One down, one to go.
Well, last night was my last in Gainesville. Fortunately, it was a really great night spent with wonderful friends and a lot of alcohol. Some people put together a little send-Justin-off thingy which was really nice. Besides the fact that I drank enough to kill a small horse (s-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y), I woke up feeling great (because I was still drunk no doubt) and had a final lunch with some of my best college friends. In typical Justin fashion I managed to break down and cry (nothing unusual here) when saying goodbye to some of them. Ugh. They will be missed. :\
Given the emotional weight of those farewells and my well-known propensity to get weighed down by emotion, I'm extremely apprehensive about saying goodbye to my childhood friends while I'm back home (before I leave for California in about 10 days). Those that know me know that it's going to be ridiculously hard for me to leave so many great friends behind. I could write pages and pages on this — you know I could — but I think I'd rather not dwell on it right now. Maybe later.
I've decided to remove the .91 and 1.0 RSS feeds from the site. If you are subscribed to either of these be sure to change your subscription to the 2.0 feed. There was no real impetus behind the change other than realizing that I don't need three separate feeds, especially when most news aggregators can now handle 2.0 feeds. The files associated with these dropped feeds will be removed sometime tomorrow, so hopefully all of those subscribed to them will see this post before then.
SmartyPants is a free web publishing plug-in for Movable Type, Blosxom, and BBEdit that easily translates plain ASCII punctuation characters into "smart" typographic punctuation HTML entities.
You can never be too anal-retentive.
I received an e-mail from a friend this morning who pointed out that, in Safari, pages on my site are "cut off" near the bottom. When the content section is shorter than the menu section (e.g., on some individual archive pages), the menu is cut off. When the content is longer than the menu section, the last three or four lines of the content is cut off. For both of these cases, the browser window must be shorter than the length of the menu. While I do use Safari 100% of the time, I don't make it a habit of looking at my archived posts or, as it seems, any of the other pages where the content might be shorter than the menu, which explains why I never noticed this error. It won't happen again.
I fixed it by applying the clear: both property right before I closed the container div.
Oddly enough, I couldn't reproduce the error in IE5/Mac, Opera6/Mac, Mozilla1.4/Mac, Netscape7.1/Mac, IE6/Win, or Opera7/Win — only Safari.
I arrived back in Florida yesterday morning. I ended up finding a pretty nice apartment in Santa Clara: less than two miles from the school, covered parking, six blocks from Westfield, the biggest mall in the valley and perhaps the biggest mall I've ever seen — at least 3x bigger than any mall I've ever lived near, air-conditioning (I've come to find that this is a rarity in northern California), completely renovated last year, GSM coverage, and a liquor store across the street. Good stuff.
Save the car accident, the trip to California was an otherwise fun (stress == fun, right?) and productive excursion.
All that's left to do now is everything: ship all of my stuff, schedule the setup of utilities (digital cable, cable internet, electricity, etc.), change the address on all credit cards/bank accounts/a billion websites, purchase and ship some new furniture and other household necessities, blah blah blah. Moving across the country has turned into a bigger headache than I had anticipated. It's nothing that can't be organized and executed efficiently, but it's requiring more work than I thought it would.
We all know that my luck certainly leaves a lot to be desired. I've inherited this from my father and when we are together it always seems to be doubly bad. As the story goes, we were stopped at a red light, bickering back and forth as usual, when a car, on the other side of the road coming in the opposite direction, ran the light while the driver was talking on his mobile phone, something he conceded right away. This car was carrying himself, two women, and a baby. Another car was going through the intersection and got nailed by the first car. Both cars came across the median; the second car hit the back of ours. A fourth car, behind us, was hit as well. No one was hurt. The guy at fault had no license, but did happen to have insurance. The lady driving the second car was driving on a suspended license. It came as no surprise to us that our car was the last one to get towed. A good 45 minutes passed from the time that the first car was towed to the time that our tower arrived. Our luck. We lost 3-4 hours because of this whole misadventure, which may not seem like much, but when you are clear across the continent for four days and have to find a place to live before you leave, every minute counts.
Most of yesterday was spent calling apartments, getting a quote on their cheapest 1BR/1BA, and then promptly hanging up the phone only to once again complain about how expensive it is to live out here, where air-conditioning is not only the exception to the rule, but quite rare in a sub-$1000 apartment. Ridiculous.
