Apple Gives Good Upgrade

Why THIS Caged Bird Sings

I’ve upgraded Macs a few times now, and the process can’t be simpler.  The migration app may take some time to copy everything over, but the result is a one-step process where my new machine’s environment is exactly the same as my old one.  Having done more than my share of Windows migrations, there is simply no comparison.  The only pain in moving to my oh-so-beautiful unibody MacBook Pro was buying another cable (Firewire 800 to Firewire 400) because of the chronic port changes from model to model.

I also finally upgraded my Airport Extreme to a 1 terabyte Time Capsule earlier this week and had the same experience.  My dread of resetting network passwords on all my devices never materialized.  When I started the installation wizard, it asked me if I was adding the Time Capsule to my network or replacing my Airport Extreme.  After configuring some of the special features of the Time Capsule, it seemlessly replaced my Airport Extreme.  Everything network-aware continued to function without a hiccup.  It felt magical.

Of course Apple can only provide experience like this when you buy into their monoculture.  That’s generally a bad thing in my book, but it’s hard to resist a new Apple device when I know that migration/incorporation into my existing technocology will be so seamless.  For now, I’m ready for another helping of the Kool Aid. Mmm.

Events Since 14 September 2008

Have you ever retired a Mac by mistake? No.

I bought a unibody MacBook Pro. Aside from being a thing of beauty, the improved GPU means all my games run well under Boot Camp; the Dell XPS 600 may get an early retirement (in the Blade Runner sense).  I love the trackpad and found myself forgoing a mouse while traveling–except under Windows where it’s squirrelly and inconsistent.  I hope Apple starts squeezing out Boot Camp updates as fast as iPhone updates to fix the track pad problem and take full advantage of the dual GPU.  Please cross all appropriate appendages.

I ended my contract in Rockville, MD.  The commute got to me and I ended my contract with F. after a one month extension to see one of my projects through its first deployment to prod. I’m making a pattern of very long separations to help with transition, and that’s both good and bad: Good this time because I think it really made a difference in the deployment; bad because I missed out on the before-end-of-year hiring cycle.  I hope it reboots as usual in the beginning of the new year despite the grim economic situation.

I got the flu.  My last day in Rockville was when the fever kicked in.  The following three weeks were pretty miserable, and I still have a bit of a cough after another two.  Next year I’m definitely getting a flu shot, and I’m wondering if I should still get one this year since they typically treat a handful of the most common strains.  Any medical professionals care to comment?

I drank the Kool Aid and bought an iPhone.  Expect a subsequent post with some of my favorite apps.  I’m testing how long it can last in stand-by mode with power consumption optimization (WiFi and 3G only when needed, no push, hourly pull) and it looks like the answer’s 72 hours.  I may have to bump my SMS messages up to 1500 from 200 which irks me to no end, but that’s one of a handful of gripes that are more about AT&T than the device itself.  Otherwise, it’s a Good Thing ™.

I attended MJD‘s talk at Philadelphia Linux Users Group (PLUG) about strong typing.  The slides for Atypical Types are on MJD’s site.  We agree that Java 1.5 is the first usable version of the 1970s-style programming language but for different reasons:  He asserted at the talk that Java typing got better because a Haskell guy rewrote the 1.5 compiler and force fed Java some good medicine like generics. Is Haskell the new programming language incubator?  Given things like type inference, how a smart compiler removes all strong-type clutter that stupid compilers require, could be.

I corrected a long-standing mistake about Documentum Composer in my I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia blog post.  Despite being a newer Documentum customer, F. had enough invested in its 5.3 architecture and how it integrated into their corp-wide build process to make Composer a non-starter.  I’m looking forward to a contract in the future where I get to use all the new 6.5 stuff without the drag of a 5.x (or even 6.0) install base.

iPhone OS loses beta feel with 2.1 update – Ars Technica

First look: iPhone OS loses beta feel with 2.1 update – Ars Technica

While disappointed doesn’t cover how I feel about no iTablet, I agree with Ars Technica: iPhone OS 2.1 feels like the real thing. It’s featureful, polished, and fast.

