Saturday, July 26, 2014

Intuitive. Powerful. Orange

I realized that jobs suck, but if you could get up at 6 A.M. and bake your own breakfast, that is very satisfying. - Marco Arment

Raised in Sacramento, the launchpad of Rush Limbaugh, how could I avoid being a fan of the talk radio? Working from home I used to always have KGO playing in the background during work. These days, I am massive fan of Podcasts. It was a natural evolution. When I had a thirty-minute drive every day, that got me listening to five hours of shows a week, or did it?

I can't remember when podcasting introduced playing at "1.5x" and "2x" speed, but I feel like this happened somewhere in the iPod-mini phase of things. Maybe it was early as running Rockbox on the my Archos - who's to say? The important thing is that I bumped up to listening at 1.5x-2.x on podcast and it was great. Now, listening to normal talk radio sounds like drudgery.

I get up in the mornings with Mini-Chaos. We have our bottles (formula for him, coffee for me). We get shower and get changed. Then while he plays I listen to a show at 1.5x-2x. I wonder what it does to his brain. Is he going to be a fast talking kid like the old micro-machine commercials?

One of the developers who's on the Accidental Tech Podcast (ATP) just released a Podcast app with advanced features that cost $5. It's a big barrier to switch from using the free app from Apple to paying for this new one, but I gladly handed over my money. So much better for three reasons!

  1. "Smart Speed" - cuts out the gaps of silence. Now when I'm playing at "1.5x" it shows I'm actually hearing it at "1.6x" "1.7x" depending on how much the speakers pause. Super slick.
  2. "Voice Boost" - a real time equalizer tuned for spoken word. A common problem on my lower production-value podcasts is that some people are on nice professional mics with shields and diffusers while other people use their Apple earbuds. This feature smooths it all out so there aren't huge differences in people's volume - perfect for listening when Mini-Chaos is asleep to keep him from getting woken up by an expected loud voice.
  3. Re-orderable Playlists - The playlist feature has all sorts of stuff about priority playlists, priority order, sort bys, etc. I don't use any of that. I look at the playlist frequently to see the shows I have and then I manually re-order it. Really simple and perfect. Before whenever a show ended I would have to pull up my list and manually select the next show. Very inconvenient when driving.

I hope Mini-Chaos is getting a good education listening to all my tech, nerd, and cultural podcasts as a little tyke.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Let Us Run

When I attend church the sermons are usually addressing and prescribing for a common lack that I don’t identify with - Don Miller

Going to Catholic high school and college means that I have eight years of Catholic religious education under my belt through HS-level and college-level religious studies courses. I know the bible really well, right? Funny thing is that religious studies never meant bible study. Mostly in those courses the bible was the pre-req and we read books like Siddhartha, Man's Search for Meaning, Jungian Views of Religion, and similar contemporary works that were saturated with theology.

Since starting to go to my new church (like 5 years ago--so not that new), the small groups and series have all been bible study. I've missed the broader scope of my college courses. Over last summer our small group did a series on Acts, and I mentioned to Mrs.Chaos that reading Acts yet again is sort of interesting, but I don't expect to gain much over the three times I've already read it. I long for something fresh.

God didn't stop inspiring writers 2,000 years (-ish) ago when the last page of the bible was written, so why just read and re-read? We have two millennia of prophets and philosophers and writers to read and be inspired by. Inspiration is in places you're not looking.

Two books I've read recently that I've loved:

"The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir" by Elna Baker. I doubt she expected people to find religious inspiration out of it, but what a wonderful book (a slightly weak ending, because she's too young for her memoir to have a true ending). A young mormon girl, who had a powerful moment of religious inspiration in her early teens, and then never again. She moves to Babylon (New York) and continues maturing into a liberal woman trying to keep her faith integrated into that new life. Religion means so little in her modern life, though it once meant so much.

"A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Don Miller. Don's earlier best seller, "Blue Like Jazz" was a collection of essays and memoirs about how a young religious boy went to Reed college, had his faith challenged and lost and eventually regains it. They made a movie (I helped Kickstart it). BUT, Million Miles is about what it means when you take your life and turn it into a movie narrative. What happens if *YOU* frame *YOUR* life as a story? What happens when God writes your story? You have a goal; there is conflict to keep you from reaching it; you overcome that conflict.

One of the most common messages in church sermons is, "if you feel broken, you can be healed." My life is pretty great. I'm related to a different narrative. A common thread that speaks to me is, "if you don't feel broken, there is still much to be done." Or perhaps, "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Our church is doing a summer series on modern day inspired and inspiring people--religious leaders, writers, and missionaries who lived in the past 100 years. I have been immensely excited and interested in it. Bonhoeffer. Mother Teresa. Billy Graham. It's great stuff - it was worth waiting five years. I hope I don't have to wait another five years for the next series

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Burroti. Yum.

They say the truth will set you free, but sometimes, not telling the truth can make you lots of money. - Christopher Elliott

When I head into the office in SF I get a great opportunity to have some SF foodstuff. On my walk back to the train I grab dinner, and there are a dozen quick-grab SF eat-fast startup restaurants. They are constantly going out of business, which provides a great variety. The current place I've been diggin' is the Tava Indian Kitchen. I used to eat a lot of Indian food, but now I don't have Indian coworkers and curry disagrees with Mrs.Chaos, so I have to grab Indian on my own whenever I can.

This place is founded by former software developers. It probably won't last a year, but it's very delicious for now. The first week I got the spicy borroti (yeah, Indian burrito fusion) and it knocked me down. My tastebuds couldn't withstand flavors of that magnitude. Now I've gotten settled in with medium spicy and I love it. I buy the borroti and it while waiting on the train platform.

