Emoticons

There seems to be an age break between making a smiley emoticon look like this 🙂 and like this (-: and I think it’s about age 20.

For me, the former is proper, the latter looks confusing and wrong.

Allow me to establish that my over-20 way, the :-), is most correct. Why? Because we are English speakers, descendants of Greek and Latin. We write and read from Left to Right, Top to Bottom. Therefore, starting on the left would be the best way of seeing something from the top.

For the latter (-:, it looks like it is starting with a frown, quite the opposite of its intended meaning. It requires a double-take and some backtracking to decipher.

Besides, if you go down the dark path, then your big happy grins :-D, turn into some kind of unibrow demon from the pits of Hades.

D-:

*shudder*

Techbane

This, once again from XKCD, is a perfect example of my career:

Seriously, this is how my days can go. I find an issue that I Google in various syntax. Then going over it in different search engines. The same answer pops up. The same answer! WHY!? Every problem has an answer!

[PS, Techbane is going to be the title of a sequel in my techno-thriller series. No takesies!]

Rest Easy, Mr Jobs

I heard the news of Steve Jobs’ passing as soon as I opened a web browser last Tuesday night. There was no way to miss it. A dozen Facebook posts and Twitter essentially blew up. News travels fast in this world. A world made incredible mobile and easy to read thanks to him. Whether an Apple user or not, the landscape of technology was indelibly affected by him.

My life as an Apple user was not quick to come. I didn’t switch over until I got my first laptop, a PowerBook G4. That computer is probably still running somewhere, particularly with its strong OS, the thing that won me over in the first place. My feelings got stronger the more I used it and other computers like it. I’ve developed into an almost strictly Mac technician now. I don’t know that I would have if I was stuck with Microsoft-based systems. Maybe I would have gone to Linux, I don’t know.

I’ve been reading lovely eulogies and memories in general of the man and the environment and tools he created. While he didn’t code every bit of the systems he ran, his touch of refinement and the big ideas of their interconnection were his. He had a vision for what the world could be like that was not defined or limited by the way things are currently. We all could use a perspective like that.

The worst of it is that he was only 56. So young, so much time could have been left. He never put off what he knew he wanted to do, that much is obvious. And we should all be thankful for that fact. Still, I don’t think there is a person who can fathom the future he saw and probably was going to make in the next 25 years.

There’s not much I can really say, so I’ll pass on some links to a few of the things people have said and remembered about Steve Jobs. This man is and will long be remembered as someone of a caliber towards Edison, Franklin, and even Da Vinci.

  • One of my favorite stories about a 12-year-old Steve Jobs calling up a technology founder by the name of William Hewlett.

  • President Obama released a statement about the man. I think this says things well:

    Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

    The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.

  • Though not really related to Mr Jobs the man, but a poignant comic about what killed him. 56 is too young. He was in his prime.

  • Stephen Colbert was the first to nearly draw a tear to my eye.

And for a final farewell, I think it’s best to end with an edit of an Apple ad, read by Steve Jobs himself.

Rest easy, Mr Jobs. And thank you for all you contributed.

Onward and Upward

It feels like a long time coming, writing this.
After five years, half a decade (to make it sound more impressive), I’m bidding farewell to my school and am working in the private sector. The new gig is at an ad agency in the city, where the hip people are. I’m still doing IT support, but then again I’m going to go way beyond that. There are opportunities to wield computer systems in ways I’ve only speculated on before. I’m going to become the second in a two-man team to keep these systems running. It’s very cool, geeky stuff.

I found this gig through Craigslist of all places. To add to the utterly coincidental nature of it, it was using an utterly unprofessional cover letter. They hired me on for a month of contract work this summer. Following some very kind compliments, I was offered to stay on full-time. After much deliberation over the weekend, on Monday I accepted the offer and submitted my resignation to the school.

Still, so many years and misplaced ventures are being left behind. I will miss some of what I used to do, but oddly most will have nothing to do with my job requirements. The computer work was fine, but stagnant. Working with the kids, though, was great. Between the occasional snot-nosed punk were huge swaths of good-natured, budding minds that were as insane as they were delightful. And I learned so much from the good people who stood in front to show them their world.

I’m glad to be moving on. Very glad. There is a lot of ground to recover for them, and I wish them all the best. But I’m happy to move to a place where I am the one learning so much and getting inspired again. I’m surrounded by incredibly creative, savvy people and I can only image what I will glean from them. Hopefully they won’t mind me asking questions about their work.

It has been a long, bittersweet day. I’m not a very sentimental person, and I loathe goodbyes, so I’m glad the school was nearly empty as I carried my banker’s box out.

I’m not one to believe in signs either. But after loading my box into the back of my little station wagon, buckling up, and turning the ignition, the classical station came on. It was in the middle of playing Shostakovitch’s Festive Overture.

It felt appropriate.

How Droll!

Who says work email has to be professional?

Greetings, One and All!

