Monthly Archives: September 2007

CMU professor gives his last lesson on life

Written by Mark Roth, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.”

andy Pausch set the tone early on yesterday at his farewell lecture at Carnegie Mellon University.

“If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you,” said Dr. Pausch, a 46-year-old computer science professor who has incurable pancreatic cancer.

It’s not that he’s in denial about the fact that he only has months to live, he told the 400 listeners packed into McConomy Auditorium on the campus, and the hundreds more listening to a live Web cast.

It’s more that “I am in phenomenally good health right now; it’s the greatest cognitive dissonance you will ever see — the fact is, I’m in better shape than most of you,” he said.

And then, to the appreciative laughs and applause of his audience, Dr. Pausch dropped to the stage floor and did a set of pushups.

“So anyone who wants to cry or pity me can come down here and do a few of those, and then you may pity me,” he said.

“What we’re not going to talk about today,” he continued, “is cancer, because I’ve spent a lot of time talking about that … and we’re not going to talk about things that are even more important, like my wife and [three preschool] kids, because I’m good, but I’m not good enough to talk about that without tearing up.”

What he was there to discuss was how to fulfill your childhood dreams, and the lessons he had learned on his life’s journey.

When he was a boy, Dr. Pausch said, he had a concrete set of dreams: He wanted to experience the weightlessness of zero gravity; he wanted to play football in the NFL; he wanted to write an article for the World Book Encyclopedia (“You can tell the nerds early on,” he joked); he wanted to be Captain Kirk from “Star Trek”; and he wanted to work for the Disney Co.

In the end, he got to tackle all of them, he said — even if his football accomplishments fell somewhere short of the NFL.

In his 10 years at Carnegie Mellon, Dr. Pausch helped found the Entertainment Technology Center, which one video game executive yesterday called the premier institution in the world for training students in video game and other interactive technology.

He also established an annual virtual reality contest that has become a campuswide sensation, and helped start the Alice program, an animation-based curriculum for teaching high school and college students how to have fun while learning computer programming.

It was the virtual reality work, in which participants wear a headset that puts them in an artificial digital environment, that earned him and his Carnegie Mellon students a chance to go on the U.S. Air Force plane known as the “vomit comet,” which creates moments of weightlessness, and which the students promised to model with VR technology.

And even though his football career ended in high school, he said, he probably learned more from that experience than all the other childhood goals he did achieve.

Among other things, he learned the value of the coach yelling at him for his mistakes, because an assistant coach told him after one particularly brutal practice: “When you’re screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.”

While he didn’t get to be Captain Kirk, actor William Shatner, who played Kirk, did visit him at Carnegie Mellon in recent years.

“It’s cool to meet your boyhood idol,” Dr. Pausch said. “It’s even cooler when he comes to you to see what you’re doing in your lab.”

And he got the chance to write the World Book’s article on virtual reality.

Known for his flamboyance and showmanship as a teacher and mentor, Dr. Pausch talked Disney officials into letting him work on sabbatical at the company, helping design such virtual reality rides as the Magic Carpet and Pirates of the Caribbean.

More recently, he got the chance to intern with Electronic Arts, the video game company, and that relationship prompted the firm to give Carnegie Mellon the right to use its famous Sims animated characters as part of the Alice curriculum.

Near the end of his talk yesterday, Dr. Pausch surprised his wife, Jai, with a cake for her birthday on Monday, and persuaded the audience to sing for her. She managed to choke back her tears long enough to blow out the single candle on top.

To honor his life and career, Electronic Arts announced it was setting up a scholarship fund for deserving female computer science majors at Carnegie Mellon.

And the school itself said it would put his name on the footbridge that will connect the new Gates Computer Sciences Building and the Purnell Center for the Arts, symbolizing the way he linked those disciplines.

Dr. Pausch’s ordeal began a year ago, when he began to feel bloated and his bowel movements changed, he said in an e-mail interview. When doctors did a CT scan to see if he had gallstones, they spotted a tumor.

“I got the news from my GP,” he wrote, “who said ‘There’s a mass on your pancreas, and it’s not fair.’

“As I later told him, it’s unfortunate, and it’s unlucky, but it’s not unfair. As I always tell my 5-year-old, it’s not ‘unfair’ when you don’t get what you want. We all run the risk of getting hit by the cancer dart.”

In a Web-based diary he kept of his treatment, Dr. Pausch concentrated on trying to improve his survival odds. He knew it would be an uphill battle. Despite improvements in treatment, the overall five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 5 percent. Even the one-year rate is only 26 percent.

The first step was surgery, which took place exactly one year ago today at UPMC Shadyside. Surgeons took out his gall bladder, a third of his pancreas, part of his stomach and several feet of small intestine.

As he recovered, Dr. Pausch discovered that M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston was carrying out an experimental, highly toxic radiation and chemotherapy regimen for pancreatic cancer that might increase his five-year survival odds to almost 45 percent.

The treatments began in November and didn’t end until the following May. The low point, he wrote, was on Christmas Day of last year: “My wife and children were in Norfolk, and I was in Houston getting poison put in my veins. I was never depressed, but that was the day I was really squeezing the lemons hard to get lemonade.”

