Thursday, December 24, 2015

Microsoft says we have to disown one of our children

With your Microsoft Account, you can create a Family Account to "to help manage your kid's online activity".

With a Family Account you can:
  • Block websites - You can make sure that adult websites are blocked for the kids in your family. You can block specific sites, too—or choose which sites you want your kids to see.
  • Play time is important. Let them have fun, safely - You can allow your child to download apps and games appropriate for their age, and still make sure they don’t get anything they’re not ready for yet.
  • A window into their digital life - Get recent activity reports on sites visited, apps used, games played, and screen time. Or, check in online anytime.
  • Set good screen time habits - Together, you can talk about good habits and set limits on how much time they can spend with their screens.

A excellent concept, except for one problem: the Family Account is limited to 3 children and 2 adults.  We have 4 children.  There are a number of Community Form Threads about this issue.

I tried contacting Microsoft support, and the exchange went like this:

Microsoft: "What that means is that you have the reached the maximum amount of persons that can be added, hence the reason why you are getting that message."

Me: "So how do we fix it?  How do we upgrade out account? You can't be serious in thinking that an acceptable answer is one of our kids just can't be part of our family?"

Microsoft: "Unfortunately once you are receiving that message then there wouldn't be anything that can be done with regards to changing the number of persons that can be added on the account."

Me to my daughter: "Microsoft says we have to disown you, because you can't be a part of our family."

Microsoft then forwarded me onto another tech support, who then forwarded me to billing, who then forwarded on again in a great big circle.
One community member found a ugly workaround that if they remove the second parent, they can add a 4th child.  There is currently no workaround for families with 5 or more children.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Star Wars vs Star Trek

Bill Nye chimes in on the Star Wars vs Star Trek debate.

... Star Wars is all about magic, royal family drama and sounds in space ...

... Star Trek is all about an optimistic scientific view of the future, and exploration ...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Why Do Scouts Go Camping

Why Do Scouts Go Camping

Camping requires living deliberately, examining the essential facts of life.

Camping requires establishing an outpost of civilization, managing resources, setting routines, cooperating, and learning the practicalities of interdependence.

Camping requires recreating the mechanisms of survival, applying specialized skills, depending on what we can do with our hands.

Camping takes us to the frontier where nature and civilization meet; we can learn a lot about both if we keep our eyes open.

Camping separates from everyday life because camping is at odds with everyday life.

Camping means leaving distractions behind; it is just us, the forest, and our fellow Scouts.

Camping means pushing ourselves physically and mentally beyond our normal sphere of comfort.

Camping asks us to take ourselves as we are, it’s hard to be someone you aren’t in the wild.

Camping inspires humility, to confront our frailty in the face of the natural world.

Camping inspires reverence for nature and teaches us where we fit in the grand scheme of things.

Source: Why do Scouts go Camping? -

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Brook vs Primary Data

Brook attempts the obstacle course at Primary Data's booth at VMworld 2015

Favorite line: You got to love Rick's Fusion-io pride when he says, "Ladies and gentlemen thank you for coming by Fusion-io".  I miss Fuison-io too.  :-)

Monday, June 1, 2015

New Webelos Adventures Conversion

New Webelos Adventures Conversion
As of June 1st, 2015, the Webelos have new Adventure pins to be earned.  Many of the old activity pins have been converted, and some have been retired.  Here is a rough list of what I believe is the closest conversion from the old Webelos activity pins.

Webelos Required Adventures

New AdventureOld ActivityTopic
Cast Iron Chefnewcooking
Duty to God and Youaka part of past Webelos requirementsreligion
First Responderaka Readymanfirst aid
Stronger, Faster, Higheraka Athleteexercise
Webelos Walkaboutnewhiking

Arrow of Light Required Adventures

New AdventureOld ActivityTopic
Building a Better Worldaka Citizencitizenship
Camperaka Outdoorsmancamping
Duty to God in Actionaka part of past Webelos requirementsreligion
Scouting Adventureaka part of past Arrow of Light requirementsboy scouts

