Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat (but bring a bag)

I normally man the home front on Halloween and tonight we hit a new low in Trick or Treater participation. When you come to my house you should wear a costume. I get a bit peeved at kids (mostly older kids) that come with no bloody costume. Come on kids where is your Halloween spirit. Tonight however we hit a new low. A kid came to my door with no costume and no bag! He proceeded to ask me for candy and the bag! I must have been crazy. I gave him both. Next year, I'm implementing something devious for these costume-less vagabonds. Beware!

Google Gobbles JotSpot

How cool. Google now adds JotSpot to it's arsenal of productivity apps. I played around with JotSpot a when it launched. It was useful but not to the point where I was willing to shell out money for the extra functionality. Our internal wiki worked just fine thanks. Of course, now that it's free it's kind of hard not to use it for something. My account was reactivated and I'm starting to play with it again. Congrats to all the folks at JotSpot! I guess the only thing that will get into the way of this Googalicious gravy train is the collapse o the ad market. Although to me it sure seems like they've built a pretty efficient exchange for advertisers and content producers. Efficient markets are hard to topple. You can create competing markets but that's just better for the customers. So why do I need Microsoft Office? The answer is increasingly, "I don't." I just converted everyone in the house over to Google docs and spreadsheets. That's not quite fair because I had already switched everyone to OpenOffice. Putting stuff on the network is extremely liberating. Of course now I'm wondering if I haven't traded one master for the other. I think the net will protect us from that kind of damage and help us all route around that. So some me words of advice for Google. Don't let us down. Don't loose our data or hold it captive. Basically, don't screw up.

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Mozilla 2.0 Hangs

I've been playing around with Mozilla 2.0 on my Intel Mac (I started with RC3 and recently upgraded to 2.0 proper). It seems to hang (which requires a "Force Quit") about 4 times a day. So far I don't see the the advantages over the last release. I must say I'm under-whelmed.

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Happy Halloween!

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mozilla 2.0 Hangs

I've been playing around with Mozilla 2.0 on my Intel Mac (I started with RC3 and recently upgraded to 2.0 proper). It seems to hang (which requires a "Force Quit") about 4 times a day. So far I don't see the the advantages over the last release. I must say I'm under-whelmed.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Devo Worship

I don't think there is any band who's music captures the geek ethos any more perfectly than Devo. Nope. Don't think so.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Contemporary Italian History Italian-style

My wife brought home a DVD of an Italian film, La Meglio Gioventù. We started watching this on Friday night and one thing my wife neglected to tell me that it was a 6 hour film. (I think it was adapted from a RAI TV drama). It was the story of two brothers and their journey from the end of their university days in the 1960s to their lives in present day Italy. It was stunning. The characters were very well developed and the story was interwoven with the political turmoil in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, complete with the student riots in Turin, to the activities of the Red Brigades, and finally the political scandals of kickbacks (Tangentopoli) that brought down the Democratic Christian party. Much of it we found interesting because both my wife and I remember the the times very well. She lived there in 70s and 80s and I remember watching the news stories from the US RAI broadcasts. But the political backdrop of a turbulent Italy is really just the icing on the cake. I thought the story of these brothers, the family, and their friends was just riveting. Sure the brothers represented some pretty typical archetypes of the day, Nicola (Luigi LoCascio) the sensitive, intellectual who becomes a psychiatrist and Matteo (Alessi Boni) the restless rebel turned cop who can never seem to find peace in his personal or professional life. Together they move through personal triumphs and tragedies as they move within the externally "stable" yet troubled society. I highly recommend the movie. If you can't speak Italian, it's worth reading subtitles for 6 hours. Do it like we did. Watch 3 on Friday night then wake up make breakfast and watch the other 3 hours. You'll feel transported to a lost place and time and think of the characters as old friends even if you didn't already grow up with them.

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Google Reader

Wow. Big difference. I'm a bit late on noticing that Google Reader has made significant improvements. They've improved the interface to allow for two modes of viewing blog posts. The first is the combined "river of news" style where posts from all your feeds are just mashed together into one long stream. The second is the more traditional per feed listing of new stories for that feed. The latter is my preferred method of consuming RSS. Couple that with all the new ajax goodness Google has included in this rev of the product and you have a one hell of an aggregator. It's too much to resist. Google Reader has replaced Bloglines as my main RSS axe. So I've given Google much of my business. My computer desktop is full of Google Apps. (Gmail, Gcalendar, Google Reader, Google Maps, and on and on.) To top that off every third story I click on in Digg points to a YouTube clip of The Daily Show. Will this ever end? Is this good for me? Is it good for the industry?

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Apple Pro Care: A Tale of Two Cities

I bought two MacBook Pros about three weeks ago. When I picked them up with the colleague that was going to be using the other machine, we joked that one of the machines was probably a lemon. Sure enough, mine turned out to be the lemon. The first problem I noticed was the track pad just would not work properly. I tried tweaking the track pad settings but to know avail. Since I needed to get on the road for a few weeks and I needed the machine I packed a USB mouse and decided to live with the problem until I got to somewhere for enough time to bring the machine in to get it repaired. In the mid point of my trip, on a Saturday, I ended up in San Francisco and what better place to get my system repaired then the San Francisco Apple store. I thought how long could it take to repair a track pad. The genius at the bar told me it would probably take 24 hours. The timing was good since my conference didn't start until Sunday night and by his estimate I'd have it by 3pm on Sunday. Perfect. Well 24+5 hours later they finally called me, it turned out when they started working on the machine they discovered that there were errors on the drive. They would have to copy my data, reformat the drive, and copy my data back. It would be ready by sometime Monday afternoon. I've done that kind of repair on my mac before and I figured that was reasonable. If I had another drive and my install disks I could have done that myself but they were all back in New Jersey. So I decided to let the tech do his job and let him get it to me on Monday. Two days later and after three trips to the apple store to find out why it was taking so long, I finally got the machine back. The track pad was fixed and it seemed the machine was more responsive. When I got home I noticed that the keyboard was not properly seated and that the hard drive was acting up again. This was really starting to suck. So I backed up the machine and took it down to my local Apple store in Menlo Park Mall. The tech there reviewed my case and couldn't really understand why the SF store took so long to deal with my problem. He figured the hard drive was really defective and it should be replaced. He went into the back of the store and checked his inventory. He came back with some bad news. They didn't have the part and it would be some time to get a new one in stock to fix my machine. It would take three days to get the part and get the machine back to me. However in reviewing my recent Pro Care "experience" he said his manager agreed to let him extend a complete machine replacement. In a half an hour I walked out with a brand new machine and tonight I'm back up and running. This was an ordeal. I don't know why the SF Apple store took 4 days to get my machine back to me but I am sure glad my local Menlo Park store tech took the initiative and completely changed the experience for the better. The guys a Menlo Park are fantastic. I've written about them before and they deserve to be recognized again. They could teach the rest of the Apple Store organization a thing or two about customer service.