Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stuck in Aspen

The family and I headed up to Aspen for spring break on Saturday. We were planning 2 days of skiing, and the rest of the time I either had to work (it's the end of the quarter) or we did other activities (like the awesome Aspen rec center). So I looked at the weather report and changed our tuesday/wed. ski plan into Sunday/wed. I thought a nice warm day of skiing would be great for everyone. Boy was I wrong. They hadn't gotten any snow in a very long time, and it was either solid ice in the shade, or total slush in the sun. Bad call on my part. However, they got a big storm tuesday night, and wednesday skiing was some of the best I have ever had. There were times I had powder up to my knees, which is very cool except when you fall.
So now it's thursday morning, and our plan to drive back to Boulder is shot. We saw last night that a big storm was coming, but we thought we could get up early today and beat it. No such luck, as it's already beginning to hit here, and will be in full force on the front range by noon. We're talking up to almost 2 feet of snow in a matter of hours. Not worth the risk of being on the road. So, alas, we are stuck in Aspen until late Friday or Saturday. I guess I will just have to suffer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nathan Fillion rocks

Ok, going to geek out for a bit here. My first introduction to Nathan Fillion was in Firefly. As soon as I saw the first episode, he became a favorite of mine. Since then, I've seen him in Serenity (the movie based on Firefly), Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog (truly amazing web show) and Desperate Housewives. Just to clarify, Becca watches Desperate Housewives while I play games on my laptop, and because it's on in the background I can't help but hear all the lines and glance up and see what's going on. Yes, it can be funny at times, but I digress.

I set up the DVR to grab Castle last week (after seeing that Nathan was starring in it), and all I have to say is WOW! Not only is that a very well written show, but Nathan brings the perfect touch to it. I'm already hooked and look forward to being able to watch many episodes to come.

I have realized recently that there are 4 actors that have played roles that seem to have a theme to them that I very much enjoy. They are Nathan Fillion, Richard Dean Anderson, Ben Browder and Joe Flanigan. They have all played characters that are tough, yet very sarcastically funny. 3 of the 4 were in Stargate shows, which sure doesn't hurt since I love that franchise. If you know of other actors that fit into this grouping, please let me know and I'll pick up their works.

In the meantime, we need more of the other guys in new shows. I hear rumor that Stargate Universe may actually happen, so hopefully I'll get weekly doses of a few of those guys, plus bonus for David Hewlett.

Speaking of scifi, are they going to create another Star Trek show or let the franchise wither into dust? Yeah, the new movie is coming out, but I want to be back in the nirvana of 3 trek shows on the air at the same time. Having STNG, DS9 and Voyager on was mucho happiness.

If it smells like poo outside, cold weather is coming

It's a well known fact for those of us that live in the Boulder area that if you go outside and get the overwhelming smell of poo, bad weather is coming. When the wind shifts and blows from the north, it brings with it the smells of northern Colorado. Now, I don't want to rag on northern Colorado too much, but dude, it stinks up there. There are a lot of farms, and Greeley is the epicenter of bovine slaughterhouses.

So, much like how old people say they can feel the weather changing in their bones, we of the Boulder area know the weather is changing when the air smells like poo. Yes, I had to say poo yet one more time.


P.S. Poo

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

iPhone 3.0 OS cometh!

Rock on Apple. Massive chocolately goodness coming to the iPhone. Read the details on TIPB.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Google "interest-based" advertizing

I just received an email from Google telling me that I need to update the privacy policy on my web site. Since "my" web site is Blogger, owned and run by Google, I figure I'm ok.

The disturbing part is why it needs to be updated. Google is now going to track where users go and build up a database about them. It will then assign a type to that person. The example they give is if someone visits a lot of sports sites, they will be labeled as a "sports enthusiast". The reason they are doing this is of course for advertizing. The more specialized person that Google can promise to see someone's ads, the more they can charge for them.

This reminds me of the early days of Tivo. There was an article from back in 2002 in the WSJ (subscription required for the link, sorry) about a man who's Tivo thought he was "gay". Turns out he had the audacity to give a thumbs up to shows like Will & Grace. Tivo decided to start recommending (and recording automatically) anything they had labeled as "homosexual".

That can be somewhat funny and annoying when it's only happening on your personal Tivo. However, in this instance, we're talking about major privacy infringement. Lots of people have Google accounts, so it's not like Google won't know who is visiting which sites. Heck, I clearly use Google and I have a my account page with my name, age, etc. Google may claim they aren't associating this data together, but it's all there and would be very easy to do.

Google will learn quickly that I'm a geek, and I expect to start seeing lots of ads for Star Wars the Clone Wars, technology gadgets and the like. What do you think? Is this going to make the ads more appealing, or is the privacy infringement simply too much? What happens if you are incorrectly labeled?

I have a feeling Google's biggest label category will turn out to be "porn enthusiast".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Largest, most un-reliable 3G network

OK, firstly, I stole the cool death star image from wired.

