Baby Thoughts

While sitting at my computer desk watching my son play the keyboard-o-rama Elmo game, I started pondering what really must go through his head.

Is it possible to have complex thoughts without language? It must be; people who are born deaf and blind, like Helen Keller, obviously still have complex thoughts, but for lack of a better way of saying it, what’s it like thinking them?

When I think, it seems like a little voice in my head actually saying what I’m thinking– is that only when I’m consciously and deliberately thinking? Theres no way for me to know since I cant tell what my thoughts are if theyre not conscious. Do people without language think only visually or emotionally? How do they perceive the world around them where things dont have names?

Language has become such an integral part of who I am, I cant imagine who I would be without it. Despite that, I’d really like to know–I think it could open up a new level of creativity. Imagine graphic design where your thoughts were automatically visual rather than words. Solving the problem of conveying complex ideas graphically would be second nature… of course, how would you know what you were supposed to be desiging unless someone told you?

Proof that Even Bill Gates Likes Macs

Ok, so I’m making a leap of logic, but here’s how I arrived at that conclusion….
Corbis, a company owned by Bill Gates, is having a contest where the prizes are Apple Macintosh G5 computers.

Either Bill Gates runs this company in a very hands-off way and is not aware of the prizes, or he has placed his seal of approval on giving away the 22 Macs worth a total of almost $110,000. I’m guessing it’s the latter; he’s aware of it and that somewhere, deep down inside his heart, there’s a special place for Macintoshes.

Things I Almost Posted About

I had a few things in mind that I was going to post about, here’s what they were and why I’m not going to:

1. I’m not posting about Macromedia Flex, and how I am (or was) skeptical of it’s success because of the price. Then I watched the presentation on Macromedia’s site…. maybe bigger companies will see the value in spending $12,000 on something that can be mostly done in Flash MX 2004 as is. I’m not posting about Flex because I don’t know enough about it yet; I need to read up a little more. Just like I (still) don’t know enough about Central yet to say that I think it won’t succeed (even though that’s my gut feeling).

2. The Dock vs. the Taskbar. I’m not posting about that because I’ve frankly had enough Mac vs. PC for one day, and even moreso because I’ve not thought about it enough to bullet-proof my arguments.

3. The way desktops should be laid out to increase productivity. I’m not posting about that because my ideas are so brilliant that I’ve decided to sell them to
Xerox and become rich off them. Either that or because I haven’t thought about it enough to verbalize my ideas. I’m not sure which it is.

4. How cool it is that Macromedia blogs and reads weblogs. It really shows they have a true interest in the satisfaction of their users. I’m not posting about that because too many others have said the same thing better than I can.

5. Finally, I’m not posting about all the great books and short stories I’ve been reading lately. Why? Because unfortunately due to other things (like work) I’ve read hardly anything lately. Things are going to change though, I can feel it.

Mac vs PC – The Definitive (?) List

This is purely personal, I’m not making any recommendations here, just my observations of what’s good about each of the two after almost 6 months of using an Apple Macintosh G5 at work and a Dell Laptop at home. Some of it’s based on cold hard facts, the rest is just my perceptions.

First off… advantages of PC’s over Macs:
Sepy Actionscript Editor They’re porting it to OS X, not a big reason.
Price, price (did I mention price)
Office’s native platform Office just feels nicer on the PC to me… can’t quite explain it.
ActiveX controls (3cim, timecharge) Some of the companies I work for or do work for have web apps that require IE 5.5 or higher.
Counterstrike… minesweeper… I’m not much of a gamer. Buying a mac would ensure things stay that way.
Dreamweaver, Flash are just plain faster and easier to use on the PC.
Filezilla and leech Ftp programs that take RBrowser and kick it all over the room.
Way better IM programs Can iChat do desktop sharing? How about games? Ok.. so it does video and voice, but only with AIM, not MSN…
Camtasia I’d miss Camtasia studio.
Gospel link, LDS collectors library – These are programs that have large collections of books written by memebers of my church and, you guessed it, PC only. PAF is a family history program my church distrubutes and my family uses–again, PC only.
Swift 3d This is more just for fun, but I really do like using Swift every once in awhile.
IE 6 – for testing… blech. Personally, I can’t stand IE, but everyone uses it so I have to keep it around somehow to test things.
Taskbar. I like the taskbar better than the dock. Sorry… I just do.
No fear that the next software pkg I need won’t run on Windows. Another one of those intangibles.
Pocket PC support without buying any 3rd party software (and I like my iPaq). Now if Apple came out with a sub $500 handheld, I’d jump ship and get it in a heartbeat… I have no doubt it would be good.
Better networking in my experience anyway.

