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  • New 101 Macintosh 10.6 Tips book released in Czech Republic

    2010 - 08.08

    My buddy from the other side of the world, Roman Zavřel, just released a Macintosh 101 Tips book for free on his website. The book is written in Czech but may be translated to English if he gets a good response. Take a look at his site at www.letemsvetemapplem.eu and grab the PDF of the book here.

    Roman has featured many of my projects on his site (here, here and here), so it’s my turn to feature him. If your Czech is a little rusty, don’t forget about Google translate.

    Roman, who is also a professional basketball player, may be playing in Tunisia next season. Good luck, Roman, I hope the book and hoops work out for you!

    The Tragic Death of a Perfectly Good Mocha

    2010 - 07.20

    A few years ago, I was heading downtown for an appointment. I stopped and grabbed a 20oz mocha from a coffee shop on the way. When I got downtown, I noticed I was about 20 minutes early for the appointment. I called the receptionist from the front door and got buzzed into the building. I figured I would spend a few minutes in the restroom and catch up on some “reading” on my phone. I entered the cleanest stall, set the mocha down on the toilet paper dispenser and continued with my business. I started playing backgammon on my phone and didn’t notice that the mocha was very slowly inching towards the edge of the dispenser it was sitting on. There must have been some small vibration in the building causing the bathroom stall to shake every so slightly. I think you see where this is going.

    After about 10 minutes, the law of gravity took effect, and the mocha fell off it’s perch landing face down, top off, directly into my underwear which was of course, around my ankles. My response was pure and utter horror as I watched my underwear, socks and jeans soak up the coffee and form a growing puddle of steaming brown liquid on the floor. I was speechless as the puddle grew and seeped into the other stalls. For some crazy reason, the floor drain was over by the sinks, so the puddle didn’t move, it just stared back at me as if to say “so now what are you gonna do?” I regained whatever composure you can when your entire bottom half is full of hot chocolate and caffiene, and got dressed. The idea of cleaning up the massive puddle was way too much for my brain to handle, so I grabbed a huge handful of paper towels and got out of there quickly, the way you walk away from a store display that you just knocked over.

    I waddled out to the parking lot and sloshed into my car. I tried soaking up the coffee with the towels but it seemed to do no good. Twenty ounces is a lot more coffee than it looks like when you’re wearing it. I noticed that I still had about 5 minutes before my appointment, so I called up my client. When he answered I made up a story about how I was going to need to reschedule as I was having some car trouble. He mentioned that the receptionist had already told him I was in the building and he wanted to know what was reallly going on. I had to come clean and explain to him that I decided to wear my coffee that morning rather than drink it. After he finished laughing, he mentioned that he saw the disaster in the bathroom and was relieved to know it was only coffee, and that he wouldn’t have to call the hazardous materials team.

    I drove home soggy, brown, and sadly missing the morning buzz for which the mocha was originally intended. I quickly showered, changed and came back downtown for the appointment. When I finally got into my client’s office, he offered me some coffee with a large smile on his face. I hope the building’s janitor found as much humor in this story as we did.

    Poop Soup

    2010 - 07.20

    When my son Jacob was a baby, he loved taking baths in our big hot tub. I’d get in there with him, and we’d play with Winnie the Pooh toys while he sat in a little tub chair. Jacob’s favorite thing to do was chant “bubbles, bubbles, bubbles!” over and over again until I turned on the tub jets. First we’d spill a little shampoo into the water and when the jets would come on, the tub would quickly fill with a massive layer of bubbles. He’d giggle hysterically, and Vicki and I would crack up as well.

    One night, I was in the tub with Jacob, and Vicki was outside the tub helping me wash him. He started his bubble chant, and I obeyed. Right after the bubbles started growing Jacob got a strange look on his face. His eyes squinted and his mouth pulled tight around the edges. Time seemed to slow down as it does when you watch a terrifying event unfold. This was his poop face, and this was NOT the time or place for the poop face. Turns out…it was his diarrhea face.

