Thursday, September 25, 2008

The iPhone is life changing

It's not often that a piece of technology will change a person's life, but it does happen. Consider the car, the refrigerator, the microwave, and the PC to name a few. However, I believe that the iPhone has changed my life in several ways.


I was an early user of the blackberry, back when it was just a pager with a few lines of screen real-estate. I moved on to the larger version (PDA size) and was addicted to it at the time. When it broke several years ago, I did a trade-in deal with RIM and had them send me a refurbished one. That broke after about 6 months, and I decided that it wasn't worth keeping it. One reason was that I had to carry around two devices (this was before they integrated phones with blackberry) and the other was that I was getting fed up with it buzzing constantly from all the email. Granted, I could have turned that off, but I wasn't as wise in my younger days. So for quite a while I lived with only a cell phone, telling people that if something was urgent enough they can call me, otherwise it would wait until I was checking mail on my laptop.

I got my iPhone on July 11th, and it has been an unbelievable change. Here are the specifics on what I feel are dramatic enough to list out:

1. Remote email. OK, so I had this before with blackberry, but I was without it for so long that it's new to me again. I learned from past mistakes and have the iPhone set to silently acquire email, allowing me to check it occasionally when I feel the need to. One advantage the iPhone has over blackberry is that it connects to my gmail account as well as my exchange account, putting it in one simple location with the same interface. Where before the blackberry made me feel like I never left work, now I feel more freedom in being able to check email wherever I am and not have to worry about firing up the laptop.

2. Web browsing. My last phone before the iPhone did have a browser on it. It was absolutely pathetic however. Now, if I have something on the tip of my tongue, or want to look something up, it's all there in a real browser just like I would have on my laptop.

3. Google maps. I used to always have to remember to print a map when going to an unfamiliar location before leaving. Now, I can simply enter the address into the google maps application, tell it to give directions from my current location and voila. The fact that it shows real-time my current location on the map is huge, as I then know where I am relative to my next turn. If Apple would allow voice directions, I couldn't ask for more. (bonus feature: click on an address in an email and it goes straight to the map and shows you the location)

4. iPod. On a recent trip with the family, my daughter watched a movie on my laptop on the plane. The movie was a bit too intense for my 4 year old son, so ahead of time I downloaded some cartoons from iTunes to my phone and he watched those. There were times before that we lugged two laptops onto a plane to solve this problem, but now life got much simpler.

There are other things about the iPhone that make it a fun, cool device that I love owning, but I wouldn't call life changing.

If you don't have an iPhone, you're missing out...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Keeping spam off my iPhone

I absolutely hate spam, whether it's email, junk snail mail, text messages, etc. When I got my new iPhone one of the first things I did was connect it to the exchange server at work. It was a beautiful thing, as with a few entries within minutes I was live via activesync just like my Outlook client on my PC. But then the spam started coming in. I was completely baffled when I looked on my iPhone and noticed 3 new messages. Wow, lots of email coming in. But when I looked they were your typical "enhancement" or "get your degree now" emails.

I spent a lot of time tweaking Outlook to be quite good at keeping spam out of my inbox. So I couldn't understand why the spam was zipping through to my iPhone. After doing some googling I learned that there is no spam filtering software on the iPhone. My next step was to go look at my Outlook/exchange settings and figure out what wasn't working. What I learned was that my main spam filtering rule was a client-only rule. So it only runs when the Outlook client is connected to exchange. Eureka! But why was it client only and how do I fix it?

After more googling I found a site that explained the problem. It seems I had a condition in my rule that forced it to be client only. We use Spam Assassin at work to filter messages. When it determines through its magic that a message is spam, it inserts a line into the email header that says "X-Spam-Flag: YES". My rule would look into the message header and if it found that string it would mark it as read, and permanently delete it. I believe the culprit was the mark it as read part. I took that out, and instead of permanently delete it I changed it to move it to the deleted items folder. Voila. When I saved that rule it didn't put the little (client-only) tag next to it.

