Archive for January, 2007

My new love… Snowboarding.

January 28, 2007

My six year-old has been a snowboarding fan for the past three years. He loves watching videos and using the plastic snowboard he’s had for the past few years. We got him a “real” board, boots, bindings and helmet for his birthday and he’s started lessons now.

Someone was going to need to drive him and I figured I might as well give it a try. I’ve never skied in my life and certainly never snowboarded so I needed to figure out how the whole thing worked. We took a lesson together on January 4th and I was really starting to get the hang of the toe-side and heel-side stuff — even linked a few turns. I also beat the hell out of myself when that front edge dug in a few times.

Soreness aside, I now knew the basics of snowboarding and more importantly, knew my way around the hill and how most everything worked. I’d used the “magic carpet” on the bunny hill and the rope on the 2nd hill. The chairlifts scared me and I figured it’d be a while before I got on them. Field, was carving up the bunny hill — a bit scared of the rope. He’s got excellent balance, but he’d rather bomb the hill than turn — or stop.

He took his second lesson tonight. It was cold (5 degrees Fahrenheitish). While he was taking his lesson I got warmed up and tried to get used to my new board. Yep. One time out and I was fully outfitted. Like hell I’m paying $25 for a beat up board and boots that others wear. I got a good beginners board (Atomic PIQ) and a pair of Burton Step-In boots/bindings. Total? $160. It’ll last me through the learning stages and since I no longer need to rent a quick 3 hours in the morning during the week will only set me back $10. When I “outgrow” the board, I’ll be able to get close to what I paid for it. This is the way I roll.

Anyway, back to the hill. It had been almost a month, so it took me a half-hour to get the groove back, but then it did come back and I was able to start linking turns, stop, ride some switch (not by design at first) and even mix in an ollie or two. It felt great.

I decided to check out the chair lift.

No problem. I rode up with a nice, young Japanese tourist on skis for the first time. The top came and the dismount went OK. No one died. So now what? I picked what looked lie the easiest, widest hill and gave it a try. I wiped out pretty good, but picked myself back up and finished the winding run with only one more wipeout.

I hit the lift again and the second time down was like magic. I nailed it. It felt completely natural. I barely had to think giving me the time to really appreciate it. I started laughing, I couldn’t help it. It was truly euphoric. I couldn’t get enough. I did a few more runs before Field’s lesson was over. He saw me on the lift and gave me a thumbs up.

I love to be able to share in this with him. I can’t wait until he can join me on the lift. Oh, and I built Ang a snowboard package too. Next up? Lessons for her — and then a trip out West in the spring?

Sharapova gets Clijsters in Aussie Open

January 24, 2007

I hear that’s a bitch to clear up. Thank heavens for the new anti-biotics on the market these days.

Slow MacBook Pro Wireless (and other gripes)

January 21, 2007

Jesus. I’ve got a real love/hate relationship going with this not-yet-two-month-old laptop. It’s gorgeous — and it’s maddening. The Mac OS is fine. I like it quite a bit in fact, but the majority of the tools I use are Windows-based. Parallels solved that for the most part, allowing me to run Windows from within OS X. It’s quite slick and doubly so with “coherence”. But… There are also drawbacks. Splitting the memory between Windows and OS X does little for either and immediately get the fan fired up. It works in a pinch, but I think Bootcamp is the way I’m going to need to go. Up to this point, my complaints are at least addressable.

The Wireless.
This has been a real problem. I use CNET’s Bandwidth test every now and then (and more often now after watching my connectivity screech to a halt on the MacBook and scream on the Windows laptop). I searched the web for an answer and there are pages about Mac-freindly routers and such — which is complete bullshit. “Hey Apple! Write to the f’ing standard.” There appear to be MANY people experiencing the same slowness I am (somewhere in the neighborhood of 150Kbps on the Mac to 2000Kbps on the Toshiba laptop). I’ve tried everything and have — at least for now — found a solution. I, of course, did two things so I have no idea which is the “magic” fix.

  1. Turned off Windows Sharing
  2. Changed the Channel on the router

Others have entered the DNS servers manually instead of relying on DHCP as well as a multitude of other wacky fixes. Someone dropped the ball on the wireless over at Apple — at least in 10.4.8.

The Battery
The website says:

60-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery (with integrated charge indicator LEDs) providing up to 5 hours of battery life(1)

I’ve yet to see anything close to that. I use the wireless typically, so that’s going to cut into the time, but I dim the screen quite a bit (just a click or two above ‘off’) and I’m usually just editing text or browsing the web. I’m lucky to see 2 hours and 15 minutes on a full charge.