    I watched horrified as a huge cloud formed beneath my son. It was like watching the Space Shuttle lift off, only brown. As it started floating up, I sadly realized what was about to happen. The evil cloud hit the tub intake jets and our calm nighttime bath became a massive cafe’ latte with extra foam. The entire tub was filled with doodie in a matter of seconds, covering Jacob and myself in a thick layer. I was so stunned, I couldn’t speak. Apparently neither could Vicki, as she was laughing too hard to make a sound. I immediately grabbed Jacob and handed him to her. I jumped out of the tub, literally, and into the shower. I turned the water on, not even caring what the temperature was. I started frantically scrubbing and crying “eww…ewww…ewwwww” over and over.

    We got Jacob cleaned up, and into bed with Vicki. I went to work on the tub. Once the poop soup was drained, the tub looked like a week old coffee filter, but sadly didn’t smell like one. I choked back gag reflexes as I cleaned it all out. As I was disinfecting, I laughed to myself thinking about how quickly a bath can go wrong.

    When the hazmat team declared the bathroom safe, I got in bed with Vicki and Jacob. Jacob was asleep in Vicki’s arms as she fed him. Apparently destroying a bathroom in 3 seconds is a tough job. Cleaning up after the destruction is also tough, so I fell asleep as well.

    A few hours later we were gently awoken by Jacob projectile vomiting his dinner all over Vicki. Just Vicki. Not a drop on me. She grabbed him and headed to the shower while I said something helpful like “nngh okay, i’m up…what the…ewwww” and changed the sheets, but that’s another story…

    Heywood and the Stolen Computer

    2010 - 07.07

    A few months ago a client of mine had a break in. The thieves stole his 1 year old iMac and various other items. After they talked to the police, they called me. They told me that the computer was taken but that they didn’t take the little box that was under it. Luckily for them, the “little box under the computer” was the backup of all their data, going back many months. I told them not to worry about their files, and that everything was stored on the backup drive. The next day I remembered that I had installed LogMeIn on the stolen machine and could remotely access the computer if it was online. I checked, and noticed it was online right then.

    I immediately tensed up once I realized I could control the computer without the thief realizing it. The tenseness eased up a bit, and turned into excitement. This was going to be fun. As long as he stayed online, I could find his IP address which the police could use to trace his location. The thief was on Craigslist looking for new guitars. He didn’t want to spend very much money. My guess is he didn’t want to spend ANY money. I grabbed a screenshot. I decided to name this guy Heywood. As in Heywood Jalookatmynewcomputer. I don’t know why, he just seemed like a Heywood. Once the mouse stopped moving for a minute or so, I figured he walked away from the computer, so I checked his IP address. I grabbed another screenshot. Then I got an amazing idea; I could open up Photobooth which displays what the built in camera of the computer sees. I held my breath and launched the program. Boom, there’s Heywood. Heywood Jatakemypicture. Thank you very much, don’t mind if I do. I took a screenshot. I took another 3 screenshots accidentally because my fingers were shaking. Heywood liked seeing himself on the big computer monitor and smiled. Stupid Heywood. I also liked seeing Heywood on the monitor. I took another screenshot. I could see his face, his big tattoo, and his apartment. I took some more screenshots. Then I noticed two things: Heywood hadn’t made his bed that day, and I was seriously about to pee myself. Heywood finally figured out how to close the Photobooth app and I disconnected immediately.

    I took a deep breath, and smiled knowing I was more than likely intellectually superior to Heywood. I waitied a few hours then checked again to see if he was online, but he wasn’t and had probably turned the computer off. I wondered if he figured out I was connected and got freaked out, or if I got away clean. I called the detective assigned to the case and told him I had pictures of this schmuck and his IP address. I emailed the pics and info to him. I figured it was a done deal, and Heywood was not going to get a new guitar any time soon. The detective said it could take up to 2 weeks to trace the IP address to a physical address because they had to get a warrant before they could call the internet service provider. I asked if all the stuff we had on this dude was sufficient to get the address right away, because in 2 weeks this machine was going to be wiped clean and probably out of the city. He said we’d have to wait for a warrant, thanked me and said he’d get back to me if they found anything.

