Notes from The Universe

I like to begin my work day by reading a Note from the Universe. Mike Dooley publishes these notes and sends them out as a free email service.

The are often uncannily accurate in how they fit what is on my mind in the mornings. the synchronisity is so right I often forget that these notes are just emails. They seem to really be from my higher self.

Dooley’s notes are always positive and always inspire me to feel better and take more action. More importantly they remind me to be careful with my thoughts. To think positive thoughts about what it is that I really want from life.

Subscribe to Mike Dooley’s free daily email note at this link:

Here is a video of Mike Dooley top get an idea of how positive he is.

Rally in the Rain

Rally in the Rain

This weekend, I ran the Georgia Sports Car Club May rally. I partnered with Robert Harvey and drove his BMW.

The rally master seemed to have some logistics problems which he explained were a lack of support from his partner. Most evident was the fact that the route instructions were printed on recycled paper. By recycled, I mean form the trash can with stuff written on the other side.

We knew we would have to excuse a mistake or two along the way so we were prepared. Or so we thought.

When Robert arrived at the start, I had already read the general instructions. Traditionally the general instructions have been made available prior to the event so that people could prepare both mentally and equipment wise for the event. This tradition has all but disappeared in the last year or so.

I noticed that bullet point two of the general instructions prohibited the use of our rally computer and gps. Robert had taken time to properly mount both of these the morning of the rally. We had to take time to dismount and properly store them before the rally started.

Our fun started on the odometer calibration leg where we had to turn around twice to read the signs for gimmicks included in the leg. Thanks to Robert’s excellent navigation and math skills were still able to calculate the correction factor for our odometer. At least as best as can be done considering his BMW has a digital dash and I had to just guess how far into each tenth I was.

On leg one we managed to completely miss a turn while getting the gimmick that preceded it. We drove several miles out of our way before turning around and finding it. There we found another rally contestant who had been circling the block for the whole time as the instruction clearly did not work. We tried it a couple of different ways and met back up. Soon all the cars in the rally were sitting together wondering what to do. I had seen one of the referenced road names on our off course loop so I knew which way we need to go. Finally after a few turns, our group got back on the course.

We felt we were doing pretty well until we ran out of instructions and then out of road. As the whole group again gathered we were able to contact the rally master via prohibited cell phone use and learn that he had forgotten to give us the second page of instructions. We all finally made our way to his location to start the next leg.

The next leg was a timed section. Just as I was about to let out the clutch to start the leg, our friend and competitor knocked on our window. Considering what we had just been through, I paused to see what he wanted. He was confirming our start time as he expected to start before us and was assigned a later time. I dashed off; making up the few seconds late quickly in the 25 mph assigned speed. I was a bit confused as the route instructions led us onto the interstate. However the 65mph CAST confirmed it was the right route. Merging into traffic in a driving rain storm I quickly got later and later as Robert quickly punched his calculator. I finally worked my way over to the left lane and with the wipers on their highest setting, started to make up the time. I had us pretty close to right when I had to slow and fight my way back to the right lane for our exit.

At the end of the ramp we found a truck waiting for a safe opening into traffic. We were given a pause but it quickly ticked away before the truck moved. I was about ready to drive around him when he finally decided to go. Just across a bridge, we saw the checkpoint and I was still late. Using all the power of the BMW, I closed the gap as much as possible between the traffic in front of us. I knew we would be close but maybe just a bit late. We got a one!

The final leg of the rally had us looking for signs again. The rain was really coming down hard and visibility was very poor. At one point I had to turn around and get out of the car to read a sign. We finally made it through missing only two signs. By that point we had decided that we were not going back to look for them in these conditions.

When the scores were finally totaled as we ate at a very interesting Greek restaurant, Robert and I had finished first. Not only had we scored very well on the timed leg, we had found more correct answers than any other team.

Our waitress kept asking what trophy she would get. So after it was all over, I peeled off the engraved plaque from the first place trophy and gave the blank trophy to her. She held it high over her head as she ran through the restaurant showing it off to all her co workers. A much better use on the trophy than having it sit in my garage until the next yard sale.

[phpbay]BMW, 5[/phpbay]

Finding the right Video codecs

h264, mp4s and AVIs oh my!