Webelos and Arrow of Light Elective Adventures

New AdventureOld ActivityTopic
Adventures in Scienceaka Scientistscience
Aquanautaka Aquanautswimming
Art Explosionaka Artistart
Aware and Carenewdisabilities
Build Itaka Craftsmanbuilding
Build My Own Heronewheros
Earth Rocks!aka Geologistgeology
Engineeraka Engineercivil engineering
Fix Itaka Handymanrepairs/maintenance
Game Designnewgames
Into the Wildaka Naturalistbugs
Into the Woodsaka Forestertrees
Looking Back, Looking Forwardnewscouting history
Moviemakingnewmovie making
Project Familyaka Family Memberfamily
Sportsmanaka Sportsmansports

Retired Past Activity Pins

Old ActivityTopics
Communicatornews, codes, language, computers
Fitnesshealth, alcohol, drugs
Scholarschool, math, language, chess
Showmanpuppets, music, drama
Travelertravel, maps

List Format

Webelos Required Adventures
  • Cast Iron Chef - new  (cooking)
  • Duty to God and You - aka part of past Webelos requirements  (religion)
  • First Responder - aka Readyman  (first aid)
  • Stronger, Faster, Higher - aka Athlete  (exercise)
  • Webelos Walkabout - new  (hiking)

Arrow of Light Required Adventures
  • Building a Better World - aka Citizen  (citizenship)
  • Camper - aka Outdoorsman  (camping)
  • Duty to God in Action - aka part of past Webelos requirements  (religion)
  • Scouting Adventure - aka part of past Arrow of Light requirements  (boy scouts)

Webelos and Arrow of Light Elective Adventures
  • Adventures in Science - aka Scientist  (science)
  • Aquanaut -  aka Aquanaut  (swimming)
  • Art Explosion -  aka Artist  (art)
  • Aware and Care - new  (disabilities)
  • Build It - aka Craftsman  (building)
  • Build My Own Hero - new  (heros)
  • Castaway - new  (survivalist)
  • Earth Rocks! - aka Geologist  (geology)
  • Engineer - aka Engineer  (civil engineering)
  • Fix It - aka Handyman  (repairs/maintenance)
  • Game Design -  new  (games)
  • Into the Wild -  aka Naturalist  (bugs)
  • Into the Woods - aka Forester  (trees)
  • Looking Back, Looking Forward - new  (scouting history)
  • Maestro! - new  (music)
  • Moviemaking - new  (movie making)
  • Project Family - aka Family Member  (family)
  • Sportsman - aka Sportsman  (sports)

Retired Past Activity Pins
  • Communicator - news, codes, language, computers
  • Fitness - health, alcohol, drugs
  • Scholar - school, math, language, chess
  • Showman - puppets, music, drama
  • Traveler - travel, maps

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Leave Nothing But Footprints

"Leave nothing but footprints,
take nothing but pictures,
kill nothing but time."

--motto of the Baltimore Grotto, a Maryland caving club founded in 1952

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SanDisk SD Elephant

Did You Know: The SanDisk Extreme SDXC can resist the weight of up to 5 tons! (source)

+1 to our clever marketing team.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Scoutbook Is Joining Forces With the BSA National Council

Scoutbook Is Joining Forces With the BSA National Council

Shawn Jackson, the creator and founder of Scoutbook announced April 8th:

"The Boy Scouts of America today announced it has acquired Scoutbook and will work to make it available to the broader Scouting family.

The Scoutbook team is honored that the BSA recognizes the value of the unit-experience and unit-management tools that we created to enhance your Scouting experience. Rest assured that we are working closely with the National Council on transitioning Scoutbook to become a BSA wholly owned and operated resource in a way that continues to ensure a positive experience for you, our existing users.

Visit Scouting Wire today for additional information, including an FAQ. In the weeks and months ahead, we will communicate more about the transition of Scoutbook to the BSA, sharing details as they become available. In addition to watching for communications like this one from the Scoutbook team, please stay tuned to Scouting Wire for updates on our progress and what this change will mean for you in the long term."

