Technology Archives

April 24, 2004

This journal

Okay, I've finally joined the blogosphere.

For the few hardy souls who might actually stumble into this corner of cyberspace, you may find, from time to time, something to amuse you . . . perhaps even inform or inspire you. Or this may just end up as a vehicle for my rants on the universe that no one ever will see. Either way, I intend to have fun with it.

April 28, 2004

Voting, iTunes, and ice cream!

Citizens of the U.S. who will be at least 18 years of age by this November 2: visit this site, make the pledge, and enjoy a free iTune!

May 4, 2004

Inspired amateur disc jockeys, rejoice!

Apple's recent iTunes upgrade (version 4.5) has the nifty feature of being able to "publish" your favorite music playlists for other users to peruse. Click here for details. The caveat is that the songs on your playlist have to be drawn from the iTunes Music Store catalogue, but with over 700,000 downloadable choices, assembling that perfect iMix can't be too hard.

May 9, 2004

Another argument for Macs

Read this review of a new product upgrade for the Mac OS that will make Windows users green with envy. The unlikely source of this software suite? None other than Microsoft!

May 10, 2004

Keeping up with the Joneses

The Information Superhighway has given us a nifty way to see which presidential candidates have garnered financial support from people you know. It is, after all, a matter of public record! Click here to check out your friends and neighbors.

May 27, 2004

"Never have so many people written so much to be read by so few"

Good piece on blogging in the "Circuits" section of today's New York Times. (Click here to read it.)

As I've been thinking about the function of this corner of cyberspace--and about blogging in general--it's increasingly clear that this isn't really broadcasting at all; it's narrowcasting. The very technology that empowers so many of us to air our thoughts, our whims, our primal screams, or whatever, has thoroughly fragmented the marketplace of ideas. There are so many voices in print, on the airwaves, and on the Internet, demanding our attention, that we tend to focus only on a handful of "reliable sources" in the course of our busy days. People's appetite for news and opinion thus tends to drift toward vehicles that are comfortable and familiar: conservatives tune in to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, just as liberals prefer NPR and the Times' Op-Ed page. And so the national dailogue becomes more shrill, more partisan, and less engaging in an America divided into "red" and "blue" camps. In many ways, we are better served than we were the days in which we all got our take on the world from Walter Cronkite's evening broadcast; but on the other hand, we've lost something precious: a common vocabulary with which to discuss the issues of the day.

It's the same in popular music. One can make a compelling case that the old system of recording contracts was exploitative and crassly commercial. But the advent of downloading music has turned the industry on its head precisely due to fragmentation of the marketplace: a listener can zero in on exactly the artist, the very song, he knows he already likes. Without the investment by record companies in building the reputations of new artists, common tastes are harder to develop. So everyone gets just what he or she wants to listen to, but the role of music in forming the glue of community is diminished in the process.

June 3, 2004

The devil is in the details


Users of iTunes may or may not be enamored of the little box you can open in the lower left of the main window to display album cover art. As one who grew up in an era when LP covers were adorned by some pretty cool artwork, this is something I miss in the age of digital downloads. I admit to having spent probably too much time downloading album cover art from to display in my iTunes. But there are now applications that will do it for you automatically. Mac users ought to give Fetch Art a try. Once installed, this is a script you can activate within iTunes that will find the appropriate cover art from an online database and put it in that little window for you. It's not going to change the world, but it's a pretty nifty slice of technology.

July 5, 2004

Over The Hump

Okay, now that we're officially in part two of the calendar year, I plan to live up to my semi-New Year resolution to post to this blog more regularly. I've got a backlog of stuff: highlights of travels abroad, my take on current cinema offerings, etc. Stay tuned . . .

July 10, 2004

Wi-Fi Wonder

I am writing this on my Dell laptop, sitting outside Memorial House on the Choate campus on a pleasant midsummer evening. I recently had this computer rigged to take advantage of the wireless Internet zones gradually appearing all over this campus and elsewhere. Apparently I can pick up a half-decent signal from the Humanities Building while sitting on an Adirondack chair in front of it. So here I am outdoors, checking my e-mail, working on the CRH Cross Country web site, updating a sports schedule database using FileMakerPro, and posting to the blogosphere. Geek heaven!

July 17, 2004

Programming Note

One of my summer projects is to upgrade my web pages to CSS (cascading style sheets) technology. Click here to see what CSS does if you are unfamiliar with the term.

(By the way, this blog page and my message boards already operate on CSS, but I installed both on this site as ready-to-go packages.)

First I will be converting the syllabi for my fall term courses and the new Choate Cross Country web site. The transition will probably take the remainder of the summer to implement, but I expect "the new look" to be up and running by September.

July 19, 2004

New Toys I


The school issued me a brand new laptop: this is being written on a shiny Dell Inspiron 600m. It's pretty nice (for a PC) and seems sturdy and powerful. It's also rigged for wireless, so I can be a bit more mobile while computing. (The only current problem is that I forgot to pack half the power adapter for my trip to D.C., so while the dorm room at Georgetown U. in which I'm staying has Internet access, I'll have to parcel out my time on the machine carefully.)

July 20, 2004

New Toys II


The new iPods are here. Nifty cover story in this week's Newsweek.

By the way, I entertained a bus full of kids with a 7-hour playlist--courtesy of iPod and iTunes--while driving down to D.C. yesterday for the Kennedy Institute's Washington session.

July 24, 2004

The Ultimate iPod Accessory


My new InMotion speakers, made by Altec Lansing, arrived in this morning's mail. These are designed for the iPod and provide superb sound for such a modestly sized package (the contraption folds neatly into the size of a paperback book, making it ideal for travel). Moreover, the speakers recharge the iPod as it sits in the cradle and also provide a port for an auxiliary audio line (for a CD player or anything else you want to plug in). Power is supplied either by plugging into a wall socket or inserting four AA batteries.

The InMotion speakers retail for $149 but I got a set for $99, including free shipping, from; that's a steal for such a well-made iPod accessory.

July 27, 2004


Like most people, I hate opening up my e-mail every day only to be assaulted by countless unwanted "spam" messages. Choate's e-mail system supposedly filters out a lot of it, but a fair amount still gets through. The problem is that the spammers have programs that prowl the Internet, searching various web pages for e-mail addresses to harvest. Of course, I want to put my e-mail address on some of my web pages, such as my course syllabi or the Choate Tennis home page (, as there are all sorts of legitimate reasons for people viewing those sites to contact me.

Fortunately, as part of a general upgrade to my web site, I have finally figured out how to list my e-mail address on a web page without having it available to the spam harvesters. Check it out here. Any of you making your own web sites will find this a very easy way to foil the spammers.

August 2, 2004

Let The Word Go Forth

Apple's iTunes Music Store has posted all the major speeches from last week's Democratic National Convention as free downloads. Get 'em while you can!

August 3, 2004

Crunching Code

Spent the morning being (mostly) productive, converting all of my current syllabi to CSS web pages. (See earlier post about CSS if you don't know what it is.) Linking each syllabus to the CSS template I created was easy. What was tedious was removing all the bits of junky HTML tags that have accumulated throughout these documents over the past half dozen years. But now that this is done, future universal updates to the layout and the look of these syllabi will be a breeze.

Crunching More Code

Okay, countless throngs of blog readers: I have just upgraded this site so that my blog entries now display their category (each of my entries was assigned a category when I wrote it, but I just figured out how to show that). Those of you engaged in scholarly research on this page will be delighted to learn that you can search by category, too.

August 4, 2004

Proud Papa

It looks like this blog is a father now. Well, sorta. Scott Harris was one of my students this summer and has started a political blog that mentions this site as an inspiration. Nice to know someone is reading out there in the blogosphere. Except he writes a lot more there than I do here, which will make me look bad if he keeps up the pace. Anyway his site is well worth checking out here, as is one of the sources on electoral college projections he links to, which is here.

Try This

Go to and type in "miserable failure" and see what pops up first.

August 6, 2004

Ripping Music From A DVD

Having converted a good chunk of my CD collection to digital files that I can play it on a computer or my iPod, I struggled to figure out the best way to convert music that I own in DVD format (usually concert films). The solution is a handy piece of software called Audio Hijack Pro, available from This Mac software enables you to "hijack" audio output from any application on your computer (such as your DVD player) or via the computer's audio input. It also allows you to save any audio content played with streaming technology. And the recently released version 2.0 of Audio Hijack Pro allows you to save files in a number of formats (MP3, AAC, ALAC, or AIFF) and even imports them right into iTunes! A download well worth the $32 fee.

August 8, 2004

A/V Club

My major accomplishment of the day was hoisting a 35" television--which has been sitting dormant since I got a new HD widescreen monitor in January--onto the top of a dresser in my bedroom. That sucker was HEAVY; it took three major attempts to get the thing up there and I am still sore from it. Perhaps even more amazing was that I got a universal controller to work on the thing, even though I had lost the programming instructions. I've since hooked up a VCR and DVD player so that I now have a real comfortable alternative to the living room.

October 29, 2004

Thou Shalt Not Covet . . .

Pretty hard to not be drooling for one of these U2 Special Edition iPods!


January 12, 2005

New Toys

iPod Shuffle.jpg

Steve Jobs does it again. In his annual MacWorld San Francisco appearance, he dazzled the crowd with Apple's new software offerings--including the forthcoming Tiger update to OS X and new versions of GarageBand, iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD--and new hardware such as the Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle. For a company that supposedly has only 3% market share in the computer industry, it's amazing how Apple still generates 90% of the buzz when they unveil new offerings!

March 14, 2005

Plug Of The Day

I've been borrowing a G4 iBook from the school to use as a laptop on the road the last couple of weeks and have decided I'll order one later this spring (once the Tiger OS revision is released) so that I can get the up-to-date operating system as well as iLife '05 with the new machine.

The coolest accessory for a portable Mac can be seen here: This site features some funky-looking covers for iBooks and PowerBooks from a purveyor Down Under. I've already ordered one as well as an iPod cover, which will be a gift, from the companion site.

March 21, 2005



I got a new toy today. This is the Canon 20D. I chose this model over cheaper digital SLRs like the Canon Rebel line and the solid Nikon D70 model mostly because this camera is capable of continuous shooting at around 5 frames per second, up to 24 shots at a burst--perfect for sports action. Rather than getting the standard lens kit, I opted for Canon's 28-135mm, which features a nice basic range for a zoom lens. I'll probably add a more powerful (and expensive!) telephoto in a few months as well as a wide angle lens. But shooting at 8+ megapixels will give me the ability to crop judiciously and still keep high resolution shots in the meantime.

April 11, 2005

Mmmmmm, Delicious


I sprung for an iSight webcam, which arrived today. Although the firewall arrangement here at Choate makes it problematic to use the A/V feature of iChat, I am using the camera with a program called Delicious Library, which catalogues books, CDs, and DVDs by reading the bar code on an item and matching it up with the Amazon.Com database. (It also does it for videogames, of which I own none.) A pretty nifty way to keep track of all the media I am swimming in.

Check it out here.

April 14, 2005

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright II


I pre-ordered the new "Tiger" version of Mac OS X today. I got a good deal on it (education pricing was $69 instead of $129). I was going to wait until I ordered a new iBook later this spring to get the latest version of OS X as well as iLife '05, but since I want to install Tiger on my iMac as well, I figured I'd do the honest thing and pay for an additional copy of the software. The previews of the update I've seen are impressive, especially Dashboard and Spotlight. I am also hoping the new Sync engine will make it easier to keep the settings and data on my various computers (two iMacs at home, an eMac in the office, and soon an iBook to boot) consistent.

April 17, 2005

Digital Photography


I've been enjoying my new Canon 20D SLR camera. I took a lot of pics at yesterday's Choate/Exeter boys' tennis match. It was a spectacular early spring day, so I ended up snapping a few hundred shots--most of which I could delete without worrying about wasting film. Armed with a 1-gigabyte memory card and the ability to shoot bursts of up to 5 frames per second, I was bound to capture at least a handful of good action shots somewhere in the mix.

For a look at some additional photos, click here.

April 24, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

I started this blog one year ago today. This is the 182nd entry, which means I have averaged just about a post every other day. Not bad. Of course, I tend to post in batches and then let the site lie fallow for up to a few weeks at a time. Maybe the sophomore year of this blogspace will be more consistent?

April 29, 2005

Mac OS X 10.4

Test driving the new Mac OS--Tiger--right now. It arrived right on schedule this morning via FedEx. Spotlight and Dashboard are the highlights so far.

June 10, 2005

Going Wide


A new toy to play with! This is the wide angle lens that arrived today, which will complete my set of lenses for the Canon 20D digital SLR I got earlier this spring. The longer lenses were great for action shots during the tennis season, but this one should serve me well for landscapes and city scenes while traveling in Europe the next couple of weeks. It set me back some, but the price on Amazon was too good to pass up.

July 7, 2005

An Apple For The Teacher


My new G5 iMac arrived today: the 20" screen flavor, 2.0 gigahertz fast, with 1G of RAM and both Bluetooth and Airport technologies built in. I also got the wireless keyboard and mouse combination to avoid cable cliutter. Now I've got to spend some time syncing it, getting the software all set, and making sure all of my preferences are established. In all, though, it's like Christmas morning.

July 26, 2005

Going Mobile


Today Apple released a new revision of the G4 iBook, which I have been waiting for months to order. So I took the plunge without hesitation and a new laptop will be winging its way to me in a few days' time!

August 2, 2005

Commerce In The Global Village

In one of my courses, I teach about globalization, based largely on Tom Friedman's excellent overview The Lexus And The Olive Tree. The arrival of my new iBook today illustrates just how amazing the system is: I ordered a built-to-order laptop last week on the Apple online store, on Sunday night this machine left the factory in Shanghai(!), and on Tuesday morning I am writing my first blog entry on it here in Connecticut.

Illustrating yet another marvel of globalization and technology, here is the tracking info from the FedEx website:

August 7, 2005

Free Phone Calls


I've just downloaded Skype. I am now ready to explore the strange new world of internet telephony, so if anyone reading this wants to help me try it out, let me know.

August 12, 2005

Technological Marvel I

Okay, this is hardly an example of "cutting edge" technology, but after looking at this brand new air conditioner sit in its box for the past six weeks, I finally faced up to the installation process and got the thing hooked up in my bedroom window last night. Sleeping just became LOTS more comfortable!

August 13, 2005

Technological Marvel II

This entry really does involve tech at the "cutting edge," unlike my last entry. I loaded an application called DVArchive on my iBook. It finds my ReplayTV unit (it's a DVR like Tivo, for the uninitiated) which is connected to the Internet via an Ethernet cable and then downloads shows of my choosing to the laptop so I can take them with me to watch at my convenience. So here I am on Long Island, watching a program on my iBook that I recorded from HBO earlier in the week. Pretty cool.

A few details for those interested in the set-up: (1) DVArchive is platform-neutral, so it's equally appropriate for PCs, Macs, Linux, etc. (2) In order to watch the shows on my computer, I had to download a QuickTime plug-in from Apple (it costs about $20) which enabled playback in MPEG-2 format.

August 15, 2005

My First Comic Strip

This application called Comic Life makes it easy to make a comic strip from photos in your iPhoto collection or from images captured on an iSight camera.

Here is my first such effort, installment #1 of Mem Common Room Funnies:

(Yeah, I concede the bathroom humor is sophomoric, but I tried to capture the characters as well as I could!)

August 16, 2005

Subway Maps To Go, iPodders!

If you have one of the color screen iPods that can display photos, you would be foolish not to download subway maps for New York, London, Boston, Montreal, Hong Kong (and plenty more to come, no doubt) by accessing this nifty site. Well, assuming you plan to be in any of therse cities, anyway!

NoteBook for Mac OS X

As the month of August is a prime planning time for me--what with it being very quiet around here and school starting just a few weeks from now--I've been making a lot of use of an application called NoteBook, developed by a software company called Circus Ponies (click here to check it our for yourself).

The concept is that you maintain one (or more) virtual "notebooks," which is basically a way collect all sorts of data: text, images, sound recordings, video, electronic documents, URLs for web sites, et al. I have set up a notebook for each of the courses I teach to collect all sorts of materials and notes for my teaching, for example.


What's cool about this format is that it's a very intuitive way to collect "clippings" from all sorts of different sources, and then organize them and store them for easy retrieval later on (with all the advantages of electronic search, including Spotlight on OS X). Given that I am something of a media omnivore (I read two newspapers a day, subscribe to WAY too many magazines, and surf the Net incessantly), having the flexibility to squirrel a chuck of information away for later reference is invaluable to me. It's helpful to be able to maintain different notebooks because there are a range of different roles I have to fill in my work (teach, administrator, coach, housemaster). I have found NoteBook especially useful preparation for my writing projects. I also created a "Travel" notebook where I can collect ideas and contact info for the sabbatical trip looming just over a year away.

The Tiger OS interface makes it easy to "clip" text, images, media files without leaving the application I am working in, even if NoteBook is inactive or not even open! Once the information is deposited in a notebook, it's automatically indexed and can be highlighted, amended, formatted in all sorts of ways.

Enough of my description. If you really want to see how this product works, check out the video demos online here.

There are online support forums there too (this will be of interest to any followers of the David Allen/Getting Things Done cult!)

Finally, you can download the application for a 30-day trial for free and a student or teacher can buy a license for the software for only $30!

This would be an INVALUABLE tool for students to learn to use, in my estimation, so if you are going to school, check it out.

August 22, 2005

Interesting Numbers

Given that the Mac OS has a market penetration supposedly under 5%, the following data--charting visits to this web site in August 2005 to date--is fascinating.

September 26, 2005

A Blast From The Past


I like the scans posted of this scanned brochure because it combines Matt Groening's brilliant "Life In Hell" cartoons with an education-oriented Apple Macintosh advertisement. (Click on the cover to see the entire brochure.)

October 12, 2005

The Next Big Thing

Apple's Steve Jobs presented new products earlier today: among them a souped-up version of the iMac (of course, released just a few months after I upgraded to a new one), iPods with video capability, and a revamped iTunes Music Store selling video content including--and this is the revolutionary part, I believe--current television programs such as Desperate Housewives and Lost. The latter feature may emerge as the "killer app" for the video iPods: imagine missing your favorite show on television, then downloading it the next day for $1.99 to watch on your computer or perhaps on your iPod while commuting to work. Right now five ABC offerings are available; if the content expands (for example, to HBO hits like The Sopranos) this could be an exciting implementation of video on demand.

October 25, 2005

New Apple Ad


Those who call this exploitative don't "get" Apple, I think.

October 31, 2005

Video On The New iPods

Here is a cool site that shows how to move video from your DVD onto your video-enabled iPod for portable viewing:

November 15, 2005

An Impulse Buy


On my way home from a meeting tonight I stopped by the Apple store and was mesmerized into buying the new iPod with video capability. The store did give me the educator's discount, but this was still a pretty pricey purchase on the spur of the moment. With a 60G hard drive, I can fit all of my iTunes songs for the first time plus add photos, videos, and other such distractions.

November 21, 2005

Video Producer Wannabe

I have spent far too much time today ripping music videos from my DVD collection onto my iTunes. It's hard to imagine I will ever spend much time watching these on my new iPod. But if anyone wants to know how to do this, I have acquired a certain degree of production expertise.

November 22, 2005

A Change Is Gonna Come

As soon as I get a block of time and the courage to tackle this project, this web site is getting an upgrade. Specifically, I need to update the Movable Type engine that runs the blog. Then I will convert the whole site to CSS, which will give all the pages a fresh look.

December 8, 2005

Christmas Comes Early 1


My new camera arrived this morning. You may wonder why I picked up a new camera, having purchased a swell digital SLR at the beginning of the spring. Well, I decided that as good as my Canon 20D and the three excellent (and expensive) lenses are, they are a bit too bulky for serious travel and I really want to be able to take a small camera with me when spanning the globe. This Canon subcompact got excellent reviews, takes 7.1-megapixel shots as well as video, and easily can fit into my pocket. So this is my "point and shoot" model and the 20D will still be the rig of choice for "serious" photography, and particularly for action sports photography.

Christmas Comes Early 2


Since I was in a "buying myself Christmas presents" mode, I ordered these Harman/Kardon Soundsticks from Amazon (which had a great price) for the iMac G5 I use as my main computer now. Most of my music listening at home is via iTunes on the computer rather than on my "fancy" audio components and large room speakers. I hooked up the Soundsticks after lunch, which was a pleasantly simple process. The sound is wonderfully crisp, and the subwoofer--like the iSub on my G4 iMac upstairs--really rounds out the low end of the sound spectrum. A good purchase!

January 1, 2006

Cables, Wires, and Plugs

I finally have figured out how to deal with differences in voltage, electrical plugs, and the like when traveling internationally. That said, I tend to carry far too many redundant cables and rechargers with me. I need to look into finding one solution that takes care of my Palm, my portable speakers, my cell phone, etc.

January 14, 2006

New Playthings From Apple


I finished watching the webcast of Steve Jobs' keynote address at this past week's MacWorld Expo. The Apple CEO introduced the new Intel-powered machines as well as upgrades to iLife and iWork. The iLife upgrade is of particular interest to me, as the new iWeb application looks like an easy way to create and maintain blogs, podcasts, and the like. I may even contemplate moving this blog onto my .Mac site--or at least incorporate elements of iWeb posting into this site. I'll know more once I get the software.

