28 February 2010

don't worry, be apple happy

In reading my regular blogs and other news today, I seem to be having a Mac vs PC day. As we know, I loves me some Apple. My first computer was an Apple LC2,* and I'm now on my third MacBook in three years (a 13" unibody MacBook Pro). My iPhone is more useful to me than any other thing that I own (except my laptop, natch), and my Time Capsule router has yet to fail, unlike my prior Linksys or Netgear routers which had to be restarted every few days.

And like any good evangelical, I'm happy to recommend computing salvation by encouraging people to purchase a Mac. (For example, I've told my parents that I'm done being their person IT support unless they switch to a Mac. I'm tired trying to fix viruses, trojans and other typical Windows issues.)

So along the vein of sharing the Mac goodness, the first item I bring you is an article by Harry McCracken at Technologizer entitled "PC vs. Mac: The Straight Scoop" about the differences of the two platforms. Now, in some ways, there really isn't a lot of difference between a new Mac and a new Windows PC... that is, unless you consider the ways that impact and offer a good experience. Not having to deal with viruses, not having to deal with driver errors, not having to be frustrated.

Check out this great parody of Google's Super Bowl ad:


In the end, after being a Windows user for a long time, and now happily back to my Mac roots, I know that the difference is knowing I have tech devices that just work. What else is there?

*(Oops Disclaimer: Last week I mistakenly told some people I had an Apple IIc, not an LC2. Not a biggie, but it's good to have truth-in-blogging.)


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24 February 2010

10 billion gajillion

iTunes crossed the 10 billion download mark today. Ten Billion downloads. (And remember, it's at least a dollar a download... [whistle]. Apple brings in over $527 million a quarter with iTunes, and they claim to just break even...)



10 billion is a lot of Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga, ya?

Oh, and the person who made the one billionth download is getting a $10,000 iTunes gift card. Yowza.

EDIT: 2/26 -- The person who downloaded the 10Bth track was a Mr. Louie Sulcer of Woodstock, Georgia. He'll receive a $10,000 iTunes gift card for his troubles.  Oh, and the song that Mr. Sulcer downloaded... "Guess Things Happen That Way" by Johnny Cash. The world is a wacky place, my friend.

By the way... today (2/26) is Johnny Cash's birthday, he would have been 78.



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feeling socially awkward

Do you wonder why people Twitter? Think "social networking" is another name for having beers with friends at a bar? I don't blame you. While the intertubes make it easier to communicate, the proliferation of ways to communicate has become extremely difficult to figure out.
Courtesy of Dweebist.com
The easiest way to get up to speed is to a) find a service that actually delivers value to you, be) figure out if you really care in the first place.

I use Twitter to send out updates to friends and others who follow me, be snarky to politicians or to just fire off thoughts into the ether. My favorite self-serving tweet? Almost a year ago, in response to a request to tweet a "love in 140 characters or less," I tweeted this:
Love in 140 characters? "I gave her my kidney for a transplant, she swooned and gave me her heart. Now we're joined at the hip."
One of the things I enjoy about Twitter is the ability to find and track information in real time. For example, I found out about the Hudson river plane crash via Twitter, and follow different news services and blogs to find out breaking news and content updates. It makes it easier to stay up to date than constantly checking those respective web sites.

But there way so much more out than than Twitter. There's the new Google Buzz (what is it? Basically, it's Twitter for Gmail), there's Bebo, Facebook, MySpace, FourSquare, Tumblr... (really, you want more?).

From my perspective, use the tool that fits your need. Yer friends and fam on Facebook? No brainer, you should start a profile. Under 18 or a rock star wannabe? MySpace is for you. Want to be mayor of your world? Check out FourSquare. These social media outlets / tools really are social floaters, rising and sinking on the wave of public interest. For example, Twitter was little known until South-by-Southwest in 2007, and now it's finally figuring out to how monetize itself. (Yeah, see... actually making money with a social networking tool can be a challenge. Just being cool doesn't always pay well... if it did, I'd be a megamillionaire.)

There's also an age / generation thing. Baby Boomers aren't hip on sharing much of their private information. Gen Xers will share, but only so much. Gen Y and today's brats hooligans latest batch kids will send naked text messages and post pictures of their latest beer pong win.