"Scoutbook was created in 2013 by Shawn Jackson, a parent and active member of the Scouting community, and its membership has quickly grown to nearly 200,000 users"

How much does Scoutbook cost?  It roughly costs about $1 per scout per year.  The initial cost is $10 for the first 5 boys, with the option of addition additional blocks of 5 scouts for $5.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Whiteout Conditions

In a previous post I commented about the lovely weather Dallas was having. Then today we get hit with whiteout conditions. Karma.

Up until this storm we have had a very temperate winter like none I can remember. Some people were mowing lawns in January and February.

Update (2 days later): The snow has all but melted, but the cold has stayed. I guess winter finally decided to show up... in March.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dominion Expansion Sets


An overview of each expansion:
  • Intrigue: The first expansion, and the most natural. Comes with another set of Treasure/Victory cards, allowing you to support multiple games and/or a 5-6p game (though 5-6p games of Dominion are generally not that much fun). Focuses on interaction and card choices.
  • Seaside: Focused on duration cards, which last between turns. Along with Prosperity, has probably the most powerful Action cards.
  • Alchemy: Introduces Potions, a different kind of “currency”, and emphasizes Action chains, leading to much longer games. Probably not a great first expansion.
  • Prosperity: Adds Colonies and Platinums, and a lot of other over-the-top cards. Probably the most popular expansion, and certainly the most well-received.
  • Cornucopia: A small expansion that focuses on card variety. A more advanced set.
  • Hinterlands: Introduces cards that trigger when you gain or buy them. A more advanced set.
  • Dark Ages: The most complex set so far, with a big emphasis on card interactions. It introduces many new mechanics (including gaining from the trash).


Name Re­lease Date Type Cards Kinds of King­dom card Theme
Dom­in­ion (Base game) Oc­to­ber 2008 Stand­a­lone 500 25 The ori­gin­al game.
In­trigue July 2009 Stand­a­lone 500 25 Decisions among multiple possible effects. Hybrid cards that are both Victory cards and another type.
Sea­side Oc­to­ber 2009 Ex­pan­sion 300 26 Cards with effects that happen on the player's next turn.
Al­che­my May 2010 Ex­pan­sion 150 12 The Potion Treasure as an alternate card cost, with cards that require a Potion as well as Coin to be bought. Decks with large numbers of Action cards.
Pros­per­i­ty Oc­to­ber 2010 Ex­pan­sion 300 25 Expensive cards and Treasures that do something when played in the Buy phase. Higher-value basic Treasure and Victory cards. VP tokens.
Cor­nu­co­pi­a June 2011 Ex­pan­sion 150 13 Cards that are more useful when there is variety in the player's deck.
Hin­ter­lands Oc­to­ber 2011 Ex­pan­sion 300 26 Cards that have an additional effect when bought or otherwise gained.
Dark Ages August 2012 Ex­pan­sion 500 35 Cards that have an additional effect when trashed. Cards that care about the Trash. Cards that upgrade themselves. Ways to upgrade other cards.
Guilds June 2013 Ex­pan­sion 150 13 Coin tokens that can be saved to spend later. Cards you can get more out of by paying extra for them.
Adventures April 2015 Ex­pan­sion 400 30 Cards that can be saved for the right moment. Events, which give you something to buy besides cards. Tokens that can modify cards.
Base Cards June 2012 Re­place­ment Cards 250 0 (A set of all the basic cards—Treasures, Victory, and Curse cards—from the standalones and expansions with new design and different art. No Kingdom Cards.)


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of the Year

It was a fierce battle, though only one team could come out on top. Oh wait, we're talking about the ads! The votes are in and here are the Top 5.
1 Lost Dog
That collective "Awww" you heard wasn't about Tom Brady's grin. America's pup was back to pull our heartstrings. Now let's go collectively feel some feelings (and maybe grab a Bud).
2 The Brady Bunch
Bad-guy actor Danny Trejo takes on a famous "Brady Bunch" scene, proving that even Marcia, Marcia, Marcia isn't herself when she's hungry. Stick around, because you won't believe who plays Jan.
3 Revenge
Clash of the Clans
The Best Use of a Celebrity award goes to this spot featuring an angry Liam Neeson — we're talking "Taken" levels of aggression — chewing out his nemesis in a mobile game. If only.
4 Pill
Fiat has come out with a new model that's bigger, wider, and, well, sexier. Their game-day spot credits the new changes to a frisky couple, a series of unlikely events, and a little blue pill.
5 My Bold Dad
Toyota's tribute to dads may have caused more than a few of us to tear up during the game. We dare you to hold back those feelings as a father shows his daughter he's always there for her.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The ABCs of Dominion

My coworkers have got me hooked on the game of Dominion. Dominion is a simple deck building card game. I think what makes Dominion fun is the rules are very simple to learn but the variations of game play are expansive, which follows the "a minute to learn, a lifetime to master" mantra.

