Importing your LinkedIn contacts into Twitter

I keep my contacts in LinkedIn. I consider it my master source, and I try and have all other Web 2.0 apps import from there. Twitter does not have an import-from-LinkedIn feature.

I happened to be trying to look up a LinkedIn contact's email information, and when I saw the link to download a vcard, I wondered "hmmm... I wonder if I can mass download all my contacts?" So I did a little digging, and sure enough you can export your contacts from LinkedIn.

In doing so, LinkedIn gives you a number of export options, including Outlook, Yahoo, Mac OS X address book, and vcard. Twitter can scan your contacts from GMail, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, and Hotmail. The common link is Yahoo, so you will need to have a Yahoo account to pull this off.

I just exported from LinkedIn, imported into Yahoo (LinkedIn gives directions on how to do this), then went to Twitter and imported from Yahoo. Worked like a charm.

You can now delete accounts on Facebook

No idea how long this feature has been around, but six months ago I was not able to delete my account, all I could do was disable it. For some reason I went into my account last week, and was able to dig and found an area where you can request that Facebook delete your entire account and all data associated with it. It's a manual process, apparently, as you file a request. A few days later, I got an email saying the account had been deleted, and sure enough if I go back to Facebook I cannot log in.

So, for those concerned with Facebook's callous attitude toward privacy, this might put you at ease. If, that is, that they truly delete your data :) At this point I wouldn't put anything past Facebook.



An awesome evening at Jak's in Issaquah

Everyone knows my favorite restaurant in the Seattle area is Jak's Grill in downtown Issaquah. Steaks that would make the Midwest proud.

Amy and I treated our neighbors Jon and Noelle to a night out last night. They will be moving to Germany in a couple of months, and after getting to know them the last three years we are going to miss them dearly. They have very similar values, personalities, and backgrounds as Amy and I, which is why we get along so well. So, before Jon ships out to Germany in three weeks we decided to take them out.

We got to Jak's at 5:30, and put our names in for an 1:45-2hr wait. As usual, we migrated two doors down to Room 38, and we able to enjoy a couple rounds before our table was ready at 7:15. No hockey on the big screen though, which is not unusual for Seattle.

We all partook in Jak's signature Saturday night special - Filet Oscar. A perfectly grilled-to-order Filet Mignon topped with fresh King Crab meat and an amazing Biarnaise sauce. It is what Amy usually orders, and, not wanting to trade in my man card just yet, I stick to a basic steak. Never disappointed in doing that, but this time wanted to give the Filet Oscar a whirl. So glad I did.

We all also opted for the UFO potatoes - a scoop of garlic mashed potatoes topped with a crispy, pan-fried, potato pancake. It's not even on the menu, but they'll serve it up if you ask for it. So ask for it.

Jak's even makes veggies taste good - last night I finished off my carrots and broccoli, much to Amy's surprise.

All that paired with a fine bottle of Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon made for a terrific meal. And better yet, great stories, tons of laughs, and I even helped some polluted drunk guy to his feet in the bathroom (no it wasn't Jon).

Afterward, Jon and I reluctantly opted for a slice of their homemade cheesecake, and weren't disappointed. The ladies opted for some after-dinner drink, but I wasn't paying too much attention (worried about my cheesecake dammit). No wonder I'm having trouble losing pounds even though I am exercising more.

So we ended up back home at 9:30 and relieved the babysitter, and spent the next two and half hours playing Rockband. Had to call it a night after our singer called it quits. :)

To top it all off they had Spencer spend the night with their kids, and the kids had fun. Garrett was invited to spend the night as well, but when he saw where he would be sleeping he turned to Amy and said "I seep in my bed mom?"

I am going to really miss our neighbors. Hopefully we can squeeze some more fun and memories in before they leave.

Five questions for Matt Millen

Ok, I've watched Millen cut half our starters, have watched him not sign anyone to replace them, and watched the draft. I must say, I am worried about the next five years of the Lions, and I was very upbeat after last years 7-9 season. So, Matt...

  1. What are your plans to develop a QB for the future? Jon Kitna, is, like, almost my age, or, put another way, he's getting old. Are you really hanging your hat on Stanton and Orlovsky taking the Lions to the Super Bowl?

  2. Can you please shed your brilliance with me on cutting your starting cornerbacks and then following that up with not drafting any corners?

