Month: February 2005

Richard Plays Repique

Richard Plays RepiqueThis picture, taken by my wife Anne who had never used my camera before was at a rehearsal just before our drum group drove over to a local gig.

I’m playing a traditional Brazilian samba band drum called a repique which is similar to the even more traditional repinique, a Brazilian tom tom for marching. The smaller and lighter repique has no head on the bottom and has no rim so is easier to play with your hands as well as sticks.

This drum is killer for the traditional heel-toe tumbau rhythm we do and that’s what I’m beating out here.

The gig was a “coffeehouse” sponsored by the Roxbury, CT Congregational Church. This coffeehouse has been set up to give local teens a place to play music and hang out and there were plenty of them there, hanging and playing last night.

Our group, which only has a smattering of teens in it has a mean age well over 40 (I think) and even though there was one other “adult” on the performance list last night, we were the old farts.

I think we blew them away: they had no clue oldsters like us could make interesting music and even my wife, who was there but had no heard us in years said we were tight and fun. Yeah man… rock and roll!

The Decline of NetNewsWire and the Rise of RSS

Reasonable Man has some interesting thoughts on The Decline of NetNewsWire and the Rise of RSS.

Mac users tend to be early adopters of new technologies, like subscribing to RSS feeds. NetNewsWire is one if not the oldest and most widely used Mac newsreader. As web-based aggregation of RSS feeds coupled with non-Mac users (late adopters) up the number of people using RSS, NewNewsWire’s growth has slowed.

This is a fascinating article and well worth reading, not just for insight on this topic but on general industry trends. Of course, his stats on the number of Mac users in the world will change in the coming year with Mac mini saturation and switchers and more iPod pull into the Mac universe. Or so I hope.

New PowerBook Initial Thoughts

PowerBook Power ButtonI recently replaced my three year old 800 mhz TiBook with a new PowerBook. Here’s what I got: 15″, 1.67 mhz, 1 gig of RAM, 128 mb video RAM, 100 mb 5600 rpm HD, backlit keyboard, superdrive, extra battery, Apple wireless (bluetooth) mouse, AppleCare.

The packaging was first rate (as always) and the PowerBook box now comes in an outer thin cardboard shipping box. Nice to keep high quality inner box in good shape. PowerBooks are now assembled in mainland China, not Taiwan which is interesting in many ways.
PowerBook Side View DetailFit and finish of this new unit is excellent and everything has a nice, tight feel. One minor complaint: the cutout that contains the keypad has sharp(ish) edges top and bottom unlike the older Titanium shell which had a nice smooth cut out for the keypad. The cooling vents bottom left and right on the bottom case also feel a bit sharp. This may be a characteristic of aluminum vs. titanium on the shell material.
OS X Transfer ScreenSetup and transfer of files from old machine was the easiest and fastest I’ve ever experienced in my 20 years as a Mac user. Don’t be fooled by the time on the transfer screen, the entire operation took no more than 40 minutes. However, I wonder why these types of over estimates persist in Apple dialogs as they might scare some folks into stopping and calling tech support. I knew from experience that the time was going to change rapidly and it did.
PowerBook with MouseThe wireless mouse was the only new item I had to get working and it took all of 20 seconds to get it set up and working. Now I can’t imagine using any other kind. The machine is noticeably faster than my old one and the fan has not come on yet, even through long iSight, iChat AV use and about an hour of heavy GarageBand hacking. The old machine would melt under the load of GarageBand and this one runs like a champ. The new iPhoto is also snappier (and a nice upgrade IMHO).

I’ve now got both batteries conditioned (worth doing for max life) and the entire thing backed up. Oh, and so far I can’t find a single dead pixel on the screen. Yeah! I had one right in the middle of my old screen and it bugged the heck out of me.

My one complaint, and it is a significant one: the new PowerBook has 4 bars of AirPort reception in exactly the same place as the old one, which had 5. So, in my informal test, AirPort reception has gotten worse and it was not great to begin with on the TiBook. This is a bummer although I may be able to fix it with a slight move of my desk or a slight move of the base station. Still, not good.

Was it worth it to bite on this machine rather than wait for a G5 PowerBook somewhere off on the horizon: absolutely. I’d do it again, exactly the same way if I were repeating it. This is a nice machine and I’ve already scrubbed and found a nice home for the old one.

How Enabling Goes Bad: A Nation of Wimps

Psychology Today has a terrific article by Hara Estroff Marano: A Nation of Wimps that touches on numerous social themes that I’ve been thinking and presenting about for close to 20 years now although I have never collected and written about them as well as she does.

Article summary from Psychology Today:

Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they’re breaking down in record numbers.

This is a must read for the entire LD community: parents, teachers, all LD support professionals, and LD adults.

Source: Bill Davis

Doing what you love for a living

Jason Kottke, one of the web’s most popular bloggers has decided to make publishing his weblog a full time job with “micropatronage” from his readers.

