Tag Archives: Tips

Tips for Las Vegas Fun

A coworker who has never been to Vegas is going there this weekend, and he asked me what’s worth doing there. He didn’t want to sit at a slot machine all day. Having been there a few times, I put together my list. Maybe it’s worth sharing here too, so here is my Las Vegas list:


  • The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s is the advertised as the biggest and best spread on the strip.
  • Although the best meal I’ve had in Vegas was The Buffet at Wynn.
  • Del Frisco’s Double Eagle is a prime steakhouse that only has a few locations nationwide, one of them just off the strip in Vegas. I’ve eaten at a Del Frisco’s Double Eagle on three occasions and they were all excellent, memorable meals.
  • Similarly, some of the best regional fast food joints have Vegas locations: Smashburger, Shake Shack, Fatburger, In-N-Out, and Sprinkles. If you don’t have a Shake Shack in your town and you’ve never tried it, well then by all means get yourself to Shake Shack while in Vegas.
  • Peppermill. It’s a diner/coffeeshop that is open 24 hours and hasn’t changed decor in about 40 years, right down to the smoky mirrors in the waiting area. It’s the perfect place to get a cup of coffee and a stack of pancakes at 5 AM.


  • My favorite casino floors are Bellagio, Mirage, Paris, and New York New York. I really like New York New York.
  • My favorite sports books are at Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, MGM, and Caesars. The Mirage has the most comfortable chairs.
  • The Mirage has the volcano waterfall that erupts a couple times per hour. Its impressive at night. The Bellagio fountains are so great, but it gets crowded on the street. Treasure Island has these pirate ships outside the front entrance and the ships attack each other, but it was closed when I was there last year and don’t know if that’s reopening.


  • New York New York casino has a roller coaster, which is like $15 a person to ride. Mandalay Bay has a massive aquarium that’s like $20 a person. Stratosphere is the space needle looking casino on the far North end of the strip. It’s got a few thrill rides at the top of the tower that I am too chicken to attempt.
  • CSI The Experience is at the MGM. The “BODIES” exhibit was at the Luxor when I was there last. Star Trek: The Experience has unfortunately closed forever.
  • High Roller is the massive Ferris wheel. Each car holds 20-25 people and it gets you some 500 feet up, so pretty cool view.
  • Pole Position Raceway is the largest indoor go kart track in the country and this place is for real. Machine Guns Vegas is a gun range with AK47s and M4s, if you’re into that sort of thing.


  • Cirque du Soleil has several shows in Vegas, the two most well known (and longest lasting shows) are “Mystere” at Treasure Island and “O” at the Bellagio. I’ve seen them both and they are both worth all the money you want to spend on good seats. Not sure there’s such a thing as a bad Cirque du Soleil show.
  • David Copperfield, Penn and Teller, & Terry Fator all have their own theaters. A handful of Broadway musicals like Jersey Boys and Rock of Ages are always playing. If you go to see Carrottop please don’t tell me. The big thing in Vegas right now is, if you can believe it, Britney Spears, if you’re into that sort of thing. Here is a big list.  And on the strip are several fashion malls with places to buy discounted show tickets. Tix4Tonight is a name I remember of one of them. Basically last minute ticket brokers where you can get seats 50% of so.


  • The city runs a bus line called “The Duece”, it’s a double-decker bus that just runs up and down the strip 24/7. A 3 day pass is like $25 so if you want to hit up half a dozen places on the strip it’s the easiest way to get around.
  • I wasn’t even going to mention Hoover Dam, but it’s super impressive if you’ve never seen it.
  • Don’t try to be a morning person. The city wakes up at night and most of the casinos don’t even get buzzing until midnight.
  • And rule number 1 of Vegas is if someone tried to hand you something, for goodness sake don’t take it. It’s either a flyer for hookers or someone’s mix cd.

Automatically Add to iTunes

Today I discovered “Automatically Add to iTunes”, feature that’s existed for years now apparently. Here’s an article about it from iTunes 9 (seems so long ago).

The iTunes Media folder, along with the Music, TV Shows, and Audiobooks folders, also contains:

an “Automatically Add to iTunes” folder. When iTunes-compatible content is placed in this folder, iTunes analyzes it for compatibility and adds it to your iTunes library. While iTunes is open, files are immediately analyzed and added to your iTunes library when you add files to this folder. If you add files to this folder when iTunes is closed, iTunes analyzes and adds them the next time you open iTunes.

So my home PC is running Windows 7. I just added the Automatically Add to iTunes folder as a favorite in Windows Explorer, it shows up in the left navigation, and I just tried it out. 3 albums and an audiobook just added WITHOUT ANY ISSUE.

Now I’m going to create a Smart Playlist for recently added.

Tips for Seattle Fun

A while back, a friend of mine who had moved out to Seattle was pinging her friends on Facebook for fun things to do around the city. Having lived there 2 years, I put together my list of favorites in Seattle. I thought it’d be worth sharing. Here’s my Seattle list:

Salumi. It’s in the international district of downtown, just south of Pioneer Square. If you like a salami sandwich and tomato mozzarella salad, you’re definitely going to love this place. They are only open for lunch 4 days a week and there is always a line. The line out the door is well deserved. Worth the wait. Go with a group and all order different stuff so you can all share and try everything. My favorite sandwich there is a hot sandwich (most everything there is cold cuts of homemade salamis) that’s marinated pork with peppers. Get it to go and walk a block to the Waterfall Garden Park.

Red Mill. It’s a burger joint in Phinney, like 5 min north of Fremont. Some people think Dick’s is the best burger in Seattle, but I heartily disagree. And there is no disagreement about onion rings: hands down the best. There’s a starbucks next door and tables outside.

Happy T. The one I always went to was near 5th & Pike downtown. It’s just a little family owned chain, there’s half a dozen of them in town, they’ve got great gyozas and the most flavorful teriyaki sauce I’ve had. Get the Katsu Chicken. Get it.

JJ’s Fish House. Best clam chowder in Seattle. Amazing fish and chips. Their homemade tarter sauce won me over. They don’t use any relish it in, just mayo, dill, lemon zest; holy crap this is good. You’ll have to take the ferry over to get to Poulsbo, but you can make a day trip out of it. And you will want to make a day trip out of it, so you can also hit up…

Sluys’ Poulsbo Bakery. Accept no substitutes. I never cared for scones until I had one of theirs. I’ve not eaten a cinnamon roll since that I haven’t compared to theirs. It’s the single best pastry shop I’ve ever seen or heard of. You have got to hit this place up. Got to. No doubt.

Hale’s Ales Pub. If you’re a beer drinker and you haven’t yet gotten hold of the Hale’s Cream Ale, you definitely should. It’s in my top 5 lists of favorite beers. If you aren’t a beer drinker, it might turn you into one. Either way, don’t let anyhing stop you from visiting their restaurant. Great pub, very casual, some leather chairs and couches you can dine in, great variety on their menu, and good pizzas. It’s my favorite pub in Seattle (and I tried out plenty).

Guaymas Cantina. My favorite wet burrito. The Macho Nachos with Salmon are wonderful (bring a friend for that one, it’s a little big). They have traditional type stuff, but it’s a hip little place right next to the SAM. It’s like right across the street. My dad and I would meet there for dinner after work then walk down to a Mariner’s game. Speaking of Mariner’s Games…

Grounder’s Garlic Fries at Safeco Field (also Qwest Field). Gotta do it. If you go to a game, you need to try the garlic fries. At least once in your life, you need to eat them. Heck of a thing. So good. I also highly recommend the concession stand right behind home plate on the main level. They have sushi and chocolate covered strawberries. I know, right?

Google Chrome

I have been a loyal Firefox user for years. I discovered something a few weeks ago: it’s slow. Google Chrome is fast. Noticeably faster. So I decided to test it out for a week or so. I’m making the switch. Firefox Add-Ons opened up the way I used the Internet and while there aren’t as many Chrome Extensions, I think I can get by.

(and I’m done using bookmarklets. I had my facebook login compromised through a bookmarklet, never again.)

Firefox: Xmarks. Syncing bookmarks is  one of those things I never knew I needed until I had it.
Chrome: it supports Xmarks but I just use Google bookmark sync. Easy mode.

Firefox: Adblock Plus. Click here to take a survey, click here if you want to lose weight, click click click. All gone.
Chrome: AdThwart. Really it’s just as good. It tries to put an icon in the address bar, but you can hide it.

Firefox: IE Tab. Let’s me switch rendering engines to view pages with Internet Explorer specific pages inside of an IE window.
Chrome: IE Tab. Exact same.

Firefox: Personal Menu. Lets me hide the Menu bar and create a shortcut menu.
Chrome: does this by default.

Firefox: Download Statusbar. Instead of a popup window for downloads, it docks them on the status bar.
Chrome: does this by default.

Firefox: LogMeIn. Remote desktop access to my home computers.
Chrome: does this by default.

Firefox: Read It Later. gives me a sidebar with my RIL reading list, a button in the address bar to Add to Reading List or Mark As Read, a quick add option in Google Reader, and a context menu option to save a page or link to Reading List.
Chrome: Ugh. I dearly miss this add-on. Best I can do is create a bookmark for my reading list and load it in a new page. I use the Chrome extension Mark for Later, which gives me an address bar icon. No way to change context menu. I did add a Send To option in Google Reader, but it opens a new window. I miss the sidebar.

All in, I’m not going back to Firefox. Chrome is my new browser.