The good news? I haven't had a spam email on my iPhone since. Rock-on iPhone.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My iPhone 3G Story

I've been waiting for the iPhone 3G for many months now. The anticipation was becoming overwhelming to the point that my wife told me she doesn't want to hear the word iPhone from me again. This morning I awoke at 4:00 a.m. and headed over to my local AT&T store. I had done my research ahead of time. I talked to the employees at that store and they said that the Boulder store would be a madhouse, but with their obscure location, they should be fine. I took no chances anyway and got there at about 4:30.

While driving there I was an obsessive, paranoid freak. Every car I saw in front of me on the road I thought was going to the store and was going to get there in line in front of me. It turns out that none of them were going to the AT&T store, so it's a good thing I didn't speed (I figured that getting pulled over would take longer than just going the speed limit). When I finally arrived there I was thrilled. I was 5th in line. No matter what happened, I figured they had to have at least 5 iPhones, and my odds of getting the one I wanted were very good.

I met some of the other iPhone obsessors and the time actually passed rather quickly. There was a Starbucks next door, but I only got a grande knowing that a venti would likely push my bladder over the edge. At about 7:45, the store manager came out to talk to the line (at least 100 people at this point, likely more) to tell us the basic rules, etc, and also to inform us that they only had 55 phones. Shock and dismay rippled through the crowd, but what do you expect when you arrive 30 minutes before the store opens when trying to get the most widely sought after mobile device ever?

8:00 comes and they open the doors. A woman says she wants the first 7 people in line to enter the store. I got in and was directed to a sales associate. He asked for my current phone number, brought up my account and asked which phone I wanted. "The 16 gigabyte iPhone white please." Once the box was laid on the counter in front of me I knew I was golden. "Do you want the AppleCare plan?", "Yes, since you can't replace the battery." He asks if I want any accessories and I plunk down a strategically shelved Jawbone 2 bluetooth headset. He activates my phone, gives me a new sim card, and tells me, "you're all set, just take it home and synch it with iTunes and it will finish activation." I leave the store on cloud nine, with my AT&T bag stuffed with goodies even Santa can't get his hands on.

I walked into my house at 8:25. The 15 minute activation process promised by AT&T actually lived up to the billing. I plopped down on the couch and started opening boxes while booting my laptop. All is good, all will soon be great. I get everything out and plug in the USB cable. The 2 seconds it took for iTunes to recognize it and display "iPhone" in the left side navigation area were excrutiating. Then the store area went all white with only the silver words "iPhone". I waited as patiently as possible while the little bar spun and the words "Accessing iTunes Store" were displayed above it. Then I got the popup window you see for this post. Oh, yeah, tons of activiations going on, it's going to take a few tries.

It's now almost 1:00, and after at least 100 tries, I'm still not activated. So I have the most amazing, powerful, revolutionary mobile computing platform in the world in the palm of my hand, and all it can do is call 911. I called the rep from the AT&T store to see if they could do something, but immediately got a voice recording explaining that activations are overwhelming the system, apologies, try later in the day. The wait continues.
UPDATE: OK, I guess if you bitch about Apple the Jobs-God hears and corrects it. At 1:02 p.m. I got in and activated my phone. I am now synching calendars, contacts, email, bookmarks, etc. It's ALIVE!!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New Tech Meetup Fun

So I attended my first Boulder New Tech Meetup tonight. It turned out to be a lot of fun. There were several companies presented, but the one that stood out and I keep thinking about is Idyllon. Idyllon is an early stage company creating a full 3D social network. Think world of warcraft without the game part of it. It seems like a really interesting idea, and the demo graphics are amazingly beautiful. It made me think of the old Keanu movie called Johnny Mnemonic. If you've seen it, you may remember the scenes where he "surfs" through a 3D internet. This type of technology could eventually replace the standard browser/desktop interface. Think about it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Google maps street view

Recently I needed to look up an address for a meeting and noticed a new link on the pop-up on google maps: street view. I clicked this and was amazed with a 360 degree panning view of that location. The great part is that I was able to look "across the street" from where I was going and spotted a landmark I am familiar with. That made it very easy to determine where I needed to go.

