Monday, August 31, 2009
Twinkie encapsulates my feelings for my programming classes - I made boxes that aren't for anything and boxes that don't do anything. The rest of the day was spent without much to do either, which isn't terrible, but I wouldn't mind if tomorrow would be at least a little more interesting? Well, it should be, since I do get my copy of Snow Leopard tomorrow. Snow Leopard is the Mac operating system upgrade that I've been waiting for a few months to be released.
at 11:02 PM
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
In July 2007, Marie and I were wandering around in Golden Gate Park and happened upon the totem pole way back in the Arboretum. I thought it would be fun to try and climb it, while Marie stayed back and took pictures. Well, climbing lasted all of about 10 seconds and then I fell off - resulting in probably one of my favorite pictures ever, even if it's not in focus.
at 11:24 PM
Friday, August 28, 2009
With the pirate flag down, I have room to hang up my only actual poster in the room, "Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gogh, along with the Josef Albers-inspired paintings Bunny and I did (finally hanging on the wall). On the shelf below you can see my collection of ancient coins (they need to be re-organized eventually again). The room feels bigger still now that there's no giant panel of black hanging on the wall (I am going to miss the flag a little though). My mom and I hung out a lot today too - we had a nice dinner of pierogi and pizza together.
at 11:08 PM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
So with nothing much to do today, I began coming up with an idea for a script that I started writing. I've never written much in the way of fiction (and let's be serious, this is going to be science-fiction) but I'm kind of excited to see how it develops over time. I'm not looking for it to be excessively long or anything, and I'm not sure if I'll ever film it or anything, but it's another fun little project that I'm going to work on for a while. Meanwhile I was also trying to figure out a better way to use my iPhone in my car, but my idea of using the pull-out ashtray was slightly dampened by the fact that there's really not much clearance for the phone. I'm posting a photo of my bedroom since there's been a bunch of changes in the last month. Notably my new DVD shelf - but tomorrow I'm making a huge change to the opposite wall - say goodbye to my pirate ways, I'm getting star-struck just thinking about it.
at 10:50 PM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I got to watch this video in my Visual Basic class and then got out of watching it again in my C++ class since it was the same one...and my teacher isn't terrible. There wasn't a wealth of information I didn't already know; the difference engine of the 1840's is something I've read about and actually found a model kit for a few months ago. My books are finally around - even though we were informed that we don't really need them that much. I finally got to tutor again tonight - In spite of how stressful it was over summer sometimes, I actually really enjoyed tonight, I'm looking forward to having more hours again. Tomorrow I have nothing to do. (That's not an awful thing)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
So I've officially signed on as an ultra part-timer at Tire World, which makes it my second job after tutoring. I'm plenty appreciative for all of the opportunity I have to keep busy - I'm really not sure what I'd do with too much free time. Well, actually I'd probably end up writing even more. Yesterday I started writing a bit of a philosophy theory I've been concocting over the summer which I refer to as "Puzzle Theory" - it has to do with how everything we know combines with what everyone else knows through interaction, creating a sort of collective knowledge, albeit localized to groups of individuals (since you can't necessarily know what someone you've never met knows...) I'm hanging in down here, but I have a feeling the next week and a half are going to feel really long - I just got back from SF but I really can't wait to get back up there again. I found some wild pictures from 4 summers ago when we were just moving into the SF apartment - look at what my room used to be like.
at 10:24 PM
Monday, August 24, 2009
My car is basically brand-new again. With the entire front-end replaced and even touch up paint on some other scratches, it looks better than it ever did before. And finally, I can show you what it looked like just over 3 weeks ago: After getting my car, I went to my first classes in computer science. They seem interesting enough (Visual Basic and C++), I think I'll have a good time in the courses.
at 11:35 PM
Sunday, August 23, 2009
USF's now mosaic-backed Phoenix on the University Center. This morning was actually really interesting. After meeting up with Bunny's father and saying our goodbyes (for the next two weeks at least), I caught up with Teenie and my parents at the USF brunch thing on campus. Apparently, moments before I arrived, my parents had been speaking to the Vice President of ITS (where I used to work), and shortly after I arrived, we were speaking with Father Privett, the President of the University! Important people to know, obviously, I was very happy to have met Fr. Privett after my 4 years of study at USF. After we left USF, we packed up the cars with a ton of boxes (and my recliner!) to take back home. My mom and I drove together, and had a really nice ride down talking about all sorts of things. It was nice to spend the time together, since everyday life keeps all of us so busy. Tomorrow 2 important things happen; 1) I get my car back! 2) I start classes (meh).