Yesterday evening we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway in the convertible as the sun was going down. It was so incredibly gorgeous; I'm afraid I'm going to be forever spoiled. The driving here is going to be absolutely amazing. The first thing I'm going to do (outside of the 456243 things involved with moving across the country) when I arrive here for good is get in my new car and drive, drive, drive. The hills, weather, and views make for perfect driving conditions. I'll admit, I'm a little apprehensive given my last ticket, but that isn't going to deter me from soaking all of this sick road up.
After today's accident we got our sanity in shape by having some of the best Mexican food of my life. This particular restaurant is less than a quarter-mile from the place that I think I most want to live. I say think because of the fact that we went by the place four times today and never got to talk to a leasing agent. The entire complex is locked down and you have to call the leasing office from the gate outside before you can even set foot inside the 'fort.' No one ever came to the door (yes, they were open). Hopefully tomorrow they will be a little more accommodating, else they're just going to have to live without me.
Though this trip has left little time for relaxing and sight-seeing, we did manage to make it up to San Francisco today. What a beautiful city. Wow. I can definitely see myself making that trip quite often. I've been asked by a couple of people to see the pictures I've taken while here. Unfortunately, I've taken much fewer pictures than I would have liked, but again, this isn't really "vacation" time. I do plan to post some of these pictures though, probably sometime next week. You'll notice that I've actually removed the photos link from the menu bar. This is because I went ahead and got the full .Mac account earlier tonight and so I'm going to start moving all of my online pictures over to that, at least until MT adds support for photo albums.
Well, I have to call it a night. It's been a long day and tomorrow will be even longer.
My father and I arrived in California in one piece (well, two pieces as it were). It's been an incredibly demanding day as we got up around 5AM, flew to LAX (from Florida) and then to San Jose. Silicon Valley is absolutely incredible. Really neat. I was expecting a lot, but nothing like this; I'm pretty excited.
After getting off the plane in San Jose we got into our convertible rental (I'm only 23 and can't yet rent a car, ergo my father's accompaniment), put the top down, and proceeded to get lost. And again. And again. Ah, the joys of a new city clear across the continent.
After we got situated (*cough* after broadband internet in the hotel was up and running) we were off to look at my school and to also look at some of the apartment complexes I've been researching for the past two months; there are about nine that I really want to look at. We got to two of them today. One was a complete bust (i.e., didn't even pull in, just kept driving by), but the other is a definite possibility. We'll see how the next few go. I'd like to get to at least five tomorrow. That's going to be a stretch though as we also have a meeting at a Honda dealership to see about getting me a new car.
We have already been doing some serious eating while here. Got some great Mexican for lunch and excellent sushi for dinner. If there's one thing I can bet on about my father, it's that we'll eat proper. You guys that know me personally know that my 155lbs can eat some serious food — bring it! I wasn't talking to you, Takeru. Hopefully, we'll get a lot of this apartment shit out of the way so that we can head up to San Francisco and take in some of the sights together.
Speaking of taking in some sights, my father almost got to see me bust the lip of the guy that puts your shit on the x-ray conveyor belt at the airport. As is extremely well known, I'm absurdly anal-retentive when it comes to my personal stuff, and tend to get fairly upset when someone damages my things. At airport security you are required to take notebooks out of their cases and place them in a little plastic bin. To make a long story short, I put my PowerBook in the bin and asked the guy to be gentle as he put it on the conveyor belt. Is he? Fuck no! He literally ramps the bin up the metal roller things until it *hits* the conveyor belt causing the notebook to slide across the bin and slam into the side. I was livid. The sides of the computer didn't sustain any noticeable damage, but the bottom is pretty scratched up. Not looking forward to doing it all over again on the way back. :(
Ahem, this post has certainly turned out to be longer than anticipated. I'm obviously still on Florida time so that puts me at about 2AM — nothing out of the ordinary, but that coupled with the fact that I got up at 5AM this morning after going to bed at 3AM the night before and at 6AM the night before that (blame the alcohol), has left me slightly drained. Night.
One last thing: if anyone reading this site has any suggestions as to where to eat in the valley, be sure to let me know.
