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                   Friday, January 2, 2009 - 5:00AM

Some random stuff to start 2009

By DAN ROBINSON
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From the Random Files: I keep a queue of html files with ideas and drafts for future blog subjects, but most of don't end up meeting the criteria of being compelling or interesting enough to warrant getting 'greenlighted' for posting (yeah, as if anything on here is compelling). I typed out a couple of new subjects this week, enough to add to a couple from the 'scratch pad' file for a post to help start the new year. There are some corporate brand props in here that again, I wasn't paid for, for those that may suspect it. If you're a corporate exec whos brand was mentioned here, at least a gas card for storm season would be a nice way to return the favor (not-so-subtle hint, hint).

Sumatra Coffee

I have never been a coffee drinker, in fact I was never a big fan of the taste of any type or flavor. I would drink coffee if there was nothing else to drink, or if I needed the caffeine boost for one reason or another. Which in both cases, was very rarely. That changed when my parents introduced me to "sumatra" coffee. Starbucks sells it in both ground and unground form (you can get it at most grocery stores), and there are several other brands that carry it online (do a Google search). I've been firing up the coffee maker with Sumatra every morning and drinking at least two cups a day. Even still, my coffee consumption is more utilitarian than recreational (helps me wake up in the morning) - but at least now it's something that's beyond just being tolerable. Anyway, my point is, if you're not a coffee person but could use the boost in the morning, give the Sumatra stuff a try.

Props to Radio Shack

Radio Shack comes through to make a $40 mistake a $3 one, after I left my cell phone charger in Pennsylvania on Monday. I am prone to regularly losing, dropping or finding some other creative yet unintentional way to destroy my cell phone (like on interstate onramps in North Carolina), so I get cheap used ones off of Ebay instead of shelling out hundreds for the new pocket PC/ iPhone grade models. So it's not an easy task to find another charger for my far-outdated phone when I leave the main one somewhere 200+ miles away. Wednesday, I went to Radio Shack for the long shot, and amazingly they had one left - and on clearance for three dollars. Beats having to spend $40 plus either waiting 4 days or spend 6 hours on the road to get back in communication. So Radio Shack gets some bonus points from me.

Shame on Firefox: Flash embed bug

I'm all for alternative browsers to compete with Microsoft, but please Mozilla, make sure everything works correctly in your browser! I found out this week that Macromedia's Flash embed code causes a vertical space about 6 pixels high to appear below any Flash animation in Firefox. This causes any Flash animation that is seamlessly integrated into a larger graphic to break apart the page's layout. This bug included several of my sites, including stormhighway.com - which unbenkonwst to me, had the ugly space breaking apart my main header graphic. The bug fix involves removing all spaces and line breaks between the Flash embed parameter tags, the end result being putting the entire 8-line object/embed/param code tags onto a single line. This makes the embed code pretty haphazard and disorganized, but it's the only way to get rid of the 6-pixel space.

So today, I have to go through all of my client sites to make sure the bug isn't affecting them. Thanks Mozilla!

Finally, an electric razor that works

I hate both shaving and growing a beard - both have always been a thorn in my side (or more accurately, in my face). I can't handle a straight-razor shave more often than once every 5 to 7 days without severe irritation (I've tried all brands of razors and gels/creams), and with my fast-growing hair, that means I grow a full, unflattering beard in between shaves. This of course, after a couple of days, makes me look like that weird scruffy guy on the subway that everyone avoids. Better than the alternative though, which is to shave every other day and look like Freddy Krueger. The last electric razor I had, a Norelco, worked pretty well until its internal battery stopped charging back in 2005. The same Norelco model was long discontinued, and tried two other new models that were total pieces of junk. So I was doomed to the weekly beard cycle ever since. I've been uncomfortable enough with this situation that I've considered laser hair removal, but so far haven't been able to afford that extreme solution (the full series of treatments can top $2,000).

So this week I decided to give a very expensive Braun electric razor a try ($190 at Wal-Mart) and so far it is working great, even better than the old Norelco I used to have. Braun has a 60-day guarantee on the thing, so I figured if it was junk like the others, I could at least get my money back. It also comes with an alcohol-based automatic cleaning machine that works pretty well. So, I'm pleased to say you probably won't see me with a beard from this point on. 200 bucks was a lot to drop on a razor, but well worth it.

So there you have it - the blog scratch pad file is clear, ready for the next batch of random subjects.

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The following comments were posted before this site switched to a new comment system on August 27, 2016:

You know, Dan, I somehow lost my phone and ran over it on the Colorado/Nebraska border in late 2007. Realizing it was gone five minutes later, we returned to the last stop to find the phone, embedded in the tire track of my car ... intact. It wouldn't turn on right away, but after taking out the battery and putting it back in, viola! ... no worse for wear. The only damage came was cosmetic on the outer shell, where gravel had depressed into the plastic.
- Posted by Dann Cianca from Denver, Colorado
Scruffy or not, you don't scare me. How could I avoid that face of yours? It was great to see you over the Christmas holiday!
- Posted by Rob from Hampton, VA

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