Archives: June 2007
Fri 29 Jun 2007
Item 1: On Friday I was at a meeting at work. As is common, everybody had brought their laptops. There were more Mac OS machines around the table than there were Windows machines. I think that was a first for me in a corporate environment. From what I understand though, at least in the world of tech oriented companies, it is becoming much more common. Interesting.
Item 2: I have not yet seen my first iPhone in person. However, at 02:42 UTC today, 4 hours and 42 minutes after the iPhone first went on sale on the East Coast, and only 1 hour and 42 minutes after they went on sale here on the West Coast, I saw a couple with two iPhone bags while we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant for dinner. They were sitting at a counter near the window. Now, OK, this restaurant was less than a quarter mile from an Apple Store, so this shouldn't have been too surprising. I kept a close eye on the pair that was there with the two iPhone bags, but they never took their iPhones out of the bags, let alone the boxes within. How could they do that? If I'd waited in line for an iPhone today, I'd have that thing home, out of the box and activated as soon as humanly possible, not sit calmly having dinner while my new iPhones were still trapped in their boxes!
Item 3: On Friday Matt sent me an email noting: "wow... if you post something tomorrow (saturday) then it'll be the first month ever that you made a post every single day. good for you!" Yes. Indeed. Thank you for noticing. I have been trying to stick to one post a day. No more, no less. The last day I missed was May 8th. Of course, now that I have actually mentioned this, I'll be sure to miss a day any day now. Or maybe I'll start posting two some days. Either way, I'm likely to start breaking the pattern. But it has been a good run so far. I admit however that some days the posts have been rather weak, but hey, I posted something anyway!
Thu 28 Jun 2007
Yesterday I Was Puzzled
Wed 27 Jun 2007
DVD: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 2nd Season: Disk 4
So I realized that while I had been watching DVDs from the various Netflix queues we have set up (one for each of us, and one with old Doctor Who episodes) it had been a long time since I had watched one of the DVDs I actually own but have never watched. So I'm trying a new way of determining which DVDs I watch at what times, and it now includes DVDs in that category, and it was time for one. So, the next DVD "in line" in that category was the 4th disk of Buffy Season 2. (I watched Disk 3 in March of last year.)
This disk has four episodes on it, I'll say a little bit about each individually:
Surprise: This is the episode where Angel gets turned evil by his moment of happiness and all. This is one of the episodes I think I'd never actually seen on TV. Although I think maybe I'd seen the relevant parts of it. It was good to fill in that gap.
Innocence: This is the one where everybody actually realizes that Angel is now evil, and you see all their reactions to it. Kinda sad for Buffy. Poor Buffy. Oh well.
Phases: Now Oz turns into a werewolf. Cause of course Willow can't have a normal boyfriend. Of course, the most striking thing looking at it now is just how bad the werewolf costume was. It was almost Doctor Who quality (old Doctor Who that is).
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered: Xander causes a spell to be cast that makes all women (except Cordelia) want him and then Buffy gets turned into a rat. I actually found this one to be very amusing. It was the comedy of the four. I laughed.
Anyway, it was an OK four episodes, but not thrilling. Even though I'm not sure which of these episodes I'd seen before and which I hadn't there was a familiar feel to them... rather than the fresh feel you get when watching something for the first time.
But they were OK.
Tue 26 Jun 2007
iPhone reviews are starting to come in:
They all pretty positive, but do point out a few flaws. (There is no way to cut and paste? WTF?)
One thing that would be critical to me that I haven't seen yet is the ability to file email messages into folders after having read them / answered them / whatever you are going to do with them. All of the videos on the iPhone site
show a lot of stuff that is super cool and makes any gadget hound drool... but it doesn't show that detail. I'm sure I'll hear plenty more about it after it starts hitting the street at 22 UTC on Friday.
So far the only ons with reviews are the big old media tech writers. I'll be interested to see what the tech bloggers start saying when they examine every single tiny detail of the thing.
One thing I am noticing every time I see more about this is that as much as this blows away everything else out there in terms of niceness and slickness, what starts glaring at you after you watch it for a bit is what isn't there... and you know COULD be there... full iChat support including audio and video (if only the camera was pointed the other direction)... GPS... open app development to get all kinds of other neat stuff on it... direct connect to iTunes music store over the phone... direct upload of video and audio and pictures to the web in a tightly integrated way... etc, etc. And of course full 3G (or better) support rather than this EDGE stuff.
Some of this I'm sure is just in the "not quite ready, just wait for version 2.0" stuff. Other pieces of it are probably AT&T saying "no, you can't do that on our network".
But if the initial reviews are any indication, this thing is indeed going to be a hit... if it does indeed sell a bundle then Apple will be able to dictate the terms for the next version and add more and more capabilities. Of course, if it is a flop... that would be different.
We shall see.
And I want my third party apps. I want a viewer for my SlingPlayer
for the thing for instance.
I want one of these with a GPS and full command line access to everything so I can set it to automatically upload my location somewhere every five minutes and I can add a live updating google map of where I am and where I have been the last few days to my website. :-)
Well, because of our current lock in with Sprint, plus the fact that there are just tons of other priorities and I really can't justify it... I won't even be thinking about it for real until next year sometime. So bring on iPhone 2.0!
Mon 25 Jun 2007
Robert G Brandon
It has been a long time, way too long, since I posted an ancestor. Recently I have been spending more time working on Amy's ancestors as I have a big stack of materials from Brandy's mom and one of Brandy's cousins on their family that I'm slowly going through. I'd been going through those as a priority. But it had been long enough since I'd worked on my own that I'm switching to a mode where I'll alternate a bit between mine and Amy's. In any case, time for another of my ancestors.
This is #24 in my ahnentafel. That means my mother's father's father's father Robert G Brandon. This is another ancestor I do not have a huge amount of information about at the moment, although I suspect there is more in the files of various relatives I just haven't gotten copies of yet.
He was born in 1845. He was a farmer in Ohio most of his life. He eventually retired to the small town of Versailles, Ohio and died there in 1912. He lived in Darke County, Ohio all his life. He married Mary Ann Mendenhall and depending on the source you believe, they had either 10 or 11 children, 7 of which lived to adulthood. David Clement Brandon, my ancestor, was their 3rd child.
And that is about all I know from a biographical perspective. For more details, click through to his Abulwiki page.
Sun 24 Jun 2007
Sat 23 Jun 2007
Back in 2004 I posted about the word "antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian" which means, roughly, "a person who hates long words". I was advocating that the word needed to be used a lot more than it is. Back at that time, a Google search would not even return a single result. That needed to be changed.
Following the link from the thumbnail above you will get to the page where I am now tracking the success (or failure) of my campaign to popularize the word.
The word is not doing as well as I would like. So once again I appeal to all my readers... please use this word as often as possible, both in daily conversation and on the web.
Thu 21 Jun 2007
Brandy and Amy are quite a pair. Over the winter Brandy misplaced a foot going down some stairs and was in a walking brace thing and crutches for weeks. In April Amy forgot to put her feet on the ground before the top of her got off the couch, and her hand was in a brace for several weeks.
Earlier this week Amy was coming up the stairs and did something to her toe. When Brandy and Amy went to the Doctor the Doctor suggested that they order some crutches for Amy. "No, that's OK, we already have two pair at home."
And thus, now it is Amy's turn to be on crutches for a couple weeks probably.
Nothing major, but a "just stay off your foot for a little while" sort of thing. Nice.
I just don't quite understand. The one time I hurt myself badly enough that I probably SHOULD have had my arm in a sling (although I didn't, and so it still hurts to this day years later) I was at least attempting (badly) to ski down an icy slope that was a bit too steep for my skill level (or lack thereof). These two seem to be able to break bones just walking on a flat surface.
Just as long as I don't get a knock on the door from social services. I'm not doing it! I'm not beating up my family! I swear! They are just klutzes! :-)
Wed 20 Jun 2007
On Monday Amy gave me an iPod Shuffle for a father's day present. It says "#1 Dad You Are" on the back (intentionally Yoda style).
I'd been wanting one of these for a long time, but had been holding off cause I didn't really have a good reason for one. And yes, I'd been more wanting one of these than a full iPod, although I guess that would be nice in a different way. But I almost always listen in shuffle mode, and I don't tend to have much in terms of video content on iTunes, so this is perfect.
