Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Back from Hiatus

I've posted apologies on this blog before but none are as profound and heartfelt as this one. My blogger in crime has repeatedly urged me to get my act together and get back to bloggin'. I even promised a post after awesome enough to rearrange his work schedule to take in a businessman's special at Wrigley Field. That was three weeks ago.

I have excuses. My work schedule permits me much less time in front of the computer. Thus less time to blog and more actual work. I have also been studying for the GRE. I'm shooting for my Masters in Blogology. I took it today. Results were fair. To be posted in the comments section. Lastly, the Cubs are in the midst of a pennant race for a change, so focus and energy that could have been spent blogging was spent drinking mai tais on the rooftops.

But in the end I could have carved out 10 minutes her or 15 minutes there to let everyone know what I thought about Detective Ed Green. Or comment on a rare Cubs post from Roller. Which I will read as soon as I sober up.

So all I can say is, Roller, please forgive me . . .

Friday, September 21, 2007

Life is a Rubik's Cube

and if you can solve Life blindfolded in 2 minutes, you just might make the front page of TLATL, too.

This is a cop-out of a post to be sure. I have nothing to offer intellectually. That's ok; it's Friday. But I promise these videos will impress, and the last video will warm your heart for the weekend, and reinforce your stereotypes that Asians are smart.

Matyas Kuti, a shy 14 year-old Hungarian, solves a 5x5 Cube (officially known as the Rubik's "Professor's Cube") - blindfolded. At first I didn't think this would be overly impressive - it's just a matter of muscle memory. Wrong. Notice that the kid doesn't actually put on his blindfold and start solving the cube until his timer has reached 2:45. He spent the first 2:45 memorizing the position of each of the 150 pieces. He then put on his blindfold and made easily over 1000 moves all the while remembering the exact position of each of the 150 pieces. In 8 minutes.

If you don't think you're dumb yet, watch this 3 year old solve the 3x3 Rubik's Cube. It doesn't look like a memorized routine either, there seem to be parts where she stops and examines it.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Can Google Do For You? (Part I)

It goes without saying that Google has become everyone's answer-man. In fact, Google's proficiency in this has earned it "Kleenex" status, where it has actually become a generic word for its product category.

Coovo, did you get the xerox of my butt?
It made you cry? Here's a kleenex.
No, I don't have another. Try using this q-tip.
Woah - that looks like it hurt. Here's a band-aid for that.
If you're still upset, I'll get you a coke.
What do you mean you already saw my butt when you google'd it?

I know. That was stupid. I'm sorry. That's why I make Tim do this thing with me, gotta have some talent on this zeppelin.

Anyway, Google has plenty of other functions besides search, mail and maps.

Simple tools
  • Perhaps I want to find all urls with "theloopandthelou" in it (coincidentally, one of the more common searches on Google). Entering "inurl:theloopandthelou" as my search criteria will do that. Notice that in the example there is no space between your colon and theloopandthelou.
  • Want the definition of antidisestablishmentarianism? Use "define:antidisestablishmentarianism". Of course, you don't have to actually include the quotes in the search criteria. But if you're trying to define a multi-word term, make sure you put quotes around all the search terms, such as define:"al qaeda". Unfortunately, entering the term define:"Google" does not trigger an infinite loop that breaks the space/time continuum like I hoped it would.
There are many other search operators available for use for your amusement and/or education. And honestly, I think those operators will work on other search engines, too. But that's simple stuff, on to the bigger and better...

Google as your home page

Besides just being a search engine, Google can act as a portal for your content. "Portal" has many meanings. In the I/T world, a portal is a means to deliver personalized content to a user and allow the user to customize his or her experience. Do you have your own MyYahoo or MSN page? Have you told it that you want to see certain sports scores in the left column or stock symbols in the right column? That's it.

Google has the same capabilities. For the average user, I think iGoogle (the name of Google's portal), MyYahoo, and MSN are equally good. I use iGoogle because I use numerous other Google services and they all integrate nicely.

To try it out: sign into Google and start here. You can add as many Google "gadgets" to a page as you want (using the "Add Stuff" link) and create as many tabs as you want as well. Of course, if you want an easy way to stay updated on the ever-changing blog, The Loop and the Lou, you can add a TLATL gadget to your page. In fact, it's as easy as clicking this link: Add to Google

That's all for this edition of "roller the geek". Tune in next time when we'll look at some of the other cool tools Google has developed and gives away for free. And please feel free to share your own ideas for improving the web experience!

Closing poll: iGoogle, MyYahoo, or MSN?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Return of the Email Elbow?

As many of you know, it was reported on Aug 17 that the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Zambrano reached a 5 year / $91.5 million deal. With an average salary of $18.3 million / year, Zambrano has the highest average salary / year for all pitchers with a multi-year deal.

