Thursday, February 26, 2009

Clearly, I Am Not Ready For Retirement Living

I'm a little bored today. I awoke at 5am with a monster headache - and it wasn't the usual case of falling comatose with a book on my chest, a cat across my arm, and my head wrenched 1-degree too far to the left in a jumble of sweat-stained pillows. Nope, this was a real honest-to-goodness headache. Add the nausea induced by merely sitting up-right and the low-grade mucus production of late - and it was a lock that The Office would need to limp along without me today.

So back to the whole 'bored' problem. After a few hours of wiggling free the spike that surely was buried in the back of my head, I felt human enough to do something other than stare at daytime TV and listen to Mika purr beside me. It's never seldom that I get the better part of a day at home to do whatever I want, and I wanted my own Ferris Bueller experience.

First stop: officially finish the last couple of vinyl rips and sort out the library of 2,800 or so MP3s that are the fruits of my labour these last few months.

Second stop: Read the paper and try to eat something.

Third stop: Finish reading The Road - which I'd started the previous evening (thanks for the kick in the butt, KD).

Fourth stop: Nothing. I feel like crap. I don't want to go out. I don't have the stamina for a video game. My head won't survive any more reading. I'm.....bored.

It's only 2pm - and I have at least 1 more hour of Me Time. Somewhere, out there, people are building stories that will be re-told around their dinner tables tonight. But here, inside, where time has lost its meaning, Ferris can only shake his head and sigh.

Monday, February 16, 2009

For You Shall Know My Meme...

Life is full of coincidences, right?

Like when I'd light up a smoke at a bus stop (in a past life, alright?), it was a guarantee that the bus would come by within 30 seconds - schedule be damned.

Like when I send the kids to school in light jackets and shorts, it's pretty much a certainty that snow is coming soon.

Like when I have a day off and time to make a big breakfast for myself, it's one of the 62 holidays that shut down the Freeps' printing presses (and I have to force one of the kids out the door to find me a real paper before breakfast gets cold).

Like when I post a crappy little piece about Facebook on February 3rd and someone else - someone who gets paid for these kinds of things - posts their less-crappy little piece about Facebook on February 7th.

Karma says that Herman might owe me a beer. I'll even go with something domestic.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Minty - With a Slight Tingle

Because I so love Make magazine, but some projects can only be sucessful in Dreamland, it was time to do something more suited to the semi-133t skilz of JediBoy and I. We chose a nifty little portable iPod charger - the MintyBoost. It's purpose: provide emergency battery-powered recharging for an iPod (or a cellphone or an MP3 player or whatever can live on 5V recharging) for those times when you can't simply plug something into the wall. We've finished one charger already, and we're working on a second. For less than $35 in parts and a few hours of our time, it's not a bad deal. Observe:

Take one tin of Altoids
(we chose the mints, but gum works, too).

Empty out the mints for later!

Cut a hole in the side for a USB plug. I found
that drilling works best, although some
folks have cool nibbler tools that makes this
step a lot easier.

Add some circuitry stuff and batteries. Line
the tin bottom with duct tape (to avoid
circuit shorts) and hot-glue everything in place.

Plug in your iPod and re-charge!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Not Gonna Wear A Black Turtleneck

My family gave me an iPod Touch for my birthday back in December. That's some pretty extravagant schwag for me since I'm usually the guy imploring folks to save thier dough when it comes to gift-giving. This approach is just my passive/agressive way of saying, "Anything I really want costs way too much.".

Nonetheless, an iPod Touch is what I got as a sort of restitution for last Summer's unfortunate alignment of JediBoy, my backpack full of gizmos, and Rose Point Marina's murky waters. The Touch is something I'd never get for myself, but it's pretty cool in that Apple-ly way of being pretty cool. I'll not be fellating a life-sized cutout of Steve Jobs anytime soon, but for listening to my Disney podcasts, the Touch beats my ancient Shuffle by a country mile.

But the Touch is more than a Shuffle on steroids. It does a bunch of other stuff really well, and is kind of mediocre in other areas.

