Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts

Monday, April 03, 2023

20 Years of Blogging, Part 2 - Together, We're a League of Something!

Editor's note:  This is Part 2 of a series.  You can view the first part with just the click of a button.  

also, this is a cross-post with media review site and PodCast, The Signal Watch.

So, yeah.  

By April of 2003, we were blogging.  For a look at the initial form of League of Melbotis on Blogspot/ Blogger, click on over to The Wayback Machine.  

As mentioned in the first post, soon I was emailing and managing comments from friends and strangers.  But, also, some of those pals already had their own blogs or quickly started one.  It was easy, often free, and gave folks a chance to speak their mind.  People were religious about their choice of platform.  Livejournal people developed quite the mythologizing about themselves that arguably continues to this day. WordPress users constantly complained about what they were using but refused to change.  

JimD started his first blog of many.  RHPT joined in.  Soon I was aware of Maxwell (she of the podcast) starting up Cowboy Funk, which detailed her life as a Texas ex-pat in NYC.  I knew her husband before we met via his own web-presence and mentions on the blog.  

20 Years of Blogging. No, really. (Part 1)

So, twenty years ago Jamie and I were living in the wasteland suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona in a town-turned-bedroom community name of Chandler.  We'd moved out to Phoenix in pursuit of a new job for Jamie.  But, also, we figured we were young and didn't have that many roots down in the years after college and marrying fairly early (2000).  Now seemed a good time for trying new places and things.  

It didn't work out.

You can visit Jamie's occasional remembrances of our time in Phoenix, and that's a goodly part of the story.  But, also, between Jamie's health, the fact I was working crazy hours, and a general lack of opportunity to meet people, we just didn't know many folks in town that we could call "pal".  I either managed or was supervised by the people I worked with, and Jamie mostly worked with men - so she wasn't meeting many women she could pal with-  and everyone she worked with seemed to be at a different point in their lives from hanging our with two 20-somethings.  That, and, man, if you asked me what the culture was in Phoenix in 2003, I'd say "strip malls and pretending you're rich".  We just didn't click with many folks.

So, that's where we were at in some ways.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Verbot never worked

I didn't notice last night, but even in the damn commercial, Verbot doesn't follow instructions. It happens around the 8 second mark.

Also, if memory serves, my dog HATED Verbot. Poor Puff.

I really grew to resent that robot.

Friday, October 30, 2009

So... Marvel's on the iPhone

A couple of days ago I said something about comics on the iTablet (and thanks to TJeff for following up. I was traveling and failed to respond). Well, it seems that the next day, it was learned that Marvel has made its comics available via iPhone.

Read up here.

What's odd is that they have multiple distributors, each offering up something slightly different. I have to assume that Marvel is letting folks duke things out to see who will get this beyond the trial period, but I also am surprised that with the Disney merger happening (I guess), that Disney doesn't have a room full of software engineers who can handle things like building apps.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comics and the Promise of the iTablet

Randy sent this article along.

The basic gist of the article is that some comic geek pondered how their iTunes and other iPhone apps work, thought about the page size of a comic, added a dash of kindle, and said "hey, this could be neat for comics!"

Yes. Indeed, it could be.

I like my iPod, but I'm not a full-blooded Apple Acolyte. In fact, I've become so bored with the "I'm a PC and I'm a Mac" ads, I now dread new ones, as it means the campaign will NOT DIE. And I'm writing this post on a MacBook somebody decided I needed somewhere along the way.

Part of why I've not been quick to run out and get an iPhone (aside from the fact that everyone I know with an iPhone gets terrible coverage and refuses to believe its their network and device, and not bad juju, evil forces at work, lead-lined walls, etc...), s that, really... I'm just not that interested in working on a tiny screen.

But a tablet. Yessir... a tablet.

On a tablet, I could be reading, watching video, and reading comics. Or, if Apple played its cards right... drawing them, too. I'm just saying.

We've seen the willingness of companies like Boom! to adapt to the digital format as Simon tried out Irredeemable last month for us. My guess is that with Marvel under Disney's ownership and DC having a new boss (put in place to expand DC's reach), they'll be following Boom! to the digital format. Marvel has put some of its product online, but there are no real report about how that's going (I assume not very wel, or they'd be talking about it a lot more), as well as releasing original online content.