Due to the testing in the labs through May 20,
Mobile Lab 2 is living in the Library.
It is booked every day during 4th and 5th P
For our class on computer exploratory,
But is otherwise free in the rear of IMC.
To check on its availability,
Please contact our librarian to see
When itÂ’s free to be for thee.

If you donÂ’t require any mobile lab lore,
Please I urge that this message you ignore.
Though I should probably have mentioned that before.
Now, like Benedict, I feel quite the traitor.

Apologies and Thanks!
Sincerely, Evan Fry-or

That’ll get their attention. I got a compliment from the big boss, so I think I’m safe.

Continue reading

A Funny Little Place

The Internet makes our world a very accessible funny, little place.
So I’m going about my business, procrastinating, reading blogs; all the usual. I get to Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog and get this amazing view of Orion over some Mayan ruins:

I’m already wondering how quickly I can make this my desktop background for my laptop. I have always had a soft spot for astronomy and exploring the ways of the universe. Then I click over to StĂ©phane Guisard’s group of photos from Tikal. Perusing those amazing pictures, I find this:

There is something about seeing how the sky rotates over us that gives me pause. Then the bigger realization backs it up: the sky isn’t moving, we’re spinning underneath it.

You can see the pinpoint of our spinning top, the few specks of light we get to see in the evening. It’s all there during the day, though quite a different group being seen from the other side of the planet.

The world is so big and twirling so fast, it is almost impossible for our animal minds to fully grasp all that is in motion at once. Hence why such a view is both enlightening and nauseating at the same time. Just to add to the crazy, where the sun and fellow planets pass through this centrifuge changes through the seasons.

I saw this by following the link trail on digital bits scattered around servers across the world. I saw this and thought, “This must be how a ball feels rolling around on the floor.” We live in a funny, little place.

Getting My Clubs and Some Tees…

… because I’m hitting the links!

I’m thinking of doing a links page. I don’t have a format ready yet, nor a schedule. They’re mainly things I don’t have a full post for, but are worth sharing.

At least I think they are. Your opinions don’t really matter anyway. Get your own blog!

Wow, that was a bit defensive. I blame eating a lot of leftover enchiladas.

The Links…

  • The letterhead used by Jay Ward in 1962.

  • App” is the word of the year for 2010. I think this is rather amazing because before 2007, nobody outside the cult of Apple computer users knew what an application was.

    What was the standard? A program. Seriously, this language switch happened fast. And I’m okay with it. “App Store” sounds a lot better than “Prog Store”, which sounds like a really bad Ukranian Ikea knockoff.

  • Scott Adams writes on a topic that hits close to home: Marital Deafness. M and I had a few laughs reading it, because it’s true. Particularly for me, I cannot shift my concentration to fully hear any of my family members without due notification. I’m not ignoring, I just can’t listen without someone coming up to me.

    Frankly, it’s a problem I like. It counters a long-standing pet peeve in the family I was raised in: shouting across the house. I’ve seen other families attempt to use this communication method and it falls well short of success. To put it mildly.

Happy Holly Daze

This and tomorrow evening are spent at kids’ school functions. On top of a busy routine, blizzards, and needing to put up decorations (I have shamefully not even put up a tree yet) have necessitated that I take care of myself to unwind. This usually involves reading, beer or wine, and killing old-school head crab zombies. Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like.

So in light of my delving into the world of video games, here is a meme going around to make geeks’ heads explode. Enjoy.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

I’m trying out a few different pieces of software for keeping up with RSS feeds and Twitter. The newly released beta version of Reeder for Mac has already won my heart for RSS reading, even though some functionalities haven’t been added yet. I miss my highlight and post to MarsEdit in particular. The only thing has been learning a new set of keyboard shortcuts, which isn’t too bad, but skipping arrow keys for navigation is a tough habit to break.

For Twitter, last week (I think; time has been very elusive to me this year) I downloaded the newly updated Kiwi 2.0. For ages I had used Tweetie and despite trying other programs, Tweetie still was the simplest, smoothest way to get around Twitter. Kiwi changed that almost immediately. I picked out a simplistic theme that felt Tweetie-ish and dove right in. There is a lot of control and intuitive interactions with keyboard shortcuts being not too difficult to adapt.

However today I downloaded the beta of Weet. I like the smaller interface so far, and again it’s early beta so it’s quite incomplete in features. Like keyboard shortcuts (no underlying theme to this blog post, no siree) being almost absent. And it’s a little odd that navigating up and down is only by mouse right now. You don’t actually select a tweet and press up to the next one. Or a shortcut to start a new tweet. That’s a big deal, something I lived off of in Tweetie and now Kiwi.

Still, take all this with a grain of salt. Two of these programs have only been in public existence for a week and Kiwi just came out with its version update a week ago too. I’ll keep playing with all of them and if anyone cares, or if anyone doesn’t, ’cause it’s my blog anyway, I will write them up again once they’re closer to release.