January 17, 2006

Apple's New Software


The iLife '06 and iWork '06 software suites that I ordered just Sunday afternoon--from the Apple Store in Farmington, after learning the retail store offers educator's discounts on hardware, but not software--arrived today. I saved $50 by going through the online Apple Store. Lots of cool program upgrades to play with now.

January 29, 2006

Hours Of Fun

Now that it's available in a Mac OS X version, Google Earth has been an entertaining distraction for me the past few days. Check it out here.

January 31, 2006

In Honor Of Today's Oscar Nominations . . .

. . . here is a pretty funny video spoof that popped up on the 'Net.

February 3, 2006

The Night Sky


I have been delighted to play with Google Earth for Mac OS X the past week or so. Stellarium is the opposite of Google Earth, in that the view is up and out! Download the application and see for yourself.

March 3, 2006

Recommended Product


I picked up two pair of Earthumps headphones, made by Griffin, for use with my iPods. I like these "in ear" versions much better than the buds that come with the iPods; the latter are always falling out of my ears and are generally uncomfortable. The Earthumps have a nice fit and good sound and are FAR cheaper than Apple's own "in ear" phones. (I got a pair for under $13 from last month.)

March 16, 2006

Watching Tennis


I've been able to see far more of the Indian Wells tennis tournament on television here in Shanghai--halfway around the world--than I would have back in the States. Live coverage of the event plays throughout the morning on one of the satellite sports channels. The age of globalization is here!

March 17, 2006

Photo Booth Hijinks

Photo 1.jpg

I got a copy of Photo Booth to use with my iSight camera. The application is more or less pointless, but it IS fun!

March 18, 2006


I used the new features in the updated iLife '06 suite--specifically Garage Band and iWeb--to create a pair of podcasts and a new site for the Choate tennis team. Check it out here.

April 1, 2006

Happy 30th Apple!


Apple Computer hits the big three-oh today. Hope the next thirty years are equally innovative.

April 24, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks two years since the start of this blog.

May 10, 2006

Music To Go


I ordered a Griffin RoadTrip to replace my iTrip (which doesn't work with my video iPod model). The RoadTrip arrived this morning and it's already turned out to be a great accessory. The unit incorporates a power supply and broadcasts on radio frequencies and the iPod sits up nicely when you plug the RoadTrip into the vehicle's cigarette lighter. In fact, it's even easy to watch videos while you drive--a dangerous distraction, no doubt.

May 17, 2006

Pretty New Toys


So sweet! I love my G4 iBook--which is not even a year old at this point--so I am not in the market right now, but when Microsoft Office for Mac is updated for the Intel chips and as the ability to run both Mac OS X and Windows side-by-side on the same machine becomes smoother, this will be a hard upgrade to resist.

June 6, 2006

Updated U2 iPod


Today Apple released an "encore" version of its U2 Special Edition iPod, this time in a 30GB video-equipped version. Same black and red color scheme as before, but of course with a bigger screen. Pretty sweet.

June 19, 2006

Great Solution For Wireless Access


I brought my trusty iBook G4 to the Apple Store on Regent Street here in London so that--under the pretense of attending the user workshops in the small theater in the back of the store--I can access the store's free Airport network. A much better way to check email, post to the blog, etc. than paying £1 per hour on some crappy PC with limited access to my bookmarks and email accounts. Apple is great to offer folks the chance to get online at no cost while away from home.

Moreover, as my Choate email account was switched from FirstClass to Exchange yesterday, I am in the middle of trying to fine-tune Entourage and sync it with my Apple Address Book, iCal, Claris Organizer, my Palm, etc. Having Internet access makes this transition a lot easier!

June 29, 2006

Exchange Email

My email account at school was switched from FirstClass to an Exchange server just over a week ago, while I was in Europe. Since returning home, I've been getting to know the Microsoft programs designed to take advantage of Exchange--Entourage (on the Mac) and Outlook (on the PC)--a bit better. In particular, I've been able to load my contacts, my calendar, and my "to do" list, with mixed results. It's frustrating that the categories don't sync from machine to machine. Add to that the different feature sets in Entourage (with its attractive Project Center) and Exchange (which handles shared calendars, among other things, differently) and the yet-to-be-resolved syncing issues with my Palm PDA, .Mac, iCal, and Apple's Address Book and Mail, and and it looks as though I will be experimenting for a while until I have a PIM system that works well for me.

July 5, 2006

Syncing Data

Well, after hours of experimenting and editing my contacts, lists of tasks, and schedule data, I think I have worked out a system of synchronizing all this information in Entourage/Outlook (on different machines, no less!) with the native Apple programs (e.g., Address Book) and with my Palm PDA. There are still some kinks to be worked out--categories don't sync properly across all platforms, for instance--but I feel like all my toys are starting to play together the way they should.

July 6, 2006

Computer Surgery

I spent over an hour re-installing iChat AV on my G5 iMac desktop--which was a lot more complicated than I had expected it to be. The application had been crashing every time I started it up the last month or two (though it worked fine on my iBook). The solution was to use a program called Pacifist to extract some support folders from the Tiger installation DVD and re-install them on my hard drive--a process I had to learn about from a Mac forum on the Internet. By the way, technical help on the Web is an encouraging affirmation of human nature: there are clearly some very conscientious (and smart) people who go out of their way to provide technological solutions to others of us who may be less computer-savvy.

July 7, 2006

This Is Why I Love The Internet

NBC Sports logo

This is a piece of music NBC Sports has used in its Wimbledon coverage since the late 1970s, something I never would have been able to track down and acquire had it not been for the good ol' World Wide Web.

July 8, 2006

Lucky Break


Yesterday afternoon, the power brick plugged into my iBook stopped feeding juice, so I stopped by the Apple Store in Westfarms Mall to consult with the experts at the Genius Bar. Because my machine is under warranty for another few weeks, I was entitled to a replacement power cord and transformer, but because this item was not in stock at the store, Apple would ship a replacement directly to me. Ordinarily, that would do the trick, but I am getting on an airplane to the southern hemisphere Monday, won't be back for a month, and I was counting on being able to use my laptop more than just the few hours that one charge would give me. I lucked out big-time, though, as a final check of inventory located a spare replacement in the back room, so I am back in business with regard to mobile computing (and so you can expect blogging and photos from Africa, loyal reader).

Thanks again, Apple Genius!

August 10, 2006

Here I Come To Save The Day


When my wireless mouse crashed on me last night, I was unable to use my G5 iMac. So when the Genius Bar genius told me I'd be better off getting a new mouse, I purchased the newly released wireless version of Apple's Mighty Mouse, with right click and scroll bar features.

August 15, 2006

New Engine Under The Hood

Though you probably can't tell, this blog site underwent a major upgrade today, from Movable Type 2.661 to version 3.31. Because I was so intimated by the upgrade process--having read too many horror stories on the web--I actually paid to let the technical support staff at Six Apart do the upgrade.

It should be possible for readers to leave comments, as the updated version of MT supposedly catches spam comments.

I'll probably tackle some design changes in the next couple days to freshen up the look of this site.

August 16, 2006

Fifth Avenue Apple Temple


I am writing this on my first visit to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The entrance to the underground retail floor is a striking glass cube in the middle of a plaza just off Central Park. One enters either down the spiral stairs or via the cylindrical elevator in the middle of the stairway. A pretty cool place!

August 17, 2006

Thwarting Regional DVD Coding


It's always been a source of frustration to me that DVDs I buy abroad usually won't work on DVD players or computers back home due to the regional coding (in North America, we can only play Region 1 or Region 0 [universal] discs on our machines). I discovered a work-around, however, that enables me to watch foreign DVDs (like the two British television series above, which I picked up from Amazon U.K.) on my iBook (or on any computer, for that matter). VideoLAN is an application that is free to download and provides the capacity to watch DVDs coded for other regions as easily as domestic releases. In fact, in full-screen mode, one can't tell the difference!

The New Look

Yes, loyal readers, I decided it was time for a new layout and color scheme. I'm not sure I've settled for good on this particular one; I may keep experimenting a bit. In any case, I'll make some more tweaks to this page in the days to come (I'll finally update the recent books, music, etc. for example). In the meantime, feel free to post a comment and tell me what you think of the new design.

August 20, 2006

Look-Alikes (Supposedly)

This site uses facial recognition software to analyze one's photo and compare it to faces of well-known people. The celebrity with the highest similarity to me? Roger Federer . . . also a tennis player . . . with whom I share a birthday . . . hmmmmmmm . . .

For the record, the rest of the line-up is: actor Dermont Mulroney, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, presidential candidate General Wesley Clark, actor/comedian Bill Murray, Mark Feehily (in an Irish boy band called Westlife), actor Michael Vartan (from Alias), and actor Cary Grant.

Digital Clutter

Apple has encouraged us to use our Macs as the hub of our digital lifestyle. Having done that--used my desktop iMac as a repository for almost 12,000 iTunes songs, almost 19,000 photographs (most of them in relatively high resolution), a handful of iMovie videos--I find that the 233-odd gigabytes of my hard drive are now just about full. Though I probably have more applications than most would have loaded on my Mac, the bulk of the clutter is digital musical, photographic, and video content. This means I need to do some pruning: dumping those out-of-focus pictures from iPhoto, converting MP3s recorded at 320 or 192 kbps to 128 kbps AAC files, and storing old video data in one of my two external storage drives.

September 11, 2006

Christmas Coming Early


Steve Jobs is preparing another "turtleneck and jeans" address tomorrow to unveil Apple's new crop of toys. Last week brought the relatively quiet upgrade to the iMac line. The speculation on the Internet is that Apple will announce new iPods, movie downloads (as suggested by the "It's Showtime" tagline for the event), and perhaps some sort of integration with home theaters. Jobs does like to trot out surprises, so we'll see if there's "just one more thing" to wow the faithful. The presentation starts at 1pm EDT.

September 12, 2006

Hello, Nano


I went and ordered me one of the snazzy new iPod Nanos, mostly because I can use it and the Nike+ Sport Kit during workouts. I watched the Steve Jobs presentation on QuickTime tonight to get a sense of the other new Apple toys. Not a lot of groundbreaking stuff, really: no new video iPods, no iPhone, no bridge to the home theater (at least not before early 2007). But I will say the new iTunes 7 is quite impressive.

September 13, 2006

DVR Is More Than An Expensive Paperweight Once More


I ordered a replacement for my ReplayTV remote control, which has been missing since just before I left for Africa in early July. Without the remote, the DVR has been pretty much useless to me. Now that the new TV season is at hand, I ponied up the $30 so I could access the machine again and begin to record some shows again.

September 23, 2006

Tuning My Run


I calibrated my new iPod Nano with my Nike+ shoes, measuring 400 meters at both walking and jogging pace. The Sport Kit provided a chip for the shoes and a device that connects to the bottom of the Nano, such that a runner can get feedback during a workout on distance, time, pace, calories burned, etc. All the data can by synced with the Nike+ site to track overall progress with some nifty graphs and reports.

October 5, 2006

My New Phone Is Very Smart


My new Palm Treo 700p arrived today--a device that will replace two others: my Samsung flip-phone and my Palm Tungsten. It'll also enable me to have mobile email and web browsing and is a much better platform for text messaging.

As I am getting this phone/organizer through my employer, I had to switch to Verizon from Sprint--probably a good move overall. The IT folks also connected this device to the Outlook server at work, something I noticed when I launched Entourage in the early afternoon and noticed that most of my calendar appointments had been wiped out! And later in the day, I watched helplessly as my contacts disappeared, one by one, from my Entourage address book. Not exactly the way I wanted to start using my new toy! Fortunately, I had my data backed up in enough places that everything has been restored now (though I have to go through the cumbersome process of eliminating duplicate address entries). The syncing process--across Palm, Mac, and PC platforms--is a lot easier using .Mac service and a program called The Missing Sync.

October 11, 2006

Adventures In Syncing Data

Since I got my Treo 700p late last week, I've been floundering a bit in my daily routine because I have not been able to get my "to do" list (which has some 300 items on it, spread over the days, weeks, and months to come) onto the device. The root of the problem is that I synchronized my old Palm Tungsten E directly with Entourage on my iBook (which in turn automatically updated my contact and calendar data with Apple's Address Book and iCal, as well as with the Exchange server). But Entourage does not sync tasks, notes, or categories with the Exchange server, which is odd, given that these are all Microsoft products.

To cut to the chase: since my Treo syncs directly with Choate's Exchange server--thus giving me mobile access to my email account--tasks and notes did not carry over to my portable device. I fiddled around with trying to sync the Treo to my iBook using The Missing Sync program with no success. But I figured that if I could get all my tasks and notes into Outlook on my school-issued Dell laptop, they WOULD be synchronized with the Exchange server. Unfortunately, in attempting to do this, I found out that Outlook and Entourage don't share import/export formats, despite being different versions of the same program on PC and Mac OS platforms. Arrgghh! The solution was to purchase for $20 a series of Apple shareware scripts from an independent developer; these scripts enabled me to convert all my data smoothly from Entourage/Mac to Outlook/PC. Once that happened, Outlook dumped the task and note data onto the Exchange server and my Treo loaded up those tasks and notes to take with me.

One would think that the mighty corporate behemoth in Redmond, WA might have found a way to make all of this a lot easier.

October 13, 2006

This Is Amusing And Accurate


Check out the funny new Mac ad here.

October 20, 2006


I started the new book by Newsweek technology correspondent Steven Levy, The Perfect Thing, about the commercial and cultural significance of the iPod, which is five years old this month. Like songs on the device itself, the chapters of this book are shuffled in a different order, depending on which copy of the book one picks up. It's an interesting overview of the impact the Apple music player has had on the music industry, the tech industry, and global culture.

November 12, 2006

I'm A PC-san


This is cute.

November 18, 2006

Wallingford Resolved


The upgraded Google Earth software for the Mac now shows the Choate campus in much clearer resolution than before. I've indicated--from the bird's eye view--where my home and where my office are.

November 26, 2006

A Clever Solution


So you've got yourself the nifty Nike+ Sport Kit for the iPod Nano, but what if you want to run in non-Nike shoes? Well this vendor has a nifty solution: a little case for the shoe chip that fits into the lacing of any running shoe. Of course, I already splurged for a pair of 180s; had I known about this before, I could have saved myself $100.

December 11, 2006

What's On Your iBook?


Apple ran a series of advertisements about a decade ago with the tagline "What's On Your PowerBook?" The ads featured both celebrities and regular Joes and Janes. (Click here to see a bigger version of the ad above and here to see more ads like this one.)

Now that laptops are much more ubiquitous, I thought'd I'd provide a smattering of what I am carrying with me on my iBook during my two-week California/Florida trip:

recent “In Our Time” podcasts from BBC
schedule for the upcoming Intercollegiate Tennis Association convention
case statement for artificial turf fields
Dashboard widgets
faculty lectures downloaded from
faculty lectures downloaded from
Safari and Firefox browsers
syllabi for HI411: Constitutional Law and HI432: Modern Japan
Delicious Library containing catalogue of my books, CDs, and DVDs
RealVideo file of U2's Vertigo '05 concert from Sao Paolo
DVArchive to transfer recorded shows from my ReplayTV to my Mac
Solitaire Til Dawn
birthday list for Memorial House residents
episodes of season 3 of “Drawn Together” in QuickTime format
Google Earth
photos from recent cross country season to post on Facebook
Macromedia Studio 8
draft of handbook for the New England Interscholastic Squash Association
iWork ’06 with Keynote presentation for NEPSAC Annual Meeting
the complete Promethea by Alan Moore in pdf format
Circus Ponies Notebook with collections of text and image clippings
college recommendations for the Class of 2007
FileMakerPro 8 to access interscholastic athletic schedule data
notes on The Brothers Karamazov
iLife ’06 with Garage Band podcasts from Choate Tennis trip to China
Microsoft Office 2004 For Mac
raw digital video from South African safari in need of editing in iMovie
evaluations of coaches
downloaded audiobook file with Tom Friedman lecture on the flat world
VPN Client
my Great American Novel in progress

December 16, 2006

The Latest From Microsoft


In The New York Times this week, technology writer David Pogue reviewed the new PC operating system, Microsoft Vista. Apparently it looks real pretty and is a somewhat blatant rip-off of Mac OS X. It will be interesting to see how much distance the folks in Cupertino will put between their product and this new one when Leopard, the latest upgrade to the Mac OS, comes out in early 2007.

Read Pogue's review here (there is a witty video companion piece on the site showing a comparison between Vista and Mac OS X that is worth checking out, too).

December 23, 2006

Data To Go


I am loading up my new tech accessory: the Western Digital Passport, a 120 GB compact hard drive which is about the size of an actual passport and weighs only a few ounces. Because the drive is powered directly through a USB cable, there is no power adapter to carry. It was a good bargain at $79 on and will be very useful on my upcoming world tour. When I get back, I intend to use it for moving those bulky iMovie digital video files around.

January 6, 2007

The Beauty Of The Information Age

When I got up this morning and checked my e-mail, there was a message from the iTunes Music Store alerting me that the latest episode of The Office was available for download. Staying in touch with favorite shows back home like this is a relatively recent treat; certainly I couldn't do it during my last sabbatical trip in 1998.

Earlier in the week, I downloaded from iTMS an episode from the Discovery Atlas series on the Discovery Channel, one called "Australia Revealed." The overview of the country is nearly two hours long--but still only $1.99!--beautifully photographed in high definition, and narrated by Russell Crowe. I was turned on to the series by another Discovery Atlas episode ("China Revealed") on DVD that I was given for Christmas by a cousin; I watched this documentary on my portable Panasonic player on one of my flights. It's a great series. You can see it in all its splendor on the Discovery HD network, if you get it. Or you can order the DVDs for about $20 or download episodes from iTunes Music Store for $2. Here's the link to "Australia Revealed":

Discovery Atlas - Discovery Atlas, Season 1 - Discovery Atlas: Australia Revealed

January 9, 2007

Surprises From Steve Jobs?


In just a few hours--I won't see this until Wednesday morning my time--Steve Jobs kicks off the MacWorld Expo with his keynote address, one of those now-classic deliveries in which he unveils all the new tech that Apple has been working on behind closed doors. Lots of speculation as to what we'll see this time around. Expectations are high, in part fueled by the promo banner above, which has been posted on Apple's own website the past week or so.

January 10, 2007

Apple Calling


So the iPhone arrives! Looks pretty sweet. And the other goodies are impressive as well.

Steve's Spell


I watched the QuickTime stream of Steve Jobs' keynote address at the MacWorld Expo. It ran nearly two hours (though had the treat of a John Mayer mini-concert included at the end). There's no doubt this guy is the master of the format. His "reality distortion field" was in full effect and he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, cheering wildly as he demonstrated the features of the new iPhone.

A couple of minor surprises about his remarks, though. There was no introduction of iLife '07 or iWork '07, nor anything to say about the new Leopard version of OS X. In fact there wasn't much talk about the Mac at all!

On another front, Microsoft announed at the conference that Office for Mac 2008 will be released later this year as a univeral binary with all sorts of nifty new features. Hopefully the new version of Entourage will play nicer with Exchange.

January 12, 2007

Bondi Blue


After the film, I headed over to Bondi Beach to take in the sights and have a quick dip in the Pacific Ocean. This beach is iconic in Australian culture.

If you remember the very first version of the iMac, introduced in 1998--the breakthrough machine that Steve Jobs used to turn Apple around, the one with the "hockey puck" mouse--its color was labeled "Bondi Blue" after the Sydney beach.

January 14, 2007

Technology And Travel

Having spent time in Australia on both my sabbatical trips, in 1998 and 2007, I was reflecting today on the differences between the experiences that have resulted from technology.

Certainly the Web and e-mail had become common by '98, but my access to them while abroad was pretty rare. Basically, I was dependent on Internet cafés to touch base with folks at home and catch up with sports scores and such back at school. I was able to connect perhaps twice a week, if lucky. This time around I am traveling with my laptop and have been able to get in-room broadband access at each of my hotels thus far.

Communications programs like Skype and iChat have made it practically free to stay in touch with people back in the States in real time conversations. This was unheard of nine years ago.

I've been able to entertain myself on this trip, both with with my portable DVD player and with television shows I downloaded to my iBook from my DVR before I left home. Even better, I've been able to keep up with recent shows that have aired while I've been abroad, such as episodes of The Office and 30 Rock, by downloading them via the iTunes Music Store. I am looking foward to staying up-to-date with 24 and Battlestar Galactica and Heroes and Lost when they resume new episodes, too. And I admit one of the benefits of being out from under the firewall of an academic community is unimpeded access to BitTorrent sites and other file sharing networks to get media.

Also, the iPod phenomenon has changed my interaction with my environment. I am able to wander city streets or cruise through stores to the beat of my own private soundtrack. I try not to use the iPod too much in this manner so I don't miss out on the local soundscape, but there are times it's nice to retreat into a familiar, comfortable song in a strange place.

January 29, 2007


I finally got an adapter from the hotel so I could recharge the iBook and my iPod. None of the plugs I brought with me fit the sockets here--not even the one from South Africa, which I thought would do the trick. After a few false starts, I got the wireless Internet connection working as well, so I am back in business on the technical side of things.

