Tag: geekery

Early morning

Tried as I might, I couldn’t sleep much later than 7 AM, and for all practical purposes, I was really up at around 6 AM. I woke up around 4:30 AM at one point and the sky was already filled with daylight, another reminder of just how far north I am. (I am also reminded that my longitude at the moment is easy to remember: I’m very close to 0 degrees of longitude, being close to Greenwich.)

I cleaned up the room a bit, showered and had some laundry sent out. It is incredibly expensive to have laundry done here in the hotel (more than it was on the cruise ship), but I just have to take a deep breath and go with the flow. Besides, I need some clean clothes to last me the rest of the week. After that, I headed down to breakfast at Bracewells, the hotel’s breakfast restaurant. For 21 pounds, I had an overwhelmingly large breakfast and it was quite good, but it’s the last time I’ll do it. I just can’t bear to spend $45 on breakfast every morning. I very much liked the English-style bacon, which is a kind of American/Canadian bacon hybrid.

When I finished breakfast, I asked where I might find a pharmacy and was directed up Piccadilly a block or so past the Underground. There, I looked for plug adapter that had a level, instead of indented face so that I could plug my camera charger and cell phone charger into it. They didn’t have any U.S. to U.K. adapters, so I continued up the street until I came across an small Indian bodega. They had exactly what I was looking for: a “tourist travel adapter”. I brought it back to the hotel and it works like a charm. Now I don’t have to stress about my phone or camera.

I’m about to plan out what to see today, and then head out for the day. It’s beautiful out at the moment, by the way, although it looks like it may rain later on in the day. I’m hoping to get some good pictures.

Dead power adapter

After nearly 2 years of use, the power adapter for my iBook died this morning. It was working last night, but today, when I plugged it in at work, I got a shock, and noticed that there were bare wires visible. It would no longer supply power to the laptop. When the Apple Store opened this morning, I ran down there and got a new power adapter, which is working just fine now.

I think I also need a new battery, but that can wait a little while longer.

Video Age

Just about my entire team works in Santa Monica. Two of the team members work in Pittsburgh and I am the only one here in Washington. That means most of my meetings are audio-conferences. I rarely see faces. While we have video conferencing rooms, we never use them.

Today, however, I installed a Logitech QuickCamTM “Ultra Vision” camera on my work machine to use with our Adobe Connect meeting software. I just finished doing a test and it was pretty cool. I was able to see people that I was meeting with. The camera and throughput is not as good as what I get on my iSight camera on my macintosh at home, but I can’t complain. It will be nice to see faces in meetings.

Of course, this means that I have to look focused; I can’t be multitasking as much if I am on video. On the other hand, there are cool “face template” that come with the camera, so that I can make it look as though I am wearing a sea captain hat, and smoking a cigar, which has to make the people on the other end laugh, at least a little.

A picture’s worth $400

Norm was making fun of my digital camera nearly two weeks ago when we gathered for the Rainbow Room dinner. My digital camera is a Canon Powershot A-somethingorother and it is circa 2001. It is a 2.1 megapixel camera and it weighs about 9-1/2 pounds, so it’s no wonder that he was making fun of me. (He also made fun of the fact that I didn’t know what “macro” mode was.)

As it turns out, I have been thinking of upgrading my camera for some time. With the trip to Europe coming up this summer, I want one of those slim camera that could slip into my pocket, but with all of the “modern” bells and whistles.

Well, this afternoon I went out and got one.

I bought a Canon PowerShot SD100 Elph which is a slim, tiny digital camera with lots of bells and whistles. (Although I already noticed that the software on the camera has not been updated to correct for daylight saving time.) I also picked up a 1 GB high-speed memory chip, and a case and spare battery for it. All told, it cost me about $400.

Once I got back to my office, I set it up and played around with it a bit. Here is a picture I took (at it’s full resolution of something like 3000×2000-some-odd pixels), but dumbed down to be web-friendly:

(Notice the partial ER-diagram that can be seen on one of my white boards in the background?) This marks the first official picture I’ve taken with the camera. With a 1 GB memory stick, even at maximum resolution, I can store more than 500 pictures. I doubt I’d take more than 500 pictures in one day so that’s plenty for me.

I’m taking the camera with me to Orlando tomorrow to test it out. Because it’s so slim and small, I’m hoping it means that I will take more pictures than I usually do. We’ll see…

TiVo/Amazon Unbox

Amazon and Tivo have teamed up to provide a new service where you can rent or buy videos from Amazon and have them downloaded directly to your TiVo. There are over a thousand movies (including just-released to DVD movies, like the new James Bond flick) as well as TV shows. It can cost anywhere form $1.99 to rent, or something like $7.99 to buy. New users of the service get a $15 credit, so I signed up for it today, and then proceeded to “rent” The Break-up. Within 15 minutes, the movie was downloading onto my Tivo and the download was complete after about an hour or so.

