Archive of July, 2007
July 19, 2007:
I bought a new toy recently.
Ain't it purty?
Here you see a 2.2 GHz MacBook Pro. Not shown is the wireless optical mouse. I'd forgotten that there's such a thing as "new computer smell" -- I so rarely replace more than a couple components on the PC that I don't notice it any more. Anyway, as far as toys go, this is a pretty expensive one.
I'm still getting used to it; the mouse actually has multiple buttons, so it's not as big of a pain as I was afraid of. It came bundled with some software (detailed below) that I'm trying to figure out and see what it's useful for. I'll probably have a review of all that up in a little while.
I'd like to take a couple minutes now, to explain the ways in which Apple tried very hard to get me to not buy their computer.
Not telling me what's in it. They cover the basics on their product page: 15-inch screen, 2.2 GHz processor, 2 GB RAM, etc. They don't get into the extra detail on the hardware that a comparison shopper with some knowledge would want. I realize that a lot of people don't care about the front-side bus or the L2 cache, but at least throw a link that says "geeky stuff in here" for all the gearheads. And while you're at it, tell me what the hell a "Superdrive" is.
Between a Mac-user friend and a Google search I was able to get all the information I needed, but c'mon, Apple: I'm on your site already, looking at the product. Make it easy for me to make an informed choice. And speaking of informed choices...
Not telling me about the software. I know I get MacOS X ('cause, you know, Mac). I know I get Safari. That's pretty much it, as far as I knew. When I actually went to an Apple Store the person there was able to show me the actual software bundle that comes with every Mac -- the iPhoto picture organizer with a small built-in editor. Nothing I can't do with Photoshop, but not having to fire up a resource hog is nice, and the thumbnails are pretty good-sized, too.
It also comes with iMovie, the (simple) movie editor, and iDVD, which assembles "real" (as in, a player will treat them like normal) DVDs. Not things that get a lot of use, mind you, and things that might not stick around in my
Quicklaunch Bar Dock for long, but nifty things to have around. Rounding out the list is GarageBand, which I probably won't use at all due to the fact that I have the musical skill of a pile of driveway gravel.
Here I come to save the daaaay!
But that's four pretty decent programs there, and they go a long way toward ameliorating the $600 difference between the Mac and the PC laptop I was also pricing. I mean, I could see myself using this stuff -- at least once in a while -- compared to the resource-sucking crap that comes pre-loaded on any PC laptop. Why not let me think I'm getting my money's worth? Some of us aren't interested in paying extra money for a logo and a donation to the Steve Jobs Turtleneck Fund.
Oh, I mentioned the Apple Store up there. Nice people, and helpful. Which was all the more impressive considering the iPhone had launched the day before. Which leads me to point three:
The Apple Store was out of laptops. Seriously. I asked right there to buy a MacBook Pro, and was told that they didn't have any. They didn't even know when a shipment would come in. At the Clarendon store they at least told me that their shipments lately had been loaded with the phones, so people could shell out $600 a pop for them, but it left them light on computers. Between lack of inventory and an influx of people into the stores, they just didn't have any.
So after driving around Fairfax and Arlington counties in an attempt to buy a computer from a computer company, I finally had to order online and wait for my computer to be assembled and shipped from China. Which took a day longer than it should have, because the truck took two and a half hours to get from Apple's factory in Shanghai to the FedEx depot in... Shanghai. That's right, two and a half hours to get across town, which meant it missed the cutoff time and the plane to the US, keeping it the Eastern hemisphere for an extra day.
And I thought traffic here in NoVA was bad.
But anyway, it's here and I'm giving it a try. There's no "productivity" software on here -- no Office, no iWork, no Photoshop, no IDEs. Just a web browser, chat software, and the movie-making stuff. This is a play computer. If I need to work or balance my checkbook, I still have my desktop PC.
Of course, I say that now. I'll probably be running Apache, MySQL and PHP on it (usually called "LAMP" when Linux is the OS; would this be "MAMP"?) because geeks can never leave well enough alone.
July 16, 2007:
"It beats living in the jungle and getting the crap beat out of you."
All right, I'll admit it lacks some punch, but they did find 200 people who'd agree with that sentiment. The Akron Beacon Journal reported Sunday that about 200 refugees from Burma/Myanmar's Karen tribe will be settled in Akron. (Cached copy.)
I'll have to ask my Burmese friends, but the gist I'm getting is that out of the tribes/mini-nations that all got glommed into the British colony of Burma (later the independent nation of Burma, now renamed Myanmar by the ruling dictatorship) the Karen are at the bottom of the pile and thus catch all the crap rolling downhill.
Edit, 11:10 AM: Spoke to one of my friends, and I got that part wrong. I figured that Burma was like Iraq, cobbled together to make a nice, big colony; instead it was an existing kingdom (ruled by the Burma tribe). The problems came from Britain's divide-and-rule strategy, turning the groups against each other to make conquest and rule easier for them. That's what my friend was taught in school, anyway. In her words: "Maybe I was learning propaganda."
Hey, when I went to Mount Vernon I found out that George and Martha Washington "employed" 350 "African-Americans", so sugar-coating its own history seems to be any country's purview.
Gee, if Burma goes downhill fast enough the influx of refugees may keep Akron's population from decreasing any more.
July 10, 2007:
I don't really make a secret of the fact that I'm an atheist. But sometimes I have to stop and reconsider things. Like when a guy selling religious crap door-to-door gets tagged by a bolt of lightning. This "God" fella sounds like my kind of guy...
July 05, 2007:
Well, it's not like I post anything useful here anyway, so here goes. This is a long one (51 questions).
- First Name and middle name?
- What holiday is closest to your birthday?
Halloween (I've already heard it).
- Favorite fruit?
Never been a fan of boy bands.
- Does it bother you when someone says they'll call you and they don't?
Depends. If it's just shooting the shit, not really. If it's "we'll call you when we figure out what [club|restaurant|fun thing] we're going to," then yes.
- Are you allergic to anything?
Sulfa-based drugs, cat hair, some pollen.
- Is there someone/something you want?
If I ever get to the point that I don't want anyone/anything, just put two in my brain, OK?
- When was the last time you went swimming?
Hm... '05 I think.
- How many U.S states have you been to?
Your answer is here. Start counting.
- How many of the U.S states have you lived in?
Three: Ohio, Pennsylvania and (currently) Virginia.
- What's your favorite kind of drink?
I've gotten mildly addicted to frapuccinos, even if I never spell them the same way twice.
- Does anyone like you?
Little-L? A few people. Big-L? Doubtful.
- Do you have any strange pets?
Short of attempting to domesticate the spider that descended on me while I was peeing yesterday, no.
- What is your dream car?
Probably a Porsche of some sort. BMWs are nice, but they don't necessarily look BMWy to me any more... I like the older, boxier look. In the more affordable category, the VW Eos looks fun.
- What'd you do yesterday?
Went to work, came home, watched TV, talked on the phone. I'm a wild man, I tell ya.
- Are you bipolar?
Not as far as I know. If I were in the mood to self-diagnose, maybe. But when it comes to mental illnesses I'm a total hypochondriac.
- So do you and your ex's have good relationships?
- Where would you want to go on a first date?
Don't really know. Which is probably why I always think they turn out badly. Not a big fan of "dinner and a movie" though: Why spend the time you're supposed to be getting to know somebody by going to a place where you're not supposed to talk?
- Has anyone ever sang or played for you personally?
Other than "hey, look, I can play [instrument], no.
- Ever been kissed under fireworks?
- What was the last text message you received?
Probably figuring out a time and place to meet up for a baseball game.
- Have you ever bungee jumped?
Nope. Looks like fun, but that whole scared-of-heights thing would probably bite me. Same with skydiving.
- Have you ever kayaked?
Rafted, yes. Kayaked, no. I like being able to move around.
- Are you an extreme racist?
No way. I hate everybody, regardless of race, creed, color, national origin or sexual orientation.
- What sound are you listening to right now?
Birds, mostly. Occasional traffic.
- What's your favorite song at the moment?
