Pike’s Peak or Bust

We just went to Colorado Springs/Denver for a week.  Had a great time.  Helping to keep up on wi-fi security on the trip was Freedome…a VPN with a 2-week free trial…cause you don’t wanna connect directly to open wi-fi.

Colorado Springs

May Bug Museum – a great little bug museum with all kinds of specimens I’ve never seen

cog railway up to Pike’s Peak – rode a train all the way up to the top and found marmots, ice, and freezing winds…28 degrees in August

Cave of the Winds (warning: auto-playing video) – nice cave to tour through.  Paved and great for kids.  They have a terrifying ride where you can pay to swing out over a cliff…which we didn’t do for some reason.

Garden of the gods –  Giant jutting rock formations…conveniently placed right in Colorado Springs

Fargo’s – great Victorian-style pizza place with balcony, employees in old clothes, self-playing piano, balcony…all packed tightly with lots of people

Rocket Fizz (chain) – A neat soda/candy store with all the independent sodas and candies you can think of.  The clerk recommended the bug barf soda.  I chose something else.

Garbanzo (chain) – Mediterranean food…can’t go wrong!

Rosemount Museum – Late 1800s mansion in Pueblo built by a family that owned a bunch of banks.  Also, the locals pronounce their town as “Pieblo”….what?

Miramont Castle – A mansion built into the side of the mountain in Manitou Springs…a 42-room mansion built for a Catholic priest and his mom.  (Life is hard?)  Manitou Springs is already a tiny cramped tourist town to begin with, but we accidentally ended up in the middle of the Pikes Peak Marathon where super-runners go up and down the mountain)

Denver

102.3 Open Air – Colorado’s version of BBC 6 Music

Axum Ethiopian Restaurant – We got a bunch o’ stuff and enjoyed it.

Denver Aquarium – A nice aquarium with divers, touchable exhibits, a flash flood, etc.

Elitch Gardens – big amusement park…fun for kids and all

The Wizard’s Chest – Great geek store with board games, figurines, toys, and costumes.  It was like being inside Amazon.

Micro Center – Basically the equivalent of Fry’s  Also like being inside Amazon

Old Chicago Pizza (chain) – Big thick Chicago-style pizza.  Tasty and all!

Museum of Nature and Science – A museum so big that we unfortunately didn’t even have time to see it all.  We saw the new mythical creatures exhibit.  I can picture the pride-swallowing that had to happen to have exhibits of made-up creatures just to get peoples’ attention.  It was fun for kids anyway.  We also saw an entire exhibit on poison.  That was different.

Ikea – Vanessa finally got to visit an Ikea.  I recently got The Stanley Parable…a PC game…I think it might actually be an Ikea simulator…endless rooms in various configurations.  The kids were getting kinda bored, but did enjoy the Swedish desserts in the cafeteria at the end.

Casa Bonita – Can’t go to Denver without going to the famous Mexican restaurant with cliff divers.  The food is bad so we just got nachos…but hey…cliff divers in a restaurant.

 

 

You can talk to your computer or phone

Did you know that, more and more, you can just talk to your computer to do things?

Historically, computers have generally been difficult to use.  But they’ve recently gotten easier…you can often talk to them now.  So get out there and say “OK Google, Hey Siri, Hey Cortana” and see how many phones and computers you can get to respond at once.  You can’t get everything accomplished by talking yet, but it’s pretty impressive sometimes.

Android

On an Android phone or tablet, you can tap the little microphone button and say things like “navigate to Smiths”, “set a timer for 15 minutes”, “remind me to water plants in 1 hour”, “note to self: buy milk”.  Similarly, you can click the Microphone at google.com while using the Chrome browser.  You can also set these up to respond to you saying “OK Google”.

iPhone

On iPhone 4S and above, you can hold the Home button and talk to it.  (I think you can also set it to respond to “Hey Siri” or just hold it up to your ear too, assuming you have that set up.)  Then you can ask it, “how do I right-click in OSX?”.  (I never get tired of that joke.)

Windows 10

And now Windows is getting in on the game with Windows 10.  Once you get things set up in Windows 10, you can just say “hey Cortana” and say things like “start calculator”, “play music”, or “show me pictures of dinosaurs”.  For some reason, it doesn’t respond to, “shut down”.  I wonder why?

If you update to Windows 10 in the next year, it’s free.  This assumes that you have a laptop with a mic, a headset, or some other kind of microphone.  This won’t work if you have no mic.  Once Windows 10 is installed, click the little search bar in the lower left and set it up.  You might have to click the little microphone icon down there and set that up.  You’ll also need to set up voice activation by going to the start menu and typing Cortana to go to Cortana settings.  Enable the “hey Cortana” feature.  Once you do this, it’s pretty funny to say “hey Cortana” in a room with many PCs.

 

how to use YouTube faster

When watching a video on YouTube, you often want to see it faster or just get the main points.  Keyboard shortcuts are your friends.  Left and right arrow to skip forward and backward.  Shift + > to go faster and Shift + < to go slower.  You can even jump a percentage into the video…1 for 10%, 2 for 20%, etc.  (Up and down arrow turn the volume up and down.  F for full screen.)

How to upload all your pics to google

Google just released google photos.  (They gave up on attaching it to Google+.)  So, you wanna back up all your pics from your PC to google for safe keeping?  Go to photos.google.com where you hopefully have an account.  On the left side, click the “…” symbol.  Select App downloads and get the Desktop Uploader to get their program to back up all your pics from your hard drive to Google.  I feel safer with my pics there, rather than a backup at our house.

Old school hyphenating

I was reading a web page that was hyphenating words on the right margin for line wrapping.  It was really jarring.  Then I remembered this was a something that they used to teach that to us in school.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it much of anywhere.  With modern technology, it seems a pretty bad idea.  Having a flush right margin is not so important that it should cause you to stutter over these hyphenated words as you’re reading.

Come on self-driving cars!

I see articles like this and get so excited about self-driving cars.  I hate driving.  It’s such a waste of my time.  (Maybe it’s because I drive a boring 4-cylinder Kia?)  I could be doing a thousand useful things in the car, but I’m sitting there in the daily drudgery, fear, and frustration of the daily commute.  As this article talks about, the reason it has to roll out so slowly and carefully is liability…none of the car companies want to be the first to be sued in a self-driving car injury or death.  I’d still rather drive next to a self-driving car than another driver like myself.