  3. If you wanted a bruising running back between the tackles, why haven't you resigned TJ Duckett?

  4. Just what is the exact nature of your relationship with domestic terrorist William Ayers and why do you deny involvement with him? (Oh, wait, that's one of my five questions for Barack Obama.)
  5. Seriously, were you disappointed in last year's 7 win season and working desparately to get back to 2-3 win seasons? I would love to understand your logic behind these off-season moves.

Tips for Seattle drivers

Not growing up in Seattle I'm not really sure how the driving schools work here. Or even if drivers are required to take a driving test to get their license. Based on what I've witnessed over the last few years, I'd like to offer the Seattle community my advice. And, in doing so, I think I can eliminate traffic congestion in the Seattle area, with no increase in taxes.

In no particular order...

  1. HANG UP YOUR FVCKING PHONES! Dammit this just pisses me off. No shortages of idiots driving way to slow on freeways in this town, clogging traffic. And 90% of the time its someone yapping on their phone. It is really, really irritating watching half the drivers on the road engrossed on their phones. Take the bus, people.

  2. Repeat after me: SLOWER TRAFFIC MOVE RIGHT. Related to #1, just get your slow ass out of the way so some of us can actually accelerate our cars up to the posted speed limit. Thank you.

  3. If you are driving 65 in a 70, and you see a cop, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SLAM ON YOUR BRAKES and bring your speed down to 55. Assmunch.

  4. The purpose of an on-ramp is to GET YOUR SPEED UP AND MATCH THE SPEED OF TRAFFIC. Most on-ramps in Seattle are beautiful - like a quarter mile long. Great for getting up to speed(as opposed to those crazy short ones in the middle of downtown Chicago to get on the Dan Ryan). GOT IT?

  5. DO NOT SLAM ON YOUR BRAKES to try and move right to get off the freeway. Either a) get your dumb ass in the right lane sooner, or b) go to the next exit. Jesus frickin Christ people.

  6. Can someone explain to me why drivers in this town do 60 on the freeways if they are dry, but if they have a little ice on them people drive 80? WTF? Gee, I wonder why there are five cars flipped over in the ditch on my right (true story)? Sorry I don't have sympathy for those that don't understand the basic laws of physics.

  7. The HOV lane is not a requirement to drive in; its just a lane that only 2+ passenger vehicles can drive in. Given that, please read point #2 AGAIN.

  8. PLEASE, PLEASE stop slamming on your brakes to let the slow people in #4 get on the freeway. It's their job to match the speed of the freeway, not the other way around.

Ok, enough of my soapbox, you get the point. Or, maybe not. If not, then how about this: if you drive a car in Seattle, you are contributing to global warming and killing lots of polar bears. And trees. And Al Gore will be very disappointed in you. Barack Obama too. So take the bus. Better for all of us.


Pictures from downtown Seattle

It was a beautiful day in Seattle; I spent the morning with the boys at work as I caught up on some things and let them play in my office. I remembered my camera and took some pictures of the Olympic mountains across the sound. On the way home, I stopped atop the Eastgate Park-and-Ride and snapped some pictures of downtown Seattle with the Olympics in the background (my favorite view of the Seattle area).

Color around the mountains reflect the haze and angle I got with my 300x zoom. Didn't do the day justice.

The entire gallery is here, and you can also view a slideshow version. I'm guessing the images below will be too small to do justice.


Snoqualmie all over the news

Wow, what a center of attention our little bit of paradise has become.

First, apparently there's some jostling with the leadership of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, which is relevant because they are building a casino nearby (we can see the construction cranes from Snoqualmie Parkway).

Second, protests are planned for gay-day at Mount Si High School. Gee, nobody saw this coming.


Thank you Captain Obvious

Nice to see our tax dollars being spent to answer such challenging questions like uh... what would happen if we charged people lots of money to drive on our roads? The shocking finding: people would drive less. Really? Wow, utter shock.

I hear Washington has a great school system; maybe these reporters are from out of state.

Let me at $3 million in federal tax dollars and I'll be more than happy to answer obvious questions like "who likes the Seattle Seagals more, men or women?" and "does consuming more alcohol make people more or less coherent?"

