Monday, September 6, 2010

Snake Robot Climbs a Tree

This is a little creepy, but then I'm not wild about regular snakes, so...

via boingboing

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Burning Man From Afar

Earlier this year I got excited about the possibility of finally attending my first Burning Man Celebration in Nevada.

Alas it was not meant to be, maybe next year.

But I've been following this year's activities by way of this low volume (1-2 posts per day) blog that seems to be giving a great bit of the flavor of this unique event.

Burning Blog

In some ways it reminds me of AirVenture Oshkosh.

Super Awesome Sylvia shows super simple Arduino

Pretty cute.

via MakeBlog

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Merlin Mann's Fuzzy Little Boy

I was led to this Merlin Mann post by Daring Fireball.

John Gruber, of DF, highlighted Merlin's description of the effect of seeing color photos from times that we mostly know from B&W.
But, sometimes, an old color photo brings a distant image to life and produces something kind of special. The best ones make their subjects and their surroundings seem far more real and intimate.
When done well, these images help repudiate the implicit modern reading that pre-color photography realistically captured the simple but alien lives of people who were neither as complex, interesting, nor sophisticated as we CMYK people are.
But I think that Merlin's ruminations on the life of a little boy captured in one picture is truly touching.
But, the real star of the show has to be that little boy standing on the left. He looks like he’s about my daughter’s age—maybe 3 or so.
I wonder if his family was ever able to buy this or any other field. I wonder if they maybe found better work at the B-29 plant in Marietta or the shipyards of Savannah. I wonder if the boy ended up serving in Vietnam. And, if he did, I wonder if he ever made it home.
I wonder if he ever got to see his own fuzzy little kids spend their days standing someplace better than another man’s cotton field.

Earl is Coming.

It's looking like we're gonna get a close pass from Hurricane Earl later this week.

Friday, throughout the day and into the evening, could get pretty wet & windy.

In the meantime, it's looking like today is gonna be another unseasonably hot one. Forecast to be in the 90s again.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nina's Message

My friend Sherman sent this story around as an email. He gave me permission to republish it here.

Hi Social Welfare undergrads -- especially the women.  I got a message to give to you.
When I got to my bus stop yesterday morning, Nina was already sitting there.   As I sat down, she introduced herself and let me know she wasn’t waiting for a bus, but just taking a rest on that hot morning before finishing her walk to the Dollar Store a few blocks to the west.  She heard that they had some good blueberries at a dollar a box, and she told me how her family used to raise blueberries and grapes on a farm back in New Jersey.  I countered with my own tale of picking blueberries in Maine as a child, and we both agreed that east coast blueberries are better than California ones.
 She asked what I do and I told her I was a college advisor.  “I hope you’re better than the one I had” she said, and told me her story of how she went to Bucknell (which is in Pennsylvania and not Ohio, as I guessed -- Nina sternly corrected me on that).  “I was a double outcast.  I wasn’t wealthy and I was a girl.   There weren’t too many of either at Bucknell, especially studying biology.  They called me a chicken farmer’s daughter, even though my father never raised a chicken in his life.  We raised grapes that were so good that we were the only farm in the county that the Welch’s people would buy from to make their juice and their jelly.”   She told when she was near to graduation; her advisor told her she should get married and stop her foolishness about trying to work.  “He told me no one would hire me as a biologist, and even though he was right, I think he should have supported me instead of trying to kill my dream.”   She said she ended up becoming an occupational therapist because they let woman work in that field -- “since they didn’t pay enough for men to take the work”.  I told her I had a lot of women in my major and that things were different these days.  “Oh yes, I know they are.  Girls don’t have to leave their homes now like I had to.”  She said that after graduation, she and a few girlfriends decided to leave New Jersey and they came to California.  “Back then, they didn’t have the same stupid rules in California that they did elsewhere.  I could work anywhere once I got here to California, and I got as much money as a man for my work.”
 Back then was in 1943.   Nina is 89 years old now. 
 “I better get going” she said, “before the sun gets too high in the sky and it’s too hot for me to walk.”  I asked her if she needed help getting up and she said “Oh no. I have my system.”  Then she rocked back and forth in a forward direction and each time she did, her butt lifted higher up off the bench until she finally got high enough to lay all her weight on the cane in her right hand and lifted herself up off the bench.  “You tell those girls of yours to keep studying and make sure they know how lucky they are.  No one is going to call them a chicken farmer’s daughter or tell them they can’t work in certain jobs. You know, I like that Obama fellow, but it’s time for us to have someone wearing a dress in the White House.  Tell your girls to work for that, and maybe it will even be one of them who become a lady President.”
 As Nina walked away to get her blueberries, I promised I would pass the message on.   
 And so now I have.
Thank you Sherm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Samuel Johnson Quote

"Remarriage: A triumph of hope over experience."

— Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Waiting for the Rain

Oddly, I'm looking forward to it raining.

I've been doing a bit of landscaping here at the lakehouse, and one of the projects is to put in some drainage gullies to control the erosion during rain events.

But it's hard to know these things are gonna be effective when it's dry. So I've been waiting for a rainy day so I can go out and play in the mud to fine-tune my handiwork.

We've had an uncharacteristically long dry-spell here in southern NH. But today could be the day.

Cute Video: "Robot Parade"

Robot Parade from Jared Foster on Vimeo.

via make magazine blog

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bubble on the Beach

UPDATE: Apparently this video has been pulled from YouTube. Too bad. I'll leave the posting here just in case it reappears in the future.

The preview image makes this look like an approaching storm. It's not. It's really very cool and tranquil.

via boingboing

Self-balancing, one wheel, electric scooter

via make magazine blog

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not Fall Yet.

I had been thinking that Fall had arrived here in Southern NH, but Summer's not ready to let go yet.

Though yesterday was overcast and threatening rain for most of the day, it was nevertheless warm and muggy. I was out in the yard doing some cleanup and just a little exertion left me dripping.

A cold drink that I left sitting on the counter quickly made a big puddle of condensation.

And today's looking to be even more, but with clear sunny skies.

9:45 AM and it's already well into the 80s.

Hang on.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Just wondering...

... If I can make a blogger post from my iPad.

UPDATE: I can!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bad Romance - Korg Monotron and Kaossilator

"I'm a freak bitch, baby."

thanks makeblog

Augmented City [in 3D]

Even without 3D glasses this is pretty cool. I've been saying for years that Augmented Reality is the future.

So where can I get a pair of red-blue 3D glasses?

thanks makeblog

Detroit's "Mower Gang" reclaims a velodrome

thanks Makeblog

Mini Cannon

Hope my nephew North doesn't see this. He'll want one. Hell, *I* want one.

thanks boingboing

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Sunny Beach Day Gets Ruined by a Major Storm in Finland

This could be right out of the opening sequence of a genre horror movie. Look close and there's even an evil face in the clouds at one point.

I only wish the clip didn't end when it did. It musta got pretty intense there.

from boingboing

The iPhone Antenna Song

Reportedly this video was played by Apple at the start of their AntennaGate press conference a few weeks back.

"If you don't want an iPhone 4, don't buy one. If you bought one and you don't like it, bring it back... but you know you won't."

I'm Baa-aack.

OK, so I've been away from this blog for awhile. Let me see if I can do something to change that.

Great Star Wars Parody: "The Blackstar Warrior"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Coming up for air.

Little did I realize when I wrote that last post the extent to which I would be swallowed up by the work of my trip to Las Vegas.

I (along with a small army of other people) was doing event tech support for the HP Tech Forum at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

It all went well, but the hours were long.

I did get a couple of chances to escape and visit some of my favorite spots in Vegas.

The real treat of my stay was the evening I spent with twitter/Mike_Flys and twitter/LVMoxieGirl, two new friends who I made through the aviation podcasting world. Mike gave me a nice tour of his home airport: North Las Vegas, and with Elizabeth we had a great dinner at "Three Tomatoes and a Mozzarella".

The evening started to get late so we agreed to postpone until my next visit a trip to "The Hog and Heifer" bar. Looking forward to that next time.

I'm now in Chicago, supporting the Pearson Powerschool University event. Hours not so long, but not short either.

I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying Chicago. More on that later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ready -- Set -- TRAVEL

It's been a quiet couple of month, travel-wise, in my work life. But that's about to change.

Next week I head to Las Vegas for 11 days. From Vegas I go straight to Chicago for a week. After that I'm home for a week, and then go to Orlando for eight days, home for five days, then off to Oshkosh for 12 days.