My son Will is doing a video for his media class.  He borrowed our friend Jenny’s camera.  This all seemed simple enough.  Just download the files and edit them right?  Not so fast there!

None of our computers had the right codecs to even play the files.  And his editor program would not even recognise them as videos.  It seems that they are stored in something called h264 or MP4 format.

I hit sourceforge for a converter program.  I quickly found and downloaded a MP4 to AVI converter. The program error ed every time I clicked on a file.  I dug through the advanced trouble shooting to find it only worked with h263 files whatever those are!

There was a procedure to convert h264 files but it was too complicated for us to follow and we were missing some of the software.

As we grew more frustrated and the deadline was fast approaching we tried a different approach.  We used the camera software to upload the videos to You tube.  Then I used a capture program to convert from You tube to AVI.

This worked pretty well but was very slow.  Especially having to wait for Youtube to process the file.  Eventually Will got all his files uploaded and converted.  He then loaded them on his thumb drive and brought them home.

Then he discovered that his home computer, the newest and fastest one we have, would not play the AVI files!  He still needed a codec.  After some googling and a lot of reading on the Miscrosft site I found  This site had the instructions for finding the right codec and had the codec in an easy to download and install package.  Thank you WMPlugins!

The story does not end there however, because today eh got to class and his files still would not play on the school computers.  And he does not have rights to install a new codec.  Hopefully his teacher will help him sort it all out.

Filling out Tax Forms

I have finally taken time today to sit down and fill out my tax forms.   I like using the Tax Cut software form H&R block.  It seems more intuitive to me than Turbo Tax.  Plus I have all my old data in Tax cut so it is easier to import last years tax data than if I switched to Turbo Tax.

I have 1099 forms from Google and and couple of other clients to put in as income and a ton of business expenses to off set them.  Looks like I will be getting a small refund.

Now I have to see if it is better to include my son’s interest income on my tax form or make a separate one for him.  I love having tax software to run multiple scenarios.  I am always amused at people who stress over whether they should take the standard deductions or itemize.  I just run both ways and see which one gets me the best return.  No stress; just trial and error.

Opera 9.6

Choosing a new browser.

On my home computer, every time I ran Facebook, the computer would stop talking to the modem.  After much diagnosis of the Ethernet connection and the modem, I finally discovered that the trouble was with Internet Explorer.  More and more IE has been causing my computer to hang.  The only cure is a reboot and then it is always a race to get things done before it needs to reboot again.

Lots of people recommended Fire Fox.  I gave it a try but many web sites I use just don’t look right in Fire Fox.  And some just refuse to work at all.

On my home computer Google Chrome was not an option since I am running Windows 2000.  Normally W2k is much more stable than XP but not with whatever the latest update to IE was.

My Internet connection at home is via satellite.  During most times of the day it is pretty slow.  Better than dial up but not really the broadband they claim it is.  I still consider it a low bandwidth connection.  So I did a search for low bandwidth browsers.  That is when I discovered Opera.

Opera loads web pages at least twice as fast as IE on my Hughes net service.  It has taken me a day to get used to the differences but I am really liking Opera so far.

My old W2k version of IE did not offer tabbed browsing but Opera does.  And the tabs work like I expect them to – not like the IE tabs that still sometimes opens up another memory hole instead of a new tab.

I love the way the pages load also.  I can actually start reading an article before all the junk loads.  With IE, it would often display a blank page until all the ads loaded.  It was really annoying to wait several minutes for  page to load only to realize it was not of interest.

I tested Google Chrome on my computer at work.  It has XP.  I like Chrome much better than IE.  Chrome seems just a little zippier on some web pages.  Especially Googles’ pages that I use a lot like gmail and adsense.   I assume Google has optimized these pages for their own browser.

I found a couple of sites that don’t seem to load right with Chrome.  My godaddy email program is one.  I had to use IE to send mail.  I could read mail fine but not send.

I am now using Oprea 9.6 on both computers.  I really like the crisp feel and quick loading of pages.  I just finished setting up the spell checker.  I liked IE spell better but I am sure I will get used to this one.  I have also discovered that the Spell checker will not work inside this wordpress window so I have to use the wordpress spell checker that I don’t like at all.

So for now, the winner is Opera.  But I will keep looking for other options.