Even the very beta iPhone OS 1.0 was a revolutionary leap forward with its key interface elements: Multi-touch, motion sensors, and look-and-feel. I can’t emphasize the last item enough. Apple figured out how to make a powerful, intuitive interface fit the form factor, something other phone manufacturers couldn’t do in a decade. The small interface tweaks in 2.1 demonstrate how to pack information in a tiny space without feeling cramped.

I’m even tempted by the new Touch (another tick in the anti-iPhone column) with key features like a volume rocker, wired remote control capability, microphone, and internal speaker. (As D. said, “iTouch Skype, anyone?”) It’s not quite an iTablet, but it has enough new features to tempt me to pick up a 32MB unit. AND I can do it on the online store, something I still can’t do with an iPhone!

Anybody want to buy my old iPod Touch?

Notes on Haskell: The Closures are Coming

Notes on Haskell: The Closures are Coming

Closures in C?  I feel like my head’s about to implode!  Closures themselves are so Star Trek to me, like objects turned inside-out by a transporter accident.  Adding them to C sounds a little “stone knives and bear skins”, but languages like ECMAScript and PHP have or are soon getting closures.

See Also:

Closure (computer science) – Wikipedia

Android Market versus Apple App Store

My current carrier, T-Mobile, may have the first android phone as soon as next month. I doubt it will be an interface slam-dunk like the iPhone, but news of its app store, Android Market, and the full keyboard are enough to make me wait and see.

The Ars Technica article below compares/contrasts Google’s plan with Apple’s existing store. Is Google finding a better middle ground between control and freedom than Apple? Maybe next month we’ll know.

Google’s Android Market: cathedral or bazaar?

A Great Night for Podcasts


One small consolation of my contract in Rockville is spending quality time with my iPod Touch, podcasts, and the Civic–who is now officially named “Blue Monday”.  Tonight’s drive was especially pleasant from both the driving and podcast listening perspectives.  Here are some highlights from the things I heard:

Beer-Drinking Tree Shrews

Oh, beer.  You are such a Good Thing that even evolution loves you.  A palm evolved natural fermentation chambers to capture yeast and brew you from its own nectar.  A species of beer-swilling shrew doesn’t seem to get drunk despite a hefty habit; I can’t decide if we should praise or pity the little fellow.  A species of loris has also developed a drinking habit, nothing nearly as nasty as their anorexic cousin’s habits who grace the cover of one of my favorite O’Reilly books.  Evolution, beer, UNIX, and primates behaving badly–fabulous!

Nail Your Files

Stever Robbins, the Get-It-Done guy over at has some helpful hints about a subject near and dear to my heart, file naming conventions.  He gets points for suggesting the ISO 8601 date to tell apart your 5,000 report.doc files and to sort them chronologically in your file manager of choice.  It’s sad that most people still live in a world where meaningful search or–dare I say it–real metadata doesn’t exist.  On a related note, I definitely have a few things to say about how much I’m using Spotlight in a subsequent post.

Outsmarting Bombers

This edition of the Scientific American’s weekly podcast podcast takes a fascinating look at counter-IED technology in Iraq and a related story about the continuing problems with turning the lights back on in Baghdad.  More robots controlled by the video-game generation combat an adaptable enemy turning our commodity tech against us.  Scary and fascinating.  Finally, our friend the beer-swilling Loris makes an appearance at the end of the podcast in the “Totally Bogus” segment.  Who knew I was embracing my Inner Chimp every time I popped the top off a bottle of Midas Touch? Mmm, beer.

Tell Me a Story

Finally, RadioLab has produced some of the best podcasts I’ve ever listened to.  It’s This American Life meets Nova, two things I already love.  In this between-seasons short, Robert Krulwich addresses Cal Tech graduates.  I won’t butcher it with a summary.  Just go listen to it right now.  Being a science reporter like Krulwich or Mursky (of SciAm) is my new dream job.  Subscribe to the podcast, go back through all the episodes–especially the ones or morality and emergence–and thank me later.