A View from my Porch

30 05 2009

wireless-in-cohousing-1.png
Ahh, it’s wonderful stepping out on my porch in the morning, sitting down with my coffee, and viewing the awesome vista laid out before me… and my laptop.
The nifty thing about this is some of these WAPs are in Camelot, about a hundred yards north.

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Because Everyone has Too Much Time

25 05 2009

You know the drill. Can’t stay away from the little green haired coveralled critters. Their inevitable destruction in the most gruesome ways is just too much darned fun.
But now you can do it via javascript and DHTML.
Lemmings. In a browser. You know you want to.





Feeding the Tweets

24 05 2009

I find myself doing a heck of a lot of twittering lately. The updated version of Twitterrific has an excellent interface, allowing me to post pictures, follow threads, do things like like “show me tweets that are coming from nearby me physically” (which has led me to make some new friends!).
This unfortunately has meant I don’t blog as much. When I see something I want to talk about, I just throw out a twitter post – which may include a picture of something I’ve just seen.
I understand that many of my readers don’t log into Twitter at all, and that’s fine. There is, however, a nice RSS feed of my postings available.
To read my tweets via RSS, use my RSS feed link (which is available on my twitter home page). My tweets are also forwarded into my Facebook page.
Last but not least, there’s a cute widget on my blog home page that shows the last couple tweets I’ve posted.
Twitter, for all it’s buzzwordism, is an interesting medium. I’ll stick with it for a while.





Some repercussions. Jay Severin gets spanked.

18 05 2009

On my way home from work I frequently tune to WTKK in Boston to get an idea about what the far right is saying. I think it’s good to hear “the other side” of things. In the spectum of social policy, I’m frighteningly liberal – so it’s good to hear what the conservative wanks are going on about.

This leads me to listening to Jay Severin, who is about as far into radical politics as you can go. He’s a foaming-at-the-mouth Libertarian, from which you can get an idea where his politics are.

I listen to him because it gives me perspective on how twisted a view of reality can be generated. This is the fellow who consistently refers to the president as Barack Hussein Obama, well known Muslim and Communist, etc etc etc.

Apparently WTKK had enough of him during a show Severin did on April 30th. I happened to be listening to this when it aired, remember going “Yep, it’s Jay completely off the deep end again. Ah well” – but here’s his words:

Now, in addition to venereal disease and the other leading exports of Mexico — women with mustaches and VD — now we have swine flu… When we are the magnet for primitives around the world — and it’s not the primitives’ fault, by the way, I’m not blaming them for being primitives, I’m merely observing they are primitives — and when you scoop up some of the world’s lowest of primitives in poor Mexico and drop it down in the middle of the United States — poor, without skills, without language, not share our culture, not share our hygiene, haven’t been vaccinated… Millions of leeches from a primitive country come here to leech off you…. Now, at this particular moment in history, they are exporting to us a rather more active form of disease, which is the swine flu.

Now, after hearing, er. commentary like this, before I get all indignant, I ask myself “Does he really think this? Or is he affecting a persona that believes this?” – Jay is very eloquent – he could easily be presenting this image and these ideas deliberately to push folks into the red.

TKK wasn’t having anything to do with it, and has indefinitely suspended him.

Maybe there is some sanity in the world.





TechGripe – iPhone Mail app

15 05 2009

First and foremost, I still love my iphone. It’s become my internet-in-your-pocket device. When I’m not carrying it, I feel like something’s missing.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it’s faults – and today’s itch is with the Mail app.
I have Mail configured to chat with the Exchange 2007 server at work (which works remarkably well – I get meeting notifications, etc). I also have it configured to talk to my Homeport mailbox over IMAPS. This works… well, but has some quirks.
First, Mail crashes like clockwork on startup. My guess this is due to a large inbox (frequently I’ll update and see 50-75 messages waiting to download. It’ll get 2/3rds of the way through the download, and BOOM). A restart usually completes the update.
I’ll do my mailbox cleaning, removing a bunch of spam, checking notices, etc… and then go on about my daily business.
When I sit down at my desk and run up Thunderbird – which connects to the same IMAP server, I see that all the messages I deleted or marked as read are still in my inbox.
I can’t find a way to tell the iPhone to sync it’s view of my inbox with the server. It does happen eventually, during some dark and sleepy period when I’m not watching it I’m sure, but I can’t figure out how to make it happen on my time – like, say, after I’ve updated my inbox during a boring meeting, and before I sit back down at my desk.
I know OS 3.0 is right around the corner, and will be a monstrous update. Perhaps there’ll be some Mail app tweaks?





