Tax time – wohoo!


There are very few times in my life where I’ll actually be looking forward to doing my taxes – but this year is one of them! Thank you Lifelong Learning Credit!

Lifetime Learning Credit for College Juniors, Seniors, Graduate Students and working Americans pursuing lifelong learning to upgrade their skills. For those beyond the first two years of college, or taking classes part-time to improve or upgrade their job skills, the family will receive a 20% tax credit for first $5,000 of tuition and fees through 2002, and for the first 10,000 thereafter. The credit is available for net tuition and fees (less grant aid) paid for post-secondary enrollment after June 30, 1998. The credit is available on a per-taxpayer (family) basis, and is phased out at the same income levels as the HOPE Scholarship.

Because my last quarter at NU was in 2005 – I’m going to get one heck of a return this year! (Hutch, pay attention!) I’d say this would be one of the times I’m happy about the way our government works but I’m just getting money back that they have already taken! That being said, there are a few more things to be happy about at tax time. I, for one, will be filing for free. Of course, with my student job/temporary employment I made far below the $50,000 limit to file free – so I can actually take advantage! (click on the IRS image above for more info)
Next year will hopefully be a MUCH different story!

(wondering if linking to the IRS is a good idea!)

New camera on its way!

I finally decided upon and ordered up my new Canon SD500! My reasons for choosing the SD500 are many, my SD200 was a perfect blend of size and function and the SD500 is no bigger! But now I get 7.1mp vs the 3.2 mp of the SD200. This way I can take full res pics of the things I want, and drop down the res for every-day shots. This is also one of two cameras in the Canon line (the other one being the SD550) that has a fully waterproof case for snorkeling or diving. Who knows if that will ever happen – but I can get one if I need it! It sure would have been useful while snorkeling in Croatia!

MP3 Tags


(engage geek mode) Once upon a time a bunch of us gathered our computers, CD collections, and a keg of beer for the weekend to rip and encode our entire collection of CDs. Since then, the collection has resided on a bunch of different hard-drives, until recently, where they all found their home in one place. About a year ago I purchased my first dedicated MP3 player which, unbeknownst to me, relied exclusively on ID3 tags to organize the music. Unfortunately, when we ripped and encoded our music, we didn’t create tags for the files. This put me on a quest to not only fill in the missing tag data but to clean up tags from other music that we had acquired over the ages. I tried just about everything I could get my hands on and settled on two pieces of software that could do just about everything I needed.

Continue reading MP3 Tags



I’ve decided that its best that I leave the office, even if I have brought lunch with me, to get away for a bit and stretch my legs and give my eyes a break. My walk to the student center took me past Northwestern’s lakefill pond where a huge group of Canada Geese were congregating just under a Willow tree. I guess it isn’t too hard to find a little life in the winter! As I approached them slowly to take the picture, they started to swim away. I have a feeling that they found a spot where the university recirculates some of the pond water making it a bit warmer for them. Its so much nicer to have a change of pace from the office – another spot of life in my usually dreary day. Its also much easier to post to the blog as I don’t feel guilty not doing work! I’m getting a few odd looks as I’m drinking one of my new favs Goose Island root beer, which very much looks like a normal bottle of beer! Didn’t realize the thematic link until just now!

This post also marks the last picture to be taken with my current digital camera as I’m sending my Canon SD200 to Spain! Time to upgrade!

On an unrelated note, I got a bit nostalgic last night while looking at old e-mails and decided to see if I could find out what some of my old friends are up to! It has been a blast hearing back from them! If any of you find your way to my blog (if I haven’t already insisted via e-mail that you should visit) welcome! 🙂 Always good to connect with old friends!

Why don’t we do ads like this?!

Saw this on the Autoblog today and had to share it! One of the better ads I’ve seen in a while! Ties for second place with another Honda UK ad (no CGI used – thats all real!). But can’t top my current favorite, VW UK’s GTI commercial – too cool! (and not just because its a GTI commercial!)

Would love to see this sort of stuff in US ads before we TiVo everything out!

Bringing space down to Earth

Forbes Article
Forbes published an article on what we do here at the Vislab. A good read! If anybody is in the Chicago vicinity and would like to check it out, just let me know!

NEW YORK – It’s the stuff of comic books. Using sophisticated imaging techniques–and some goofy glasses–the Earth-bound students of Northwestern University can sit back for a three dimensional guided tour of the actual surface of Mars.



On Teresa’s recommendation we saw 2046 tonight. Not at all what I expected. Still letting it sink in. If you want a thought provoking, beautifully shot, and well executed movie to put on your short list – this one is it. Its one of those movies that you have to see more than once.

It is also Teresa’s second to last day here in Chicago. She heads for Baltimore on Wednesday and then off to Spain for a semester a bit over a week afterwards! Color me jealous! Ok, so I can’t complain as I was trekking through europe myself this past summer – but 4 months! With her permission, I’ll try to link a few pics here and there from her adventures!

Bon Voyage Teresa! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!

The fellowship of the blah


Since the first days of the Internet I have been using the e-mail address for basically anything that requires me to submit an e-mail and I didn’t really feel like submitting my real e-mail address to. Anything from “submit your e-mail to download the file” to signing up for something to read one article. In the past I have found that I am not the only person doing this! Many times is already being used, so I use or any iteration from there – with a password of blah, of course! I believe that a certain form of camaraderie, a fellowship if you will, has formed around the use of A few friends of mine have been sending me picture galleries from Kodak that require a username and login to view – drives me crazy! So instead of creating my own account, I rely on the fellowship of the blah – and sure enough, I can get in no problem!

So with this post, I welcome you to the fellowship of the blah!


I’ve been meaning to post for some time now. I had grand aspirations to do a recap of 2005 in pictures, but I haven’t had the motivation to look through all 5739 (yes, I did a search). I also wanted to start taking new pictures – one a day to post here. But I had to send my camera back to Canon because the last repair they did had screwed up my navigation button. I just searched for a random picture to post… and now I’m having server permission problems! (so, the upgrade wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped!) What this all boils down to is that this post is really going to be about nothing. Which could very well be my most interesting post of 2006! Wohoo!

Thank you Steve!

Steve’s New Year’s Party on Saturday was by far the best organized, best laid out, and best stocked party I have been to in quite some time! We made good use of all of the liquor that was purchased and had a blast! The place looked incredible! The heaters outside were the icing on the cake! I only wish Steve would have gotten as tanked as the rest of us! Great party! Click the above picture for the full album!