The Good:
  • Built-in wi-fi with excellent web browsing and email support
  • Loads of applications - many of them free. Example: one free app shows all the nearest Tim Horton's via a Google Map mashup
  • includes Calendar and Contact List applications
  • includes iPod-specific versions of popular services, including: YouTube, Google Maps, Facebook, The Weather Network, etc.
  • 32Gb holds a lot of music and videos (a friend of mine has one and walks around with Buffy Season 1 comfortably in his pocket)
  • It's small, slim, and the touch screen is simply amazing
  • The touchscreen keyboard works quite well - even for fumble fingered folks like me
The Meh:
  • The Calendar and Contact List apps can't hold a candle to what Palm provided many years ago (the Touch is not quite yet what I'd call a PDA)
  • Applications - free or not - can only be loaded through the Apple iTunes biosphere
  • No support (yet) for copy/paste when you create text
  • The browser does not support Flash - allegedly due to on-going negotiations between Apple and Adobe
  • Battery size was lost at the expense of keeping the device slimmed down
  • no built-in Bluetooth, GPS, or camera (like it's big brother the iPhone)
  • No external keyboard or Ethernet support (would really make this a portable netbook-ish device)
So that's my review, I guess. It's an awesome little gadget - and I do love gadgets. In the interest of full disclosure, I did type this post using my Touch while sitting in my favourite TV-watching comfy chair. It took a solid 20 minutes of hunting and pecking on the touchscreen keyboard - and I shan't be doing that too often.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Angst Is For Emo Kids

Leave it to KD and David to pull back on the joystick when the mood of the blogosphere starts into a death spin of introspection and general boringness (oh ya, that's a word). My own measly postings of late have the distinct whininess usually reserved for the inside cover of a teenager's school binder (only with less doodling). I get it, guys - time to lighten up.

Since I'm currently ripping old vinyl, I'll share this overly-earnest toe-tapper from the past.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Shadows Across My Face

The Middle of the story can be summed up quite easily: David S. became my very first really-and-truly Facebook Friend yesterday. It was a lovely surprise - almost too lovely. At the heart of it beats a simple truth that all of us (really) find some amount of validation in being noticed. And that's all there was to it - the pleasure of being noticed and acknowledged without ever expecting it. I think that might be at the core of the Facebook phenomenon. Maybe.

Beginning and End can now be told.

In the Beginning, I created a Facebook account to just annoy the Hell out of my 16 year-old daughter, BandGeek. I have teased her pretty consistently about her massive circle of Facebook Friends and how that whole world seemed to be a little short on content or substance. They Tag and they Poke and they write on each other's Wall - and I marvel at it just a bit.

To grok this meme, she suggested I create my own account, and she went so far as to add me as her Friend. Several minutes later, she removed me as her Friend. Parents, I'm told, should not really 'social network' with their kids. Bad things can happen. Information can go astray. Her advice: maybe find some Friends more my own age.

So my account sat there unloved, unused, Friend-less. I hadn't made much of an effort to seek out anyone on my own. And then Middle came along, and you know that part of the tale.

In the End - which is not really the end but just what I was doing a few minutes ago - I decided to poke around a bit inside the Facebook world. I kind of get the drift of things, I suppose: commenting, following others, just sort of keeping in touch in a multi-casting kind of way.

I started to search around for people I knew (or used to know). That's the true power of Facebook: making connections across geography and time. I found a few people I knew from school, and that was pretty cool. There were names I hadn't thought about in years. There were some names that were familiar somehow, and yet not.

And then I ran across Her - an old flame from my college days. She had a picture posted, and it punched me in the gut without the barest hint of "Look out, stupid!". I haven't been in touch with Her in more than 20 years, but the power of encountering someone from the past - someone that resonated - is pretty powerful stuff, indeed. No, this isn't middle-age crisis territory. Rather, I think it's just a new path for some old memories to claw their way to consciousness - a shortcut heretofore unknown.

So, yes, the End of the story seems to be about ghosts and what to do with them. I may reach out to some of these spectres - give them form and substance by shining a bit of light on them. Others will probably remain as wispy memories, worth a smile and nothing more.