This post could be a treatise on social media and go on for pages, but I don't think we care THAT much about it... so, naw. All that aside, whether it's twitter or FB,  it's a great way of keeping up with people without having to call or have coffee. I mean, sure, face-to-face and on the phone is imperative if you want a real relationship. But you don't always want that or can't have that, so the next best thing is to read the writing on their Wall and feel like you're a part of their life. Mebbe you are.


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19 February 2010

blog post 300 is kick ass!

I started blogging in early 2007 after I left AOL (cheers to my consistent readers through all the hiccups!). Well, according to Blogger, this is my 300th blog post. kidTruant has been busy and been quiet... garnered lots of attention... and been dormant. 

To help celebrate 300 irreverent (and most likely, irrelevant) blog posts, I share with you the next evolution in Comic Book Hero movies: Kick Ass. BTW, this movie preview is NSFW...







PS: Best wishes to Cica -- she's currently enjoying Swine Flu. Get well soon!


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t g i freeday




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17 February 2010

kids say the darndest things

.
Kudos to the Huffington Post for this quick article:
The joke's been done to death, but when it comes out of the mouth of a middle schooler and he gets detention for it, we can't help but applaud. Sure detention sucks, but it was totally worth it. Well done, Dalton, well done.
huffingtonpost.com
And for the fun of it:



.


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15 February 2010

olympic sabbatical

UniveralSports.com
We've been watching the Olympics since the Opening Ceremonies on Friday. I'm completely into the Winter Games, primarily the snowboarding events, as it's the only Winter sport I've actually done.

In fact, I like watching the Olympics much more than regular US professional sports like football or basketball -- those seem more about contracts and egos (and steroids). Of course, it's all perspective (mine) but I like that the Games are more about athletic talent, sweat and desire, and not so much about the marketing, machismo and endorsements that professional sports seem to mainly be about. Besides, honestly, I'm tired of the fact that the only thing men who don't know each other seem to be able to talk about is football. I'm so sick of cab drivers asking me about how much I love the Redskins (I don't -- in fact, I'm one of those people who feel offended by the racist team name). Oh yah, as a kid in Houston, I grew up watching the Oilers play football, sure... but I'd rather talk about electronics or space or heck, soccer. (Aren't I precious, I was a geek even then.)

During the last Winter Games in 2006, I discovered this mesmerizing sport that kept me enthralled watching the TV: curling.

Universalsports.com
Say wha? Yeah, curling. Here's an ice sport featuring fat guys couch potatoes bocci ball retirees athletes who have to use brooms brushes to scratch the ice and help direct a roomba stone to a bullseye on the ice. And you know what, all puns aside, it's pretty slick looking. It is. You should check it out. The matches begin tomorrow at noon ET.

Good thing I'm on sabbatical so I can watch! 


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13 February 2010

do the buckle

When I was a kid, my parents used to say the same thing each time we got into the car with them: "Buckle up for safety!" I thought it was the corniest thing I heard... until my older sister was in a car accident and wasn't wearing a seatbelt. She lived, but was severely injured with a fractured hip, broken ribs, fractured legs, broken nose, etc. Wasn't pretty. So I understood that seatbelts are important. I imagine that if / when I have kids of my own, I'll probably embarrass / annoy them each time we get in the car with my own "buckle up for safety!"




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12 February 2010

snowtopia 2010

Snowpocalypse! Snowmeggadon! Snowmagod! Whatever you think is hip to call it, the white stuff has given DC the white-out treatment. And with all due respect to my readers in Canada and Vermont and other parts of New England, I feel like I'm living in Canada and Vermont and other parts of New England! This winter, Wash DC has received experienced got dumped on blizzarded with 55 inches of snow -- a record for the district. In the past week, we got 30+ of those inches. And it was really cool. I grew up in Texas and saw snow once (it melted by 7am). I was 17 the first time I saw snow fall, and I've found it completely enchanting ever since. Of course, now that I'm a home owner and not a renter, I've discovered the "joy" of shoveling. And shoveling.

