Laptop Love

I’m in the car on the way home from a business meeting in Philadelphia. One of my friends (Mark) let me borrow his 12″ 867mhz Powerbook and I’m officially sold on it. I?ve only had it for 2 days so far, but I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it. The size is perfect. I’ve used it twice to watch movies with my wife in bed–the screen is great and the battery lasts through a full DVD with plenty left for browsing sites about the movie afterwards. In the morning I used it to do some studying (again from bed?notice that theme) before work. It has built in wireless which connected effortlessly to my LAN.

The keyboard is great. It has very good tactile feedback, it?s also very quiet. I’m not a huge fan of the tiny arrow keys, but since I?m not much of a gamer, it doesn?t bother me too much. The trackpad is alright I’m absolutely not a fan of the one button concept?especially on a laptop, where you can?t just unplug it nad replace it with a two button mouse, but it?s something I can deal with.

Probably the best thing about it though is the feel. It feels solid, well built and stable. With the screen up I can hold it at pretty much any angle (no, Mark, I didn?t try this 🙂 ) without it moving or jiggling at all. The metal case is nice.. it looks aharp (and has gotten quite a few comments). It does NOT have color coded ports all over the sides and back, instead there are a few ports on the left hand side that hardly are noticable. The fan is quiet, the slot loading DVD drive has worked perfectly. There?s even a little button on the battery on the bottom that has five lights that indicate the charge level before you even open the cover of the laptop. Once you do open it, there?s no waiting for it to boot up. To put it to sleep you close the screen, to wake it up you open it. It?s almost like having a PDA that comes on instantly. I just chedked the uptime ? 10 days. A laptop which has been carried around extensively with an uptime of 10 days.

One of the nicest things about the size is that it?s actually conducive to carrying around. I rarely ever took my previous laptop off the desk because it was such a production. By the time I?d unplugged everything and packed it up it took too long, was too big and heavy with too short a battery life to make it worth it. Not the case with this laptop.

Just as an example. In the time it?s taken me to write this entry I?ve been watching the Truman Show on DVD, had the laptop asleep for about 3 hours before I started using it, worked on a spreadsheet for about 15 minutes before starting to write this and the battery is still at 80%. Nice.


Back to Business – New and Improved

My weblog sabbatical is over. In the past few weeks I’ve done the following:

  • Started work on Maqx Software Awards which is still very much in development both conceptually and technically. I didn’t plan on linking to it yet, but it looks like it’s going to take awhile before it’s perfect. In the meantime, I figured there’s no harm in opening it now.
  • Started work on Queenthings–my wife Jenny’s weblog. Again, this one still has quite a way to go as far as design but she’s already writing on it and it’s some good stuff.
  • apple_powermac_g5.jpg
    Switched. Yes, I got a Mac. It is good. The difference in speed between my 1.6ghz G5 at work and the Dual 2 at home is incredible. The price wasn’t bad either. I did my homework, compared everything available and for the speed and quality, nothing in the PC world came close. I got mine refurbished so it was less expensive than the ones on their site now, and I’m feeling good about the whole thing.

    If you keep reading this site and there will definitely be more on the software I’m using and specifics on why I’m pleased with the switch.

Other stuff has happened as well, more to come. Many more good things to come.


Effective Management – Four Simple Rules

Work has been interesting lately. If I ever become a manager, I hope I remember the following things:

1. Don?t mention changes to employees unless you have a firm plan, and more importantly, a date for implementing them. No matter what the plans may be.

2. Talk to your employees. Especially if they have shown a desire or hinted at wanting to talk to you.

3. Offer incentives and a clear, reasonable path for advancement. Don?t always make your employees come to you for rewards; go to them.

4. Know your stuff. You don?t have to know how to do their job, but you do have to be able to tell the difference between an excellent, good, mediocre and poor job (and about how long it should take to do it).

That?s it. Managing 101 from a firsthand perspective. Speaking of managing…it?s time for me to go get managed.


Bloglines, Ximian, Modest Mouse and Apple

Bloglines is down. That means instead of reading blogs, I’m writing one. A few interesting things I”ve been thinking about and coming across.

Ximian is releasing their Outlook Exchange connector for Evolution as open source. Hopefully it gets ported to OSX soon. At work I use Microsoft Entourage to check my Exchange email but for some reason it won’t allow me to send mail. For that I have to log into remote desktop and do it through Windows 2000. It’s a pain.

Modest Mouse is coming on Letterman in a couple hours. Jenny is waiting up to see them. She’s a fan since they were small time in Seattle… I’ve been a fan of Modest Mouse since 1999. It’s kind of cool to see them getting big. If you’re interested in them, check out this video. Their website is always interesting as well.

Rumors of new Apple Macintosh G5’s are hot.. I, however am looking at the great deals on refurbished Dual 2ghz’s. $2,399 is pretty tempting.


Skateboards and Such

Just to prove that my my entire world is not things digital, check out the review I did of the Insect Skateboads Dragonfly on Silverfish Longboarding.


Working on Something Tangible

My job is in computer graphics, design and also involves some programming. For the past couple years, there’s been a recurring theme to conversations about what I do which has gradually grown to become something that really bothers me.

Basically it comes down to this–what will I have to show for my work 20 or 30 years down the road? It’s pretty safe to say that none of the websites I’ve created will be online anymore, it’s doubtful if the CD-ROM based training will exist or even function on future computers, the community of almost 1000 people I?ve brought together will probably be gone (though hopefully many of the friendships will remain) and most of the other projects I have worked on will be entirely irrelevant since they all deal heavily with very ephemeral ideas and products.

It could be argued that the type of work I do is the building blocks of the Internet (in whatever form it ends up being) of the future, and that that is a tangible enough result of my work. Really though, the Internet itself is such a big intangible that I don’t count it as something I?ll be able to look back on and feel like it?s something I accomplished.

I?d like to be able to physically touch something?hold in my hand and say ?I made this.? I want to be able to have something to hand down to my kids from when I was younger. I don?t feel the need to change history or to alter the course of science, but I do feel the need to get my hands dirty?make something, have something to show for all the thousands of hours I spend trying to make a living.


Newport News VA: Thrift Store Mecca

Where else will you find at least 8 thrift stores within a 4 mile radius? How about 20 quick cash stores? Newport News, Virginia. The one and only. I love this town…


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? There?s no way for me to know since I can?t tell what my thoughts are if they?re not conscious. Do people without language think only visually or emotionally? How do they perceive the world around them where things don?t have names?

Language has become such an integral part of who I am, I can?t 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?


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.


Hardees – Lame as it Ever Was

I don’t have anything personally against Hardees, but I really don’t see how they are in business still… This whole plot to re-invent themselves with the giant burgers made of 100% angus is interesting, but if you can’t even eat it without the bun falling a part or getting so soggy in mayo that the meat slips out into your lap, it kind of defeats the purpose.