But later, less than a week after finishing chemotherapy and radiation, Dr. Pausch was playing flag football with his recreational league team again.

“First play of the game, I caught a 25-yard pass over the middle,” he said in his diary. “Granted, I was sucking wind the whole game, but damn it’s good to be back on the field.”

In mid-summer, after tests initially showed he was clear of cancer, he added two rounds of treatment with an experimental cancer vaccine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

And then, just as he was finally feeling healthy again late last month, Dr. Pausch sent out this message to his diary readers:

“A recent CT scan showed that there are 10 tumors in my liver, and my spleen is also peppered with small tumors. The doctors say that it is one of the most aggressive recurrences they have ever seen.”

He and Jai moved their family to Chesapeake, Va., so she would be near her relatives. They made initial plans for hospice care, and Dr. Pausch began palliative chemotherapy to give him some extra time.

“I find that I am completely positive,” he wrote. “The only times I cry are when I think about the kids — and it’s not so much the ‘Gee, I’ll miss seeing their first bicycle ride’ type of stuff as it is a sense of unfulfilled duty — that I will not be there to help raise them, and that I have left a very heavy burden for my wife.”

He is concentrating now on creating videos for his children. With his oldest son, 5-year-old Dylan, Dr. Pausch went on a recent trip to Disney World and to swim with dolphins, thinking Dylan may be the only child who will have strong direct memories of him.

His wife and children, he said, “mean everything to me. They give a purpose to life and a depth of joy that no job [and I’ve had some of the most awesome jobs in the world] can begin to provide.

“I hope my wife is able to remarry down the line. And I hope they will remember me as a man who loved them, and did everything he could for them.”

10 Tips For the Greatest Grilled Cheese

Written by Laura Werlin

It’s the childhood favorite you never outgrow, the most comforting comfort food of all time — the?grilled cheese sandwich. American, cheddar, gouda … whatever your pleasure, follow these ten tips from Laura Werlin, author of Great Grilled Cheese, and?have yourself a slice of melted heaven.


1. Good to grate

Don’t slice your cheese when you can grate it (the bigger the?grater, the better). This ensures evenly melted, gooey cheese in every bite.

2. Get cheesy

Don’t be shy — plan on about two ounces of cheese per sandwich. Use your palm to press the grated cheese onto the bread so it doesn’t fall out.

3. Embrace the ooze

Don’t fret if the cheese oozes out of the sandwich. The toasty bits at the bottom of the pan are the best part!


4. No need to Wonder

Don’t just assume that white is the only way. If you love focaccia or whole-wheat, go for it.

5. Size does matter

Don’t slice your bread more than 1/4″ thick or it’ll overwhelm the cheese.

6. Smush your bread

Flatten sandwiches with a spatula or a heavy pan to ensure oozing cheese and crisp rather than doughy bread.


7. Butter le pain, not le pan

Spread room-temperature butter on the bread (on the side you’re grilling, not the inside of the sandwich) before you grill. That way, you’ll get evenly buttered, evenly browned bread with a little crunch. ?

8. Salted butter is best

Just trust me.


9. Stick with nonstick

Although a cast-iron skillet is the traditional fave, a nonstick skillet is your best bet for easy flipping and no sticking.

10. Put a lid on it

Cover the skillet while cooking the first side of the sandwich for maximum cheese melting.

And now for the ultimate grilled cheese recipe, from Laura Werlin’s Great Grilled Cheese:

The Best Grilled Cheese

8 slices sourdough bread (1/4 inch thick)

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

6 ounces best-quality cheddar cheese (orange or white), coarsely grated

To assemble: Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices on your work surface, buttered side down. Distribute the cheese evenly over the 4 slices. Place the remaining 4 bread slices on top, buttered side up.

Stovetop method: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put the sandwiches in the skillet (in batches if necessary), cover, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are golden brown and the cheese has begun to melt. Uncover, and turn the sandwiches with a spatula, pressing firmly to flatten them slightly. Cook for 1 minute, or until the undersides are golden brown. Turn the sandwiches again, press with the spatula, and cook for 30 seconds, or until the cheese has melted completely. Serve immediately.

Sandwich maker method: Preheat the sandwich maker. Follow directions for sandwich assembly, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Gas grill method: Brush the grill rack with oil and preheat the grill to medium-high. Follow directions for sandwich assembly. Put the sandwiches on the grill and follow directions for the stovetop method.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

My Top 5 Simpsons Sofa Gags

Written by Sofa so Good

Who doesn?t like the simpsons. Who? I started thinking about this as a joke but then it evolved into a serious thought process. I mean imagine being friends with someone who didn?t like the simpsons. shudder. It?s now policy to routinely only accept friends into my inner circle if they are hardcore simpsons afficionados. I mean, they might SEEM ok on the outside but there?ll be something wrong on the inside. Something seriously wrong?

Anyways, I?m now a few friends lighter (and better off for it!) so I had time to compile a collection of my favourite simpsons intros. If you don?t agree, scroll down to the bottom and you can watch every single intro. Ever. In order. I genuinely can?t imagine a better way to spend 7:13 of your life.

1) The Escher Intro.

