February 26, 2003
Wandering the streets
I like wandering city streets with no particular purpose.
I spent almost 3 hours wandering through South Beach/Miami Beach tonight, and with the old/new job, I've had the chance to wander New York, Portland, Boston, Salt Lake City, London, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. When I worked for CNN, I managed walks through Georgetown and New Orleans.
Some things are the same in every city. Everybody seems to have Pottery Barns and Gaps even in the old parts of town, but there are still some differences. South Beach feels like a city for younger people; the only bookstore I saw carried books of African-American interest only. On the other hand, I must have passed 8 places selling thongs, and four with smoothies.
Walks like this always make me lament Atlanta's lack of density, lack of planning, and lack of friendly spaces for people to gather. It's worse in Atlanta, since there's no waterfront, no train stations to speak of (MARTA stations don't require waits long enough to justify a classic train station), and no respect for anything that isn't going to make money next week.
February 25, 2003
Greetings from South Beach
So I'm blogging from possibly the coolest location from which I've blogged -- directly across from the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach, where I'm stranded under a canopy during a rainstorm.
Six feet to my left a rain-stranded couple can't keep their hands off each other -- she's about 8 feet tall, with a thick accent and impossibly gorgeous, he's strangely normal... Pictures of the area if not of them later....
Missing the lead
Everybody on the Mac web is reporting that BareBones announced TextWrangler, a new, low-end text processor that sells for $49.
Nobody (at least as far as I've seen) has reported on the actual story here: BareBones is killing off BBEdit Lite in favor of the new (maybe newly-branded) product. I'm sure it will be good for the bottom line, but it's a shame to see one of the best freeware text processors go away.
If you're looking for cheap but not free, check out Tex-Edit.
February 23, 2003
Me and my miniBook
I've had my miniBook for 6 days now, and am favorably impressed. The performance is noticeably faster than any other PowerBook I've used, and the package works wonderfully for my purposes.
The Airport Extreme works well with my older AirPort base stations, and the multihoming support seems to work better than it did on my Lombard (possibly a 10.2.4 improvement?).
I saw stories that Apple is sending iLife to recent 12" PowerBook purchasers, but I haven't seen any notification, for the very good reason that it was preinstalled on my machine.
I used it on an airplane for the first time tonight, and it seems like the perfect notebook for coach. It fit comfortably on the tray, and the keyboard didn't force my elbows into my neighbor. Battery life seems to be somewhere between 2 and 4 hours. Sorry I can't be more specific, but it's varied significantly with Energy Saver settings, and I've only taken it below 15% twice.
I've seen more benchmarks, and it appears the system is noticeably slower than the current 15" PowerBooks. I'm okay with that. I started jonesing for a new system when the 800-mhz TiBook was the top of the line, and I wanted Apple to leave that machine as the bottom of the line when new PowerBooks (which wound up being 867-mhz and 1-Ghz TiBooks) were introduced, with a price tag of $2,000.
The 12" gives me all the power and more of that system. I also get a design I like better, Bluetooth, and AirPort Extreme. The 12" is expandable beyond a gigabyte when 1-gig PC2100 SO-DIMMs become available (using one would give 1152 megabytes).
One small problem I've had is with my briefcases. My older cases all expect a laptop to be bigger, thicker or both. I got a new rolling Samsonite for Valentine's Day, and the miniBook fits -- if I turn it sideways.
February 16, 2003
Review: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
My wife is the world's biggest George Clooney fan, so we went to see Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Clooney's directorial debut, on our Valentine's date.
Most notably, Barris claims that while producing The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and The Gong Show, he also worked as an assassin, rubbing out enemies of democracy as an independent hit-man for the CIA. While chaperoning couples on their dates, Barris would slip away and take care of CIA business.
The cast is terrific. Sam Rockwell occasionally seems to be channeling Barris. The hats, the claps, the facial expressions: all of them are dead-on. Drew Barrymore as Barris's long-suffering girlfriend, Clooney as his CIA handler, and Julia Roberts as a fellow agent, are all at the top of their game. Clooney uses his connections to drop Brad Pitt and Matt Damon into cameo appearances, as well.
