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Going Analog

It’s no secret I love gadgets and technology, and products from Apple in particular. I’ve been a user and fan for as long as I can remember. But as great as gadgets and technology are, they’re not without problems. They can’t all be great, can they? No.

Some are crap for sure. Many of these devices or gadgets break, need updates or whatever at often the exact time you need them to work, which leaves you with no way to get done what you need to get done. Apple, at least, seems to do a pretty good job of putting out tech people want and products that, as they say, “just work.” But they’re not perfect either. The truth is, no piece of technology is perfect and it may never be.

I know. I’ve already said a lot of pro-Apple stuff here. But don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a pro-Apple or anti-technology article. I also won’t try to get you to switch to a Mac or iPhone. But I do have a few positive things to say on a related subject.

Put simply, I’ve re-discovered the joys of analog.

Even as a long-time tech devotee,  I’ve always used analog tools too. I believe they can co-exhist and compliment each other. I’ve written blog posts, articles, screenplays and more using a computer for many years, but I’ve always put things down on paper, in a notebook, using a pen or pencil first before I start banging away on the keyboard.

I’ve got notebooks full of the stuff in boxes. Recently, I was going through them in an effort to organize my office (after all, we did move almost two years ago so it’s past due), and I discovered something: I missed them. I missed my notebooks, my pens, my pencils and my paper.

The sad fact is I haven’t been writing much of anything lately. Being a father who stays home most of the time with a toddler has a tendency to stifle your creative flow. In a lot of instances I’d rather be catching up on sleep instead of doing any writing.

But that’s not all of it. There’s a lot of reasons not to do something and I’ve been good at finding most of them. Sometimes you just get into a slump. Consequently, I haven’t been writing much or using my analog tools.

But that changes now.

I’m going to embrace the analog and go back to my notebooks, pens and pencils. The spark, actually, was my return to film photography. It got me thinking. Then, going through my office I found the cache of pens, pencils and the notebooks I had spent years filling up. That was the rest of the inspiration I needed.

So, to kick things off, I’m starting a new journal project. My notebook of choice will be the Rhodia Webnotebook, which I will write in daily. To accompany said journal, it’s into the fountain pen and pencil drawer I go to retrieve my old friends the TWSBI Diamond 580AL and the Blackwing 602. I may bring other pens and pencils on this journey with me, but those two will be the main companions.

To help get the word flow started, I’ve decided to adopt this simple plan highlighted in an article I recently read. Unfortunately, I forgot to bookmark the link and now can’t give credit where credit is due. I wish I could.

If I find it, I’ll update this post. Or, if any of you know the origin, feel free to let me know in the comments so I can credit it.

The approach is simple. Ask yourself three questions in your journal every day. If you answer them, even in a few sentences, you will at the very least be writing every day.

What I’ve discovered is if I start answering the questions, I usually end up writing a few more pages beyond the simple answers. That may just be me, but I’ll bet if you try it, you’ll get similar results. And you’ll be writing.

Here’s the questions:

  1. What was accomplished? As in, what did you do today? Took out the trash? Read a good book? Had some great coffee? Made a new friend? Whatever happened, write it down. It doesn’t have to profound or life-changing, it just has to be something (or somethings) that you accomplished that day.
  2. What should not be forgotten? Did something really great and memorable happen today? If so, write it down. Did your baby crawl for the first time? Did you get that dream job you always wanted? Did you get to spend ten minutes just thinking and dreaming? If you want to remember it and never want to forget it, write it down. Years from now when you’ve maybe forgotten this day completely, you can open the journal, read all about it, and remember.
  3. What’s coming up? What are you doing tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Are you taking a trip, getting a raise, adopting a baby or going on a blind date? Write it down. Are you looking forward to something? What do you want to be doing in a year? Or, it can be as simple as reminding yourself that tomorrow is trash day.

Simple, right? Now all you need is a good notebook and a pen or pencil to get started. What are you waiting for?

