Tuesday, March 9, 2010

i'm a mac and I'm a pc

This post presents pure opinion and perception:

I like using Windows more than OSX. Using Macs almost exclusively for the first 10 years of serious computing, then using the two, side by side for the next 10 years, I'm going with my gut. Mind you I have access to both operating systems, so I haven't ignored one or the other while it has matured...

Windows feels more left-brained. It's not about injecting the windows experience in your workflow as you accomplish a task; it's just about completing a task.
OSX pushes its beauty toward you whenever you use it. OSX and most mac applications say to me: we're highly conscious that we're mediating your computing experience, we're awesome at what we do, but we're still here.

Now I'm someone who LOVES process, but for whatever reason it's about process that I create. And I fully acknowledge that the OSX refined-process-as-art inspires the brightest minds to do their best work. But I don't have one of those minds.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

snowy snow

I love to think about my snowblower for no concrete reason. Probably because
  • it's another piece of machinery to maintain
  • it often helps me get the job done, but it's not a sure thing
  • we got it for a steal, although it needs TLC since it's 20 years old
  • it's symbol of being a new englander
  • it unintuitively hints that we have a lot of area to clean snow from
Saturday night through mid afternoon Sunday we received between 10" and 15" depending on how the Snow was blown. I moved one car into the garage, put the snowblower next to the garage door on the inside, and backed up car #2. This maximizes the contiguous driveway space to clear out, and minimizes the time it takes to get the family car on the road, just in case. standard procedure. I also took about 30 minutes to perform a 20 degree F oil change which posed no problems but icy fingers. Poured gas in the tank and the machine started right up after sitting dormant through the long warm summer and spring.

We have a straight driveway and a circular driveway in our front yard. Comparatively half of the yard is covered by asphalt - so there's quite a bit of snow to move, if you don't carve out the minimum path required. We're also the corner house, so the bottom of the driveway gets piled high by the snow plows ending their run at the street corner.

In conclusion, I was so relieved I had the snowblower when I finished the job. It took me maybe about 80 minutes and no back pain. Manually I'd double the amount of time and add a hot shower and several ibuprofens.

We own about the smallest two-stage snowblower possible with I think a 6.5 HP engine. I thought it would be completely capable for our relatively small job. This snowstorm, which was notable, but not large by any southern new england measure gave me a new perspective on the sizing of the blower... Because
  • the snow piles to a good bit over 1' high, especially in the street
  • 6.5 HP struggles to move more than 1' of snow
I've decided that our snowblower is slightly undersized for the average-biggest storms we get. That's tough to imagine because the larger units are really large! Of course the question becomes do you accept struggling in 1 out of 10 storms, or do you buy the most capable machine even for the fringe snowfalls?

My whole life I've sided in working harder, accepting less performance in the 10% situations. So that's my answer.

Anyway, it's going to rain at the end of the week. Maybe the snow will melt and we can start from 0" for the next snowfall.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

xp woes, with SAV


So on my work pc, which i shouldn't invest too much energy in, this bugs the hell out of me. On a cold reboot, it has been nearly 20 minutes since god knows what processes have been running and setting up shop in the background. I can barely use my machine! And now, after a half dozen Norton Antivirus apps have been running in the background, up pops a Norton Antivirus scan window! I manually cancelled the scan and Rtvscan.exe is still running in the background, taking up 20% CPU hogging 120MB of RAM.

My home PC, a 1.8Ghz Core solo laptop, with s-l-o-w laptop HDD is up and running quickly within about 2 minutes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

ring ring ring

Verizon just called me to get me to renew my 2 yr plan and get 1 month free.

I suspect I'm on their short list cuz their marketing database probably thinks I'm a prime target to switch to AT&T and go iPhone when my contract runs out.

A 2 minute phone call is a small bet on the chance of losing me as a customer, but you've got to offer me something more than 3.25 less a month.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

carry you

OK I figured it out - men (me) prefer baby carriers with buckles, straps, and all sorts of hardware. Why? I don't know, and I really don't care, but when I look at an old-school ring sling, or my wife's baby hawk (a Mei Tai), or worse yet her Moby wrap, they just don't look like anything I'd like to wear a baby in, let alone wear to schlep a watermelon in.

I believe that the draw of baby carriers for some people is the exact opposite; that you can carry a person in nothing more than a fabric contraption. Good for them. If I wanted to carry my warez around in a bindle stick, hobo style, I would.

I now have two plus two data points to share with you...

Long time ago we had (or borrowed) an original baby bjorn, which was ok, but for some reason I didn't like it - it felt flimsy and too light. Not that it didn't secure our son, but it was like wearing the discount store backpack. Same goes for using, my inlaw's Snugli from 198x. Yes, both of these brands have updated carriers, which are promoted and available in big box stores, but I was soured on them.

