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.