Simple, elegant, mind f*king. I love it!

2) The evolution of Homer.

Who knew that the evolution of such a simple creature could take so long? Time to marvel in all God?s creations? Hold on, something doesn?t add up there.

3) Star wars Simpsons

In a springfield far, far away? The possiblity of a whole film like this just makes me salivate. (not official this one I?m afraid)

4) We?re the flintstones, we?re the flintstones!

Another cool crossover, this one?s official though!

5) Trippy intro.

You tell me there weren?t drugs used in the making of this. Honestly, what kind of example is this setting for our?erm??our?.for our??.. WHOAH!

Not had enough of simpsons intros?! Well check out this bad boy. Every single simpsons intro. Ever. In Order. Seasons 1 – 10. (Warning, that?s 7:13 of your life down the drain)

The Anatomy of Humor : “A guy walks into a bar . . .”

Written by Postscripts

No one knows when the first joke beginning with the six words “A guy walks into a bar . . .” was told, or how it went. Nevertheless, an entire genre of jokes has been created revolving around that opening scenario. Here’s a sampling of some of the variants that have sprung up, many now involving animals or inanimate objects:

A guy walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says, “A beer please, and one for the road.”

An amnesiac walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Do I come here often?”

A guy with dyslexia walks into a bra.

A young Texan walks into a bar and orders a drink. “Got any ID?” asks the bartender. The Texan replies, “About what?”

A pair of battery jumper cables walk into a bar. The bartender says, “You can come in here, but you better not start anything!”

A Latin scholar walks into a bar and says, “I’ll have a martinus.” The bartender asks him. “Don’t you mean martini?” The man tells the bartender, “Listen, if I wanted two or more drinks I would have asked for them.”

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “So, why the long face?” A variant on this joke during the 2004 presidential campaign substituted John Kerry for the horse, but the punch line remains the same.

A penguin walks into a bar and asks the bartender, “Has my father been in here?” The bartender says, “I don’t know. What does he look like?”

A brain goes into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’ll have a beer, please.” The bartender says, “Sorry, I can’t serve you. You’re out of your head.”

A little pig goes into a bar and orders ten drinks. He finishes them and the bartender says, “Don’t you want to know where the toilet is?” The pig says, “No, thanks, I go wee-wee-wee all the way home.”

Ren? Descartes is in a bar at closing time. The bartender asks him if he’d like another drink. Descartes says, “I think not,” and he disappears.

A bear walks into a bar and says, “I’d like a beer and . . . . a packet of peanuts. The barman says, why the big pause?”

A kangaroo walks into a bar and orders a beer. The bartender says, “That’ll be $10. You know, we don’t get many kangaroos coming in here.” The kangaroo says, “At $10 a beer, it’s not hard to understand.”

A termite walks into a bar and asks, “Is the bar tender here?”

A cheeseburger walks into a bar, and the bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve food in here.”

A dog with his foot wrapped in a bloody bandage hobbles into a Western saloon. He sidles up to the bar and announces: “I’m lookin’ fer the man that shot my paw.”

A baby seal walks into a bar. “What can I get you?” asks the bartender. “Anything but a Canadian Club,” replies the seal.

A grasshopper hops into a bar. The bartender says, “You’re quite a celebrity around here. We’ve even got a drink named after you.” The grasshopper says, “You’ve got a drink named Steve?”

A goldfish flops into a bar and looks at the bartender. The bartender asks, “What can I get you?” The goldfish says, “Water.”

A guy walks into a bar and sits down next to a lady and a dog. The man asks, “Does your dog bite?” The lady answers, “Never!” The man reaches out to pet the dog, and the dog bites his hand. The man says, “I thought you said your dog doesn’t bite!” The woman replies, “He doesn’t. That’s not my dog.”

A guy walks into a bar. A horse behind the bar serving drinks. The guy is just staring at the horse, when the horse says, “What are you staring at? Haven’t you ever seen a horse serving drinks before?” The guy says, “Honestly, no. I never thought the parrot would sell the place.”

A skeleton walks into a bar. The bartender asks, “What’ll you have?” The skeleton says, “Give me a beer, and a mop.”

A polar bear, a giraffe and a penguin walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What is this, some kind of joke?”

A guy walks into a bar in Cork, in Ireland, and asks the barman: “What’s the quickest way to get to Dublin?” “Are you walking or driving?” asks the barman. “Driving,” says a man. “That’s the quickest way,” says the barman.

A fellow walks into a pub near Buckingham Palace in London, sits down, and says, “Give me a beer. I’ve had a rough day at work.” And the bartender says, “Oh? What do you do?” The guy says, “I take care of the corgis–you know, the dogs the royal family owns.” The bartender asks, “Tough job, huh? The guy says, “Yeah. All that inbreeding has led to low intelligence and bad temperaments. And the dogs aren’t too smart, either.”

A man goes into a bar and says, “Give me a drink before the trouble starts.” And the bartender pours him a drink. He drinks it and says, “Give me another drink before the trouble starts.” He downs that one and says quotation mark, give me another drink before the trouble starts.” Finally, the bartender asks, “Just when is this trouble going to start?” The man says, “The trouble starts just as soon as I tell you that I don’t have any money.”

