Create your own “canned” responses

Have you ever needed to reply regularly to several issues in a timely (and “canned”) manner? If so, the Form Letter Machine from Donation Coder is for you.

From the official website:

The Form Letter Machine is a program that will help you to write letters and emails by mixing and matching from pre-written paragraphs.

It’s useful for people who regularly need to send out emails which include different components in different circumstances. For example if you field technical support requests, or if you need to reply to various inquiries, etc.

It enables you to assemble text from multiple paragraphs, each one customized for a specific type of inquiry or response. You can build your own configurations using checkboxes and radioboxes and nested groups, and then easily write new letters or respond to inquiries by checking off the components you want to include. A real-time preview allows you to view the message as it is composed. The program also supports user defined variables, which allows you to quickly personalize the template with a name or other data that is specific to the task. The text is then copied to the clipboard and can be used in your e-mail program or word processor.

It initially comes with just one configuration tree (where you can set a reply to someone based on: whether they are an employee or not (for instance), what their problem is, and, finally sign the letter with your name (or someone else’s name).

Here’s an example:

A typical Microsoft Word issue...A typical Microsoft Word issue…

This program, while quirky and hilarious, is quite useful for sending out replies to many issues regularly to many people.

The program itself is right at 2 megabytes, so it’s a very quick download. You can also view a Flash video of it in action. Worth the download!

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“Zimply” Cool

Digg, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, to name a few, are some of the hottest social networks online now. Ranging from the social news network that is Digg to the micro-blogging world of Twitter, everyone wants a place in Web 2.0. Sun Microsystems, Inc. has released something that will enable you, and them, to do just that. It’s called zembly.

Zembly is several things, actually:

  1. It’s an online IDE for a social web application of your own.
  2. It’s a collaborative effort between you and, if you wish, many others on said application – you can share pieces of code, or widgets, with others if you wish to for use in other’s applications.
  3. It’s a host for your application.

Here’s a few bits about it (or you can read all about it here):

Bring your creativity, bring your skills, bring your friends

  • Browser-based: Do everything in your browser. No downloads or installs.
  • Social programming: Create apps socially with other users, and reuse pieces and parts that they create. You choose the level of collaboration, from keeping everything private to making your app public and open source. We call it social programming.
  • Social networking: Connect with other zembly developers, watch their activity feeds, and send them messages. Be an expert, or get to know one, while working side-by-side with people in your social graph.
  • IDE-class editor: When you want absolute control, use zembly’s exclusive IDE-class editor to tweak any aspect of your app. Features like full syntax highlighting, error annotations, code completion, and automatic formatting and full language support for HTML, CSS, JavaScript, FBML, and FBJS give you all the power you need to make advanced changes your application.
  • Built-in hosting: Not only is zembly the fastest and easiest way to create your application, it’s the fastest and easiest way to deploy it. Click the publish button and your app just runs. Best of all, zembly apps elastically scale on Sun’s cloud infrastructure so you don’t need to worry about creating or maxing our your own datacenter.

With zembly, you can create applications that are stand-alone and that can also be used with other web applications like Facebook or Meebo (a list of other applications can be found here).

Zembly looks to be pretty cool and takes the social networking concept up another notch with its social programming aspect, and it gives web developers quite a few tools to develop with and a venue to show off their own applications without worrying about hosting them somewhere.

Hosting is free during the beta, so check it out.

One last note: The website works just fine on Opera.

Time for Regulation of a Monopoly and Stimulating an Economy!

“This economic downturn has everyone worried, and rightfully so. No one knows, on the main streets far away from the big cities, if they’ll have any visitors with charitable donations or if their hotels, for instance, will receive any patronage… by anyone. Sadly, many simply take their money and go somewhere else.

For far too long, many “high-rollers” have simply passed these streets by and have only supported those as rich or richer than themselves – this ends now.

The federal government, who only exists to serve the greater good, has identified the culprit of all of our economic woes:

Monopoly!

For far too long, people have just “rolled” their way past the Baltic Avenues, and sometimes, the entirety of the south part of the Monopoly world. Using their incredible wit, they also pass by the “Income Tax” with their clever little schemes or only opt to give us a mere $200 dollars of their vast stores of wealth.

