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This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Chicago and taking in its history, beauty, and humidity. I also got the chance to take in one of their best exports…comedy.

The Second City is a 50 year old improv and sketch comedy troupe that has been graduating some of the funniest minds in the country. Their list of alumni include the likes of Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Steve Carell. It’s no surprise then that I was literally falling out of my seat laughing during the show.

“We’re All In This Together” is the 36th revue by The Second City e.t.c, which is the side stage troupe at the theatre. As the comedians even mention in the opening number of the show, it is what the audience chooses to go see when the main stage sells out (which seems to be quite often). However, the quality of these comedians are still top notch and I didn’t even realize there was a main stage until after it was mentioned in the show.

I came in expecting a pure improv show, but it turns out their shows are mostly scripted except for a few parts which are improvised. However, even the scripted portions are based in improv. Part of their process in developing a show is to improvise scenes and put what works into the actual show. This provides a higher quality production as it avoids many of the dead scenes that can occur in a pure improv show.

The layout of the theatre just adds to the ambience of being “in this room together”. It is a small black box theatre reminiscent of small college productions. There are small tables every few seats to give it a cabaret feel and waiters to get you drunk before the show starts.

It’s difficult to give a full review to a show that incorporates improv as some of the best moments will change from night to night. What I can say is that the comedians were skillful enough to make me question when some scenes were improv and when they were scripted. They hit all the right notes in keeping me laughing and there was only one scene that I considered dead (mostly because I didn’t get the reference). I highly recommend checking out The Second City if you are ever in Chicago as it is an affordable way to experience Chicago theatre and have a good time.

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I’m back!

July 16, 2012

Alright, so it’s been 2 years since my last post and I don’t have an excuse about why I haven’t been posting in that time. A lot has happened since then with the highlights being that I graduated CMU with my M.S. in materials science, traveled to eastern europe, Shanghai, Chicago, and Paris, joined and left IBM, and will now be pursuing my second M.S., this time in electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech this fall.

I would guess that the most common post on blogs is about the authors promising to post more and being diligent about it. Let this post be yet another one to throw into that statistic. The blog is still directionless, but I will throw out various articles and see where it leads me.

For starters, you’ll be seeing a post shortly (notice how I didn’t give myself a deadline 🙂 ) about an Arduino project I recently did. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

So, the other day I ran across a very neat website that does something I’ve been wanting to do for many many years. How many of you have wanted to send a fax, but didn’t have a fax machine to send it with? Why would you have a fax machine? The technology is older than dinosaurs. Unfortunately, many companies and universities still require you to fax documents over and won’t accept anything over email. This is where FaxZero comes in.

Now some might say that eFax already provides this service and yes, it does. However, eFax requires a monthly subscription in order to use that service. FaxZero, on the other hand, is either free or pay-per-fax (via PayPal).

The way it works is that you can upload a document (.pdf, .doc, .docx, .rtf), enter in a destination phone number (international costs a little bit more), and send your document. You’ll receive an email confirming that you’re a legitimate user and by clicking the link in the email, the fax process will begin.

You can send your fax for free as long as your document is less than 3 pages long and you can send up to 2 free faxes a day. This fax will also sent with a cover page that has a big FaxZero logo on it, something they call as their “ad”. If you need to send more pages per document, you can pay $1.99 for the fax and the big logo will be removed or you can remove the cover page altogether.

If you’re wondering if this is legitimate, then there’s no need to worry. Not only is it BBB accredited, but I tried the free fax system myself and it worked like a charm. The quality is as good as regular fax quality and the cover page with the “ad” isn’t very obtrusive either.

The only issue I would say I have with it is that none of the pages that got faxed, including the cover page, mentioned how many pages were in the fax. This could be an issue with larger faxes and making sure the recipient gets everything.