The point of this post though is to pontificate on AT&T's 3G network. I am truly baffled by the behavior I have seen with my iPhone. Of course, being completely in love with the iPhone, I blame all the problems on AT&T, and will continue to do so until proven otherwise.

Problem 1: Phantom incoming call

This issue has to do with a scenario which keeps happening lately. I will have my phone sitting on my desk, mere inches from my hand. If I glance at it at any particular moment in time, it will show me somewhere between 2 and 5 bars of 3G connectivity. However, said phone will all of a sudden play the standard iPhone voicemail sound seemingly for no reason. I think to myself, "What? I can't have new voicemail, my phone didn't ring." I look at it and low and behold, I have new voicemail. I think, "wait, how can this be possible, I didn't miss a call did I?" Looking in the recent calls list confirms that no, I didn't miss a call. My phone had no idea that someone was trying to call me. So for whatever reason, the network didn't have my phone registered for the exact moment of that call.

Problem 2: Network strength all over the place

Possibly the cause of problem #1 is that the signal strength will vary greatly, even without moving the phone. Let me emphasize that the phone is 100% stationary, but I can watch the signal strength go from 5 bars of 3G, to 4 bars of edge, to 2 bars of 3G, to no signal, to 5 bars of get the picture. Now, how can the signal possibly be changing like that when the phone isn't even moving? I'm guessing that the "no signal" times are what are making me miss calls.

Problem 3: 3G data not working

There are times when my signal changes from edge to 3G where the data doesn't work. The phone will say it has plenty of 3G chocolately goodness, but any data app I try to use returns an error. If I change the settings to NOT use 3G, then things work. However, if I want 3G speed I have to cycle the power on the phone and then 3G works again. What the heck is the deal with that?

Solution: I found that if I leave my phone on edge all the time, I don't miss calls, the signal doesn't go up and down like a yo-yo, and I can consistently receive data (VERY slowly). Obviously this is not ideal, as edge speeds really suck.

So, the real solution is that AT&T needs to clean up their "largest, most reliable 3G network" to actually be reliable. Come on AT&T, I know you're not motivated to do squat for me considering that I have no other choice than to use you if I want my iPhone, but don't you still want your customers to be happy?

Friday, March 6, 2009

International networking at the Dean's home

I attended a great IBCircle event last night at Dean Ahlburg's home in Boulder. I met lots of new people, and have some very interesting conversations. Some of the topics included organic wine requirements/creation/distribution, green energy options and solar legislation, semiconductors, the real estate market, New Zealand, and others.

I truly enjoy talking with the members of this group, as their insights and global awareness make for very stimulating conversation.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New tech meetup / reunion

Last night I attended the new tech meetup once again. It was a great crowd, and some really good presentations with some solid ideas. As an added bonus, there were several people from the old Rogue Wave crew on hand. I had a great time catching up and realized that with Boulder being such a small community, Rogue Wave has been home at one time or another to quite a few tech people over the last 14 years.

I'm thinking that a Rogue Wave alumni reunion is in order, for both past and current employees. I'll send a feeler out on the linked in alumni group, but also comment here or email me if you're interested.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Starbucks happiness

OK, I'll admit that I'm a bit of a Starbucks junkie. This situation only worsened when my local Starbucks closed down in lieu of the new one built down the street with a drive-thru. It is simply too easy now to stop there on my way to work and make sure I get my venti skinny caramel latte.

One thing I noticed right away though with the drive-thru was the way they greet you. When you pull up to the little speaker-box, you are greeted with something very much like, "Good morning and welcome to Starbucks, how are you today?"

At first, I was very irritated by this greeting. I wanted them to ask me what I wanted, not how I'm doing. I blamed my grouchiness on the fact that I didn't have my morning coffee yet, so of course I couldn't possibly respond in a friendly manner. However, after discussing this with my wife, she suggested that I "go with it" for a week and see what happens.

I did just that, and low and behold, I actually enjoy it now (yes, my wife was right, which she usually is about these types of things). Since I see the same people there several times a week, they recognize me and it makes for a more pleasant experience. So now instead of being irritated that I have to make nice with the coffee people, I get to start out on the right foot with a smile and cordial greeting to some genuinely nice people. Slowly but surely my gruffness is being eroded away. Pretty soon I may not even recognize myself...

Nah, don't get your hopes up.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Losing the desire to blog

For some reason my desire to write new posts dried up a while ago, and the one that I did was more of just a complaint than anything else. I've been thinking about why this has happened, as I used to really enjoy blogging.

My only conclusion on the matter is simply that I was overwhelmed, overworked, and just plain stressed about too many things. I recently got back from a week-long vacation in Mexico with my wife (just the 2 of us for 3 days) and lots of sales people from my company. It was a fantastic week off, and just what the doctor ordered.

I'm going to start posting again and hopefully enjoy it like I used to.

More to come...