Monthly Archives: February 2008

Shots of the Day: A Visit to the Pond

Yesterday at lunch time, I decided to take a short walk. (I hear sunshine is good for generating Vitamin D, and I haven’t had much sunshine lately!) There is a nature area right behind my house, which includes walking trails and several ponds. I grabbed my camera and took the following shots.

 

The ponds are home to a busy beaver. Evidence is abundant in dozens of chewed-off tree trunks.

 

 

 

Sure, these geese are sleeping now, but they often honk in the middle of the night. The local fox population might have something to do with that.

 

Visits to DCSki by Operating System

Visits to DCSki have continued to rise this winter season. In the past several months alone, well over one hundred thousand unique visitors have spent time on the site. Because DCSki is such a high-volume site, it’s always interesting to dive into the demographics to look for trends. Over the past several months, the following chart represents the operating systems in use by readers visiting the site:

Windows continues to be the dominant operating system. Among Windows users, 83% are using Windows XP, while 10% are using Vista. About 5% are using Windows 2000. Virtually no visitors are using Windows 95, NT, ME, or CE. Less than 1% are using Windows 98.

Windows is starting to slip a bit, though. Just over 8% of readers are now using Macintosh. (Of those, 57% are using Intel Macs and 43% are using PowerPC Macs.) This has climbed several percentage points in the past couple years alone; clearly Apple is gaining market share in the United States. I am also surprised that Intel Macs now represent over half of DCSki’s Macintosh visitors.

Next up is Linux, with less than 1%. Linux is popular in the server space, but I’ve never seen many Linux readers visiting DCSki.

Despite being a new product, 0.2% of DCSki’s readers visit the site using an iPhone. (And 0.03% are using an iPod touch.) This is still a blip, but represents an overwhelming percentage of DCSki’s smart phone users. In the coming years, it is estimated that the number of users accessing the web via smart phones will explode. If this number continues to grow, I may consider producing a version/style of DCSki optimized for the iPhone and other smartphones.

I am also surprised to see that some readers (although a very tiny percentage) access DCSki using a Playstation Portable or Nintendo Wii.

And here are some stats on web browser usage: 69% are using Internet Explorer (sadly); 23% are using Firefox; and 6% are using Safari. Just over 1% are using Mozilla. Netscape, Opera, Camino, Blazer, and Konqueror are fighting for the remaining crumbs, each well below 1%.

As for people reading my blog, the sample size is significantly smaller (seriously). But it still represents a few thousand unique individuals over the past year. 78% of you are using Windows, 18% of you are using Macs, and 3% of you are using Linux.

The B-52s Funplex: Available March 25, 2008

I was about 16 when I first heard a song from The B-52’s on the radio. The song stood out and attracted my attention, because it was very upbeat and energetic. The song, of course, was Love Shack, which was plastered all over radio that year. I had recently bought my first CD player, so Cosmic Thing became one of the first CD’s in my collection.

Love Shack was a great song, of course, but it had one particularly redeeming value that made it so much better: my sister hated it.

This is something I took great advantage of. At the time, my sister and I were both in high school, and shared a bathroom. My morning bathroom routine consisted of: (a) take shower. (b) brush hair. (c) brush teeth. I could accomplish this in about 15 minutes, even though I often could not find the sink, due to a dense array of beauty products (my sister’s, not mine) spread across every square inch of flat surface area. My sister’s routine, however, required at least 90 minutes, on a good day.

This led to daily conflict.

Logically, it seemed to me that I should be able to use the bathroom first, since I took the least amount of time. Otherwise I would have to wait 90 minutes while God-knows-what happened behind the locked bathroom door. From my perspective, my sister looked little changed between the time she entered the bathroom and exited, a cloud of chemicals from hairspray, perfume, and makeup trailing behind her and suffocating me as I entered and attempted to take a shower.

But no, my sister always wanted to use the bathroom first. So each morning, one of us would hear the other rising from bed, and we would each leap out of our bedrooms and make a beeline for the bathroom. She normally won, sometimes spraying hairspray in my face.

This went on for years, and led my sister and I not to like each other much. (We became great friends once we each had our own bathrooms as adults.)

But, I finally had a way to get even. She was so sick of hearing Love Shack on the radio and M-TV that she was none too delighted when I bought the CD. After school, I would put Love Shack on repeat, crank my boom box up, and play it loudly over and over, sometimes for a couple hours. Sometimes I would jam along (poorly) on my keyboard. Oh, how she hated this.

But in between this, I explored the other tracks on Cosmic Thing and found that I liked all of them. (I also had a bit of a crush on Kate and Cindy.) I learned that The B-52’s were not a new band, and that Cosmic Thing was their “comeback” album. With an empty CD case, I began to slowly purchase their older albums, and became a bona fide fan of the band and their eclectic, up-tempo music. When The B-52’s came to town during their Cosmic Thing tour, I asked a girl from high school to go with me to the concert, and we had a great time. It was my first rock concert.

Over the years, whenever I’ve been feeling down, blasting a B-52’s song usually does the trick and lifts my spirits. And hey, they’re unapolegtically and authentically zany — I like zany. Who wouldn’t want them to play at a party?

The band has had a number of personal setbacks, but they have managed to stay strong and stick together as a group. I was thrilled to learn that they will soon be coming out with a new album — their first new original album in 16 years. The first single, Funplex (also the name of the album), recently came out, and is available on iTunes. It’s a great, fun, upbeat song — classic B-52’s. Kate and Cindy’s voices are as strong as ever (and Fred’s as weird as ever), with great guitar riffs and fun lyrics. (“I’m your daytime waitress as the Taco Tiki Hut. I’m you daytime waitress, here’s your stupid 7-Up.”)

They’ve been performing some of the new songs in recent appearances, and thanks to YouTube, it’s possible to hear very poor quality versions of these new songs. I think “Juliet of the Spirits” may well be my favorite so far. The quality of this recording sure isn’t great, but here’s a YouTube version:

I can’t wait for The B-52’s to go on tour to support this album. It’s been over 15 years since I last saw them. When I hear Love Shack again, though, I might suddenly smell hair spray.

The new album drops on March 25, 2008.

It’s a Beautiful Sight (but it won’t last…)

I get a lot of e-mail each day. A whole lot. And that’s not counting spam — we’re talking actionable e-mail here, that warrants at least a reply. Especially during the ski season, when I receive a number of e-mails from readers with comments, questions, and leads; stories from writers to edit and publish; story ideas and announcements from the resorts I cover; updated ads from advertisers; and on and on. I like things to be orderly and neat. I start to stress out when the inbox in my e-mail program fills up enough to have a scrollbar pop up. So, even though e-mails keep streaming in, I desperately try to act on them enough to beat the scrollbar away. This often results in replying to easy e-mails first (there’s no FIFO algorithm at play here), increasing the size of the mail window (with a 30″ monitor, that buys you a bit of time), decreasing the list view font size, or continually shrinking the preview pane to provide more room for messages in the list above. I know, it’s pathetic — but I do all of these things in an effort to keep the scrollbar from popping up and reminding me how hopelessly behind I am. I usually have e-mail firmly planted at the top of my inbox that’s at least 3 months old — and still waiting patiently for a reply. I am an e-mail triage ninja.

But, today I achieved a minor, fleeting victory. In between bouts of sleep (courtesy of and required by my continuing health issues, which are like a house guest that won’t leave), I managed to spend a lot of time acting on older e-mails. And this is the beautiful result:

That’s right, I completely cleared out my inbox. This probably dropped a point or two off of my blood pressure.

But, alas, it won’t last. By tomorrow morning, the scrollbar will once again be rearing its ugly head.