Every American passes “Go”, but, unfortunately, not everyone can collect $200. Some are hauled off to jail simply by taking a chance on the market of real estate. Others simply manage to evade these areas altogether.

What exacerbates this problem is that Broadway, and even recently Park Place, has been asking residents of the Baltic Avenues of the world to continue paying for their high-rolling lifestyle and yet they never give back to these communities – instead, they keep taking from the chest of the community, insist on monetizing free parking, and always seem to get out of jail free and clear while those who take a chance and give to the community chest are stuck in jail, unable to receive anything resembling a shred of luck, or footed with the bill, whether it is maintaining or constantly repairing their buildings or even streets from years of wear, but little tear due to being passed over. Why is it that Broadway always seems to bypass these aspects of the community? Why is it that Broadway can’t pay its fair share of investment in the community of which it is a part of? Today, we, the government, are here to solve that very problem.

We are hereby introducing the “Share Prosperity and End Numerous Discrepancies in Income Now for the Greater Good Act“. We call this the S.P.E.N.D.I.N.G. Act (or the SPENDING Act) which will now be called “the act” because we’re longwinded enough already.

The act will ensure patronage by the “high-rollers” by giving them fuel-efficient convoys during their drive throughout the southern neighborhoods as demonstrated below:

[*] [ Β ]

This new vehicle is called the Roll Royce. Not only will this revolutionary vehicle ensure energy independence (by going to one area at a time), but itΒ  will create new manufacturing jobs.

By going to one place at a time, this will enable the high-rollers of Park Place and Broadway to absorb the rich heritage of Baltic Avenue and beyond. The high-rollers will be encouraged to stay with a family, rent a house, or stay within a hotel via numerous incentives. This, in turn, will create additional investment opportunities and thus, far more potential for new jobs to accomodate the increased demand of services. Finally, taxes will once again be fairly and progressively distributed.

Now, with more money and capital at the disposal of the southern areas, investment will then follow what we like to call the “Square Effect” which will start with Baltic Avenue and wind up at Broadway itself which will then collect money and go once more! As you can see, it never ends!

Given just a bit of time, we’ll have equality in income and ensure the security of our nation, the robustness of the foundation and principles of our economy, and the security of our national security.

Of course, our current economic advisor, the Centrallized Central Center of Commerce, otherwise known as C4, Bank Chairman, has advised us this could cost 1 gajillionbillion dollars or even as much as googolplexgajillionmillion dollars. Also, many within the Committee of Running A Press, a subsidiary of the C4 also known as C.R.A.P., are concerned about printing this much money as the printing press has never been left on, constantly, for so long before. On the other hand, an entirely new building (or several buildings, actually) will have to be built to secure this amount of money, and a new organization, called the National Organization of Regulatory Oversight on Overseeing Money, or N.O. R.O.O.M., will be created and thus create some jobs and has been praised as a dynamic investment by the C4. As for the printing press, it’s a valid concern, but the C4 chairman, focusing only on a sensible outlook of repayment and investment, estimates, however, that if we simply pay $1 per minute ($60 per hour, $1,440 per day, $43,200 per month, or $518,400 per year), utilizing what the chairman calls “generational distribution”, we might have this debt paid off before Earth is swallowed by the Sun as it becomes a red giant – it’ll certainly ease taxpayer’s minds to know that they are debt free before Earth is incinerated, yes?

As you can see, with just a bit of spending and stimulus, everything just comes out nice and even and prosperity is restored.”

Hope you had a bit of a laugh or at least a chuckle; have a great weekend.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl Computer Player Humor

It’s been 1 year and, now, 4 days since Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released in the U.S.A. for the Wii, and the game is still one of the most addictively fun games for the Wii – you get to beat up Nintendo characters with other Nintendo characters, what’s not fun about that? πŸ™‚ You can prove that Mario is the best video game character of all time (which, in my completely unbiased and ever so humble opinion, he is), or that Sonic absolutely rules – it’s all there.

