Monday, October 31, 2005

Another opportunity to win a Tablet PC comes to us from Gateway and co-sponsors Microsoft, Intel and Forbes. To win, you just need to present a business plan that, in addition to the standard business plan info, explains how a Gateway Convertible Notebook (aka Tablet PC) will give you a competitive edge. First prize is one of these big widescreen convertibles. Grand prize is the same, plus $100,000 to get your business running. Despite my ill luck with the Gateway TPC, I do have a business idea that requires a mobile computer, so I'm sure I could use the widescreen, optical drive equipped convertible. The money will come in handy too. Based on the judging criteria, I think I have a good chance of being noticed. the idea is unique; the money will have an immediate impact; I can forecast an impressive potential Return on Investment; and I know exactly how the abilities of a Tablet PC will impact the system. Hopefully my previous luck with TPC-related contests has not been used up yet. Tricky part will be condensing the full plan to 200 words, but I'm good at summarizing. Gateway $100,000 Tablet PC Edge Contest

Win a Business Grant and TPC

Been meaning to follow up on this for a while. Finally got motivated to do so after reading this article on entitled "Intelligent Design's The Death of Science". Basically, it points out some of the mistaken assumptions of ID and concludes by noting that Intelligent Design Theory doesn't explain anything. How did complex beings come into existence? They were designed that way. Doesn't really tell us anything, does it? Moreover, the same "explanation" can be applied to any complex system. It's a one-size-fits-all does-nothing solution. Hardly scientific.

Not-so Intelligent Design - ID Explains It All

New study shows that simple language and plain fonts are perceived as being more demonstrative of intelligence than fanciful vocabulary and fonts. Certainly this something with which I agree. I encourage my students to use big words when they can, but only if they are used appropriately. Nothing detracts from your verbal footing more than an advanced word used incorrectly. That said, I think it is the clarity of communication that gives the impression of intelligence. After all, without communication, how can you tell if someone is intelligent?

Simple Writing Signals Smartidity

Okay things aren't going so swiftly with getting set up at work so I'm burning time with blog posts (which I can't upload from here) and playing with the trial of One Note 2003. Pretty snazzy so far. I like the handwriting recognition but I'll need a good way to export an image to use it for blogging on a regular basis. For the most part though, I just want to get acquainted with it before the release of the next version which sounds incredible. Also by installing it, I'm eligible for Microsoft's contest and could win a Toyota Prius or a Toshiba M200.

OneNote 2003

Just an odd event that happened, or perhaps did not happen, on Saturday. I stopped at the Shoppers Food Warehouse for some beverages. Among them was a six-pack of Dominion Brewery's Oktoberfest brew. I'm not much of a drinker but Tanya enjoys a good beer, especially the seasonal specials. Anyway, I went to the self-checkout, had my ID ready, but walked out without being checked. I'm sure I look 21 from a distance, but so do some teens.

No ID? No Problem

Shout-out to Warner for being the first guest on the relaunched OnTheRun with Tablet PCs (formerly the Tablet PC Show). Great news because A) Warner is an entertaining guy with worthwhile views and B) I've been jonesing for a new podcast from James and Marc. Interestingly, the interview comes a week after my in-person meeting with Warner, so this is the first podcast I'll hear featuring someone I actually know. Pretty cool.

OnTheRun with Warner Crocker

Okay, so I went back to Costco yesterday to hopefully retrieve my wayward rim. I was told the day before that it was given to someone else. Well, I'm not sure that was the case since, when I went to pick up my rim yesterday, I was again handed one with a new tire. And again I asked about the new tire, but this time the guy explained that they had to replace the tire because it could not be patched. Still no charge so I can't really complain too much but I'm pretty sure this is the same rim I was handed yesterday. I mean, yes, they all look alike and I wasn't paying that much to its identity. However, if I were to speculate, I'd say they just mixed up the paperwork and only thought someone else had my rim and decided it was better not to say anything. No loss as far as I'm concerned. I'm out about half an hour but I got a new tire. Seems like a dot in the win column for me.


Just a quick entry to wish all of you an enjoyable All Hallows Eve. I've got a bit of time before starting work at my new gig. Just waiting for the usual business of setting up a network login and whatnot. No costume for me, even though I could wear one when I teach at Sylvan tonight. My experience though is that they get in the way. Good thing about teaching tonight is that I'll dodge the parade in Leesburg. Not a fan of parades.

Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Managed to get a screw in my front left car tire the day before yesterday. Wasn't too much of an inconvenience though as it just meant carpooling on Friday. Ironically, the inconvenience has come as the result of what was supposed to be convenient: getting it patched at Costco. They provide free road hazard repair so I thought could just drop it off and pick it up later. Step one went through without a hitch. Step two? Not so good. Apparently they gave my rim to someone else, who apparently was not sharp enough to notice the tire on the rim he received was not new. Yeah, my tire still looked pretty good, but it sure wasn't new. By contrast, I immediately noticed the tire on the rim I was being given was new. If I hadn't said anything, I could have walked out with it. Of course, no guarantee that the rim would have fit. So I wound up waiting for fifteen minutes while they looked high and low for the rim until they realized someone else had it, Actually, I think they figured it out sooner but weren't going to bother telling me until I asked. Here's hoping they get it back by tomorrow, so I can drive on Monday.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Yep, been pretty busy lately. Should stabilize next week though. Starting a new job that hits the key points of pay and location. Hopefully the work and co-workers are okay. Regardless, so long as I'm making more money and burning less time, I should be back on the blog track. And hey, if I hate the job and people, then at least I'll have something to blog about. Until then, I'm kicking back, cruising the iTunes Store and relaxing. Well tonight at any rate. Got a lot to do tomorrow: get my flat tire fixed, take Patty to the vet, teach for two hours, maybe get a haircut.

Too Busy to Blog?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The long-delayed meeting between myself and Warner Crocker finally took place last night at the Wayside Theatre (well, actually at the Irish Isle pub next door). My wife and I drove down from Leesburg, sat down for dinner with Warner, checked out his office, and enjoyed (greatly!) the performance of Sleuth at the theatre. We had a great time. Gotta say, Warner is just as friendly in person as you would expect from reading his blog. His photo doesn't really do justice to his gregarious and boisterous nature. Perhaps a change is in order...

Meeting of the Minds

[photo] Me and Warner

Best-Looking Tableteers in Northern Virginia

Friday, October 21, 2005

Okay, I know I haven't been keeping up with my Tablets for Tabletops idea, but there's actually a good reason for that other than laziness. Unfortunately, I cant write about it... yet. However, something related and definitely worth mentioning has come up - The World of Darkness Rulebook is currently available for downloading from for FREE just in time for Halloween. Personally, I've never been a big fan of WoD, but the system was completely updated recently, drawing greatly on the lessons learned from my game of choice: Exalted. Definitely worth downloading, especially for free.

Download the World of Darkness

I do. Downloaded the second season premiere from the iTunes Store and it's pretty sharp at normal size. Normal size, of course, is about 2.5" wide, just like the iPod Video screen. Any larger and it gets choppy. Not sure why. Could be the new version of Quicktime or iTunes. Could be the copyright-protection. Since I've played DVDs on my tablet, ripped to the hard drive, as well as other videos, I'm sure it's not a hardware limitation. Whatever it is, it's a disappointment. I'll research ways to alleviate the issue, but until then, it's an iPod- sized video on my 10.4" screen.

Got Lost?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Okay, even though the latest versions of iTunes are incompatible with my CD burner, I had to upgrade to iTunes 6.0 simply so I could see what an episode of Lost downloaded from the iTunes Store would look like on my tablet. It's downloading now. Taking a while, which is bad because I have to wait, but good because it means it will be of decent quality. The episode I have chosen to test is the second season pilot, full of hidden stuff and very exciting. Looks like I won't be able to watch it tonight but I'll definitely give it a view and review tomorrow.

The Lure of Lost

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Congratulations to Hurricane Wilma for blowing Katrina and Rita out of the water by snaring the honor of being the strongest hurricane ever recorded. No doubt there were stronger storms in the past, but those nameless gales don't count. In a season of disastrous hurricanes you have gone above and beyond to distinguish yourself. Good job. Now stay the hell away from us.

Wilma's Climactic Triumph

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Finally dragged myself back to Best Buy, this time the one in Reston, to check out the Gateway widescreen TPC. Certainly does have the feel of a legal pad, which is a bit weird for me but probably natural to others. Couldn't really give it a good test drive because some asshole had brought a magnet to the store and fucked up the stylus. The pen cuts out at the sides of the screen and has nearly no pressure sensitivity. And since Gateway uses Finepoint, neither my nor the other pens they had at Best Buy could be used as a replacement.
Pardon my language, but I am very upset that someone would intentionally vandalize one of the few Tablet PCs available for the general public to pick up and try. They even had a great display that could show off the tablet in laptop or state mode and you could even pick it up and hold it. But none of that matters if the pen can't click icons or deliver ink. Even when the problem is explained, you can't help but be disappointed when you see that cursor limping along. And if there isn't a clerk handy to explain the problem, there is no way to protect a potential user from that terrible first impression.
I'm just frustrated that I finally see a TPC in a major retailer that is displayed in a manner that allows customers to test its true capabilities and some punk ruins it with a simple magnet. I only hope he kept that magnet in his pocket and wiped all his cards clean. Well, looks like I'm on a mission to give that tablet a proper test drive. Sterling Best Buy, here I come... eventually.