February 2, 2007

Getting Caught Up With Work

The Internet enables me to do some serious telecommuting! Tonight I set up and distributed all the entry materials for this month's New England Interscholastic Squash Championships while sitting in my hotel room here in Mumbai. In the morning, I will continue electronically surveying Choate student-athletes to complete the process of evaluating their coaches. As far as most of the recipients of my messages know, I could be sitting in my office in Wallingford. This is truly the flat world that Tom Friedman describes.

February 11, 2007

Reminds Me Of The Dial-Up Days

I am using the hotel's free WiFi connection in my room, but it is SO slow. I mean it's S..........L..........O..........W. Just loading a simple web page takes far too much time. And I am trying to download half-a-gig video files! Very frustrating.

February 20, 2007

Education In My London Office

I jokingly refer to the Apple Store here as "my London office" because I can settle in the theater in the back of the store to take advantage of the free wireless Internet access. The advantage of being here is that while getting caught up on e-mail and the Web, I can absorb the free workshops about Mac technology (using GarageBand, iMovie, etc.) from the resident Apple Geniuses.

March 4, 2007

Goodbye, PC


At the end of the month--March 30, to be exact--I'll pick up my new school-issued laptop, which will be a MacBook. This means I'm turning in my Dell Inspiron and cutting my use of Wintel machines to about nil. (Of course, I've asked the IT folks at school to load Windows on my new Intel chip Mac, so I'll have the best of both worlds.)

March 30, 2007

Trading Up


My Dell Inspiron is gone and in its place is a shiny new black MacBook, courtesy of my employer. Sweet!

April 8, 2007

A Review Of The MacBook


I've put my new school-issued laptop through its paces for just over a week now and generally am quite pleased with the machine. The Intel chips are clearly faster than the PowerPCs in my iBook, especially when using the applications built for the new architecture. I like the black version since I already have the white iBook (and--more importantly--this model has a faster processor, more memory, and a bigger hard drive than the entry-level white MacBook).

The screen is a LOT brighter and sharper, with the "glossy" factor a big plus--watching videos on this gorgeous screen is a much more pleasant experience. And I love Front Row, with its simple remote control being able to access iTunes music, movies, and television shows, as well as photos and DVDs. (I plan to use the remote to run a Keynote presentation for the entire Choate faculty tomorrow, too.)

The keyboard is noticeably improved. The computer itself is smaller and lighter, which makes it better suited for travel than than the iBook that has circled the world with me the last two years. The built-in iSight camera is very cool, obviating the need to carry and hook up the standalone version of iSight when I want to use A/V iChat or Photo Booth or Delicious Library. I LOVE the magnetic attachment to the power cord, designed to prevent the computer being yanked off a table or desk when someone (i.e., me) eventually trips over the cord.

I haven't yet loaded Windows on the machine but will do so in the next week or so--hopefully in a Vista flavor. Now I am really looking forward to the release of the Leopard OS, new iLife and iWork software packages, and Office for Mac 2008, all due in the months ahead.

April 13, 2007



Apple's forthcoming operating system upgrade, code-named "Leopard," will be delayed until the fall. It was expected in June. I guess I'll have to be patient.

The G5 iMac Goes To The Genius Bar

I just dropped off my primary desktop Mac at the Apple Store in the Westfarms Mall, as it's been intermittently losing power and abruptly shutting down for some time now--not a happy state of affairs. Apple is fixing it for free, though, but in the meantime I'll be without the machine until sometime next week.

April 15, 2007

Quick Turnaround

I got a call from the Apple Store yesterday, telling me my 20" G5 iMac was ready for pick-up, less than 24 hours after I dropped it off. And here I am using the machine now to post to the blog. The paperwork indicates over $900 of repairs--a new logic board and a new power supply--but I paid nothing. I love Apple!

April 16, 2007

He's A Good Un-Friend Of Mine

A recent source of amusement around these parts has been the phenomenon of "un-friending" someone on Facebook. This has happened to me: one day you notice that a person who once asked you to approve his/her friendship request has since quietly dropped you from "friend" status. It's hard to take it too seriously, of course, but it begs the question why one would initiate the contact in the first place. Then there's a class of people who want me among their Facebook friends, but block me from seeing their messages, photos, etc. I guess some insecurity like this is to be expected from kids who worry about a faculty member seeing their "secrets"--though the vast majority of kids at Choate who have friended me apparently don't worry about it--but it's harder to explain when graduates do the same thing. What's the point?

April 17, 2007

iWeb Workaround

I figured out the source of the iWeb difficulties that have been interfering with my Choate Tennis intranet site since last spring: essentially it's an issue with the Choate firewall here on campus. So since the middle of last week when I relaunched the site, every time I want to upload changes, I make my way up the street to the Wallingford Public Library to take advantage of its free (and apparently firewall-free) wireless network.

April 22, 2007

A Shout Out

Check out a new sports-themed blog produced by a couple of Choate fourth formers:

April 25, 2007

The Wild Boars Tennis Podcast

Choate Tennis has finished the first half of its season and now holds a respectable 5-1 record (the team dropped a 3-4 match to Taft on Monday). I have been producing podcasts with members of the squad after each contest, something that has proved to be popular with players, their families, and others on campus.

It's password protected--as it's intended for an internal audience--so anyone wanting to sample it should drop me a line.

April 27, 2007

A New Frontier


The school's IT department loaded Parallels on my new MacBook today, which enables me to run Windows XT (also installed) at the same time as Mac OS X. I'll let you know how it works when I get some time to play with it.

May 2, 2007

Using iWeb

I've been making more use of iWeb to maintain a "microsite" for my Constitutional Law class this spring. I provide summaries of the real Supreme Court's decisions in the cases we cover in our Mock Court exercise. I also started a podcast; there's only one "episode" up right now--an explanation of something called substantive due process.

iWeb is a quick, easy way to edit and upload web content, though it works most smoothly with a .Mac account. I figure that I'm paying for this service, so I might as well use it.

May 30, 2007

iTunes Plus


Apple debuted DRM-free versions of some of its offerings on the iTunes Music Store, all encoded at twice the normal bit rate (256 kbps, as opposed to the standard 128). I was given the option of upgrading 28 of my songs at 30 cents a pop (which I did). Probably won't make much of a difference to my listening habits right now, but who knows what advances in audio will be coming around the corner?

June 14, 2007

Quiet Comfort Indeed


David Pogue had a piece in today's International Herald Tribune about noise-canceling headphones. He reviewed the Bose Quiet Comfort 2--which I was wearing as I read the article--and its competitors. I picked up the QC2s on a whim (admittedly, an expensive one!) in Logan Airport in Boston before heading to Bermuda for a week in August 2005 and have worn them on nearly every flight since. As I've been on at least a half dozen 12+ hour flights in the last two years, they have been a godsend. The noise-cancelling properties really do make flying easier: less headache, less jet lag, an overall easier transition.

I wish I had headphones like this when I was in college: not because I flew much then (I took a 30-minute flight twice between Albany and Islip--my first and second times in an airplane) but because I routinely took the long bus ride between Williamstown and New York City, stopping in virtually every town along the way. The ongoing low rumble of the bus for hours invariably put me out of sorts and gave me a headache and a touch of nausea.

June 18, 2007

Cupertino Cool


An intriguing piece in this week's New York profiling Steve Jobs in the context of the soon-to-be-released iPhone. You can read it online.

June 19, 2007

Battery Needed


My watch--sorry, my wristop computer!--broke down this morning with a drained battery, so I need to track down a new battery tomorrow. Suunto is a Scandavian company (Finnish, in fact) so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a place that can provide me what I need. The Suunto Vector was a very nice gift from a parent of a JV squash player a few years back--something I never would have bought for myself. It's an awfully large thing to wear on my wrist, but it's a pretty cool little machine. Of course, it can do far more than what I use it for, as it has a built-in compass, barometer, and altimeter, in addition to the usual gamut of timepiece functions. I pretty much use it to tell time.

June 21, 2007

Knock Wood

There's an interesting article that ran in the international edition of USA Today about wood tennis racquets. Apparently a slew of current tour players were asked to hit with traditional wooden frames and compare them to the modern racquet technology. (One of them, Novak Djokovic--currently the #5 player in the world--had NEVER hit with a wood racquet before!) The common consensus--not surprisingly--was great feel, much less power.

Part of me wishes the tennis authorities did what the baseball folks did: limited the professional game to to the traditional equipment (i.e., wood racquets with smaller head sizes) while allowing the rest of us to benefit from technological advances. The problem with this, of course, is a commercial one: the racquet companies use the top players to drive sales of new racquets. Coaches and teaching pros see this first-hand, too. For example, I am on the HEAD advisory staff, which means I get a couple of free racquets every year. There is a clear push to adopt the company's new technology every season. So as someone who has been using the Prestige line of sticks, I have migrated from the iPrestige to the Liquidmetal Prestige to the Flexpoint Prestige as HEAD has upgraded the line and discontinued the older versions. (This time next year I'll be wielding the Microgel Prestige, by the way, which will be released late this year or early next.)
Of course the irony is that most of the top pros don't even play with the racquet it LOOKS like they are playing with. At that level of the game, the athletes are so attuned to the exact details of their equipment that the companies produce "paint jobs" for them-customized versions of older models that are made to resemble the current version. It's pretty much an open secret on the tour. Hence Roger Federer's "new" Wilson racquet this year is just a cosmetically altered version of the same frame he's been comfrotably winning with for years. Marat Safin, who plays with the aforementioned HEAD Prestige line, actually uses a Prestige Classic 600 frame, a discontinued model he won the U.S. Open with in 2000, but it has been painted to look like the iPrestige, the Liquidmetal Prestige, and the Flexpoint Prestige over the years (and no doubt soon the Microgel Prestige will follow).

Had the pros stuck with the wooden racquets, none of this would be necessary (though even in the 1970s, Ilie Nastase was notorious for having Wilson racquets painted to resemble adidas models to satisfy his sponsor without playing with inferior equipment). But it's doubtful the world's top players would be getting big bucks for using racquets that most of the rest of us would never dream of buying when we could be using graphite composites, oversized heads, wide bodies, and the rest.

June 24, 2007

test of scheduled post

ignore this

June 29, 2007

The Bleeding Edge


When it comes to consumer technology, cutting edge is cool, bleeding edge is probably not. Which is a fancy way of saying that as intrigued as I am by the sexy new iPhone--released today--I will wait before thinking of getting one. The first generation of iPod looks woefully inept in retrospect and I have to think in a year or two the iPhone will be much cheaper and vastly improved in its storage capacity, function, network, and battery life. I can wait.

June 30, 2007


About mid-week, something in the school's firewall set-up started blocking access to Gracenote CDDB, the service that automatically identifies the CD and all tracks in iTunes when you load a disc into your computer. This is maddening. The alternative is to enter the name of each track manually, along with other tagged information for the CD.

July 1, 2007

NG 3.0 In Development

In the course of the next six months, this website is getting a comprehensive overhaul--more than just a CSS makeover. Design and testing will be behind the scenes. Target launch date for the upgrade is January 1, 2008.

July 10, 2007



I was watching the fairly engaging Spielberg On Spielberg documentary--which aired on TCM last night and I recorded on my DVR--when I realized I had to check in the kids in the house for curfew. While pausing the playback, I inadvertantly deleted the program from my ReplayTV. And the program is not scheduled to be rebroadcast again anytime soon. Stupid. Well I got to see at least two thirds of it, I guess, so it wasn't a total loss.

July 27, 2007

You Will

In 1993, AT&T ran a marketing campaign called "You Will" that showed us the future of technology. At the time, it all seemed very much like science fiction, but almost 15 years later, most of these things have been incorporated into our daily lives (though most of it NOT by AT&T!). Check it out here.

August 1, 2007

Cool Tech

For book lovers, this website--Library Thing--is a nifty way to catalogue a collection and also connect with other readers. I joined with a lifetime membership for only $25. And I can upload the contents of my Delicious Library database in one fell swoop.

August 7, 2007

New Toys From Apple

Steve Jobs assembled the press in Cupertino today to reveal the latest offerings from Apple. The new version of the iMac, with a 24" monitor and a spiffy aluminum and glossy glass design:

And some new software suites as well:

Pretty tempting, and I do need to refresh my desktop set-up, which is now over two years old, BUT if I wait until October, I can get the forthcoming Mac OS Leopard and the new iLife package at no additional charge when I order a new machine.

August 8, 2007

Best Feature On Facebook


One of the very best things about Facebook is that it reminds me when people I know have a birthday (assuming they have chosen to list it on the site). On the flip side, I received over 50 messages on my birthday from folks all over the world--pretty cool, I must say! (Also got a few phone calls, IMs, text messages, and such, too.)

When I was a kid, it sucked having a summer birthday, as you missed out on the chance to celebrate in school. Technology has made it a lot easier to touch base on birthdays.

August 20, 2007

Mini-Upgrade To This Blog

I've been playing around with LibraryThing a bit the past couple of weeks: it's a web-based cataloguing service for books, one with all sorts of interesting bells and whistles. It has the ability to automatically generate a blog widget with highlights from one's library, complete with cover graphics. So I've added such a widget in the column to the right, below. This replaces the lists of "current" books, DVDs, and music that I actually had not updated in at least two years or so! This only works with books right now; maybe LibraryThing will incorporate DVDs and CDs in the future, though? In any case, this will ensure fresher content on this page from now on.

September 5, 2007

Fancy New iPods


Apple released upgraded iPods today, including the new iPod Touch, based on the user interface of the iPhone. This device features WiFi connectivity; in many ways, it's an iPhone without the telephone service. But with a $200 price cut on the iPhone, the real thing looks more tempting. But I will wait . . .

September 12, 2007

iWork '08


The iWork '08 suite arrived from Apple today, with updated versions of Keynote (which I use a lot) and Pages (which I have never really used but have a use in mind for it right now) as well as a new spreadsheet application named Numbers.

September 13, 2007

The Bloom Is Off The Rose


Less than a year after I got it, I am ready to throw my Treo 700p out the window. My contacts haven't synced properly in months, my schedule stopped syncing earlier this week, and the device freezes up on me at inopportune times. I saw today that Elevation Partners, with some former Apple gurus on board, acquired 25% of Palm. The company clearly needs that help. Hard to stop gazing longingly at the iPhone for very much longer!

September 30, 2007

Guitar Hero


I have been spending time playing Guitar Hero II with the boys in Mem House lately. I generally don't have much patience with video games, but the guitar-like controllers and the familiar music makes this an enticing distraction for me.

October 1, 2007

The DVR Is Not Perfect

My ReplayTV does not yet know how to read my mind. I was under the impression that it was programmed to record each new episode of Heroes this season. But apparently I set it to record only the season premiere last week. Thus I do not have tonight's episode ready for my viewing pleasure. Fortunately, NBC is airing it again this weekend!

October 2, 2007

Approaching Capacity

I look forward to getting a new iMac once the Leopard OS is released later this month (no point to getting it before then and paying separately for the new OS and the updated iLife '08 suite) for it will enable me to re-organize my digital music and photography, which takes up the lion's share of storage space on my various machines. The internal hard drives on my G5 iMac, my G4 iBook, and my MacBook all are near their maximum capacity at this point. What I really need to do is dump some of my pictures; I really only should be keeping a small percentage of what I actually shoot. But to do so, I need to do some consolidation first.

October 17, 2007

Won't Be Long Now


Apple has officially announced the release of its latest OS update, Leopard, on October 26. This means I can go ahead and order a new iMac, so I can get Leopard and iLife '08 at no additional cost. I am getting a 750G hard drive on the new machine, which should enable me to do some serious reorganization of media files, documents, and such.

October 20, 2007

Cool Mini-Application

Tonight I used for the first time a neat little piece of software that enables me to post pictures on Facebook from within iPhoto, saving me a step or two of effort.

October 26, 2007

Weird Photoshopping Contest


The above "spider squirrel" is digitally manipulated image, an entry in a scary animals photoshopping contest. Check out more here.

Leopard Arrives


The newest version of Max OSX has arrived . . . Leopard debuted tonight at 6 p.m. I expect to have it in a week or so.

October 27, 2007

My New iMac Is Coming


I just ordered a new iMac with a huge 24" screen and it should be blazingly fast. The relevant specs:

2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme
2GB memory
750GB (!) hard drive
8x double-layer SuperDrive
ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory

Plus it will have the new Leopard OS and iWork '08 pre-loaded, so I get both at no extra cost.

AirPort Extreme


I also ordered an AirPort Extreme Base Station today to upgrade my home wireless network. This router has Gigabit Ethernet ports and is supposed to be blazing fast and boasts greater range, as it uses the 802.11n standard. And since I already have an AirPort Express which I can redeploy to extend the wireless signal even further, I'll have a much more robust home network set-up.

October 30, 2007

Across The Pacific


My new desktop computer has been dispatched from China and apparently had a stopover in Alaska. Should be in Wallingford by the end of the week, when I get back from D.C.

October 31, 2007

From Shanghai To Wallingford


Wow. FedEx is pretty impressive. My new iMac left China on Tuesday morning and arrived on the Choate campus before lunch today. Too bad it will sit in the mailroom for two days before I can pick it up on Friday. (Meanwhile, the AirPort Extreme unit I ordered the same day as the desktop computer is taking over twice as long to get to Connecticut from Tennessee!)

November 2, 2007

It's Here!


Just unpacked the new toy. It's big and beautiful. I am setting it up in my study upstairs where the old G4 iMac used to live. Turns out I have to install Leopard from the included DVD.

November 12, 2007

Technological Frustration


So yesterday I ponied up a pile of money to buy a legal copy of Adobe Creative Suite 3, which contains some pretty useful programs such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, etc. The academic price was considerably cheaper than the regular cost, and I could fold this into my interest-free loan from the school for tech-related purchases. I opted to download the software from the Adobe website, but couldn't get the 2+ gig file to start to download. After a few calls to customer service that proved fruitless, Adobe is sending me a CD with the software I now own, but the company had the nerve to make me may $20 plus shipping for it!

November 17, 2007

Lots Of Pictures

I took advantage of covering duty in a very quiet Memorial House tonight to try to get all of my digital photos organized on a single computer using iPhoto. My hefty 750-gigabyte hard drive on the new iMac has plenty of space to hold the photos, and it has the new iPhoto '08 installed, so pics can be organized into events. The trick was to import all the metadata associated with the iPhoto Library files on three other machines so I didn't lose the editing (e.g., albums, cropped pictures, etc.) I found a nifty utility online called iPhoto Library Manager, which I'd strongly recommend to anyone grappling with the same sort of project. It's $20 well spent.

November 18, 2007

iPhoto Gallery

Well, after several hours of work, I've assembled all of my digital photos--over 33,000 of them!--into one iPhoto Library. I can probably "thin the herd" a bit, by dumping anywhere between 20% to 50% of the shots: the ones that are out of focus, poorly composed, or repetitive. That will take more time, of course.

November 23, 2007

A Great Deal


I just locked in the forthcoming Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition at a price of just $25 plus some minimal shipping costs. Even though I already own Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher Edition, I ordered another copy online for $124.99 (I get free shipping as an Amazon Prime member), but will immediately get a $100 rebate on this purchase. Then in January I will receive the new Office upgrade for free! It's about a $500 value at a fraction of the cost. And I didn't have to fight the Black Friday crowds for this deal, either.

November 29, 2007

Something I Probably Don't Need


Last Friday, Apple had a special Black Friday deal on iPod Shuffles. The price dropped below $70, so I picked up one of the Product RED editions and it arrived today.

December 18, 2007

Not Canceling The Noise


This is the first trip via air I have taken without my Bose noise-canceling headphones since I picked them up on my way to Bermuda a couple of years ago. In my rush to get out the door Sunday morning, they did not end up in my bag. I used EarThumps--which I usually use in conjunction with my iPod--to watch my portable DVD player instead on yesterday's flights, and didn't really notice the absence of the QC2s. Today, however, on the segment from Nashville back to Detroit, I was more aware of the rumble of the jet, perhaps because I was seated further back in the plane. I'll be sure to pack the Bose headphones for my flight to Las Vegas on the 26th.

December 30, 2007

Satellite Radio


My rental car out here in the Southwest came equipped with XM satellite radio. I've been spending a lot of the time listening to the "POTUS '08" channel, which focuses on the upcoming presidential election. I got to hear a town meeting held by Barack Obama, whose articulate, thoughtful, and knowledgeable answers to foreign policy questions from the crowd elevated him considerably in my estimation. In contrast, this was followed by a Rudy Giuliani stump speech in Tampa, in which it was clear the former New York mayor is now far less than the man I came to admire in the fall of 2001; instead he has adopted every partisan bullet point possible rather than offering the maverick leadership we saw in a time of crisis.

January 15, 2008

An iPhone In My Future


With the school's move away from the Palm Treo platform, it looks like I will have the option to get an iPhone and have part of the monthly cost picked up by my employer. Of course, I would much prefer the second generation of the iPhone. Perhaps today's keynote address by Steve Jobs at the MacWorld conference will give us a sense of when that will be released. I'll be watching.

January 16, 2008

YouTube Hilarity

If you've been following the format wars in high-definition DVDs, you will enjoy this:

Whoever put this together is brilliant!

I Bit The Bullet


I am now a proud iPhone user. Drove up to the Apple Store at WestFarms Mall this afternoon and emerged with a shiny new toy. Activation with AT&T took just a few minutes and I've already loaded the software update released yesterday. Goodbye, Treo!