I need to have a little AppleScript run as an hourly cron to make sure that Podcasts get included in the shuffling though, because by default they are not, and Apple has no preference to change that.
How I listen almost all of the time these days, both on my computer and on the new shuffle is as follows.
I have a smart playlist containing the 10% of my music library which has been listened to the fewest number of times. I have another smart playlist of podcasts which have not yet been listened to. I have a third smart playlist which combines those two playlists.
When on the computer, I always Party Shuffle out of that third playlist.
And I autofill the new shuffle out of that same playlist.
Only (very minor) annoyances so far... I have to manually press the "Autofill" button to refresh the iPod shuffle instead of it doing it on its own as long as it is docked. Also, when you redock the shuffle after having listened to it all day, the "last played" date for all the songs you listened to is time stamped to when you sync, not to when the songs were played. I guess unlike full size iPods the shuffles do not have internal clocks, which kind of sucks. But I guess it isn't too bad.
Then finally, less than 30 hours after I got the thing, I had it plugged into my car with a cassette adapter, but still clipped to my belt. Of course when I got out of the car it went flying. And then I did the exact same thing again about 3 hours later. So the poor thing already has a bunch of dents and bruises. You can see several of the blemishes in the picture above. I was very upset about that. I like my toys all pristine and shiny, but I can never manage to keep them that way very long.
But I am still loving it. Using it in the car to and from work every day, and also at work at my desk occasionally. It is looking like I'm averaging listening to about 20-25 tracks a day off the shuffle.
Color Bird Thing
Mon 18 Jun 2007
A Bird in the Head
Early on Sunday while I was in the office I heard a cry from the other room. "Sam, I need you!" I rush out. What is going on? Birds in the living room. Finches or sparrows or something.
Two had flown in through the open sliding door to our patio. We've been keeping it open when it is nice out and we are home. Unfortunately one of the birds had flown straight through the house and attempted to go out the other side, hitting a window full force and breaking his neck instantly.
But the second bird, seeing what had happened to his friend that he was chasing, had turned aside and was now flying around the living room. We got the dog downstairs. We put the curtains and such in front of all the remaining open windows, and started trying to help the bird find the way out. After sitting in a couple of different places he had gone to hide above a cupboard in the kitchen.
I got up on a chair to try to catch him. I almost had him, I had him mostly in my hand and was about to close around him when he flew again. In a big circle around the kitchen... then he landed on my head.
"OK, that'll do" I said and slowly got off the chair and walked toward the back door. He just stayed there on my head. I made it to the patio with the bird still sitting on my head. Obviously a very scared little bird.
He stayed on my head about a minute. Long enough for Brandy to get her cellphone and snap a couple of pictures. Then he realized that we were outside again and flew off to a nearby tree.
I'm sorry only one made it. :-( But at least we were able to help this one a bit.
And he sat on my head!
Sun 17 Jun 2007
Curmudgeon's Corner 2007-06-17
The third Curmudgeon's Corner of 2007 was released late yesterday. 14 minutes this time, and once again I am solo. Ivan had some sort of wedding to attend or some such. Excuses, excuses.
The title of this episode is "Responses to Listeners" as most of the episode is responding to feedback I got after last week's episode. Topics this time:
- Responses to Kids and Computers
- Roaming Distance for Kids
- More Poetry Talk
Enjoy. And as usual, I look forward to feedback from our three listeners. If you have suggestions for topics or anything else, just let me know. The last two episodes have had some similar topics. I'm looking to move on to some other things next week.
Podcast XML Feed
1-Click Subscribe in iTunes
Sat 16 Jun 2007
Cinema: Nancy Drew
Early today the three of us went to see Nancy Drew. It was Amy's choice for a movie to celebrate her grades which had come in a few days earlier. She'd had a significant "dip" in her grades between 1st trimester and 2nd trimester of 6th grade. But for 3rd she had worked hard and brought the grades up considerably, even surpassing her 1st trimester grades. So we're back on the right trend again, as long as first trimester of 7th grade is even better.
Anyway, this Nancy Drew movie is obviously based on the Nancy Drew book series which started in 1930 with "The Secret of the Old Clock" up to the 175th book in the series Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland published in 2003. I must admit to not having read any of the books in this series, although of course Nancy is an iconic character who I've heard about since childhood.