I've had some Tears for Fears on constant loop in my head for a couple days. I guess that counts.
- What was the last movie you watched?
Star Wars. No episode number, the opening crawl just said Star Wars.
- Where was the last place you went besides your house?
The driving range. (I sucked. No, that's not accurate. What's the first level below "suck"?
- Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else's property?
Well, there was that one Fourth of July when a bottle rocket exploded under the S8N car back on campus, but other than that, no. (The car continued its Dark Lord ways unharmed.)
- What's the first thing you notice about the opposite sex?
- Did you participate in any sports in high school?
I'm pretty sure cross-country counts as a sport, though I don't know if my participation in it did.
- What do you usually order from Olive Garden?
I honestly can't remember the last time I was at an Olive Garden. Has to have been several years. So "usually" would be what I get the next time I'm there, probably some time around 2015.
- Say something totally random about yourself.
I have a supernumerary nipple.
- Do you have an iPod?
Only in the "every copier is a xerox" sense. Creative Zen Jukebox, but no iPod.
- Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity?
If they did, the celebrity could sue for slander.
- Do you have freckles?
Yes, but only on my arms most of the time.
- Are you comfortable with your height?
Well, I've gotten used to being unable to reach some things, but if I'm going to continue weighing 196 I should probably grow another couple inches.
- Do you love someone right now?
- How tall are you?
5'7", about 170 cm for you metric types.
- Speak any other languages?
I took a few years of French way back when, and a semester of Spanish in college because I had to take a semester of something, but I wouldn't say I can speak either language beyond "cervesa, por favor." And I'd probably manage to get that wrong.
- Have you ever ridden in a blimp?
Well, there was this one party where I was really drunk... Oh, you mean the lighter-than-air ships. Er, no. Let's just drop this, shall we?
- Has anyone you were really close to passed away?
Grandparents, and an old friend from elementary school. The last one I hadn't talked to in years, so I don't know if "close" counts, but it was still kinda deflating to find out someone my own age (college at the time) had cacked it.
- Do you watch MTV?
- What's something that really annoys you?
Hearing people eat. Not quiet chewing, but someone slurping and smacking just about drives me batshit. When they show something like a professional taste-tester I have to change the channel. I've actually yelled at people to chew with their mouths shut before.
- Do you have a crush?
"A" crush? I'm limited to one?
- Do you drive when you go on long trips?
Only if it's within about eight hours, otherwise I fly. But I have driven between Pittsburgh and Orlando once. One time was enough.
- What's the latest you have ever stayed out?
I think I opened the McDonald's in Oakland once. I'm pretty sure that's about 6 AM. Of course, for some projects in college I pulled all-nighters, but that's not really going out.
- Have you ever thought that you were honestly going to die?
For sure, no. But I was really nervous riding between Narita Airport and Yokosuka. If I was going to die in a car wreck, I'm sure that would've been the day. (We arrived just fine, but at that point I decided that "Asians can't drive" is not a vicious stereotype -- just a declaration of fact.)
- Were you ever rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room?
Nope. Drove myself once, though.
- Who do you live with?
The voices in my head.
- What color is your hair?
Light brown, with some gray and a few dashes of "non-existant".
- Who were the last people you hung out with?
College buddy of mine. Went bowling. Going to a party and watching fireworks later today (7/4).
There you go. Tell all your friends what a wonderfully captivating personality I have!
July 02, 2007:
Well, not in any appreciable way. And probably not by design. And my inner numismatist is happy about it at least.
At Five Guys not too long ago, I ordered a burger like I usually do. Paid in cash and got my change back without thinking much about it. After all, change just goes into jars when I get home, and quarters go into a pile to be used at the car wash.
Except that one of my quarters wasn't a quarter. It wasn't even an almost-quarter from Canada. It was a Korean 100-won coin (scroll down for it), worth just a fraction less than 11 cents.
So I was cheated out of about 14 cents in general, and 25 cents in actual usage, but I get to add another coin to my collection. I'll have to check whether the existing coin I have is series I or II (other countries tend to update their currency more frequently than we do here) to know just how much my pathetic little collection has increased by.