In any case, what is not happening is the release of current comics via an online distribution format. If I have to guess as to a "why", it would be that the Big 2 are aware that this could severely injure the comic shops that are the only place carrying their product at the moment in the periodical format (collected editions actually do quite well at bookstores, etc...).

As a reader, I'd still like access to DC's backlog of comics, and can see myself paying for collected editions online, or numbered runs on a series of older comics. Perhaps more for recent or current comics. I can also see opportunity for indie comic creators, etc... to tie into the iTunes or iPhone App format to keep readers engaged and returning.

But mostly... big, glowing comic pages sounds like a darn good idea.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Waco without Internet

I am back. I apologize for the lack of a post. The router was down at my La Quinta, and so I did not post, nor was I able to work yesterday from my room.

I had also not packed a book, as I was planning to work and post. So... I got acquainted with a lot of late afternoon and evening basic cable.

Luckily, I met up with work-chums and we all went to Ninfa's in Waco's revitalized downtown area. It was a lovely evening out.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Guest Post: Simon talks Irredeemable on the iPhone

Brief break from the hiatus as Simon has taken up the recent challenge to download an issue of Mark Waid's comic, "Irredeemable", to the iPhone.

Readers may know, I do not have an iPhone. And as such, I can't check out some of the attempts to bring comics to everyone's favorite brick of technology.

I very much like the idea of electronic comics, and so like to see what's going on in different formats. The ideal reading format is the Kindle, Sony Reader or much-rumored Apple tablet. Actually, the Apple tablet seems hard to beat, if they can sort it out.

In the meantime, I'm glad companies like Boom! are looking at the possibilities for eComics instead of what DC is doing and experimenting with motion comics, which isn't reading and isn't really a cartoon, and so satisfies nobody.

Issue #7 of Irredeemable is coming out on Wednesday, and its a series I'm enjoying quite a bit.

Anyway, this is Simon's show, and as he was good enough to step away from the coffee pot long enough to type this up, I will hand over the reigns to him:


I took you up on the iPhone nerd challenge. I've wanted to check out Irredeemable for a bit now and I was planning on downloading them when I saw they were released on comiXology.

My first thought is that $1.99 is too much for a digital comic. I'd prefer my digital downloads to be a the $0.99 price point. That way I don't feel like I've wasted so much money when the eventual trade rolls around. Now the dollar amount is set by the publisher so maybe BOOM! Studios will come around on this point.

Story wise the two issues I read were very good. Although I don't find it as earth shattering as it was made out to be as I feel we've seen this kinds of thing before with Black Adam and Marvelman. Mind you I'm not complaining as the plotting and dialog was done very well but I expect that out of Mark Waid.

One could tell the art was good. Even shrunk down to the iPhone size. The biggest downside I found was the constant switching between portrait and landscape modes. I had to do this as it was hard to read the text in some situations. That took me out of the flow of the book. I think this is something that comic book creators will have to keep in mind in the future. I'd suggest that they try to keep a high percentage of the panels in landscape mode like Atomic Robo or portrait mode like Elephantmen.

Something I wish they would add to the books are the letters page. Mind you not a static letters page but I link to the on-line forum discussing the particular issue you are reading. I should probably go add that feature request.

The convenience factor was great! If your local comic shop is anything like mine they are bringing in less and less store copies. They only way I'd get to pick up and issue of a book I haven't pre-ordered is through a service like this. The ability to shop on-line for books is a real winner.

My verdict on Irredeemable is that I'm going to wait for the trade. The sole reason is price. I don't want to pay $12 for six issues only to turn around and get the dead tree version for $17. This is in contrast to Atomic Robo which I continued getting at the $0.99 price point and Elephantmen where I grabbed both hard covers at the Windy City Con.


Thanks, Simon! Your reimbursement is en route, which... you know, I wasn't sure what currency you guys use in Canada, so I'm sending you some shiny rocks and a Coke bottle I found in a parking lot. You can still put stuff in it if you don't turn the bottle over.