Only 26, the fiery Zambrano is already a veteran of the MLB, with 2007 being his 5th full season in the bigs and 5th strait season with 200+ IP. $90+ million is a lot of money for any player, let alone a pitcher, but the Cubs have secured one of the best pitchers in the NL for his ages 27-31. It's not hard to imagine that the Cubs would have had to contend with 6 and 7 year offers for $20 million / year from the likes of the Yanks, Mets, Red Sox and Angels. Taking all that into account, it looks like the Cubs made a smart move.

Or did they? In last 30 days, Zambrano sports a 1-3 record with an ERA of 7.36 and a WHIP of 1.77. Although he's been healthy throughout his career, in the spring of 2005 Zambrano was told to reduce the amount of time he spent on the computer, as it was feared to be causing the pain he was experiencing in his pitching elbow.

With the talent pool in this off-season's free agent class being extremely dry, Zambrano and his agent surely knew that by waiting till the off-season, they could get an even bigger contract - from the Cubs or another suitor. So why wouldn't he wait? Could the last month of lousy pitching be related to an injury that Zambrano is hiding? Was he worried that a trip to the DL or a pre-signing physical would scare other clubs away?

It's possible, but not probable. I think the most likely reason is that Zambrano wanted to remain a Cub, and wanted a deal locked up now. But stirring the pot can be fun, especially when this site is co-authored by a Cub fan. And I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for any news of health issues with the big right-hander, including tonight as I'll be attending the showdown between Zambrano and Wainwright at Busch.

A question to ponder: who would you least like go up to bat against, an angry Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, or Carlos Zambrano? Someone else?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fan Unappreciation Day

For a number of years, I have held a very small share of season tickets to St. Louis Cardinals baseball with a group of friends. We have good, cheap seats in the 3rd row of the left field bleachers. It was from that glorious site that I was fortunate enough to watch Adam Wainwright strike out Brandon Inge for the final out of the 2006 World Series. But that's another story.

This post is the recounting of a recent Friday night game against the Cincinnati Reds. Upon arriving before the first inning, I noticed that Bleacher Bob wasn't there. Bob is an older gentleman, and about as devout a fan as you'll find. Bob has season tickets for one bleacher seat in row 4, a few seats to our left. I struggle to make it to 5-10 games a year these days. Bob attends every single one. Although he's a pretty reserved man, his love of the game is easy to see, and he's quick with the high fives after a deserving play.

So after some inquiring, we found out that Bleacher Bob's absence was due to his scheduled appearance on the jumbo-tron in the mid-4th inning. This is typically the time when they play something like a "Let's Make a Deal" with a fan. A fan gets 3 trivia questions in increasing difficulty. The difficulty of the first question is something akin to "What is Albert Pujols' first name?" The second question is harder. If they get it right, they can walk away with a prize (usually something like $50), or go for whatever lies in the case held by "That One Guy"'s lovely assistant. The contents of the case can range from season tickets to Cardinals' gear. Season tix seemed like the obvious prize for Bob.

So the 4th inning rolls along and the Cards' #1 fan is up there with a big grin on his face. I look past his right shoulder and who do I see but my good friend Billy. As most of you who read this blog know, Billy once beat the game of Trivial Pursuit at a game of Trivial Pursuit. Suffice to say, he's got a knack for both useful and useless facts. As the contestants of this game are allowed to lean on friends for support, Bleacher Bob was a shoe in for victory.

The first question was so dumb I can't even remember it. Bob got it on his own.

The second question was "What is the capital of Ohio?". Billy whispered "Columbus" in Bob's ear. Correct. At this point, Bob was presented with the option of taking a certain prize (can't remember exactly what it was), or going for the case. Bob pointed at the case and replied, "I want what's in there."

The third question was "Who hit the last home run in the old Busch Stadium?". Billy supplied Bob with "Chris Duncan". Correct again! "That One Guy" now had the pleasure of opening the case to reveal Bob's prize...

5 coupons each good for one Hardee's Thickburger.

Bob was a good sport and smiled and clapped. He should have punched that guy in the face. You bring a perennial season-ticket holder up to compete for a prize, a guy who probably has worked very hard his whole life to afford himself the luxury of buying season tickets to your event, and he gets 5 Thickburgers?

I'm not sure who's responsible for that, but that person should be fired.

p.s. Ballpark food: Nachos or a Hot Dog?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Quick Announcement

When we originally started the blog we configured a setting so that required a reader to be logged in to leave a comment. We figured this would keep us informed of who was commenting, while blocking spam bots that target high-traffic blogs. Also, it was the default setting and we didn't know this was an option that could be changed.

In an effort (read: desperate plea) to drum up more chatter, we've modified the setting so that you can leave "anonymous" comments if you please (read: if you don't have a google id). For those of you that choose to do so, it would be nice if you left your name or some kind of handle so that all of us (writers and commenters) could call you out for your stupidity or praise you for your genius.

Thanks to those of you who read this! Please feel free to drop suggestions on anything we can do better. Rye, we hear ya on the "women of telemundo". Coovo is on it like white on rice. Spanish rice, that is.

-Roller and Coovo