I think I counted it out as being on the road 32 out of the upcoming 47 nights. Fun.

Twitter in-common followers

Yesterday afternoon I was on the Twitter website checking out a person who had followed me, and I was considering following them back.

I was pleasantly surprised to see, in the right hand column, above the list of people this person was following, was a list of the people that this person and I were following in common. In other words, mutual friends.

This morning I go to a couple of Twitter pages, and I'm no longer seeing this very useful, and welcome, feature.

I'm hoping that its appearance yesterday was a momentary test on the way to rolling this out permanently. This would/will be a very helpful tool for deciding whether to "follow back" strangers who have I've been notified have followed me. Follow?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chill Out, Google Users

It seems like a lot of the web world is in an uproar today about Google's experiment in putting a background image on their legendarily sparse search page.

I guess this is to demonstrate what it would look like if we all took advantage of their optional system for us each to put a personalized image in the background. And this demo was only going to be in place for one day. But the uproar moved Google to end the demo after only a few hours.

I'm not sure what all the uproar was about.

I agree that the page looked bad with the background image. I would not add a picture to my page. But we certainly all could have put up with this for one day.

But it really seems to me that Google should have stuck with their plan to have it there for a full day. Let people complain, and collect their feedback. Stick with your plan for a day, and learn what you're gonna learn.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Investment Advice from Gene Siskel via Roger Ebert

In a very good piece by Roger Ebert, on the financial collapse of the past few years, he relates this investment advice he got from his dear friend:
Gene Siskel, who was a wise man, once gave me the best investment advice I've ever received. "You can never outsmart the market, if that's what you're trying to do," he said. "Find something you love, for reasons you understand, that not everyone agrees with you about, and put your money in it."
"Wall Street's dirty, rotten scoundrels" by Roger Ebert.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Apple and Steve Jobs Announce New iPhone

Being the good Apple fanboy that I am, I spent two hours today hunched over my laptop following the announcements from the Keynote talk at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC).

Not a lot here that we didn't expect. In fact, as usual, there were a few things we kinda expected that didn't materialize.

But here's the announced stuff that caught my attention:

Updates to iBook. At least some of this seems to be mimicing the things that the Kindle iPad reader already do. One fear I have here is that Apple will wander away from the ePub open standard, and make it harder for outsiders to create ebooks for the Pad.

The iPhone OS is now renamed to be "iOS 4". Which I think is an unexciting name, but these things tend to grow on you, so I'll give it time.

BTW, Apple apparently had to license this name from Cisco, so I guess they like it a lot.

Big news is the new iPhone 4. New hardware design, slick, thinner, seems to be designed for better radio reception.

Much better screen resolution, which Apple's calling "Retina Display", seems cool. I'll have to see it in person, but it makes sense that this will provide a dramatically improved image quality.

Front facing camera. Along with the announcement of a video-phone app called FaceTime. I know a lot of people are excited about this. Maybe I'll "get it" when I have it in my hands, but it doesn't seem like something that will be all that useful to me.

It now uses the A4 chip -- the same one that's in the blazingly fast iPad -- so that's good.

It now comes with a gyroscope, to complement the accelerometers. This could be pretty cool. Game makers are obviously the target here, but my pilot friends are also liking the idea of better motion sensing for EFB apps. (Electronic Flight Bag)

iMovie video editing on the iPhone. This just leaves me cold. I can't imagine how this is gonna be really useful.

$199 and $299 with AT&T two year commitments. Still no word about Verizon. (I hope that whoever negotiated this AT&T contract three years ago is long buried in a shallow grave out in the central valley.) (Well, I don't really hope that, but you get my point.)

I plan to buy one of these phones pretty soon after they launch. I'm still using my 2.5 year old, first gen iPhone. I've been dragging my feet on upgrading, waiting for Verizon, but it's looking like we could be waiting a while longer. (Or it could be announced the day after I sign up for 2 more years with AT&T, which is probably what will happen.)

Perhaps of note is that I think that I will get the lower-capacity, cheaper version of this new phone. My sense is that with my iPad and my laptop, I really won't need to be loading all sorts of stuff -- and especially not the most memory intensive: video -- on my phone. So 16G should be enough.