From time to time, however, it’s also equally fun to watch the computer face off against itself, and this is where some unintended hilarity can ensue. So, I thought I’d share some of the funniest things I’ve watched the computer do whilst observing it in various matches. I’ll list if it was a normal brawl or a special brawl (and what specific options I selected). One more thing, unless otherwise specified, the difficulty level of the computer was set to 9.

Wario “Waft Out”

The Wario Waft is amazingly powerful and just down right funny to behold. However, sometimes it can also be a guaranteed knock-out if used in certain places or conditions. Set up a Special Brawl with 4 Warios with the size set on mini and set the gravity to light. Once that is done, set this match to take place on a stage like Battlefield. Now, just wait and watch – eventually, after Wario has “held it in” long enough, he’ll use his waft … and away he’ll go – even if he uses on the ground, he’ll still K.O. himself! It’s even funnier when he’s Wario-Man. πŸ™‚

“The Landmaster Down Under”

For this particular gem, you’ll want to set either Fox, Falco, or Wolf to the difficulty level of 1. It’s even better if they are on your team. Now, select any stage (it’s funnier with a stage in the sky, like Skyworld or even Final Destination), and let Fox (or Falco or Wolf) get the Smash Ball and call down the Landmaster. They’ll come down in the Landmaster… and “roll over” the other computer players just once and ride off the stage! This is especially hilarious with Falco. For some reason, though, I haven’t seen Wolf do this as much…

“PK Down Thunder”

Now this one is the most random of all. It seems to happen quite equally from as low as level 1 to as high as level 9. I’ve noted that PictoChat or New Pork City seem to be the most likely stages for this to happen on. For this, you’ll let a computer player play as Lucas or Ness. For some reason, sometimes they’ll aim their PK Thunder in down-right direction instead of an up-right or even straight right direction, miss the ledge and just fall straight down. I suppose the computer somehow hopes the stage will “tilt” a bit like the Lylat Cruise stage does if PK Thunder hits the edge perhaps? πŸ˜›

Sonic’s “Up, Up, and Away!”

I’ve yet to see a computer do this, but I admit I have done it once. Naturally, this humorous event involves Sonic’s Up Special Move. Kind of like how if Wario jumps high enough and uses his Wario Waft he’ll be knocked out is how this works as well – jump up high and use Sonic’s Up Special Move, and you’ll spring right out of the stage! Quite hilarious, actually.

As for matches that I’m in with the computers, there’s one particular thing I love doing. In a 2 versus 2 where Jigglypuff uses its Final Smash, wait for just the right moment (around when Jigglypuff says “Jiggly!”) and throw the other team’s partner up there and watch him or her get knocked out. Everytime I play a match with computers, the opposing team always has Jigglypuff as a team member. πŸ™‚

Hope you enjoyed some of those or will try them out later on (if you haven’t seen them yet). If you have some other humorous things that the Super Smash Bros. Brawl computer players do, please let me know!

A moment of geekdom

So I was passing back through town today, by our local electric cooperative, and they had a saying on the sign – “Character counts.”.

Normally, one would just read it and go on, but in my head I did a “for” loop and counted the number of characters…(which was 17, by the way). I think I’ve been looking at way too much code lately.

Pluto is a planet (for one day) in Illinois

From National Geographic News:

It took about three minutes for members of the Illinois state senate to make the unanimous vote: “that March 13, 2009, be declared ‘Pluto Day’ in the State of Illinois in honor of the date its discovery was announced in 1930.”

Quietly adopted on February 26, the state resolution is meant to honor Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh, who was born and raised in the farming village of Streator.

“This is one of those things that the village is very proud of,” said Illinois State Senator Gary Dahl, who sponsored the resolution.

“I don’t think we are changing the status of the planet. We’re simply asking that March 13 be declared Pluto Day and that, for the day, Pluto is a planet.”

National Pride

Despite these seemingly humble intentions, the bill has reignited heated debate over what exactly a planet is.

You can read more about it here.