    The next day I checked for Heywood and he was online again. Today Mr. Jalookatmynewcomputer was renting a car for a friend. I took another screenshot. I got the name of the person picking up the car (let’s call her Cruella), her phone number and address. I called the detective and forwarded the screenshot to him. He told me that they knew Cruella, and would look into it. He asked if I had any other information and I told him that I was currently watching Heywood surf Craigslist again. I was feeling quite proud of myself at this point. I heard the detective yell to some people “hey, he’s on Craigslist right now!” I’m picturing a room full of people with screens everywhere tracking my main man Heywood as he looks for CARS LOCAL UNDER $5000. My mind is going crazy. Minority Report. Hackers. War Games. Do you want to play a game, Heywood? They thanked me once again and told me they would get back to me.

    I didn’t hear anything for a few days and Heywood hadn’t been online. I called the detective again, and he said that they went to the rental car place that day, but Cruella didn’t show and no one rented a car with the name from the screenshot. He asked me if I had found anything new. I hadn’t, but assured him I would keep checking and grab what I could. Later that day, (armed with my newly dubbed Junior Detective status) I found Heywood online again. This time Einstein was entering his email address at vh1.com. Perfect. I took a screenshot. I had a HUGE smile on my face. I got on Hotmail and plugged his email address in the search box. Bingo. I’ve got his full name. Of course it wasn’t “Heywood”, but I didn’t care, because he’d always be Heywood to me. Heywood Jalookatmyemail. I called the detective and gave him what I thought was the last piece of the puzzle. He said that they still hadn’t heard back from the judge on a search warrant. I asked (in kind of an annoyed voice, I’m sure) why they couldn’t just do something based on my small but growing mountain of evidence? I’ve seen way too many TV shows where the bad guys get busted with MUCH less evidence than my bud Heywood. He told me they will do what they can, but it could take a while. My excitement had turned to frustration.

    A few days later, the detective called me. They had gotten the warrant and got a physical address for the IP. I’m thinking “cue the theme music, here we go”. They had gone out to the location, but apparently it was an old man who lived alone (not Heywood), and they didn’t find anything on the premises. I asked him if they noticed if the guy had a wireless network. He said yes, he did. I explained to him that our perp was probably on the wireless network from a few houses away. He said that they couldn’t do a search of the area without another warrant and that he’d get back to me if they found out anything, but he had a stack of similar cases that he was working on at the moment and not to expect much. Awesome. Meanwhile, Heywood had completely disappeared from the internet, most likely because he formatted the computer and sold it. Nicely played, Heywood. Heywood Jalookatmenow.

    I’ve got Heywood’s IP address, email address, picture and Cruella’s name, phone number and address, and we can’t seem to get him arrested. As of this writing, Heywood still hasn’t been convicted. The detective was able to bring him in for questioning, but Heywood said he was working on the computer for someone he didn’t know and had no idea it was stolen. Right. The detective knew he was lying, but apparently could not prove that Heywood knew the computer was stolen or had stolen it himself, even with all the information we had. He told me that Heywood had been moved up on his “watch list”. Right now Heywood is probably playing a nice new guitar on his unmade bed. But there is a happy ending. My client got a brand new computer with the insurance money, and all of their data was successfully recovered.

    And Heywood, if you’re reading this, expect a WHOLE LOT of email very soon.

    Create your own “transparent” iPhone lock screen

    2010 - 06.24

    Here’s a simple and free way to create a very cool effect on your iPhone’s lock or home screen. It makes your phone look somewhat transparent while holding it in your hand.

    Simply hold your phone in your hand of choice as you normally do when using it. Then take a picture of your hand in that same position with the iPhone’s camera.

    Go to your Preferences and choose that picture as your lock screen and/or wallpaper and scale it until it matches your hand behind the phone.

    That’s it, you’re done! Now go show off your “transparent” phone to all your friends.