At some point we picked up a Baby Trekker. Your son or daughter is more or less supported by the crotch against your chest. It has one large waste strap and two snaphook-and-ring sets. It has two nice, thick shoulder straps that can be secured accross your back or in an uncrossed configuration. Baby against you feels good, although it requires some wrangling to get baby in the carrier and situated.

We're currently borrowing an Ergo Baby carrier, my second real data point. It's similar to the baby trekker, but more closely approximates the ever popular Mei Tai in its baby-holding geometry. The baby is positioned lower on you, and his/her butt sets in a "seat", with legs wrapping around your stomach. I like how it's made of a coarser, more rugged cotton knit than the Baby Trekker; more like a back pack. It also has a large waste strap, and a plastic buckle that you need to snap behind your neck. It feels like putting on a shirt. Oh - the Ergo also has a flap to cover the baby's head so he or she can (fall) sleep sheilded from bright light.

It's difficult to describe putting on the carrier then inserting baby procedures. I can take a video if there's interest. But I'll summarize:
  • It's significantly faster to put on the Ergo than the Baby Trekker.
  • Because of the baby's lower position relative to you in the Ergo, your total center of gravity is lower. I think this places more weight on the Ergo's solid waist strap.
  • But the Baby Trekker lets you cross its thicker padded straps behind your back. Ultimately this distributes the baby's weight between your upper and lower back. I think this feels better overall.
I'm pretty short, and I make the comments about back support because after a while, you'll start to feel 20 pounds of baby wearing you down (for the record we call our baby-carrier-aged-son Tiny, like you'd call your bouncer-friend the same name).

Bottom line: The Ergo is better for quick and easy on-off. Good for around the house or an active day. But if your baby is going to stay in the carrier for say >30 mins, the baby trekker reduces back strain in the long term.

I would still love to try a frame backpack with baby-seat for comparison. But son #2 is still a touch too young and floppy to use one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

he's just listening to me subconciously

"Pupillometric and Behavioral Markers of a Developmental Shift in the Temporal Dynamics of Cognitive Control"

"The good news is what we're saying to our kids doesn't go in one ear and out the other, like people might have thought," said CU-Boulder psychology Professor Yuko Munakata, who conducted the study with CU doctoral student Christopher Chatham and Michael Frank of Brown University. "It also doesn't go in and then get put into action like it does with adults. But rather it goes in and gets stored away for later."


i.e., I shouldn't worry that my son ignores my warnings now...

(don't worry the link is to the press release, not the paper)

Monday, March 23, 2009

grass

Last summer we had a new lawn installed. The old lawn was half gravel / half dirt with some overgrown forsythia. This was not compatible with a growing toddler and a mom and pop who wanted the option of staying home to enjoy a gorgeous day.

So after getting estimates from several landscapers we made the wrong choice. Not that the guy we went with was untalented at growing a lawn, or was a lousy human - no: he just didn't have much business/customer service sense.

At the end of the summer half of our backyard filled in nicely with beautiful green grass, 1/4 was mostly dirt and the other 1/4 was grass and crabgrass. Mind you this is a lawn where the contractor removed all the topsoil and put down 3-4" of fresh, new loam - so the grass had a perfect foundation in which to grow. After much pestering he came back in late October to remove 1/2 of the crabgrass portion, re-loam and re-seed. Why he didn't remove all the turf with crabgrass is beyond me.

Where does that leave us? Well yesterday I stopped by my local nursery and the gentleman didn't have much good news. Basically without using any nasty chemicals, and sticking to organics, the plan is to:

Apply a natural, pre-emergent herbicide to target the crabgrass: the product is corn gluten. This will attempt to stop any crabgrass seeds from germinating this summer. Unfortunately the pre-emergent herbicide is not compatible with planting new grass. There are a lot of existing bald spots, but they will have to wait till later. I like the indication for when to apply this product in southern New England: when the forsythia bloom. easy.

Next, around Memorial Day we put down an application of regular fertilizer to keep the grass healthy and fed for the summer.

Finally, this coming autumn we can plant new grass seed. ARGH - one year and a whole season after the "new lawn" went in. It's fine, but sucks that we have to wait so long to complete the lawn that was supposed to go in right the first time.

One other funny note: half the lawn that's dirt didn't grow in, because it's under a huge tree that provides much wonderful shade. Good for keeping cool, bad for growing grass. The original landscaper warned us of this, and that's fine. The guy at the nursery suggested that if we want a ground cover, we should go with... clover. How about that, the anti-lawn :) I'm not sure what we'll do with this under-the-tree/shaded portion.

It occurs to me that there's so much yard work to do, I need to actually assemble the discrete projects on paper/.doc to keep organized.