Call me a stubborn traditionalist, but Pluto’s still a planet to me. I agree the IAU had a decently sound process of determining what a planet was:

  • It must be in orbit around the Sun.
  • Must have sufficient mass to achieve a round (or nearly round) shape
  • Must clear its “local neighborhood” of large objects

Naturally, Pluto fails the final criterion, because of its moon, Charon (which is half the planet’s size). What I’m opposed to is the “retroactive subtraction” of a planet.

Abridged version for the “l337”:

Before decision:

“IAU: Hay guyz, Pluto’s a planet and it’s, liek, really phar away.”

After decision:

“IAU: Sorry guyz, but Pluto’s a ‘dorf’ planet now, and there’s nothing you can do about it. lawl.”

…I’m all for the advancement of science, but the traditionalist in me will, personally, always classify Pluto as the 9th planet of our solar system, so that’s that. πŸ™‚

Besides, anyone who has played the classic game of Gyruss on the NES would wonder why the evil aliens would invade a ‘dwarf’ planet.

Semi-live listen and review of Summoning of Spirits Part 2

Hey all.

Well I’ve gotten the chance to download even more arrangements from Overclocked Remix’s Summoning of Spirits album. As before, I’m just picking out my personal favorites.

The Unholy Wars (Remix of “Fighting of the Spirit” from Tales of Phantasia by Dhsu, and Sixto Sounds)

Oh yes! This song thoroughly kicks axe! I remember first hearing S.S.H’s arrangement of this song (still awesome to this day) and instantly wanted to hear more arrangements that could give this song the total ‘rockin’ out’ that it deserved – this arrangement delivers just that. Very highly recommended.

Chaotic Heart (Remix of “Raine” from Tales of Symphonia by Sixto Sounds)

This piece was a surprise remix just like Usa’s. I’m amazed at just how good Raine’s theme sounds when given just a little tender lovin’ rock ‘n roll treatment. Wow.

Airborne (Remix of “Aviator” from Tales of Phantasia by Dhsu)

Dhsu brings his superb skills with the piano to the Aviator track from Tales of Phantasia. I’ve always loved listening to the piano – with its magnificent diversity, and Dhsu keeps taking it to the next level each time I listen to one of his mixes. I absolutely love the buildup at around 1:38 and onward. Beautiful and very highly recommended.

Chronometrical (Remix of “Stream of Time” from Tales of Phantasia by The Joker)

Starting off with but the ticking of a clock, The Joker then brings in some incredible sounding bass, synth, and a bit of techno in this wonderful arrangement. I’d truly love to hear this in the original game. And in the latter part of this, I can’t help but think of Chrono Trigger (the scene and music where Crono first went back in time) – guess it’s just me (and the “Chrono” part of the name). πŸ™‚ Highly recommended.

This Fate (Remix of “Kratos” from Tales of Symphonia by Christian Pacaud)

From the arrangement of the Wind Scene from Chrono Trigger, to Antegenesis (Christian’s awesome arrangement of Beat the Angel from this same game), and to This Fate, Christian Pacaud displays a wide array of musical talent and This Fate is no exception – and it happens to be in a favorite genre of mine: orchestral. This Fate is a song and a story of Kratos skillfully woven into one. Highly recommended.

The Koan of Drums (Remix of “Desolate Road” from Tales of Phantasia by djpretzel)

I must admit, I always breezed right past where this music played, but from the man that needs no introduction comes this superb arrangement and interpretation. If this had been the original song from the game, I would’ve had one save dedicated to just sitting there listening to this. Absolutely beautiful mix that takes the original, transforms it into an awesome dance-like track, and also outdoes it in every way.

as time goes on (Remix of “As Time Goes On” from Tales of Phantasia by the prophet of mephisto)

and

No Better Time Than Now (Remix of “This Isn’t The Time” from Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World by Nutritious, and poolgirl)

Two amazing vocal mixes that do incredible justice to the original source material and are well worth the download. Both of these arrangements add enormously to the original song, and draw you in. Very highly recommended.

Every remix keeps getting better as I download them, and I can’t really rank them on a 1 to … scale – they’re all well worth the download and listen and are exquisite forms of art – each of them tells a part of the story in their own way. As with last time, I’m certainly looking forward to the rest!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my media player’s on the…(no idea)…time through all of these arrangements. πŸ™‚