The Portable Stack – Is there a place for the EeePC?

5 05 2009

Recently I was successfully marketed to by Woot.com and aquired an Asus EeePC 900 Linux netbook. For those who are not familiar with these puppies, they’re hyper-small fully functional ‘laptop’ computers, scaled down to be the size of a hardcover book. The Netbook article on Wikipedia is a good summary of these devices.

The Asus EeePC 900 is an ‘older’ version (hence the reason I got it for only $149) with 512meg of RAM and a 4 gig SSD drive. It has all the basic features you’d expect for a laptop – wifi, decent screen, touchpad, USB ports, good battery life (about 3.5 hours), etc. In all respects, it should be a geeks dream. A fully functional Linux box that is only a few pounds, and can run for hours.

So why am I considering handing it off to my son?

The main problem is that in the current portable computing environment, the ‘slot’ that Netbooks like the EeePC can fill is narrowing rapidly. On the ‘full laptop’ side, there’s a trend toward longer battery life, lighter designs, and stuffing all the functionality of a full desktop machine into a portable form. Many people don’t even have desktop machines anymore, they use their laptops for all work (that’s my situation). On the other side we have the emergency of smartphones like the iPhone (which I have). The iPhone is an enormously capable device. I can read my email, chat online, browse the web, play games – all the things I’d likely do on my laptop if it were small and light – the space that the EeePC and others are shooting for.

Even in the face of all this, I really did give the EeePC a try. I carried it around for a week, trying to see where I’d use it and where I wouldn’t. I never ‘clicked’ into it in any particular fashion, due to a number of obstacles that were either filled by my iPhone or by my laptop:

  • Very small keyboard
    The EeePC has a very small and somewhat wobbly keyboard. I have quite large hands, and though I could ‘shrink’ my hands down to type away, it took some serious concentration, and really only worked when the EeePC was flat on a desk and I was sitting in a proper chair. If I were in that situation, I’d just use my laptop.

  • Wireless twitchy
    This is probably a fault of the Linux distribution the EeePC uses, but I had all sorts of problems with the machine waking up and not reassociating with any available wifi (it wouldn’t even show networks available).

  • No LEAP support
    The wireless also could not use LEAP authentication on wireless. This meant I could not use the EeePC anywhere at the office. Total loss there – I was hoping to be able to bring the machine with me to meetings so I didn’t have to undock and haul my normal laptop along.

  • Update failures from Asus
    ASUS has broken their updater. The EeePC will not software update properly from ASUS’s servers. This is a real problem. There are workarounds, naturally, but it likely means there won’t be OS updates from the manufacturer anytime soon. The answer seems to be to use Eeebuntu, a version of Ubuntu linux designed specifically for the EeePC netbooks.

  • Touchpad
    I don’t like the touchpad. I don’t know why – I just can’t get comfortable with it. The two-finger scrolling is cumbersome and prone to ‘pausing’ (this compared to the two-fingered scrolling on a macbook, which is smooth as silk).

  • Yet Another Power Supply
    I have a problem with power supplies. If I’m going to carry another laptop, I have to have another power supply with me. So now I have 2 laptops, 2 power supplies. This is not saving me anything in weight in my backpack.

Given all these issues, I find myself either picking up my iPhone to twitter or check something on wikipedia, or get out my laptop if I’m going to do any real work.

So what to do? The current plan is to reload the EeePC with Eeebuntu and evaluate that. If it’s stable, is able to browse youtube, run Python’s IDLE environment, and play nethack, then it will be a perfect upgrade for my son, as he’s outgrowing his XO laptop.