A tourist goes into a bar where a dog is sitting in a chair playing poker. He asks, “Is that dog there really playing poker?” And the bartender says, “Yeah, but he’s not too smart. Whenever he has a good hand, he starts wagging his tail.”

This cowboy walks into a bar and orders a beer. His hat is made of brown wrapping paper. And so are his shirt, vest, chaps, pants, and boots. His spurs are also made of paper. Pretty soon, the sheriff arrives and arrests him for rustling.

A guy goes into a bar, orders four shots of the most expensive 30-year-old single malt Scotch whisky and downs them one after the other. The bartender says, “You seem to be in a great hurry.” The guy says, “You would be too if you had what I have.” The bartender asks, “What have you got? “Fifty cents,” is the reply.

A Northerner walks into a bar in the Deep South around Christmas time. A small nativity scene is behind the bar, and the guy says, “That’s a nice nativity scene. But how come the three wise men are all wearing firemen’s hats?” And the bartender says, “Well, it says right there in the Bible–the three wise men came from afar.”

A man walked into a bar, sat down, and ordered a beer. As he sipped the beer, he heard a voice say, “Nice tie.” Looking around, he saw that the bar was empty except for him and the bartender. A few sips later, another voice said, “Beautiful shirt.” At this, the man calls the bartender over. “Say, I must be losing my mind,” he tells him. “I keep hearing these voices say nice things, and there is not a soul in here but us.” “It’s the peanuts,” explains the bartender, indicating a dish on the bar. “The peanuts?” “That’s right, the peanuts–they’re complementary.”

A man walks into a bar with a giraffe. He says, “A beer for me and one for my giraffe.” And they stand around drinking for hours until the giraffe passes out on the floor. The man pays the tab and gets up to leave. The bartender says, “Hey! You’re not going to leave that lyin’ on the floor, are you?” The man says, “That’s not a lion, it’s a giraffe.”

A guy walks into a bar with a German shepherd dog. The bartender says, “Hey buddy, can’t you read that sign? It says no dogs allowed! Get that mutt out of here!” The man replies, “No, I can’t read the sign–I’m blind, and this is my Seeing Eye dog.” The bartender is embarrassed and gives the man a beer on the house. Later that day, the man tells his friend about it: “I told him I was blind, and I got a free beer!” The friend then takes his dog into the bar and sits down. The bartender says, “The sign says no dogs allowed! You’ll have to leave!” The friend says, “Sorry, I can’t see the sign because I’m blind, and this is my Seeing Eye dog.” The bartender replies, “Since when do they give out Chihuahuas as Seeing Eye dogs?” The man says, “They gave me a Chihuahua?”

A blind man walks into a bar, grabs his dog by its hind legs and swings him around in a circle. The bartender says, “Hey, buddy, what are you doing?” And the blind man says, “Don’t mind me. I’m just looking around.”

A man walks into a bar looking sad, and the bartender asks him, “What’s the matter?” The man says, “My wife and I had a fight, and she told me she wasn’t going to speak to me for a month. The month is up today.”

This guy walks into a bar and orders a drink. He looks in his pocket and orders another drink, looks in his pocket and orders still another drink. His curiosity aroused, the bartender asks, “What are you doing? What’s in your pocket?” And the guy says, “It’s a picture of my wife. When she starts looking good to me, I know it’s time to go home.”

Top 10 Movies Centered On Suburbia

Written by b-team

here are so many suburban-themed movies. We had a hard time paring down our list to 10. Our only rule, apart from liking the pic: Suburbia has to play a meaningful role in the plot. It can’t just be the setting.

Tell us what you think, where we went wrong. Send us your choices. We?ll put together another list, reflecting your feedback.

The 10 Best (in no particular order):

American Beauty. (1990). Beautiful, understated, utterly depressing view of suburban life and marriage. Keven Spacey as unhappy husband, in mid-life crisis, is sick of his tedious job, loveless marriage (to realtor, Annette Benning) tries to turn his life around. He does, along the way fantasizing (and more) about his daughter?s hot sexually precocious under-aged friend; and, in the end, just after figuring things out, learning that redemption in the burbs is awfully hard to come by.

Neighbors. (1981) John Belushi as the normal conventional next-door neighbor. Dan Ackroyd as the wacked freakazoid gun-toting (and shooting), never-leave-you-alone neighbor from hell. (How?s that for role reversal?) Nihilistic, hilarious dark comedy based on Jerzey Kosinki?s novel.

Edward Scissorhands. (1990) Johnny Depp literally with ?scissor hands? cuts and carves bushes all over town into elaborate, beautiful, bizarre art. Most shockingly, and unlike most landscapers we know, he charges nothing!

Little Children. (2006) Based on the Tom Perrotta novel. Suburban ennui, close-mindedness, confusion. Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly?and some non-descript guy (the actor & character) who inexplicably gets both of the babes. Now that?s a real suburban fantasy!

A Nightmare on Elm Street. (1984) Wes Craven?s original and genuine scary suburban horror film. Way better than the drek sequels. Suburban teens are dying off at the hands of Freddy Krueger, an evil, vengeful already dead guy. Tip to teens: falling asleep will probably not result in a good outcome.