    The Apple Museum – 30 years in 2 minutes

    2010 - 06.24

    I finally got around to taking pictures of the computers I’ve collected over the years. I always tried to get a machine (working or not) that represented a significant design or technology shift. I put them all together in this video that spans 30 years in about 2 minutes. This video doesn’t include every Apple product, only the machines I’ve personally owned or acquired. Missing are many iconic products such as the Apple IIc, IIgs, Apple III, Quadra etc. Be sure to check out some other great videos such as the Shoebox Apple Store, and the Personal Movie and Drive-In Theater Downloadable Kits. Enjoy!

    The video has been featured in:
    The New York Times
    The Huffington Post
    The Wall Street Journal
    Guy Kawasaki
    and many, many other places

    New pictures (click each photo for a larger version)

    2010 - 05.04

    Jacob and Brianna online

    2010 - 04.25

    Jacob has taught himself iWeb and has published sites for him and Brianna. Take a look.



    Another shoebox becomes…The Personal Apple Store!

    2010 - 04.15

    Here’s a movie of my hand crafted Personal Apple Store made out of, you guessed it, a shoe box. An iPhone goes in the back by the Genius Bar and plays a loop of the iPad introduction and other Apple commercials. Another iPhone sits behind the Apple logo to light the sign. Many details are included such as my business cards on the Genius Bar, an iPad, iPhones, iMacs, MacBooks, a MacPro and even glass doors held shut with magnets. Check out www.personalmovietheater.com to order some of my other kits with full instructions to build a Personal Movie Theater and Personal Drive-In.

    Personal Drive-In Theaters are now available

    2010 - 04.05

    Remember Drive-In theaters? Build your own with this downloadable kit. Just add a shoebox and exhaust fumes.

    We have too many shoeboxes…

    2010 - 04.05

    Welcome to the Personal Man Cave (or Monkey Cave).

    Videos worth watching twice

    2010 - 03.16

    Here’s some videos that are great fun to watch more than once to see how they were created.

    Random pics

    2010 - 03.12

    The Simpsons by Jacob


    top of 9th and walnut

    ballerina in a handmade tutu
    (thanks heather!)

    The Personal Movie Theater is now a download!

    2010 - 03.11

    Get started right away building your own personal theater. The kits are now downloadable and available at http://www.personalmovietheater.com and include everything you need to create a one of a kind mini theater. Here’s some samples (click to enlarge).

    Is it McDonald’s or just me?

    2010 - 03.04

    What’s changed: McDonalds or me?

    Once I hit 40, many things in my life started to change; I started sounding like my grandfather whenever I would fight gravity getting out of bed or off the floor. My stomach began to make incredibly scary rumbling sounds whether I was hungry or not. And the “fast” in fast food which used to mean the speed in which you received your order, now means the speed in which the food leaves my body. I used to be able to eat at McDonalds 3 times a week and never have a single issue with it. I remember once during an after school practice in high school I ate a McRib sandwhich for dinner 5 nights in a row without any intestinal distress. Now, however, it seems like I’m renting the food from McDonalds, as I tend to leave it at the restaurant in one form or another. Even though I’ve now weaned myself off the McFood, my body still has issues even being in the building. The last time I took my kids to a McDonalds, I barely finished ordering their food before I had to find the door with a little McMan on it.

    Is it me, or has the food at these restaurants changed dramatically? Remember when the fries were so good you could actually smell them when a commercial came on TV? Or how a large fry and a coke would cure the worst hangover? Sadly, those days are gone and my iron constitution can no longer process the processed food.

    In a fit of hunger and geographical necessity, I was forced a few months back to eat at one such McDonalds. I ordered the simplest thing on the menu to try and calm the monster in my stomach, and not piss it off at the same time. A single plain burger, small fries and a coke. A happy meal without the happy. The burger tasted like it always did, not great, not horrible. The fries were missing that special “McDonalds fry” taste, and just tasted like hot potato grease. The coke however, was still amazing. Why is that? Why is a coke from McDonalds so much better than out of the can? What is their secret “syrup to water” ratio that makes it taste so refreshing? I finished my meal, and went back to my car listening to my stomach monster screaming either “thank you” or “I hate you”, I couldn’t tell which. After about a 20 minute drive home, I realized that I was going to have to either greatly exceed the speed limit or pull over very soon. Nature was calling and it wasn’t going to leave a message. My stomach monster seemed to be having a loud and nasty fight with my intestinal monster and it wasn’t going to end well. Thanks to some well timed stoplights and a lack of traffic, I made it home. Barely. Pulling my car into the garage like a Nascar driver crossing the finish line, I ran into the house. Actually, I wouldn’t call it running so much as a very quick “waddle” while trying to fly out of my jeans. I made it just in time, and I will spare you the details of the event. Let’s just say it was a “3 People event”. That means it lasted the length of 3 People magazines.