January 22, 2008

A Week With The iPhone


I've had my new iPhone for almost a week now and I keep asking myself: why didn't I get this before? Quite simply, the product is better than expected. Even if Apple releases a second generation model tomorrow, I don't regret having taken the plunge.

The syncing of my contacts and calendars is seamless (unlike my Treo experience). The maps feature is pretty terrific, especially with the locating feature in the latest software upgrade. Critics have observed the AT&T Edge network is a bit poky for Internet access, but it works well enough, especially since I don't do most of my surfing on the iPhone. For a quick lookup of something while on the road, it's fine (though I'm sure the 3G model expected later this year will blow it away).

The one major drawback I have encountered thus far is that my To Do list doesn't migrate onto the iPhone in an easy manner (but then again I haven't yet tried the Leopard approach to Tasks, which is built into Apple Mail). I still have to connect my school e-mail account on the Exchange server to the iPhone, but hopefully that shouldn't be too hard.

I downloaded some video shorts, the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, from iTunes to watch in small doses while traveling. I've also bought about ten ringtones via iTunes.

January 24, 2008

Digital Download


My special edition copy of Family Guy: Blue Harvest came with a "free" digital download. That is, a companion DVD of the Star Wars parody enabled me to connect to iTunes and downloaded a digital copy of the movie--really an extended TV show episode--which can be watched on my computer or transferred to an iPod, iPhone, Apple TV device, etc. Apparently Fox will start doing this sort of thing routinely with future DVD releases. Pretty cool.

January 25, 2008

192 kbps


After reading a few articles online about how the MP3/iPod phenomenon has lowered our collective standards for audio quality to "low def," I have decided to encode my ripped CDs at 192 kbps, rather than the 128 which is standard for iTunes downloads. iTunes Plus songs, which don't have the DRM protection in the files, come in 256 kbps. But given the nearly 15,000 songs I have in digital format, 192 seems to be the sweet spot between the competing needs for better sonic fidelity and the need to keep file sizes as small as possible on computer and iPod hard drives. I have already re-ripped the CDs I loaded into my new iMac in the last month or so. I suppose I will gradually try to re-rip more of CDs at a leisurely pace in the weeks and months to come. But there's no rush, as it will take a long time to update all the music to the higher quality bit rate.

February 4, 2008

Free Wireless In The Airport

The Charlotte airport, like Bradley Airport back home or the JetBlue terminal at JFK, offers free wireless access. Most airports have a deal with a provider like T-Mobile that charges a flat rate for an hour's or a day's worth of time online. I wish all airports followed the Charlotte model.

An iPhone Glitch


After a few weeks of technological bliss, my experience with the iPhone took an unfortunate turn yesterday. The bottom half-inch of screen has become unresponsive, which prevents me from accessing the on-screen keyboard while text messaging or hitting the space bar or accessing numbers and punctuation in those application in which I can get a keyboard. This is pretty limiting for many functions of the device. I've checked out this phenomenon online and it turns out this is a problem other users have experienced, even if rarely so. So I will be stopping at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store at West Farms Mall on my way home from the airport and I expect my phone will be replaced.

The Apple Store Experience


I stopped at the Apple Store in Farmington tonight so one of the resident Geniuses could replace my defective iPhone (it was simple: he swapped the SIM card into a new unit in the store, then I quickly restored the data from my iMac back home and I didn't miss a beat).

I was struck once again by the elegant experience of Apple's retail operations. Clearly these stores have been a runaway success, with their simple but effective designs. They function as showrooms for Apple's latest technological innovations as well as a sort of temple for the faithful. I have long referred to the Regent Street Apple Store as "my London office" because I really can settle in their for a few hours while away from home to take advantage of the free wireless so I can use e-mail and surf the 'Net.

Service is a key part of the experience. I bought my dad a new iPod Nano in South Beach the other day and the staff could not have been easier to deal with (the store even saves paper by e-mailing me the receipt, since my credit card is associated with my Apple account). Tonight a concierge arranged an appointment for a Genius to look at my iPhone, even though there were no appointments left for Monday night. Once that happened, my device was replaced without question.

Other retailers could learn a lot from how Apple runs its stores.

March 3, 2008

A New Office


I just got my copy of Microsoft Office: Mac 2008 and am installing it now. It cost me a total of $25! I'll let you know how I like it soon.

March 6, 2008


I wrote several weeks back how I was re-ripping my CD collection to encode my iTunes music at 192 kbps--still far more compression than even the compact disc format, but at least with 50% more information than the default 128 kbps iTunes standard. Well, I've gotten somewhat manic about plowing through my collection. I own far too many CDs--hundreds and hundreds really--and so I've spent way too much time hauling stacks of jewel cases up to my study to feed them into my newest iMac, which is where I sync my iPods. But I have yet to bring any discs back down to the living room shelves, so my primary work space in my study looks more like a used record shop at this moment! Time to tidy up, I guess.

March 17, 2008

iTunes Frustration

I am in a maddening pattern of my iTunes freezing up. When I use Force Quit to escape, the application never fully shuts down, which means I have to reboot to get back into iTunes again (which, of course, I need to sync my iPhone). I re-installed iTunes but this didn't seem to fix the problem. I'll have to keep working on it, as this is very annoying.

April 4, 2008

MacBook Woes


I was without a computer in my office for a couple days last week when our IT department upgraded my machine to the Leopard OS. Yesterday, the laptop locked me out when I rebooted after a software update, so I am again without the machine until at least Monday, as the techies try to fix the problem. My time in the office tends to feel very unproductive when I am without e-mail, the web, etc.

April 9, 2008

In Sync


Having the Leopard OS installed on my MacBook as well as on two iMacs at home enables me to make better use of iCal and my Apple Mail accounts, as the .Mac syncing capability facilitates the same information on my screen at home now following me to work (and vice-versa). iCal neatly syncs to my iPhone as well. If only I could get the "tasks" list to do the same . . .

April 10, 2008

E-Mail Pruning

I took part in the first of a two-part session on e-mail management offered by the school's IT director this morning. This was a productive primer on handling the barrage of electronic communication may of us face every day. The principle (from David Allen's Getting Things Done) of getting one's "In Box" to empty once a day is an admirable goal, but one I'll have to work hard to implement. I routinely have a couple thousand messages in my account, since I frequently refer to past correspondence. But if I can set up the proper filing system in place and set up some "smart mailboxes" with automatic filing rules, my life online might become a lot more productive. A good goal for early summer, when flood of daily messages slows to a trickle.

April 13, 2008

Tracking My Every Move


So I signed up for Twitter this weekend, though I am not sure this is really for me.

The premise of "twittering" is that one fires off brief updates to the service throughout the day, letting anyone who cares know exactly what one is up to. The technology now neatly ties into Facebook, updating one's "status" on the profile page. I can also update the right column of this blog page automatically with a bit of coding supplied by Twitter that fits neatly into my CSS layout. And of course I can "twitter" remotely from the iPhone.

I suppose it's presumptuous to assume that there are people with any degree of interest in the minutiae of my daily comings and goings. And I have just a bit of paranoia about the potential for "Big Brother" misuse of technology that makes it so easy for me to be tracked.

But I am gonna try this, at least for a few days.

April 16, 2008

A Quick Fix

One of the ringtones I recently purchased on the iTunes Store--"Speed Of Sound" by Coldplay--refused to sync with my iPhone. When I would sync the device, I was told the song file was not authorized on my computer--which I knew wasn't true, as it was a non-DRM iTunes Plus file. The solution presented itself after a Google search: all I had to do was play the ringtone file on my computer and the authorization would be confirmed. I did that and the file synced right up to the iPhone. Voila!

April 17, 2008

What's On Your MacBook?


Maybe ten or so years ago, Apple ran a series of advertisements with the tagline "What's On Your PowerBook?" (Click here to see a bigger version of the ad above and here to see more ads like this one.)

About eighteen months ago I blogged about the contents of my iBook. So it's now time for an updated snapshot of some of the things I am lugging around with me on my MacBook:

"Ricky Gervais Show" and "Grammar Girl" podcasts
schedules for my week at the University of Virginia in June and my week at Oxford University in August
PDF of Henry Stimson's 1947 Harper's essay defending the use of the atomic bomb
plans for new artificial turf fields at Choate
Dashboard widgets
assorted lectures downloaded from iTunesU
syllabus for HI411: Constitutional Law
Delicious Library containing catalogue of my books, CDs, and DVDs
reading list for my fellowship at Stanford University this July
"30 Rock" episodes transferred from ReplayTV to my Mac via DVArchive
adidas shirt, short, and warm-up sizes for Choate Tennis players
photos from team trip to Bermuda to post on Facebook
Adobe Creative Suite 3
invoice for new squash scoreboards
Audio Hijack Pro
iPhone wallpapers
Work ’08 with a Keynote presentation for a recent faculty meeting
Circus Ponies Notebook with collections of text and image clippings
college recommendations for the Class of 2008
FileMakerPro 9 to access interscholastic athletic schedule database
notes on King Lear
iLife ’08 with Garage Band podcasts for the current Choate Tennis season
Microsoft Office 2008 For Mac
raw digital video from 2006 South African safari (still) in need of editing in iMovie
season 2 of Extras AVI files
Omni Outliner Professional
evaluations of coaches
documentation for purchased theater tickets to Macbeth on Broadway next week and plays I will see in London and Stratford in August
Parallels to run Windows tournament software
my Great American Novel in progress

April 21, 2008

New Gadget On Its Way


Today I ordered a Flip Video Ultra camera. For about $130, this ultra-portable video camera has a built-in 2GB capacity to store 60 minutes of footage as well as a USB connector to make transfer to a computer a snap. This won't replace the MiniDV camcorder I use, but it will be useful while traveling and good to keep in a bag in case of a sudden whim to record something.

April 24, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday, Blog

"As Far As You Know" is 4 years old today!

Feedjit Visitor Info Added

I added a widget below and to the right that will indicate where visitors to this page hail from. (Don't worry--you'll still be anonymous!)

April 25, 2008


I've decided I like Twitter. A number of people--both here on campus and in cyberspace--have commented on my microblogs. And it's already proven to been a useful way to connect with people. So for the time being, I will keep twittering.

April 26, 2008

The Wit And Wisdom Of J.J. Abrams

I subscribe to the TEDTalks podcasts. Here is one I missed on iTunes, but it was posted on Steffan Antonas' blog and I found it very interesting; it's J.J. Abrams, the guy behind Alias and Lost and Mission: Impossible 3, as well as the forthcoming Star Trek reboot:

April 27, 2008

Pandora Internet Radio

The past couple of days, I've been listening to Pandora, an Internet radio website that allows the user to pick a particular artist or song in order to get a stream of similarly styled content delivered to the computer via the Web. Pretty interesting to play around with.

May 7, 2008

Happy 10th Birthday, iMac

Ten years ago today, the iMac was born. As the proud owner of four of iMacs, I enjoyed watching Steve Jobs' introduction of the machine a decade ago, a product which turned out to be the salvation of Apple (setting up such later successes as the iPod and the iPhone):

May 11, 2008

iTunes Store On The iPhone

Since my parents' house has a wireless network I can connect my iPhone to--unlike the Choate campus!--it's possible to connect to the iTunes Store from the portable device. I purchased and downloaded an album--Sarah McLachlan's Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff, Vol. 2--which will sync to iTunes on my desktop machine when I get home. Pretty simple. And I had forgotten how much faster surfing the web on an iPhone is when it's connected to an active wireless network.

May 23, 2008

Revenge Of The Geeks

I got a few chuckles reading David Brooks' typically insightful New York Times column this morning. A few choice excerpts:

At first, a nerd was a geek with better grades. The word described a high-school or college outcast who was persecuted by the jocks, preps, frat boys and sorority sisters. Nerds had their own heroes (Stan Lee of comic book fame), their own vocations (Dungeons & Dragons), their own religion (supplied by George Lucas and “Star Wars”) and their own skill sets (tech support). But even as “Revenge of the Nerds” was gracing the nation’s movie screens, a different version of nerd-dom was percolating through popular culture. Elvis Costello and The Talking Heads’s David Byrne popularized a cool geek style that’s led to Moby, Weezer, Vampire Weekend and even self-styled “nerdcore” rock and geeksta rappers.

The future historians of the nerd ascendancy will likely note that the great empowerment phase began in the 1980s with the rise of Microsoft and the digital economy. Nerds began making large amounts of money and acquired economic credibility, the seedbed of social prestige. The information revolution produced a parade of highly confident nerd moguls — Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and so on.

Among adults, the words “geek” and “nerd” exchanged status positions. A nerd was still socially tainted, but geekdom acquired its own cool counterculture. A geek possessed a certain passion for specialized knowledge, but also a high degree of cultural awareness and poise that a nerd lacked.

Geeks not only rebelled against jocks, but they distinguished themselves from alienated and self-pitying outsiders who wept with recognition when they read “Catcher in the Rye.” If Holden Caulfield was the sensitive loner from the age of nerd oppression, then Harry Potter was the magical leader in the age of geek empowerment.

But the biggest change was not Silicon Valley itself. Rather, the new technology created a range of mental playgrounds where the new geeks could display their cultural capital. The jock can shine on the football field, but the geeks can display their supple sensibilities and well-modulated emotions on their Facebook pages, blogs, text messages and Twitter feeds. Now there are armies of designers, researchers, media mavens and other cultural producers with a talent for whimsical self-mockery, arcane social references and late-night analysis.

They can visit eclectic sites like and Cool Hunting, experiment with fonts, admire Stewart Brand and Lawrence Lessig and join social-networking communities with ironical names. They’ve created a new definition of what it means to be cool, a definition that leaves out the talents of the jocks, the M.B.A.-types and the less educated. In “The Laws of Cool,” Alan Liu writes: “Cool is a feeling for information.” When someone has that dexterity, you know it.


The news that being a geek is cool has apparently not permeated either junior high schools or the Republican Party. George Bush plays an interesting role in the tale of nerd ascent. With his professed disdain for intellectual things, he’s energized and alienated the entire geek cohort, and with it most college-educated Americans under 30. Newly militant, geeks are more coherent and active than they might otherwise be.

Barack Obama has become the Prince Caspian of the iPhone hordes. They honor him with videos and posters that combine aesthetic mastery with unabashed hero-worship. People in the 1950s used to earnestly debate the role of the intellectual in modern politics. But the Lionel Trilling authority-figure has been displaced by the mass class of blog-writing culture producers.

So, in a relatively short period of time, the social structure has flipped. For as it is written, the last shall be first and the geek shall inherit the earth.

May 27, 2008

Power Restored


Went up to the Apple Store in Farmington tonight. I had to pick up a new power cord for my iBook G4, which is a laptop that has traveled the world with me (six continents in both 2006 and 2007) and pretty much serves as a bedroom computer now. It also has its DVD player set to the region code "2" so I can watch U.K. discs without resorting to software tricks. The part of the cord that plugs into the machine to provide electricity got a bit too banged up, so the connection was no good and the battery stopped charging; thus without a fixed or replacement cord, the laptop would be nothing more than a shiny white paperweight. So $80 and a brand new cord later, I can now charge up the iBook again.

June 4, 2008

Love This Cover


This cover to week's issue of The New Yorker struck me as particularly amusing, as it perfectly captures the contradictions inherent in my own book buying: I have a romantic attachment to good neighborhood bookstores, but the reality is I buy virtually everything I read online from Amazon.

June 5, 2008

Coldplay On iTunes


Apple is featuring Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" in its new iTunes ad. Check it out here.

June 8, 2008

All Eyes On Apple Tomorrow


Steve Jobs will be holding court once more with a keynote address at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference tomorrow, and there should be big news on the iPhone front. A new model of the iPhone is expected, possibly with built-in GPS and video iChat capabilities. A software upgrade for existing iPhone models should be forthcoming, as well. Beyond that, who knows what surprises might be coming from Cupertino? Certainly the tech industry will be tuning in to see what the next "must have" Apple products will be.

June 9, 2008

I Have To Admit It's Getting Better


Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 3G today, as well as a raft of new features in an upgrade to the device's operating software, including support for Exchange. Now I have to decide if I want my primary e-mail account at school to follow me around in my pocket. I'll probably hold off on upgrading the hardware, I think, unless there is an especially good deal in the offing. Built-in GPS and faster Internet access certainly is nice, but the iPhone I have serves me perfectly well. The fact that the data plan for 3G will be an additional $10 a month is a downer, too. Had there been video iChat, though . . .

The Syncing Solution?


I am much more excited about the potential embodied in Mobile Me (Apple's replacement for the .Mac service) than I am in the iPhone 3G. This may actually be the seamless integration of data on my desktop, laptop, and iPhone machines I have dreamed of! See for yourself.

June 18, 2008

Digital Memory


Now that I have a bit of time to devote to "back burner" projects, I have borrowed a floppy disk drive from the IT department so I can cull old files, photos, and such that have lived on floppies for years now. I may need to convert old Word and Excel files to be compatible with upgraded versions as well. My iMac has massive storage capacity, so my "archives" will have a home.

June 28, 2008

Fall Is On Its Way!


Got the 2008 summer training website for Choate Cross Country up and running and my first newsletter out to the boys. Two months until the fall season!

July 2, 2008

When Will We See The Beatles On iTunes?


We are still waiting for The Beatles catalogue to appear in digital form. First, the Apple Corps/Apple Computer lawsuit got settled. Then the McCartney divorce settlement was finalized. And in the meantime the solo works of the Fab Four popped up in the iTunes Music Store. So what's the hold up for the main course? We have heard rumors of a Yellow Submarine-themed special edition iPod and remastered tracks for a couple of years now. And we know Steve Jobs is a big fan of The Beatles. Since I already have the complete collection of Beatles tunes on my iPod, the eventual release won't make much a difference to me, but you have to wonder when pop music's seminal group will join the 21st century.

July 8, 2008

Online At Last

After navigating countless hurdles to get my own MacBook connected to the Internet here at Stanford, I am finally up and running. It boggles my mind how I can be surfing the web five minutes after checking into most hotels anywhere in the world, but at one of the most tech-savvy universities around, it took some 72 hours to get me connected.

July 11, 2008

iPhone 2.0 Update


I loaded the new 2.0 software for the iPhone while in my seminar this morning. For a short while, my device was "bricked" due to Apple's overloaded servers, as tons of folks worldwide eagerly activated their new 3G models or upgraded their original iPhones. But by the time we finished our discussion of slavery in American history, my iPhone was up and running.

There are still some kinks to be worked out: I haven't yet successfully linked to my Exchange account back at school (though I am not sure I want all that e-mail following me wherever I go anyway), it would be nice if the calendar colors (yay!) corresponded to the colors on my iCal screen, and the "pushed" data to and from MobileMe could be smoother. But the new App Store works well and there are some nice features added to the 2.0 version of the operating software.

The only casualty of this process was the loss of my ringtones, since I usually sync the iPhone to the iMac "mother ship" back in Wallingford and here in California I had to use the MacBook "road warrior" instead. I'll get those tones back when I get home, I guess. All the rest of my data and iPod music and videos are still with me.

They've Gotta Have It, I Guess

As I understand it, the Apple Stores opened at 8 a.m. this morning to sell the new iPhone 3G. These pictures document the line at the main Palo Alto store (there's a smaller one in the Stanford Shopping Center) at 7:00 at night!

July 13, 2008

Computer Nostalgia


Here in Silicon Valley, I was reminiscing this morning about my very first computer, which I bought in December of 1985. It was then called just "the Macintosh" and just after I purchased it, I was able to upgrade the internal memory from 256K to 512K. Wow! There was hard drive, of course. A few years later a I bought a 20-megabyte external hard drive, which could store virtually everything I had in digital format. (In contrast, the iMac now in my study at home can handle 750 gigabytes of storage; that's 37,500 times the capacity!)

July 14, 2008

An Elegant Weapon


One of the most inconsequential, but also coolest, apps for the iPhone is the PhoneSaber, which uses the accelerometer to activate sounds that makes your device sound just like a Jedi's weapon as you move it through the air. It's a free download from the App Store.

July 21, 2008

Surfing The Web In Portland

I drove from Eugene up Interstate 5 to the Portland International Airport, where the gods have smiled on me to provide free wireless Internet access! I still don't get why every airport in the country doesn't get on board this bandwagon . . .

July 22, 2008


Just took part in a 45-minute conference call with the headmaster, business manager, and development director back at school. I think only one of the four of us was actually on campus during the "meeting" (which was about the funding stream for an athletics-related building project we are in the middle of right now). With e-mail and teleconferencing, it's easy to do some aspects of my job--those that I tend to handle in the summer months, certainly--from just about anywhere. I always feel like I've gotten away with something when, for example, I wrote all my winter term teacher and adviser comments in between sessions by the pool in Palm Desert, or when I "attended" an evaluation meeting from my hotel room in Saigon.

July 23, 2008

Ringtones Galore


I probably should have figured this out before, but a bit of web surfing just taught me how easy it is to make my own custom iPhone ringtones from songs I've ripped to iTunes using the latest (iLife '08) version of GarageBand.

July 25, 2008

Rush Fails Rock Band

This is too rich: the Canadian trio Rush attempted to play its hit song “Tom Sawyer” on the video game Rock Band and failed to complete the song after 30 seconds, scoring just 31% on “expert mode." See it for yourself here.