The Money Pit. (1986) Tom Hanks, Shelley Long. Funny, underrated slapstick comedy. A cautionary tale, warning to all suburban home owners: Your dream house will turn into a pipe exploding, stairs collapsing, life and finances-ruining nightmare. Otherwise, living in the burbs is a blast.

American Graffiti. (1973) California burbs, 1962. High school teens coming of age before real life (college, work, etc.) intrudes. Music, sex, exciting stirrings of rock & roll. Go Wolfman Jack! Fantastic music sound track. George Lucas? first film — when skilled acting, sensitive story-telling, and subtlety informed his work.

Blue Velvet. (1986) David Lynch?s skewed view of suburbia and life. Not Technicolor day dreams. Brutal, strange, filled with frightening, depraved characters. (Sounds a lot like a recent block party in our neighborhood.)

Ordinary People. (1980) Rich, white Connecticut suburbs. Donald Sutherland, Timothy Hutton. And Mary Tyler Moore as one of the scariest, most repressed, quietly child-abusing (through silence & rejection) stay-at-home moms in movie history.

Happiness. (1998) Todd Solondz?s 2nd film, after Welcome to the Dollhouse. ?Happily? married dad is a shrink; he?s also a pedophile, fantasizes about serial killing, and has a thing for his son?s pre-teen friend. And Dad is one of the healthier characters. Depravity, dysfunction, unhappiness reigns.

13 Clever and Hilarious Billboard Advertisements

Written by John Pozadzides

Blank BillboardI scoured the Internet tubes for an entire day just to assemble this collection of fantastic billboards. They are from all over the place, and it wasn?t until after I assembled them that I realized I didn?t keep track of where most originated (if anyone knew in the first place). So sorry about that.

Anyway, for Thursday the 13th here is a crop of 13 freshly prepared humorous, cool and witty billboards. (Hmmm? Humorous. Cool. Witty. Remind you of anyone?) So, enjoy the fruits of my cheap Greek-American labor. Oh, and Warning: This article is Not kid safe!

Damn this was an expensive billboard. But I guess it?s worth it if people stop to pose for photos by it.

Billboard - Cingular Hate Dropped Calls

Ouch. This billboard comes with biting satire at no extra charge.

Billboard - Closet Space Right to Choose

I don?t know if this is real, but it is hilarious!

Billboard - Enjoy Minnesota

Would you like a side of irony with that order?

Billboard - McDonalds + Obesity

I don?t want to be the guy that had to install this billboard.

Billboard - Rejoice Comb

Strippers vs. Church – Photo by ktbugs23

Billboard - What Are You Looking At?

Paul Stamatiou caught this defaced Starbucks billboard. (Paul, you weren?t documenting your own handiwork were you? :-) )

Billboard - Starbucks Vandalized

I didn?t know that sex precluded one from becoming an engineer. But that explains a lot?

Billboard - Sex Can Wait

Well, they aren?t pulling any punches with this one are they?

Billboard - Liquid Panty Remover

I?ve got to say, this is a completely lame billboard to start with.

Billboard - Speeding What's Your Excuse?

Pure Genius.

Billboard - Sharp Knife

Must have been the same ad team as the knives above. Simply genius.

Billboard - Bic Razor

Notice, this ad is for the Special Forces. Do you see where the brochures are located?

Billboard - Army Take a Brochure

Edit 9/13: Here are a couple more sent over by Johny?

Billboard Silberman's Fitness

Sweatex Billboard

12 Effective Strategies Apple Uses to Create Loyal Customers

Written by InsideCRM Editors

Complete solutions, familiar formats and “the cool factor” keep customers coming back.

When shoppers sleep outside of stores just to be one of the first to buy an iPhone, it’s obvious that Apple Inc. is a company that enjoys fanatical brand loyalty. However, this brand success is not a result of dumb luck or forces beyond Apple’s control; it’s part of a well-thought-out plan to deliver strong products and create an Apple culture. Find out more about these and other strategies that Apple employs to achieve its tremendous customer loyalty.