Bottom line, I liked the movie. It was a lot of fun. It was set in present day, but with a Nancy Drew who dressed and behaved in stereotypical 1950's ways (um, but with a laptop and iPod) and drove a 1940's era car and was dealing with a mystery who's primary events took place in late 1970's / early 80's Hollywood but were styled as if they were 1930's Hollywood. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the decades.
There was no semblance of realism of course. The villains were appropriately stupid in Scooby Doo cartoon fashion. And there were plenty of hidden passages and flashlights and such. And of course an explosion and a car chase. None believable in the slightest, but they were not supposed to be.
The whole thing was just funny and cute. A nice little weekend popcorn movie for the family. Probably won't remember it too much a week from now, but not every movie needs to have a profound effect. Sometimes they can just be fun.
Of course, it was opening weekend and there were less than 10 people in the theater watching this movie. So chances are nobody else will remember this movie in a week either.
Fri 15 Jun 2007
This week I am trying to be good. Brandy is on a wider "healthy food" campaign. But my focus is on trying to do just one thing: See how long I can avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup. I started trying on Monday. Apparently I probably failed, because someone at work brought in donuts, and I had, um, a few, without checking the ingredients, and I gather there is a good chance they had HFCS.
Tuesday onward I have been good though. I've been reading ingredients on stuff I buy for snacks, and avoiding the ones with the corn syrup. And I've basically been skipping things with no visible lists of ingredients, "just in case". Although I have somewhat been assuming that if I order the roast beef and such at the cafeteria, it doesn't have HFCS.
But let me tell you, this SUCKS. All the good stuff has HFCS. For me it basically means no soda, cause I think the Diet stuff is foul. The sweeteners they use there are just as bad or worse. But it isn't like cutting out soda isn't good for me anyway.
I've been eating stuff I probably wouldn't otherwise. It is annoying, but so far (since Tuesday at least) I have stuck to it. Not sure how long it will last, but I'll go as long as I can!
Thu 14 Jun 2007
Tue 12 Jun 2007
On Sunday when I was getting the mail, I noticed that about 15 feet away this black dog was wandering, and that he had no collar or tags. I called out to him, and he came to me wagging his tail and eager to be petted. He then followed me back to our front door when I told him too. Brandy got a leash on him and we sat on the porch with him for a bit hoping his owners would come by.
After about half an hour when nobody came by, we decided to let the dog lead us. We told him to take us "home" as Brandy and I walked with him. He took a right from our house. Out to the bigger street. Another right. Then after a bit onto a path through a little park, then to another street. Then quite a way down that street. Then a right for a ways. Then before long another right. We were now after taking a big long loop heading back to our own house.
Right when we turned a corner so we could see our house in the distance he started walking faster and faster. And right up to the front door of a house about six or seven houses over from ours to the LEFT.
I knocked on the door and his people answered and gladly took him in when I said "Is he yours?". He'd gotten out from the back yard and I don't think they had realized he was missing yet.
Of course, when we'd said "take us home" he COULD have just turned left and been there in seconds. But instead he took us for a nice walk first. But he was home.
Good. Cause I'm pretty sure I'm not up for two dogs. And I'm pretty sure it would have ended up that way if we hadn't found his home. :-)
I forgot to ask his name though.
Mon 11 Jun 2007
Leopard and Stuff
I'd actually considered not posting about the WWDC keynote because it was definitely not as much as hoped for. No new hardware. The "top secret features" turned out to be evolutionary, not revolutionary, and most of the features that were shown were actually ones that had been shown before.
Having said that, it is worth looking at all the Demo videos at the link above. There *is* some pretty cool stuff in there. And I'll have it installed on my Mac the day it comes out.
I will do a couple quick notes on Leopard (and stuff) in the wake of the keynote:
- Desktop: Some of this looks like it could be good. But it is in the class of the kind of thing I can' really give a good opinion on until I get to try it.
- Finder: This should be good. I like some of these enhancements. And while I have not yet even one single time used cover flow in iTunes (other than to check it out when it first came out) I could see myself using it in the finder.
- Quick Look: This should be very good. It seems like one of those, of course it should do that, sorts of things.