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I don't want to step on Teenie's toes so I won't post the pictures I snapped of her making her bed in her new dorm room. Instead, this is what you get served in the fancy food court of San Francisco's downtown Westfield Mall. Gourmet fish and chips and a dungeness crab sandwich comprised Bunny and my lunches as we went shopping for a bit this afternoon. Tonight we're didn't go out to dinner, but instead opted to stay in with microwave popcorn, leftovers from lunch, and microwave pizza (and of course, a big piece of chocolate cake!) and watch "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" which was a terrifically silly funny movie about relationships and self-worth. I'm really not looking forward to the fact that I have to leave tomorrow; Bunny and I have been having a wonderful time together and I'll really miss her for the next two weeks until Labor Day weekend. But every moment really has been wonderful here and I'm so glad I got to come up.
at 11:54 PM
Friday, August 21, 2009
Coit Tower holds one of, if not the, highest points in the city (I think at the top of it you probably would be the highest point you can be), and I've seen it from afar for years, but I've never actually driven up to its parking lot until today. With Bunny, Joe, and Lauren riding along, we headed up to the highest peak to meet up with my parents and Teenie before dinner. They were looking for the world famous "Parrots of Telegraph Hill", but the parrots weren't around this evening. We'll just have to come back to the city to find them sometime. We all went to Kitaro for dinner (delicious as usual) and this afternoon Bunny and I watched a Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank," which involved personalities being put into a baboon, and the movie Casablanca all over a weird, campy, 90's sci-fi movie...but the commentary was pretty great.
at 11:50 PM
Thursday, August 20, 2009
We headed out to bring Teenie up to San Francisco so she could start college! It was a pretty stressful morning since she wasn't all packed up until the very last minute (she actually forgot some things, but thankfully my parents left about 40 minutes after we did so that they could bring them). I drove the Jeep up, and Teenie and I had a really pleasant ride up to the Bay. When we got to the hotel before my parents, we got to have some mini pizzas for dinner (the hotel serves food Mon-Thurs for its guests) and then went to go meet up with Bunny and Teenie's friend Lauren. Bunny and I watched "Quiz Show" about the 1950's TV game show "Twenty-One", and its fraudulent dealings. I thought the movie was fascinating and really captured the fact that when we watch just about anything on TV, we have to take with it the grain of salts that come with any form of entertainment. Face value is not applicable to TV. Also, how do you like my haircut? (it's filled in to a normal length now)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It's Wednesday, which means that tomorrow we're going to San Francisco! Among other news; I failed to mention that I finished converting all 178 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation into an iTunes-friendly format, also, that my car will be all repaired by the end of this week and I can pick it up on Monday (tune in then for the before/after pictures). Yesterday my mom & I went to see "Julie and Julia" (or is it "Julia and Julie"?) - the movie about the simultaneous biography of Julia Child and Julie, a girl who in 2002 decided to blog about her experiences cooking Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking" in its entirety. I liked the movie well enough, particularly enjoying that it shows what can motivate something as odd as a blog, which is, after all, basically a glorified public diary. Where her purpose was cooking, I drew many parallels to my own blog, which has seen its own ups and downs over the last year (speaking of which, the 1 year anniversary of this blog is coming up on September 3rd!). A particular quality mirrored in Julie was that at one time or another, we both gave into the surreal pressure that we had to finish a post - she had to finish a recipe, and I had to take a photo some nights. Her story is obviously dramatized, and I always found something to photograph (or a photograph to post at least), so ultimately we are different (though I wish I was the 3rd most popular blog on the internet). The picture you see tonight is of the iPhone docking station I built last week out of LEGO. It's holding up surprisingly well, but I have to affix the cable a little better I think (it wobbles).