 

Some Apple WWDC 2014 Keynote Reactions

iOS 8 - iPhone 5sToday at Apple’s WWDC event in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and other key players at the company, took the stage at Moscone Center to announce some of the new and cool stuff such we can expect from Apple over the next year. In a word (or two), it was pretty exciting.

Yes, I’m sure it’s partially because I’m a long-time Apple fan and I use their software and gadgets on a daily basis. I also just love new, shiny things. But whatever the reason, I do usually have a very positive reaction to what’s announced at events like these.

It’s usually later that I become disappointed when things don’t work exactly as advertised. iOS 7, I’m looking at you.

However, today I’m optimistic and with the announcement of iOS 8, OSX Yosemite and more, I am pretty excited. For now.

Sadly, we didn’t get any new hardware to ogle today, but that was to be expected. WWDC is, after all, a developer conference. For software, not hardware. Still, new hardware is a lot more sexy than new software, at least most of the time, so it was missed even though I didn’t really expect to see it

Fortunately, a lot of the software and features announced today are pretty darn cool. Some of the new goodies I’m most looking forward to using are things like iCloud Drive (let’s hope the pricing is more competitive), Handoff, the ability to have both iMessages and SMS on all your (Apple) devices, WiFi Calling (voice calls over WiFi), Health and Homekit, which allows the iPhone or iPad to control smart devices in the home such as lights, garage door openers and the thermostat.

Those seem to have the most potential to make a difference in my own life. But there’s a lot more coming, and after I’ve had a chance to mess with both Yosemite and iOS 8 for a week or two, I’ll share some more thoughts.

Until then, I think my favorite new feature so far is probably Handoff or the improved camera and photos apps. Having messages, documents and more synched across my iPhone, iPad and Mac is pretty nice. If it works as advertised, I can see that being very useful indeed.

Plus, I’m always looking for ways to take better photos more frequently. As they say, the best camera is the one you actually have with you and with the improvements to the photo and camera apps in iOS 8, plus the fact I pretty much always have the iPhone with me, it may actually be the best camera. That would be nice.

Of course, it remains to be seen what any of these new features really mean for me in the long run. Will any of them improve my life in any measurable way? Who knows?

I do know that it’s fun to speculate and try new things to see what you can do with them. It makes life that much more interesting. So, on that note, I’m off to download some new software. Wish me luck.

A Little Apple History: Print Advertising 1975 – 2002

If you know me, even a little bit, you know I’m a huge fan of all things Apple. I use an iPhone 5, MacBook Air, iPad and have had other Apple products going all the way back to before the first Macintosh. In short, I’m old school.

Let’s face it, the company makes, and has made, some insanely great products. Another thing the company is known for is its advertising. They’ve created some of the most innovative and informative commercials in history, probably the most famous of which is Ridley’s Scott’s ‘1984’ spot. That’s it at the bottom.

They’ve also had some pretty cool print ads over the years as well. To illustrate, these guys (and gals) have taken the time to put together a very nice look at Apple’s print ads from the years 1975 to 2002.

It’s pretty cool and I actually remember some of these ads. It’s fun to look back and see how far Apple, and we, have come.

Interviews With the Original Macintosh Design Team

When I find intersting stuff, I drop it in here. Although, as I’ve not put up much lately, I guess there’s not that much interesting stuff to be found. Or, I’m just not looking hard enough. Meh.

Anyway, this is quite interesting, especially if you’re a fan of Apple and the Mac. Enjoy.

Coffee, Macs and More

I love gadgets, tech and toys. As I’ve grown older, that love hasn’t lessened. Although, the quantity of gadgets, tech and toys may have decreased slightly, the quality (and the associated cost) has increased, so there’s that.

That’s just the “circle of life” or something. Anyway, that leads me to recent developments. One of these developments has to do with my search for the perfect way to make coffee at home.