Calendar Verses Tasklist

Outlook 2007 has a “To-Do Bar” that shows a current month calendar,  the next several calendar appointments, and a list of active tasks. I’ve seen the To-Do bar used in lots of ways, but those who seem to get the most out of it have done the following things to tweak it:

  • Hide the “Date Navigator”. Just another word for “monthly calendar”, it doesn’t do anything at a glance that the calendar in the system tray won’t tell you. So free up the vertical screen real estate in the To-Do Bar and hide it.
  • Collapse them. Like the push-pin side menus of the Microsoft Development tools, you can collapse the To-Do Bar so it docks on the right hand side of the window. You can do the same thing to the folder view on Navigation Pane on the left if you want to reclaim even more horizontal screen real estate.
  • In the Appointments don’t show every appointment you have that day, bump up the number of appointments shown. If the Appointments show the same recurring weekly meeting twice, tick that number down. My sweet spot is 3-5 appointments shown.
  • Show the Task List. Customize the fields displayed. I’ve stripped down the original fields and just show Task Subject, Due Date, Category (if you aren’t using Categories, start!), & Importance. Then I sort by Flag Status.

One of the Project Managers I work with does not display Date Navigator or Task List, just Appointments. Considering he has 5 meetings a day, he can see his week at a glance. One of the support techs I work with doesn’t really ever attend meetings, so he has a huge tasks list. It’s like having Mail & Tasks open at the same time.

And when I move to Office 2010, I’ll have to reinvent my system all over again. Super.

Tweak Comcast DVR to Get 30 Second Skip

If you have a DVR from Comcast but miss the 30 skip feature from Tivo, here’s how to reprogram the remote control. Personally, I use the “HELP” button on the Comcast remote, which is in the middle just beneath the “INFO” button.

  1. Press the “Cable” button at the top of the remote to put it into Cable Box control mode.
  2. Press and hold the “Setup” button until the “Cable” button blinks twice.
  3. Type in the code 994. The “Cable” button will blink twice.
  4. Press (do not hold) the “Setup” button.
  5. Type in the code 00173.
  6. Press whatever button you want to map the 30-second skip command to (ex: A / Lock). The “Cable” button will blink twice if successful.

(via Geeky Mac)

Closing Single Tabs in Firefox

One of my biggest pet peeves in Firefox v. 3.5 and greater is that Firefox will not close the last tab. Closing the last tab closes Firefox. Well I prefer to keep Firefox always open, even if I don’t have a webpage open. So I found a workaround.

Firefox is so unbelievably configurable. You can use a userChrome.css file can override just about any setting with the right scripting. Along with the about:Config menu, I got this setting back. Here’s how:

If you have not already created a userChrome.css file in the Windows profile, go to this folder:

C:Documents and SettingsusernameApplication DataMozillaFirefoxProfilesstring.defaultchrome

Create a new file and name it userChrome.css. Open in notepad and copy the following three (3) lines.

/* * Do not remove the @namespace line -- it's required for correct functioning */
/* set default namespace to XUL */
@namespace url("http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul");

Or you can just use the existing file if it’s already there. In the userChrome.css file, copy the following lines into bottom of the file.

/* Add tab-close-button to last tab*/
.tabbrowser-tabs[closebuttons="alltabs"] >
 .tabbrowser-tab > .tab-close-button {
  display: -moz-box !important;
.tabbrowser-tabs:not([closebuttons="noclose"]):not([closebuttons="closeatend"]) >
 .tabbrowser-tab[selected="true"] > .tab-close-button {
  display: -moz-box !important;

Save the file and close.

Open Firefox, in the address bar type “about:config” and press Enter. It will probably give you a warning, just click the continue button and you will see a pages long configuration setting. Scroll down to the setting browser.tabs.closeWindowWithLastTab and change the value to FALSE. Then just close Firefox to restart it.

(via Mozilla Support Forums)

Convert to Number in Excel

Common problem: you’ve opened up an excel workbook and a column of numerical values is being stored as text. There’s that annoying green earmark in the top left of the cell. If you’ve got 3000 rows, you don’t want to step through each value and click on the context menu to convert it to number. That would take forever. here’s a workaround that takes less than a minute.

  1. Create a new column to the right of the column of data that is number stored as text.
  2. In this new column, add the number one (1) to every row. You can enter it in the first few rows, select those rows, then double click on the bottom right of the cell to extend the value to last row.
  3. Select the row you wish to convert to number and Copy to the clipboard.
  4. Select the top cell of the newly created row, right click and choose “Paste Special”
  5. In the Paste section, choose “All”. In the Operation section, choose “Multiply”. Click Ok.

Because it is performing a mathematical operation, it will convert the data type to number. Because it’s multiplying by one (1), it won’t modify the value. Pretty sweet.

(via Blue Moose Technology)