Friday, February 09, 2007

I'm Sorry Dave. I Can't Do That.

Now, I was going to write a lot about the troubles of Vista, however I found a new toy that I want to play with first. Vista comes prepackaged with a voice recognition software, and naturally that’s geeky enough that I would want to play with it. So I’m writing this blog post solely using my voice. It’s actually a lot of fun especially telling my computer to open and close windows, to open and close programs, etc. I have to say I like being able to command my poor little desktop, ‘open firefox’ and have firefox open with a whoosh. Parenthetically, I had to teach my computer how to write firefox as one word and how to spell whoosh just now.

Granted, it still isn’t entirely natural. The corrections take quite a bit of time, and punctuation is a bitch, (it also didn’t want to understand “bitch”) but the documentation says that the software will slowly get to know my voice better and better. For example, when I taught the computer to say firefox as one word, it suggested that if firefox was a proper noun that the software would learn to work better if it had a recording of life away saying quote firefox quote. I’m leaving that quote firefox quote in there just because I’m having a hard time convincing it to print out a quotation mark.

So all in all the system is certainly not good enough yet to be used on a day to day basis. That is unless it learns very quickly. Anyway it’s fun to play I guess.

Yawn And Stretch and Try To Come To Life

I'm trying to get up early and take care of things so I'm not rushing out of door at the last minute with the toothbrush still in my mouth.

Today's my first real trial - so far so good. I got up early (~5:30), went through all my emails and rss stuff and finished a bit of reading I needed to get done before heading out for a 8 mile run (1:07'16").

I'm back from the run now and all I need to do is go over my class preps and I'll be off! And I've got about 3 hours to do that - plenty o' time. (knock wood)

The fun thing is that I'm covering another TA's section today as well as my two sections. I'm a bit nervous to have to deal with another teacher's class. It feels adulterous somehow.

Anywhoo- off to wash the sweat off and get ready for the day!

(on a much less chipper note, look for an upcoming rant about Vista issues - short story: I like Vista, but it wasn't completely ready, and I'm not sure it could have been)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

El Corazón

The Countdown Meme That Never Ends.

From the Luckiest of Buzzes

10 Firsts

1. First best friend: Chris. He lived right over the fence from us. Well, that is, you had to go into our back yard and over the fence to get to his house. He, his brother, and me and mine pretty much grew up together. Oh, the stories of wounds and wonder. He's a respectable member of society now with a wife and child (one? maybe more). Ah, and I'm... I'm still in school. sigh...
2. First car: For about $500, I was the proud owner of a '78 or '79 Chevette. Ah, she was a beautiful thing. Just the right car for a first car. Great to learn standard gears on because it wasn't too much of a tragedy if the transmission fell out. Dings and dents didn't matter much. It had the hatchback where I could put just about anything. And later on I even got some nice speakers and a good radio to listen to my Rocky Horror Picture Show Tape - and Billy Joel. I think those were the two that got the most play. I was truly sad when it finally had to be put down, even though I was far away at the time.
3. First love: Let's go waaaaay back and not fret about the word 'love,' shall we? Maybe 1st or second grade? What was her name? Tracy something? I remember letting someone cut in line at the water fountain with the sole price being that he had to say that we made a good couple. She even kicked me under the lunch table. Ah, to be kicked...
4. First vacation: Absolutely no idea. I know we went to Washington state once. And one of the Disneys, but I don't remember any of it. The first one I remember vaguely was a trip into the woods where a relative had a cabin. There was motorcycle riding that I don't think I was a part of. There is also a picture of my brother who had fallen asleep in his scrambled eggs. Excellent.
5. First job: First real job was working at a non-big name pizza place. I was in high school, but everyone else there was was much older and with only a couple of exceptions, very down and out. Most were pretty bad potheads and worse. I didn't know how to deal with that whole scene. I still don't, really. Oh! I forgot! There was one before that at Sonic. Wow. Can't forget that one... yikes... Sonic... Great drinks and tater tots though.
6. First piercing: Still don't have #1. It'll probably stay that way barring some accident.
7. First concert: This horrible Christian rock band that came to school (no need for that pesky constitutional seperation where I grew up). It was horrible. To be honest, I don't think I've been to a rock concert since. Maybe I was horribly scarred.
8. First record/cd bought: hmmm... I don't know about the first one I purchased by myself. My dad had all kinds of music when we were growing up (we being my brother and sister and I, not my dad - he was pretty much grown up by then. Although that might be debatable). It's funny though I remember having a record player (red white and blue plastic) that my brother would play his records on - Candy Girl was the best. Maybe I didn't have any records of my own.
9. First real love: Ok, I tried to dodge this 'love' word in #3, but I guess I'm not getting away that easily. It was Vanessa. She was a gorgeous goddess in tight sweaters. She also strung me along like a master.
10. First screen name: Smelly Rat. Oh god, was it Stinky Rat? I forget. Hey, back in the single line dial up BBS world, it was cool I tells ya!

9 Latest

1. Latest alcoholic beverage: The snakebite - half cider and half lager. Yum, but dangerous
2. Latest car ride: Taxi ride back from the airport after the holidays.
3. Latest movie watched: My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Ok, ok, ok... Jayfish and Zerodoll already give me enough grief about my taste in movies, but I hope you understand that I thought this one was really awful. The sad truth is that I really thought I might like it. (geeeeeeeeek!)
4. Latest phone call made: Call to the pizza place last weekend. - Yeah, yeah, I have no friends.
5. Latest jacuzzi bath: Back at my old place at old university town with the ex-girlfriend. Many moons ago.
6. Latest played cd: I don't really play CDs anymore. ummm... I guess I had to re-rip a Best of Sinatra CD a few months ago- does that count?
7. Latest time you cried: breakup with ex-girlfriend.
8. Latest meal: I made some soft beef tacos tonight - ok, but not thrilling (I'm glad this didn't say "Last meal")
9. Latest curse: Curse like hex or curse like damn? Either way, it's been a while. Well, I don't think I've ever really hexed anyone. Unless you could D&D. Which you probably shouldn't. I say mild curses sometimes, but I don't usually go off on things like that.

8 Things You Wear

1. Jeans - way too often
2. Dr Martins - but only when it's cold enough (sorry wintry blogfriends, but it's too hot here for me to wear them now)
3. A whole slew of solid-colored button-up shirts
4. Nike something-or-other+ shoes with the cute iSweat hidey hole
5. not boxers, nor briefs, but boxer-briefs.
6. very rarely a Old University sweatshirt
7. even more rarely an Even Older University ballcap
8. Helmet (only when riding the bike though)

7 Have You Ever
1. Dated one of your best friends: Well, yeah
2. Been arrested: Nope - dragged into the police station for busting christmas lights from the tree in the park, but never arrested (curse you Nathan! - ooo there! I cursed someone!)
3. Fallen in love at first sight: No, not really
4. Been in a TV program: no, I am in the background of Powder though - even met Jeff Goldbloom too. He looks a lot like Jeff Goldbloom.
5. Had your heart broken: yuppers
6. Said you love someone without meaning it: I don't think so.
7. Made a prank phone call: Nah, I don't even like listening to others do it. They're usually pretty cruel, really.

6 Things You’ve Done Today
1. laundry (see my 365)
2. attended a lecture that I didn't need to, but am really glad I did
3. handled an hour-long office hour visit (which is cool - I don't like it when no one comes to office hours - this student was a good one, too. Looking for help but not helpless, more than willing to work, and just wanted some extra time with the material)
4. played video games for a little bit
5. cleaned out my email inbox - well almost entirely. I got it down to 6, which is a huge thing for me.
6. Made taco-stuff while watching TV (dirty jobs - not appetizing, but funny)

5 Favorite Things (good lord, does this meme end?)
1. My family
2. Gruub Studies
3. geek toys
4. hunting for new photos to take
5. When I say something that makes my advisor excited (yes I'm that emotionally needy)

4 People I Can Tell Anything
1. This will be exactly 3 people - sis, bro and mom. So to make 4, I'll add myself.

3 Choices
1. Black or white? Grey
2. Summer or winter? Winter
3. Chocolate or chips? Same thing - stupid question.

2 things to do Before You Die
1. GET MY FREAKING PHD! (and a job...) (kept verbatim from Luckybuzz)
2. find someone to live my life and have a family with

1 Thing You Regret
1. I'm never sure about regrets. I think things have worked out well the way they have, and even painful parts of my life have been incredibly useful and fruitful.