Friday, October 02, 2009

iPhone Nerd Challenge

The League does not have an iPhone, and won't (a) for about two years so he can get the most out of the Blackberry he just bought, and (b) if they have made the move to Verizon by that point.

But we are very interested in the reading experience on the iPhone.

At long-last, comics are moving to the iPhone, and hopefully soon they'll also move to the Sony Reader and other technologies.

Anyhow, I am willing to send a check to reimburse the costs of the first Leaguer who purchases the first two or three issues of Mark Waid's "Irredeemable" and writes a review of the experience for reprint here.

More on the "Irredeemable" comics for iPhone topic

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blame Nicole.

If there's no post this evening, you can blame Matt and Nicole. Mostly Matt. Or Nicole.

As you may know, Matt and Nicole house sat for us this weekend, for which we are enormously grateful. And during that time, they watched some TV.

Over the past three days, and a while this evening, I spent some time trying to figure out what was wrong with my TV. I don't know what those two crazy kids were up to, but they wreaked havoc on the aspect ratio on my TV and seemingly were bouncing it out of its HD-ness.

The biggest problem was that we'd had that problem with the TV when we got it, and I knew I'd stumbled upon the solution a year ago while doing something completely unrelated.

Anyhow, I finally figured it out (the issue was not with the TV or a setting thereupon, but in an option on the cable box remote of all the darned things). And I'm documenting here, so that when it happens again, I can possibly remember what I did and not lose untold hours tearing apart my AV set-up.

(It's a display option in the "settings" on the cable remote, Future Ryan).

So, yes, the Samsung manual was probably better than I thought, and I should not codemn it to a firey, firey fate in manual hell.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Targeted Advertising

Amazon is aware of literally hundreds of purchases I've made from their store. They are aware of hundreds of my ratings on different items which I own, hae read, watched, or listened to.

And yet...

It's like dating someone for years, and then for Christmas they get you a NASCAR jacket.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Google + DCU = The League approves

I am assuming that, in honor of the San Diego Comic-Con, Google's theme today has been a DC Comics-based theme.

from left: Batman, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, Robin, Green Lantern (and yet more Plastic Man)

They've also introduced several comics related themes for iGoogle. I have selected "Superman: New Krypton"

if you are surprised that I giddy, then you don't know me at all

Click here for comic themes!

thanks to: Doug, Randy and NTT for links!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moonlanding - 40th Anniversary

Firstly, its mind-boggling to me that the moon-landing has become a pet conspiracy of people who cannot fathom achievement. Your belief that "we didn't have the technology in the 1960's" does not, in fact, make it so. NASA sent brave men into space, just as they do today. We might as well have said the same about any explorer who ever stepped out of your personal view.

Secondly, far be it from me to wish for another Cold War, but I cannot imagine an America today in which our citizenry has the will or which would be willing to fund the effort it took to get us to the moon. Not when we firmly believe that every tax dollar spent is wasted if its not spent on us, somehow.

That said, I am of a belief that we'd be better off leaving Earth's orbit for altruistic, and/ or scientific purposes, and not for corporate or commercial purposes. Though I suspect the minute that someone figures out how to exploit the rings of Saturn to build a sharper television, that will be what gets us past the moon and out into the rest of the Solar System. Maybe Bradbury's Martian Chronicles (aka: "The Silver Locusts") had too much of an effect upon me as a youth, and maybe I've had The Prime Directive beat into my head entirely too much over the years, but until our imagination reaches beyond exploitation, I'm not sure we're ready as a species to break free from El Sol's pull and join whatever else is out there, moving between stars.

That said, its the spirit of competition which saw Apollo 8 ring around the Moon, and Apollo 11 touchdown on cosmic dust. I'd like to see that exploratory spirit, free of commercial enterprise, guiding us outward, so that when we can look back at our blue marble, we appreciate what we've got here all the more.

Today, The League salutes not just Collins, Aldrin and Armstrong, but the entire flight crew of Apollo 11, and the armies of nameless engineers, scientists, ground crew, and everyone who made Apollo 11 possible. We've had a unique opportunity as a generation born after Apollo 11, to grow up believing, utterly and completely, that with imagination, determination, intellect and will, humanity has no limitations. And I dream of seeing that again in my lifetime.