16G is the capacity of my existing iPhone, and I've never max-ed it out.


One other thing of note today is the presentation-hell that Jobs and co. suffered during the keynote. Apparently the wifi in the room was so overloaded that it affected the onstage connection. This was a pretty big deal, given the attention to detail and advance planning that goes into a SteveNote. Jobs handled it pretty graciously onstage, but one has to wonder what sort of hell broke loose backstage afterwards.

( I occasionally work with the people who have done the WWDC network in the past. I wonder if they were the ones on it this time? If so, I may get the story-behind-the-story in a couple weeks. )

One person twittered that Apple could easily solve this network overloading problem if they'd just provide a live video/audio feed of the keynote, thus make all the liveblogging, etc, unnecessary.


So all-in-all a decent Steve Keynote, but not one, I think, that will go down as legendary. (Except maybe for the network failure part.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The future...

Interesting quote from the novel I'm reading, Infoquake:
"Your future is what you decide to do tomorrow."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

iPhone/iPad development book

At Andy's dinner last week I was turned on to a beginners iPhone programming book that I was told was just right for me. It's called "Beginning iPhone 3 Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK" and yes, it's excellent.

I'm only up to chapter 4, but already it's clarified iPhone development concepts that I've been struggling with using other resources.

It's written very clearly. It's organized to present ideas in a gradual fashion, and at a pace that is fast enough to still be a challenge, but not so fast as to be indigestible.

Highly recommended.

PS. I'll post here when I publish my first iPhone and/or iPad apps.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quiet Again

Traditionally, well in my world anyway, Memorial Day is the start of summer. Perhaps strangely, "summer" was defined by when you could comfortably go swimming in the lake here at lookoutPoint. And that has always been from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

So it was with odd pride that I was able to swim almost a week earlier.

Over the years the activity level here at Pawuckaway has grown in a very particular way. Weekdays are relatively quiet, but weekends get very busy, crowded and noisy. And starting the day after school ends both those categories will increase by quite a bit.

When I was a kid the weekends were the time to be at the lake. It's when we'd come here in the spring and fall, and it was typically when I'd find my summer friends also here. But since returning the the east coast almost ten years ago I developed this feeling that the weekends are when you want to hide-out.

During the week the lake and its surroundings are quite pleasant, but on the weekends it too crowded and noisy. It's tempting to make plans to go elsewhere for the weekends, and return on Monday for the quiet.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Not a good night for Jack the baseball fan

I went to the NH Fisher Cats game last night.

Baseball is like sex: when it's good it's great, and when it's bad it's still pretty good. Last night it was only pretty good.

The Fisher Cats were in trouble from the first inning when our pitcher walked like three guys, and allowed two runs. It would have been worse if not for a couple of nice fielding plays.

By the time I left, after 6 innings, we were losing 5-1.

... Standby... Just a moment...

Well son-of-a-gun. I just went to the Fisher Cat website to get the final score, to discover that I left too early.
Eric Thames hit a three-run inside-the-park home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, David Cooper belted a two-run game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth and Shawn Bowman drilled a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats erased a 6-1 deficit to knock off the Trenton Thunder, 7-6, on Friday night at Stadium.
My bad. Should of waited it out. Just goes to show you...

Anyway... my "other team", the Redsox, didn't fare as well, which I discovered on the drive home. They were beaten for the second night in a row by the Kansas City Royals. The score was too painful to mention here. Suffice to say, it wasn't close.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kindle arrives on my iPad

One of the things I've been enjoying unexpectedly on my iPad is book reading via the iBooks app.

I thought that iBooks and the iBookstore would be enough for me, but I just discovered an ebook that I really want which is only available through Amazon's Kindle.

So I've downloaded the Kindle iPad app, and purchased my first book.

The problem here is that I'm immediately seeing that the Kindle ebookstore has all the technical books that I've been missing in the Apple ebookstore. This could become a (expensive) habit.

This could make me rich!

Every morning I make my coffee. I add one packet of Splenda sweetener and a splash of half-n-half creamer to each cup. This morning I did the cream and sat down with my mug before realizing that I'd forgotten the sweet. And then I had a brainstorm.