Clooney has been paying attention while starring in movies directed by Steven Soderbergh; this film has a Soderbergh-like edge, with interesting framing, color filters, and music. There are some great visual touches, as well: My favorite was the sign outside the church when Barris gets married: "Barris Wedding - Creator of The Gong Show". On the whole, the film has a wierd, wired energy that draws you in.
Fast, reliable, supportable: Choose three
An article from InfoWorld by Jon Udell advancing the idea that "scripting languages" are so much more than that.
I've long been of the opinion that there's a general rule at work here: You should always develop a new tool in the highest-level environment you can. Sometimes you'll wind up with a prototype, but sometimes you'll surprise yourself, and suddenly, you've got a system.
The other advantage of starting with higher-level tools is that they tend to map more directly to the problem you're trying to solve. Your Python class proxies your product or data. A Filemaker record represents an invoice. If you're doing the project in C, you're spending much of your time building lower-level structures that don't directly represent anything your customers would recognize.
If you hit a bottleneck, you have a few choices: move to faster hardware, implement the bottleneck in a lower-level language, or migrate the whole shebang to a lower-level language. Even if the worst happens and you have to migrate, you understand your problem a lot better because of the earlier coding in the higher-level environment.
This is Sports Night
Sports Night was one of my Valentine's Day presents. The whole series. I always thought there were maybe 20 episodes, but it turns out there were 45 episodes -- 22.5 clever hours that give some insight into what it's like to do live TV.
I always thought of Sports Night as Ally McBeal for men. Similarities: Both are focused on relationships and sex, centered on the workplace. Ally, aimed at women, had guys -- Fish and Cage -- as the bosses, but focused on Ally and her roommate. Sports Night has Dana and Natalie as the bosses (okay, and Robert Guillaume), but focuses on Dan and Casey.
Of course, there are also differences. Men don't go for legal dramas? Let's set it in on a show just like ESPN's SportsCenter. Men have shorter attention spans? Make it a half-hour. Stir in the adrenaline of daily show deadlines, rapid-fire dialogue, and a lot more humor, and you've got something that could draw men.
Unfortunately, there's a laugh track on the early episodes. Later on, they dropped it, so you can make up your own mind when to laugh. It might have been a nice DVD extra to let you kill it on the earlier episodes, as well.
Another distinction is that Sports Night was probably the only show to cast Ted McGinley without jumping the shark. (A good thing, since he first appeared in Episode 4).
You can pick up Sports Night at Amazon.com.
Atkins update: Leaping off the wagon
Part reward, part motivation -- we ate a regular meal out last night.
Proof that learned behaviors die hard, I took a big swig of the Coke when it came, and got a major head rush. We had chips and salsa, and I had french fries AND KETCHUP. Those Heinz people know what they're doing.
The surprise was the tremendous corn on the cob. I was raised eating fresh Ohio corn and visiting the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival every year, but this was the best single ear of corn I've ever had.
Today, it's back on the program.
February 06, 2003
The more I use Windows, the more I like my Macs
I've been using my Windows box at home some more lately. I spent some time with it, got my (ATI) TV tuner card hooked up and working, and had started using it whenever I wanted to watch TV and compute. Over the weekend, I booted it up, and ... BIOS messages, Win '98 screen, and ... nothing. Switched to safe mode, went to reset the video mode, rebooted, and ... nothing.
I went so far as to try to reinstall Windows, from the boot CD I used to install that PC, and the CD won't let me. Apparently, I've updated Windows (through the official Windows Update) farther than the CD will reinstall over. So at this point, I'm considering wiping the whole damn box and installing Linux. At least, that would put me 1 step closer to an iServe.
12" PB meets 2400c
Here's a photo gallery from a lucky guy with a 12" PowerBook and a 2400. Helps reinforce my notion that the new miniBook is a spiritual successor to the Comet. For its time, the 2400c was the perfect laptop for me.
Spotted at O'Grady's PowerPage.