at 11:57 AM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
No, I haven't snapped and started babbling (much). JoliCloud is the name of a Linux distribution currently in alpha (read: pre-release) that I was invited to test :) It's got a really cool interface - a lot like the iPhone, and it's primary design is for Netbooks (small laptops like mine). It's a little buggy being such an early release, but overall it's good enough that I did install it alongside windows (I just wish I didn't have to deal with a bootloader [and that's not an important term to anyone not tech-savvy]. I've finally achieved computing nirvana - I'm using computers with Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, and Linux, completing the trifecta! While I wish I could show you a lot more of JoliCloud, I'll leave you with a picture of it's desktop tonight, and a full review of it once I've managed to use it on a daily basis.
at 10:43 PM
Monday, August 17, 2009
Teenie got home from her trip to Seattle today, it's nice to have her home. Now we have the arduous task of preparing for her college move-in day coming up. I'm working at Tire World some more this week, and then we're off to San Francisco! Teenie got me a really nice present from the Science Fiction Museum; a Star Trek book that serves as a sequel to the 4th Next Generation movie :) I look forward to reading it, but that also means I'll have to see the movies in the near future as well (but that's fine because they come out on Blu-Ray soon!)
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Went to church with dad this morning. There was this little kid wandering around the people making noise (not quite sure what was wrong with him, some kind of attention disorder I believe). He was holding a toy T-Rex as he was weaving around the people standing in the back of the church. Every once and a while his family would try wrapping their arms around him to get him to stand still, but he would inevitably break free of their grasp (he was a rather large child, despite being roughly 8 years old). As he continued to wander, he was making animalistic noises which were amusing by themselves, but as he passed in front of me and uttered "uhhhhhhhhhh DINOSAUR" I couldn't help but start chuckling uncontrollably. Yes I felt bad I was laughing at the kid in church, but I'd never heard anyone do anything like that in real life. Tonight I went with Emmanuel to see an improvisational comedy troupe perform at The Met theater in Los Angeles. One of the members is a former TV personality from the late, great, Tech TV network, and currently is a show host with Revision 3, a company started by Kevin Rose, who I admire in the technology/internet community. We had a good time, but it would have been nice to have some meet-and-greet opportunity after the show (there weren't even 20 people in the audience). Maybe next time?
at 11:51 PM
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The Bugatti Veyron is the 2 million dollar supercar capable of over 240MPH and stunning looks. I couldn't really pick one picture since there's no great way to capture the whole car (and the museum had it in a tight corner). Working at Tire World today, I also saw an Audi R8 in town, which was pretty impressive on its own (though less impressive than the orange Tesla Roadster from a few weeks ago). Tonight was spent fiddling with my two laptops as I wrangle Windows 7 onto my old Vaio and attempt to obtain a new Linux operating system for my MSI Netbook.
at 11:04 PM
Friday, August 14, 2009
1939 Packard from the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Another day and more tires - but the countdown to San Francisco is picking up. I watched a really interesting show called "Big Ideas for a Little Planet" - another Sundance Channel show about sustainability and design, this episode focusing on the music industry's impact on the planet. Notable was Jack Johnson's label, Brushfire Records, for maintaining a nearly zero-impact recording studio by using solar paneling. They explain that the energy used from the solar panels is not subject to the power spikes encountered when "on the grid" and therefore the music is better sounding than when traditional power sources are used.
at 7:54 PM
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I didn't get much done today, mostly just worked on getting my episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation encoded to play in iTunes. Eventually the whole series will be separated and tagged into individual episodes; perfect for playing back on an ipod or any other portable device. Tonight was also the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, so my dad and I headed up the Grapevine to find a secluded spot (which turned out to be not so secluded) and watch the show (and play with my laser). I tried photographing a bit, but even with an 8-second exposure, without a tripod I couldn't have hoped to catch any star trails. Since I didn't post it a few weeks ago - before I chopped off all of my hair I was curious to see just how long it had gotten, enjoy.
