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1 January 2008
If you’re a fan of the command line on OS X, I suggest you take a look at Visor, originally from the good folks at Blacktree. It’s a quake-style terminal window that instantly appears; I’m finding it even more useful than Quicksilver while working on shell scripting.
(So much for ‘sticking with the defaults.’)
2 January 2008
From Damon Cortesi’s Twitter Stats script, here are my 2007 Twitter Stats:
The monthly stats tell a pretty straightforward tale: my usage took off when I integrated Twitter in with my home page, because I use it almost entirely to provide a recent look at what I’m doing. The dip in July is due to my experiment with putting those updates in Movable Type.
September and October’s declines were entirely work-related, and therefore will not be commented upon here.
Mondays are travel days, Thursdays are workdays for my wife, Saturdays are downtown days. Otherwise, I don’t know that I can read much into this chart.
Hourly trends represent an aggregate of computer and phone usage; I’d wager that more of the evening posts are from a computer, while the morning and afternoon are from my phone.
The James City Service Authority (JCSA) has created a new Rain Barrel Rebate Program to reinforce water conservation efforts. A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from your roof so it can be used to water lawns, gardens or indoor plants, fill birdbaths, and wash cars, boats, dogs or muddy shoes.
The JCSA will refund the purchase price of up to four rain barrels, with a maximum of $50 per rain barrel. Long range weather predictions call for a hot, dry growing season. By conserving water, you will save money, help ensure water availability for emergencies such as firefighting, reduce stormwater runoff to protect waterways, and promote wise water use and conservation.
For more information, click on “Rebates” at www.bewatersmart.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 253-6859.
5 January 2008
6 January 2008
A friend once said to me that Canons are the best cameras available designed by engineers, and that Nikons are the best cameras one can buy designed by photographers. There may well be some truth to this aphorism.
8 January 2008
But seriously. Compare the photo from the previous post, sent via email to Flickr:
to the same photo, sent via email, but compressed on Tumblr:
Guys? I really want to like Tumblr, but you’re not making this easy on me.…
10 January 2008
A friend of mine at work alerted me to a local musician — you may have heard of him — offering a free Christmas album from a recent performance.
12 January 2008
I don’t normally do self-portraits. Call it a character flaw, but I find the rest of the world far more interesting than the face I shave in the mirror every day.
This was a different day. This was the day I discovered that one of my immediate family members has cancer.
I was jovial and positive on the phone. But after I hung up, I grabbed my camera to go shoot outside in a desperate attempt to not face it.
It worked about as well as you think it would have. Nothing held my interest.
Finally, I just sat down in the middle of the woods, put the camera on continuous shooting, and let myself think.
This is not a good picture of me. It’s not going to win any awards, or convince people that I should quit my day job and become a model. I’m not happy, or positive, or any of the things people usually associate with me. The lighting is going as the sun sets.
But it’s an honest picture, one that captures a moment that I pray I never have to face again, but know that I will.
And honest pictures should be celebrated for what they are, not what you think they should be.
Just like life.
Her: So I’m going to ask you something, and I’m pretty sure that I’m opening up a can of worms that is better left unopened.
Me: <nervous now> Okay. Shoot.
Her: What does this “Digg It” button actually do?
Her: <raises eyebrow>
Me: I’m thinking.
Her: You look like I’ve asked another one of those questions.
Me: Well… yes. Why do you want to know?
Her: I see them everywhere, and they might be useful in promoting different Wikia sites.
Me: Okay. You know del.icio.us?
Her: Yes. You have an account there. It has the funny “dell-issy-ous” URL.
Me: Right. Ever actually visited it yourself?
Me: Okay. Well, it’s kinda like del.icio.us, and kinda like slashdot.
Her: <confused> Like, the current directory?
Me: No, the root directory.
Her: No, the current directory.
Me: No, the root directory.
Her: They may have changed something, but every Linux distribution I’ve used in the last ten years has the root directory at slash root.
Me: Right. But slash dot is the root directory, and dot slash is the current directory.
Her: No, slash root is the root directory.
Me: The directory at the top of the tree. The slash directory.
Her: The slash directory, not slash root?
Her: <calmly> Why didn’t you say that to begin with?
Me: MOVING ON, I‘m talking about the site, not the directory.
Her: Oh. Are they still around?
Me: Yes, but they’re about three weeks late with news, and overrun by freetards, so nobody reads them anymore.
Me: I can’t believe I just used a Fake Steve Jobsism.
Her: <delightedly> That’s that Apple guy!
Me: <Groans, buries face in hands>
Her: I’m sorry. But that’s so much fun to do to you.
Me: I know.
Her: Please, continue.
Me: I’m not sure that I want to.
Her: I’ll be good.
Me: I doubt that. Where was I?
Me: Right. So. Digg is a site like slashdot, where users vote for stories — “digging them” — to see what makes the front page. And then they bury stories once they become stale.
Me: So, it can drive traffic to your site very quickly if something gets popular, slashdotting it. There’s that term again.
Her: Got it.
Me: But, that traffic is mostly composed of hyperactive, attention deficit disorder fourteen year olds with civility problems.
<long period of silence>
Her: So, the “Digg It” button summons a horde of wiki vandals?
Me: Likely not your target market for quality contributors.
Her: I probably shouldn’t have asked.
Me: Can open, worms everywhere?
Her: You can’t really be rooting for the Giants.
Me: No, but I want them to win tomorrow.
Her: You have never, ever, in all the years I’ve known you, rooted against the Cowboys.
Me: That’s true. And I’ll certainly be rooting for T.O. and Romo and all the rest tomorrow. But I want the Giants to win for three reasons:
Her: I’ve got to hear this.
Me: First, they fought with honor against the Patriots.
Her: How very Klingon of you.