- Time Machine: By far the feature I want the most. I live in perpetual fear of losing my data. I run automated backup software every night. This should take it to the next level. They also noted that you will be able to hook up a large drive on the network and then have multiple Macs back up to it. As we are likely to have a second Mac in the house later this year, I'll have to decide if I want a separate backup drive on each, or a big one for the house. I'm guessing network speeds will still be prohibitive to do remote backup over the internet to a drive at my mom's house or something... but maybe in a few years.
- Spaces: I can certainly see the appeal in theory, but I'm not sure how much I'd actually use it.
- Mail: Graphical stationary templates? Oh no, please no. I really don't need that. Notes and To Do lists? Hmmm... I use other things for that right now. But I admit I often email myself to do's and use my inbox to keep track of them. Perhaps I'll give it a shot. RSS feeds in mail? Maybe. I'll check it out. I've never gotten into the habit of reading my favorite sites by RSS rather than actually going there. I actually LIKE going to the websites themselves. But one again, I'll try it.
- iChat: Most of the new features are aimed at doing the "fun" sort of things. I really can't see myself doing them more than once. Amy? I could see her doing them... except all her friends use Skype for IM, not AIM, and as far as I know none have video capability yet. But we shall see. The Demo made me want to slap the guy who was showing the features. Bleh. There are some other features that will be potentially usable though, the document sharing and such. But those are more business useful, and Macs still are not very strong in that market.
- Other: I will use the web clipping dashboard thing a LOT. Safari on Windows? We'll see how that goes. Parental Controls? We'll check it out. Boot Camp: I'm unlikely to ever use it. And if I have that need, I see myself going the Parallels route instead. iPhone Apps as Web 2.0 apps? That is lame. You can do a lot that way, but I don't believe it covers all cases. If the iPhone really is OS X under the hood, you can't fully exploit it unless you let people develop for it. And for that matter, I want terminal and the ability to get at the internals just like I can on my Mac if I want to. It will be interesting to see what happens after launch. Do I still want an iPhone? Yeah. But I'll almost certainly be waiting for Rev 2 in a year or so. (Of course, in all honesty, it is because of being locked into my Sprint contract for awhile and the cost of switching... not the thing with the apps. :-)
OK. That's if for WWDC.
Oh yeah, you can watch the whole keynote here
. Or at least you will be able to after every geek on the internet stops trying to watch it at the same time. It was unwatchable when I tried about an hour ago.
Sun 10 Jun 2007
Curmudgeon's Corner 2007-06-10
The second episode of Curmudgeon's Corner for 2007 was released yesterday. This time it is 13 minutes long.
For the second episode, Sam goes solo and talks about:
- Tuning out to Political Talk
- Father's Day
- Kids and Computers
- A Poem
If you have not subscribed and wish to, click on the icon below to automatically subscribe in iTunes.
For the moment the podcast is distributed only in m4a format, which pretty much means you need iTunes (or an iPod) to play it. If there is demand for a non-iTunes/iPod version, I might consider it. Let me know.
Sat 09 Jun 2007
Pingbacks and Trackbacks
I've removed both pingbacks and trackbacks from this blog as of a few minutes ago, as they were invariably just being filled by spammers, and I don't have the time or desire to go through looking for that and removing it. I think the cases of those features ever being used legitimately were few and far between if ever... so nobody should really miss this.
Fri 08 Jun 2007
Another Grade Gone By
As of the end of school yesterday, Amy is now a 7th Grader.
Leaf on the Wind
Wed 06 Jun 2007
Another Step Away
As of Tuesday I no longer have a Florida driver's license. Took me long enough I guess. I have been physically primarily in Washington for 17 months. My mailing address has been Washington for 10 months. And I sold my house in Florida 8 months ago. So it is about time. Of course, that is MUCH better than the 3 or so years it took me to get a New Jersey license when I moved from Virginia. Oops.
Of course, I still have Florida plates on my car. I think those are the last remnants of Florida. I guess I'll aim at getting those switched over by the end of the year. :-)
Amy cut almost all of her previously pretty long hair off yesterday, donating what was cut off to one of those organizations that makes wigs for cancer patients and others who need them. Good for her. And now, a new radically different look for the summer...
Mon 04 Jun 2007
Cultural World Map
I can't speak for the methodology or validity under scrutiny of the chart above, but I love these sorts of classifications and mappings.
Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map of the World
(Ronald Inglehart, World Values Survey)
This map reflects the fact that a large number of basic values are closely correlated; they can be depicted in just major two dimensions of cross-cultural variation.
The World Values Surveys were designed to provide a comprehensive measurement of all major areas of human concern, from religion to politics to economic and social life and two dimensions dominate the picture: (1) Traditional/ Secular-rational and (2) Survival/Self-expression values. These two dimensions explain more than 70 percent of the cross-national variance in a factor analysis of ten indicators-and each of these dimensions is strongly correlated with scores of other important orientations.
There are a lot of additional charts here
This reminds me very much of the Nolan Chart
and other similar charts and classifications
except applied at a national scale rather than an individual scale.
Anyway, very cool map. I like it.
I'm thinking though this might mean that I should move to Sweden.
Sun 03 Jun 2007
Cinema: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Yesterday I was going to stay home working on things that need to get done, but instead I got talked into going to a movie along with Amy, a friend of Amy's from school and that friend's parents. The choice was the pirate movie.
My initial reaction: Long
It seemed like a very long movie. Looking it up, it was 167 minutes. Which indeed is pretty long. But there are some long movies that leave you glad for every minute. This is not one of those movies. For quite a lot of it I kept thinking "is it over yet?" Some parts just dragged. Some parts were all action and fighting and such, but I also generally have enough of those sorts of things in a couple minutes. There were enough betrayals and reversals and such to keep it confusing most of the time as well.
There were certainly decent bits of it. I just feel like it could have been a lot better if they cut out about a quarter of it and just tightened it up a lot. But then, I've never been super into these Pirate movies. They are OK, but nothing I would normally go out of my way for. I most likely would have skipped it entirely if the others hadn't wanted to go. But once I knew they were going, I also didn't want to stay home and miss it. :-)
Curmudgeon's Corner Returns
More than a decade ago... actually a decent bit more than a decade ago, Ivan and I did a show on WRCT Radio in Pittsburgh which we called Curmudgeon's Corner. At various times in the history of the show other folks like Rebecca and Al and Greg and Chris would have major parts either on this show or on other talk shows on WRCT.
Other shows would have other foci, but Curmudgeon's Corner was basically your typical political talk show. People with opinions (but not necessarily deep knowledge) mouthing off on the issues of the day. Occasionally we'd have guests and interviews of various sorts. Occasionally we'd have special topics. But most of the time, we'd just talk about our thoughts about whatever was in the news that week.
Well, Ivan and I both missed doing it. It was a lot of fun. Sometime in early 2005 Ivan and I spoke about reviving the show as a Podcast. But my computer at the time was underpowered for audio editing and there was a lot of other things going on that kept it on the back burner. In 2006 I got a computer up for the task, but again, lots of things going on, and it was not top of mind.
But a little over a week ago, Ivan emailed me and said "Hey, weren't we going to do the show again?". And so... here we go.
This morning Ivan and I recorded the first episode of Curmudgeon's Corner since early 1995 or so, right before I left Pittsburgh and headed out to start a new life in DC... then Virginia... then New Jersey... then Pennsylvania again... then Florida... and now Washington. :-) The original shows were hour long shows. We're now aiming at a bit shorter than that. I know my attention span balks at all but the best podcasts that top 30 minutes, so I didn't want to go there. The first episode clocks in at just over 20 minutes.
We'd planned an agenda that was mostly politics, but at the last minute switched and it ended up being mostly tech. But that's fine. Whatever is inspiring at the time. I think we are going to try to do these weekly for awhile. We don't actually expect any listeners, but it is fun just to do, even if nobody listens.
In any case, it is all set up as a nice little podcast, so here are the links:
Podcast XML Feed
1-Click Subscribe in iTunes
For the first episode, the description is:
Ivan and Sam talk about:
- The Return of Curmudgeon's Corner
- The Bill Gates and Steve Jobs show
- Google's Prospects
- Hosted vs Desktop
- Personal Mail on Corporate Systems
If we make it to 5 episodes, I'll add some permanent stuff on the site about it, but for now, this post will do.
Fri 01 Jun 2007
All Hands 5
This time at the All Hands they had a rock concert.
Thu 31 May 2007