One of the times I was waiting at the train platform a woman walked up and asked if I had any money for food. When I said 'no', she asked if she could have the burrito in my pocket. When I said it was my dinner, she asked if she could just take a bite. I still said no, but it cracked me up.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What a World

I have never been lied to by a txt file that had been hand-aligned. - XKCD

When I was a younger boy spending my Friday nights in my parent's office, logged into BBS chatrooms and watching late-night PBS, the world was busy painting a picture of people like me that looked like Sandra Bullock on The Net. Seriously, at the time people said that's how the visualized me (*shudder*).

When I read the TMNT graffic novels, an adult comic book reader meant the Simpson's Comic Book Guy. Comics were for kids and something you gave up into adulthood, unless you read the New Yorker.

When I started programming for fun, I knew programmers ended up like Lazlo from Real Genius (how great when a show which celebrates nerds, still makes the computer scientist the reclusive large glasses guy?).

When I obsessed over The Lord of the Rings and other fantasy novels, the friends who shared that love were part of the nerd crew. People outside that group maybe had to read The Hobbit in gradeschool or saw the kids movie.

In college, when I started carrying my US Robotics Palm Pilot, everyone thought it was ridiculous. Who needs a computer in their pocket?

I didn't go through any of the bullying, reclusivity, etc. that many of my adult friends talk about - I was lucky enough to find people with similar interests by the time I was finishing gradeschool. Today, I'm amazed by the world we live in just a few short decades later. Have you noticed? Something absolutely crazy happened? How could that kid ever have imagined this world.

Highest rated show on television? Game of Thrones (and Battlestar Galactica did pretty well too)

Highest grossing movies? Superhero Movies (or epic fantasy: LotR or space scifi: Star Trek and just wait for Star Wars)

Biggest company in the world? Apple [Computers]

Average age of people who play computer games? Thirty-one. In fact there are more people over the age of thirty-six playing games than under the age of eighteen.

Sports enthusiasts love strategy role-playing games! (It's called Fantasy Football if you were wondering)

They sell Doctor Who clothing at Hot Topic. That one is worth repeating. They sell Doctor Who clothing at Hot Topic.

Oh, and basically everyone carries a computer in their pocket.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Let the Stalking Begin!

We've added two new babysitters to the mix for mini-chaos. For a lot of babysitting I'm working in the front office and available for any issues and to spy, but sometimes I'm out of town when we need a daytime babysitter.  To be those extra creepy parents we decided to buy a nanny cam.
I had a long look between the Dropcam and the Belkin NetCam. Dropcam got acquired by Nest (Google) and I love Nest.  Belkin makes the WeMo line of home automation and I love WeMo. What to do? I finally ended up going with Dropcam with hope that Google is the bigger player and high hopes that Nest, the sub company, will go all on with HomeKit later this year. It'll be interesting to see how all the home automation I've done rolls into HomeKit.
Dropcam is pretty slick! I can have it send me push alerts when there is movement during alert periods. You can even flag/name areas so if someone opens the front door between 10pm-8am I get an alert that the front door was opened and Dropbox auto records it. Pretty sweet. 
So what's the social protocol on telling babysitters about the spying camera? Do you let them know, or do you just spy?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Being Polite

Let's go back to biblical times, 1823! - Book of Mormon (The Musical, duh...)

I went to the park with Mini.Chaos for band day to sit and relax and listen to music. He had a great little time there. Mini.Chaos loves when we clap for him, and every time a song would finish, a whole audience would applaud and he would go CRAZY happy. I presume he thought there were hundreds of people clapping for him.

On the walk home a couple of mormon missionaries were biking by and I smiled and said "hi," causing them to stop their bikes and say hi back. A brief awkward exchange followed.

"Have you ever talked with missionaries before?"

"Yeah. I hope you guys have a great afternoon." Start to resume walking.

"Well, do you have time now to talk with us?" Pause walking to be polite.

"Nope - I've got a baby to get home, I just wanted to wish you a good day." Start to resume walking.

"Okay, we'll maybe we could have your address. We could swing by a more convenient time."  Pause walking to be polite.

"No, sorry.  Thanks, have a great day." Start to resume walking.

"Well, is Christ in your home? We really would love a chat." Continuing walking away...

"Yep, Christ is in our home.  Have a great day!"

In general, I think the Mormon missions do a good thing, and every time I've talked with Mormon missionaries they have been nothing but nice and polite and a little bit pushy. So I always do want to say hello, wish them well, but rarely am I casually sitting somewhere with time on my hands just ready to start chatting.

So what is the best way to have a polite and brief conversion? Or to end the conversion politely without providing them my address or phone number.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chug the Espresso

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. - T.S. Eliot

"No, coffee doesn't suppress the appetite." I heard my mother-in-law say this from across the room and turned to interject in the conversion. "Yes it does. It's well known. What do you want to bet?" People turned to look if she would take the bet and she weighed her confidence versus mine and finally decided it wasn't worth it.

I work to hard to keep my reputation as the person in the family who debunks the craziness. Both sides of my family have a habit of reading this one thing this one time and related it back as known fact. "Did you hear that the Paleo diet has been proven to cure autoimmune disease?" I hear this stuff, read the peer-reviewed studies in medical journals, and debunk the insanity.

Long story short on this one (too late), science is now inconclusive if caffeine is an appetite suppressant. More recent studies have not shown a link. Nicotine is an appetite suppressant and caffeine does increase the effects - but just caffeine alone? Inconclusive.

Oh well - it wouldn't be science unless it was sometimes proven wrong. I'm still going to drink all that coffee - it protects from all sorts of stuff like liver cancer and liver cirrhosis.