It seems like a pretty cool service. If you are at work and decide you want to “rent” a movie, you just order it up and it will be there waiting for you when you get home.

With all of these services like this, or the iTunes store, it is bringing “instant gratification” to a whole new level.

Cruising to luxury

I got my booking number for the cruise this summer and with that number, I discovered that I could do several things on the website. So I put in all of my immigration information (passport number, etc.), my emergency contact info, and registered a credit card. This does several things. It automatically enrolls me in an expedited boarding process, and beginning within 90 days of the cruise, I can reserve services (like messages in the spa) over the website, so I can be sure I get the times that I want. (I’m planning on 4-5 messages over the duration of the cruise.)

I was also able to set my preferences (like whether or not I wanted robes in my cabin), see the itinerary, and other cools stuff.

I found out for certain that the cruise ship has wireless Internet access in several locations on board, so this blog will not miss a beat while I’m vacationing and will contain at least daily reports (and pictures) of my adventures.

I also enabled my cell phone for International calling with T-Mobile, which was easy to do over their website. Within Italy and Greece, rates are not too bad. On the ship they are pricey. But I also discovered that international text messaging is still relatively cheap and can actually be drawn from your pool of messages if you have a service (I have 400/month) so that might be the way to go unless I absolutely need to make a call.

124 days and counting…

Saturday wrapup

Today was a lazy day for me. For one thing, I did not end up going to the gym today. For another, I slept a lot. I didn’t get up until 9 AM, which is late for me. After breakfast, I lazed around, watching TV until just after noon, when I decided to read. That lasted all of a few minutes. I dozed off on the couch for almost 2 hours, during which time I had those kinds of dreams where you dream you are asleep on the couch but can’t quite wake up.

In the late afternoon, instead of going to the gym, I headed over to the Outback Steakhouse, where I ordered the Aussie Cheese Fries (sans bacon) and watched two episodes of The Office on my iPod.

Incidentally, my video iPod has become the second biggest conversation-started, second only to my New York Yankees jacket. I tend to watch stuff on my video iPod when I’m at restaurants by myself. Lately, I’ve had a number of people (often the restaurant employees) come by and ask me what it is I’m watching, and telling me that they didn’t know you could watch TV shows and movies on an iPod. And if they don’t ask about the iPod, then some Red Sox fan will comment on my Yankees jacket.

I finally got a bit more productive later in the day. I completed by second recap of SF AGE. I completed the first draft of my story, “4005 B.C.” I made good progress reading through issue 3 of SF AGE. I spoke to Dad and Jen and Doug on the phone. I sent out some reminder email that I needed to send. I booked my flight into NYC the weekend of March 10-11 (I am taking a bunch of friends to the Rainbow Room Grill at the top of Rockefeller Center for my birthday, just as I did last year.)

I watched the latest episodes of 24 and Scrubs. And I downloaded the pilot episode of Babylon 5, after mabfan gave it a strong recommendation.

When all is said and done, it sounds like a busy day, but I still feel like I was pretty lazy today.

And eerily, I’m having a jkashlock moment: already I’m thinking about and looking forward to breakfast tomorrow morning.

Saturday night wrap up

I’m getting ready to get into bed and read for a while. I was fairly productive today. I got my passport. I wrote some thank you notes (although I still have more to write). I got some work done on the book collection database, including a cataloging of all of my SCIENCE FICTION AGE magazines. I went to the gym to workout. I did some laundry. Now I’ve showered.

The house is a bit of a mess, but I’ll get it cleaned up in the next couple of days. My desk here in the office is brimming over with stuff. I need to get that cleaned up too.

I gassed up the car tonight, 10.5 gallons, so I shouldn’t need to fill it up again for another couple of weeks.

jkashlock and Dad called me for a video iChat this afternoon. They were at the Apple store in Simi Valley and had hijacked one of the display computers in order to video chat with me. Dad showed me his Mets shirt and I showed them my new passport. Somehow, I think I will go farther with my passport than the Mets will go this coming season. This was my second video iChat this weekend. Jim and I spent about 30 minutes video chatting yesterday evening.

I’ve been listening to Aerosmith for much of the day today. I haven’t listened to them in a while and it was fun to hear them again.

That’s a wrap!

Geeks I admire

Working in the computer world, as I have for the last 13 years, and specifically within the world of software development, one becomes familiar with a subculture of people whose notoriety is limited to hardened geeks. These people have affected (usually for the better) the world of computer science in positive ways, sometimes revolutionizing entire technologies or industries. At heart, they are geeks, and I thought it would be interested to list those geeks I admire.

Read the list