at 7:48 PM
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Spent the day at Tire World again - running to pick up tires and helping out at the shop. I'm really excited to go to San Francisco in a week - and my car should be ready about then too (not that I'll be driving it to SF, just good to know it'll be ready soon). Today's image: A 2005 Mercedes SLR-McLaren
at 10:44 PM
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Advertisement: if you live in the Santa Clarita area, take your tire/brake/auto service needs to Tire World and Auto Service at 25340 Chiquella Ln, Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381-2209. I'm helping Teenie out by covering for her there this week and spent the day helping out Dave. Dave, the former owner of Big O Tires moved to this new location in May of 2009 - since then he's been providing top rated service without the perils of corporate domination. Dave picked out the Borbet wheels for my car a few months ago, and recommended the fantastic Hancook tires for it. He's the most honest garage owner and is up-front about every job he takes - if something's wrong with the car, he'll figure out what it is, or tell you who can. My family takes all of our vehicles to Tire World, they really are the best.
at 8:20 PM
Monday, August 10, 2009
In this last installment of "Ancient Hardware Reviews," I'd like to cover possibly my oldest gadget - my 1989 Nintendo Gameboy. While I can't exactly remember if I was 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 when I received it for Christmas one year, I do remember that it was at my grandparents' house in Long Island, NY and that Marie and I both received one, which came with Tetris (yes!) and we also received the Super Mario Bros. game to share. The Gameboy is one of my favorite inventions of all time - when I was stuck with nothing to do (like sitting in a car for days) or on airplanes (and assuming I wasn't reading a book or something smarter than playing video games), the Gameboy was a breath of fresh air. As I get older, I still appreciate simple puzzles like Tetris on my Nintendo Wii, and have gotten pretty good at it as I've gotten older. While the shortcomings of the Gameboy are obvious - The greenscale screen, no backlighting, and pretty terrible battery life (the contrast would fade inversely as the batteries died, but the dedicated "contrast" controller let you prolong gaming for a few more precious minutes). But nevertheless, it's withstood the test of time, and for every version that Nintendo has released, this one still remains a staple of video-game history.
at 3:07 PM
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Just after my 14th birthday, Nintendo released its successor to the world-famous Gameboy with the Gameboy Advance. In 2001, this was the latest and greatest in hand-held gaming technology, with a full color screen and top-notch sound effects. The games that I ended up playing on it the most were Pokemon and a Zelda game made for the original Gameboy, but it was always fun to have a Gameboy when we went on family trips. Unfortunately, the biggest problem of the Gameboy advance was that there is no backlight (or frontlight) meaning that the screen doesn't light up like cell phone screens do. This lack of light made it nearly impossible to see the screen, even in decent indoor lighting conditions (the flash from the camera makes the screen look really nice, but just sitting at the desk I have to tilt it to find an angle where I can see without glare). I played my Gameboy for years before I got tired of it, so obviously I didn't mind too much when I was little. Today Teenie and I rode around for a few hours to find a nice case/shoulder bag for her new MacBook - She ended up with a really nice bag made by Ogio with a TON of pockets for every conceivable thing she might want to carry in it. I also forgot to mention that yesterday I stayed with her at Dave's tire shop so that I can cover for her on Tuesday - It was a really busy day and we had to go to one tire supplier a half-dozen times in rapid succession. I'll be fine taking over for her on Tuesday. Eman and I also installed my old iPod stereo adapter in his car in the evening. We used one of the little storage boxes in his center console to make the installation look like it was from the factory. I'm jealous of how nicely his setup turned out, but I'm glad that he can enjoy his music in the car like I can, and it gave me some ideas for my own car once I get it back from the body shop.
