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young me/now blog

This is a great idea for a blog. Get people to dig up a family picture from their childhood and recreate it. Here’s an example. Same clothes, same stuffed animals and same facial expressions.

Posted in Blog, Life.


New phone

After several years of Treo phones and Sprint service, I finally made a change and got a new phone in early July. An iPhone 4. Our Sprint contract expired several months ago and due to spotty Sprint service in our house, we decided we wanted to switch to another service. We ordered two iPhones through AT&T but after a couple of weeks of use, my wife decided that she preferred a phone with a keyboard and replaced hers with a Palm Pre Plus.

This is my first iPhone. I’ve had an iPod touch for a year and a half so I was already comfortable with the UI. It’s nice to finally be able to carry one device that does everything that my Treo and iPod did — and more. And, at least in our experience, AT&T service has been solid. We haven’t travelled a lot in the last month but phone and 3G service has been great in Seattle and Portland. After we decided that AT&T worked fine for us, we added our son to the family plan. He got a Palm Pixi Plus. We signed up for the minimum family plan with unlimited text messaging since we use SMS pretty heavily. And mobile-to-mobile minutes are unlimited as well.

After playing with the Palm phones for a while, the Pre would definitely been my second choice for a new phone. The UI is slick and responsive. I’ve played with quite a few Android phones as well but never really warmed to the UI. Not bad but I think Palm’s WebOS is more consistent. It’s a shame that it hasn’t been more successful.

After a  month of using the iPhone 4, I’m still impressed — with the bright “retina” display, the speed, the apps, the camera and the battery life. My son and I have been using the Geocaching app with the built-in GPS which makes spur-of-the-moment geocaching trips easy. And we also used it quite a bit to get around Portland last weekend. The MapQuest app is quite nice, and free too!

I got a “bumper” case when I bought the phone so I’ve never had an issues with the antenna. I prefer the flat back of the iPhone4 over the curved shape of the older iPhones and iPod touch but I sometimes can’t tell which side is which when I reach for it in my pocket.

Posted in Gadgets.


Five Years

I just moved offices at work and noticed this tag stuck to the bottom of my bookshelf:It’s a visitor badge from IBM Westford. I had resigned from IBM a week earlier and returned as a visitor on August 4th to collect my personal belongings from my old office. I was already a Microsoft employee by that point (in fact I just got my five year service award). We were busy packing up our home for the move to Seattle. It was sad to say goodbye to friends in Boston but we’ve really enjoyed living out here. (And visitors are welcome!).

I just wish that we got back to Boston more frequently. Five years of living in such a friendly place is wearing down my East Coast nature.

Posted in Life, Work.


Halo for the Atari 2600

Halo re-imagined as an Atari 2600 game.  Crazy. Here’s the creator’s back story and the 4K ROM image. (Via waxy.org)

Posted in Programming.


Dreamscape

Andy Baio said:

Finally saw Inception last night. Incredible film, but it really needed more Dennis Quaid and giant lizard-men. http://bit.ly/cc37oW

Wow, I’d completely forgotten about Dreamscape featuring a young Dennis Quaid and and a cheesy stop-motion Snakeman. It came out in 1984 and I’m fairly certain I saw it in the theater back then.

I just watched it again on Netflix. The special effects and film score didn’t age well but it’s not bad. Quaid plays a psychic who can enter people’s dreams (called dream-linking). He get entangled with a government agency that’s trying to use dream-linking to carry out assassinations.

The president is suffering from post-apocalyptic nightmares. In the first scene, he imagines his wife running away from New York City just as a mushroom cloud rises from Manhattan and the shock wave overtakes her. (Viewed in 2010, the most jarring part of this imagery isn’t the mushroom cloud or horrible green screen work, it’s seeing the World Trade Center towers in the NYC skyline). One of the president’s advisors thinks that these nightmares will cause him to sign an unfavorable nuclear disarmament treaty and so plots to have the president killed in his sleep while dreaming. Quaid is the “good guy” so you can see where this is headed.

Saw Inception? Looking for a film about messing with other people’s dreams and maybe want to revisit a cheesy hit from the 80s? Look no further than Dreamscape.

Posted in Movies.


Inception cat

There’s a thread on reddit about combining the music from Inception with any video to make it more dramatic. This pairing of the Ninja cat video and music from the Inception trailer works pretty well.

Posted in Memes, Movies.


Inception music

Inception posterChristopher Nolan’s new film Inception has been a huge hit at the box office. I think it’s a terrific film but I won’t go on and on about it. Too much hype can set unrealistic expectations. And too much detail can spoil it as well. (If you’re looking for spoilers, or have seen the film, there are plenty of reviews online).

I’ve watched it twice (it’s worth a second viewing). The second time I also was watching the audience’s reactions, especially for the ending. Both times as the film ended several people in the audience gasped, paused and then applauded. Applause after a movie is rare (and rarer still for a big budget Hollywood film) but it’s an acknowledgement of enjoying a shared experience.

Besides the great cast, amazing visuals and twisty/clever plot, Inception has a terrific film score by Hans Zimmer. The music used at the ending (called “Time”) was stuck in my head for a couple of days afterwards “forcing” me to buy the soundtrack. It’s a terrific soundtrack but I noticed something odd — the music for the third Inception trailer doesn’t appear on the soundtrack. While it’s not unusual for music used in trailers to be different, this sounds similar to Zimmer’s score but it’s not. The music created for the trailer (called “Mind Heist“) was done by Zack Hemsey, not Zimmer. (Hemsey addresses the confusion in a blog post).

Another interesting tidbit about the score: if you’ve seen the film, remember that music performed by Edith Piaf is used as a “musical countdown” in the movie? Apparently Zimmer’s score embeds a bit of this in an interesting way. (Oh, and who did cast member Marion Cotilliard play in La vie en rose? Edith Piaf).

Posted in Movies.


WordPress

The switch from Blogger to WordPress went well. It was pretty easy to import my Blogger posts. Comments will still take a while since I have to take old comments from Haloscan and Squawkbox and merge them in. I really like WordPress’s plugin architecture. I’ve added plugins for Google Adsense and Analytics as well as a plugin that finds broken links. I’m still trying to find a WordPress theme that I like — and one that’s compatible with mobile devices would be nice too. In the end I might have to hack an existing template but I’m trying to avoid that.

Posted in Blog.


Back again

A series of events conspired to force me to change my blog. My hosting provider (JumpDomain) went dark. They were also the domain registrar which made it complicated to move my blog to another hosting provider. At around the same time, Blogger changed their publishing model such that publishing to a self-hosted domain using FTP was no longer supported. So I decided to finally make the switch to self-hosted WordPress. After I was finally able to move my domain to a different registrar, I set up a new hosting account with WebFaction, converted my Blogger content to WordPress and here we are. Not perfect yet but getting better.

My old blog is still on Blogger as codingthing.blogspot.com but I plan to remove it as soon as I’m sure that this site is complete.

Posted in Blog.


Anachronisms

I recently stopped wearing a wristwatch. I always carry my cellphone which displays the current time. Why bother with a watch?

I get the Seattle Times delivered at home even though I can get the same information online. I like reading the paper but I know that its days are numbered. The other Seattle daily, the Seattle P-I stopped publishing last year when it became an online-only newspaper.

We still have a land line even though we all have cellphones. We like having a single phone number for our family but we could probably get rid of it.

What other obsolete things do we cling to?

Posted in Uncategorized.