July 28, 2008

No Carpal Tunnel Syndrome For Me


I’m “writing” this blog entry using my new software called MacSpeech Dictate. By just speaking normally into the microphone headset, the software turns my speech into text for use in just about any application I can use on my Mac. So I can use it to write blog posts, answer e-mail, dictate letters, draft teacher reports, or just about anything else I can imagine without using the keyboard. I can also use the microphone to give the computer commands such as “open Microsoft Word” or “copy selection” or “quit this application.” The software accurately recognizes about 99% of words spoken. This is pretty cool!

August 4, 2008

Why The iPhone Is Like A Power Ring


With the upgrade to the new 2.0 iPhone operating software, the device seems to be eating power at a much faster rate. And that's with WiFi and Bluetooth turned off most of the time. So I find that if I don't plug the iPhone into its USB connector to the iMac in my study before going to bed, the thing will be nearly totally drained in the morning. That never used to be the case. So like Hal Jordan and his power ring, I need to get into the habit of recharging at least once every 24 hours. That way, he'll be an effective Green Lantern, and I'll have an iPhone that's ready to go in the morning.

August 16, 2008

iTunes Movie Rental


I used the iTunes Store today in a way I never had before: I downloaded a movie to watch on a rental basis. Having spent a week in Oxford now and having read Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" books last summer, I thought it would be neat to check out the film, which I missed when it was released in the theaters late in 2007. The first part of the story is set in Oxford, though as the above picture of London suggests, it's a fantastic alternate world. I now have 30 days to begin watching the movie, and once I do I must finish it within 24 hours. I'll probably watch it in the next two days.

August 17, 2008



As Apple aficionados are prone to speculate endlessly about the company's forthcoming product debuts, there has been a decent amount of chatter on the Internet lately about the prospects for a Mac-based tablet computer. Now who knows if the concept presented in the above photo bears any semblance to what the folks in Cupertino may be bringing us in the future, but should Apple put together something like that, with an effective implementation of handwriting recognition, it will be hard for me to resist scooping one up.

August 20, 2008

On The Grid Once More


My American Airlines flight just landed at Logan Airport, which means I can reactivate my iPhone. I've had it in airplane mode since leaving the States almost two weeks ago. I'm determined to avoid outrageous charges for telephone or data access while traveling abroad, so I cut off all connectivity for the device while in Europe.

September 9, 2008

Time Again For The Steve Jobs Show


Apple is hosting a special event today, one of those occasions when Steve Jobs dazzles the world with new toys. Expected today is an update to the entire iPod line, including a new Nano form factor, as well as the next version of iTunes, supposedly with a "Genius" feature that recommends music based on your playing habits. And who knows what other surprises the folks in Cupertino might have in store for us?

September 10, 2008

iTunes 8.0


I've been playing with the iTunes update since I downloaded it last night. I like the new visualizer a lot. And the Genius feature is a nice improvement, too. I have noticed it doesn't work for Beatles songs, though . . . very curious.

September 12, 2008

Out With The Old


No choice now: I opted to keep the old Facebook interface for as long as I could, but that's no longer possible. I liked having everything on one page with the old design, but I suppose I can live with the new one.

September 15, 2008

Adventures In Connectivity

Today I got my iPhone set up to access the wireless network here on the Choate campus. This will make the web-based functions much quicker than when I have to use the pokey AT&T Edge service. And since I spend most of my time on campus, that is a big plus.

September 18, 2008

The Empire Strikes Back


Microsoft has created a clever response to Apple's "I'm A Mac" commercials, playing off John Hodgman's "I'm a PC" character in this new advertisement.

September 23, 2008

A Nifty 99-Cent Solution


If you are an iPhone user and a political junkie like me, you should download Election '08 from the App Store: it provides the latest in state by state polling for the presidential contest, with a projection of the Electoral College tally.

September 30, 2008

I'll Never Be Off The Grid Now


In the last few minutes of my MetroNorth trip from New Haven to Grand Central tonight, I was able to accomplish what proved elusive for months back home: I activated the Exchange syncing so my school account--my primary e-mail address--is now accessible on my iPhone. I'm not sure if my e-mail messages following me everywhere I go is a good or a bad thing, but I'll try it for at least a week to see.

October 11, 2008

Light My Fire


A neat little app for the iPhone: a virtual lighter, with a flame that moves as you tilt the iPhone. This will be handy for concerts.

October 19, 2008

New MacBooks


I'm in the Apple Store in lower Manhattan putting the new MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops through their paces. The displays are indeed "gorgeous"--as Steve Jobs is prone to say--and the multi-touch glass touchpads work brilliantly.

November 16, 2008

The Quest For Organizational Perfection


In my continuing search for the Holy Grail of organizational tools, I am trying out OmniFocus on my Macs and iPhone. It's been a source of frustration that iCal syncs so well with the calendar on my iPhone, but it does not sync tasks associated with each calendar. So I am giving this GTD-based approach a spin.

November 21, 2008

A Funny Website

I was in New Haven earlier tonight and came across an interesting looking book while browsing in one of the Broadway shops: Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide To The Unique Taste Of Millions. Turns out the book is basically a packaged version of blog entries by this guy Christian Lander. His work is amusing; here are some choice excerpts from entry #40 about Apple products:

Apple products tell the world you are creative and unique. They are an exclusive product line only used by every white college student, designer, writer, English teacher, and hipster on the planet.

. . .

It is also important that white people are reminded of their creativity, and remember you need a Mac to creatively check email, creatively check websites, and creatively watch DVDs on planes.

White people also need iPods, iPhones, Apple TV, AirPort Express stations, and anything else that Apple will produce. Because you need to express your uniqueness by purchasing everything that a publicly traded company produces.

November 24, 2008

Digital Delivery


The New Yorker is now publishing a digital edition that arrives on my computer screen each Monday. As a subscriber, I get free access to this service, which presents the pages of the magazine (including ads) in large, easy-to-read format. Since I usually get my copy delivered mid-week, this is a nice way to get a sneak peek at the contents of a week's issue.

iPhone 2.2


The latest upgrade to the iPhone software is growing on me. I downloaded it on Friday when it was release and was able to put the enhanced Maps feature (with Google street view) to good use in Manhattan on Saturday. I really like the public transportation routing information--a practical alternative to the driving directions. And downloading podcasts without having to sync with the Mac is a great addition, too.

And since I'm on the subject of technological progress, the Google Mobile iPhone app with voice recognition is just awesome!

December 3, 2008

Goin' High Def


Now that the format war is well behind us, I am ready to shift to Blu-Ray discs in anticipation of an imminent upgrade to my viewing hardware (as well as my expected purchase of a PlayStation 3 with built-in Blu-Ray capacity). The first three titles I bought were heavily discounted on Amazon, and they arrived today.

December 4, 2008

A Task Manager That Works


The more I use OmniFocus (and its companion application for the iPhone) the more I appreciate this cleverly-designed piece of software. It's a Mac-only solution rooted in the Getting Things Done approach to time management. The beauty of it is its capacity to sync flawlessly via MobileMe between my various Macs and the iPhone.

December 9, 2008

Multiple Screen Computing


Were money no object, I'd design my workspace with three monitors, so that one could have my calendar and to-do list on it, another my e-mail in box, and the center whatever I am working on at the moment.

Short of that, I do have more computers than I can use right now. I am considering deploying one of the older ones (a G5 iMac) in my office so I can use it next to my MacBook. I'd use it for calendar and task functions, I suppose, and do e-mail and other work on the laptop. The two screens would not really be "spanning," since there would be two computers running them, but it would give me more functionality. Then again, it might be technological overkill.

December 11, 2008

Contemplating Flat Screens


At this point, I am considering upgrading my HD television set to a 52" Samsung flat screen. This would live in my living room, of course. But I may hold off on that purchase a few months; it seems like I am still recovering financially from not teaching summer school in 2008 (all the while spending money while in Stanford and Oxford). Plus, surely prices are due to come down in January.

In the meantime, I may get a smaller set (26"?) for the study upstairs. I'd connect this to a new PlayStation 3 and--perhaps--an Apple TV unit. The PlayStation would provide Blu-Ray capacity, and I'd move it downstairs when I upgrade the living room set.

Big plans, big bucks. But at least it's all getting cheaper!

December 20, 2008

I Remember When . . .


. . . this was considered state-of-the-art! I bought my first Mac in December 1985 and this is what the screen looked like then.

December 24, 2008

Thank Goodness For BitTorrent

So I am well into "clearing the DVR" mode during this vacation and I got halfway through the first season of HBO's new series True Blood when I realized the seventh episode wasn't properly recorded. (Every so often the machine records on the wrong channel.) Since this series is not on iTunes and isn't being streamed on the HBO website, I was in a quandary: I was hooked on the show, but unable to watch the rest of the season without seeing this missing episode. On the Choate campus, all peer-to-peer sharing functions are blocked by the firewall, but this is not the case at my parents' house, so let's just say I was able to find an alternate way to see Episode 7. And since I transferred the next two episodes from ReplayTV to my MacBook using the handy DVArchive application, I will have just three more left to watch when I get back home late on Christmas Day.

December 28, 2008

Joining The 21st Century


I have resisted for a long time, but I ordered a PlayStation 3 tonight. I'm not really a video gamer (though I will cop to enjoying occasional outings on Guitar Hero or Rock Band) but the Blu-Ray functionality made this particular purchase especially worthwhile.

December 29, 2008

I'm Ready For Silicon Valley Now


Tonight I tackled a task that has intimidated me for many months now: upgrading the engine that runs this blog, Movable Type, from version 3.31 to version 4.23. Not really having much of a foundation in manipulating databases that exist on remote servers, I was very nervous that I'd crash the blog and lose all the data I've been adding for nearly five years now. But armed with some good advice from the web, a few good technological tools (principally Dreamweaver as my FTP program and some useful virtual applications from my web hosting company), as well as a helping of of misplaced confidence, I sallied forth and was able to complete the upgrade without much trouble. I discovered a fairly serious glitch on the back end when I first finished the process, but with a bit of patience and some digging, I figured out what was wrong and was able to correct it.

So what does all of this mean for you, my (few) loyal readers? Well I hope to have a new look to this site later this week, as there are some new templates I will be able to try out. Most of the benefits of the upgrade will be invisible to you but really important to me, however. It is going to be a lot easier for me to add content to this blog from multiple computing platforms, including my iPhone. And there will be new features I can more easily implement now. So stay tuned . . .

December 30, 2008

New Look For


The website for men's pro tennis has a new look to go along with the organization's re-branding as "ATP World Tour."

Finding New Music


One of the most impressive and functional iPhone apps is Shazam, a program which "listens" to any song playing and searches its database so it can identify the song and artist. It even provides iTunes Store links. I used Shazam probably a half-dozen times in the last two weeks: in stores, restaurants, etc. This is one of the iPhone platform's "killer apps" in my estimation.

December 31, 2008

A Question Of Resolution


I've now picked up a handful of Blu-Ray titles, and several of them have come with a bonus digital copy. This means the package includes a disc and a code that enable me to download a copy of the movie to play in iTunes, presumably on a portable platform such as my MacBook or my iPhone. The irony of this is that I chose to buy the Blu-Ray version because of the stunning quality of the picture on a large 52" HD television set (that is soon to arrive!) but what I'm also getting is the ability to watch a movie like The Dark Knight on a tiny iPhone screen while riding a train--hardly the same viewing experience!

Santa Comes Late


It's here.

January 3, 2009

Another Apple Toy


I ordered the Apple TV unit from Amazon for my soon-to-be-acquired new HD television. Ordering it from Amazon was the smart move, in that it was 3% off the retail price (which is what you pay at an Apple online or bricks-and-mortar store) plus I get two-day free shipping as an Amazon Prime member, plus--and this was the kicker--no tax. Ordering from Apple, I'd have to pay Connecticut sales tax, as the company has physical stores in the state.

January 6, 2009

New Software Packages From Apple


Today Apple released an update to its iLife suite of applications. The highlights for me: facial recognition enhancements in iPhoto should make it loads easier to catalogue and sort pictures; animated travel maps--like those in the Indiana Jones movies--can be easily added to iMovie videos; and Garage Band now includes downloadable "Learn To Play" lessons for keyboard and guitar, including sessions with musicians like Sarah McLachlan, John Fogerty, and Sting.


The iWork package also was refreshed, with lots of useful tweaks to Pages and Numbers (which I rarely use) and Keynote (which I use somewhat regularly).

January 7, 2009

The Steve-Less Keynote


At this year's MacWorld conference--which Apple has announced will be the last one the company participates in--a familiar keynote address was delivered by an unfamiliar face: Senior Vice-President Phil Schiller subbed for CEO Steve Jobs, and while a lot of the presentation contained the usual "oh wow" moments, as a whole it clearly didn't have the same spark that Steve brings to the occasion. I watched most of the streaming video of the keynote this morning and while it's good to see Apple keeps improving its products, there were no huge surprises nor major product unveilings. No folks in Cupertino are hard at work on the next "big thing" though!

Another Accessory For The New TV


My Apple TV unit arrived today. Nothing to hook it up to yet, but now all the pieces are in place save the actual television, which is but a few days away now.

January 8, 2009

The Shift To iTunes Plus


With Apple's recent agreement with the three remaining major record labels that were holdouts on stripping DRM from iTunes downloads, all music purchased from the iTunes Store is now available in higher-quality 256-kbps AAC encoding without DRM. To upgrade the songs I already purchased, I am getting hit up for 30¢ apiece. My grand total? A little over $180. But of course, I feel compelled to upgrade. It looks like some of the stuff I most want in the better format--like the rarities included in The Complete U2 digital boxed set--may not be available, though, which is a bummer. Ah, the price of progress!

January 9, 2009

Geotagging Photos


Even though my cameras don't have a GPS chip, I can use the "Places" sorting feature of the new iPhoto '09 pretty easily by taking my pictures on a WiFi-enabled memory card that records locations of each shot using Skyhook technology, triangulating information from cell towers and wireless signals. Pretty cool.

January 13, 2009

My New Window On The World


My Samsung 52" HD flat screen television arrived this morning. I now have to deal with unpacking it, making all the requisite connections (cable box, DVR, PS3, Apple TV, etc.) and lugging my heavy Toshiba CRT upstairs to the study. But this is pretty sweet!

Where Is The A/V Club When I Need It?

I spent some time tonight setting up my new TV and accessories. The toughest task was actually moving my 200+-pound Toshiba set down onto the floor without throwing my back out. I got the Samsung unpacked and in place, and then managed to get the Apple TV and PlayStation 3 units connected via HDMI cable, online over my wireless network, and running. Pretty good accomplishment. Thus far I have not hooked the new toys into the sound system nor to the cable feed; those parts of the project will come later this week. But I can report that my first viewing of Planet Earth in Blu-Ray splendor was jaw-droppingly gorgeous!

January 18, 2009

I'm A Rock Star


I've been easing into Guitar Hero on my PS3. I've been playing guitar and bass, but haven't yet connected the microphone or drums. This morning I successfully downloaded some additional tracks from the PlayStation Network. I enjoy this game far more for the music than for the "game" aspect of it, which is why I tend to play just the songs I know.

January 19, 2009

Another Nifty Stick


My friends at HEAD Squash sent me one of their newest racquets to play with: the 115ct. Though it's lighter than I usually prefer, it has a very nice feel, with a good mix of power and touch.

January 20, 2009

Keith Moon Wannabe


I set up my Guitar Hero drum kit tonight, and now I am really ready to rock!

January 21, 2009

The Versatility Of The iPhone


I started using my iPhone as a remote control for Apple TV. Once paired to the Apple TV, it's easy to use the iPhone to control music, movies, television shows, podcasts, etc over a wireless network. on the screen. (It works the same way for any Mac, by the way.)

January 24, 2009

The Mac Turns 25


Twenty-five years ago today, the original Macintosh computer was introduced. Not only has the Mac product line come a long way since 1984, but Steve Jobs' presentation style has evolved as well, as you can see by checking out the debut of the Mac.

January 25, 2009

Cataloguing My DVDs

I spent some time today creating an updated inventory of my DVDs on Delicious Library 2--a cool Mac application that catalogues books, CDs, DVDs, software, iTunes purchases, and various other things, mostly using the iSight camera to scan barcodes and tap the databases. (You can even track loans using the names in Address Book.) I was pretty good about keeping track of all my stuff on an earlier version of Delicious Library, but somehow lost all the data on my MacBook just before the upgrade was released.

So at the end of a few hours of work, here are my lessons learned:

  1. I am making backups of my database regularly now.
  2. I have FAR too many DVDs in my collection, including stacks that I haven't watched. I guess I need to control my "affluenza" and rein in impulse buys. Perhaps I should make better use of the Netflix subscription I am paying $5/month for and not using; my last exchange of discs was over two years ago! (Now Netflix ships Blu-ray for an extra buck a month plus online downloads, which may motivate me to get back on top of this arrangement.)
  3. I dread the task of repeating the inventory process with all of my books and CDs. As easy as it is, this will still take quite a while, I suspect. Maybe small bites--a shelf a day--is the best way to proceed?
  4. The improvements Apple made to its iWeb program (and I haven't even received the iLife '09 update yet) make publishing my catalogue to the web an absolute breeze, particularly because it's integrated with the MobileMe service. If you want to check it out, go to

January 26, 2009

iLife '09 Is On Its Way


Just notified that iLife '09 has shipped from Apple and will be here tomorrow. Looking forward to playing with the upgrades to iPhoto (with facial recognition built in) and GarageBand (with online music lessons integrated) in particular.

January 25, 2009

Spoiled By High Definition

I recorded a show on Friday night using the "standard" setting on my ReplayTV DVR and it just looks like crap on my new 52" high def television, so I dropped three bucks to download the HD version of the episode on Apple TV and watched it tonight. I don't want to get into this habit, though, so I think I better call Comcast to get an HD DVR unit for the living room and move the ReplayTV into the bedroom, where it will be a nice fit for my 32" standard TV (what I used to think of as a huge set).

January 26, 2009

Spoiler Alert: 24

How not to begin an iChat conversation in the age of the DVR:

January 29, 2009

My Guitar Teacher Sting


In the iWork '09 upgrade to GarageBand, one can now purchase lessons from famous musicians for about $5. For example, Sting show you how to play "Roxanne" on guitar, in both easy and hard versions. He also gives some background on the song. Pretty cool addition to this application.

January 31, 2009

High Def Rental Downloads


I rented the HD version of Eagle Eye tonight, using the iTunes Store via my Apple TV. (It's soooo easy to use!) The movie itself was pretty forgettable, but I continue to be struck by the quality of the picture when viweing high definition content on my Samsung 52" screen. Film takes on a quality that seems like video in some ways: it's almost hyper-real. Blu-ray discs like Planet Earth are simply amazing.

February 4, 2009

Human Error

Note to self: if you want the DVR to record Lost, be sure to program it do so. Guess I can download the episode tomorrow morning to watch on the flight to Florida.

February 10, 2009

On The Mend


I came down with a splitting headache around lunchtime today, which is pretty unusual for me. I napped in the early afternoon, skipping my staff meeting, and made a brief appearance at practice. Then I settled in on the couch for some serious nesting, watching the Blu-Ray disc of The Clone Wars--which turned out to be far better than I had been led to believe--and playing Guitar Hero. I've had the PS3 for about six weeks now, but really haven't used it all that much, so it was good to feel like I am getting a return on my investment.

February 15, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Thanks to Cason for passing this one along.

February 22, 2009

Assembling My Band


Finally got both wireless guitars, the drums, and the microphone all working for Guitar Hero World Tour last night, which was fun. Finally using the PS3 to full advantage. But I decided I definitely need a dedicated remote for the Blu-ray functions.

February 24, 2009

A New Browser


Apple released version 4 of its Safari browser, which is my Internet navigator of choice. The upgrade applies things like Cover Flow to the surfing experience, which is pretty snazzy. I've played around with the new version a bit: page loads seem quicker and Java handling is much smoother as well. Progress.

February 23, 2009

Slideshows in iPhoto '09


The newest version of iPhoto makes production of a slide show amazingly simple. It's a cinch to control transitions, a musical soundtrack, and picture placement. And the range of export options is truly impressive. With the click of a button, I can send my slide show to my iPhone or--at the other extreme--to my 52" HD television. I can share it over the web just as easily. I am fine-tuning a slideshow from last fall's cross country season and I shudder to recall the old days of having to import pics into PowerPoint, resize them, and then try to line up accompaniment tracks on a CD player.

March 2, 2009

Transatlantic Telephony


For the life of me, I can never remember how to make international calls from within the campus phone system. All those extra digits, when to enter my code, not sure if I am hearing a busy signal, ringing, or something else--it's just confusing. So when I needed to get some help with my Internet reservation for a hotel in Bath, England, I used Skype to call the number and it worked flawlessly. And I saved Choate a few bucks on an international toll call, too.

March 1, 2009

Too Much Information

I'm surprised this doesn't happen to me more often: my "in box" on the Choate e-mail system hit its limit today, preventing new messages from getting to me for a few hours. I guess that's what happens with literally thousands of messages clogging my account. I really have to whittle this down by filing what's there and getting my "in box" to zero each day. A good goal for the spring term.

March 16, 2009

DVR-Free Zone

Without the benefit of a DVR here, I can't time shift the shows I want to watch. But since it's vacation, I can park myself in front of the television tonight to catch Gossip Girl and 24.