During Snowpocalypse 2010, I have learned these things:
  • Roofs leak in blizzards as well as thunderstorms
  • Shoveling can make you feel accomplished
  • Shoveling can feel futile
  • Some neighbors are seriously anal about shoveling
  • A real blizzard is awe-inspiring to watch
  • Winnie will poop on the porch during a blizzard (good dog)
  • It's disheartening to hear drip drip drip in your house
  • Roofs have to be shoveled
  • My right shoulder hurts from shoveling
  • I'm getting older
  • Everyone on Facebook feels the need to post pictures 
  • I still get excited when it snows.
I can't say I enjoyed learning all those things, especially the new learnings for shoveling leaky roofs. But on the other hand, wow, it's a LOT of snow. I found it both a little annoying and a little cute that so many people on Facebook felt the need to post pictures of their house / street / cute pet / cute kid in the snow. It gets a little old, yah?

Hey, here's few quick pics from me!




And here's a vid of the storm: (note: the snow is more than halfway up the 6 foot fence)



I shoveled my roof twice to a) ensure it doesn't collapse from the weight of so much snow and ice, and even more so, b) to help stop the really awful leaking happening in our back sun room (what used to be an old sleeping porch). I even shoveled part of my neighbor's roof, as it was leaking into our bathroom. To do that, I had to go through our 80+ year old neighbor's bedroom window to reach the roof. Oy, I felt bad... but then, it was his roof leaking into our house... In the end, the snow completely paralyzed Washington. I mean, it was a LOT of snow, no doubt. But the city couldn't figure out what to do (they decided schools would close... then stay open...  then close...).

Plus, to add to the fun, I was summoned for jury duty, and was supposed to show up on Monday -- the day the big blizzard hit. So no jury duty -- which bummed me out. I was looking forward to serving on a jury. Serving on a jury is a civic duty, and it's really interesting. I served on a trial about 10 years ago, and it was rather eye-opening. The jury was a bit apathetic to the whole affair, the plaintiff was wearing a neck-brace and using a cane 8 months after the accident he was suing about. Sigh. (He won, by the way.) The court uses Twitter to communicate (I was happily surprised) which turned out to be really helpful, as they posted updates about whether or not to show up (@DCCourtsInfo.) Yay for social media.

Back soon with more posts...


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05 February 2010

to xfinity & beyond!

Here's a thought I had: Comcast is the epitome of an evil monopoly, leaving customers with little choice and providing minimal services while reaping the greatest amount of profit possible. (Ahh, that felt good.) I was exceedingly happy to move away from them a few years ago, and with the recent fiber optics work going on in DC, we'll probably soon be a Verizon Fios family soon.

Ok, so I don't like Comcast for a few reasons: 
  • Bad user experience with company services 
  • Slow internet connections (max at 6mpbs for more than $120?)
  • They believe net neutrality means the gov't should be laissez faire (i.e., "fock off")
  • They put ads all over their channel guide (don't you pay enough already?)
  • Crappy customer service and installation service
(Though, I have to give a huge shoutout to @comcastcares for being the first successful customer service initiative on Twitter. If you are a Comcast customer and every have a problem, you should sent a tweet to them first. Oddly enough, the twitter support is actually effective.)

So what happens when you suck this much, and you buy a well-known brand? You re-name yourself and pretend you're someone else! Whoohoo!

The point of this post isn't to share my love of almost any other ISP or content provider, it's to tell you that if you're a Comcast customer, you're now going to be a Xfinity customer. Xfinity. As in "how much is this service going to cost me?" Answer: "$xfinity."

Sounds like a Calvin Klein commercial.

If you use Comcast Cable, Phone or Internet, you're now using Xfinity Cable, Xfinity Phone or Xfinity Internet customer. (Here's the Comcast blog announcement.)


However, according to this article from Wired, we're all focked.


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03 February 2010

calvin, we hardly knew ya

Bill Watterson and I began our shared adventure with Calvin and Hobbes in 1985 (ok, he had no clue about me, obviously), and for the next 10 years while he drew the antics of Calvin and his buddy Hobbes, I read the comic every day (mostly) and read it religiously every weekend while growing up (slowed a bit in college... Sunday hangovers make it a bit harder to catch up with dear ole Calvin first thing in the morning, ya know). I enjoyed and respected that comic more than any other part of the newspaper (still do, actually). I was 13 when the comic began, and I think I've purchased every collection Watterson published in the intervening years.

