Print Story Oh crap! It's a fire alarm at 4:25am.
By lm (Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 08:38:48 AM EST) (all tags)
Somebody must be on fire or something.

Regardless of whomever it was that was on fire, the all clear came in just before 5am.

Every now and then, I hate living in a high rise.

At least the weather was nice. Warm, but not hot. I was quite comfortable padding around in shorts, tee shirt and sandals.

I find two things comforting about the situation. The local fire department responded quickly and professionally. My daughter heard the alarm first, came into our bedroom to make sure that we heard the alarm and then promptly exited the building.

If the alarm ends up being the result of something silly, I think tarring and feathering is in order. Or maybe we should install stocks in front of the building . . .

:: :: :: :: ::

My mustache befuddles me. Two nights ago, it seems to have grown overnight by leaps and bounds. The end result is that yesterday it began to present itself in every foodstuff that I took a bite of. It's really odd to take a bit of food and taste mustache.

Fortunately, I can still drink out of a cup without dipping. I'm not certain why that is. Somebody could do a very nice paper on why mustaches get in your mouth when eating but not when drinking or vice versa. Objective research is clearly needed.

Speaking of mustaches, mine almost killed my thesis advisor. I have her for a class this term. She didn't recognize me and when taking the role, she was trying to pick out students based on their pictures taken when they received their university ID. She got to me and couldn't place my face with one of the pictures on the print out. Finally she asked who I was in her thick European accent. I said, "I'm lm." Her eyes popped out of her skull, she swooned, almost falling over, and she couldn't stop laughing for five to ten minutes.

Regardless of however deadly it may be, I think it's time to break out the mustache wax. That should keep it out of my food.

:: :: :: ::

This semester looks interesting course wise.  A class on William of Ockham (of Ockham's razor fame), one on Ibn Rushd (more commonly known as Averroes in the west) and whether Thomas of Aquinas properly understood his theory of the intellect, and one of the 20th century philosophy of science. In the latter, I'm hoping that the professor that helped me understand Wittgenstein can help me understand Quine. Quine baffles me in an odd way. I think I understand his points but I feel like there is some significance there that I don't quite grasp. And, judging by the remarks one of my professors made on a paper about Quine, my feelings are representative of objective reality.

I also really need to finish my thesis this term. I spoke with the dean of the school over the health problems I've been having. He gave me some sound advice on various approaches to take and informed me that, so long as I keep enrolled for the thesis advisory course, if I need to drop everything else, I'll at least be able to finish my MA.

:: :: ::

Those health problems have been preliminary diagnosed as COPD.  If COPD is indeed what I have, I have the lesser of two evils, chronic bronchitis. (The greater of two evils being emphysema.)  Medically, my best hope is that it is a misdiagnosis and the real culprit is environmental allergies or the like But if the diagnosis is sound, it's incurable albeit treatable at my stage.

In other health news, I'm up to running 5 miles three times a week.  For the present, I've given up on running every day. My ankles started hurting a bit. It's not a horrific pain, more like "Hey! Dude! You need to stop soon!" rather than "Hey! Dude! STOP NOW!" Hopefully, it'll fade away as I keep running regularly. Times, of course, blow chunks. I'm doing ten minute, eleven minute miles. If  I push myself and do an eight minute mile, I start wheezing hard enough that I can hear it without my hearing aids in.

The weekdays that I don't run (and Saturday), I've been using the weight machines. I'm back up to the weight I was at before I started getting sick in the spring. But I can only do one complete circuit of the six upper body exercises I do. More circuits will come with time. On the flip side, I'm back up to three full sets of 40 sit-ups holding my 5Kg medicine ball over my head.

:: ::

I finally threw in the towel and gave up on the iPad. I bought a 10" Mac Book Air to replace it. I really liked the iPad but it really boiled down to software problems that de-motivated me to work.

(a) Task switching blows.  For example, switching back and forth between a PDF viewer (or a web page) and a text editor is unwieldy and inconvenient. Part of this is the fault of the OS. There is no good gesture (that I know of) for switching between apps and the hot keys that you expect to be able to switch (when using a bluetooth keyboard) don't work. Part of this is the fault of the apps. Most want to reload the document afresh when you switch away and switch back. When doing research (say, being in the middle of page in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) and writing papers, this is highly inconvenient.

(b) Wi-Fi is not as ubiquitous as it seems. Arguably, this is my fault for not getting the 3g version of the iPad. This, in itself would not be so bad except for the next point.

(c) Document management blows chunks. Managing documents on my Palm Pilot Pro back in the nineties was not only more intuitive but also more sophisticated than what is available on the iPad. Part of this is the fault of the software vendors. So far as I can tell none of the text processors on the iPad save files while they are being created like the apps for the Palm platform used to (and presumably still do). But the OS, or at least the dev guidelines, seem to support the status quo rather than encouraging the paradigm of the Palm platform (and Google docs) where the save button is obsolete. The flip side of this is that moving documents back and forth is also non-intuitive and hard than it needs to be.

(d) I can't install TeX.

So in the end, after just over a year of use, I give iOS a C- for being the foundation of a general purpose computing device. I wanted to like it. The hardware is great. Battery life is awesome. But between Apple and its ISVs, it just doesn't make it easy to do what I need a computer to do. And, sadly, all the limitations I've come up against are arbitrary ones. They are design decisions rather than inherent limitations of the platform.

So far, my biggest grip about the Mac Book Air is that Apple doesn't make a smaller version.