As some of you know, I'm headed out to California tomorrow to try and find a place to live (I start law school there in August). I've never been to California so it should be a fun trip, assuming I find an apartment that isn't $1200/mo, else I might have to call this place home. Ugh.
Not sure why it has taken me so long, but I just added a permanent link to each post. You'll notice the ::: next to the title of each post. This a direct link to the archived entry; just in case you wanted to link someone to a post. You've always been able to go into the archives section and get the link from there, but this is one less step and is a bit more intuitive.
Also, I've made quite a few changes to the (X)HTML and CSS that define the site. You should see no change on your end if I've done my job correctly. If after force-reloading something still looks a little awry, be sure to let me know.
The New York Times is running a great article titled, The Lure of Data: Is It Addictive?. The article is about me. Alright, sure, I wasn't interviewed or anything, but I might as well have been. It's about the inability of those who have become indelibly attached to the Net to remove themselves from it. More generally, it's about workaholics who have found in the Net, another way to exploit their desire to constantly be doing something.
These speed demons say they will fall behind if they disconnect, but they also acknowledge feeling something much more powerful: they are compulsively drawn to the constant stimulation provided by incoming data. Call it O.C.D. — online compulsive disorder.
"It's like a dopamine squirt to be connected," said Dr. Ratey, who compares the sensations created by constantly being wired to those of narcotics — a hit of pleasure, stimulation and escape. "It takes the same pathway as our drugs of abuse and pleasure."
"It's an addiction," he said, adding that some people cannot deal with down time or quiet moments. "Without it, we are in withdrawal."
I have to agree with this 100%. It's the constant fear of becoming bored or complacent and the ever-present feeling that I need to learn as much as possible that drives me. Case in point: as I read said article I checked my e-mail three times, replied to two, began typing this post, and helped a friend setup a weblogging tool — all because of the slight delay incurred while going to the next page(s) of the article. Whether I'm reading a Harry Potter book on my PDA while waiting in the deli line, checking e-mail on my phone as soon as my date makes for the ladies room, or heading back to my computer each commercial break (no TiVo... yet) — I'm always checking something.
The article claims that the incessant multitasking might actually be counter-productive, citing a study that said that those who constantly traded their time and attention between two tasks were likely to spend up to 50% more time on each task. It goes on to say that multitasking begets a false productivity; a sense that one is accomplishing more than he or she actually is. While this no doubt holds true under certain conditions, I can't imagine it being too valid in the real world. Honestly, I think that the whole multitasking argument presented in the article is moot simply because different people operate, well, differently. The fact is, some jobs and lifestyles absolutely demand multitasking, in which case the word becomes a slight misnomer as it no longer evokes the idea of doing multiple jobs at once, but rather doing the job, which happens to require you to divide your attention. I say to hell with the research results, divide and conquer.
I think a lot of the confusion lies in the way that technology is allowing us to push ourselves further and further — to see how much information and responsibility we can juggle at one time — to find the point at which we have to say "enough." The article states:
They put themselves in situations where, if they don't perform at peak efficiency, they'll crash and burn. In the aftermath there is a rush of chemicals.
That one blurb sums up the entire idea: peak efficiency. I find a certain thrill in flirting with the deadline, in agreeing to help someone with task A even though it's going to impede task B, in seeing how much I can tack on and accomplish within a given time range. Computers are enabling us to simplify every part of our lives to the point that we seek out ways to bring more chaos into them, so that we can then find ways to tame it. I've spent a lot of time organizing, ordering, and otherwise automating certain tasks so that they cause me less strife in the future; so I don't have to think about them. That being said, the mind, as we well know, is a curious creature, and rather than allowing us to become less stressed, we find other things to fuss about. Though all the technology facilitates easier search and retrieval of relevant news and information while allowing us to seemingly better organize our lives, it inexorably leaves us craving some sort of disorder — something new, something more.