And, dammit, if its isn't a little sad Cronkite died so very close to the anniversary of the day he guided us through.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I'm at a conference/ Tank Girl/ Twitter

I should mention, I was at a conference here in Austin today, will be so tomorrow until quite late, and then again on Thursday. My usual blogging and comment section maintenance is going to be less than perfect.

Also wanted to say: Tank Girl is a deeply flawed movie. I'm trying to watch it on cable, but it's pretty bad. Comic folk and Hollywood could learn some lessons regarding what not to do with Tank Girl. So much potential, and it sort of sputters around like they had no idea what they really wanted out of the movie while they were making it. Add in a layer of early-90's sheen, and TV-style directing, and it feels not entirely unlike one of its contemporaries in the Pauly Shore wacky-movie genre.

I find it odd that I often hear folks defending the movie. It may be that I felt Lori Petty's reading of the titular character mistook blaring every line in the same cadence for sassiness. Plus, the kangaroo dudes just don't work. I don't care what was in the comic.

Oh God, Malcolm McDowell... did you ever have any shame?

On Twitter

A week ago The League posted one word in a post about things that drive you nuts on the internet. I dropped one word: Twitter

Its unlikely I'll do so again. Friends and Leaguers know that I don't use the application for my personal use, preferring Facebook as my personal poison. Also, blogs, e-mail, etc...

I think we basically hit a point at which the folks who are enthusiastic about Twitter and those of us who are less so were just sort of squawking uselessly at one another. We clearly use, used or would use the technology in different ways, and do not share the same perspective on how we engage in the communication cycle. Different technologies are going to expose these things in different ways.

The bottom line is that we are in a world where instant communication is possible on a massive scale, and in the hands of anyone with an e-mail account, a username and password. As NTT would point out, that's an incredibly important thing in events like the Iranian election or a natural or other disaster.

I confess that it is deeply hypocritical to walk away from Twitter for the reasons I did when I maintain a personal weblog. And I honestly feel that, if Facebook Twitterfeeds are any indication, that we've passed through the goofier stages of people figuring out what to do with Twitter and not just informing you of every time they have a meal, hit the head, what-have-you...

For all the good it can provide, Twitter has a ways to go, and people will need to be very careful in how they use it once it becomes part of expected types of communication. We all need phone lines, and they're also good for passing emergency information, etc... but if the phone rings off the hook from telemarketers, we taken them off the hook. Heck, I confess that even if the phone rang all evening from friends and family, I'd keep it off the hook.

And that's where I am with Twitter right now.

I don't expect this will come remotely close to closing the book on Twitter in the comments section or at this blog or elsewhere. But I'm shelving the topic for a while.

We are, of course, all over Facebook. We're in the middle of working on incorporating Twitter into our professional life, and, in fact watched part of a panel of archivists discussing how the Tweets from Iran would be preserved for future generations (using the near complete loss of record of how Tiananmen Square played out.

I think it also raises some questions regarding expectations of one another not just in ownership of devices that can handle and manage these modes of communication from a financial standpoint, but the fact that we're now so attached to our devices that instant messaging at all times from any direction doesn't seem unreasonable to many. That may be overstating it a bit, but I'm not sure its by much, whether you're spending time managing your communication or not (and it is, in my personal and professional experience, a tough thing to explain that most people prefer their tools do this for them. They do not wish to spend their time monkeying with and tweaking their tools).

So that's that.

I gotta go to bed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Donald Duck, Captain America and Superman gets Syndicated

Captain America

There's been a load of speculation about the 600th issue of Captain America that was released today (two days earlier than the normal comics' delivery day each week). Looks like that speculation can come to an end.

A couple of years back, Cap was shot on the steps of a court house in NYC, and keeled over dead. Since that time, former protege Bucky Barnes, his WWII-era sidekick turned lethal assassin, had put on the cowel, picked up the shield and done his best to fill Cap's boots. What should have been some serious comic-book hackery has, instead, been some of the best storytelling in the Marvel U that I'm aware of (in my humble opinion). Its just been great comics.