  1. A store just for Apple: Apple has historically been troubled by big-box sales staffers that are “tragically ill-informed” about its products, a problem that made it difficult for Apple to set its very different products apart from the rest of the computing crowd. By creating a store strictly devoted to Apple products, the company has not only eliminated this problem but has made an excellent customer-loyalty move. Apple stores are a friendly place where Mac and PC users alike are encouraged to play with and explore the technology that the company offers. This is a space where Macheads can not only get service but also hang out with others who enjoy Apple products just as much as they do. By creating this space, Apple encourages current and new customers to get excited about what it has to offer.
  2. Complete solutions: Apple’s products complement and complete each other. Buy an iPod, and you can download music via iTunes. For the average user, most Mac programs are produced by Apple. This sort of control over the entire user process, from hardware to software, strengthens customer loyalty. Apple users generally don’t have to stray to find products and solutions they want.
  3. Are you a Mac?: Let’s face it, Apple is a hip brand. It pushes a strong identification with everything young, up-to-the-minute and smart. Consider Apple’s I’m a Mac campaign. The Mac guy is smooth and confident, while PC appears uptight and old. Once you’ve become smooth, would you want to go back to uptight?
  4. Varied products: Many consumers may not be ready to buy an Apple computer, but they’re willing to give gadgets like the iPod or iPhone a try. By selling products with lower entry costs, it creates an opportunity for new users to be introduced to Apple. If these users enjoy their gadgets, they’re more likely to consider buying an Apple computer in the future.
  5. Proprietary formats: Apple products are often not compatible for use with other systems, at least where customer transitions are concerned. If a user has a digital music collection comprised entirely of .aac files, it’s not likely he’ll want to start from scratch with a new MP3 player that won’t accept them. Instead, this customer will probably look at replacing his old Mac with a new Apple model when the time comes.
  6. Media fodder: Media outlets, especially bloggers, love to write about Apple. Why? Because Apple makes it so easy. With leaked rumors about new developments, its very own expo and mysterious shutdowns of its online store, Apple gift wraps news stories that are just begging for speculation and hype. By perpetuating this cycle of media frenzy, Apple reminds its customers that they’re excited about buying new Apple products now and in the future.
  7. Education sales: By selling its products to schools and universities, Apple turns classrooms into showrooms. If students go through school using Apple products, they become comfortable with the interface and familiar with the superior performance the brand offers. By creating this early exposure, Apple captures customers before they even know that they are customers.
  8. Products that deliver: Apple carefully considers what consumers are looking for, so its products are a result of both extensive research and strong design. This meticulous planning is a large contributor to Apple’s high customer-satisfaction rates. It’s plain and simple: robust and easy-to-use products not only make your customers happy, but also make them want to buy more products from you in the future.
  9. Outsourcing unpleasantness: With Apple products, the average consumer’s interaction with the company is likely to be low. Unless something goes wrong, you don’t have any reason to speak with an Apple customer service representative. Of course, the iPhone presented an opportunity that could have made Apple much more involved, similar to administering iTunes for the iPod. With a phone, interaction becomes multifaceted. You have to consider billing errors, quality of wireless service, contracts and a number of other factors that often lead to customer frustration. With the iPhone, Apple was wise to stick with building a good product and letting AT&T handle the service.
  10. Consistency: All of Apple’s products have the same basic architecture. Because of this consistency, customers who already own Apple products have a good idea of what they’ll be getting before they make a purchase. They know that it will be easy to adapt to new hardware, and this makes them more open to making a repeat purchase.
  11. New innovations: Although the architecture of Apple products is consistent, its portfolio is not. The company offers consumers a number of different ways to enjoy its products. By giving customers an opportunity to employ Apple in their living rooms, pockets and offices, Apple makes it easy to stay loyal to a brand they already like.
  12. Attractiveness: From packaging to aesthetic design to user-interface experience, Apple makes its products accessible and attractive. Bright colors, a smiling icon and slick-looking hardware remind customers every time they use Apple products that what Apple offers is appealing.

Collection of Awesome 404 Pages

Written by smashingmagazine

Three weeks ago we?ve showcased some of the most beautiful, creative and user-friendly 404 Error Pages; we?ve collected some interesting ideas one can use to help out the visitors once they got lost ony your page. We?ve also asked our readers to design their own 404 pages and promised to present the best solutions afterwards.

We?ve received over 100 entries. The choice wasn?t easy, so evaluating the quality of the entries we?ve considered – among other things – the communication with visitors, precise and clear navigation, the use of graphics, creative ideas and some outstanding solutions. Some of the solutions presented below might not be as helpful as they could or should be, however they include some creative approaches you should be aware of designing your 404 error pages.

We?d like to thank to everyone who participated, your input means a lot for us and for web-designers worldwide. You help to improve the quality of the Web. Don?t underestimate it.

So here is what you?ve come out with: over 40 working examples of user-friendly, creative and outstanding 404 error pages – in a brief overview.

1. Appealing images

A really dirty, hand-made image with a comment – for despaired visitors only. The page also includes a search box.

404 Error Page Example

Rainfall Daffinson makes sure you don?t feel lost.

404 Error Page Example

Even a 404-error page can look stylish.

404 Error Page Example

A book with the page which couldn?t be found.

404 Error Page Example

Jamie Huskisson communicates with ?lost? visitors using imagery.

404 Error Page Example

404 error as time on a clock.

404 Error Page Example

Sometimes you can feel or even smell that you?re definitely not on the page you wanted to visit.

404 Error Page Example

2. Getting poetic

404 error haiku. Informative, however a direct link to the start page would be quite useful.

404 Error Page Example

Three more haikus by Plus beer to keep you company.

404 Error Page Example

And one more haiku by

404 Error Page Example

BlueVertigo offers a poem with horizontal scrolling.

404 Error Page Example

A small poem about the 404 error by

404 Error Page Example

Jacob Thomas quotes Winston Churchill and informs lost visitors that the page they?ve been looking for seems to have been burnt down by a puckish elf called ?Prontyr?.

404 Error Page Example

Darren Hoyt appeals to the humanity of mistakes and errors and communication with visitors directly.

404 Error Page Example

3. Communicate through emotions

Isn?t he sad?