The Internet has a way of making us want to peer around the corner, to look over the edge, to click on the next link — in short, it exacerbates the human desire to learn and share. Russell Beattie commented on his information addiction in a blog entry titled, News Junkie, in which he writes:
Last night I spent at least 6 or 7 HOURS reading news. I didn't even notice... but I realized that as soon as Ana got home around 7 p.m., I started opening up links in different Moz tabs and just kept on going. Exclusively reading news. At the end, when I had read just about everything that could possibly have been said in the past week about mobile technology, I was casting about for more - opening up random Slashdot threads, doing searches on Google news, refreshing my aggregator cache every 5 minutes or so, and more.
I've done this very thing for years. This on top of monitoring IRC channels, usenet posts, e-mail lists, and myriad other news mediums. It used to be the case that I wouldn't let myself read the "news" for the day until a certain time at night, say 7PM. I looked at it sort of like a treat; a reward for getting other, more pertinent things done. Because of news aggregators, it is no longer the case that I have a certain time at which I allow myself to start checking the news, but I do have more news to check. This is because of the fact that adding a new feed to the aggregator is so simple and I easily convince myself that one more site isn't going to kill anyone. Meanwhile, my subscription list has grown to 110 feeds. I almost feel guilty to not take advantage of what is available to us and when something comes along that makes the collection of this information easier, it's practically impossible for me to turn the other cheek — I have to use/buy it.
But with all of these ways for us to stay more intricately connected and informed, we aren't offered many ways to decide what to leave out; what to ignore. I realize that most people will have no idea what I'm talking about, but there are some -- those like myself with a strong propensity for obsessive-compulsive behavior and a clue -- who realize that the limit to what we can learn is bound below only by our connected devices and above only by the time we can convince ourselves to allot to them. We are the first generation able to experience this connectedness and should take full advantage of our good fortune by stuffing our brains and schedules with all they can hold.
On a related note, my aggregator is telling me that there are 76 unread headlines waiting for me to peruse. So yes, to answer the NYT article, data is addictive. :)
Uncomfortable with the thought that those in other countries might associate him with President Bush and his policies, Joel Aufrecht has gone out of his way to make sure that his position is clear.
This little gag is much like the one I told you guys about a while back. Type "weapons of mass destruction" into the search form and press the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. Hopefully this will still work when you try it.
I've just downgraded my hosting plan so that it will now cost me $20/mo instead of $30. I did this so that I may spend the extra $$$ on .Mac, which is $99/yr. I haven't written about .Mac on here before because I've been in the process of evaluating it for the past month. Apple allows Mac users a free, 90-day trial of the .Mac service. Though there are many, many features, the one that really caught my attention was the Backup capability. It's no secret, I'm incredibly anal about backing up all of my important documents and this program really simplifies the process, even to the point that I really won't need to burn backups anymore (or not as often I should say). With the .Mac package, you get 100MB (or more if required) of space on their servers, which you can use however you like (I'll talk about some of the other options a little later). The way I've been running my backup system for the longest time is that I'd essentially have two different categories of backups; one for stuff that would rarely, if ever, change (old schoolwork, e-mails, past website designs, etc), and then 'living' documents that changed often (current schoolwork, code, etc). I'd burn all of the older, static stuff to CD (2x) and also keep a copy of all of it on my current HD for easy access. The newer, dynamic stuff would get backed up once a week to CD and would also be run through a couple of scripts I wrote that would tar everything up, encrypt it, and then send it off to a couple of shell accounts. Now, the thing about .Mac's Backup feature is that it automates this entire process and makes it, well, pretty. It also gives me peace-of-mind knowing that my data is in good hands. Not only are all of my regular documents backed up, but so are my iCal calendars, Address Book information, and Safari bookmarks — all automatically and behind the scenes. This feature alone is worth the $99/yr to me — it helps me sleep better. :)
Another really neat feature (especially for those with more than one Mac) is that iSync can sync with your .Mac account. This means that if, say, you have a Mac at work and then one at home, you can sync your bookmarks (and everything else) across them. It's all automatic.
There are those who will tell you that the $99/yr is worth it just for the e-mail address you get — you get an @mac.com with the account. To tell you the truth, I'd be pretty damn excited about it myself if it weren't for the fact that I already have the greatest e-mail address on earth. This also goes for the web space you get with the account (homepage.mac.com/username).
Speaking of the web space, .Mac also lets you easily integrate photos from iPhoto into your web account. In fact, I might start putting the photos that I already share on the .Mac homepage and point to them from here (at least until MT adds photo-blogging functionality).