Marvel has been happy to try to play up any minor event in their comics in the major news outlets, and did so again today to coincide with the release of today's comic.

I can say no more, but there's a major spoiler after the jump.

Superman Back in the Newspaper Biz

Simon reminded me, so its in the post tonight!, that the upcoming Wednesday Comics from DC is not going to just be appearing in comic shops. DC is taking the format, which I've actually criticized as a throwback, and moving forward to the future for comics. The weekly comic is in an old (very, very old) format of the newspaper broadsheet, with something like a page or two of the story being released each week. Sort of like the old Little Nemo comics or a Flash Gordon comic.

And, yeah, its only a 12-week thing, but I think that's just their test period for both print and online. Oh, and here's some preview art for Wednesday Comics.

BUT... DC is going back to the future. They're also syndicating to USA Today online. What this means is that DC is finally, finally getting online.


I think this is a cool opportunity for DC to dip their toe in the internet waters with their major characters. Sure, I think they should be moving their entire library online, but... babysteps. AND, you guys will, I assume, be able to read at least the Superman comics, and maybe a whole lot more!

Anyhoo, here's the story from USA Today. And here's the DCU Blog article.

Here's some Superman art. Pretty nice!

click for a bigger image. See Supes and Bats in all their glory!

Donald Duck

Apparently last week was Donald Duck's 75th birthday.

Like most kids born after 1935 or so, Donald Duck was an ever present force in my formative years. The pantsless sailor duck was a welcome face on our TV screen and during the occasional 16mm film at school.

Happy 75th, Buddy!

I don't want to take anything away from Donald, but I do remember being maybe a little freaked out by his rage attacks as a kid, and was probably 5 or 6 or so before I found them funny and realized they were intended to be wacky and not vaguely threatening. I think I thought of Donald as an adult, and when adults flipped out when I was very little, I sort of flipped out a little on my own.

needs therapy

It was the Chip'n'Dale/ Donald stuff that I think won me over.

And here's a favorite:

Dude! There's a ton of Disney stuff on YouTube!

Anyway, who doesn't love Donald Duck? I sure do. And just to make matters better, the Duck comics from Disney are something I read from time to time as an adult, so Donald is still with me today, in a slightly less animated form.* Like many, having grown up with Disney characters as such a big part of our entertainment, I may not have a sense of ownership of the characters, but Disney's attempts to make me think of Donald, Mickey and much of the rest of Disney characters as pals has completely worked. When we went to Disneyworld in 2000, I got weirdly excited about having my photo taken with characters, and had a repeat in 2002 or 03 when I attended a conference at Disneyland.

Happy Birthday, Donald! Perhaps this 3/4's of a century, someone at Disney will buy you some pants, pal.

*I think Boom! just landed the Disney contract, so expect more Disney comics soon, if true. At a reasonable price, too!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Facebook & SXSW


So the new Facebook release reconfigured itself as a challenge to Twitter.

Honestly, due to my non-League commitments, I've been cornered into Twittering a bit of late, and I'm no more comfortable with the technology now than I was a month or two ago. Oddly, the Facebook update to compete with Twitter makes a bit more sense to me, what with the stuff that's behind it and the other applications tied to Facebook. Groups, actual social application, etc... (I don't think I need to tell you what's available on Facebook).

I'm still wrapped up in Twitter, and from the Tweets and reports I've been reading from Leaguers at SXSW, Twitter and "social media" are the word of the moment. So when I hear "social media", it may define for me why Facebook works for me and Twitter sort of works, but just barely. I do not consider 150 character bursts and nothing else to be "social". Let alone how Twitter doesn't really manage "conversations". I consider that to be one-to-many broadcast with little in the way of a communication loop.

Without "Direct Tweets", its not entirely unthinkable to think I am likely to miss out on a "Tweet" directed at me, if I do not scroll through enough pages. "Social" connects that loop in a context, and Facebook's new design works well for me in that regard.

