04/04/2010

So the iPad has hit the store shelves.

I’ve read a couple of articles that talked about how awesome it is, and how it’s really going to revolutionize stuff, and yada yada. I agree that it’s a new thing, and it’s all nice and shiny, and people are excited about it. But I also feel like in a year there are going to be ten competitors doing the same thing, and we’ll be able to choose what really fits us best.

Personally, I don’t think the iPad will fit me.

Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing wrote a great piece about why it won’t fit him either. To quote:

Then there’s the device itself: clearly there’s a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there’s also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws, not glue. The original Apple II came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better. If you wanted your kid to grow up to be a confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that you should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, you bought her an Apple II.

The way you improve your iPad isn’t to figure out how it works and make it better. The way you improve the iPad is to buy iApps. Buying an iPad for your kids isn’t a means of jump-starting the realization that the world is yours to take apart and reassemble; it’s a way of telling your offspring that even changing the batteries is something you have to leave to the professionals.

Time will tell whether Apple will succeed in the same amazing way they did with the iPod, or whether this will be just another yawn in computing history.

04/03/2010

Day Five of spring break: the long trek home.

All went well, and we enjoyed the spectacular scenery along I-70 from the other direction. Dinner at Beau Jo’s pizza in Idaho Springs, which is always a hit. Now we’re back home and looking forward to sleeping in our own beds again.

Overall it was a great spring break.

04/02/2010

Day Four of spring break: hiking at Snow Valley, which was decidedly not snowy. It’s a really cool area just outside St. George where petrified sand dunes provide miles upon miles of great hiking and climbing.

We had a few interesting spots where the climbing was a bit more challenging than some of the younger kids had anticipated, but made it through with only minimal scratches. And the weather was perfect.

To finish off the trip, we’ll be having take-and-bake pizza for dinner (yum!) and probably playing some board games or watching a movie this evening. Then it’s the long drive home tomorrow.

04/01/2010

April 1 is always a fun day on the internets. Google– err, I mean Topeka– has pulled a great one today by rebranding itself and even offering a detailed press announcement by Eric Schmidt himself.

Also, I can’t resist:

04/01/2010

Day Three of spring break: lounging around at Tara’s house enjoying the desert sun.

Still a bit windy and only in the 60’s, but overall a nice day to be outside… “chillaxing” as Kyra would say.

04/01/2010

Day Two of spring break: continued travels through Utah, with stops at all sorts of interesting points.

We left Moab at 9am after a bit of sleeping in and headed west on I-70. Because we didn’t have any real firm plans for the day, we stopped at a bunch of areas that looked cool. Black Dragon Canyon, Ghost Rock, Eagle Canyon, Castle Valley… not on our maps but worth the stops.

After lunch we arrived at Bryce Canyon. Yesterday’s wind was still blowing– although not quite as strong– but today the temperature had dropped to the low 40’s and there was a light snow coming down. A little scary when walking along trails that go along the edge of the sheer drops into the canyon.

The rusty red rock, white snow, and green trees made a wonderful contrast, and despite the cold it was still fun.

After Bryce we decided to spend some time in Zion as well, so we trucked down the highway (wonderfully winding canyon roads) and drove through the park, again stopping at places that seemed interesting. The wind had finally died, and the temperature had climbed into the 50’s so it was a really nice day for it.

It was getting late so we headed out for dinner and then down to St. George, where we’re staying with our niece and nephew for a couple of days.

Another fun day with a chance to see all sorts of great desert scenery.

03/30/2010

Day One of spring break: western Colorado (awesome drive along I-70), Arches National Park, and an evening in Moab.

The drive was uneventful but good. Lots of snow in the mountains, but traffic was moving smoothly and we enjoyed cruising past ski resorts and through the gorgeous Glenwood Canyon area. We hit Arches in the early afternoon and spent many hours hking around the park. Despite a beautiful sunny 70-degree temperature, the wind was howling constantly at probably 20mph with gusts upward of 30 or 40. Sand was blowing off the exposed sandstone, getting grit everywhere.