Save a step, and avoid forgetting, by PREMIXING the sweetener into the creamer. I'll need to measure how much cream I use per one packet of sweetener, do the math, then add all the sweetener each time I buy a new bottle of half-n-half.

Not only will this save time, but it also solves the age old-challenge of knowing how many packets of sweetener to put into an odd-sized mug. Once the creamer has the right ratio of sweet, then I just add it to my coffee till it's my preferred lightness, and I will automatically have the amount of sweet I like.

Oh, I am such a genius.

Sore, sore, sore

Day before yesterday I went to my new gym for my first workout in a couple months.

I did about 10 minutes of warmup on a treadmill, then I worked my way down the line of strength machines, familiarizing myself with their brand, and recalling my workout plan from the old gym.

I did an abbreviated workout on each machine. Two sets each, instead of my usual three. It all felt great.

I usually really start to feel soreness from a workout about 24 hours afterwards, and this time was no different. But this morning, about 36 hours after the workout, I'm still really feeling the soreness.

Don't get me wrong, this is not bad. It merely me paying for taking 2 months off from my fitness activities. 

And though I'm ready for the soreness to start to subside, in general I like the muscle soreness that I get from a workout. It means that I've accomplished something. It's the feeling of fitness returning.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

John Lithgow discovers kleenex on Third Rock From the Sun

In its early days this show was genius. It faded a bit as it aged, but I still remember it fondly. Here's one of the scenes that sold me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Niece the Blogger

My niece Cassie is about to become a blogger. When she gets started I'll put a link to her blog here so you can find it.

UPDATE: Here's her blog. Check it out.

Walking dog robot.

This is pretty cool... A little creepy, but pretty cool.

One day they're gonna make single rider ATVs using this technology, replacing the current four-wheel balloon tired versions that are popular today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Joined a gym

Oh, by the way. Somewhat inspired by my session swimming the other day, I went out and joined a gym.

I signed up at the local Planet Fitness.

I've been a member for the past couple years at the really awesome "The Works" in Somersworth NH. But they're too far away from me here at Lookout Point, so I need something more convenient.

Eventually I want to find a nearby gym, with more like the variety of offerings like The Works gave me. But for now I can do simple workouts nearby.

I'll be posting more here about my "progress" so stay tuned for all the laughs.

I may have an Apple Choice to make

I've been on the verge of upgrading my wifi-only iPad to a 3G model since the latter appeared a few weeks ago. I actually went into one of the local Apple stores to buy it, but they were out of stock. Apparently that's the case all over. They're hard to come by.

But nevertheless I've been expecting that I'll upgrade eventually.

But now it seems like the infamous Apple 4G iPhone is about to drop. And I've been planning on upgrading my ancient first-gen iPhone when that appeared.

So now I find myself possibly looking at two, multi-hundred dollar purchases with in a few weeks of each other. Decisions, decisions.

Do I go for broke (not literally, but close) and buy both? Or do I make a choice? And which would I choose?

My wifi-only iPad is very sufficient, especially when combined with the oh-so-disappointing MiFi. I could keep that and get the new iPhone.

But then, just upgrading to the 3GS model of the iPhone would still be a major enhancement over my current iPhone, and they're quite inexpensive right now (Walmart has them for under  $100 it seems). And that would leave me with plenty of cash for the upgraded pad.

Hmmmm. Choices.

So anyway I have a decision to make. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 24, 2010

First Swimming

I went swimming today, in the lake here in NH, for the first time this season.

When I was a kid the rule of thumb for when you could comfortably start swimming was Memorial Day. So we're a week ahead of schedule this year.

It's the little things.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Back to Blogging

I used to blog a lot. Multiple posts on most days. Lots of comments from readers. The whole thing.

Then it started to feel a little like an obligation. "What should I blog about today?"

And also, New Media happened... and Twitter. I was tweeting a lot, and doing a weekly podcast. The blogging faded away. Eventually down to nothing.

People asked me why I stopped. And I said, "I haven't stopped. I'm still publishing, just in different media." And I still feel that way. I feel no obligation to blog.


Lately, more and more, I've felt like I had something to say that wasn't related to the subject of my podcast, or wouldn't fit in 140 characters.

I've been thinking that I wanted to blog.

So here we are. Back to blogging. I think that I will keep this up. Not daily like the old days, but whenever something occurs to me.

We'll see.

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