And luckybuzz's addition:
Something you could happily do an infinite number of times:
Well, keeping clear of the obvious mind-in-the-gutter answers, I'm not sure where I could go with this. I generally don't reread books or see movies more than once. Hmm... Let's say post strange blog-memes and leave it there.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Runs, iPods, and Bears - Oh My!

Full disclosure - there are no bears mentioned in this post. Except that one.

Well, first off, I haven't been publishing my runs recently because it got a little when there were more run posts than other kinds, but I am still running. The marathon is coming up, so I'm increasing my mileage a little bit. Today I made a big move and ran about 14 miles. I didn't even really think about it until I got home. That's more than a half marathon. Yea me!

See, the thing is that I should be working off of one of those charts that tell you how many miles you should be doing to hit you goal time when you do the marathon, but frankly, I'm just aiming at finishing safely. If I can do that, I'll be just fine, thanks. I am looking at the charts though, just to see by what kinds of increments it's safe to increase mileage, but that's about it.

Anyway, my legs hurt.

Beware - Here begins a huge rant and venting of steam.

On a related note, iTunes and iPod are getting on my last nerves. The only reason I caved and picked up the iPod was so I could use the Nike+ system (which is actually getting better - they just added route mapping - yea!). I immediately was unhappy with the way that iTunes wanted to control my library and not let me listen to my music like I actually owned it. I bought a couple of tracks from iTunes, but then realized how restricted the usage rules were. I mean, yeah, I could strip the DRM if I wanted to, but I'd like to be at least mostly legal. The iTunes selections were ok, as long as you only listen to music in English or Spanish. And so long as you don't want to listen to the Beatles (although that too is changing I hear). Oh, yeah - and the playlist system seems to be completely broken - I tried to put a couple of podcasts together on a playlist for today's long run. Cool, until it just repeated the first podcast and wouldn't let me skip forward. And of course you can't actually choose your music during a run - only playlists or shuffle all. And don't even get me started on how every month or so I have to reset to factory settings because the silly thing just decides to not turn off any more, or the fact that I have to politely ask iTunes to eject it before unplugging it, lest the poor little iPod brain completely frazzles (in fairness, these last too problems may be related). And finally, it seems a little disingenuous for them to say that iTunes doesn't work well with Vista. They had plenty of time to work out the bugs - heck I was using Vista months ago. It just seems like they don't care. They know you're hooked in. It's like they want you to believe that it's Vista's problem - just another example of how Vista doesn't work. And while I'll admit that Vista has plenty of problems (including the DRM system in question), the fact that iTunes doesn't play iTunes purchased music looks to be mainly the fault of iTunes.

On the other hand, I really liked the podcast support in general, which I hadn't used with my last MP3 player. And it is a really gorgeous piece of hardware, too. I look back at that last paragraph and perhaps I've been a bit too venomous. It has actually done mostly what I wanted it to, and with a little research, I probably could have found out about all the problems before I bought it. I just really wanted it to be as wonderful as everyone else seemed to think it was.

As a side note, I'd been using the Yahoo Unlimited Service to stream music based on my tastes, but because of iPod's moats and battlements, I couldn't move the subscription music to it and listen to new music on the road. Now Yahoo is falling apart too, so I guess I'm heading over to Pandora until I can find something better.

Wow. That turned into a lot more of a rant than I thought it would. I guess I was repressing all of that. Or maybe it's the testosterone rush post-run and pre-Super Bowl. Hm.

Huge long boring post, but here's the upshot - The rumor mill says that Nike is going to push out a new watch that'll let you bypass the iPod altogether. I'll buy that. Then I'll get a MP3 player that doesn't shackle me to a player. Heck, even the Microsoft Plays For Sure would be better than this because they license it out. That way you get options in hardware and in software. There are no options with the iPod. Except color.

Don't worry though, I'm not buying a Zune. I may be frustrated, but I'm not crazy.