However, I then mapped my house and did the street view there. It was a little creepy to have the amount of detail that I did of my house from the street. Luckily my garage door was closed, but when doing the same for my mother's place, her garage door was open and her jeep was visible inside. Zooming in I could almost make out the license plate and with some photoshopping I imagine it wouldn't be hard to get the detail. This raises a very interesting question about privacy. Taking a picture from a public street seems legal enough, but then creating a database that anyone in the world can access takes it to a new level. Let's say that someone wants to look for a neighborhood to burgle. Clicking down the streets might show you an area where lots of people had their garage door open and there are nice cars inside. It's also disturbing to think of people being caught in the images. While I didn't see anyone in the images I looked at, my mother said that while clicking down the main street in her town she saw someone on a bike "in front" of her and then they disappeared in a frame down the way. And as you can see in the image I captured of Pearl and 28th streets in Boulder, there are a lot of cars visible in the image.

There are clearly advantages to having this data available when trying to get to a location you're unfamiliar with, but is this opening the door to potentially massive problems?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why British Airways sucks

So I'm sitting in the Paris CDG airport right now 3+ hours before my flight to Heathrow. There's a flight in about a little over an hour that would be "lovely" to take. However, when I asked if I can go standby, they tell me that my ticket is a special fare and it's not exchangable. Huh? So I ask, "Don't you have the concept of standby here?" To which the reply was, "Yes, but not with your ticket." I then ask if I can pay a fee to "upgrade" my ticket and allow me to get on the earlier flight. The response was not pleasant, and essentially "no". They weren't nice about it at all, didn't apologize that I have to sit here for 3 hours when there are plenty of empty seats on the earlier flight. Seriously, what the heck kind of policy is this? It doesn't make any sense to me. Screw these guys. This is the last time I fly on BA.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mass Effect: We don't need no stinkin Star Wars

My two favorite games so far on Xbox 360 by far are Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 without a doubt. I love the mix of first person shooter with role play. Since KOTOR 2 I've been in a Star Wars drought for games. While I am anxiously anticipating the release of the new title, with amazing looking force powers I was introduced to a gem that's been out for a while now. Mass Effect is made by Bioware, the same guys that made the KOTOR games. It's obviously the same engine, and I've heard that they simply lost their license from Lucasarts. The game has biotech abilities which are suspiciously similar to force powers, but it's still tons of fun. They've improved the engine a bit, and if you hadn't played KOTOR before you wouldn't know it was "supposed" to be Star Wars. I'm still early in the game, but I'm having a blast. I highly recommend it if you don't mind becoming quickly addicted.

Take that Lucas!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Internet theoretical dollars

There was a great episode of South Park this week. The main plot was about Canada being upset that everyone in the world doesn't care aboot them. However, the sub-plot of the kids making a very inappropriate video on YouTube and earning millions of internet theoretical dollars was priceless. They even brought back the classic ending where Kyle said that he learned something today. His monologue at that point was a very fast talking soapbox about how the internet is cool but hasn't proven to be a real channel for revenue generation. A little jab at the writers guild/strike situation you think?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

XM and Sirius merge

Saw on the news last night that Sirius is finally being allowed to acquire XM Radio. Slashdot talks about it of course. I am an XM subscriber, so I'm wondering what this means for me. I'm hoping that prices stay the same and I get all the Sirius channels too. Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

R.I.M. R.I.P.

With the up and coming capabilities from Apple for the iPhone, my mind has been spinning out of control with the possibilities. I've decided to list out some of my predictions, as well as hopes in direction for the impact in the market. Some may be far fetched, but you never know.

1. The death of the Blackberry

I titled my post based on this prediction, which I think is the most likely to come to be. If you haven't seen the video of the new Outlook/Exchange integration coming to the iPhone, you definitely need to check it out. Basically, it will be like having outlook on your phone, but with a cool iPhone-esce interface. Blackberry has dominated the market in handheld devices for business users (those people who absolutely have to know the second an email is sent to them) primarily due to the push technology of the Blackberry server for Exchange. Lots of devices can connect to your email (through POP, etc) but they all use polling, which apparently isn't adequate. Once the iPhone adds this capability, what business user would choose a Blackberry phone over an iPhone, especially when your company is buying it for you?