In 42 load cycles (according to Coconut Battery), I’m down to a max charge of 94% of the original. That’s a significant drop, but it still doesn’t explain the discrepancy in the estimate. You want to know what does? Apple lied about it. Yep. Unless they’re using some alien technology, you’re not going to be able to get 5 hours out of it. And this thing sucks the juice with the cover closed in sleep mode too. Routinely, it’ll use 25% of it’s battery “sleeping” overnight.

The Display (added this as an UPDATE on 1/23/2007)
This is a big one. I’m a developer. I also hack around in Photoshop, Illustrator and such when need be — in more of a production graphics sense. What the hell was Apple thinking putting a 1440 x 900 screen (with no other option available) into a machine such as this? My $1600 Dell Inspiron Core Duo has the 1680 x 1050 option — and it’s an amazing screen. I subscribe to the notion that we have too much choice in our lives and that that amount of choice makes us less happy as we are constantly forced to be… making choices (head over to Subway at lunch if you don’t agree), but my list of choices for displays on a Mac laptop are too limited:

  • 13.3 inch Glossy (1280 by 800)
  • 15.4 inch Glossy (1440 by 900)
  • 15.4 inch Standard (1440 x 900)
  • 17 inch Glossy (1680 by 1050)
  • 17 inch Standard (1680 by 1050)

Glossy and non-glossy are hardly the important options I need. Add this option:

  • 15.4 inch Standard (1680 x 1050)

…and you’ve solved the problem.

The Keyboard
Love it — except the squeaky space bar. I gotta get that fixed.

Worth It?
For $2500? No. Too many problems. I love the flexibility, but realistically some of my main Windows apps — Visual Studio, OneNote, and even Open Office have no real Mac peers (I’m willing to retract this point if you can help me find OS X replacements). Mac Fanboys will surely chime in — as they ALWAYS do, “Why don’t you go buy a Dell then?” The answer is, I might next time if Apple refuses to fix these (VERY FIXABLE) hardware issues in the next generation. My $1600 Dell and one of those kick-ass 23-inch Studio Displays for the same cost as the MacBook Pro? Hmm…

What We(‘ve) Watch(ed)

January 10, 2007

I (STILL) haven’t watched a television show in the traditional sense since August of 2005. I’ll watch the occasional hockey or baseball game with my son, but not a single “show” over any broadcast medium other than that.

I haven’t missed it a bit.

I have been watching “shows” nearly every night, however. My wife and I grab the laptop, pop in a DVD and watch an (yep, just one) episode of something.

What we’ve watched in the past 24 months (a few of these things were viewed before — but I’ll be damned if I can remember):

  1. NewsRadio (Season 1)
  2. NewsRadio (Season 2)
  3. FireFly (Complete Series)
  4. Reno 911 (Season 1)
  5. Reno 911 (Season 2)
  6. Family Guy (Season 1)
  7. Family Guy (Season 2)
  8. Family Guy (Season 3)
  9. Dead Like Me (Season 1)
  10. Dead Like Me (Season 2)
  11. Arrested Development (Season 1)
  12. Arrested Development (Season 2)
  13. Friends (Complete Series)
  14. Arrested Development (Season 3)
  15. NewsRadio (Season 3)
  16. NewsRadio (Season 4)
  17. NewsRadio (Season 5)
  18. The Office (UK)
  19. The Office (US) (Season 1)
  20. The Office (US) (Season 2)
  21. The Lost Room
  22. Reno 911 (Season 1)
  23. Entourage (Season 1)
  24. Entourage (Season 2)
  25. Entourage (Season 3)
  26. Heroes (Season 1)

The point of all of this, is that I think television does not work any longer. The advertisements have gotten out of control. The good shows get cancelled, which works well for my manner of watching as we get nice, neat packages of shows in which to purchase. I do think that the right people are more likely to get paid when I buy these — although I don’t care enough to really research that.

All I know, is that it’s a much more fulfilling (and condensed) way to watch good TV — yes, I’m including “Friends” (guilty pleasure).

Broadcast television (in its current form) is in its end days.

Happy New Year.

January 6, 2007

It’s been awhile. I’ve been so busy with the GlassyEyes site, that things here have quieted down a bit too much.

I got a new lens for the camera. I used my “bonus” from work to get me most of the way towards the gorgeous and VERY flexible, Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 zoom for the Olympus “Four Thirds” system. I’m very impressed, but have had little time to actually use it. I need a trip somewhere to put it through its paces — and to regain some perspective before things get crazy around here again. I plan a detailed review of the differences between it and the 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 in the coming weeks.

I bought a Nintendo DS Lite for my birthday and have been “gaming” with the guys at work and the kids at home (but only on weekends!). Great little piece of hardware. I remember thinking, “what a contrived system that is,” when they announced it, but I was completely wrong. Some of the best user interfaces, and control schemes I’ve ever seen.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.