Greatest Race Ever — 2008 4x100m Swim Relay

Totally random post here, but I watch this race about 10 times a year and it’s just awesome. So many amazing things about it.

  • Truly unbelievable finish by Jason Lazek
    • Record time of 46.06 split, 10 years later nearly 0.6 faster than anyone in the world (tactically using the UCSB surf method!)
  • Going into the race, the world record was 3:12.46 the Olympic record was 3:13.17.
    • Thus the amazing two facts are staggering to consider:
      • Sixth place and higher would have been a world record!
      • The last place finisher (UK) would have won any prior Olympics!!
  1. USA 3:08.24
  2. France 3:08.32
  3. Australia 3:09.91
  4. Italy 3:11.48
  5. Sweden 3:11.92
  6. Canada 3:12.26
  7. South Africa 3:12.66
  8. Great Britain 3:12.87
  • France talked a ton of trash before the race (note they came back to win it in 2012).
  • Michael Phelps epic 8 gold medals in 2008 depended on this.

 

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Escaping Fire And YouTube Adventures!

Last night I had to evacuate my family in the middle of the night due to a fire. As a former resident of San Diego, where fires are common and specifically a product of the Scripps Ranch High School class whose families were greatly impacted by the historic Cedar Fire, I have always considered fires a real threat. Thus the evening events went semi-predictably for a chaotic event.

At about 8PM after putting the kids to bed, I noticed some incredibly strong winds. I went out to see if a tree might be in danger of falling on my house. I also noted the unusual fact that there wasn’t any clouds in the sky. This indicates dryness, which, when combined with the wind, is a practically a given that a fire is going to break out.

At about 9:30PM the wind continued to alarm me as unknown items fell outside and a few even smashed into the house. I secured a ladder that had been blowing around and brought in anything that could be blown in a dangerous manner. I distinctly remember trying to smell for any signs of a fire, and I did not.

At about 11PM I emailed my father noting the intense wind and lamented the potential danger of a fire or falling tree.

At about midnight, power became intermittently out. Again, no smell of smoke to me, even when I went outside.

I went to bed about 1AM but never feel asleep (a problem for me lately).

At about 2:30 I was alerted of a fire. Going outside, the smoke was unmistakable and a bright orange glow was off in the distance. Most disturbing was that the wind was blowing directly from the direction where the fire was, putting us right in its path. Other neighbors were out with everyone ensuring that everyone else was aware of the issue (nice to know people do that in times of crises!). I began to execute the “GO PLAN”, which really wasn’t too sophisticated, but I had a short list of immediate things to grab.

My kids wokeup before I intended to grab them due to the commotion. I showed them the fire and they behaved as one would expect a 4 year old and 6 year old. Excitement. Nervous. Small fits of panic. Fighting over who gets what color flashlight. However, by and large, they were cooperative and “calm enough.”

At about 3AM with kids in the car I left the house. No more than a minute into the drive, I filmed the below video and posted it on Youtube. I make quick videos like this pretty frequently mostly for the kids to review when they are older, but I rarely publish publicly. However, for this one, I’d gotten two funny replies from both of them, so I decided to share with the world. I didn’t realize it at the time, but of course filming children while escaping a wall of fire while they amusingly talk about “Freaking out!” and “Saving Kitty” is click bait if there ever was any! So it got some views pretty quick.

Later in the day a guy from ABC Media messaged me asking for permission to use the video, which I granted. He also put me in touch with some guy from Good Morning America. The GMA rep was nice enough, but when he heard I didn’t have the kids with me for an interview, I was written off as boring (EVALUATION = TRUE!).  I was also pretty nonchalant about my escape to (“no our shoes were not melting or anything interesting…”), so he looked for a more interesting story — which, tragically, there were plenty of.

