For many people, venting about life problems can be cathartic. For me, listening to other people talk about their problems is often cathartic. Not because I like hearing about people in misery, but because it’s really nice to take my life experiences and see if they can’t help the other person. It helps me put my life in perspective, and helps me see what other people are going through. So special out-of-the-blue thanks to those people over the past few weeks that have believed in me enough to let me lend an ear – Kim, Brett, Jared, and Nastassya. Actually, double thanks for Nastassya – because I still really appreciate what she said tonight. Back to your regularly scheduled blog.
My USB ports have been acting funky all weekend, disregarding mouse buttons or thinking the modifiers on my keyboard are down when they aren’t. As such, I popped keys off one of my keyboards, cleaned it out, and while I was using the spare, decided to do some transplanting between the two for these nice designs. They aren’t identical because one’s just an Apple USB Keyboard and the other is an Apple Pro Keyboard, yielding a different button set. But it still came out pretty neat, I think.
the friday five 1. How are you planning to spend the summer [winter]? Ah, this is a STUDENT Friday Five. See, those of us in the real world just have to work all summer. Admittedly, we just got back from Maryland, and we’re hitting NYC for a week next month. BUT THAT DOESN’T COUNT. 2. What was your first summer job? Working for Spider Graphics, where I was woefully abused, underappreciated, and underpaid. Hey, it’s fun doing web work for $5/hr AND having witholdings taken out. 3. If you could go anywhere this summer [winter], where would you go? Well, we are going to NYC; in the grand scheme, going to California (so many people to meet) or Japan (obvious geek-out heaven) would be nice. 4. What was your worst vacation ever? My parents are quite fond of camping. I, on the other hand, am not. Take your pick from any of the week-long camping vacations; they’re all the same in my book. 5. What was your best vacation ever? The honeymoon, despite being short. Hey, 4 days in NYC to do whatever we wanted. How could you go wrong?
I would just throw this on the link bar on the right, but it hit me a little too hard to just pass up without a mention. Kim – you know, the “Revolving Duck” entry on my blogroll – posted one last entry before she took her blog down because MT is being odd for her. Entitled just [static], it recounts her having to say goodbye to an acquaintance because he’s shipping off to Afghanistan.
Decided this morning to peruse the FAQ for the National Do Not Call Registry while I’m waiting for my registration emails. Then I notice this beauty buried way down in the page.
- long-distance phone companies
- banks and credit unions; and
- the business of insurance, to the extent that it is regulated by state law.
What’s the majority of telemarketing calls I get? Long distance. So what does this mean for me in the end? Jack shit. Thanks, Bush!
Late last year, I realized that I was sadly not going to have a job landed for immediately after graduation. Given the choice between the Ithaca area and the Baltimore area, I made the obvious choice of moving to Maryland – the prospects were undoubtedly better. Of course, I didn’t count on every IT person in the state being out of work, jobs being in short supply, entry level jobs being in even shorter supply, and entry level jobs where you didn’t need to have security clearance were non-existant. Shortly after the wedding, we moved to Ithaca, and things (luckily) fell into place. We’re back in Maryland for a few days this week, as Katie’s boss was nice enough to schedule her days off so she’ll have effectively three days in a row. It’s been three months since the last trip down here – it’s not like we’ve been complete strangers – but this trip is special because it’s been a year since I originally moved down here. Maryland is still, like almost all other states, a very strange state. At least, it’s strange for me, having been a very small-town guy my entirely life. It takes active search and effort to find what could be considered a “local” business. Practically every major chain restaurant and retail store on the East Coast can be found within 10 miles of the house I’m in at the moment. Interstates are the major mode of travel. What makes this strange? Most of the country is overcommercialized right now, after all. It’s when you go into the main cities – Baltimore, for instance – it actually feels extremely uncommercialized in comparison. It’s that all this space in between all the major cities has been filled up by this suburbian towns with huge stretches of minimalls and shopping plazas and three-lane highways. The uniformity isn’t limited to the business zones, either. Much of the farmland that wasn’t turned into malls was turned into suburbs. Someone decided to buy a couple acres of land off to the side of the main road we take to get to Katie’s parents house, place a very short road, and build about 5-10 houses on this, all of which costs a ridiculous amount of money. Another road I love to take has a great view in the winter of a community of houses that all look exactly the same and appear to be growing on top of each other. As I’ve been here today, I’ve realized just how much of my time here last year was spent running from one business to another. That’s much of what life here seems to consist of – the only thing I really ever looked forward to was spending time and/or money somewhere. This seems extremely foreign to me anymore. Ithaca, while having seemingly little to do, has a number of locations you can go to and enjoy things other than shopping (Farmer’s Market, all of the parks, just walking around the Commons, etc). Even New York City doesn’t leave you with this feeling like you have to spend money in order to enjoy yourself – there’s a million things going on in the city. I walked by a street basketball tournament (ironically being played at a court I was familiar with thanks to a video game) that I could’ve just stood and watched for hours for free. Hell, I walked from Times Square down to the East Village just for kicks, and it was a great time, despite my legs being sore immediately after. I will admit there’s one thing that Maryland has that Ithaca and Manhattan do not – and those are 7-11s, which make the heat bearable. Slurpees need better nationwide distribution.