.Mac also gives you anti-virus support in the form of Virex from McAfee. Now, it's incredibly rare that I ever have trouble with viruses in *nix, or Windows for that matter, so it's hard for me to even care about this feature enough to write about it, but it's free and part of the .Mac package, so what the hell.
I've been talking about ubiquitous integration and synchronization for as long as I can remember and .Mac is unquestionably the biggest step by anyone in this direction. Very, very, cool.
After a ridiculously awful day yesterday, I began the trip back to my dad's house, where I was bringing some belongings so that they may be shipped to California when I move. It was one of those days where absolutely everything went wrong and I seriously debated even going home because I thought that something might happen on the way there. Sure enough, I got a speeding ticket. He got three of us at once. I begged and pleaded with the officer; I knew that I had elected to take the driver improvement course within the last 12 months and so I couldn't take it again, which meant I was going to get points on my license. Well, the officer, being the big, bad-ass, right-out-of-training hotshot that he was, gave me the ticket. I now have three points on my license and my insurance is sure to go up.
The day's only saving grace was that the evening was spent with long-time friends. To quote God Of Wine by Third Eye Blind, "She takes a drink and then she waits, the alcohol, it permeates, and soon the cells give way, and cancels out the day."
Exposé offers three jaw-dropping new ways to work: instantly see all open windows, instantly see all open windows within a single application and instantly see all things on the desktop. With a quick flick of the mouse or a press of a key, Exposé zippily animates window scaling, while preserving the contents, including transparency. Oh, and one more thing. Exposé refreshes windows while they're moving or small, so you can keep an eye on long tasks.
You have to see this thing in action; it is truly brilliant and something I'm going to use to death. A lot of you that read this site have seen my computer in person and know that I always have countless programs open — this is a godsend. To check it out, start the keynote stream and skip ahead to 17:35. You can also view a demo on the Exposé website (click the "try it out" picture on the left), though I recommend watching it on the keynote as it gives you a better sense of what's going on.
All of this says nothing about the other new features in Panther that I particularly care about, including:
- Upgraded Mail.app (threaded messages!)
- All-new Finder
- FileVault (auto-encryption of user directories)
The list goes on and on. I can't wait.
Apple's Worlwide Developers Conference got underway this morning. The most anticipated part of the conference is obviously the keynote address being given, as I type this, by Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs. Unfortunately, I'm unable to watch this as there is no Apple store close to Gainesville and UF isn't one of the universities participating in the satellite feed. However, Apple is going to offer the entire keynote as a QuickTime stream after the presentation is over. Woo hoo!
The biggest news from the keynote will undoubtedly be the announcement of the newest OS, Panther (OS X v10.3). Apparently it will be offered as a $129 upgrade by the end of the year. The arrival of the Power Mac G5, featuring a next-generation processor from IBM — the 64-bit PowerPC 970 — will likely be a very hot topic as well. Another major subject will be that of Apple's browser, Safari, whose first non-beta release (1.0 v85) will be available for download later today. I can't wait! You can follow these announcements and all of the others in real-time, at MacCentral, where live updates of the keynote are available.
It's going to be really nice when I move to the Bay Area. I'll be a stone's throw from all of these big companies and conferences and instead of reading/watching/salivating, I'll actually be participating (and probably still salivating).
I swear, a day hasn't gone by in the last week that at least one of my friends hasn't e-mailed/called/IM'd me about the new Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. For those not in the know, the book comes out tomorrow, err, tonight at midnight. I placed my Amazon order a few months ago under the premise that the book would be in my hands on June 21st.
I'm kind of scared that the book won't be here on time though; Amazon says it was just shipped out today with standard shipping. However, the tracking for the package (which just became available) says that it was shipped on the 15th, but offers little information beyond that (e.g., no estimated delivery date). Fingers are crossed. The book arrived as promised; time to dive in!
I'm caught up in a few other books at the moment and didn't feel like reading through the entire series again to reacclimate myself to the goings-on at Hogwarts. I've found some great summaries for each book and have listed them below. If you haven't read these books you are genuinely missing out.
