Big Basin Camping

I took the family camping at Big Basin Redwoods State Park over the Memorial Day weekend. The park itself is pretty close to where I live (Redwood Shores) but the road over Santa Cruz mountains is torturous so we took 17 to Santa Cruz then up Highway 9 along San Lorenzo river then turned left into Highway 236 at Boulder Creek.

Arts and Wine Tasting Festival was going on at Boulder Creek but we didn't stop by. After spending a good part of my youth as a street vendor every weekend, I've lost interest in such things. Other than the adrenaline rush of making a sale and the amazement over the kind of crap people can be talked into buying, nothing memorable remains from that period.

I love being in the wood because I slip into a meditative trance of sort. Gardens do the same for me. Earliest memory of myself consists of sitting alone in the family garden, listening to silences. Sunlight hummed and shadows hushed. From my parents, silence of resolves or silence that dissolves. Winds either didn't speak or I didn't hear. When my overly sensitive child's vigil of waiting passed, I would slip into my mind as I would into a peaceful pool that offered refuge. Cool and comforting, the pool is where I return to whenever I am in the wood.

Yeah, it was a good weekend.

MacBook

So Lenovo is picking up my ex-laptop, T60p, tommorrow. I got it for a great price but, because I have a powerful desktop with large screen and buckling-spring keyboard, ThinkPad was just sitting there most of the time staring at me. It sort of felt like how I would feel if I had two wives. LOL

I realized that, since I usually work at home and visit my clients once a week for a couple of hours, what I really needed was a small personal notebook for communication and light reading/writing, not a powerful desktop-replacement. Yeah, MacBook Pro is out too. And no, I don't need to play a game nor run Vista on the thing.

So the new plan is to get a MacBook soon and, when Vista comes out, replace my desktop with a high-end machine (Merom, DX10 GPU, the works). As to which MacBook, I think the low-end MacBook (white, 1.83GHz, $1099 $999 with $100 rebate at Amazon) with 2G memory ($225) and 120G drive upgrade ($159) is attractive. As I've pointed out in the comment to my previous post:

  1. 1.83GHz is less likely to have heat issues. Since Apple has chosen to address heat issues by slowing the processor down and turning the fan on more actively, I think the performance difference between 1.83GHz and 2GHz MacBooks will be minimal. Checkout the results in MacWorld's MacBook performance test.
  2. Black is more sensitive to scratch and grease and costs more for no reason. I think grime on white can be easily wiped off until scratch builds up. At worst case, I'll just put stickers everywhere as distractors. ;-p

I am not sure if I'll get AppleCare though because third-party memory and drive upgrades might void the warranty. $249 service for a $1099 laptop notebook seems rather steep too. It's cheap enough for me to just get a new one if it breaks after a year. I am gonna give myself some time to consider. Not all the tools I need are ready yet anyway (Parallels, Eclispe, etc.).

BTW, I don't expect them to cut the price when Intel cuts the Core Duo prices end of this month. I think Apple priced the MacBooks and MacBook Pros with the price cuts in mind already and cut a deal with Intel to get enough Core Duos at the upcoming prices to supply the Apple Store with MacBooks but delayed shipment to sellers like Amazon until after Intel official drops the price. Yeah, MacBook will again look more expensive than equivalent Windows laptops. All I can say is LOL.

Update:

I've just cancelled my Amazon MacBook order after reading some first-hand stories of people having a fairly wide variety of problems. It doesn't seem to be just bad units because many of them have gone through 2-3 MacBooks, each exhibiting minor to major problems. Here are some of the problems I've read about:

  1. excessive heat – this problem seems to be a mix of design and quality control problems. Design problems led to MB running at hotter temperature than other equivalent machines. Quality control problems led to fairly large (my guestimate is ~15%) number of machines with higher temperature than the already hotter than average temperature.
  2. whine – probably a mix of design and QA problems impacting audio sensitive people (not an insignificant number I think).
  3. mooing – apparently MB and MBP fans are not variable speed so when heat builds up, the fan switches on to full speed then off. When Apple released fix to stem the tide of temperature problems, the fix apparently attempts to start up the fan more proactively. That's good except I think they neglected to make it smarter (i.e. fuzzy logic) so when temperature is at some threshhold, fan comes on and off repeatedly, leading to mooing. Bad hardware and software design.
  4. leashed CPU - when temperature is high, CPU is slowed down. On good machines, this happens only sometimes. If your machine is one of the bad ones, it happens most of the time which means you end up with 1.5GHz Core Duo, not 2GHz.
  5. LCD plus sleep – apparently screen sometimes doesn't lightup after waking and PRAM has to be reset to get it working again. Most likely a software bug.
  6. dead touchpad – could be a software or hardware problem, maybe static build up leading to software confusion.
  7. graphics corruption – some think it's GPU acting flaky under high temperature.
  8. sudden death with battery - not sure what to make of this one. Problem used to limited to computer shutting down suddenly with 30% battery life. After recent update, some are reporting this happens at 80%. Pretty odd.

The good news is that one recent strawpoll seems to say at least 75% of the MB users are not reporting any problem with their lap cough notebook. The bad news is that 25% are. Given the level of loyalty and naivetty of Mac users, I think that's pretty aweful.

Regardless of whether what I wrote above has any substance or not, I think the wise thing to do is just wait. I am bored with Windows but not excited enough with MacBook to dive into a hotbed of problems. Maybe Apple will fix the problems, maybe they won't.

Update 2:

Add discoloration to the list of problems. