWWW! YOW!" so he pounces to make sure no one else gets it first. Premature e-Jude-ulation. He has just completely ruined that line. In the song the line is placed perfectly for artistic effect. It just feels right. You spend three rounds slowly building up the tension, and then on that fourth round the horns and strings kick in, bringing things up yet another notch, and then at the end of the fourth round, Paul explodes in the orgasmic frenzy that is "JUDE JUDE-A JUDE-A JUDE-AY JUDE-AY JUDE-AYYYOOOOOWWW! YOW!". Ahhhh. It feels so much better when you wait. The perfect ratio of tension to release. Too early and there's just not enough tension to release, too late and it misses it's window and falls like a badly timed punchline. So, everyone practice along with your CD, record, tape, 8-track, mp3, or whatever you happen to have: "Remember to let her under your skin, then you begin to make it better, better, better, better, BETTER, BETTER, YEAH Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude (Stop it! Not yet! Wait for it!)
Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude
(That’s it! You! Out!)
Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude
(*glares* I see the twitching…don’t even think about it)
(horns and strings come in now)
Naaa naa naa na na na naaaaaaaaaa, na na na naaaaaaaa, hey Jude
JUDE JUDE-A JUDE-A JUDE-AY JUDE-AY JUDE-AYYYOOOOOWWW! YOW!”
…and there we are. Practice until your willpower allows you to exercise enough restraint to do it right. Then you can get your official “Hey Jude Police” badge. Be vigilant. The only way we can stop this is together. Knowledge is power. Thank you, good night.
*Beatle bow*

Craig Davis and the Invaders (A Tangled Musical Web)

So here’s the scoop on my newest musical project…
Backstory (bear with me here):
I’ve been playing with a cover band called The Rock-A-Fellas for about 8 years now. At one point I moved to Dallas for a year, and made the 3 hour drive back whenever we had gigs. We recruited Mike Holleman to take over my duties as lead guitar and lead singer. Now this is already interesting because Mike is actually a drummer who had played drums and sang with the Rock-A-Fellas for many years before I ever joined. He later moved away, played for Sheryl Crow, and made a living playing the Vegas Casino circuit before moving back to College Station because he was tired of living out of a suitcase and playing casinos where the music was nothing more than wallpaper to unappreciative patrons. So now here he was playing guitar and singing (he’s also a hell of a guitar player) preparing to take over my spot so I could leave now that I was living in Dallas. Well after a year in Dallas I decided to move back because the band was doing quite well, plus other boring factors. Mike was playing in several other bands and since we didn’t really need him anymore, we parted ways. During this time he had told me about how he was going to Austin on some weekends to record with a guy named Craig Davis. Turns out I kind of knew of him because my aunt and uncle had been good friends with him during my childhood, and when I would go stay with them to visit my cousin during school vacations, sometimes we would go visit Craig. Small world eh? But wait, it gets smaller…
So about 2 weeks ago Donnie Angonia, who plays in the Rock-A-Fellas with me, told me that a friend of the band, Dawn Lee, had called him to recruit him for keyboard duty. She was organizing a series of shows at The Palace Theatre (formerly a normal theatre whose roof collapsed, and was consequently made into an amphitheatre. Incidentally I was in the cast of a production of Oklahoma that was in the middle of it’s rehearsal run when the roof collapsed. Luckily it happened during the day when no one was actually there.) Dawn wanted to have Craig Davis come play a show, but the problem was that Craig didn’t actually have a band. He just got guys together whenever he wanted to go in the studio and record. She had put together a band of local guys and wanted Donnie to play keys. He had a prior commitment, and therefore passed my name along. She called me to play keys and sing backup and I agreed. After listening to some CD’s of his music, I really wished I was playing bass or guitar instead. Then Donnie ended up being free after all, so I called Dawn to tell her he was free, but if the other bass player couldn’t do it or anything then I could move to bass and Donnie could play keys. Dawn was elated to hear this since the other bass player had just realized he was going to be out of town! So I took over bass duties (which I was totally excited about since it’s a blast to get away from my normal lead guitar duties to play bass. It’s an entirely different thrill to me), and Donnie came on board as keyboardist. This was also handy since Donnie and I play in a band together, and we could also get together and work up backup harmonies.
So we now have until October 26th to learn 3 hours worth of music. I have been listening to 3 CD’s (with 14, 17, and 22 tracks of music!!!) non-stop to hammer Craig’s original music into my brain. I’m basically doing the equivalent of musical “cramming”, learning bass parts, lyrics and harmony parts. Craigs’ music is absolutely great. Very 60’s rock influenced. Like The Beatles and Tom Petty in a big musical orgy with elements of The Byrds, The Beach Boys, ELO, and Pink Floyd thrown in, plus occasional other musical spices. I’m very much looking forward to this gig.

The Bursting of Childhood Bubbles

There are many movies, TV shows, etc., that have major childhood associations for me. For example, I remember spending every school vacation in Austin with my cousin (who is really more like a brother to me), and having certain movies we always wanted to watch again every visit. “Tron”, for example. We both had the action figures, and the cool light cycles with the plastic cord you would pull to send them racing across the room, preferably over some kind of ramp made out of books or something. Disney’s “The Black Hole” was another. I was also a huge fan of Indiana Jones (and still am). I loved the trilogy of Indiana Jones films! Like the Star Wars trilogy I would watch them periodically throughout the years. Well upon one recent viewing a few years back, I came to a startling conclusion: Temple of Doom sucks. I didn’t want to admit it, but there it was staring at me in all it’s child sidekick, monkey brain eating ugliness. I realized that I really wouldn’t care to watch that movie ever again. At that moment a little piece of my childhood died. While I do still like “Tron” and “The Black Hole”, I have also had to admit that they have lost a bit of the magic that they used to hold for me. Sometimes I wonder if certain things would appeal to me at all without the fond past associations and memories.
“V”, and “V: The Final Battle” also fall into this category. For anyone who is not familiar with them, they were television mini-series that came out in the 80’s about aliens coming to earth disguised as human looking peaceful types, but turn out to be reptilian human-eating types. I was totally enthralled by these series when they came out. I even read the books, which I quite liked. However, now that they’re both out on DVD I have found my childlike salivating enthusiasm to immediately buy them preempted by a hint of hesitation and uncertainty.
I used to proclaim that “Young Frankenstein” was one of the all time comedy classics, yet now I find it very hit and miss. There’s some classic moments without a doubt, but there’s also many moments when I find myself getting bored. Again, a moment of sadness at this realization.
Well at least the original Star Wars trilogy rocks as much as it ever did. “Time Bandits” still kicks ass too.

Lord of the Rings (spoiler free thoughts)

Have you read it? If not, then go! Now! I’ll wait. Ok, it’s a pretty long book, so no I won’t. I first read the entire saga just before the “Fellowship of the Ring” movie came out. Now for those of who don’t know, it was really considered one contiguous work by Tolkien, however the publishers insisted on breaking it up into more digestible chunks (metaphorically speaking only – please do not attempt to ingest the book). So somehow it ended up as 3 “volumes” of 2 “books” a piece. However, for the purposes of this discussion we shall refer to it as one contiguous work.
I recently revisited this amazing classic by listening to the 13 hour BBC radio play. This, and many discussions with my lovely Jess (who has read the book 13 times) made me want to sing it’s praises here for those who have not yet discovered it (or even for those who have). Quite simply, I find Lord of the Rings one of the most amazing and totally immersive works of all time. It’s no secret that Tolkien laboriously created one of the most thorough worlds ever created for a work of fiction. He created languages, histories, races, maps and more (as evidenced by the appendices to the book) resulting in a world almost as well documented and “real” as our own. This however has no value if it does not lend itself to an engrossing tale. It does.
Lord of the Rings is so much more than just a book. It is as close as anyone can come to actually being transported to another world. When I was finished with this book, I felt as if I too had been on that journey. I felt invested in all my “friends” in the book. As the story comes to an end, it perfectly mirrors the emotions you feel as your relationship with this story is winding down, and you slowly fade back into this world. So many moments are laced with bittersweet poignancy as they create a microcosm of the emotions and relationships we all share. It’s not a story, it’s an experience. It’s a journey that will leave you forever changed. One you’ll look back on with both joy, and sadness that it’s over as you close the cover and say “Well, I’m back”.

Ruminations on Theme Park “Speed Passes”

We went to the Six Flags theme park this past weekend, which made me contemplate the new “speed pass” phenomenon that seems to have inundated theme parks across the land. For those of you not familiar with “Speed Passes”, they’re basically little beeper sized gadgets that you pay an extra $10 to use for the day. At the entrance of each ride is an electronic station where you scan your speed pass and it electronically puts you in line. You can then go off and do whatever else you want instead of waiting in line for the ride. When your electronic “place” gets near the front, the beeper alerts you so you can go to the privileged “speed pass” entrance and claim your place near the front of the line. This is nice for you because you didn’t actually have to wait in the line, and it’s nice for the park because instead of standing there in line with your money just happily sitting in your pocket you can be off buying a $2.25 bottle of water or spending loads of money on a ring toss game trying to win a giant stuffed banana that you probably could have bought for one tenth of what it cost you to keep playing until you won it. Not to mention the $10 they already picked from your pocket to rent the speed pass.
Now this led me to think about the future of “Speed Passes”. Sure they’re great right now, when you can just be-bop to the front of the line, but eventually if more and more people start using speed passes, then you’ll have to wait in line to register your speed pass to begin with and then when it beeps you, you go wait in the now ever growing special speed pass entrance line. This will necessitate speed pass evolution. For example, they could then put out the “VIP Speed Pass”, which for a mere $50 allows you to bypass all the normal speed pass peons and go straight to the the secret VIP entrance taking you to the front of the speed pass line.
If that wasn’t enough, perhaps you could get a Super VVIP speed pass (for only $500) which allows you take the secret elevator to the special entrance room where you then jump in an air chute which deposits you directly onto an empty seat on the ride.
For the ultimate experience however, you would get the Super Mega VVVIP “Vengeance” pass ($2500 per ride). This allows you to get in the super secret futuristic air pod which takes you to the fully catered “selection room”. Here a wall of plasma monitors shows you each and every seat on the ride. You then wait for them to fill, and select your victim. That person is then dropped through a trap door which leads back to the end of the line and you are deposited on the ride by a huge, overly elaborate (yet extreme comfy) mechanism.
Oh sure you laugh now, but they also laughed about ever putting a man on the moon! Just wait until the day you find yourself plummeting through a trap door to the end of the ride only to see my evil grin sitting in your place on the souvenir snapshot monitor at the end of the ride.

Mitch Hedberg at the Addison Improv

So I went to go see Mitch Hedberg for the 3rd time last night at the Addison Improv. I had seen him previously at the Laff Stop in Houston, and the Capitol City Comedy Club in Austin. I’ve been a huge fan ever since I saw him on some TV comedy show, and have since turned a huge number of people on to him. In my opinion he is one of the best comedians I’ve ever seen. A truly unique style and viewpoint punctuate his hilarious material and likable demeanor. Mitch just seems like a guy you’d like to hang out with. Every time I’ve seen him he’s been absolutely hilarious, and this show was no exception.
There were several opening comics. Dave Little and Lynn Shawcroft were especially funny. When Mitch finally came on he seemed really low key at first. A bit reserved, possibly a little down, or just tired a bit (this was, after all, the second show of the night), but he quickly got into the flow and the endless laughs started flowing. Now the things about comedians is you inevitably hear some of the same material each time you see them since they can’t crank out an entirely new act every night. With Mitch, I’ve never found this to be a problem. Somehow I find every joke just as funny as the first time I ever heard it. However Mitch had a ton of new material this show, and it was in fact the first show I’d seen where he didn’t just start taking “requests” for his classic material towards the end of the show. It was also the first show I had seen where he didn’t perform many of his “greatest hits”, most notably his “Smackie the Frog” routine. None of this however detracted from the show. It was at least as good as every other performance I had seen of his.
When we went to see him in Austin, my friend, Dudemac, and his wife had brought their digital camera in hopes of getting a picture with Mitch. My friend Esteban spotted Mitch exiting the club and asked him for an autograph which Mitch gladly signed. Dudemac then had me take a picture of him and his wife with Mitch. I also wanted to get an autograph and picture but I really didn’t want to be a nuisance so I let Mitch slip out since he seemed to be trying to get out quickly. Later we found that due to a camera glitch all the pics that had been taken on the digital camera were gone including the ones with Mitch. DOH! So this time we were determined to try again! After the show we immediately went to where we thought he might exit, and sure enough there were he and Lynn leaving the club! Dudemac quickly yelled “Hey Mitch! Can we get a picture?” He and Lynn were both really accommodating and friendly and posed for several pics with us all! I’ll post them as soon as Dudemac gets them off his camera. We hope to get some more pics and maybe an autograph at his Austin show in November.
All in all it was a great show as usual that made our faces hurt from laughing so much, and actually getting to say hi and take a picture was extremely cool. Be sure and check his schedule at www.mitchhedberg.net and go to see him if he comes anywhere near you. Then I can add you to my list of converts 😉 Quite simply, he’s one of the funniest and most brilliant comedians of all time.

Labor Day Weekend!

Well I’m off for a nice 3 day weekend, since Labor Day is monday, and ironically you don’t have to go to work on Labor day. Shouldn’t it be “No Labor Day”?;) I’m going to Dallas to hang out with my good bud, Esteban. We’re going to see Mitch Hedberg, a hilarious comedian. I’ve seen him twice before in clubs and many times on TV. He’s been on David Letterman, and had a Comedy Central special, etc. Damn funny guy. Saturday a bunch of us are going to Six Flags (a theme park with rollercoasters and all that). We have a ton of free tickets. Dudemac and I are ALWAYS winning stuff from the local radio station. So much so that people are beginning to think we are some kind of radio mafia. I used to work there as a DJ too, and know many of the local radio folk, so sometimes I do use my “connections”. Sunday I hope to go find some geocaches. At some point we’re going to take my Star Wars DVD’s to our friends house to enjoy his 63″ television and Dolby 5.1 surround sound (no, the original Star Wars trilogy is not actually out on DVD, but again…I have connections and ingenius geeky friends.[grin] However I don’t consider this piracy, since I have bought numerous copies of the various edition and will damn sure be buying the official DVD’s whenever Lucas finally decides to release them).
So everyone have a fun safe weekend and labor on! Woooooooooooooooo!
*Heath parties until unconscious*

Rate My …

So my friend Dudemac wrote this article about the onslaught of various “Rate My” sites. (BTW, that site wanted a new slogan, so they’re adopting the one I came up with for them; “eyejabber.com. Sucking your life away – one byte at a time”)
This has given me the following idea:
www.ratemyratemysite.com
I want to make a site where you rate the various “Rate My” sites. Why? Because I find it extremely amusing, and was quite pleased with myself for coming up with the idea. However I’m really lazy and it probably won’t happen so someone else should do it and give me the credit. I’m a great “idea man”. Just need someone else to implement them.

Blog me baby!

So I’ve been reading a bunch of people’s online diaries lately, and it just reminded me of how I really wanted to make frequent posts on my website, but couldn’t be bothered because it was a pain in my ass. I had to manually update the web page, and the thought of any kind of archives made my head hurt. I would have to make a separate archive index page with links to each individual archive, and then manually make each month’s individual archive page etc.
Thus these free online diaries seemed appealing because all the work is done for you. You type it in and, POOF, it’s on your diary page. I really wanted to have my random thoughts page be on my own website though, and be consistent with my background, fonts, and so on. I had heard much praise about www.blogger.com, so I decided to check it out. Now up until today, I had thought they were just an online diary like the others I had seen, but to day I found that they could also provide exactly what I was looking for. You can set up your blog to automatically publish your entries to your own website, and automatically maintain archives. To get it exactly the way you want it does take a good bit of tinkering (well it does for someone like me anyway, who knows very little about HTML.) It took me from about 9am this morning until about 2pm to finally get everything working and configured exactly how I wanted it (again probably due to my extremely limited knowledge), however I now have pretty much exactly what I was looking for; an easy way to just type a post and click enter, and have it added to my own website and update the archives.
In short, I LOVE BLOG! Now I’m sure I’ll find it’s not perfect, but it’s the damn coolest thing I’ve seen yet for anyone wanting to maintain a diary, or post random rants, raves, and thoughts on their own website. Even if you don’t have your own website, you can still keep a public blog on www.blogger.com. Time will tell how I like the layout compared to some other sites, but for the moment, I’m quite filled with geeky joy.