Tablet PC Vandalism!

Monday, October 17, 2005

I keep reading about cities moving toward citywide wifi. Seems logical to assume a city full of techies would be one of the pioneers in this field. Instead it turns out to be a rural region of Oregon with 11,000 residents and 700 square miles of wifi service that is, get this, FREE to the general public. How is it this stretch of land gets free wifi, while urban areas are still struggling to get it done? Politics. Not tech. Not the market. Simply the work of big companies trying to keep us paying for service we could be getting for free. Makes me wish I was farming in Oregon.

Want Wifi? Move to Oregon

Friday, October 14, 2005

In my never-ending quest to finetune my blog, I have eliminated post headers on the web pages and tightened up the spacing around the ink image. The only text left in the post are the links below the ink image. Been pondering ways to switch to integrate links into the image via an image map, but each path seems like more trouble than it's worth. For now, the links stay as they are. Not sure if the left hand menu is worth messing with either. Perhaps I'll change the headers to ink or add a handwritten title to the background.
Oh yes, I thought I'd start experimenting with multi-page posts as well. Don't want to go overboard and weigh down the blog but there were a couple of posts that could have gone further into detail. Also contemplating a scheme for when to use which stationery, but I'll probably stick with whimsy and keep the formality to a minimum. Finally, I added a link to the poundcake posts as a prototype for categorizing.

No Headers and other format changes

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

And Apple's upping the body count in the multimedia arena by making a huge push into video. Not only did they announce the much-anticipated video iPod today, but they backed it up with a new version of iTunes to provide content ($1.99 for ad-free episodes of shows, like Lost), plus a media-friendly iMac with built-in video camera and bundled remote control for videos, DVDs, and music. This is a strong push by Apple to pull iPod users to Mac computers, far more coordinated and focused than their initial step with the Mac Mini. Let's see how well it works.

Video Killed the Radio Star

My dream of being completely wireless took another step forward as Splashpower showed off their wireless charging system to vendors, hopefully to get them integrated into a variety of new products. The technology is already being used in some products, such as electric toothbrushes with charging stands. Splashpower goes a step further by offering integration into any rechargeable device, universal charging platforms (check it out), and add-on charging units. If it takes off, maybe we'll see them in Tablet PCs soon.

Splashpower - Wireless Charging

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ended the hunt at CompUSA where I picked up a 802.11 b wireless router for under $5 after rebate. Yes, I know "g" is the standard and five times faster than "b", but my broadband speed tops out at 768 kb/s, so I barely need the speed of "b" as it is. Besides, I'm betting that by the time home broadband gets up to 11 mb/s, we'll be transitioning over to WiMax anyway. Or at least you'll all be switching while I play catchup.

CDRH - CompUSA Got the Hookup

Wasn't really planning on buying my wireless router at Best Buy. However, I made a point to stop by because I wanted to check out the new widescreen convertible tablet PC from Gateway. 14" screen, 1280 x 768 resolution. Not that I'm planning on buying one, but the form factor is intriguing. Unfortunately, they still hadn't set up the floor model when I got there, even though the sale started yesterday. Got to play with the Toshiba RI5 at least.

CDRH - Disappointment at Best Buy

First steps on the router hunt are Staples and Office Depot, mostly because they are nearby. However, Staples also has a dual layer DVD burner on sale for $40 after rebates. It's internal but I have an enclosure and an IDE/USB adapter. Only issue is that it requires enhanced IDE and I'm not sure if my gear supports that. I still have a week before the sale ends so I'll do a little more research before committing. Still, $40 for a dual layer burner is worth considering.

CDRH - Staples and Office Depot

Okay, so I'm getting broadband at home, but unless I want to be plugged in next to the phone jack, I need a router. Since I have the day off thanks to Christopher Columbus, I thought I'd make a day of if and check out the tech Stores for deals and fun Stuff. After stopping at Starbucks for a frappucino and wifi, I have narrowed the candidates to routers at CompUSA and Best Buy. Plus, BB has the Gateway Widescreen Tablet, which I will definitely check out.

