Thursday, March 17, 2005

Blogging from Pocket PC: The Geekery Continues

I have been experimenting with ways to update my blog using my Pocket PC in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Deutschland. You'd think this would be a relatively simple matter, but it hasn't been. However, I think I may now have the problem licked.

I want to include both photos and copy. However, the e-mail blogging application offered by Blogger doesn't support attachments, which takes it out of the running as far as including photos. I could use "Flickr," an on-line photo sharing site that allows users to post photos on their blogs, but they can only include copy as captions to their pictures. That wasn't flexible enough for me.

So I first needed a Pocket PC application that allowed me to post to Blogger. However, since I use a smartphone (phone+pocket pc) not all such blogging programs will work. However, I finally located Blogs In Hand, a nifty program that seems to work well once I figured out that to access the Blogger server you have to use this crazy URL:

Then I needed an ftp program that would run on my PPC that would allow me to upload photos to the frinkenstein server; I could then reference the URL of the photo so it would appear on by blog. After downloading trial versions of several applications, I settled on Pocket FTP. Now I should be able to post and include photos like the following: my set-up, with Buster helpfully giving it some scale:

Here's the packed rig. Pretty cool!
Okay, that should be the last "nuts and bolts" post for a while!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Deutsch tune

Last week was the final week of regular classes for my Deutsch class. We were encouraged to do any kind of project for extra points (or "pluspunkte") if we desired. So how could I pass up an opportunity to do a song auf Deutsch?! The result was "Ich habe keine angst," or "I have no fear." I have posted it below in mp3 format...just click on the image below, which was the cover I put together for the CD.

Be aware that the mp3 is about 2 megs, so it could take a few minutes if you don't have broadband. Argotnaut has Quicktime installed as her default mp3 player, and it apparently will stream mp3s. Who knew? Not me. Leave it to Apple-designed applications, which seem to work with a minimum of fuss. "But where's the challenge?" I say! Those of you who prefer a streaming experience -- and who doesn't? -- can copy and paste this URL into your RealMedia Player, and it should stream:
I tried to do a link to the RealMedia file but it wouldn't work for some reason.

Anyway, the tune turned out okay, considering I'm no audio engineer and it was essentially a "one-off" thing. On Wednesday, the class is having its "final," which is a mandatory pot luck where we will all get together for snacks and receive our grades. The instructor plans to play the tune then. I'm curious about the reaction of my classmates..."Uh, was"

The good thing is that this exercise got me off my lazy ass a bit to start composing and recording again. That's good news for ME; I don't know if it's good news for any afflicted audience! (P.S. -- Argotnaut helps out with backing vocals.)

Here are the lyrics:

Ich habe keine Angst
Ich verstehe, ich kenne deinen Name.
Ich kenne dein Gesicht.
Du darfts nicht sagen wie ich Leben.
Ich höre dich nicht

Das Leben ist kurz, Ich muss es leben.
Es ist ein Geschenk. Ich muss es geben.

Ich habe keine angst.

Ich weiß es nicht immer leicht ist.
Ich weiß ich manchmal Zweifele habe.
Ich werde halten nicht, vor ich beginne.
Ich will keine bewegende leiche sein.

You can copy and paste the lyrics in Altavista's babelfish translator, although, as usual, some of the stuff comes out all crooked. ("Weiß" is interpreted as "white" instead of "know," which is an understandable faux pas given that "Weiß ("white") is also a form of "wissen" (to know). And the translator doesn't recognize "darfts nicht" as "must not." But possibly you'll get the gist. If you listen to the tune and don't like it, well, sorry to waste your time. And if you do, drink a toast to these guys and these guys.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Critters on Parade

A quick critter update before I move to other things...Last week Lisa pointed out to me that Buster had been climbing the door jambs and clawing the living crap out of them. But the little guy really doesn't have anyplace to sharpen his claws or climb, so I made a decision: buy a cat tree. I had been eyeing one at the local planet-friendly pet shop, but I thought it was a bit expensive, though very well made of completely recycled materials. However, it was a lot less expensive then replacing our door jambs periodically. So I walked to the shop (Green Dog, a great place) with our luggage cart, and toted the thing home. Cookie took to it immediately:

However, Buster was initially frightened by it, reacting as if it was some giant, unmoving, golem-like creature brooding by the front window. However, after a little while he worked up his nerve and investigated it. Of course, now it's his favorite place:

In other critter news, I let Buddy in the back yard a couple hours ago for an early-evening pee-break. Suddenly, he started barking like mad -- and not his usual "pinging the neighborhood" bark to see if any other dogs were out, but rather a frantic "there's something back here!" bark. So I went out and behold! An opossum on the fence! Lisa managed to take a picture of the little guy:

Finally, after much yelling at Buddy to calm down, we all went back inside and let the poor critter continue on his way.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

T-minus one month to Deutschland

Our trip to Deutschland is fast approaching! Lisa got her "informations" from Heidelberg that instruct her on where she needs to go and what she needs to do when we touch down, and that also included a nice map of the city. We decided to book a room at a nice little hotel in north Heidelberg on the day we arrive, rather than go straight to the University office for room registration. That way, after the ten-hour flight, trip through Frankfurt airport, and one-hour train (or bus) trip to Heidelberg, we can just crash, fall back and regroup. Then Lisa can be a bit fresher when she goes through the ordeal of getting her room assignment, room keys and other associated bureaucratic rigmarole. After reading about Heidelberg, I already feel as if I want to live there. We'll see how I feel when I see it in person!

My German studies are going well. I'm getting an "A" in my class, and can speak complete sentences and make myself understood...mostly. It's exciting but I still have many rough patches. For example, Lisa and I were out in a local cafe last Tuesday talking German with some of her classmates. They were asking about us and I said, or attempted to say, "Our life is boring." ("Wir leben ist Langeweile.") However, instead of pronouncing "leben" like this -- "lay-ben" -- I pronounced it "lee-ben" which is actually "lieben," or "love." Thus, I said, "Our love is boring." Lisa reacted suitably aghast and much fun was had at my expense. Oh well, I'll get better.

Once Lisa gets her room, (which should happen on Thursday, the day after we arrive) we'll have a few days before her classes start and we should be able to tour Heidelberg together. Part of the appeal for me will be to see many of the same sights Mark Twain describes in "A Tramp Abroad." Lisa will likely start classes on the following Monday. I'll be coming back the following Thursday, which will give me lots of time to poke around the town.

Then it will just be me and my brother in Portland until August. And THAT will be a whole other adventure!