March 17, 2009

Upgrading The iPhone Again


Apple announced details of the forthcoming upgrade to the iPhone operating system. Version 3.0 will have cut, copy, and paste functionality (at last!), background processing for apps, and better push technology, along with all sort of other "under the hood" improvements. Looking forward to it!

March 18, 2009

Another Steve-Less Apple Presentation


This afternoon I finished watching the streaming feed of Apple's presentation on the forthcoming iPhone 3.0 upgrade. Even without Steve Jobs at the helm, it was an impressive rundown of all the nifty new features that developers and consumers can look forward to in the months ahead. Apple keeps raising its game, with incremental but valuable improvements to its Mac, iPhone, and iPod lines. As The Beatles said, "I have to admit it's getting better . . . " Not a bad way to keep the fiercely loyal Apple fan base coming back for more!

March 25, 2009

My Published Masterpiece


I created a photo book to commemorate the Choate Squash 2009 U.K. Tour using iPhoto. It was a breeze to layout the 20-page book using my digital photos, edit an accompanying map of our trip, and add some relevant text. The book, which arrived just over a week after I ordered it (which was almost as simple as pressing a button within iPhoto), came out looking pretty professional. The quality of the pictures in this format is stunning.

April 5, 2009

Expanding The GH Repertoire


I am now able to perform on guitar, bass, drums or vocals on Guitar Hero: World Tour on my PS3 and getting better at each. Tonight four of us ran through some numbers and are working our way through all the set lists slowly but surely.

April 17, 2009

Locked Out


For reasons unclear to me, my Facebook account suddenly was disabled this morning. Maybe I communicate so often on it, my messages are considered SPAM?

April 18, 2009

Life Without Facebook


Soon it will be 48 hours since the Facebook folks disabled my account (by mistake, I presume). In order to have my situation reviewed, I needed to send an e-mail from the e-mail address associated with my login. But since that is a Williams College alumni address that is configured for receiving but not sending e-mail, this was impossible. (I had to use that address when I registered because I was an early adopter of Facebook back when you needed a college e-mail address to join.) So my account is still in limbo.

Connecting My Cameras Wirelessly


Since neither of my Canons--my 10D SLR or my PowerShot--have a GPS chip, I picked up an Eye-Fi SD card which, in addition to storing my photos inside the camera, is WiFi-enabled to geotag each shot and upload photos to my iMac automatically when it's within range of my home wireless network. The geotagging means photos automatically get sorted in the "Places" feature in iPhoto '09. (I also got a Compact Flash adapter to use the Eye-Fi in the 10D.) Apparently it can also send pics home and to online photo sharing services from anywhere in the world. I configured the Eye-Fi and tried it out tonight and it works like a charm.

April 20, 2009

Design Fun


Spent some time using Adobe Fireworks to create a logo with circular text--a task which is pretty complex, it turns out. But I stumbled across a useful tutorial online and it worked out pretty well.

April 27, 2009

Still In Facebook Limbo


I got a message last Saturday that my Facebook account had been restored with an apology for any inconvenience I had suffered, but I still can't login because I am told my account has been disabled. This is damned frustrating. It's been ten days now.

May 3, 2009

My Cyberpresence Has Been Re-established


The Facebook people have seen fit to reactivate my account, so I am back after two weeks in the wilderness!

May 5, 2009

VoiceMail and E-mail Integration

Usually when I am away from the office for a day or two, I am swamped when I return by wave after wave of unanswered VoiceMail and e-mail messages. Our new phone system sends recorded messages to my e-mail in box now, which I can access along with my "regular" e-mail messages via the iPhone while traveling. So the transition back to the normal routine is a bit less harsh.

May 6, 2009

Kindle Gets Bigger


Amazon announced the Kindle DX this morning, featuring a screen 2.5 times bigger than the regular version. This is supposedly optimized for reading newspapers, magazines, journals, and textbooks. As a regular Amazon customer, Lord knows I find this new product tempting, but the rumors about some sort of Apple-designed "media pad" in the offing--sort of a blown up iPod Touch--would make a commitment to the Kindle platform premature for me at this point.

May 21, 2009

iTunes and AppleTV Are Misbehaving

Trouble tonight downloading music purchases from the iTunes Store. Also my AppleTV now has to re-sync all video files with my iMac over the wireless network. Usually these things work flawlessly. I hope this is a one-off problem.

May 24, 2009

A Complete Upgrade


In 2004, when the U2-branded iPod came out, iTunes also offered The Complete U2, a "digital box set" (discounted for us bold purchasers of the matching iPod). I bought it, of course, and now at last the whole thing is available for an upgrade to 256kbps-quality sound. I notice one can no longer purchase it new, however.

June 8, 2009

The iPhone Upgrade


Apple announced a souped up new model of its iPhone today: the 3G S. The good news is a slew of new features, including voice command, digital compass, and an improved camera with video capability. The bad news for current iPhone users like me is that switching to the new version of the device will cost $600-$700, depending on the memory. Surely Apple and AT&T will have to sweeten that deal sometime soon, no?

June 10, 2009

Good Deal?


I checked the AT&T website and it turns out I am eligible for the full discount pricing on the new iPhone 3G S if I pay an $18 upgrade fee. I suppose that's because I'm 18 months into my two-year contract. (Of course, I think my data plan price jumps $10 a month, too, so that's a factor.) Now I have to decide whether or not I want to take the plunge for the new technology.

Looking Forward To Snow Leopard


Snow Leopard is the name of the forthcoming update to Mac OS X due in September. I just watched the keynote from this week's WWDC in which Apple provided a detailed overview of the features of Snow Leopard (and also introduced refreshed Macs and the new iPhone 3G S).

What I am most pumped for is the integrated Exchange support for Mail, iCal, and Address Book. I use these three applications extensively and Snow Leopard will enable me to effectively integrate my calendar, contacts, and e-mail for work with my personal calendars, contacts, and e-mail accounts. So instead of alternating between Entourage and the Mac apps, I'll be able to use just the latter (which sync seamlessly with my iPhone via MobileMe, by the way). Once again, Apple comes through with technology that works the way it should.



I got two text messages this afternoon--one from a former student and one from a colleague--inviting me to join Loopt, which uses the location functions of the iPhone to show friends your physical location. I am trying it out to see if I like it. Seems like it would a lot better if I lived in a city, rather than in a community where most people I interact with spend most of their time anyway.

June 15, 2009

I Took The Plunge


I ordered the new iPhone 3G S tonight on the online Apple Store, and I have been assured it will be delivered to me this Friday, saving me annoying waits on the lines that are sure to form first thing in the morning.

My logic for the upgrade is that I've been using the first-generation version of the iPhone and so I'll get all the 3G benefits (e.g., GPS, faster Internet access away from WiFi) in addition to the features on the new model. Plus, the sooner I start a new contract with AT&T--I have seven months left on my current agreement--the sooner it will end. And I am predicting in the summer of 2011 there will be a choice of carriers and, hopefully, the competition will lead to better options and pricing on plans.

June 16, 2009

Leaving The Dark Side


Three more Mac converts--Steve Jobs should pay me a commission! I took my parents and my cousin on a little shopping trip to the Apple Store in Farmington tonight. My cousin wanted an entry-level laptop and walked out with the basic white MacBook, which will be perfect for her needs. My folks intended to just do some window shopping, but left with a new 20" iMac in their possession. When my mom saw it, she kept asking, "where's the computer?" She was amazed to discover what she thought was the monitor was, in fact, the whole package. So it will be up to me to move all of the files on their Dell desktop and laptop over to the new machine on Father's Day this weekend.

June 17, 2009

Technology And Schoolwork

I spent much of the last twenty-four hours working on a paper--what I call a "critical essay" when I teach fifth form English--on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part One. The essay, prepared for the course I am currently taking at Yale, ended up being roughly eight pages long. As it's been awhile since I've written papers like this--and I am generating at least two a week, mostly shorter, throughout the five-week term--I have been getting some writing muscles that have gone flabby back into shape. What has really struck me is the various ways technology has made this process so much easier since my own undergraduate days.

The ease with which I can access information via the Internet means I have a lot more resources at my disposal in a unimaginably convenient manner. Kids now take this for granted, of course. (Damn, that makes me sound like a cranky old man!) When I was in college, I used to check out a stack of books and bring them back to my room, which is where I preferred to write. Today when I was trying to find a line from a medieval religious pageant, I simply searched online and found what I was looking for in seconds; it was in an out-of-print edition that Google Books had posted, so all I had to do was select the text and copy and paste it.

In terms of the actual writing, I was ahead of the curve starting in the first term of my freshman year at Williams, since I was a relatively early adopter of word processing technology. I wrote my first several papers on the manual typewriter that I had brought with me to school, and then discovered a basement room in one of the language buildings where a small number of in-the-know students gathered to take advantage of word processing on a batch of Commodore computers; if you were inside when the building was locked, you could stay there all night to work. I shifted to the IBM PC about a year later, and then the following year to the newly released Apple Macintosh machine, which I instantly knew was created for someone like me. Anyway the actual work of composing and revising on screen isn't all that different now than it was then. The one element which I have incorporated into my writing process recently is voice recognition software, which allows me to dictate ideas rather quickly, inputting a lot of text fairly easily. Of course I still need to go back over all of it thoroughly to edit and reshape the prose. But when I was in high school and college, I only could have dreamed of speaking and seeing my words appear on a computer screen.

Getting Better All The Time


The 3.0 software update in the iPhone is pretty cool, if for no other reason than for the cut, copy, and paste functionality that has been added. Most of the benefit I'll get to enjoy when my new hardware arrives on Friday.

June 18, 2009

Syncing Notes From The iPhone


The 3.0 software update facilitates syncing data in Notes with my Mac. But it took me a while to figure out where it was syncing to. Turns out the Notes show up as part of Apple Mail. Works for me.

June 19, 2009

Christmas Come Early


My new iPhone 3G S arrived via FedEx this morning and I am already putting it through its paces. Speed is impressive. So are features like video and voice command. And I love the 32G storage capacity.

June 22, 2009

Nice New iPhone App


For tennis fans, the Wimbledon iPhone app is indispensable during tournament time. I'll be able to keep track of what's going on in SW19 while I am sitting in class at Yale, or for that matter while I am teaching here at Choate when summer school is underway during week 2 of The Championships.

June 20, 2009

The Blue Dot On My iPhone


Since my new iPhone has a GPS chip inside, it's easy to get mesmerized watching the pulsing blue dot move across the Maps app as the train heads south!

June 21, 2009

Father's Day Tech Support


As part of the observance of Father's Day, I am setting up my parents' new 20" iMac (and also the new iPod Touch they got for free, since they qualified for the education discount as retired educators). I bought them Microsoft Office for Mac Home Edition and hooked them up with an iTunes Store account as well as an AIM account (so they can vidchat!). Next comes the chore of transferring all of their music, photos, and documents over from the Dell laptop and desktop they have been using; that can wait for another day.

July 2, 2009

Still Discovering Cool iPhone Features


Since I listen to lectures and podcasts on my iPod and iPhone quite a bit, I was delighted to find the speed controls that appear when I listed to an audiobook file, allowing me to control the playback rate. And my favorite feature is the ability to replay the last 30 seconds with the click of an onscreen button.

July 5, 2009

Surfing Through The Twitterverse


Yesterday I installed TweetDeck on a couple of my Macs and on the iPhone, having been convinced by an article in the New York Times the other day that this is a better platform for managing tweets than the traditional web interface. Lots of tweets during today's tennis match, and I can see why the standalone application has its adherents.

July 7, 2009

BBC's Complete Shakespeare


Today I purchased the 37-disc collection of the complete canon of Shakespeare plays produced for BBC television in the late '70s through the mid-'80s. I've seen excerpts from this series in class during my recent course on The Bard's histories and tragedies, and some of them are quite good. Many feature some of the biggest names in British acting (including John Gielgud, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Stewart, Alan Rickman, John Cleese, Jonathan Pryce, Richard Griffiths, Ben Kingsley, Nicol Williamson, and David Warner, to name just a few).

Unfortunately, the full set is hard to get in America. There are several sets of five-DVD packages that sell for about $140 (though you can find them for under $100 on Amazon if you look hard enough) but the majority of the plays--including some of the best productions of the bunch--are not on the market at all. On the other hand, you can get the complete set from Amazon if you have the means to watch Region 2 coded DVDs. The U.S. Amazon site sells the complete package for a little more than $160, but I went through the Amazon U.K. site and got the same set from the same merchant for under $140, including international shipping (go figure). The U.K. site also now converts the currency automatically such that the prices show up and my payment is processed in U.S. dollars, which is awfully convenient.

In order to watch these discs, I also purchased a region-free Philips DVD player for under $60, which is supposed to upgrade the image quality to 1080p, which should look good on my HD Samsung 52" screen. So even including the technology purchase, this was a far cheaper way to get all 37 Shakespeare plays on disc than it would have cost me to get just the 15 of them available in the U.S. market on Region 1 DVDs!

I do own a handful of other British DVDs, which only work on Region 2 players. My solution was to switch the setting on an old iBook laptop to Region 2--Macs let you change the regional code setting up to five times before it's locked for good--but that meant I could only watch those discs (mostly British TV series) on a computer screen. So now I will be able to watch DVDs from anywhere in the world on my home theater system. Ah, progress!

July 9, 2009

To Kindle Or Not To Kindle?


Amazon just dropped the price of the Kindle 2 by $60, so I am a little more tempted now to drop some cash on one. I am really on the fence, though, about the Kindle. In some ways, the Kindle DX, with its bigger screen, is appealing too, but it's awfully pricey. And I have always had an attachment to the physicality of conventional books. I like the process of building my own library over the years. But I'll admit that because I am so reluctant to part with books, my apartment is a bit overrun by so many volumes, so getting new books in digital form--even if just sometimes--would help a lot on that front. Moreover, it would be awfully convenient to travel with just the Kindle rather than a small stack of books.

I need to ruminate some more about this.

July 13, 2009

Going Digital


Took the plunge and ordered the Kindle 2 this morning. The price drop pushed me over the edge. As did the prospect of carrying a much lighter load during my upcoming travels (Virginia this weekend, DC all of next week, a trip to Europe at the end of this month, and a West Coast swing in late August).

July 14, 2009

Microsoft Office On Windows


Tried to use Excel on a Windows XP machine this morning and they have so overhauled Microsoft Office on this platform that I can hardly use the most routine functions with this counter-intuitive "ribbon" layout. For example, I'd love to know how to insert cut cells; I couldn't find an appropriate menu command anywhere.

July 15, 2009

The Kindle 2 Arrives


My new toy from Amazon arrived this morning in custom packaging that looks pretty spiffy. The Kindle 2 is very easy to set up and while it's plugged into my iMac for its initial charging, I already downloaded two books I already own in traditional form: Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All and David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Both books are sizable tomes I am reading this summer and it will be a relief to not have to lug the texts around in my upcoming travels.

Prepping The New Laptop


Spent time today getting the new MacBook Air loaded with Office 2008, iWork '09, Adobe Creative Suite, Notebook, OmniFocus, and my other frequently used applications. I also synced my data via MobileMe to get my contacts and bookmarks the same as what's on my other Macs and my iPhone. I am having a bit of trouble getting calendars to sync so far, though.

July 16, 2009

Subscriptions On The Kindle

I am sampling a trio of periodical subscriptions on the new Kindle: a daily, a weekly, and a monthly. I have a 14-day free trial on each one before a modest subscription fee kicks in, so I'll see how I like this. I already get "hard copies" of Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, but I now am also getting the digital version of The International Herald Tribune delivered daily (some of its contents will be the same as what I read in the The New York Times, which also arrives on newsprint on my doorstep each morning). I don't know if I'll warm up to reading these publications this way, as I like the physicality of newspapers and magazines, but maybe this old dog can learn a few new tricks?

July 17, 2009

3G Free Zone

I drove over to Staunton from Charlottesville. Neither of these places has 3G coverage on the AT&T network. I guess I'm not all that surprised that Staunton, nestled in the Shenandoah valley, doesn't merit such coverage, but you'd think Charlottesville would receive the superior wireless network band. Now that my iPhone is on the Edge network when out of Wi-Fi range, I am reminded how much slower my first-generation iPhone was before I upgraded last month.

July 18, 2009

Sweet Spot In Kindle Pricing


I had pre-ordered the forthcoming book The Defector, the next in the Gabriel Allon series of spy novels from Daniel Silva, but since it would come out next Tuesday during my week in D.C., I thought I'd have it downloaded to the Kindle so I could dig into it right away. So I cancelled my order for the hard copy. The problem is right now the e-book costs just a dollar less than the traditional format--almost $15. My hope is that the price will drop to $9.99 when the book is released and I will download it then.

The Morning Report


I've received three issues of the International Herald Tribune on my Kindle now, and I must admit reading a paper this way is growing on me. I can't imagine not being able to spread out with the various sections of, say, the Sunday New York Times. And missing the ads is not entirely a positive thing (one discovers upcoming concerts and shows, new books, and such that way, after all). But for about 25¢ an issue, electronic delivery is a cheap way to get the IHT. And it will be MUCH cheaper than what I'd have to pay for an issue at the newsstand when I am in Europe next month. (Though because Amazon's Whispernet doesn't work outside the U.S., I'll have to sync the Kindle with my laptop each morning over an Internet connection in order to download the latest edition.)

July 19, 2009

Kindle Screen Savers

kindle screen saver.jpg

One of the cool features of the Kindle is the variety of portraits of writers (and occasionally other book-related graphics) that appear whenever I turn off the power. I don't know how many there are, but I haven't yet noticed the same one twice.

July 21, 2009

Plugging In


Since the Georgetown University dorms don't have wireless, I remember to pack an Ethernet cord for this trip. What I forgot, however--mostly because I live in a wireless world at Choate--was the USB-to-Ethernet adapter the MacBook Air needs to connect to the Internet. So I had to make a trip to Arlington, VA to pick one up at the Apple Store (for $29--highway robbery!). But now I'll have an extra one to leave in my bag.

July 23, 2009

Google's Ever-Changing Logo


Google occasionally alters its corporate logo on the main page of its search website in recognition of holidays, special events, and such. Today we get the logo rendered with DC Comics heroes in honor of Comic-Con's 40th anniversary. Nice touch!

Google Voice


I found out today I received my official invitation to activate Google Voice. So I now have a new number (which cost me nothing) that I can use to route calls to my iPhone, work phone, or home phone or just to collect VoiceMail messages (and even have them sent to me in transcribed text format as e-mails). And I can customize the response depending on who is calling me.

I now have to figure out my strategy for sharing this new number: who gets it and on what basis.

If you want to more about Google Voice, you read about it and can watch a short video and request an invitation.

July 24, 2009

MacSpeech Dictate Upgrade


Upon my arrival home, the MacSpeech Dictate upgrade was waiting in a stack of mail. I wasn't sure going to 1.5 (rather than what presumably would be a more comprehensive jump up in a 2.0 edition) warranted the cost of the new version, but this is an invaluable application for me and supposedly this has much-improved accuracy.

A New Foofbag


Also in this week's pile of mail was the Foofbag I ordered for my new MacBook Air. It's a custom-made sleeve, produced in Australia, in whatever fabric I choose from among some interesting options. I got a Foofbag in bright blue corduroy for my G4 iBook a few years back, as well as a couple of Foofpods (for iPods and my Palm Treo) in Irish tweeds. This time around I opted for the Nishikigoi fabric, a black Japanese cotton with traditional koi (ornamental 'brocaded' carp) motif. It also has a sherpa fleece inner lining. Check out the Foof goods.

July 27, 2009

Backup Made Easy


My new Time Capsule arrived today from Amazon (interesting that it's cheaper to buy an item like this from than directly from Apple; Amazon's price beat the education price from the Apple Store, plus there's no sales tax, as there would be if I ordered from the Apple Store). I got the 1-terabyte version, which will enable me to use Mac OS X's Time Machine software to back up my 750GB hard drive on my iMac as well as the data on a laptop or two! Plus it is capable of serving as a dual-band wireless router, simultaneously using both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, allowing all the devices on a home network to use the most efficient band automatically.

July 30, 2009

Typical Technology Timing


Of course the week after I buy a Time Capsule, Apple significantly drops the price of the 1-terabyte unit and introduces a model at the old price point with double the storage capacity. Fortunately I haven't even unwrapped this particular unit yet, so I am going to return it to Amazon and get a replacement at a much better price.

My other worry on this front is the possibility Apple will release some sexy new tablet device in September--a rumor in wide circulation on the 'Net and in the press right now. An article I read today referred to such a product as a potential "Kindle killer"--not exactly what I want to hear as the proud owner of a still relatively-new Kindle 2!

In January 1998 I was very excited to own a Newton MessagePad 2100. I bought it just weeks before Steve Jobs killed the product and Apple abandoned all further development.

I suppose one can't worry about timing technology purchases, but you don't want to be the last one to adopt a product just before it becomes obsolete!

August 5, 2009

I Need My Airport Express


If I had a bit more foresight (and a lot more light) when I finished packing last Friday, I'd have thrown my Airport Express into the bag. That way I could have used my Ethernet connection in my rooms at Clare to set up a local wireless network for both the MacBook Air and my iPhone. Now I have to go into town to the Apple Store once a day to use its free wireless network to sync my iPhone.