Columbus Day Router Hunt 1

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I know it seems weird that a geek like me has been without broadband at home. I did order broadband through my cable company back when they first offered it, but it was terribly inconsistent. Got by with dial-up for a long while. Currently, I rely solely on wireless service through T-Mobile, plus high-speed at hotspots. However, now that barebones broadband is down to $15 a month, I think it's time to get high-speed at home. 768 kb/s isn't exactly top notch service but it's a lot better than 56. Should have it set up by the end of the week.

Finally Getting Home Broadband

We all saw it coming the second Scoble prematurely referred to Warner as an MVP. Sure enough, it's official: Warner Crocker is a TPC MVP. I would tell you all the reasons he deserves it, but it seems I already did that... the day before the official announcement. Coincidence? Yes, definitely. Still, I know my sentiments are echoed by many others. The award is merely formal recognition of what we already know.

Congrats to New MVP Warner Crocker!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Life on the Wicked Stage - Time for a little tit for tat with my neighbor Warner Crocker. His blog tops my list of TPC blogs in my Firefox live bookmarks, even above CNET 100 rated jkontherun. He's always up on the latest TPC goings-on. I find his takes on political events to be quite accurate and astute. Great job seeing through all the BS that's tossed about. Best of all, he's very community-minded, consistently sending shout-outs to his friends in the worlds of Tablets, blogs and the theatre. Thanks Warner.

Life on the Wicked Stage

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My old nemesis, the poundcake from Whole Foods, has resurfaced in a new container. WF has wisely switched from foil baking pans to a more eco-friendly paper-based baking pan. The foil pan did strike me as wasteful, so the switch is quite welcome. And there seems to be no impact on quality. In fact, this batch seems sweeter and smoother than the last. But that may be because I haven't had it in a while.

Same Poundcake, New Box

Specifically, how to scare them away from your model of Tablet PC.
Step One: Preload your systems with crapware and sit back while buyers publicly bitch about it.
Step Two: make the co-owner of a popular blog wait and wait and wait for warranted repair service.
Toshiba, while they are working harder than anyone to sell TPCs, is dropping the ball when it comes to the post-purchasing experience. Quite unfortunate, especially considering how sexy their product is.

How to Scare Away Customers

Monday, October 03, 2005

Now that I've added stationery backgrounds to my blog, I realize that GIF is no longer the best image format to use. JPGs at 25% compression produce crisp ink and much clearer backgrounds. While they take up more space on my hard drive, they compress well when Blogger shrinks them to what you see on the web page. Seems worth the extra storage use. Won't go back and change every stationery entry to JPG, but the last couple were. Much improved.

Switching to JPG

On the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, Weekend Update co-anchor Amy Pohler officially announced that her co-anchor, Tina Fey, head writer of SNL, had given birth to a baby girl and was currently out on maternity leave. The news was a welcome relief to viewers, who upon seeing spectacled fill-in Horatio Sanz, thought, "Damn, Tina really let herself go over the summer!" News spread quickly through the MlLF-lover community.

Baby Fey

In case it needs to be verbalized, I love the off-topic discussions at Tablet PC On other forums I visit (occasionally), I can't stand OT talks because they degrade quickly to emotional rants or plain stupidity. However, on a forum populated by people smart enough to adopt Tablet PCs, civility seems to prevail. Hopefully I'm not speaking for myself when I say I hope the open discussions on politics and the future continue. The opposing viewpoints are refreshing.

Off-topic Discussions

Not that this is a problem for anyone, but after reading a bit on web security, I thought about the potential that someone could hack into a high-profile blog and post false entries and/or mess with existing entries. It occurred to me that, if I started building an audience, I'd be quite buffered against this possibility since my entries are handwritten and generated & stored locally. I doubt a hacker would bother trying to mimic my handwriting, and I could restore it all from my local copies.

Hack-Resistant Blog

My wife drives a Toyota Prius, which we use for any joint trips, particularly weekends. We just moved into an apartment complex that provides free firewood. Thus, I feel quite confident that we can weather the higher energy prices expected this winter. The President, after finally reading the writing on the wall, has asked that Americans be more energy-conscious. Quite a change from four years ago when he suggested we use our tax refunds to offset rising gas prices. Should have saved that $ for a rainy day.

Ahead of the Energy Bill Curve

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I saw Serenity yesterday and it was phenomenal! Every thing I loved about the series (the western motif, comical bickering, and general coolness) was there. They did have some sound effects during the space battle, but largely kept to the reality of no sound in space. Maintaining its grounding in humanity, there were losses among the Serenity crew. Most importantly, Firefly fans learned answers to several burning questions. A great film even for non-fans.

Serenity Now!