2. The death of the handheld navigation device

I'll describe this by detailing a use case that a colleague of mine told me about recently. He received an email with the address of a location he needed to get to (yes, he had to tell his iPhone to poll for the email - patience young jedi). He touched the address in the email, and it instantly mapped the location for him. He then touched a very useful button that asked if he wanted directions from his current location. This then gave him a list of directions and maps like you would find from google maps or mapquest. While this works today and is extremely cool, there's no reason why they couldn't also add the real-time voice directions while you're on the go. Granted, using cell triangulation isn't going to be as accurate as a true GPS system, but it will likely be good enough for most situations. Why would you buy another device to do this when your phone already can?

I do think that the in-dash nav systems will still be valuable though. The bluetooth integration with your phone using the radio speakers, ability to play movies, etc will likely be enough value for many people to add that to their new car purchase.

3. iPhone Wii

One of the examples Apple showed of what you can do with the new SDK involved creating a flight sim/war type game. Amazingly they got it running in just 2 weeks, but the best part is that the phone has an accelerometer in it. What that means is that it knows its orientation, motion, etc. So like the Wii, on the flight game if you want to fly right, you turn your phone to the right, down you tilt forward, etc. Having this ability means that Nintendo should have their games on the iPhone ASAP. This could very easily make sales of the DS plummet, but they make the big bucks on the software anyway.
What other amazing things are people going to come up with? Considering that Apple says that the SDK was downloaded over 100,000 times in the first 4 days of release, I can't wait for the cool new apps (of course, none of them do me any good yet as I'm still waiting for the now slated June release of the 3G capable iPhone).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Great international business group

A friend of mine started an international business group a while back called IBCircle. I recently had lunch with her to catch up and learned more about it. This is a really great group with an impressive and interesting list of members. They do fun events to get people networking and thinking about global issues. They started in Colorado, but have also created a chapter in Arizona.

I have missed the last couple of events having to be traveling for work, but hopefully I can make one soon. One of their big advantages is the foreign expertise within the group. If you want to know what it's like to be an expat in Dubai, or need to know of a good personnel lawyer in France, the connections within this group will point you in the right direction. Check it out if you're at the executive level and have an interest in international business.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

All things iPhone

Found a great blog on iPhone rumor, opinion and insider information. Check it out.

No drinking or driving on Sundays? Still?

I recently read a great post (rant) by Todd Vernon over at False Precision detailing the proposed change to Colorado law which would allow you to purchase alocolic beverages from stores on Sunday.

I think his rant is dead-on accurate. Take a gander..

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Glory days revisited, or best to leave the past alone?

I must admit that my initial reaction to hearing that Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote were traded back to the Avalanche was one of excitement. How could you not be excited to have two of the stars that helped propell your team to 2 Stanley Cup victories?

Initial results look like Foote is picking up where he left off. Since joining the team two games ago he has been a solid contributor and make some difference-making plays. The bigger question has to do with Forsberg's health. He has been plagued by injuries to his ankles among other areas since his final days in Colorado. Is he going to be able to contribute to a run for the Cup? Will his mere presence inspire the rest of the team to greater play? Rumor is that he might make his debut today vs. LA. I long for the glory days again, and hope they begin tonight.
UPDATE: Turns out Peter didn't play until the Vancouver game tuesday night. He looked great and IMO is well on his way to getting back into playoffs form.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Waiting again for the iPhone

Just when I had almost convinced myself to pick up an iPhone, I stumbled across this acticle: It turns out that the current iPhone only works with the 2.5G AT&T network (EDGE I believe it's called). Apple is going to soon release a new version of the iPhone that can connect to the 3G network that AT&T claims to be country-wide by the end of the year. 200K versus 1MB is a big enough difference to wait for. I guess that shows why they keep new product development under such tight secrecy, or you would constantly have 1/2 your potential customers waiting for the next version.