My SXSW Not at SXSW Moment

Leaving the AT&T Conference Center yesterday where I'd taken a new co-worker for lunch at the UT Staff/ Faculty Club. Walking out to find not the usual suits and other conference attendees, but a collection of 15 or so sunglassed, skinny-jeans and $200 t-shirt wearing 20-30-somethings with various stages of gelled hair. All waiting for a ride, I'd guess. And all either furiously texting or on their iPhones. Not noticing each other.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NBC's "Kings" and PTOD

Before we get any further, PTOD is "Prime Time on Demand", and its an option that recently appeared on my digital cable dial. At long last, Time Warner is offering the same shows that are on that week on some of the networks on "In Demand".

I am actually very excited by the implications of In Demand prime time programming. We've had the technology for years, and its finally being taken seriously by either my provider or the networks (no idea who caved first on that one). Sure, not everything is available. I'm not even sure ABC is listed, but I am POSITIVE Lost isn't listed. However, the last few Friday Night Lights episodes are listed (Connie Britton on demand is always a good thing), as are episodes of "The Office".

I am not ready to give up my real time broadcast of shows as I firmly believe in the power of "stumble upon" as a way of finding new and interesting stuff. And I don't know that the networks or cable providers have to give up the standard broadcast model, provided bandwidth keeps apace and all the technology works.

But in 2009, if you do not have digital cable, you are a sucker.

A show that's currently listed on my PTOD is NBC's pilot for "Kings". I was intrigued by the idea when I first saw the show's advertising. My assumption was that Kings would show an America that has settled on a monarchy rather than a democratic government. I was curious to see if we'd have the House of Washington duking it out with the Hamiltons, etc...

I was completely mistaken. I have no idea if I missed all the marketing for the show or what the deal was, but, Leaguers, I wasn't even close. As it turns out, "Kings" isn't an alternate-history US. Instead, its a modern telling of the story of the rise (and should ratings sustain) reign and fall of Israel's King David. Sort of.

I'm no Biblical scholar, and I was well into the pilot, busily missing the huge, blinking roadsigns like "the Reverend Samuel" anointing young David the auto mechanic, and the fact the writers named the the capital of the nation of "Gilboa" as "Shiloh". It was when Jason said "Is that... 'David' crouching in front of the 'Goliath' tank?" that all the pretty pieces suddenly slammed into order and I just let out a groan. I are smart. But, in my defense, I was also trying to figure out what the allegory was between the show and alternate reality USA which led to me running the wrong mental subroutine.

The KareBear raised us much more New Testament than old, and so I was only really familiar with the story of David in bits and pieces rather than in one, continuous narrative. Except for, of course, my reading of Kyle Baker's amazing graphic novel "King David", which I recommend to one and all.

However, a quick Google search last night and I am back up to speed. And can see how someone might have said to themselves "you know, this would make for an interesting TV show or movie". And in order to keep modern audiences in line, and to demonstrate the modern application of David's story, its an interesting translation.

If you're the rare Leaguer who isn't into a multi-season religious allegory, you may be interested in how they represent an all-powerful monarch in a 21st Century context, but reflective of current Western influences, etc... The creators put a lot of thought into monarch as statesman/ government/ religious figure and beholden to corporate machinery. While the pilot leans closely toward the classic story, I've no idea if that's how it will continue on a weekly basis.

The greatest danger, of course, is that the show slips into Melrose Place territory. It seems almost inescapable in the TV landscape for soap opera not to become the focus of a show as writers get lazy and producers become more concerned with budget than story. But NBC must have some faith in the show at this point as there's obviously a huge amount of money sunk into the pilot.

We'll have to see. Its an interesting enough premise, the talent is good enough and the production values of a high enough level that my curiosity is piqued. I'm in for a few more episodes, but it all makes me miss the day of the Big Budget Mini-Series that marked the 1980's and the promise of a beginning/ middle/ end.

One last note, I think the writer/ executive producer on the show, Michael Green, was responsible for several issues of recent DC comics, such as Superman/ Batman. I'd say his TV work is a bit better than his comic work.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

NORAD tracks Santa

Hey, Leaguers. Those of you with kids might want to share this item with them.

Every year, for the past few years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has turned it's considerable resources to tracking Santa over American and other air space. You kids might be curious to see Santa make his way around the planet before he reaches your house.

