Found this nifty little thing via Penny Arcade.  It’s a site where you draw a 2D character and they make it dance around in 3D using Flash.  I threw together this stick figure one to see how it works.  Sorta neat, and free.  But, damn, the music is annoying.

Note that I don’t think they thought about scalability on the thing and it’s become reasonably popular, so it seems to be hit or miss on whether the thing actually plays.

media, tv comments edit

Saw a preview for a new CBS show called Kid Nation last night.  The idea is that they set 40 kids up in an old west town with no adults around and see how they fare.

Anyone else think this sounds like Lord of the Flies, western style?  I’m waiting for the part where Piggy gets killed on national television.

Yeah, they’ll probably edit that out.

Greg posted some great video that one of the crewmembers, Cassie, took during the fireworks show we did this year.  It’s pretty cool.  About 1:15 into the video, it zooms down and you can see the line of mortar racks and four people standing a few yards back from where it’s all going off.  I’m standing in that group with a road flare on the end of a stick (not lit), waiting to ensure that everything goes off.  (If one of the shells doesn’t go off electronically, I get to light up the flare and run out and light it by hand.  Fortunately that didn’t happen.)

media, music comments edit

My Chemical Romance - The Black
Parade

I’m a little late to the game on this one, but I’ve really been enjoying The Black Parade album by My Chemical Romance.

I think it started out by playing Guitar Hero II - one of the songs in there is “Dead!” which is from this album.  Jenn and I got 100% on that song (on “Easy” level) playing cooperative and it kind of stuck in my head.  I’d heard “The Black Parade” on the radio and liked it, so I figured I’d give it a run.

The album actually reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd’s The Wall - it plays out like a story, with the music style changing with each song, and in many cases becoming very… theatrical.  “Dead!” and “The Black Parade” are my favorite songs on the album, but the whole album is generally pretty darn good and is a very easy listen from front to back without having to skip any of the songs.

I can’t say I’ve heard much anything else by My Chemical Romance, but it does make me curious to hear more.  Maybe I’ll have to pick up something else by them and see how it fares.  Regardless, this thing rocks, and I totally recommend it.

I’m a member of the Amazon Associates program and when I put links to products in my blog postings or in emails, I like to make sure they’re referral links.  On a web site, that also means you can take advantage of the automatic popup link script they provide.

The problem is that you have to create links to particular products by going to their site and doing a search or plugging in the ASIN number so the URL can be generated.  But the URL has a pattern, so if you know the pattern and have it handy you can pretty easily create the URL yourself.

To make this way easier, I created a little bookmarklet that lets you navigate to a product page on Amazon and automatically copy the affiliate URL for the item to your clipboard for use in email, blog links, etc.

NOTE:  The bookmarklet is for IE ONLY. You can’t easily copy data to the Firefox clipboard so I have a different mechanism (slightly more manual) for the FF users, below.

INTERNET EXPLORER:

Installation

  1. Download the zip file and drop the .url file in it into your Favorites folder.
  2. Open up the file in Notepad.  You’ll find a really long line (line 4) that starts out like this: URL=javascript:aid='mhsvortex';if(!window... Change the value of ‘aid’ to be your Amazon Associate ID.  (By default it’s mine - mhsvortex.)
  3. That’s it - you’re ready to go.

Usage

  1. Navigate to a product page on Amazon that you want an Associate link to.
  2. Select the bookmarklet from your Favorites list.  It will automatically parse the URL and create a product link using the product’s ASIN and your Associate ID.  You will get an alert message telling you what link got copied to your clipboard.
  3. Paste the URL wherever you want to use it.
  4. If you try the bookmarklet on a non-product page or on a non-Amazon site, it’ll prompt you for the ASIN of the product you want to link to.

[Download ‘Copy Amazon Product URL’ Bookmarklet]

FIREFOX:

Sorry, FF users, but the security and pain around copying to the clipboard means you have a slightly more manual process to endure.

Installation

  1. Right-click this link and create a bookmark to it: Build Amazon Product URL
  2. On the main toolbar, go to “Bookmarks” and find the bookmark you just created. Right-click it and select “Properties.”
  3. In the “Location” field, you’ll see a big string that starts like this: URL=javascript:aid='mhsvortex';ur=new... Change the value of ‘aid’ to be your Amazon Associate ID.  (By default it’s mine - mhsvortex.)
  4. That’s it - you’re ready to go.

Usage

  1. Navigate to a product page on Amazon that you want an Associate link to.
  2. Select the bookmark from your Bookmarks list.  It will automatically parse the URL and create an alert that tells you what the URL is. Select this URL and copy it to your clipboard. (This is the manual part.)
  3. Paste the URL wherever you want to use it.
  4. If you try the bookmarklet on a non-product page or on a non-Amazon site, it’ll prompt you for the ASIN of the product you want to link to.