I need to next research how the broadband part of the iPhone works. I have a sprint card integrated in my new laptop and if I could simply replace that with an AT&T card and "share" the account across the two devices then I can save some $$. If you already know the story here please let me know.
UPDATE: Recent press says June '08 for the 3G iPhone. Only 3-4 more months to wait...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama the Builder

When Oprah endorsed Obama and subsequently started campaigning for him, his support jumped tremendously. He's courting the religious vote by emulating the way Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, and now he's even going after small children's support. His campaign catch phrase has become "yes we can", which he claims is in reference to his statements of change. However, if you have small children, you have doubtless at least heard Bob the Builder on the TV in the background. When you hear Obama say something like, "they say we can't do it", and the crowd around him yells out, "YES WE CAN!" the similarity is uncanny. I think it's simply his campaign strategists' latest brilliant move to get yet another very powerful celebrity endorsement, targeting an age demographic previously untouched. Will the cleverness ever stop?

Monday, February 4, 2008

It may be time to get a new chocolate mold

One of my employees stayed at the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol this last friday night. He has status with them, so they bumped him up to an upgraded room and left chocolates for him on the nightstand. As you can see from the picture, he said the shape wasn't very appetizing. Maybe they were intended for the red light district and got sent there by mistake...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Loving tapas in London

One of my favorite restaurants in London is a chain called La Tasca. They have a few in the US as well, but they're all on the east coast, which doesn't help me. La Tasca is a spanish tapas bar and the food is truly outstanding. It's also quite reasonably priced (as long as you don't take into account the weakness of the US dollar). I tend to go to the one in Covent Garden which is a short walk from the hotel I stay at in Trafalgar Square. The Cordero en salsa is my favorite item. I normally am not a fan of lamb, but they do it in meatballs with a tomato/veg gravy-like sauce and it's to die for. I have literally dreamt of eating that dish.

An interesting side note is that in England they pronounce "tapas" differently than how I learned it. I say it like "tah-pahs", but they say it "ta-pahs" where the first "a" is said like the word hat. I've actually caught myself saying it that way a few times and without the British accent I just sound like an idiot. That brings up another point about the word "cheers". I don't mean when you say it while toasting a drink, I mean the British use of the word. I was completely baffled by how to use it initially, but having been to England enough times I believe I understand the context and correct usage now. However, after hearing an American say it an excessive number of times at a bar in Boulder, I have come to realize that without the British accent, that's another word that just doesn't work for us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Are they curing the meat while I wait?

Working in east Boulder severely limits the number of places to grab some lunch. One of those places is Snarfs. Now Snarfs makes a darn good sandwich, and if they didn't then I wouldn't have an issue. My problem is that it can take forever to get a sandwich made. I have gone there enough times that I have a rough schedule for how long you can expect to wait.

11:00-11:15------ 5-10 minutes

11:16-11:29------ 10-15 minutes

11:30-12:59------ 25-30 minutes

1:00-1:15-------- 10-15 minutes

1:16 and later---- Don't know as I can't make it that long without eating lunch

I made the big mistake of going there at "lunchtime" the first few times and watched them make tens of sandwiches for big carry-out and delivery orders to local businesses. Now I make sure to head there before 11:30, and if I miss it due to a meeting or just plain being too busy to notice the time, then it's off to fight the crowds at Whole Foods for a sushi.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Like a kid before Christmas

I am so giddy with excitement waiting for my new laptop I almost can't stand it. The PO went in today and it might arrive as early as friday. Our IT director is going to send me the tracking code when he gets it. What's even more impressive is that he got Dell to knock another $500 off the web advertised price. Apparently dangling the need to purchase 25 new machines gets them to also throw in LoJack and gold tech support as well. Gotta love negotiation.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thank you Heathrow!

I travel quite a bit for my job, and a decent amount of that travel is to Europe, specifically London. I always love going to London, but dreaded dealing with Heathrow while leaving. However, I departed London yesterday from Heathrow and was very pleasantly surprised. First off, they finally completed the construction on Terminal 3 (where United is). It's now spacious and looks very nice.

Now it got WAY better once I went inside to check in. Normally there's a security person who looks at your passport, asks you the standard questions about if you kept your bag with you at all times and then puts a little sticker on the back of your passport. Surprisingly, that person is gone now. So I walked right up to the check in person. She said, "One bag to check?". I responded like I have every time over the last couple of years with, "Am I still not allowed to take a bag on the plane?". Amazingly, she said, "Oh, they changed it and you can take a bag and a small personal item on the plane." WOW! This is huge, as I never check a bag because half the time they lose it and the rest of the time I have to stand around forever waiting for it to come down the bag carousel. That really sucks when you have a layover in Chicago or Washington, as they typically give you barely enough time to make your connecting flight, and arrivals from London are almost always late.

So now I'm having a great Heathrow experience, so I head off to security. Security at Heathrow can be really bad, but I got through in 10 minutes. Oh, and they changed policy there too such that you no longer have to take your laptop out and put it in a separate bin. You still have to do the liquids thing like here in the U.S., but you don't take your shoes off either. (Though they get you later making you put your shoes through an xray).

All in all, I used to hate traveling through Heathrow. Now, it's actually turned into a very decent experience (for an airport that is), so THANK YOU HEATHROW!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lenovo woes

Two years ago our then head of IT decided to swtich our company over to "IBM" hardware from Dell. At the time I went into it with optimism, having never had an IBM laptop before. Myself and my team were the first to get new machines, getting T60p laptops. That's when I discovered that they were no longer made by IBM, but by a company I hadn't heard of before called Lenovo. My new laptop arrived and the specs had it at the top of what was available at the time. Here's where the sequence of issues began. My laptop kept blue-screening at random times, wouldn't hibernate correctly, as well as a long list of other issues. Once I realized that Lenovo had preloaded the machine with tons of software completely redundant to what windows could do, I uninstalled almost all of it. My favorite is the power center, which interferes with the Windows power settings making it so that neither worked right. Well, the issues never went away, so our IT concluded that I had a lemon machine and gave me a replacement.

The replacement only had 1GB of RAM in it, so I had them order me another Gig. However, after experience random bluescreens after putting it in, I played musical RAM seats with the cards and learned that the second RAM seat in the laptop was faulty. So I live with 1GB of RAM, it could be worse. Meanwhile, I had gone through 3, yes 3 docking stations. Unlike Dell, they put a built-in power supply into the station itself instead of just giving you another power adapter with a brick. Well, it was the power supply that went out twice. Since all that, the headphone jack has partially failed leaving me with sound only for the right channel (love that when on long plane flights). The best was when the laptop overheated this last thursday when running a CPU intensive performance test. It bluescreened and tried to restart. However, it kept freezing when the windows logo showed up in the dim state and never proceeded from there. I undocked it and almost burned my hand on the bottom of the case. That's also when I realized that the geniuses at Lenovo designed the docking station in such a way that while docked the fan intake was partially blocked (definitely didn't help when trying to stay cool). So after letting it cool down for a while, it finally booted again and "seems" ok. I'm worried that something got warped or fried from the overheat, and our current (and very useful) head of IT said that he thinks total machine failure is imminent. (side note that he also told me they are seeing a 10% failure rate per month on Lenovo hardware, and for a company with 100 employees, that's 10 people a month with failed machines)

The good news is that the overheat prompted the need for a new laptop, and my squeaky wheel (ok, whining) about Lenovo over the past 2 years finally paid off. They're ordering me a new Dell D830 laptop this next week and it should be ready for me when I get back from Europe. I'm almost giddy with the thought of having a laptop that actually works again.

Lesson to learn from this? Never buy a Lenovo if you can do ANYTHING else.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Afternoon fun at the outdoor skating rink

We spent another afternoon at the outdoor skating rink in downtown Louisville today. It's a tiny "rink", has the most abused ice I've ever skated on and plays some of the cheesiest 80's music you can imagine, but is a lot of fun. The kids get to play with little shovels, sleds and large plastic candycanes. My daughter took skating lessons last fall, so she can already zoom around the ice without us hovering over her. My son is just learning now, but after only a few times he can already move around on his own for the most part (which is a huge step from basically holding him up the whole time while my back screamed out in pain).