From the article:
"At the core of the study was a groundbreaking experiment: Researchers recruited drivers in 275 Seattle-area households to pay virtual tolls — with real-world economic consequences — then observed how their driving patterns changed."

Groundbreaking? Maybe if you were educated with an innertube and a banana. Anyone with an IQ higher than that of a shag carpet would have figured that out.

By the way, this study follows another "groundbreaking study": reducing the amount of land available for private use increases the market value of private land. Really? You mean my Econ 101 professor wasn't lying to me about supply and demand? Gee, thanks for that key piece of insight. I could have told you that when I bought this house three years ago.

This is what passes for news in this town.

An interesting piece of data...

... despite only being at Amazon three years, I have more seniority than 60% of the employees at Seattle's HQ, and 75% of all of Amazon's employees. Weird, eh?

Cool Amazon Kindle finds

Two days ago I opened my Amazon Kindle and went to the store to try and see if they had any books on Taoism, specifically Tao Te Ching. Sure enough, they did, and after hunting and pecking through the several books they had, I actually found one for $2.36 (I assumed it would be a simple transaction without commentary, which is exactly what I want). Ka-ching!

Then, a blurb caught my attention - because it was Earth Day I was able to download, for free, a copy of Go Green, Live Rich. Well what do ya know, Earth Day is good for something after all. So I downloaded it. My first comedy title on the Kindle.

So, two books for $2.36. My dad is either beaming with pride right now on my cheapness or wondering what kind of life I live to live a life of such excess.

That leads me to some feature requests for the Kindle:

  1. Show prices in the search results list. To toggle back and forth, especially on a Kindle with its wireless conncetion and slow page refresh is painful. I abandon the store

  2. Give me a way to find free and cheap books. You'll get my money, I get books. Good deal for both of us. As it stands, I don't have the time to hunt through each price of 115,000 books to see which ones are bargains.



Awwwwww, yeeeaaaah.

I must be onmishi... omnishi... omniscie... psychic. After the game 4 loss to the Predators, I popped my March 26, 2007 (interesting enough, while most people remember the fight, there were about 15 other fights that night, literally. Totally forgot about that.) DVD into my now-obsolete XBox HD-DVD player, and watched the game end-to-end (man I sure miss Fedorov and Yzerman). Got me really jazzed about the playoffs watching one of the greatest hockey games of all time.

So now the rivalry is back on. Some will say its not what it was, and that is true. But the Avs do have Forsberg and Foote, two A-list A-holes, so plenty for Wings fans to get jazzed about.

This time around we have Osgood in net. We are in good hands :)

Bring it on. If any of the games in Denver were on a weekend Amy and I would be there.


A good read on conceal carry at Virginia Tech

If any segment of the population would be sensitive to the benefit of conceal carry, it would be the students at VT who unfortunately know what its like to be defenseless with a psycho on the loose.

A reminder on Earth Day

Drive an SUV. More energy friendly than a Hybrid.



Stupid Pizza Hut

Now, I am not going to boycott Pizza Hut over their firing, but this seems pretty stupid. The guy shots an attempted robber, which would seem to DISCOURAGE people from robbing pizza delivery folks in the future. And what does Pizza Hut do? ENCOURAGE more robberies.

I believe in capitalism, and if Pizza Hut wants to have a policy that their drivers don't carry guns, then so be it. Pizza Hut drivers know what they are getting into. Still, Pizza Hut is stupid.

Directv needs a remote programming feature

I'd like to catch the Habs-Bruins game tonight (a game 7 original six playoff game? you betcha). Starts at 4pm my time. Didn't set it to record. Why can't I go to the web and set it? Or send a text message.

Make your products remarkable. Recording a show isn't remarkable any more. Sending a text message to record it would be.

Hopefully the game is in HD ;)

Another dead mouse

For the second time in a couple weeks we found a mouse in our house. The first time I had fallen asleep on the couch on a Saturday night, and awoke in the middle of the night to a rustling in our cabinets. I figured it was a mouse, checked it out, and watched the little bugger scurry away. So off to the hardware store to get a couple of mouse traps. Got him the next night - BOO YA! One thing I learned husbands are good for is disposing of dead mice that are sitting in your kitchen. A second thing is killing spiders. When I figure out a third thing I will blog about it.