Anyway, what was interesting about the YouTube post is that I got a bunch of dislikes early on. Strangely a video I made about a year ago equating Donald Trump to “Mr Punish And Enslave” and Hillary Clinton to “Mrs. Corrupt” has NO dislikes! The nature of the video is politically neutral and addresses the inoffensive topic of Instant Runoff Voting, but not a single dislike a year later, while my children evacuation video has 6!?? I’m guessing it’s because I said I’d “cut some people off” and mocked the “Texting and driving laws” although I intended to point out that I wasn’t sure if filming and driving was illegal (I keep meaning to check if writing a letter while driving is against the law!)

The final curious observation with Youtube was the comments I received. About 80% were very nice and wished well. However, there was a noticeable number of individuals who made the creative assertion that the peril I was facing was a direct result of me failing to attend their church, an evil conspiracy from a GMO corporation, or because the government was using Chemicals to poison people. Youtube intelligently filtered most of these and requested I grant permission before posting (I approved the anti-government one… I figured his heart was in the right place!).

Anyway, it’s now about 36 hours later: While I haven’t returned, I’ve heard several reliable confirmations that my house/street survived.

However about a mile away there appears to have been some pretty heavy devastation. Specifically, a trailer park got decimated and 10 people died which is only about 1.25 miles from me (I run by it, hence the accuracy).

In general, this is looking like it’s a pretty serious event for my small town. Lots of damage. Looting apparently has been an issue too, which is sad, but predictable given the nature of some people.

I’m in no rush to return to a city with a spike in crime, bad air, and not a lot of immediate resources like food and water.

Tragic that some people lost their lives. Unimaginable to think about the victims or what the people that knew them are going through.

Thanks for the kind wishes for all that sent them. Thinking back, I don’t think I did anything special. From a numbers standpoint, I’m guessing about 99.99% of grownups that were in my situation with children would have gotten away unscathed. I did remember to bring a couple key travel items, but overall just another day of #DadLife!

 

 

My Excel Contest Video

I am in an Excel popularity contest (talk about an oxymoron). A couple Excel bloggers were invited to compete in “Excel Dashboard contest” and naturally this is what I spent last Saturday night doing. The winner is declared by how many YouTube likes each effort earns, which essentially means I have no chance of winning because a couple competitors have pretty large followings.

However, I would like to at least have a good showing, so if you have a moment, I would be most grateful if you gave my video a “like”. Requires a youtube or gmail account and just clicking the “like” (thumbs UP) button located above where the number of video plays is displayed.

Don’t feel like you need to watch the whole video unless you’re suffering from insomnia and are seeking a cure.

Encrypt Your Gmail/Yahoo/Outlook/iCloud Emails

Use Mailvelope to send and receive encrypted email. Uses PGP encryption, the same method Edward Snowden used to reach out to reporters in 2013. When used properly, with the private key protected, there is no known successful direct attack against PGP. Most attacks focus on indirect methods such as stealing a password, keystroke logger or snooping over someone’s shoulder.

Steps:
1) Install Mailvelope on Chrome or Firefox
2) Create a public/Private key for yourself
3) Share your PUBLIC key (NOT YOUR PRIVATE KEY)
4) Collect your friends Public key and import them to your Mailvelope Key ring.
5) Message away with complete privacy.

Always remember to lock your computer, and don’t share your private key or give anyone access.

 

Selecting A Music Program for Your Family

I felt it was time to synchronize my house with one music app so I did some research on what made the most sense for us. My objective was to find solid music app I could listen to regularly, as well as use with the kids. Seems easy enough. I decided to sample the big three options for a week at a time, and here’s my observations:watch full film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011 online

Apple Music:

  • $10 per individual or $15 for family plan of 6 per month.
  • 30 million songs.
  • Some radio stations.
  • Saving locally seemed inconsistent.
  • Works nicely with iTunes, but not everyone in my family has that.
  • Interface was a little difficult.
  • Supposedly lower audio quality (256kbps), but I couldn’t tell the difference between the higher 320 KBPS.