I highly recommend heading down with the family for some fun (although skating has become much more expensive since I was a kid). One of the really nice things about the location is that you are right next door to the Old Louisville Inn, where we stopped today for a snack after skating, or just a block away from the new Waterloo Icehouse which is very kid friendly and has some great menu items.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another big acquisition

Well, big news today as Oracle announces the acquisition of BEA. It seems like in a few years there will be 4 software companies: Oracle, Google, IBM and Microsoft. Everyone else will be gobbled up by one of these behemoths. It seems like Microsoft has been outpaced by the others in the acquisition game lately, but maybe I'm just not hearing about as many from them. For me personally, the Oracle/BEA thing will change my competitive landscape, since I tend to bump into BEA products from time to time. I'm hoping that the Oracle name will create pause for customers though, as I saw happen when they acquired Tangosol. I spoke with a couple of our customers that were considering Tangosol but then abandonded it when it became Oracle. Then there were others that would buy just about anything with the Oracle name attached to it. So upon further reflection, I'll venture out on a limb and say that the Oracle name seems to polarize people: you either love them or you hate them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Useful" phrases in German

One of the best purchases I've made is to get XM Radio. I have one of the receivers in my car, and I listen to it exclusively for the most part. In fact, I typically only listen to The System as I favor high energy trance/techno type music. A little while ago they picked up a new show from the guys at Store N Forward. This is a show done by two guys out of Germany. When it first started, I wasn't a fan, as they talked for more time than they played music. However, someone must have clued them in to this issue, as they now have an appropriate talk-to-music ratio. I will say though, that the one bit they do that I really enjoy is "Learning German". You can see some of their past phrases on their blog.

My favorite so far was something like "Chuck Norris doesn't eat honey, he chews bees." Clearly, an undoubtably useful phrase to know. Too bad it isn't listed in their blog archive since I'm going to Munich next week to give talks at the OOP conference.

Wii Coolness

So when I first read about the Wii when it was in pre-production, my first thought was that it was going to be extremely lame. Clearly this would be a gaming novice platform (you know, the people who jerk their controller into the air while making their avatar jump). However, when my kids wanted to play video games, and I found that there was no appropriate content for small children on the xbox 360, I decided to get one "for them".

I will happily say that I was very wrong about the Wii. It's actually a ton of fun. My favorite games are Big Brain Academy and Carnival. Be warned though, as the husband of one of my employees apparently injured his rotator cuff muscles by playing pigskin pass (in Carnival) for 4 hours straight. Seriously, when using your game console becomes more injury prone than doing real sports, something has to change. I guess this proves the old adage that you can have too much of a good thing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Squirrels of Nimh

So for my first blog, I thought I would astound everyone with the fact that I have super intelligent squirrels in my backyard. Just like in the movie The Secret of Nimh, I think they've moved on to squirrels. Let me explain from the beginning...

I have never been motivated to put up outside Christmas lights. You see, I figure the cost, time and hassle just wasn't worth it to have to take them down again in a few weeks (or leave them up all year like some of my neighbors). However, my 6 year old daughter this last year finally decided that we needed to have lights like "all the other houses Daddy!". Luckily for me though, I came home one day and they were already done (thanks Becca!). One evening I get home from work, I pull the car in the garage and on the way into the house I plug in the string of lights. Now at the time I thought it strange that I didn't see a glow near the garage door seam since I always did before. I didn't care enough though to investigate at the time. The next morning I unplugged the lights, got into my car and went to work, oblivious as to what the squirrels had already done.

It was later that day that Becca tells me that the squirrels destroyed the string of lights. I was thinking that they pulled something down, or maybe chewed through it. To my astonishment, when I returned home I found many short pieces of green wire and no bulbs at all. The squirrels had chewed the wire off the bulbs so they could take them away to their secret lair to light it (just like in the movie, although without the wire part I have no idea what nefarious plans they have with the bulbs).

Squirrels 1
Scott 0