Each turn involves 3 simple steps. You play an action, buy and then cleanup. What gives Dominion the game play variety are the various actions, and each new game played can use different action cards. succinctly summarized the ABCs of the game play rules. Your turn consists of four phases:

A)ction: You may play one action card from your hand. Follow the directions on the card, which may instruct you to draw additional cards, gain spending power for your upcoming Buy phase, or give you extra actions to play additional action cards.

B)uy: You may purchase any one card in a pile on the table. To do so, play treasure cards from your hand until the value is at least as high as the purchase price of the card you want to buy.

C)leanup: The card you purchased, all cards that you played, and any cards remaining in your hand, are all placed in your discard pile.

D)raw: Draw five cards from your deck to replenish your hand. If there are not enough cards in your deck, shuffle your discard pile, and it becomes the base of your draw pile.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kindlegen - Convert EPUB to Kindle MOBI

In trying to expand my Kindle library, I have found that most e-books, or magazines, found online come in PDF format. PDF is not supported on the Kindle and wouldn't read well on the tiny screen, due to PDFs not being designed to reflow the text on a smaller screen. A few e-books will actually come in the e-book reader friendly format, .epub (Electronic Publication), which does support reflow. The trouble is that Kindle doesn't support the EPUB format. Kindle only naively supports the .mobi (Mobipocket) format (and a few other archaic proprietary formats).

Luckily, I was able to use the free Kindlegen, provided by Amazon, to convert the .epub e-book. Kindlegen is supported on Windows, OSX, and Linux.  Kindlegen is a command line tool, but is fairly simple to use. Be aware that the generated .mobi file will be significantly larger than the EPUB format (about 2x-3x larger).

Kindlegen can convert the following formats to the .mobi format:
  • .opf
  • .htm
  • .html
  • .epub
  • .xhtml
  • .zip
  • directory source files
The only trouble I ran into, during conversion, is you have to specify the full path to the file you are converting. If you don't specify the full file path, even though the file is in the same folder, you will get an error about not finding the file specified. You may also notice the .mobi file is built with warnings, due to missing desired headers, but those can generally be safely ignored.

Converting an .epub book to mobi:

C:\temp>kindlegen.exe "c:\temp\pg11.epub"

 Amazon kindlegen(Windows) V2.9 build 1029-0897292
 A command line e-book compiler
 Copyright and its Affiliates 2014

Info(prcgen):I1047: Added metadata dc:Title        "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
Info(prcgen):I1047: Added metadata dc:Date         "2008-06-27"
Info(prcgen):I1047: Added metadata dc:Creator      "Lewis Carroll"
Info(prcgen):I1047: Added metadata dc:Subject      "Fantasy"
Info(prcgen):I1047: Added metadata dc:Rights       "Public domain in the USA."
Info(prcgen):I1047: Added metadata dc:Source       ""
Info(prcgen):I1037: Mobi file built with WARNINGS!

Converting an html book to .mobi:
C:\temp>kindlegen.exe "c:\temp\Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.htm" -o

 Amazon kindlegen(Windows) V2.9 build 1029-0897292
 A command line e-book compiler
 Copyright and its Affiliates 2014

Info(prcgen):I1047: Added metadata dc:Title        "
      Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Info(prcgen):I1002: Parsing files  0000002
Warning(htmlprocessor):W28003: Value specified for CSS property in content is not supported by Kindle readers. Please re
fer Kindle Publishing Guidelines about usage of property: 'position: absolute' in file: c:\users\kenneth\documents\Alice
's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.htm
Info(prcgen):I1037: Mobi file built with WARNINGS!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015