    And what is it with People magazines these days? I remember growing up and looking at them in the checkout aisle at the grocery store. They were always filled with stories of interesting strangers who became famous for their incredible bravery or amazing recovery. Now its become the 3 Little Bears of the entertainment industry. This actress is too fat, this actress is too thin, this actress is just right but has a secret meth lab and an addiction to plastic surgery. (I’m sorry, I mean she is a victim of plastic surgery syndrome.) I’ve often thought that People magazine should just be printed on flushable paper to begin with. Then I can read about an out of work, overweight actress who got kicked off “Celebrity Fit Club” for actually gaining weight, and then wipe up my business with the story and never have to see it again. Ahh, dreams, but I digress…

    I’m wondering how my body’s growing conflict with McDonalds food will progress. When I’m 50 will I have immediate cramps when I pull into the parking lot? When I’m 60 will I feel the call of nature whenever I see the golden arches approaching? When I’m 70 will I shuffle off to the bathroom anytime I see the letter M?

    Ronald, you’re not a very funny clown anymore.

    Brianna’s cooking show episode 2

    2010 - 02.08

    In this episode, Bree teaches us how to make hamantashen for purim.

    Introducing…the Personal Theater!

    2010 - 02.08

    Here’s a fun project I made out of a shoe box. Put your iphone or media player inside, and you’ll find yourself transported to the back of an old theater while you enjoy your movie.
    You will be able to purchase do-it-yourself kits soon. If you’d like to know when they are available, please leave a message in the comments!

    This video shows a little more detail in how the theater was put together. All you need is a shoe box, a laser printer, a sharp knife and rubber cement. A snowy weekend can also help.

    Another Brianna movie from 2006

    2010 - 02.04

    Some older home movies from may 2006 and august 2007

    2010 - 02.04

    Older movies from the archives…

    Brianna on stage at the Lied Center

    2010 - 02.04

    This is a video of Brianna’s ballet performance in May 2009 on stage at the Lied Center in Lawrence, KS.

    Random Pics

    2010 - 02.03

    This is how Vicki and I feel sometimes…

    This is the back of Vicki’s Macbook.

    Jacob’s custom pickle label.

    Steve Klein and I made a homebrew beer called Stoopid Munky Chocolate Stout, here is the label.

    Brianna’s cooking show

    2010 - 01.27

    Here’s episode one (so I’m told) of Brianna’s cooking show. In this episode, we learn how to make scrambled eggs. Filmed and edited by big brother Jacob.

    Marching Mizzou drumline 1986

    2010 - 01.27

    I found an old videotape deep in a closet the other day that said Marching Mizzou drumline on it. After some help from Leslie, we got it converted to a digital format and posted it for everyone to see. This is the drumline from 1986 playing a cadence called “Jungle Love” at the MU/KU game in Columbia, MO. I’m playing the “triples” and I’m on the left side. The other 2 trips players are Dan Wieschhaus and Mike Rock.

    How to make an iMac-o-lantern and Cylon hat

    2010 - 01.27

    Here’s a stupid little project Steve Klein and I dreamed up for a halloween costume made out of an old iMac computer.

    And here’s another costume made from an old bubble iMac case bottom and an LED scanning kit from an online hobby store.

    How to draw the Simpsons

    2010 - 01.27

    Here is a quick video that Jacob created entirely by himself. It shows how to draw the Simpsons characters.

    Online diary now open

    2010 - 01.25

    This blog will be a place for the Katz family to keep stories, pictures, videos and musings about life. Enjoy your stay.