Monthly Archives: November 2010

How to Train Your Dragon


Short take – this is a really fun movie that I could (and will, time and technology permitting) watch over several times, preferably in blu-ray on a big screen, and maybe someday in 3D.  The animation it top notch, the story is good without being overly dumbed down for a “child” audience, and frankly I enjoyed the time I spent watching it.  It is one of those few animated movies, like Ice Age, The Incredibles and WALL-E where I not only thought I had not only be entertained but had been told a true story in a way that paid homage to great film making.

Go watch it, you’ll be glad you did.

As an aside, we watched streaming from Amazon on our Blu-Ray player because it was only $.99.  I’ll be trying that service out some more, but first impressions are that quality is good but it is a little to easy to spend money on the Amazon Video On Demand (VOD) portal.  Some sort of screen that summarizes what you are getting and exactly how much you will really be charged, like many other online transactions, would be quite helpful.


Fry’s Annoyance

Being in Seattle, I was pretty happy to stop at Fry’s.  I didn’t have much that I needed and there wasn’t anything that was an deal I had to take home.  My Uncle Alex has a nice late 2006 iMac that only had one GB of ram, much less than the typical guidance for Mac OSX.  An excellent excuse to stop at Fry’s if there ever was one.

We wandered the store while I pondered whether I should scimp and get the clearance 2*1GB kit or splurge on a 2GB stick so that the total memory would be 2.5GB.  The difference was $12 (~25%) so I went with the $32 1GB*2 stick OCZ kit.  Down on checkout three, I signed the paperwork and waited patiently for the slow staff to get the memory.  The checkout lady took the credit card, swiped it, then handed my memory.  That’s when I noticed that someone had half-halfheartedly tried to tape the kit closed – it was either returned or a floor show piece kit.  In any case, not worth full price even if it was a reasonable clearance price.

That’s when things got really annoying.  The checkout lady refused to get another kit until she was instructed to do so multiple times by the on duty manager.  The guy in the cage supposedly said that all the kits were open, that is why they were on clearance.  I should have insisted seeing another kit if that was the case.  Then it turned out they were going to charge me a restocking fee to return it – even though I hadn’t signed the form.  Enraged at this point, I stalked back into the store, got a 2GB stick, used my new in-store credit to buy it, and left the store behind my entire family who had grown sick of waiting the fifteen minutes it took me to check out.

My Uncle’s iMac is snappier now.  I guess it was worth it.


The Carrot Principle

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, Copyright 2009 by O.C. Tanner Company, 235 Pages

Language: English, ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-4917-1


This book is predicated on the fact that there are four basic tenants for successful leaders: Goal Setting, Communication, Trust and Accountability.  Further, these four are essential but when paired with effective recognition (dubbed the “Accelerator”) they are incredibly augmented.  The book covers this basic premise, goes on to discuss the state of the things as based on the authors experiences and conclusions from various research projects, provides arguments for funding recognition, recognition suggestions (how to discover what is effective and then to pursue it), and wraps it up by discussing how new research suggests this is a world wide phenomenon with some geographic/culturally tendencies and research references.

The Smell Test

It gets a pass.  The beginning and end of the book is spot on and provide little reason to question the authors or their research.  In the middle it flags a bit and can come off a bit preachy and over-achieving in its recommendations.  The strong ties to research, even if it is somewhat dubiously tied to “Recognition” institutes gives it much credence than many other leadership books as it is based at least on some data and not just on the experiences of the author, a personal pet peeve of mine.

The Personal Reaction

This premise of this book is phenomenal.  Any leader who accepts the leadership role as “maximizing the output and well being” of those they lead could find this to book (idea) to be a breakthrough that helps them reach the next level of their leadership journey.  Throughout the book, many references are made about minimizing turn over and maximizing the potential that is already in house.  Specifically, its information on employee turnover and how it is likely the newest and brightest (and often the most insecure) that leave were eye-openers. If the middle was about 50% as verbose, that would be a huge plus, it was a challenge to read through the research results, which is something I would have likely skipped after a cursory look through had I not been reviewing the book.

Honestly, this was the first book that I have read in my studies at St. Thomas that I wanted to order another twenty copies off and give to all the managers, future managers and leaders that I know.  It is that good and succinct and resounds with me personally.   A simple idea and system are presented along with common roadblocks and speed bumps, examples of success stories and research to back it up.  It was like a condensed book form of much of Monson’s Human Factors class, which is high praise indeed.


What team should I cheer for?

The Vikings are done.  Furthermore, I think the season is going to get worse.  “Land Baron” Brett Favre will either get benched (deservedly) or possibly  suspended (debatable.)   Have you seen Jenn Sterger?  She looks like a 20 year old version of his wife… but its creepy that she is younger than his daughters…  he’ll probably be suspended from the bedroom until further notice, anyway.  Take Favre away and we have T-Jack – I am hopeful given another set of starts he’ll show a lot of  improvement from the last time.

That said, I need another NFL team to get behind.  I wanted to cheer for the Broncos, but they are pretty far back in their division as well – and let’s face it, their the Broncos.  The Patriots and Steelers are just bandwagon choices and the NFC North is also out (Bears, Lions, Packers).

So, dear readers, who should I cheer for?


Made it Silver!

Much to Kristin’s consternation, I believe, I have played enough Starcraft 2 and gotten good enough to be in the Silver league. I hadn’t played a bronze leaguer in about 20 matches anyway, so no surprise there. It’s pretty interesting all the math that goes into changing your rank – they have a point system, the some “sigma” value that changes over time based on how well you do against other players based on the rank/league differential.

Anyway, check it out 🙂

Supposedly you are put into a league where you are expected to win 50% of the time.  Last night I played eight matches and went 4 & 4, so it looks about right.

— Nat

Do you know what is better than having 1 video card in your computer?

Two video cards, of course!   I have had the current rig for awhile, and one of my goals has been to “finish it 2008 style” – the motherboard supported AMD/ATI’s Crossfire multi-video card technology.  I have already put the fastest processor it can handle in as well, so adding another older video card was the finishing touch.  Over a year ago I bought an AMD 4830 (the lowest of their top tier card offerings at the time) for a steal on the Anandtech For Sale/For Trade forums where I get all my good used computer goodies.  I told myself when I saw another for $50 I would buy it.  That never happened, but I found one for $60 a couple weeks ago and picked it up.

You might be wondering why this would be exciting – two video cards means twice the heat, twice the power and twice the noise.  They also bring in almost twice the performance 🙂  Well, sometimes as you can see below…

Frames Per Second

Frames Per Second

For my $60 I am seeing a solid increase in performance.  100%?  No, but we can see that there are solid performance gains across the board that I am fairly impressed with.  The 2008 Power Rig is now complete… Time to do a full PC upgrade, right 😀

There will be a couple follow on posts talking about the benchmark choices and some  more pictures of the dual card goodness.