at 11:46 PM
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Tonight's review brings us to my first bluetooth-enabled cell phone; the Sony Ericsson T68m. Released back in 2002, this gem of a phone had two of the most modern features of the time: a color screen (capable of 4096 different colors!) and a bluetooth wireless communications chip. Truth be told, when I first became aware of the phone, I didn't have any idea what bluetooth was, I just knew I wanted it (and color phones were pretty!). The design aesthetic is wonderful, and the two tone silver/blue-gray still remains classic in my mind. When I think of cell phones, this is what springs to my mind. My first cell phone was a T61z, a lower-end phone with similar design cues from the T68m. I actually didn't get to own this phone until 2005 when it replaced a much larger Nokia smart-phone I had been using (I wish I still had that to review). Nonetheless, as a 7 year old piece of second hand hardware, (having bought it used on Ebay) the phone still works flawlessly and is still beautiful in my eyes. To be quite honest, there's not much to review - call quality was always fantastic and the volume was loud enough for anyone who ever used it (a rare commodity that seems to be overlooked by EVERY cellphone maker today, including Apple). Battery life is still phenomenal - I haven't turned this phone on for almost 8 months and it still has more than 50% charge left on it - when standby for a device is in the hundreds of days like this one, you know someone did something right. Beyond that the phone is fairly limited - text messaging and some little games are all that it does. But anytime I've ever needed a backup phone, this has been my go-to. After owning 16 different phones since 2002 (I will not name them for the sake of saving space), I count the T68m as one of my top 3 (my other two would be my iPhone and my K850i, the phone that started this blog, and also the two most recent phones I've owned).
at 11:41 PM
Friday, August 7, 2009
Back before flash mp3 players, iPods, and portable video players, a market emerged for portable CD players that could play the emerging mp3 audio formats. Sony's response was the magnificent MPD-AP20U which solved 3 interesting problems all at once. The first solution it offered was as a portable CD-RW drive for any computer. It's rechargeable battery meant that it could be used on a whim if necessary, and it's cradle allowed it to serve as a semi-permanent fixture. If all this device could do was burn CDs, it would be pretty wonderful, because at the time (circa 2003) CD burning wasn't exactly the most common thing for everyone. Next up was it's ability to playback those CDs immediately thanks to its handy remote control (seen on the right). Being able to make a music disc and then take it away was fantastic - a wonderfully thought out product. Add on top of this the drives ability to playback DVDs when connected to the computer, and you have a stunning all-in-one device (I'm noticing that I really tend to go after these do-it-all solutions...) Oh yeah, and there was a memory stick reader thrown onto the back of it (I never used it once). So this guy could do it all - and looked great doing it too with the aluminum shell. But the MPD-AP20U wasn't without its faults; the primary one being that I lost that remote so many times it was ridiculous - and with no easy way to obtain a replacement, the portable CD-player was rendered inoperable in those moments. That small shortcoming was always forgiven by me due to it's single greatest and un-written feature: mp3 DVD playback. When I got my first DVD-burner in mid 2003 - I discovered that this portable CD player could playback music files burned on DVDs. What did that mean? That while most people were thrilled with their hyper-expensive iPods and proprietary iTunes music (which was only compatible with PCs via MusicMatch software [ugh]) - I could burn a 4.7 GB DVD of music (or 2) and play them back with no problems on my (albeit larger) device. Did I take issue? Of course not - I loved having the discs back then, and besides, iPods didn't play DVDs on my computer either. Like all good things - my MPD-AP20U was retired once I bought my first hard-disk based mp3 player: An MPIO HD300 20GB model - but I thoroughly respect this device for all that it accomplished for me.
