Miscellaneous and Useless Information


I’ve seen my other friends do this, on the advice of Newtown High School teacher Lash Ashmore, so here goes…

Hi, I’m from Newtown, Connecticut.

Newtown has modern conveniences — supermarkets, Starbucks, an Interstate highway. But it also has small-town charm. People go to the Town Hall to watch movies for $2 and buy sandwiches at the General Store next door. The landmark is a gigantic flagpole where two busy state roads intersect. There’s only one fast food chain restaurant in the entire town. Two schoolteachers honored the town’s history by rebuilding a historic inn, 23 years after it was destroyed by fire. The ice cream shop of choice is called The Ice Cream Shop, and when it closes for the winter, it simply hangs up a sign that says, “Gone Fishing.”

When I last visited Newtown, I not only met up with my friends, I also visited my teachers at my elementary and middle schools. Most of them were still there, and they still remembered me, 12 years after I had moved away. I ended up talking with Mr. Bird’s class, explaining why computers crash and teaching a few Chinese characters. I’m not sure when I will be near Newtown again, but when I am, I will visit.

And to Mr. Bird’s class of 2001: “guinea pig” is 豚鼠.

Well I did it: I’ve bought a 13″ MacBook. Its size and portability won me over. So far, it’s been pretty smooth: I had no problems setting up my mail accounts in Mail, and it connected to my home wireless network effortlessly. On the other hand, I had to search the web to find out what the Mac equivalents of the Home and End keys were.

This is a big deal for me. The last time I switched computer platforms was in 1985, from a Commodore 64 to an IBM PC XT clone. I’ve used Windows since version 3.0 in 1990, and not surprisingly, I’ve built up a huge set of habits that I’m probably not even aware of. (For example, did you know you can double-click the icon in the upper-left-hand corner of a window to close it?)

The next step for me is to get acquainted with a whole new set of programs. For now, I’ve decided to use iWork ’09 for my office suite, which can import and export Microsoft Office files. For those tricky files that iWork can’t handle, I’ll install Windows Vista and Office 2007 in another partition, and then run them inside Parallels Desktop.

For photos, iPhoto would be fine, except I’ve built up years of metadata inside Adobe Photoshop Elements on Windows, which iPhoto can’t read. So I’m getting Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which can import Photoshop Elements metadata and runs on both Windows and Mac. Lightroom isn’t cheap, but luckily I’ve accumulated enough reward points to pay for it.

By the way, I’m still looking for a (cheap) image editor for the Mac, as well as blogging software, so I appreciate any suggestions.

There is one Mac app I look forward to using: Delicious Library (no relation to the social bookmarking site Delicious). It lets you catalog your book and media collection, but instead of typing in all the data by hand, it uses the camera in your Mac as a barcode reader, and then automatically retrieves that data over the net. I’ve known about this app for years, and I look forward to actually being able to use it.

Eventually, I’ll get around to doing what I said I’d do on my new Mac: create iPhone apps.

[Photo of 13" MacBook] I am seriously considering getting a Mac, because I want to do something that Macs can do and PCs can’t: write iPhone apps. I’ve narrowed the possibilities down to two models: the 13″ MacBook or the 15″ MacBook Pro. The 15″ is 22% heavier (4.5 vs 5.5 lbs) but it also has 27% more pixels (1280×800 vs 1440×900). So it really comes down which I value more: portability or screen real estate.

To make a really informed opinion, I need to go to an Apple Store and play around with them myself, but meanwhile, does anyone have any thoughts on this?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2½ months since I’ve blogged. In June, I hurt my left arm that left it in a sling for a week and a half. Then I went on a slew of business trips, I started twittering, and I posted tons of photos (as usual). Looks like blogging got squeezed out.

But recently I got a new toy: an iPhone. One of the apps I’ve installed on it is WordPress, so I no longer have to be sitting in front of a PC to blog. It’s too soon to say if this will encourage me to blog more — let’s see if it does.

Ponte VecchioHere are some stats about the photos I took during my recent trip to Florence for CHI 2008. I took 934 photos and videos, kept 907, and uploaded 504. But if you don’t want to experience my trip in real time, you can see my highlights with 350 items, or my super-duper-highlights with only 72 items, a full 92% off the original size!

A few months ago I said I’d blog about the highlights I had gleaned from my friends’ blogs. Well, here they finally are: