I now live in Bellingham, which is 85 miles north of Seattle and about 10 miles from the Canadian border. Yesterday a strong storm arrived with 80 plus miles per hour winds. It was not long before the power was out in the entire area. During the day I kept busy by looking up phone numbers on my Zire 72 PDA and catching up with friends and family. Night starts around 4:20 this far north so I was soon in pitch black. I went back to Zire and started playing games. I started with Bejeweled, then moved on to Bubble Ship Boy, and ended my last game playing Eric Snider’s Solitaire. With my battery wearing down and still hours to go before I would be tired I opened eReader and went down my list of several books I had recently loaded. Tarzan Lord of the Jungle quickly popped to the top of my list. I made myself comfortable on my bed and spend the next three hours reading Tarzan on my Palm. With about 20% battery left, I decided it was time to stop and conserve what was remaining. I opened World Clock and set the alarm for an early morning rise and went to bed (after brushing my teeth). Power was back on by morning, but with my Palm I barely missed a beat.

I really enjoy blogging. It gives me a chance to discuss technology topics that interest me and to give insight into developing casual games. I use Google’s Blogger because it is easy to use and free. I tried several of the paid Blogger services and although they were all feature rich, they were much more than what I needed. However, Google’s Blogger had several frustrating shortcomings. The most important was the lack of customization tools. You either had to stick to the basics or jump into HTML editing, there was no in between.

The new Beta Blogger is very nice. Many of the basic features that I had to add manually in the HTML editing view have a pretty good, although not perfect, interface. Bloggers can now easily add links, pictures, lists, change colors, rearrange the screen, and spell check much easier and faster. My Blog already look better. If you don’t already have a Blog, I encourage you to start one today with Google Blogger.

Recently we’ve had an interesting problem, signing. What is signing? It is adding a verified certificate to your program which tells the smartphone that the application can be trusted. If you want your Windows Mobile application to install onto a smartphone, such as a Treo without an error message declaring your application as untrustworthy you will need to buy a certificate. In theory, the certificate is to protect the consumer from bad manufacturers.

I do not have any statistics on how many phone users have purchases games or other applications for their smartphones and the program destroyed their phone or stole data, or did some other unmentionable act. If you have or know of someone who’s phone was attacked please let me know as I would love to talk with them.

Overall, I am not happy about having to purchase a certificate to remove, in my opinion, an unnecessary message. I could say more about this topic, but this blog entry at Craig Stuntz’s Weblog says it all. What is interesting about all of this, is that none of this is required for Palm OS smartphones.

In addition to being President of Smart Box Design, I am also responsible for maintaining the Web site. After a long day, I find it relaxing to tweak the pages and try out new ideas.

I had not checked for broken links in a bit and being unsatisfied with my current tools I went searching on the Web to find something new. The FREE program Xenu quickly rose to the top of my list. It is a small and specific tool only designed to check links. I downloaded and installed it and to my surprise it worked great. Why was I surprised? Free programs rarely work as advertised.

Xenu quickly checks each page and displays if each link is successfully linking to another HTML page. To my surprise there were over 15 broken links. I quickly discovered some of them were from graphics, while others were links to reviews on external sites, but still, I had a few broken links that needed my attention.

Xenu provides a very long and detailed list on all the links of the web site entered in HTML form. The program will even post the results to your Web site if you have the correct FTP information. After about 40 minutes I made the corrections and retested.

If you are looking for a free and simple broken link checker I highly recommend Xenu.

Britney Spears should play Farkle Dice as I think it would improve her life immensely. Although Farkle Dice is primarily designed and developed for entertainment purposes it has a lot of education built in. These Farkle Educational Features can help her.

Educational Feature 1 – Statistics / Play the Odds
Each roll has fewer and fewer dice which decreases the odds of a successful combination. For example, if you are trying to get the 2 to appear, rolling 5 dice has better odds then just rolling 1. If Britney Spears played Farkle Dice and compared it to her marriage she would have learned early on what the odds are for success. She could have assigned each dice side with a trait, such as, happy, sad, anger, bliss, divorce, envy, and jelousy. Then roll the dice to see which ones are coming up more often. If divorce is appearing often, perhaps it would have been better not to marry. But perhaps she was hoping to beat the odds.

Educational Feature 2 – Risk Management
Each roll risks all points earned. The player needs to weigh the risks of earning more points to getting a bad roll. A losing roll results in all points earned being lost for that round. When Britney Spears chose a husband she needed to apply this lesson as each husband is like a roll, should she keep him or roll again? It appears this time she should have rolled again.

Educational Feature 3 – Others Influence Behavior
In Farkle Dice, if another player is way ahead or way behind you behave differently. If you are behind, you need to take more chances or you may never catch up and win, if ahead you can take it easy. Britney Spears should have compared her success with her husbands. Since his career was so far in the rear she could have predicted that he would start taking chances to catch up with her success.

I do wish the best for Britney Spears. By all accounts she appears to be a very hard worker.

When you are playing Farkle Dice, remember these three educational lessons and try to apply them to your life at work or at home. Play the odds, take risks, and remember how your life influences others. But most of all, remember that life is a game to be enjoyed.