Timewaster Flash Game: Left 4k Dead

Inspired by the recent major-console game, Left 4 Dead, a programmer for King.com posted a very tiny (4k of code in Java) version of his own. You use the WASD as if they were arrow keys, R to reload, and the mouse to look and right-mouse to shoot. It’s an overhead walk-around, and it’s decent as far as eensy munchkin games go ^_^ I got 72 points before my first death.

Left 4k Dead

Video Tutorial: How To Remove Vocals From Mp3

I was listening to a Nickelback CD in my dad’s truck the other day while we were out shopping for Xmas gifts and thought to myself, “ya know, this band would be waaaaay better without that irritating voice messing up all the awesome instruments,” and I thought I’d remembered seeing something you could download to remove vocals to make karaoke versions of your own music.. so I figured I’d look it up.

Turns out it’s pretty easy, but mostly if (a) you just happen to have music where the vocals were recorded on perfectly centered stereo tracks, (b) don’t care a lot about super spiffy quality, and (c) look the other way when it comes to music copying legalese. You may inadvertently also remove instruments that happen to be playing in the same frequency range as the voices, and you may not clip out the background vocals.

That said, here’s my tutorial. You’ll need the audio software known as Audacity, which you can get for free from audacity.sourceforge.net at no charge. Once that’s installed, just follow the directions on Audacity’s site that I blatantly stole and reworded to make into my own visual tutorial (but gave credit for in typical English major style). Ah, the Internets!

Awesome Last-Minute Gift: Journal for Elderly Relative

I actually thought up this super awesome gift idea for my grandparents while walking the local shopping mall trying to think of something to get them after my usual $20 gift certificate for Picadilly (their favorite eat-out place). It’s a blank, lined journal, already bound and nifty — for recording memories “while the memory is still fresh and the hands are still able”.. so that someday when they’re house-bound or hospital-cooped they’ll have a volume of items written by their own hand to recall days of former glory — the day they met their spouse, incidents raising the kids, and such. It may even turn out to be a good keepsake for you someday, if perhaps you were to someday happen upon it when all you’ve got left of them are memories and photos.

The particular journal I bought for them is a PaperBlanks old leather style (the third one down), with a weak magnetic cover that pops into place to seal shut but is still easy to pry open. I got mine from Books-A-Million for $16.95 (which is a bargain compared to the intended $20 gift cert! stank cheap grandson right here, that’s right!)..

On the inside’s first page, I wrote..

Dear Nanny & Papa —

I bought you this handy journal to jot down fondly-recalled memories so someday in the far, far future, you can enjoy them again when memory seems to need an extra bump.

If you find yourselves with some extra time or just need a renewed reminder of good times, take a moment to jot something down about how you two first met, funny or tense moments about raising the kids that you’d forgotten all about, or recall friends whose memory ought best be kept alive.

I’ve kept a journal since the spring of 2001, and I marvel at the things that have completely slipped my mind in that short time. You’ll also be thankful that you bothered to record them While hands were still able and memories were still fresh.

From your first grandson, Mike, for Christmas 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1-55156-285-8
UPC: 0 64810 30285 3

Clarifying Ripley: The Singapore Flyer

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so I figured I’d get my restart perhaps on something a little easier. The most recent Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not feature comic panel notes that the Signapore Flyer is the tallest/widest ferris wheel and takes half an hour to make one complete revolution.

Singapore Flyer Official Website

Manufactured by Mitsubishi’s Heavy Industries, “the final capsule (each air conditioned and holds 28 people) was installed on October 2, 2007. The wheel started rotating on February 11, 2008 and officially opened to the public on March 1, 2008. Tickets for rides on the first 3 nights were sold out for US$6,271 (which comes to $8,888 in Singapore currency, number that predicts prosperity in Chinese culture). The grand opening for the Flyer was held on 15 April 2008,” notes the wiki article (paraphrased by me).

The wheel itself is 42 stories high, and perches atop a 3-story transportation terminal. It initially rotated one particular direction, but at the advice of Feng-Shui masters, the direction was reversed.

The following is a slightly-corny promotional video from YouTube, about the Singapore Flyer:

The Singapore Flyer was the subject of some worldwide news articles again when it suffered a power loss and trapped quite a number of people in their capsules, according to this Goldsea article. It had lost power for an hour or so at least twice since it first opened, but this particular time was a 6-hour ordeal as people waited patiently for the ride to begin moving again. Some people closer to the ground had to be lowered by ropes for rescue, while others were delivered sandwiches and soft drinks by delivery harnesses as they waited out the repairs. The ABC article for the same story has a photograph of a closeup of one of the capsules.

Flickr Pool of Singapore Flyer Photographs

A February 23, 2002 announcement published on Emporis.com notes plans for a 170-meter-tall ferris wheel to be built in Moscow, which would trump the Signapore Flyer by 20 meters, with an appx opening date of 2004, in hopes of attracting 70 million riders per year — but I can’t find any other reference to the wheel in Moscow beyond that article.

Another, larger ferris wheel is being constructed in the middle east called the Great Dubai Wheel to open in 2009, reaching 185 meters. Even still, another Chinese wheel is to be opened in 2010 reaching 208 meters, called the Great Observation Wheel according to China’s Great Wheel Corporation website.

Hydraulic Earth Mover Photoset.. Amazing!

At first, I saw this image of a hydraulic earth mover with its main scoop shovel up against a tower as if it was going to push it over. The caption (from a message board forum) said it was going to demonstrate its arm strength. I’m like, pssh, pushing over a tower is strength? But then I saw the rest.


Anyhow, here are a few more picture sets of amazing crane or earth mover photos of stuff tipping over, accidentals, and HOLY—- moments:

Dark Roasted Blend – Heavy Machinery Acrobatics
Dark Roasted Blend – Heavy Machinery Acrobatics 2

Free 5-Issue Subscription: Cosmo

Longish-story longer: I used to work in an office with eight women, me being the only guy. I discovered I could get magazines on the cheap with eBay and various freebie offers on the web, and offered to get the ladies their magazines renewed (in my name) and I’d just bring them to work with me when they arrived instead of them giving me their addresses — so I kept an eye out for the ones they liked. I still do it even though I don’t work there anymore (largely because I like getting freebies, but also because I have a collection of un-opened perfume samples numbering over 315 because of the deal). Instead of keeping the deals to myself, however, I’ll start posting my finds ^_^

The deal with eBay is that magazines often have a readership number that they can brag about to advertisers and therefore charge higher rates for the number of people the advert is exposed to. Hence, magazines can much more easily afford forgoing the increase in paid subscriptions and give out more uber-cheap or free magazine subscriptions that will serve the purpose of bumping their subscriber rate up. That benegits us, because we can get a subscription to a magazine when they need a subscription boost. I currently subscribe to around 15-20 magazines (the paper kind you get in the postal mail, not the digital variety) and most of them are freebies. Some, instead of paying the regular 12 bucks per year, I can get for
3 dollars a year or so. VOGUE and VANITY FAIR have both been in the neighborhood of $20/year, but on eBay they run for about $8. Keep your eyes open!

ValueMag’s Complimentary 5-Issue Subscription: Cosmopolitan.