Recently in cool Category

The 101st annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade began Wednesday. It goes on every night in Newport Harbor (from 6:30 to 9PM) 'til Sunday, which is the grand finale. Saturday will probably see max crowds. We went last night (Thursday) and the island was hoppin'. Electric.

101st Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat ParadeThe boats are colorful and fun to watch. Sure. But the best part of the boat parade is simply being out among the festivities .. with a big crowd of Orange County people, who are all in a festive mood .. exuding the Christmas spirit. (And it's all free.)

All the houses on the island are decorated to the hilt. (One guy told me his electric bill was $600/month. His meter was spinning like a dang gyro.)

Some years the weather is freezing (by Southern California standards), being on the water, but last night it was downright balmy. We saw at least two brass bands, complete with tuba, playing your favorite Christmas songs.

The Bug brought along his scooter (razor), which worked well for getting around. We started on Balboa Island and rode the ferry across to the peninsula, where we played in the fun zone for a while. (I let him beat me at air hockey, 7-to-5, and then shoot a gun in a stand-up video game, where he blasted lots of villians.)

Of course we had to get some hot buttered popcorn, and after that, a light-saber from a sidewalk vendor, who pushed a dazzling cart surrounded by eager kids. What a great time we had.

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I'm reluctant to merely republish the content of others .. but » HERE's something you shouldn't miss (Susan Boyle's rendition of I Dreamed a Dream .. from Les Miserables). I actually paused the video and broke out my headphones.

Les Mis

I think what makes her version so special - other than the sonic excellence, of course - is that her life seems to resemble that of the character .. providing that 'something extra.' And then there are the lyrics themselves, with lines like:

And still I dream...
That we would live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I know that place .. all too well, I'm sad to say. But who doesn't? If you liked that, you'll probably also enjoy » THIS.

Neither one of these folks are pretty. They're not one of the beautiful people. Their dress unglamorous.

But their performances obviously had nothing to do with pretty appearances. Which made them all-the-more believable and genuine, especially when she belted out the final lines:

As promised, here's some photos from my South Afrikaan friend (who lives in Johannesburg). He works in the Film industry down there and loves cool technology.

Mozambique Woman

Seems like he's always traveling to one exotic place or another .. places with exotic names .. like Drakensberg (Afrikaan: Devil's Mountain) and Patagonia. (Yes, I'm jealous.)

Today's photos come from » Moçambique. (I actually had to look on a map to see where that is .. as is the case with most of the photos he sends.)

Moçambique sits on the east coast of Afrika, just above South Africa. It also shares borders with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. Off its coast sits the island of Madagascar.

Steve sent 5 pics, with the following note:

Just returned from a weekend escape across the border to Moçambique. Here's some pics from the capital city, Maputo, and surrounding areas.

Jo'burg sits on a high-altitude grassy plain. In comparison to most of Africa, its climate is rather harsh and frigid. Maputo, on the other hand, is further north. It sits right on the coast, and as a result is hot, humid & verdant.

Regulars might recall when I installed a copy of Ubuntu Linux last summer .. an operation I prepared for by creating a separate 20-gig partition (on my new hard drive), which I formatted as EXT3.

VMware Workstation

Somebody in the forums (Nigel, I think) suggested using VMware (.. either the freebie 'Player' or full-boat 'Workstation' ..) to run a 'virtualized' installation.

I initially balked at the idea .. cuz I didn't grok how virtualization works. But you don't need to understand how an automobile works in order to benefit from driving one. Same goes for virtualization. And the benefits are substantial.

The coolest thing about 'virtualizing' a Linux installation .. is that you can run it from (within) Windows .. just like you can run Photoshop (from Windows) .. or any other Windows-program for that matter .. multitasking all of them at the same time.

I found that .. if you can only use/access Linux by booting into it (and thus leaving Windows behind), you're less likely to use it (.. or so it has been my experience).

So last week I deleted my EXT3 partition, and reformatted it as NTFS .. where I installed a virtual machine containing Ubuntu 8.10 'Intrepid Ibex'.

Intrepid even found my wireless adapter upon initial boot-up. (Woo-hoo!) No more having to troubleshoot wireless connections and installing proprietary drivers just to get internet access.

The only drawback I've found is that you can't copy-n-paste info/text (such as passwords, etc.) between programs running in Windows and those running in (virtualized) Linux. (Tho I wonder if this might help.)

Jay Leno's Retro Super Bowl ad

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I liked the Jay Leno Super Bowl ad best .. despite its absence of any cool computer gfx (.. perhaps because of).

Jay Leno's Retro Super Bowl ad

It was short (20 secs), scoring points for brevity, while featuring a classic car with a classic song. Very retro.

The setting allowed me to reminisce about trips I've made up the California coast (usually to Big Sur .. where Deetjen's is the place to stay).

Most impressive was that Jay conveyed his message without using any dialogue whatsoever (his stock-in-trade). Effective communication with images-alone is more difficult than it looks.

Jay, come get me next time you decide to cruise up the coast.

Learning Photoshop Mojo

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Learning Photoshop. Been meaning to for a long time. I've tinkered for years, but now I'm learning the really cool (powerful, creative) stuff.

Adobe Photoshop CS3

At one time, Photoshop was "the killer app" » a reason in itself to buy a computer (Mac). And the more I learn, the easier it is to see why. (It lets you do way-cool things .. with graphics and photos.)

Over the years Photoshop has grown complex, somewhat beastly, difficult to tame. These days, learning to wield its magic takes a commitment. (As I'm finding.)

I had really wanted to wade into some server-side scripting and database management, but that requires even more of a commitment. Been too distracted for that. (Tho it's still on my list.)

Now however, I'm glad I went the Photoshop route. Everybody I've told says, "Yeah, I wanna learn Photoshop, too." (And once someone knows it, they'll always know it.)

The fourth is my favorite holiday. Don't know another living soul who prefers it over all others.

Balboa Pier, Newport Beach, California

Maybe cuz it's the only holiday celebrated outdoors at night. No matter where you might be, summer nights are likely cotton-candy sweet.

Or perhaps, it's the fireworks .. or maybe, the thing we're really celebrating (» freedom, baby!) .. that does it for me.

Had the Bug last night. Braved the crowds and drove down to the Balboa pier .. where we watched the sun set while sharing a root beer float (from Ruby's). He was clearly more interested however, in watching folks fish, and asking to peek in their catch-buckets.

Amrin Van BuurenHere's a copy of Armin's latest » State of Trance intro (40-sec, 192-kbps mp3, 1-MB). Cool way to launch a set.

Armin is worldwide. Every time I listen, seems like he's electrifying a different city (currently Sydney).

Good jammin' music. Pop in the ear-buds and get down to business. Armin takes you there with energy. Hails from Holland.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » armin van buuren state of trance

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