404 Error Page Example

?however, Cat Content seems to be doing well?

404 Error Page Example

?and Krystal gets no biscuit.

404 Error Page Example

4. Communicate through irony

Maybe an idiot has passed you the wrong link or maybe a bigger idiot has linked in their site to a page that doesn?t exist. In both cases the big boss man has been sent an email informing him of this problem, so the person responsible can be tied to a tree and horsewhipped! Nice to know.

404 Error Page Example

Martin Yelland has some good explanations about what happened: strange little Web Gremlins or fluctuations of the Earth?s Magnetic field might have caused the error – however, a team of highly trained monkeys has been dispatched to deal with this situation.

404 Error Page Example

Even although you?re a douche bag, you can use a search box to get to the page you?ve been looking for.

404 Error Page Example

Apparently, this is a test of the emergency broadcast systems. You should remain calm, these kinds of things happen all the time. The ?four oh four error? by

404 Error Page Example

5. While you are lost?

?you can read a comic?

404 Error Page Example

?or more comics (the image is changing after every reload)?

404 Error Page Example

?get two cocktail recipes?

404 Error Page Example


404 Error Page Example

?don?t count to 404 (the site also provides a search box and a tag cloud)?

404 Error Page Example

6. Explain what happened.

Explanation in a well-designed visualization of what happened.

404 Error Page Example

Be aware when you?ve reached a buzzless page?

404 Error Page Example

404 Error Page Example

7. Explain what can be done.

404 Error Page Example

Foobr offers a detailed explanation on what can be done and what the ?lost? visitor might be looking for.

404 Error Page Example

404 Error Page Example suggests pages the visitor might be looking for.

404 Error Page Example

Renet-web.met offers recent posts and a search box.

404 Error Page Example

8. Unusual solutions.

Shocking visitors with colors – interesting, but not quite appealing?

404 Error Page Example

Blue Screen Of Death on the Web.

404 Error Page Example lists what people were looking for when they got the 404 Page Error. Interesting approach, however not recommendable – think of spambots.

404 Error Page Example

9. Be sincere.

Jeremy seems to be really sorry about the missing page?

404 Error Page Example

?so is Rainer?

404 Error Page Example

10. Do whatever you want to do.

This is not a working example, since the site isn?t using the page as a working 404 error page. Nevertheless it?s quite funny: the characters are talking, and as you might suggest, they are talking about 404 errors!

404 Error Page Example

Top 10 Freeware Software Nobody Knows About, But Should

Written by

It’s always a shame when a great program is not heard about by most people – especially when it’s free. Here are the top 10 freeware software that many people still haven’t tried, but definitely should.


10. Sharepod

If you want to get all those files off your iPod and into your computer, then this is the program for you. In a previous post (Transfer Files From Your iPod To PC For Free) Sharepod was used to show how to freely and easily transfer files from an iPod to PC.



9. ConTEXT

Not only is this a great notepad replacement, it is also a great help for software developers.



8. IrfanView

Simply put, this is a simple graphic viewer. It has many essential features like email, Thumbnail/preview option, various Effects, changing color depth, and, of course, an extensive file format support.



7. Windows Live Writer

Although still in beta, this makes blogging both easy and comfortable. It supports many blog services, including WordPress, Blogger, and TypePad, and also has a some very good plugins.



6. Foxit Reader

This is the adobe reader replacement. It is much faster than adobe reader, and much friendlier to use. Try this once, and you’ll never go back.



5. Snipping Tool

Comes installed in Windows Vista. This program lets you take screenshots of the whole screen, only a certain program, free-form, or rectangular snips. Immediately after taking the screen shot, you are given the choice of editing it and saving it into your computer. They couldn’t have made it easier. This was also covered in a previous post: Top 5 Applications That Come Installed With Windows Vista


[Edit: Some people pointed out that this isn’t necessarily freeware because you need to have Vista in order to use it. MWSnap can be used instead of it. Thanks TemporalBeing and everyone else who pointed that out.]

4. Blender

Did you ever see the amazing CGI movies Pixar makes, like Ratatouille? Well, with Blender, you can make similar computer generated graphics that will amaze everyone.



3. ImgBurn

ImgBurn is great tool to create image files from discs and burn images to discs. It even supports HD DVD and Blu-ray. There is no need to use an high cost programs for images.



2. MusikCube

This is what iTunes should be like. An easy to use, uncluttered, lightweight program, which will convert most people to it after seconds of use. The plugins that are available will make for an easy transition, like being able to grab ratings from iTunes or Windows Media Player and import them to MusikCube.



1. AutoHotkey

This is the one of the most essential programs ever – if you know how to use it. With AutoHotkey, you can write scripts that automate keystrokes, which can save you a lot of time. You can make it automate annoying internship jobs, like copying and pasting a bunch of text from one place to another, to more complex applications like Lifehacker’s Texter. The beauty of it all is that it very easy to learn and master.


Photoshop Secret Shortcuts

Written by

It is proven that by using software shortcuts can boost up productivity. Here are 30 secret Photoshop shortcuts that I?ve learned from years of experience. Well, what I mean by “secret” is that these shortcuts are not documented in the menus. Keep reading and you will find how these shortcuts can speed up your productivity. I bet you don?t know all of them.

Note: this article is written in Mac Photoshop format. If you are using PC, Cmd = Ctrl and Opt = Alt.

  1. Drag selection

    With the Marquee tool, drag on the document (do not release the mouse yet), now hold down Spacebar, it will let you drag the undefined selection.


  2. Navigate the document left or right

    Hold down the Cmd key and scroll up or down allows you to navigate the document left or right. For example, hold down Cmd + scroll up will navigate to right.


  3. Browse the font list

    Put your cursor in the font list dropdown, you can browse the font list by pressing arrow Up or Down key.


  4. Scale font size

    Select the text that you want to scale the font size, press Cmd + Shift + > or < to increase / decrease font size.


  5. Zoom with the scroll wheel

    You can zoom in / out by Cmd + Opt + scroll up or down.


  6. Drag to adjust numberic value

    Mouseover the input box, hold down Cmd + drag left or right to increase / decrease. Hold down Cmd + Opt or Shift key and drag can change the value in decimal or 10 interval. This shortcut works in all dialog palettes.


  7. Scroll to adjust numeric value

    Put the cursor in the input box, scroll up or down to increase / decrease value. This shortcut works in all dialog palettes.


  8. Arrow up / down to adjust numeric value

    Put the cursor in the input box, press arrow Up or Down to increase / decrease. Hold down Shift and press arrow Up or Down will change value in 10 interval.


  9. Zoom to 100%

    Double click on the Zoom tool will zoom document to 100%.


  10. Collapse or expand all layer groups

    You can collapse or expand all root-level layer groups by holding down Cmd + click on the triangle icon. Hold down Cmd + Opt + click on the triangle icon will collapse or expand all level layer groups.


  11. Show / hide in a row

    If you need to show / hide more than one layers, instead of clicking one by one, you can click on the visibility icon and drag in a row.


  12. Hide other layers

    Hold down Opt + click on the visibility icon will hide all other layers.


  13. Navigate layer blending mode

    Shift + “-” or “+” key allows you to navigate through the blending mode dropdown.


  14. Set specific blending mode

    Opt + Shift + C, N, M, S, D? allows to set layer to specific blending mode.

    For examples:

    Normal = Opt + Shift + N

    Screen = Opt + Shift + S

    Multiply = Opt + Shift + M

    Color = Opt + Shift + C


  15. Lock layer transparency

    Press forward slash (“/”) to lock layer transparency.


  16. Load Channel selection

    You probably know that Cmd + number keys (1, 2, 3) will activate the channels in sequent. Press Cmd + Opt + number keys will load the selection. For example, press Cmd + Opt + 4 will load Alpha channel 1.


  17. Tool panels

    Press Tab to toggle tool panels.


  18. Precise cursor

    Caps lock will display tool cursor in precise mode.


  19. Navigate the tool list

    You can navigate through the tool list by pressing Shift + tool shorcut. For example: B = Brush tool, if you press Shift + B again, you will switch to Pencil tool.


  20. Increase / decrease brush size

    With the Brush tool selected, you can increase / decrease the brush size by pressing [ or ] key (square bracket key). Press Shift + [ or ] will increase / decrease brush hardness.


  21. Opacity

    You can set the layer opacity by pressing the number keys (ie. 1 = 10%, 2 = 20%?). When you have the brush tool selected, pressing the number keys will adjust the brush opacity.


  22. Duplicate layer

    There are several shortcuts to duplicate layers.

    1. You can hold down Cmd + Opt + drag to duplicate the active layer.

    2. Cmd + Opt + arrow keys (Up, Down, Left, Right).

    3. Cmd + J will duplicate the active layer in exact position.

    4. Hold down Opt + drag within the Layers palette can also duplicate layers.


  23. Copy visible and paste in a new layer

    Press Cmd + Opt + Shift + E will copy the visible layers and paste in a new layer.


  24. Change workspace background

    By default Photoshop use grey for the workspace background color. You can change that by:

    1. select your favorite color

    2. choose the Paint Bucket tool

    3. Hold down Shift + click on the working area (outside the document area)


  25. Fill background or foreground color

    Opt + Delete (Backspace) = fill the layer with foreground color.

    Cmd + Delete (Backspace) = fill the layer with background color


  26. Switch between document windows

    Ctrl + Tab will switch between document windows.


  27. Load layer transparent

    Cmd + click on the layer thumbnail will load its transparency.


  28. Scale proportionally from center

    When you are using the Marquee tools or Free Transform, hold down Opt + Shift + drag will scale proportionally from the center.


  29. Shortcut to Eyedropper

    If you have the Brush tool selected, hold down Opt key will quickly activate the Eyedropper tool. Hold down Opt + Shift will activate the Color Sampler Tool.


  30. Finally?

    Finally, if you want to check or set your own custom shortcuts, press Cmd + Opt + Shift + K will bring up the Keyboard Shortcuts panel.


Do you know more shortcuts?

Do you know more Photoshop shortcuts that are not listed in this article? Please post them in the comment form. Make sure they are “secret” (not documented in the Photoshop menus).