So I’m sitting here pondering things after a night of initially playing with iChat AV. The numbers are, well, a little frightening. I’ve already tried it with 9 people, across two computers on my end. While one of the people had a problem on his end with his microphone, the other 8 all worked flawlessly. No fidelity problems, no problems with hearing myself echo back, nothing to monkey with firewall wise or any of that. It just…worked. And after David Moldawer also mentioned to me that he just plugged in his Firewire cam and with no configuration, that was working too. This has, admittedly, gotten me thinking in a bigger picture sense. The Internet has widely adapted a new technology, as far as I’ve seen, when it’s as effortless as possible. (As Mark Pilgrim has noted, “A lot of effort went into making this effortless.”) You take an existing idea (one to many publishing), you refine the existing implementation (standard web pages), you turn it into something significantly easier and buzzword-laden (blogging), and you’re a success. Adam touched on this a little today on his blog:
I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not laziness at all; it’s just a desire to get things done in a more more effective fashion. I haven’t noticed this as much as I did last week in NYC. While I was using Ian’s TiBook and crapping it up with my apps, I never got to the point of installing an IRC client (figured it was overkill). I instead just went to the shell, ssh’d, BitchX’d, and made my way to my usual channels. Now, when I’m home and not doing anything in particular, my attention tends to be split 33% iChat, 33% Hotline, 33% IRC. It’s very even because everything is equally effortless. But when I had to exert myself to get onto IRC and operate it (versus hitting F7 to launch my IRC client and a simple click or keystroke to change channels), I lost interest. Not because the people were boring, or because I was lazy, but because I could get more done focused on the other means of communications. So I went 40% iChat, 40% Hotline, 20% IRC. So it’s not that we’re lazy people, but just that we want to make the most of our time. We give up complex, self-writting publishing engines for blogging engines, free music services for the iTunes Music Store, and (in my case anyhow) NetNewsWire for nntprss not because they let me be lazier, but because they let me accomplish more with less effort. Key distinction here: not accomplishing the same (thus being lazy), accomplishing more. Coming back round to the point: one application on the net that never truly had a simple app that made it simple is voice and video chatting. I’m speaking from long standing experience here – CUSeeMe user from way back, never mind tinkering with iVisit and other apps during college. They were decent, but they left a lot to be desired. However, with iChat AV, it has been beyond effortless. I was in a voice chat minutes after starting iChat AV for the first time – no configuring, no tweaking settings, nothing. I though to myself, “This is so easy, I would be happy to do this instead of IMing; it’s faster, it’s more human, and it’s dirt simple”. And there’s the “Aha!” moment. I’m so accustomed to just IMing people, since nothing better ever came along, that I never expect to supplant it. But with Apple integrating this so well into the existing IM tools (versus AOL’s Talk functionality, which always left tons to be desired), suddenly I’m left wondering why I’d honestly want to stick with text IMs when I could be voice chatting. Or hopefully, soon, video chatting – I’m apparently likely getting an iSight. I honestly can’t wait.
Not even going to touch the G5s here, but just what happened on my end. Downloaded iChat AV, installed, restarted. Logged on – noticed that all the windows and IMing functions are now much quicker. Got a voice invite from Aaron Fothergill, who as some of you may know, is in England. Accepted. Worked beautiful, even though we were both using external mics built into our machines. Holy shit yet again.
While on my way into NYC, I cranked through the remainder of Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Media?. I’ve always had this absurd interest in media analysis, and given the trends and political movements in this country for the past 5-10 years, this book is certainly topical. I can say, with an entirely straight face, that this is likely the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read. Well researched, amusing at times, looks at all sides of the argument. Covers the 2000 Election, the Clinton era, and 9/11, as well as plenty of other historical bases. Hits all major forms of media (TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, Internet, etc). I strongly urge everyone out there to go out and buy this book immediately. With that out of the way, and given that my first 4 hours back in Ithaca were spent at Barnes & Noble helping Katie and the rest of the staff make it through the Harry Potter party, my next book is unsurprisingly Order Of The Phoenix. I’m about a quarter done at the moment, and it’s quite readable, even without have touched any of the books previously and having only seen the movies. We’ll see when I get it finished.
1. Is your hair naturally curly, wavy, or straight? Long or short? Straight and short. 2. How has your hair changed over your lifetime? Was short and dirty blonde, then long and dark (I blame the lack of sunlight), then short and dark. 3. How do your normally wear your hair? It’s not like I do anything with it. 4. If you could change your hair this minute, what would it look like? Just better – don’t know how, but there’s got to be a way it could look better. 5. Ever had a hair disaster? What happened? I’m having one right now, as I always do when I sleep on it after a shower.