Speaking of technology, I have a new phone. I splurged and bought an Android (Sidekick 4g).

On the pro side, that thing is frigging loud. I can't ever recall having a mobile phone that I could hear so well on. Not only that, but I can hear it ring while it's in my pocket.

Also on the pro side, it has a bzillion convenient apps.

On the con side, the system software kind of blows chunks. It's unwieldy and unintuitive compared to iOS. I suspect that this perception will fade over time as I use it more. After all, most perceptions of being unintuitive are really being used to doing something a different way. Nevertheless, I think I'll always miss Apple's iOS policy of apps shutting all the way off after x minutes if you shift focus to another app. It's quite inconvenient to have to switch to the task manager to make sure all the apps are shut down lest they drain the battery.

Also on the con side, the touch screen is difficult to work accurately. And it has some problems, for example, if I put the phone in my shirt pocket with the screen facing my body, I have to wait for the screen to reach ambient temperature of the room I'm in before it will register that I'm clicking on the screen.

Last of the cons is that the buttons are far too easy to hit by accident. In standby mode in my front pants pocket, it can manage to turn itself on which means that something hit the "power" button and then swiped the screen to unlock it. Two days ago, I put it in a rubberized case so hopefully that will fix that because the buttons are now more difficult to randomly press.

Time will tell, but over all I think it's a decent phone.

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Oh crap! It's a fire alarm at 4:25am. | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
Mustache management by ana (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:31:05 AM EST
 I think the thing has a mind of its own, not so very unlike a cat in your lap while you're trying to eat. If it likes whatever's offered, it's in there. If not, well, it behaves, kinda sorta.

Mine has started investigating dental flossing.

My mom played in the band in college, and from time to time through the intervening decades, the alumni band invites people in to play for homecoming. One guy she knew then was more recently involved in playing his trombone in an oom-pah band on Larimer Street in Denver (which was being revitalized in the 1990s to look like the 1890s or something such). He had a handlebar mustache. So she asked him how he kept it doing what it should be doing.

"Epoxy," he answered.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

Now that I'm showered . . . by lm (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:44:51 AM EST
Murray's Wax seems to be doing the trick. We'll see how well it lasts. Murray's is basically an admixture of beeswax and petroleum jelly. Given that one application would last for a week keeping my flattop standing up proper (back when I had a flattop) I have moderatly high hopes for its ability to keep my mustache in line.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Mustache Wax by FlightTest (2.00 / 0) #10 Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 06:34:26 PM EST
FYI, don't let anyone strap a 100% oxygen mask to you.  Good chance of setting your mustache on fire.  Petroleum + pure O2 = bad things.  Yes, some pilots (not me) learned this the hard way. 

[ Parent ]
That is a good fact to know by lm (2.00 / 0) #11 Sat Sep 10, 2011 at 07:22:28 PM EST
I'm already a bit trepidatious about my upcoming family reunion and campout. Long hours spend around a campfire with a inflammable coating on my mustache doesn't sound like the brightest idea in the world.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Same goes for Benzoyl Peroxide. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 12:44:01 AM EST
Or any perixide, really.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Or peroxide even. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 12:45:51 AM EST
This comment has been sponsored by vodak.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Android & Battery by Herring (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:44:09 AM EST
I installed a thing called Juice Defender. It seems to help with battery life.

I've not used an iPhone so can't compare UIs. Seems OK though.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

I agree with the 'OK' assesment by lm (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:50:43 AM EST
Mostly I find it unintuitive in that it lacks some of the polish that iOS has. It is often the little things that make a device easy to use. As one example, I can't imagine typing signicant amounts of text without a physical keyboard on a device the size of a phone. Android (on a proper device) wins hands down there. On the other hand, I think the iPhone screen is superior to what is offered on most phones running Android.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Screen by Herring (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 10:08:39 AM EST
I have the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the screen kicks the iPhone's arse.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
The Sidekick screen is both better and worse by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 03:42:02 PM EST
I don't have an iPhone, but compared to my daughter's iPod touch, the screen of my Sidekick has a far better resolution.

But it also has issues with heat, sweat, and my fat fingers. So, I give Apple the nod based on that.

OTOH, I like having a keyboard.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Midnight fire alarm. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #5 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 09:59:08 AM EST
Several years ago when I lived in a high rise in McLean the fire alarm went off at midnight. Turns out an indian family on the 9th floor had forgotten the mac 'n' cheese on the stove... They were standing in the parking lot looking absolutely mortified.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

We've had a few incidents like that by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:41:27 AM EST
One prompted a building wide memo about paying appropriate attention to 'foodstuffs' while cooking.

Apparently this one was caused by one of the dryers. The only open question is whether it was use or abuse of the dryer that caused it to start smoking.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
It was probably by Herring (4.00 / 3) #8 Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:47:53 AM EST
peer-group pressure coupled with self-esteem issues.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
task manager by duxup (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 12:37:42 AM EST
What version of Android is that thing running? it is generally accepted that task managers are unnecessary and do more harm than good with any of the recent versions of android.

I'm not sure what version of Android by lm (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 05:34:39 AM EST
But after a few weeks, I've yet to run into any sort of problem using the stock Task Manage app that came with it.

I have, however, run out of memory because I've had too many "windows" open and have had to use the Task Manager to clear out all the applications in RAM. And the battery seems to last longer if I do the same after I've been using anything.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Oh crap! It's a fire alarm at 4:25am. | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)