at 11:37 PM
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Tonight's review is of my first "real" digital camera - my Sony CyberShot DSC-M1 (prior to this camera I had two other no-name terrible digital cameras that are barely worth mentioning...they didn't even have a flash). I got this camera in 2005 shortly after my high school graduation, selecting it for several reasons: First, I loved the form factor - the upright positioning of the lens made holding the camera extremely comfortable, and also made it ideal for shooting video (which it still performs excellently). Second, it was promoted as both a camera and a camcorder, with dedicated buttons labeled "Photo" and "Video" on the reverse, it was fully featured as a dual purpose machine. Unlike the Mylo, the DSC-M1 performed each of its functions very well. As a camera, I took the photos seen on this blog while in Nicaragua and Costa Rica in 2006. While the 3x zoom was fairly limited, I found the camera to excel at macro photography. The movie mode was great too, because in 2005 640x480 video was pretty difficult even for a camcorder to handle. This camera brought me into the world of photography, and while I couldn't bring myself to choose a Sony camera for my current needs, when I do ultimately choose a DSLR, Sony's Alpha line is definitely on my watch list. The optics of the DSC-M1 are made by Carl Zeiss, and I never had a problem getting a focused image. While the options of the camera were limited compared to any pro-sumer level camera, I never missed a shot with its fast start-up time, and quickly charged flash. Unfortunately, the real death of this camera came when the flash bulb blew out and the cost of repairs were high enough to warrant a new camera choice. Nonetheless, for 4 summers in a row this camera was by my side everywhere I went, and has produced countless memories for me. On a side note; today I got a haircut, a picture can be seen here; also, the Dodgers won against the Braves at the bottom of the 9th 5-4.
at 11:57 PM
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Today begins part one of a trend I'll continue until I'm bored and don't feel like it anymore. I'm going to review some of my favorite old electronic toys from years past (expect most of them to be Sony products). Tonight's gizmo: the Sony Mylo com-1 The Mylo has a huge feature list that drew me to it pretty much instantly; a 2.7" full color LCD, 1GB built in memory, 802.11b wireless internet, a full QWERTY keyboard, multimedia player, internet browser, and instant messenger. On paper this seems like a perfect device - it does so much! The reality is that it falls short in just about every area. First off, the keyboard is almost impossible to use for a decent length of time - the keys are super stiff and hurt my thumbs after typing for a few minutes. The next problem is the wireless connection - 802.11b is one of the most interference prone wireless bands ever - even our home telephones mess with it. Due to this, having a sustainable internet connection was unlikely at best. The media player? Well, it was actually pretty good, but the hardware has this ridiculous little rocker switch on the bottom that was notorious for pushing me to the next track when it was in my pocket - the hold button was annoying since I then couldn't change the volume either. Browsing the internet and messaging was pretty sub-par as well - the browser was really limited in nature and the messenger didn't support AIM - the only one I ever used until iChat. When everyone you know is on one messenger type, getting anyone to switch is pointless. I've heard that the Mylo 2 was better - it had a touchscreen, camera, bluetooth, and 802.11g (a better wireless connection) and AIM, but I think the flaw this the Mylo devices is that they could have been great - if they were cell phones. In the case of an all-in-one device, the main competitor of the Mylo was the iPhone, T-Mobile Sidekick, and on the non-cell phone front, the far more featured Nokia N800 internet tablet. The Mylo isn't a perfect device on any level - but it was a fun toy for a while, and it still looks really interesting overall. It's completely overridden by my iPhone now though.
at 11:42 PM
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
So today was basically my last day of work until the 18th of August or so. This is due to the slowdown at the end of summer as summer-school classes end and we wait for the high schools and elementary schools to start up again. In the meantime now I'm just going to relax at home and maybe study up on some subjects I'll be tutoring during the fall semester. I saw an interesting article a while back about "monkey braids" to organize wires on a desk - and applied it to an iPod cable, my camera's USB cable and the cable for my Wii's Sensor Bar. Check it out in the pic.
at 8:28 PM
Monday, August 3, 2009
Teenie got her MacBook Pro 15" today at the Apple store in Northridge. With the promotion Apple has, my mom got an 8GB iPod Touch too :) Now she'll get to play with all of the app-store goodness that other Apple product users get. Mostly she wants it for Skype to call Marie and Nick.
at 10:25 PM
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Obviously I'm still upset over what happened yesterday. Most of the day was spent inside. But when Teenie wanted to get Dairy Queen we stopped into Best Buy and I found (and bought) a copy of Guitar Hero III with the guitar peripheral for my Mac. How awesome - last week I hacked together a working version of "Frets on Fire" a guitar game built from the ground up to act like Guitar Hero, but now I've got the real thing :) The best part of it? The guitar controller is simply the Xbox 360 guitar! I think it's hilarious.
at 10:07 PM