So yesterday Amy found a bag in the pantry that had been opened, and speculated that we had another mouse. She set the traps last night, and sure enough right before I head out the door for work she asked "did you set the traps?" So Spencer (who will be seven years old in less than a month) runs to the pantry, checks out the traps, and goes "Uh oh, he's dead. That means he can't breathe anymore." Being a good dad I showed Spencer how to dispose of a dead mouse effectively without actually touching it.

Making it official

Several people already know this, but in the Web 2.0 world you have to announce these things via the web rather than waiting for the next time I might chat with you. Plus I just made it official 5 minutes ago.

In a month I will close out three years, to the day, working at Amazon and take my capabilities to the evil empire, Microsoft (queue the Star Wars music... hey maybe that would make a good Animoto?). At some level this is "just a job change" but for some reason this seems like a very big deal for me. Maybe because I have matured to the point where I have overcome my own ego and decided to go ahead and leave Amazon, and that itself is something to reflect upon.

Amazon is a strange dichotomy for me. Their formula is very successful, they continue to deliver shareholder value (and I have benefitted greatly from that aspect), they have emerged as the e-commerce and web services powerhouse (besting eBay, Google, and MS in those spaces), and their future is as bright as any tech company, including Google and Apple. I am amazed by what I have learned, the weekly interactions I have at the SVP/CEO level, and the pace with which I am able to move and get things done. My only complaint is the culture fit. By my calculation I spend an average of 10 hours a day, including weekends, in this culture; that's more time than I end up spending with my family. If that's the case, then the culture needs to be a fit. And its not. Not even close. And frankly Aaron is getting sick of hearing me gripe about it. He's threatened to not tell me any more Rockband secrets unless I stop.

My boss joked with me: "it took you three years to figure that out?" Well, no, it didn't. I knew before I even started the job that culture fit would be an issue, but my ego demanded I prove I could handle it, even thrive in it. And thrive I did (apparently the reason I was offered a position at MS was my strong reputation with the ex-Amazonians who work on that team...ouch just hurt myself patting myself on the back). And each new challenge thrown at me was yet another challenge of my ego. At some point in the last six months the logic bulb went off and asked "why are you doing this?" And I didn't have a logical answer. Maturity of ego right there.

So a chapter in my life is coming to a close, and I will close that chapter highly confident knowing I handled the best the business world could throw at me. So why is this a big deal for me? Because I don't know what this next chapter will bring. The question at the back of my mind... "will the same personality type that allowed me to succeed at Amazon be a liability when it comes to working at Microsoft?" I don't know. Keeping my personality in check will be a challenge.

I don't regret working at Amazon the last three years; in fact it's been the best three years of my career. And the number of doors that have creaked open because of my Amazon experience is simply jawdropping to me. As others in the Seattle area have told me: "working at Amazon is like drinking from a firehose... the longer you handle it the more people are amazed." I prefer to describe it as "business boot camp." You know you are a much, much better person for the experience. But you can't do boot camp forever. Or at least I can't :)

So why Microsoft you ask? Work/life balance. If I look at all the things I can get from a new position - higher level (I've been headhunted for VP and Director positions), more $$$$ (I am taking a pretty big $ hit to work in Redmond), high-growth companies (there are plenty of those interested in me) - the one thing nobody offered to the degree MS can is a work/life balance which meets what I am looking for. One company would have me traveling internationally for 2 weeks a month, but they would "let me balance that by letting me drive my kids to school a couple days a week when I was here." No thanks, not even for the $ they were talking. I can sleep at night knowing my soul is not for sale. Although it scares me that there are fathers out there who jump on those opportunities.

Not that I will be trading in for a 40 hour work week; but rather I will figure out how to balance a 60-80 hour work week with my family and community obligations. I know dozens of people that work at MS; none of them complain about work/life balance. And that is what money can't buy.


Moving on to round two

The Red Wings have a history of bowing out in the first round as a #1 seed, so nice to see them close the deal on this round against Nashville. Excellent netminding by Chris Osgood - 1 goal in two games, and that one being a desperate empty net flurry.

They play Calgary or Colorado next, both should be a fun series.

Oh yeah, I actually got to see the entire game (NBC sets their game length to three hours instead of two and a half) in HD. 'bout time! :)


And we awake to a couple of inches of snow

Actually went to bed to a couple inches of snow. Last Saturday it was 76 degrees.


Who from the Midwest reading this...

(and there are a lot of you... I track you folks)... felt the earthquake this morning? Please leave a comment and describe it.

That would freak me out. Tornados, cool. Driving in blizzards, even cooler. Earthquakes, argh.

I bet good money I will read one report that says "earthquakes in the midwest are due to global warming."


What happened to NHL Center Ice HD?

During the regular season, NHL Center Ice games on Directv were mostly HD. Now that we are in the playoffs, only a few games are HD. And none of the games tonight are HD.

What gives?


TBall on Snoqualmie Ridge

Yesterday was the first day of practice for TBall on Snoqualmie Ridge. Only two teams were scheduled to practice, one of those teams couldn't make it due to short notice of the practice schedule, and the other team went ahead and practiced despite the rain. Hey, in Seattle, it's probably going to rain anyway, so might as well go on with practice.

I've spent the last four weeks putting together teams, including accomodating coach and player requests (so-and-so wants to play with so-and-so), adding late registrations, recruiting managers and coaches, getting coaches their uniforms and equipment, collecting background check forms on the coaches, and fielding a myriad of questions from parents and coaches. And the season just started yesterday :)

Play Ball! Nice to see the league get started without any hiccups. Keeping my fingers crossed that its all downhill from here!


Snoqualmie Ridge Homeowners Association now hiring

Were you a hall monitor in High School? Do you love to complain and tattle? Are you bored of writing letters to the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Record? Have we got a job for you!

The Snoqualmie Ridge Homeowners Association is responsible for collecting fees from our members and ensuring we don't use that money to help our community (less than 20% of our 2008 budget actually goes to the community... the rest lines our pockets - ha! stupid residents!). Instead, we like to harass those members as much as possible. And that's where you come in!

We need people willing to drive really slowly around the neighborhood looking for violations of our 1800 page residential policy. Don't worry, you won't have to read that policy - we have it written in such a way so that ANYTHING can be violation!

So, if you're the type of person that has no life, isn't looking for much out of life, and can spend hours and hours harassing our fine residents, we have the job for you! Apply now!


The T-Birds

Took the family to the Seattle Thunderbirds first home playoff game of the second round. With the series tied 1-1, playing the Tri-City Americans, Amy picked me up from work and we headed to Key Arena, where we surprisingly found parking right next to Key Arena. Literally there were maybe 10 parking spots closer to the arena than us. Obviously not going to be a sell out :)

At the first T-Birds game, they had a number of Army related activities - they swore in 18 new recruits into the Army in a ceremony (I was surpirsed that the Seattle crowd didn't erupt in a chorus of boos when President Bush's name was mentioned), the Army had a number of booths through the arena, including their cool Humvees, and during intermission a Humvees circled the ice with soldiers shooting teeshirts into the crowd. As such, Spencer decided to don one of his army shirts, and I confused him by wearing a Red Wings jersey to a Seattle game.

After enjoying a gourmet (tic) pre-game meal in the concourse, the game got off to a fun start, with Seattle scoring in the first four minutes on a pretty wrister to go up 1-0. By the end of the first period, Tri-City had pulled ahead 2-1. Seattle tied it in the second period leading to a climatic third period where they started the period on the power play. Alas, they did not take advantage of it (nor did they take advantage of a 5-3 earlier), and ended up losing 3-2.

This time we participated in the "Chuck-a-Puck" - a really cool fundraiser/promotion where you can purchase foam rubber pucks that you try and throw into the open sunroof of a car at center ice during second intermission. While the crowd was only 3000 strong, I swear everyone must have bought three pucks as the air and ice was littered with a barrage of orange-colored projectiles. Spencer gave it his best shot, but we didn't win anything.

They are at home again tonight, not sure if we will head down or not.


Baseball myths that have survived as rules

I learned about this from our local little league (thanks to our Umpire lead for putting this together). I've always thought myself well versed in baseball rules, but how wrong I was! I missed the ones I've put an asterisk by. To see the details on what the real rule is, go to the Fall City Little League website, click on coaches corner, and click on myths vs. rules.