Spotify

  • $10 per individual or $15 for family plan of 6 per month.
  • 30 million songs.
  • Definitely the best interface. Clean and intuitive.
  • Great job of making playlists I thought were pretty awesome.
  • Improved sound quality of 320KBPS.
  • It had a weekly 30 recommended songs that was always a success.
  • Never had any playing problems. Google and Apple would occasionally stall (but not frequently).
  • It’s the only option for Linux, not that you care.

Google Play:

  • $10 per individual or $15 for family plan of 6 per month. A BIG limitation on the family plan is that the signup account must be a DROID phone user. It didn’t work for me when I tried a Nexus.
  • 50 million songs.  Don’t be deceived by this figure as a lot of the songs are performed by unknown artists “inspired by” the real artists. An example was Memories By David Guetta that is performed by someone else. This essentially just clogs up my search trying to find the real song.
  • Easy to save locally to your Google Play app, but can’t copy like a regular Mp3.
  • Reasonably good interface and easy to make playlists, but not as good as Spotify.
  • They do allow you to upload 50,000 of your own MP3 songs which will probably be mixes you’ve stolen off of youtube (up to 90 minutes in length). However Google is one step ahead of you because they have intelligently brought YouTube into the equation, see next point.
  • YouTube Red is included (not to be confused with RedTube…). This gives a user:
    • Ad-Free Youtube. Let me tell you that this may not seem like much, but once you have it, it’s painful to return to the land of waiting five seconds, then click “skip” every time you want to watch a video.
    • Ability to listen to youtube on your phone, with the Youtube App minimized. Again, this may not seem like much, but once you get used to it, it’s tough to forget.
    • Download videos locally to your phone. This is quite useful for me as a traveler, if I want to scramble to find 4 hours worth of content to watch on a flight, it’s easy to catch up on my “watch later” playlist..
    • Original YouTube content that’s trying to compete with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. I haven’t seen any of these, but they look professional.

Between the big three, the Google Family Plan proved the most optimal choice and I had to beg my Droid-using brother to sign us all up under his account. Spotify was the clear victor based exclusively on Music, but the Youtube element was too enticing.

I really would have preferred to go with Apple this year as they stood up the US government on Privacy contrasted to Google’s Eric Schmidt infamous dismissal of privacy . But I can’t say I’ve regretted my choice.  I don’t get cable, as my kids fulfill all their “TV viewing” on YouTube, so the removal of adds, sometimes ones that were not okay for kids to see, is a big win.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon, Netflix or Hulu purchased Spotify just to form a package that can compete. As it now stands, it seems like a pretty obvious choice for Google Play and I would predict others reach the same conclusion as me.

While doing research, I did consider a couple less well known music options. My comments on them:

Rdio.com:

Tidal:

  • $20 for Lossless compression (wave files). I doubt that makes a difference, but again some people who live and breathe music may think so.
  • 35 million songs.

Pandora:

  • $5 a month or free with ads. Actually most of the above ad-supported free versions. I couldn’t stand them though.
  • Can’t pick your own songs, only rate them, so it’s effectively like the radio.
  • Low quality sound of 192 KBPS.
  • Amazingly only 2 million songs… ouch.

Google Chrome Short-Cuts and Hacks

This is just a dump zone for me to drop Google Chrome notes that I don’t want to search for again.

CTL “L” = Shortcut to Omnibar (Address bar)

 

Setting up a search Engine Shortcut:

To add a search engine to Google Chrome (note from the Omini Bar you can execute searches from various search engines).

To find the search query for that website, run a query, and then substitute the result of your query with %s

Example is to setup Reason.com as a search, go to Reason.com. Run a search such as “ABCDEFG”

The URL will return: https://reason.com/search?q=ABCDEFG

Change to: https://reason.com/search?q=%s and add as a search engine to Chrome.

Couple other common ones for me:

  • http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=%s
  • http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%s
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?search=%s