Then in 1995, while still in his early 30s, Watterson stopped drawing Calvin and Hobbes and retired. It was like losing a friend (or, sob, like when they cancelled As the World Turns). Mr Watterson had decided that he was done, thanks very much. He stopped drawing and they stopped publishing the comic in the US (it is published in other countries still today). I mention all this because, besides me reliving the joy of laughing knowingly along with the little rascal, Watterson recently gave an exceedingly rare interview (as in, the only one he's given since he retired 15 years ago) with the The Plain Dealer newspaper (and published online at Cleveland.com). The interview, given to/written by John Campanelli, is relatively short, but, as Campanelli references, it's kind of like getting a quick glimpse of Salinger ...before he closes the front door of his hermitage on your face so that the sign bounces off your nose with a decisive "NO Solicitations, NO merchandising, NO movies. Ok, thanks!"

If you're a fan but never purchased any of the books of collections, there's hope yet of getting your hands on the full collection of the comic (besides the thousands of bookstores and yard sales around the country to pick up the books). You can purchase the entire collection in one set from Amazon for the sale price of $94.50, (hey, it IS a hard-cover).
Or, if you're REALLY a fan, I suppose you could always get some fancy beach shoes...




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02 February 2010

iphone >= communicator?

Sir Patrick Stewart is cool. He is a trained Shakespearean actor, he played Duncan in David Lynch's version of Dune, and of course, he was Jean-Luc Picard (and created the ongoing geek debate: "Picard or Kirk?").

Below is a quick vid of Stewart talking about his dislike for Twitter (apparently, life in 140 characters is too simplistic), his deep love for his iPhone and his fear of being addicted to video games. The video is from from an interview with the PBS show Frontline: Digital Nation.

Isn't he cute?




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01 February 2010

becoming a precise device

I came across a video from TEDxBerlin of PhD candidate Fabian Hemmert presenting his question on how to make technology more graspable -- that is, how to take that which is virtual (soft-ware) and have it interact in a very human, sensory aware way (hard-ware).

Fabian presents three ways to make mobile devices interact with us in a more physical manner: weight (mass), thickness and physical animation (movement). The first option, weight, might be envisioned as a mobile phone seeming to get heavier on a specific side when the phone wants us to move in a certain direction (for example, you're following directions on a map, and the phone gets heavier on the left side when you should turn left).

The second idea, thickness, would allow the device to change its shape at will, in order to meet our desires (say, a phone that sits on a table in order to watch a movie, or stays upright to be an alarm clock). The other idea he presents is giving devices the ability to have life-like status effects (a phone that pulsates when an important call comes in). One example he gives is a phone that "breathes calmly" to let you know that you have no calls -- or appears to be upset if you have a missed meeting or several voicemails.

While I'm not sure I want an anxious phone (I'm neurotic enough without my phone actively contributing), the ability of the phone to change shape to meet the immediate need is interesting.  Mainly, I think Fabian is on the right track -- humans like to use our hands and our other senses beyond touch to interact with things. Vibration, ring tones and picture caller ID are all ways to make the phone interact with you. Imagine a phone that gets heavier when your boss calls?

The video below is short and interesting:



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the joys of parody

You know I'm an Apple fan(boi). You should by now know that I'm also a realist  objective rational non-judgmental willing to admit that Apple isn't the messiah (they're not curing cancer, ending world hunger or making me coffee first thing in the morning -- that's Cuisinart). I do think they make better overall computer devices that are more pleasant and easier to use. (Oh, and they're purty.) That said, I enjoy watching other people make fun of Apple.

One particular critic / fanboi is the faux technology journalist called "Mosspuppet," who's a cranky parody puppet (made by Hoggworks.com) of the real technology journalist Walt Mossberg (writes for the Wall Street Journal). If you're into new tech and having someone cantankerous tell you where you can stick the latest fad, then he's the man puppet for you!

Here's a great compilation video (by Neil Curtis) of Steve Jobs' iPad Keynote Address in 180 seconds: (thanks to Mosspuppet)


Makes you think why Apple wasted an hour and a half presenting, when they could have done it in 3 minutes instead.

Also good to read / watch is "Fake Steve Jobs" who has been around a while, writing a blog / diary all about Steve Jobs. Highly recommended if you're a geek who likes geek humor.  ;)

pic courtesy of mosspuppet.com


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