Anyone who reads this site regularly knows that I hate my apartment complex. Enter reason #23541: new carpeting. Some of you are probably thinking, "Hey, he's getting new carpet, what the hell is he complaining about?" Well, here's the problem. I've been here for what will be three years in August and my carpet has looked like shit since day one. Now, they're telling me that 30 days before I move out, I have to move everything out of my room (to where? I have no clue), basically give up my apartment for a day, and then move everything back in. Then, about a month later, I have to do all of this again, and for what, to enjoy my new carpet for < a month? I'm sorry, but this just doesn't sit too well with me. It doesn't end there as the new carpet is only a small part of the $7 million renovation. That's right, they're fixing just about everything, and again, right before I leave this place for good. I hope to god that the network isn't being fixed as that might really put me over the edge. I've already decided that I might just pee in the corners of my room the day I move out and blame it on the dog that Clarissa will be bringing back here in a couple of weeks. If I was denied decent carpet for three years, then the next tenant should suffer the same — it builds character.
I'm sure that most of you have heard the news by now: Microsoft will not be releasing any further versions of IE/Mac — it's dead. While this doesn't directly affect me as I never really used IE in Windows or Mac OS X, and it was never available for Linux, it is still a big deal. The decision from Microsoft to discontinue IE/Mac was due in part to the fact that Apple is now delivering its own browser, Safari, and also because Microsoft actually intends to get rid of the browser (or at least the idea of the web browser) from Windows as well. The ever-poignant Zeldman writes:
We know that, after spending billions of dollars to defeat all competitors and to absolutely, positively own the desktop browsing space, Microsoft as a corporation is no longer interested in web browsers.
We know that, on the Windows side, it will eventually release something that accesses web content, but that "something" will be part of an operating system - one which won't be available until 2005, and won't be widely used before 2007. We don't know if the part of the upcoming OS that formats web pages will be more or less compliant with W3C recommendations than what we have now. Neither do we know if the OS components that handle web browsing will support CSS3 and other specifications that will emerge during the long years ahead in which Microsoft offers no new browser.
Microsoft has said that there won't be a new IE for Windows until 2005 and that it won't be a standalone product — it will require their new OS, Longhorn. Given that typical Windows users take 2-3 years to migrate en masse to a new OS, we are looking at 2007 before 80-85% of the web browser market will have moved to something new. In the interim, they're left to use a crippled year-2000 browser riddled with security bugs and standards-compliancy problems. The bigger problem is that web developers will have to continue to build sites around this buggy browser rather than building toward W3C standards — at least until 2007 — and perhaps even beyond then depending on how well MS's browser conforms to the standards.
However, the end user isn't helpless, because as I've said from what seems like the beginning of time, you aren't left to use this browser. There are so many browsers that are smaller, faster, and simply more practical than IE (enter Mozilla, Opera, and Netscape). Just because your computer shipped with a little blue "e" icon on the desktop doesn't mean that that's your only choice.
I told myself that I wasn't going to comment on all the hoopla surrounding this latest MS development, but I couldn't resist. I realize that most people don't see the bigger picture and that even if they vaguely did, they wouldn't care. I understand this and it's not my intention, nor has it ever been, to lambast those that choose to turn the other cheek. But, the fact remains that the majority of web users out there are being forced to use crappy software. By forced, I mean to say that they simply know no better. Daily, people complain to me about pop-up ads, spyware, and a host of other nocuous things that tend to sprout up on their machines. To each and everyone one of these people, be them friends, family, or strangers, I tell them all the same thing: stop using IE (to be fair, I usually don't stop there and tend to go off on why Windows sucks and how Linux is better — now it's Mac OS X that I most strongly advocate — but hell, it's all Unix!). It isn't that hard to move to another browser. In fact, it's mindless if you ask me, and would be an automatic decision were I being bombarded with all of that crap. If you don't like all the junk running on your computer, then do something about it. Most of the time this advice falls on deaf ears and the same people complain to me again two months later about the same problems. To these people there isn't too much to say. They obviously enjoy being a gaping security hole. No, it must be that they like the ads for horse-sex that take over their screens. Come to think of it, they probably just like the game you get to play. You know the one: there are a lot of windows that keep popping up and you have to try to close them as quickly as possible because if you don't then even more will pop up. Hey, to each his own.