Well, I’m one of his readers and I contributed. Kottke is good at what he does: his weblog is well written, well designed, and consistently interesting, and he is attempting to build a model of doing what he loves for a living. I am totally for it.

So far I’ve contributed to one other weblog: Daring Fireball which is John Gruber’s tight focus on Macintosh, tech industry, and topics a few degrees of separation away. Gruber cut ties with land and posted that he was going to try a “subscription model” a little less than a year ago. I’m not sure how he’s doing but I sure hope even half his tens of thousands of readers (probably hundreds of thousands) are supporting him, even with a small donation. He’s doing what he loves and he’s good at it.

I feel good supporting “micro-journalism” with “micro-patronage” and I recommend that you do the same with any site or weblog or web magazine that you believe in and want to support. In the case of Kottke and Gruber, these are individuals who were early, clear, and credible voices in the weblog universe and they have continued to produce useful information. If only I was that young and had that much energy…

Isamu Noguchi Stamps

Noguchi Stamps

I was just mailing something in the post office in the next town (not the micro-post office in our town) and noticed all the new commemoratives in the glass case on the wall. One of them was a wonderful Isamu Noguchi Uncut Press Sheet which I snapped up two of immediately, one to keep and one to use. Wow, what a spectacular sheet. Here is the USPS press Release on the Isamu Noguchi Stamps.

I could not find a picture of the sheet itself on the USPS site, just the top line of stamps. The sheet has a large picture of the artist and a beautiful quotation and 4 rows of stamps, each one a spectacular black and white photo of a different piece of his work.

Noguchi with sculpture Noguchi, who has been dead since the late 1980′s, is one of my all time favorite artists. He used all media and his work is simple, useful, and beautiful. He made sculpture, furniture, parks, lamps, fountains, monuments, paintings, theater sets, and more. The Noguchi Museum in New York is well worth a visit if you find his work interesting.

If you’re a fan of Constantin Brancusi or Alexander Calder or even Buckminster Fuller, you’re going to enjoy Noguchi’s work and ideas about form and function.

Everything is sculpture.
Any material,
any idea without hinderance
born into space,
I consider sculpture.

– Noguchi


Hairy Geranium Revisited

Hairy Geranium RevisitedThe sun was shining through the living room window and this flower was crying out for a reshoot. So, out came camera with 100mm macro lens. Still to lazy to set up tripod and it would not have allowed me to get where I got to get the light on the flowers. As per Dale’s suggestion, I shot this in AE mode (aperture preferred) which I guess is the mode most photographers use (and if I’m gonna be a photographer some day I’d better start using it). They do this to get better depth of field, or, to better control depth of field and in this case, I wanted to get as much of the flower as I could but blur the bookcase and sub-woofer behind. Not sure I have it right yet but I think I’m closer than in the first try. I was going to crop down to the stamen but I really like the edges of the petals so decided to leave it pretty big.

For those of you considering a digital SLR, I highly recommend doing some serious research on the color sensitivity of the various sensors these cameras use. The Canon 300D (Digital Rebel) I use has the same sensor in it as the old but still popular Canon 10D. I’m not sure if the new Rebel or the 20D, which both have 8 megapixel sensors have the same color balance as this sensor. I am incredibly happy with the colors this sensor makes (when and if I expose pictures correctly, which is always an unknown).

Anne’s Tire Tracks

Anne's Tire Tracks

We had a light dusting of snow the other day and I was taking pictures of the process of opening the box containing my new PowerBook (those pics and commentary/review coming soon to a weblog near you) and after my wife Anne left for school I noticed the wonderful tire tracks her VW Golf made in the snow. She backed up so gracefully (that’s her), turned left, and zoomed off the tracks made a wonderful pattern. Unfortunately, the sun was low enough so that the shadow of trees across the road crossed the shot. Waiting until the sun cleared the trees would have melted the snow (and it did) so this was as good as it got. Still, I love that pattern. Makes me want to fly over parking lots or truck stops after new snow falls.

Computers, interruptions, and going deep (or not)

You There, at the Computer: Pay Attention is an interesting look by Katie Hafner at the New York Times at how, as the number of things we use our computers for in a fully connected world increases, our ability to go deeply into one thing diminishes.

One might call this “micro-attention deficit disorder” (ADD in a contained world) but really it’s not just on the computer, it’s voice mail, cell phones, Blackberries, PDAs and more. Not to mention if you work at home (as I do) there’s the woodstove, the cat, and all the other things that need tending to in the house that get in the way of reading for long periods and going deep.

I’m finding that using an RSS reader is both a blessing (I can skim much more easily) and a curse (I skim where I used to read deeply).

Source: kottke.org

Fields east of San Jose

Fields east of San Jose

We were on initial approach into San Jose and this was too good to miss. Somehow the fields here look more like silicon wafers than they do elsewhere. In color if not shape. This landscape reminded me of aerial shots of Vietnam as well. I almost got in trouble having the camera out but I got it hidden just as the flight attendants were doing last minute seatbelt checks.