August 13, 2009

Cheaper On The Kindle


I canceled my order for the forthcoming Dan Brown book, The Lost Symbol, and pre-ordered it on the Kindle for only $9.99. It will download to my device as soon as it's released!

August 21, 2009



A rebate check for $100 arrived from Apple in today's mail. To be honest, I had forgotten all about this: it was part of the deal when I bought the MacBook Air in July (along with the free iPod Touch and the printer). Always nice when money appears unexpectedly!

August 31, 2009

Another Big Cat


Amazon delivered Snow Leopard (a.k.a. Mac OS 10.6) today and I already have it loaded on my iMac and will install it on my MacBook Air later today. So far, so good!

September 4, 2009

New Function For My iPhone


As a Mac person, I am partial to Keynote--rather than PowerPoint--for visuals whenever I do presentations for a group. This morning I had such a presentation to deliver to about 50 interscholastic team captains at Choate. For the first time I used an iPhone app as a remote control to drive Keynote. This had the advantage of getting me out from behind the laptop; before I had to be within range of the infrared sensor when I used the traditional white Apple remote control. The Keynote Remote for iPhone works over the wireless network, so I could be much more mobile in the lecture hall and move through my slides with ease. And all this for 99¢!

September 9, 2009

Beatles Rock Band


Got the new Beatles edition of Rock Band for the PS3 this morning. I ordered it once I realized I wouldn't have to buy new instruments, as my Guitar Hero World Tour guitars, drums, and mic are supposedly compatible with this game. Looking forward to playing this, but that may not happen anytime soon, what with the opening of school.

September 15, 2009

Whispersync Delivery


New Dan Brown book arrived in the blink of an eye when I switched on the Kindle this morning. Sweet!

September 17, 2009

Empty In Box?

Not yet, but I spent about an hour whittling away a backlog of messages: filing some and trashing most of the thousands of e-mails that have accumulated in my various accounts. The goal of this process is to eventually end up with an In Box that I can get down to empty at the end of every day. Someday . . .

September 18, 2009



I've never seen an episode of this Showtime program but have heard good things about Dexter, so when the iTunes Store dropped episode prices to 99¢, I scooped up the first three seasons on Apple TV, figuring I can slowly get caught up either on the HD flat screen in my living room, on my MacBook Air while traveling, or even on my iPhone on the bus or train.

September 27, 2009

The New Nanos


I am in the Apple store on N. Michigan Ave.--a.k.a. "the Magnificent Mile"-- playing with the newly refreshed Nanos on display. In my estimation, the coolest innovation on these iPods is not their capacity for video recording, but the built-in FM radio receiver.

September 29, 2009

"Limelight" On GarageBand


Last week I bought a GarageBand lesson with Alex Lifeson of Rush teaching the guitar part of "Limelight"--probably my favorite song by the Canadian trio. This is a very cool breakdown of how rock musicians build their songs. I love hearing the isolated guitar part and then listening again in the context of the complete song.

September 30, 2009


I brought my camera bag with a variety of lenses to Kent School today, prepared to shoot lots of photos of Choate Cross Country in a scenic early fall setting. The conditions were perfect: mild weather, no harsh sunlight. When I was ready to start I realized that while I had been diligent in recharging the camera battery the night before, I had forgotten to take with me the CF memory card; it was still next to my iMac. So, in effect, I "had no film" to shoot with. A lost opportunity.

October 17, 2009

Catch A Wave


I am ready to try Google Wave, which has been billed as a cross between e-mail, instant messaging, and social networking software. Anyone have an invitation to send my way?

October 20, 2009

New Toys From Cupertino


Apple released a new line-up of Mac products, including the new Magic Mouse, with multi-touch capability built into the top of the device. Looks very sleek!

October 26, 2009

A Bigger iMac


Got to check out the new 27" iMacs in the Apple Store here in Annapolis this afternoon. The display, with its higher pixel count and stunning resolution, is gorgeous. If they can throw a Blu-ray drive into one of these, I'm upgrading.

November 2, 2009

In My Steven Spielberg Mode Once Again


I've been shooting video of the Choate cross country team the past couple weeks with the athletic department's new Canon GL2 camera (we had to replace one that mysteriously disappeared in 2008). About five to six years ago, I was producing 45-minute films documenting the season, which took a lot of work. I may not be able to generate something that ambitious again, but I have enough footage now to create something worthwhile, I think!

November 5, 2009

Gotta Love The Kindle


Seeing a new installment in Greg Rucka's Atticus Kodiak series of thrillers is available, I ordered it on Amazon for the Kindle and seconds later it has arrived. Too cool!

November 12, 2009

My Next Indulgent Purchase . . .

. . . may be one of these CanAm Spyders. Saw this one parked near the football field on my way from breakfast to the office this morning and had to snap a shot.


The yellow matches the color of my Zuma!

November 17, 2009

Special Features


Spent some time poking through the pretty interesting "behind the scenes" features on the just-released Star Trek on Blu-ray. Using my PS3 as a Blu-ray player has worked out great; I love the picture quality on the 52" flat screen.

November 18, 2009

New John Mayer


I've been listening to the cuts from the John Mayer album, Battle Studies, a lot in the past 24 hours or so. Pretty solid collection of tunes here, in my humble estimation. I bought the iTunes LP version, so on my AppleTV I can access videos, interviews, a discography, and such.

December 1, 2009

Digital Downloading


I had forgotten the new Cotton Malone thriller came out today until I saw it downloaded on my Kindle this morning. The Paris Vendetta arrived via Whispersync and I saved about four bucks off Amazon's already discounted purchase price.

December 12, 2009

Go Figure!

I would not have expected this: only 60% of the visitors to this blog are from the United States. 4% are from Canada and another 4% are from the U.K., and the rest are from around the globe.

December 13, 2009

A Failure Of Technology


The home page is supposed to be dynamic, since it's based on authentication. If the cookie reveals that it's me who has logged in, I should see different stuff than you do, based on my unique purchasing history. This is how the shopping site makes recommendations customized for each of us. So why am I bombarded with a big ad for the Kindle whenever I browse my way there? Shouldn't know I already own the device?

TV Nirvana


The sports-themed restaurant here in the hotel complex has about 30 big flat screen monitors spread all over and a 52-foot-wide megascreen on which you can watch nine broadcasts at once. A football lover's paradise on a Sunday afternoon!

December 14, 2009

Globe-Trotting In 2010

I recently updated my travel map page with projected destinations for 2010. Some of these trips I am not sure about yet, and I probably will be adding at least a brief U.K. jaunt in August at some point as well as additional travel during the last few months of the year.

December 20, 2009

Backing Up At Last


I finally configured the 1TB Time Capsule I bought back in the summer (!) to enable the Time Machine software to automatically back up the hard drive (and two connected portable drives) associated with my primary iMac desktop computer. This will ensure I hang on to key documents, photos, videos, and music files in the event of a catastrophic drive failure. The initial backup is being processed while I sleep tonight.

December 22, 2009

Giving iTunes Extra A Whirl


A couple months back, the iTunes Store introduced a couple of new formats: iTunes LP for music embedded with extra content (ostensibly to promote buying albums rather than singles) and iTunes Extra for movies embedded with extra features (presumably to woo folks who would otherwise buy DVDs for the special features). I missed Inglourious Basterds when it was out in the theaters this fall, so I bought the iTunes Extra version to see how it works on my computer screens and my AppleTV.

December 23, 2009

Backed Up


Time Machine finally finished backing up my primary desktop computer. In retrospect, I should have done the first backup with a wired connection directly to the Time Capsule. And because I set up the home network in a screwy way, it took a lot longer to complete the backup process than it should have. But I can sleep a little better now that I have a master archive in place.

December 24, 2009

Tablet Rumblings Growing Louder


In the last 24 hours, the Internet has been abuzz with speculation that Apple may be close to announcing the release of a much-anticipated tablet device late next month. The Cupertino company has apparently scheduled a media event for January 26 and word has leaked out that leader Steve Jobs is "happy" with the new product. Industry watchers are expecting an announcement/demonstration of a device that is akin to a large iPod Touch. Some app developers reportedly have been asked to prepare full-screen demos of their software. The Apple tablet would be available by the spring. An exciting prospect!

December 25, 2009

Google Search Stories

Interesting online ad for Google here.

December 27, 2009

Welcome To Macintosh


Watched a documentary from the iTunes Store, Welcome To Macintosh--a look at the cult following of Apple's computers. Decent overview, but not really anything new here.

December 30, 2009

For The Want Of A Plug


I stupidly failed to pack any of my adapter plugs for the various devices (MacBook Air, iPhone, two iPods, Kindle, digital camera, a portable DVD player, and portable speakers for the iPod) I brought with me. (Okay, okay, I admit I have a hard time cutting the technological cord when I travel!) I have a couple of cheap European adapter plugs as well as the Apple World Travel Adapter kit back home, but that does me little good now! So I am rationing the use of each electronic gadget for the time being, as there apparently is not an appropriate adapter for U.S. plugs to be found in the south of Portugal--and I have looked in the resort newsagent, two local supermarkets, an electronics store, and a Staples office supply store. I did find an adapter for U.K. plugs in one store, which didn't surprise me as the majority of guests in this resort seem to be Brits (apparently this is a favorite holiday and retirement destination for the English).

I did, however, discover online an entertaining article on why plugs and voltage are different around the globe. It's an educational and witty read.

December 31, 2009

The French Wal-Mart To The Rescue!


I stumbled across a Carrefour on the way into Seville, Spain this morning and was lucky enough to find an assortment of adaptor plugs within. I bought one of those that had plugs to flip out for Europe, the U.K., and the U.S., and it also has a USB port for easy iPod or iPhone charging. So I am back in business on the digital front!

January 1, 2010

The iSlate?


Lots of speculation about Apple's reserving January 26th for a "special presentation." Most observers believe the company will unveil its tablet plans with a trademark Steve Jobs rollout. It might well look something like the rendering above--an oversized iPod Touch crossed with a Mac OS X dock--but who outside Cupertino really knows at this point? There is some good analysis on the topic here.

January 11, 2010

Giving The New Browser A Spin


I downloaded Google Chrome this morning for a tryout. Supposedly it loads pages pretty fast. I already like how easily it imported all my Safari bookmarks and settings.

January 3, 2010

In-Flight Entertainment


Continental Airlines happens to have a pretty good in-flight entertainment system at each seat. I watched the second half of The Informant (which I had started on the trip over to Portugal). This is a pretty witty movie--not laugh out loud funny, but wryly clever. Matt Damon is perfect as an eager beaver informant working for ADM and Scott Bakula is great as a straight man in his role as an FBI agent. Steven Soderbergh directed, and I like most of his work.


I also saw the remake of Fame, which was pretty pointless (and nowhere close to an improvement on the original). Not only was the story pretty flimsy, but the music wasn't all that good. The best song was only one swiped from the 1980s version.


And finally I saw an episode of The Big Bang Theory, a CBS comedy that I have never seen before. It's a mildly amusing show, but I found the canned laughter annoying--especially while listening to the program over headphones. I've taken it for granted, I guess, that most comedies I watch (The Office, 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm) never use a laugh track.

January 14, 2010

Digitizing Discs


I have started using the Ripit application to make my DVDs even more portable by ripping the content to my hard drive. Ripit creates a file that opens up DVD Player just like loading a disc would, and I can access the DVD menus, special features, and anything else on the disc as if it were in the drive. Ripping the DVDs this way has three advantages: (1) When traveling, I won't have to carry the physical media to access on my laptop the movies that I already own; (2) watching a "virtual" DVD drains a laptop battery far less than accessing the DVD drive (and in any case my primary travel computer, the MacBook Air, doesn't even have a drive!); and (3) I can rip non-Region 1 discs just as easily, so the region coding on the DVD drive firmware will pose no obstacle to my watching, say, British DVDs.

January 18, 2010

Google Commemorates MLK Day

Now appearing on the Google home page:

January 19, 2010

New Toys Just Over A Week Away!


Yesterday, invitations to Apple's January 27 scheduled press event were distributed. Expectations are that Steve Jobs will unveil the much-anticipated tablet device at this gathering. It's been leaked that the next generation of iPhone software, OS 4.0, will be announced and that iLife will be refreshed in a 2010 version. I'll be paying attention.

January 22, 2010

A Key Accessory


For the cross country team's end-of-season gathering tonight, I am using iPhoto to show 300 slides set to music. iPhoto makes it tremendously easy to set this up without a lot of effort (other than sifting through several thousand shots from the fall season to select the best pictures and ensure each of some 70 team members is represented in the show). But since I did the work on my MacBook Air, I had to make an emergency run to the Apple Store in the Westfarms Mall in Farmington this afternoon to get a Mini DisplayPort-to-VGA connector so that my laptop could drive the projector. I am constantly amazed how efficiently the Apple Store works. Once I found the accessory in question, an employee scanned its barcode on his specially decked-out iPhone (or maybe it was an iPod Touch), ran my credit card through, thanked me by name, and asked if I wanted the receipt e-mailed to my account--clearly the system recognized my credit card details as associated with my Apple account. The speed of this transaction enabled me to make this trip a surgical strike!

January 26, 2010

iPad Or iSlate Or Something Else?


The President is delivering the annual State of the Union address tomorrow, but most folks I know are far more tuned into the scuttlebutt regarding Apple's scheduled announcements tomorrow, which most assume will be centered around the unveiling of a new tablet device. Though the Internet has been abuzz with leaks and speculation, we know very little for sure. I am eagerly anticipating the goodies Steve Jobs will be showcasing tomorrow.

January 27, 2010

The iPad Arrives


So the Apple Tablet is real and about to hit the market: the iPad didn't have all the bells and whistles some were hoping for (built-in videoconferencing capability, for instance) but neither did the iPhone when it was first released. I believe the over the next eighteen months we'll see the emergence of apps--both from Apple and from third-party developers--that will indeed make the iPad a huge hit as well as a game changer.

January 28, 2010

iPad Fever

Mr. Trudeau's take on the Jobs announcement yesterday [click to enlarge]:

February 2, 2010

Maybe This Will Shut Up The iPad Nay-Sayers?


(Thanks to Boing Boing.)

February 5, 2010

In-Flight Wi-Fi


I am posting this entry high above New Jersey, where I am connected to the Internet via the Gogo service on my Delta flight to Atlanta. First time for airborne Web access, which is pretty nifty!

This segment of my trip is delayed, so I am hoping the Atlanta-to-West Palm Beach flight I am connecting with will be behind schedule as well so I can get to Florida tonight. Otherwise I may well be spending the night in Georgia.

Now This Is What The iPad Was Meant For

Late last year, the folks at Time Inc. assembled a demo of an interactive Sports Illustrated issue on a tablet that looks an awful lot like an iPad. If realized, this new form of media could become a "killer app" for the new device and also salvage the ailing periodicals business. Rumors are that Steve Jobs and company are huddling with newspaper and magazine publishers right now, trying to cut deals, presumably for subscriptions on the iPad. Will Cupertino be creating "iMags" before the tablet launches next month?

February 6, 2010

Further Thoughts On The iPad


Ten days after the introduction of the iPad, I am even more convinced this device is positioned to emerge as a great success, carving out a new place in people's lives. As others have observed, the iPad is all about media consumption, not media creation--and so it really is different from a laptop or desktop computer. It certainly can't replace the computer, but it can extend the concept of the digital hub much more easily. Some things I've been mulling over:

  • Living in an academic community, it's easy for me to imagine how an iPad might be successfully marketed to college and high school students: if Apple or a third-party developer could implement handwriting recognition (presumably using a suitable stylus on the multi-touch screen), a student could take class notes on the same slim device that contains all of her textbooks. She could also access her schedule, e-mail, and Internet sites of interest. No more bulging backpacks! This could easily become the must-have campus accessory before too long.

  • Apple needs to get moving on the periodicals subscription front. I receive The International Herald Tribune daily on my Kindle; it was very simple to set up a subscription and takes no effort to download each new edition via Whispersync (at least in the States--doing so abroad means transferring a file from my laptop). The iPad has the potential to revolutionize the periodicals industry as I discussed a few days ago (and please do check out the tablet-optimized Sports Illustrated demo). If digital delivery to a tablet is the future of publishing, sign me up. (By the way, since Steve Jobs now is the largest single shareholder of Disney, he seems to be able to leverage this position into ABC providing content for iTunes; why can't he now do the same with recent Disney acquisition Marvel Comics? Seems the iPad platform is ideal for making digital comics work on a large scale.)

  • Since I own about a dozen or more Kindle e-books that I can read on an iPhone app, I wonder if and Apple will allow me to read these on a Kindle app for the iPad? I hope so, but it would constitute an end-run around Apple's iBookstore and also encourage Amazon customers from purchasing the dedicated Kindle hardware. It will be interesting watching this unfold.

  • Yes a camera--or even two, one facing each way--would be nice, but surely this will be a feature of iPad 2.0 once it can be implemented without making the device too expensive.

  • Too bad the iPad won't be able to play Flash, but I predict the Adobe vs. Apple conflict will result in web developers moving away from Flash-based programming in favor of more open standards. I can't imagine them writing off iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users by using Flash on any new web pages under development when there are alternatives available.

The question for me is not whether to get the iPad but how soon to get it. Perhaps I will do what I did with the iPhone: get the first and third generations.

February 15, 2010

The Quantified Life

A high school teacher in California tracked various aspects of his life in the calendar year 2009 and came up with this engaging "annual report" in video form:

Dan Meyer's 2009 Annual Report from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

You can follow him in the blogosphere.

February 21, 2010

Adventures In Handbrake


I am trying to prepare some clips from some Region 2 DVDs for my Shakespeare class this spring. I've used Ripit with some success to create a "virtual" replica of a DVD on my hard drive, but it's not handy for excerpting clips. So I am now employing Handbrake to rip just the movie file from The Shakespeare Collection, the complete set of BBC-produced plays for television. Doing this creates files that I can open in iTunes--which means I can view the films on an iPod, iPhone, or my AppleTV.

March 6, 2010

Facebook Fan Pages


While procrastinating the last batch of end-of-term reports for my students, I created some Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages for the teams I coach. Amazing how productive one can be when there is something else pressing to finish! So you can become a Facebook fan of Choate Cross Country, Choate Squash, and Choate Tennis!

March 21, 2010

Geek Humor

click to enlarge:
(no Flash . . . get it?)

March 22, 2010

Kindle On The iPad?


Looks like Amazon intends to bring its Kindle e-book format to the iPad and other tablet computers. It just released a reader for Mac OS last week. This is smart: even if the company sells fewer of its Kindle readers (sales supposedly have plummeted since the unveiling of the iPad), it can still try to sell e-books in its format. And those of us who own Kindle-formatted books will be able to use them on the iPad. (That is, unless Apple decides to block the app because it duplicates the iBookstore--let's hope that doesn't happen!)

April 5, 2010

New OS For The iPhone (And iPad And IPod Touch)


Looks like we'll be hearing details this week about a forthcoming update to the iPhone (and iPad) OS: Steve Jobs will be unveiling version 4 in a media event on Thursday. The likely elements of the upgrade should include multi-tasking and a unified "in box" on e-mail.

April 9, 2010

Taking The iPad Plunge


After sitting on the fence the past few weeks, I pre-ordered an iPad, which should be shipped later this month. I opted for the middle offering in the WiFi+3G range, the 32-gigabyte model, which should provide plenty of memory for my projected use.

March 30, 2010

New Laptop


The school issues all faculty members a new laptop every three years and my old black MacBook had pretty much run out of steam at the end of its cycle: the battery barely held a charge and overall performance was pretty pokey.

But today I got a brand new MacBook Pro to use. This machine is loaded with Windows 7, too, for use with Boot Camp. Great success!

April 8, 2010

OS 4 Unveiled


Watching the latest Steve Jobs "keynote" in which he is introducing all the new features of the iPhone OS upgrade to be released this summer (and this fall for the iPad). Nice to see things continue to get better and better on this front!

March 31, 2010

The Reviews Are In . . .


Tonight some of the reviews of the iPad destined for tomorrow's newspapers have been posted online. Technology writers David Pogue of The New York Times, Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal, and Ed Baig of USA Today are all generally very positive about Apple's newest product.

April 13, 2010

Peering Into That Gift Horse's Mouth


OF COURSE two weeks after I get my spiffy new MacBook Pro, Apple releases shiny new upgrades to the machine. Then again, this laptop is a school-issued computer and didn't cost me a dime, so I'll spare myself the buyer's remorse, since I wasn't really the buyer this time around.

April 17, 2010

What Does "Late April" Mean?

Checking my order status on the Apple Store website, I am told my WiFi + 3G iPad is shipping in "late April."


Today is the 17th, so can I expect this machine to arrive in the next week? It would be nice to get it before the school's Long Weekend break which begins next Friday.

April 20, 2010

April 30 Is "Late April"


Word is out that those of us who already have ordered the 3G-flavored iPads will be getting them on the last day of the month. So Apple makes good on its commitment to ship in "late April," if just barely. But I predict the device will arrive in the morning on that Friday. That's what happened with the iPhone 3GS last summer: Apple arranged for delivery on the release date and I had my new phone in hand first thing in the morning while folks were lining up at Apple Store locations all around the country.

April 24, 2010

When Will We See iPhone Tethering?