Me: Thanks. Second, Jerry Jones.
Her: Okay, you still hold a grudge there, got it.
Me: And third, because I want the Packers to have home field advantage next week, so they can go to the Super Bowl.
<brief moment of silence, watching the snow fall on Lambeau Field>
Her: That’s a good one.
Me: I thought so too.
15 January 2008
I turned to Merrystar tonight and told her about the latest entry in the Mac laptop line, the MacBook Air.
Her: How is it?
Me: Meh, skip it.
Her: <raises eyebrow>
Me: Get the new Toughbook instead, and travel with your iPhone.
Aside from the ability to run OSX, the MBAir is just not as good as the Panasonic W7, let alone the R8.. For pity’s sake, it’s a full pound heavier than the R8! Solid-state drive or not, that’s ludicrous!
(In other words, perfectly suited to its user.)
I also recognize that I could be falling into the feature comparison trap, so often seen with the iPhone. Simply comparing features often misses so much of the user experience that makes a device better to use. Maybe I’m missing that part of the MacBook Air’s appeal, where the multi-touch trackpad, combined with OS X, improves the laptop experience so much that it blows away other laptops, much like the iPhone blew away other phones. But I don’t think I am.
The Toughbook W series is seriously well designed. It’s sexy, it’s light, it’s tough as nails, it has all the normal ports, it has an optical drive… and it comes with three years of service, standard. The AirBook is sexier, skinny, and.. er, runs OSX. That’s it.
I had hoped that I’d be able to welcome the coming of the Apple subnotebook with something close to the excitement of the iPhone. And maybe this is a device that you have to see in person to truly appreciate — I hope that it is.
But for a personal purchase, I’ll skip the MacBook Air and move to a plain old MacBook when the time comes to retire my current rig.
Update 1/19/2008: I wrote a follow up to this piece, particularly on why the MacBook Air is decidedly not the right computer for Merrystar. After watching the videos on Apple’s site, however, I’m not as certain that it’s not the right computer for me.
I should probably avoid seeing one of these in person for a few months, eh?
16 January 2008
Those reasons? Compared to her current laptop, the MacBook Air:
- is heavier,
- has a bigger footprint,
- has a shorter battery life, and
- is more expensive.
And for her, these are critical requirements. So the MBA is a no-go.
The MacBook Air looks to be a great, small Mac. It may be the best little Mac ever, although I think the iPhone is strong competition for that title.
It is not, however, the best subcompact notebook available right now. The MacBook Air needs to shed some weight and stretch some battery life before it can claim that. And since I’m talking about an Ubuntu to OS X switch, yes, this matters quite a bit.
I am confident that the MacBook Air will improve. Solid state drives will get cheaper, faster, and bigger, components will improve, etc. — but it’s just not there yet. But once you remove the necessity of running OS X, the field opens up… and there are honestly better options out there right now.
If you want the lightest, smallest Mac laptop you can get, then obviously the Air is a great machine. The protests about sealed batteries and non-expandable drives are pretty silly and you should ignore them as such. You want the SSD? Don’t worry about the cost, just go and get it (and please provide benchmarks for the rest of us!)
But if you want something even smaller, and aren’t committed to OS X, then you should probably keep looking.
Let’s be rational. It’s not even remotely affordable, especially at the high end--the high end being defined by the option of a 64GB SSD. There aren’t a lot of subnotebooks in that category but, if you are contemplating buying a MacBook Air, you still owe it to your credit card limit to do some research.
17 January 2008
Having resisted the Office 2007 upgrade at work as long as possible, I have finally been dragged — kicking, screaming, cursing — into the latest circle of frustration.
I’m going to give Office 2007 a chance, but only because I have to to get my paycheck. This is not something I’d choose to use otherwise.
Doesn’t this worry Microsoft a wee bit? I guess not.
Jim hit me up on IM earlier today to tell me to take a deep breath, because Office 2007 is not the spawn of the devil.
He proceeded to enthusiastically enumerate the ways in which Excel 2007 is superior to its predecessor — so enthusiastically, in fact, that I gave in and just let my hate for the new look go. I may not like it — especially PowerPoint, argh — but I’ll give it some time, and see if it’s just the learning curve or actual flaws.
Mostly, he told me (without so many words) to go play in Excel, which I did, and honestly did make me happy.
(But I still don’t think the Ribbon is my Very Special Friend, Jim. I remain suspicious of the Ribbon’s intentions.)
20 January 2008
That can’t be good.
(This is for both my Tiger and Leopard external backups. Looks like “Ignore ownership on this volume” somehow got checked.)
Update 11:11pm: Found the bug that caused it in the first place. That’s the good news.
The other good news is that I can restore permissions to the Tiger backup with the next backup, which is currently running.
Bad news is that I’ll probably have to reinstall my test Leopard system on the external drive to fix it, but that’s less critical than having a bootable backup right now. (After I fix this one, I’ll retrieve the offsite one to see if that fixes it.)
Also, I don’t want to talk about the Green Bay game. That’s the last time I ever root for a team because of expediency. It backfired with Texas, and now it’s backfired with the Giants.
29 January 2008
31 January 2008
MarsEdit has quickly moved up the list of software that I use on my Mac that I can no longer really imagine working without. (Take note, weblog platform developers: support XML-RPC, or there will be trouble.)
I mention this because Shawn Blanc continues his excellent series of Mac Software Reviews with the story of MarsEdit: Helping the Personal Publishing Revolution, which is well worth your time if you have a Mac, a weblog, or both. (Jim, I’m looking at you, Scrivener’s not the only Mac software worth considering…)
One of the best things about Shawn’s review is that even though I’ve used (and loved) MarsEdit for months, I learned ways to make it even more useful to me. Not many reviews go into enough detail for software that I use on an almost-daily basis to do that.