Here's a link to the NORAD Santa Tracking website.

OR, you can track Santa with Google Earth.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

no new pocket oracle for me (yet)

Our contract is pretty much up with Verizon, our current carrier. We've been with Verizon since 2002 and been very happy with our service. I've been very interested in upgrading from a cell phone to something a bit more feature-heavy. You know: something with a decent web browser, e-mail interface, camera, maybe some other features.

Despite what I recognize in the iPhone to be the epitome of such a device, I was so turned off by Apple's launch of the iPhone, and not interested in changing carriers, that I'd simply categorized the iPhone as something I would not have.

So... I was very interested in the new Blackberry Storm. Basically Blackberry and Verizon's answer to the iPhone, it also has a browser, GPS, what have you... I knew it wouldn't be as slick (this was Blackberry, after all), and so Jamie and I hopped in the car to check it out and maybe re-up our plan.

Basically, the thing never worked. The interface was relatively intuitive, and I liked that you literally clicked the screen to make selections. And my worries about fat-fingering the virtual keyboard were completely unfounded. That part of the technology was rock solid.

This was also true for the Samsung Omnia I looked at (Samsung's answer to the Storm, I guess). I actually liked the Omnia's interface better, but the screen seemed to have less real estate, and while I was able to look up a sample site (I looked up this site), I couldn't figure out how to click on a hyperlink from this page. And, honestly, it all just felt very, very cramped. Like... what's the point? It did use Windows, which was kind of cute.

I never could get a webpage to open on the Blackberry. It kept launching a Beyonce video whenever I clicked "Browser". The GPS didn't work on either device. Mail seemed iffy. I couldn't get a clear answer about web-mail versus signing up for some other mail... (I don't think the sales person was very educated on the devices and services) It just seemed like the foundational technology... the hardware... was fine. Everything else seemed like a mess.

Now, I know these devices have lots of people messing with them, and it was late, so who knows how many had pawed the devices before I touched them. But... their stuff didn't work. Not a strong sales pitch.

So... I don't know what we're going to do. Month-to-month with Verizon, but I think were going to go to an Apple store in January and look at the iPhone, check out the costs there (they are high, but so was the cost of the Storm and Omnia). But we may also just be in for phones. I dunno.

The whole thing was disappointing, to say the least. The iPhone has been out for a while, and the competitors just aren't keeping up. I predict another two years (at least) before they're at where iPhone is now, and who knows what Apple will have done by then...


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fireside chats

There's an odd mix of admiration and fear in this report. Speaking to Jason recently, I said I thought Obama should learn from the problems that stemmed from the Bush administration's lack of communication and look to FDR's fireside chats as we face numerous challenges as a nation. I had honestly forgotten about Reagan's radio addresses, even though I have memories of sitting on the floor, playing with Legos and listening to the Gipper circa 1984.

Anyhoo, its kinda funny that you can hear the puzzlement in the report regarding this mysterious tool called the interweb.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Work in A Sci-Fi Landscape

Today I woke up early, so I just showered and headed into work, arriving around 7:30, rather than 8:00. Apparently traffic flow at 7:00 on a Friday is completely different from 7:20 on a Thursday, which took, I might add, a lot longer (I made up the time yesterday. Shut up.).

UT alum will recall that the entryway to the PCL opens into a high and wide area, befitting UT's main library (the UGL no longer folds books and is now, actually, the Flawn Center). I was surprised to see that, apparently while most UT staff is off-site, the library is given over to janitors from THE FUTURE.

It was impressive enough to see two dudes walking around with huge Ghostbuster-style contraptions on their backs, that I realized were vacuums. They looked a bit like this, or this, I guess.

But I also saw a device so magnificent... it defied description... It's called the Chariot Vac.

The Chariot Vac is a sort of riding vacuum, with a superior turning radius. I sort of had this vision of getting on one of those while wearing a helmet and carrying a mace to see if you could even get the grad students to look up from their books.

But, mostly, it was seeing the Chariot Vac in motion beneath the twinkle and hum of the flourescents in the lobby of the PCL and its dream of what a huge university library of the future would look like as designed in the 70's projecting to the year 2000.