When version 3.0 of the iPhone OS arrived last summer, AT&T and Apple suggested the ability to tether a laptop to the iPhone's Internet connection would be just a few months away. Carriers in other countries began to offer this feature last July, and yet there's still no word when American iPhone users will get to join this party. Maybe in 2010?

Traveling on Amtrak from Connecticut to Philadelphia today, I certainly would have found tethering useful to allow my MacBook Air to access e-mail and the Web. (Of course, in a few days I'll have my iPad with 3G connectivity, so my desire for tethering will be far less pressing.)

April 30, 2010

One Way Or Another, A New iPad


I've been checking the Apple Store website with increasing frequency the past few days to see when my new iPad was scheduled to shipp, expecting it to arrive sometime today as promised. But when I saw this morning that my order had not left the warehouse, and that my credit card had not yet been charged, I called Apple's customer service to find out what was up. The first woman I spoke to assured me I could expect delivery sometime today, even while acknowledging the iPad hadn't left the warehouse. The second time I called I was told the device would ship by May 7, even though my pre-order had been placed such that I could expect an April 30 delivery.

So I decided to trek up to the Apple Store to see if I could straighten things out and get my hands on a new iPad today. The plan was to cancel the online order and replace in with a retail purchase in the store. The staff was very helpful and put me on the phone (an iPhone, of course!) with Apple's customer service to work things out. But I waited on hold for over 25 minutes without connecting to a human being and the Apple Store manager was so embarrassed about the hassle he bought me free Apple case for the iPad ($40 value, so this was a VERY nice gesture!) and also allowed me to use a $100 gift card I had for part of my iPad purchase (which normally they can't do in the Store).

Anyway I am now in possession of a new iPad with WiFi + 3G in the 32-gigabyte flavor. It's awfully nice.

May 2, 2010

Drive Time Radio (Sort Of)


On the road today. I drove from Wallingford to South Windsor for some family time, then up Interstate 91 and across Route 9 through New Hampshire to get to Concord for two days of Eight Schools Athletic Council meetings. While behind the wheel, I digested a few songs on my iPod as well as a mix of "real" radio and recorded lectures, podcasts, and audiobooks, including:

  • two lectures on Richard III from The Teaching Company

  • some Tom Lehrer songs being performed on a rebroadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion" on Connecticut Public Radio

  • recent "The Political Scene" podcasts from The New Yorker

  • the last episode in "The Ricky Gervais Show" series

  • "The Thistle and Shamrock"--a weekly Celtic music program--on New Hampshire Public Radio

May 5, 2010

The Power Of The Dark Side

I don't have a TomTom GPS navigation system, but if I did, I might get have get these Star Wars voices just because this promo is so entertaining:

June 3, 2010

New AT&T Data Pricing

Yesterday AT&T announced it would no longer offer unlimited data plans for its iPhone and iPad customers. (Seemed to me like kind of a "bait and switch" to alter the iPad data plan only a month into the product's life, though those of us who already signed up for unlimited 3G data can keep this plan.)

For the iPhone, "DataPlus" will cost $15 for a maximum data download of 200 megabytes a month while "DataPro" will be $25 for a maximum download of 2 gigabytes a month.

This means I have a couple of decisions to make. I looked up the data usage on my iPhone in recent months to see where my monthly consumption pattern falls:

It's usually over 200MB per month. But what is most interesting is the drop-off in the last few weeks, a period not represented on this chart; with only four days left in the current billing cycle, I have only used 128 megabytes of data. The obvious reason for this is the arrival of my iPad. Assuming a large chunk of my data consumption has shifted to the iPad, I ought to be able to save $15 a month from by going with the "DataPlus" plan on the iPhone.

And for the time being, I think I will keep the unlimited data plan for the iPad; I'm not sure I will need it after the summer because of the ubiquity of WiFi on campus, but until I figure out how I will be deploying the iPad when I travel, I don't want to lose the unlimited data plan option, especially since I've gotten accustomed to streaming movies on Netflix on the device. Moreover, the arrival of multitasking a few months from now may see me using Pandora a lot more than I do now. I can always downgrade the data plan in the future.

May 19, 2010

Re-Engaging Netflix


Having just returned the disc--City Of God--I had out since December 2006 (!) I am now in a regular cycle of DVD rentals from Netflix once more. I upgraded my rental program to get out of the 2-DVDs-per-month limit and to enable unlimited streaming rentals. The latter is a huge advantage now that the iPad is equipped to play these films!

So no more keeping one film out for three-and-a-half years (at $5 membership fees per month, I could have bought the DVD of that flick many times over!).

May 25, 2010

New Use For The PlayStation 3


Today I received a disc from Netflix that will enable me to watch streaming movies via my PlayStation 3 machine. Pretty cool adaptation!

June 7, 2010

All Eyes On Cupertino


Steve Jobs is delivering the keynote address at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference today (1 p.m. Eastern time) and is expected to announce an OS upgrade for the iPhone/iPodTouch/iPad platform as well as the new version of the iPhone expected later this summer. And perhaps there will be a surprise or two coming as well.

June 8, 2010

Tech Upgrades


Just watched the keynote address Steve Jobs delivered at WWDC 2010, in which he unveiled the new iOS 4 as well as the iPhone 4. For me these were the key highlights:

  • multi-tasking on the iOS

  • being able to group apps into folders on the iPhone and iPad

  • managing multiple e-mail accounts with one "In Box" on the mobile platform

  • note-taking in iBooks

As far as the new iPhone goes, it's awfully attractive. The "Retina display" looks awesome. Camera improvements are great, too. And the FaceTime video chat feature is pretty sexy, though probably would not be all that practical. By all accounts the HD video capacity and iMovie are dazzling, but it's hard to imagine one would want to edit a lot of video on the iPhone (on the iPad, maybe).

I plan to try to resist the impulse to upgrade this summer. If I can hold out until 2011 when my AT&T contract expires, effectively skipping this release, there ought to be an even better version of the iPhone heading our way next June.

June 9, 2010

Safari 5


The newly released version of Safari includes plug-in functionality, so I could add an Amazon search bar to the browser window. Nice.

June 22, 2010

iOS 4 Arrives


Loaded the new iOS 4 on the iPhone this morning and have already started organizing my apps into folders. Also a big fan of the unified in box for my various e-mail accounts. Haven't gotten around to multi-tasking yet, but I'm sure I'll be using Pandora a lot more now.

June 23, 2010

DC Goes Digital


Since its primary rival, Marvel, had an app for the iPad (and iPhone) ready to go the day the iPad became available, it was only a matter of time before DC Comics jumped into the digital download arena. That day has come, as DC released its own app this morning in order to bring Superman, Batman, and friends to tablets everywhere!

July 7, 2010

Magazines Of The Future?


I downloaded this week's issue of Sports Illustrated on the iPad app, just to give it a whirl. Hard to imagine I will do this regularly, since I had to pony up $4.99 for something I am already subscribing to in its traditional format. But it is pretty cool to flip through the electronic edition to see photo galleries (with some pretty stunning photography, which has always been one of this magazine's hallmarks). Not much here in the way of video stuff, though.

They've really got to figure out a better business model. I'd love for subscribers to have access to the digital mag the way The Economist and The New Yorker give print subscribers full access to their Web-based digital content. I could see charging us a nominal fee to read iPad versions of what we get in the mail. But five bucks per issue is not going to generate much traffic.

July 8, 2010

Genius Bar Comes Through Once More


One of the four "feet" on the bottom of my MacBook Air came off. Since the laptop was still under warranty I brought it to the Apple Store thinking one of the Geniuses could replace the little black round plastic piece. Instead, they replaced the entire bottom panel! Probably not the most cost effective solution, but this is another good example of Apple's over-the-top customer service.

August 3, 2010

Blog Back End Woes Fixed


No posts for the past three-and-a-half weeks because I royally screwed up this blog's architecture by trying to upgrade from Movable Type 4 to version 5. I've since learned that most pros recommend avoiding MT5 altogether. But I was too clever by half and thought I could pull off the transition and in the process I basically got locked out of my own blog. The main blog page was still up and running but has been missing its CSS formatting.

I actually think I got pretty close to completing the upgrade, but I just don't have enough experience to know what little thing was off, so I had to pay through the nose to get a pro to fix it. The good news is that I backed up the database that runs the blog before I started playing around "under the hood." This meant someone who knew what he was doing was able to restore the blog pretty quickly.

Anyway, I have entries saved up to post after-the-fact, which I plan to do in the next day or so. In the meantime I still need to tweak the layout and formatting of the blog. I'll probably experiment with a new look for the page as well. Hopefully I won't crash the site again in the process!

July 23, 2010

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

This brought a smile to my face:


July 9, 2010

Blog Upgrade In Progress


Fiddling around with the "behind the scenes" architecture of this blog, migrating from Movable Type version 4 to version 5.02. This is uncharted territory for me, so wish me luck!

July 27, 2010

27" May Be In My Future


Apple upgraded its iMac line today and also released a new 27" monitor for $999 as the top offering in its line of displays. The technological stars may be alignment now for me to set up a multiple monitor workstation for my study at home, with one of the new 27" iMacs paired with the new display. Not before the fall, though.

July 15, 2010

Darth Vader's Shuttle?


Though this looks like something one would find in the hangar on an Imperial Star Destroyer, it's actually a real-life stealth plane the British unveiled for the R.A.F.

July 16, 2010

Steve Jobs Strikes Back


Apple held a press conference today to diffuse the growing controversy over alleged antenna problems on the new iPhone 4 release. Steve Jobs mounted a pretty compelling defense, I thought, but was clearly peeved at having to do this sort of thing. Damage control is not something Apple wants to spend its time on, but in light of the Consumer Reports decision to not recommend the new phone, Jobs and company had to step up and respond. I think this will put an end to all the hullabaloo.

August 17, 2010

Light Rail


I am becoming a fan of light rail. I used the new system built for the Winter Olympics while in Vancouver over the weekend and I took SoundTransit from my hotel to the Seattle airport this morning. It's cheap, reliable, and efficient transportation. The trains share an underground tunnel with Seattle buses downtown and then work their way through the southern parts of the metropolis at ground and elevated levels before terminating at the airport.

August 25, 2010

Time For New Apple Goodies Once More


Apple has announced a media event slated for next week on September 1. The guitar on the invitation suggests a music-themed presentation, probably involving a new iPod Touch (with FaceTime, presumably). The rumor mill suggests we may get 99-cent television show rentals as well and an updated approach to AppleTV.

August 19, 2010

Another Argument For MobileMe


I use Apple's Notes program extensively, especially in a mobile capacity on the iPad and iPhone. But syncing my notes was always dependent on physically connecting to my home iMac via iTunes. Until now. I moved all my notes files--which generally are associated with a specific e-mail account, it turns out--to MobileMe, so each iOS 4 device can be synced wirelessly with the cloud. Works brilliantly with the iPhone already and it should when the iPad gets the updated operating system this fall.

August 31, 2010

Filter Failure

A fascinating presentation on the phenomenon we perceive as "information overload."

September 12, 2010

Took The Plunge


I ordered a new 27" iMac with all the bells and whistles tonight. It's been three years since I last bought a desktop and that machine is getting pretty tired.

September 22, 2010

Widescreen iMac Has Arrived


Unpacking the new iMac right now and it is a beauty! This should be a much faster machine than what I am used to, as it runs on Quad-Core 2.93GHz Intel i7 chips. It also boasts a 2TB hard drive. I will have to get used to the new "flat" Magic Mouse.

September 27, 2010

The Evolution Of The Digital Subscription


I love The New Yorker. And I love my iPad. And I love that The New Yorker is now releasing an iPad-friendly edition. (And I really love this introductory video featuring Jason Schwartzman.) But what I don't like is the expectation that I, a long-term subscriber to the magazine, must fork over $5 each week to read the digital edition on my iPad. Publishers have got to figure out a way to offer paying print subscribers access to the digital editions at no additional cost.

September 28, 2010

A Dissenting Opinion On Social Media

For The Geek's Kitchen


Check out this U.S.S. Enterprise pizza cutter. For the Star Trek fan in your life who has everything, available from ThinkGeek.

October 5, 2010

Precision German Engineering


I am now the proud owner of a brand new 2011 Audi Q5. I emptied out the (creaky) 2000 Ford Explorer after my afternoon class and drove it down to the local Audi dealer at dinnertime and drove home in the new wheels. This is awesome!

The Social Network


I caught The Social Network this evening and it is a very entertaining movie. The premise is how Facebook was started as a Harvard-only network and expanded into the global tech behemoth the company now is. But the Aaron Sorkin script has whip-smart dialogue and all sorts of intrigue about the relations between the Harvard students who had roles in the creation. Highly recommended.

October 7, 2010

Satellite Of Love


I am loving the Sirius Satellite Radio service that is integrated into my Audi's music system. A channel that just plays Bruce Springsteen? Another for Elvis? And Sinatra? Two all-NPR stations? One channel for Broadway shows? All the talk radio and sports channels you can think of (even an all-golf channel--which is kind of odd for a sport I don't associate with radio)? Pretty amazing. Favorite channel so far is #14: Classic Vinyl.

October 6, 2010

I Splurged On The Sound System


I absolutely love the fact that my iPod seamlessly integrates itself into the Audi Music Interface in the new vehicle. The menu in my dashboard console replicates the iPod's hierarchical organization of songs, albums, artists, playlists, etc.

When I bought the Q5, I upgraded to the array of 14 Bang & Olufsen speakers, including some serious subwoofers for bass output. The sound is incredible. For the record, here is where the speakers reside:

  • one central speaker and two mid-range speakers in the dashboard

  • one tweeter in each of the mirror triangles

  • one woofer in each of the front doors

  • two tweeters and two bass/mid-range speakers in the door trims

  • one surround speaker in each of the D-pillars

  • one subwoofer in the spare wheel recess

October 14, 2010

Apple Keeps The Goodies Coming


Apple Inc. has scheduled a presentation for October 20, presumably to introduce the next update to OS X--that's 10.7 for those of you counting, and the invitation suggests its code name will be "Lion" to keep with the big cats motif--and probably a new form factor for the MacBook Air and perhaps some other MacBook updates. Maybe there will be a Verizon-related announcement regarding the iPhone and iPad too?

October 15, 2010

Doubling My Monitor Real Estate


Always dangerous to visit the Apple Store!

I dropped a pile of change on a companion for my new 27" iMac: a 27" LED Cinema Display. This unit is gorgeous and I have it set up as a horizontal extension of my desktop screen space, which makes it a lot easier to work in several different applications at once.

To my surprise, the educator's discount saved me nearly $100, which was a nice development.

Since I Am In The Mood For Doubling


At only $99, I felt I HAD to get one of the new Apple TV devices when I visited the Apple Store. This was clearly an impulse purchase. I own one of the older versions already (actually it was the second iteration of the Apple TV) and I am a fan of the technology.

My intention is to set up a second HD television in my study upstairs. Since I bought the 52" Samsung flat screen last year, I've had a 34" CRT Toshiba high definition set just gathering dust on the floor. So now I will have some motivation to hook up the new streaming-version of Apple TV to the older monitor. I'll probably move the PlayStation 3 upstairs as well and get a dedicated Blu-Ray player for the living room.

October 17, 2010

Take Dictation, Please


A couple weeks back, I upgraded from MacSpeech Dictate to an improved version that has been rechristened Dragon Dictate For Mac. This speech recognition software has been a godsend for me in inputting large quantities of text, whether in correspondence or in work-associated evaluations or reports. The new upgrade is even more accurate and easy to use.

October 20, 2010

New iLife Package


I just ordered the new iLife '11 to get the updates to iPhoto, iMovie, and Garage Band. The Apple keynote presentations do an awfully good job of making the case for the upgrades.

December 20, 2010

A Trio Of Options


The home video release of Inception arrived last week and today I got around to opening the package. Actually, it's billed as a combo pack, which includes two Blu-Ray discs--one for the film and another for all the extras--as well as a conventional DVD disc as well as a code to download a digital copy via iTunes. Now this is how ALL films should be released, in my humble opinion. One buys the rights to the intellectual property (in this case, the film) and has access to it across various media. So I can watch the Blu-Ray on my PlayStation 3, or the DVD on my iMac or MacBook Pro, or I can take the film with me on an iPad or MacBook Air if I am traveling. Very nice.

May 29, 2011

Here Ends The Hiatus

Hello again!

I've taken an unannounced, unplanned break from maintaining this site since the fall. No particular reason, beyond the demands of a particularly hectic year at work and a bit of blogging fatigue. I have written some unposted entries in recent months--mostly when on break from school and somewhere far away from Wallingford, or after particularly good plays or concerts--and plan to back-post these in the days ahead. My intention is to resume regular posting immediately.

May 30, 2011

iPad Subscriptions Done Right


It's great that the folks at Apple and various publishing houses have figured out how to give print subscribers access to digital versions of magazines at no extra cost. So I can download this week's issue of The New Yorker rather than wait for it to arrive a few days later. And similarly, new issues of The Economist, Time, Sports Illustrated, and Vanity Fair all are available on my iPad as soon as they are released. This will be especially useful in keeping up with these periodicals when I am traveling.

June 8, 2011

Summer Reading


My iPad and Kindle are loaded with a digital "stack" of books, patiently awaiting the expanse of summer so that I can work my way through it. Looking forward to tackling some of these titles!

June 6, 2011

New Directions In Apple Products


I digested all of Steve Jobs' keynote address from earlier today, in which he unveiled new operating systems for the Mac ("Lion") and iOS (version 5) as well as iCloud, Apple's new approach to syncing digital media, software, and data. Lion and iOS 5 are full of incremental improvements, some of them pretty dramatic jumps forward. It all looks pretty spiffy, of course, and instantly unleashes a new wave of tech lust! Apple has raised the bar once more and its competitors will be scrambling to stay in the game.

June 8, 2011

Digital Delivery Is The Way To Go


I woke up this morning and received a notification that the new Sports Illustrated issue was available for download (I am a print subscriber, so I have free access to the electronic edition via the iPad app). So a few minutes later here I am reading the French Open wrap-up before even getting out of bed!

June 23, 2011

Streaming Sports Coverage

ESPN3 is offering terrific Wimbledon coverage over the Internet to supplement the traditional on-air programming on ESPN2. While away from the television, I can sit in my office and take my pick of virtually any court at the All-England Club and have a match--or up to four matches, in fact--on as I work. Since I moved a 27" iMac to my office desk, I can do other things on my MacBook Pro while the tennis plays in the background. Commentary is pretty solid, too, with the likes of John McEnroe and John Lloyd covering some of the men's matches.

Here is a screenshot from a few minutes ago:

June 21, 2011

A Quick Stop In The Netherlands


Our KLM flight from Vienna deposited our group in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, where I picked up the U.K. edition of Wired, with a pretty interesting cover story on lessons to be learned from Steve Jobs.

Our connection to JFK departs shortly.

October 23, 2011

Back To The Blog

So after about a year of neglect, I have resolved to return to a regular routine of posting to this blog. No particular reason for the time away, other than a busy day-to-day existence and some fatigue from a more or less daily habit of writing entries.

Right now I am enjoying a bit of a getaway during the school fall long weekend break. I left Hartford early this morning to fly to New Orleans (via Atlanta) and have a couple days to explore the city and decompress from boarding school life.

This being the digital age, it is easy to take work along with me, and I have some projects to tackle while here: finishing the stats and producing a highlights email from yesterday's cross country meet, making progress in The Odyssey for my grad school class at Harvard (and beginning the draft of a short paper due Thursday), getting back up-to-date in my French class after missing a few meetings this past week, tweaking my Modern Japan course syllabus for the closing weeks of the fall term, and prepping an AP political science course for the winter that I have not taught before.

So anyway, stay tuned to this site and I'll aspire to produce occasional nuggets of insight about whatever tickles my fancy.

October 24, 2011

Fresh Tracks From Coldplay


New albums tend to be released on Mondays in the U.K. and on Tuesdays in the U.S., but I guess in the age of globalization and digital distribution, separate release dates no longer make much sense. So Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto, which I had pre-ordered, arrived on my MacBook Air iTunes this morning and simultaneously popped up on my iPad and iPhone 4S too, thanks to the iCloud/Lion/iOS 5 support for syncing such purchases.

The Guardian On iPad


I love that the difference in time zones means Tuesday morning's edition of The Guardian arrives on my iPad Monday night. So I get a late evening paper from Britain to read before bed. And the new iPad version of this newspaper is beautifully designed: a triumph of journalism in a digital format. The Guardian iPad edition is free for the first couple months after one downloads the app; i wonder if I'll be suckered into paying for it come December?

October 26, 2011

The New Steve Jobs Biography


My copy of Steve Jobs arrived from Amazon this morning. (For the record, I ordered this when the publication date was announced, long before the death of the Apple executive.) I won't have time to do much more than leaf through it quickly before the weekend, though. Perhaps good reading while on the bus to NMH Saturday?

June 14, 2012

The Shift To Digital Magazine Publishing Continues


Time Inc. just announced an agreement with Apple to update its digital publishing efforts via Newsstand on iOS. The app updates are already here. I've been getting Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, and Time issues on my iPad for a while now, as I am a print subscriber to these magazines, but Apple's Newsstand interface is clearly superior. Now I think it's a just matter of time before I ditch the analog subscriptions and go exclusively digital.

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