The photos don’t show it, though: they look nice and calm.

It’s always humbling to come to Arches (this is my fourth visit) and see the vast sheer walls of smooth sandstone rising 300 feet from the ground, or the amazing rock formations. Although I always enjoy the granite of mountains, the sandstone of the desert has an undeniable appeal as well.

Moab was a lot of fun. The wind died and it was a really pleasant evening. We walked a few blocks around town and had Italian for dinner. This week happens to be some kind of Jeep celebration– the town was literally overflowing with people driving every kind of Jeep imaginable. At the stoplights, if there were five vehicles lined up, four of them were Jeeps. It was almost comical how many there were. It was like being in South Dakota during Sturgis weekend for the Harley crowd, except for Jeeps.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to take a turn for the cold, with potential rain and snow. I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t, and we’ll be able to enjoy Bryce Canyon as we continue heading toward southwest Utah.

03/29/2010

Woo hoo, I bought a new car tonight!

Well, technically it’s used. A 2008 Civic EX-L coupe… the top of the Civic line. It’s got all of the options. And I mean all of them. I’d been checking Craigslist and found a few Civics here and there that were close to what I wanted, and there was one at a local dealership which didn’t have a lot of details in the ad but was at least the right model. So I dropped in after work, drove it a bit, and loved it. Not only did it have the leather seats (absolute requirement), sunroof (very important), and upgraded stereo (also vital) , it even had a manual transmission. And that’s actually really rare in Civics– in general manuals don’t sell well so they aren’t very popular. When I test-drove a 2010 model on Saturday, the guy at the (different) dealership said they have to special-order the manuals.

I figured it was a sign.

I took it home so Laralee could drive around the block a few times, and the kids all hopped in back to join the fun. She liked it, but in the end said it was really up to me. I really hadn’t planned on buying anything– I was just window-shopping– and we’re leaving for spring break tomorrow so there really wasn’t time to work out a deal. Still, a sign’s a sign so I went back to the dealership and played The Game with them, insisting on a price that was enormously lowballed. After a bit of haggling they said they really couldn’t meet my offer, and I thanked them for their time and was ready to walk out. The manager asked me to wait a moment while he made a call. The way he acted, he might have been calling Soichiro Honda himself and getting him out of bed at 3am Japanese time or something.

After a quiet conversation the mysterious guy on the other end agreed to the price, and it was a done deal. I filled out reams of paperwork, wrote the check, and drove away. The only bummer is we’re leaving for spring break so I won’t get to drive my new baby until next week.

It’s been thirteen years since I changed cars, so this is a big day. I plan to drive this puppy for another thirteen too. Luckily it’s a sweet, sweet ride.

03/28/2010

It’s been many years since I last wrote any science fiction, but it’s something I intend to take up on a pretty serious basis when I’m retired. Which will be in two years. Or maybe three. Or maybe ten, I’m not so sure any more.

Anyway, when I mention from time to time that I enjoy writing and plan to do it someday, people inevitably ask if I hope to be published, and show up on bookshelves at the neighborhood Barnes & Noble or whatever. And I always answer no, that’s not really my goal.

Seth Godin summed it up neatly in a blog post today:

If you love writing or making music or blogging or any sort of performing art, then do it. Do it with everything you’ve got. Just don’t plan on using it as a shortcut to making a living. The only people who should plan on making money from writing a book are people who made money on their last book.

(And here’s a shout-out to Thom, who is always thinking about putting together some music but seems to find reasons– just as I do– to put it off a little longer. Just do it.)

03/27/2010

We’ve got eleven bookshelves in our house, scattered amongst all three floors. And yet we continue getting more books and now find ourselves with no room for them. So they’re stacking two and three levels deep.

In about a month the library is having their annual book sale, which means La and I will both pick up about twenty or thirty more books apiece. Awesome.