1. The hands are considered part of the bat.*
2. If a batter does not swing and is struck by a pitch, the batter automatically is awarded first base.
3. The batter-runner must turn to his right after over-running first base.
4. If a batted ball hits the plate first it's a foul ball.
5. The batter cannot be called out for interference if he/she is in the batter's box.
5. The ball is dead on a foul tip.*
6. The batter may not switch batter's boxes after two strikes.*
7. The batter who batted out of order is the person declared out.
8. The batter may not overrun first base when he/she gets a base-on-balls.
9. The batter is out if he/she starts for the dugout before going to first after a dropped third strike (Junior, Senior & Big League Only).
10. If the batter does not pull the bat out of the strike zone while in the bunting position, it's an automatic strike.* (this was surprising to me! go to the website and read the rule)
11. The batter is out if his foot touches the plate.*
12. The batter-runner is always out if he/she runs outside the running lane to first base after a bunted ball.
13. A runner is out if he/she high-fives the coach while rounding third base (or first base), after a homerun is hit over the fence.
14. Tie goes to the runner.*
15. The runner gets the base he/she's going to, plus one on a ball thrown out-of-play. (this I did know even though most people get this 1+1 wrong)
16. Runners may never run the bases in reverse order.
17. The runner must always slide when the play is close.
18. The runner is always safe when hit by a batted ball while touching a base.*
19. A runner may not steal on a foul tip.*
20. It is a force out when a runner is called out for not tagging up on a fly ball.
21. An appeal on a runner who missed a base cannot be a force out.*
22. A runner is out if he/she runs out of the baseline to avoid a fielder who is fielding a batted ball.*
23. Runners may not advance when an infield fly is called.
24. No run can score when a runner is called out for the third out for not tagging up.
25. A pitch that bounces to the plate cannot be hit.
26. The batter does not get first base if hit by a pitch after it bounces.*
27. If a fielder holds a fly ball for 2 seconds it's a catch.
28. You must tag the base with your foot on a force out or appeal.
29. The ball is always immediately dead on a balk (applies to Junior, Senior and Big League)*
30. If a player's feet are in fair territory when the ball is touched, it is a fair ball.
31. The ball must always be returned to the pitcher before an appeal can be made.*
32. The pitcher must come to a set position before a pick-off throw. (Juniors, Seniors, Big League)
33. The pitcher must step off the rubber before a pick-off throw.
34. If a fielder catches a fly ball and then falls over the fence it is a homerun.
35. The ball is dead anytime the ball hits an umpire.
36. The home plate umpire can overrule the other umps at anytime.
37. A batter-runner may not slide into first base.


My Amazon Kindle feature requests

Now that I've had my Amazon Kindle for a couple weeks now, I really like it, and I can highly recommend this device, and I can now taunt Juergen because I have one and they don't have them in the EU yet.

But I do have some feature requests:

1. A backlight would be nice. Hard to design in with the eInk display, I know. And it would drain the battery faster. But still nice to be able to read it when the lighting conditions are less than optimal.
2. A "have already read" indicator. Especially useful for newspapers. I forget what sections/articles I've read and which ones I haven't. Be nice to be able to thumb through unread articles only, bypassing ones I've read.
3. Some sort of indicator of size of article, book, etc. When I start an article I don't know if its a 2-pager or a 30-pager. Since I use my Kindle when I can spare a couple of minutes, there are times when I don't want to delve into a long article.
4. Ability for the blog reader to read any RSS feed/blog, even if I have to pay for the access. Right now I can only read blogs that the Kindle offers. No reason I shouldn't be able to add my RSS feeds and read them on the Kindle. Seems like an easy revenue generator.
5. Some sort of membership club like audible.com has - pay a monthly fee and get so many credits toward books. A win-win for both parties - I get to save on eBooks, Amazon gets a steady revenue stream.

Guitar Hero Aerosmith

Amazon has Guitar Hero Aerosmith available for pre-order, listing a ship date of June 29. Three months out. Can't wait. Although I'd rather see "Guitar Hero Led Zeppelin" or "Guitar Hero ZZ Top." Or how about "Guitar Hero for old farts like James?"

The video preview says the game will also have songs from other bands. I wonder what percentage of songs will be Aerosmith?

Also, the fact that they are releasing it as a new game instead of just new songs is a byproduct of the notion that they will have new rocker and audience content. Question is whether the gameplay will be improved like they did from II to III? Inquiring minds want to know.