Ok. That having been said, here are the advantages (in my mind) of the Mac over the PC.
Expose – One of the things I miss the most when I’m not using a Mac.
Apple (command) Key location. Whose idea was it anyway to put my left pinky through so much stress pressing ctrl? The command key on the mac makes so much more sense.
Resell value – My laptop (1.13ghz Inspiron, all the goodies) is worth maybe $500 now. That’s a pretty big drop from the $3000 I paid for it. On the other hand, a Powerbook from around the time I bought my laptop is worth a few hundred dollars more and it cost a few hundred dollars less new.
iPhoto, iMovie, iDvd, iTunes, Garage Band – I really love the iLife suite. In fact, that’s one of the big deciding factors for me. iTunes runs on the pc. I know. It just feels so much more at home on the mac though. Adobe Albums (for what it is) makes a lot more sense than iPhoto, but for some reason I still like iPhoto better–I think a lot of it is because it takes care of organizing all my photos automatically. I have to tell Albums where they are. iDvd and iMovie… more goodness I don’t want to live without.
Final Cut – Speaks for itself.
Good looks – I’m a designer. My laptop is ugly. All Dells are ugly. Some gateways are okay, some Alienware computers are okay, but on the whole, Apple’s just look better. That’s important to me.
Quicksilver – Woah… just wrote about this one the other day. This is one piece of software that I don’t want to live without.
Fink, X11 – Cool. I can run my linux stuff on my mac and do it easily. I don’t even want to ever hear the words cygwin again. No. Stop.
Responsiveness – I like being able to click the Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Word, Entourage, iChat, iPhoto, iTunes and whatever else I feel like clicking all at once and still browse the Internet while I’m waiting without major lag. I’ve never seen a PC that can handle that.
MacJournal – Yet another piece of software I don’t want to live without.
Free SDK – There’s probably one for Windows as well, but developing for the Mac seems so much more sexy and fun. I’m not really even a programmer, but using a mac makes me want to become one.

So that’s my off the cuff list. I’m sure I’m forgetting things. Which way will I go for my next computer? I’m not sure, but at the moment… that G5 is looking really tempting.

[updated 6/8/2005 to fix some encoding issues]

Sub Pop. Good Stuff.

Lately pretty much every band on my playlist is from the label Sub Pop. What bands, you ask, are you listening to that are or were signed on Sub Pop? Ahh, here they are in order of current favoriteness.
1. The Shins. The Shins are hard to describe or compare to. Very, very creative and catchy tunes and lyrics. Try it. Go on, you know you want to.
2. Postal Service. I guess I am just bad at describing music, but Postal Service is electronic-indie-goodness. Composed of memebers of other bands (informative huh) they are very good.
3. Iron and Wine. Enough commentary. They’re good. Do it.

Other good Sub Pop bands (if you’re still lacking music) are Looper (gone from Sub Pop now), Sebadoh, Sunny Day Real Estate (no longer on Sub Pop… or together for that matter, Combustible Edison (fun lounge music while it lasted) and, well, Pinback isn’t Sub Pop, but they’re on my playlist too.

Enjoy.

Flash Drag and Drop Quiz

Flash is trying to make a programmer out of me. I took a Java class in college and really did not feel that I was cut out to program. Flash is starting to change my mind. While I’ve known Flash for several years, I hadn’t really started learning Actionscript until about 3 months ago. This is my work-in-progress quiz. It’s all actionscript–only one keyframe (several layers) in the whole movie. Note: I didn’t design the thing… just programmed it.

I think that for someone who is naturally a very visual thinker, Flash is a great way to learn to program object oriented code. You can start off little by little and still get great results.

Farewell Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is, by far, my favorite browser on the PC, and I’ve used it (previously as Firebird) almost exclusively on my Mac at work for the last 5 months as well but alas, no more. I cannot figure out why, but it is several times slower than Safari on my 1.6 ghz G5. I can have the two browsers open side by side and Safair will have loaded a page with all it’s graphics before Firefox finishes saying “Resolving Host.” So, until something changes, farewell Firefox.

First Websites…

Remember when you created your first website? My brother-in-law who happens to be my wife’s twin just created his (with a little help and server space from me) here: benreedjohnson.com. I especially recommend the family page where I gained some valuable insight into the childhood of my wife… aside from relating to me personally, it’s funny. He’s also started a weblog tonight… should be interesting.