Some of you may be shocked and wonder how I could betray my beloved Starbucks, Coffee Bean or various other establishments I frequent. It’s simple, really, I just want to do it at home so I get used to working at home again. I would also like to save some time where I can too.

On a busy morning, if I have to take the time to stop at Starbucks or wherever on the way somewhere else, it can often take quite a bit of time. So, in the interest of efficiency (and to save a buy or two, let’s face it) I’m going to make coffee at home.

During a previous attempt at this I had purchased one of the Tasimo devices that makes coffee from a capsule. The results were less than stellar. In fact, the coffee kinda sucked.

This time around I’ve done much more research and committed to a much better solution. At least I think it is.

I’ve decided that the only way to make it work at home is to get the best coffee maker you can get. That one, if you ask pretty much anyone who knows anything about it, is The Moccamaster.

That’s a picture of it right there. Nice, huh.

moccamaster

I expect this little beauty to arrive early next week and I will report back on how awesome it is. Yes, I expect it to be awesome.

In other news, I am also trying something else again that I had tried several years ago: going all-laptop and having no desktop Mac.

At this moment, I have two computers. One is a 27″ iMac and the other is my 13″ MacBook Air. I’m am giving the iMac to a worthy person (selling, actually) and will be using the MacBook Air exclusively from this point forward.

However, this choice does present a few problems. The first of which is my iTunes library is way too big to fit on the Air. So, for the moment, it will have to reside on an external drive. Not ideal.

Second, my iMac also served as the media and print server for the house. With it gone, certain people are going to have to go upstairs and connect to the printer via usb if they want to print. Also, not ideal.

So, that means I will most likely have to get some sort of computer to use as a file, media, print server and iTunes repository. That will most likely mean a Mac Mini.

Before you ask, I’m not considering a Windows or other solution at the moment. We’re too invested in Apple tech at home to try to make that work right now. Maybe if I get some more free time I can put together a nice Windows server instead.

For now, it will probably be a Mac Mini running Apple’s Lion Server that will take on those duties at home. Plus I would like to work with Lion Server a bit more so the new Mini serves that purpose as well.

Of course, if I’m going to be using the MacBook Air as my only machine from this time forward, I kinda think it should be the latest model, don’t you? Just go with me here, okay? The one I have know is a 13″ 2.13 Ghz Core 2 Duo with 256 GB SSD.

I feel a newer 13″ MacBook Air i7 would be better for the tasks to come. Plus, I would like to give my previous generation Air to someone I think will like it. Yeah, that’s good reason.

So, lots of changes coming in my tech world. Fortunately, I don’t mind change all that much — especially when it brings newer, shinier toys.

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs

steve-jobs2

This was written by Steve Jobs sister Mona Simpson and given at a ceremony for the late Apple co-founder and all-around genius. I thought it was worth reposting and preserving here for me, and for you.

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild.

This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

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Laying Low and Putting Tiger To the Test

TigerDesk

I have been busy for the last week or so. Thanks, in part, to the good folks at Apple Computer putting out a new version of OSX that has, shall we say, a few “issues”. There are many things to like about Mac OSX 10.4 Tiger. Features such as Spotlight, the new iChat AV, new Mail, improved speed and a host of other features make it a great upgrade in most cases. There are some problems and some annoyances that I have been dealing with not only on my own machines, but on machines of people I work with as well.

As always, MacFixit has the scoop on many of the problems as well as some solution that have worked for other users. Macintouch also has a cool matrix of reported software incompatibilities. And, there is, of course, the Apple Tiger Discussion Forums. No matter what, always make a complete backup of anything you care about on your computer before installing a major upgrade like Tiger. Better safe than sorry.

It’s no secret that people are having problems. Take your pic as to where to find a possible solution or work-around for any issues you might be having. There might be one or it might take a little time for one to be available. No matter what third-party software vendors do, i’m sure we’ll be seeing Mac OSX 10.4.1 sooner rather than later.