Archive for July, 2005


Posted by Arlo on Jul 26, 2005 under Life of Arlo

Skype LogoI’ve found a new online toy. It’s called Skype, and you should check it out.

Skype is a free program that resembles MSN (or AOL or Yahoo) Messenger, but instead of a chat utility, it’s a Voice-Over-IP utility. It’s a familiar interface and very easy to use: Just build up a list of contacts, see when they’re online, then click their icon to start talking with them.

That, in itself, isn’t all that amazing – heck, Messenger has voice chat built in, right? Trust me, Skype excels in the details.

The best feature is called “SkypeOut,” which allows you to use Skype to dial out to any phone. To use it, though, you’ll need a credit card. The minimum purchase is 10 euros (~$12 US), but that goes a long way. Oksana’s been testing SkypeOut with calls to Russia and it’s coming in under 4 cents / minute (compared to about 21 cents / minute for a telephone calling card or a whopping $1.54 / minute for direct dialing!) What’s more, both she and her brother agreed that it was by far the best sounding, static-free, no-delay, international phone call they had ever heard. In fact, it was better that any local call they’d ever heard.

(Which isn’t too surprising, really. Telephones are notorious for their substandard audio quality, and even the lowest-quality computer microphone is likely to have a broader frequency range. Not to mention that VOIP compression technology has come a long way in recent years.)

Granted, there were a few problems with Oksana’s Skype-to-Russia test. The call was dropped twice, and she had to redial many times to get through again. I doubt that the trouble was on Skype’s end, though. These things happen consistently, even when she calls direct.

Another great aspect about Skype is that it’ll run on a Pocket PC. Imagine discovering a free wi-fi hotspot anywhere in the world – with Skype installed, you’ve got a free phone that will allow you to instantly talk to anyone on your contact list. With a few dollars in SkypeOut account, you could call them on the phone, too. No more worrying about whether or not your cell phone works in some foreign country; just find an internet connection!

Anyway, Skype has impressed me enough to install it on my laptop. Unfortunately, there’s no one on my contact list yet. If you think it might be something you want to play around with, grab it from and add me as a contact! I’m “a_midgett”.


Posted by Arlo on Jul 18, 2005 under Postcard Valet, Travel

What if Moscow was the capital of Hawaii?Oksana and I have been strategizing a semi-elaborate trip to Russia since last year. Until a couple weeks ago, the plan was to:

1) Coordinate three weeks off from our respective jobs in August,
2) Fly to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski,
3) Spend time with Oksana’s family while finalizing the sale of her parent’s apartment,
4) Fly to Moscow/St. Petersburg to play tourist,
5) Return to the States.

Due to unforeseen complications with visas, money, and our jobs, we were forced to come up with a new, slightly different plan:

1) Go to Hawaii.

You may be craving an explanation; this is a desire which I can fulfill.
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Posted by Arlo on Jul 14, 2005 under Life of Arlo

Three views of my knee

Outside it’s a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, and because I’m physically and emotionally exhausted, I’d much rather take a nap than start a new ‘blog entry. But someone told me that it’s not such a good idea to go to sleep when there’s the possibility you may have a concussion…

I can remember the first time I ever played ultimate. A couple friends and I were hanging out at the local comic book store in Ketchikan when one of the co-owners started reminiscing with his visiting college buddy about the game. Having spent many summers on the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, I was somewhat familiar with the aerodynamics of a common Frisbee, but this was the first I’d heard of sport utilizing one.

Six of us decided to go out that afternoon and play the game. I remember only a few things: The amazement I felt at learning that there was more than one way to throw a disc; kicking up dust clouds on a dry, dirt field in the heat of summer; the fountaining explosion of my only chance at refreshment – a can of Diet Coke that had inadvertently been left out in the sun; and a single, breathless quote from a fellow inexperienced player, delivered after maybe half an hour of play, “Are we seriously considering more of this?”

After that (arguably) enjoyable outing, a small group of us began to take up ultimate as a sort of pastime. We had no formal understanding of the rules, were lucky if we could gather 6 or 8 people to play at a time, and always struggled to find a decent spot to play in grassless Ketchikan. It was fun.
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Check out my back-end!

Posted by Arlo on Jul 14, 2005 under Website

There goes Greymatter...The only thing more annoying than weeding out a dozen spam messages from online casinos out of my blog’s comments is the alternative: Allowing them to stay.

I’ve become rather oblivious to the spam in my e-mail inbox – it’s just one of the necessary evils of online life. Comment spam, on the other hand, annoys the hell out of me. A few months ago, I implemented a quick hack on my blog that eliminated the worst of it, but in the last few weeks it’s built back up to time-consuming levels.

Good. I needed an excuse to change my back-end to the better-supported WordPress, anyway.

I got it up and running yesterday, converted over all my entries, and began the slow process of tailoring the new theme to suit my needs. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s far enough along to give you an introduction.
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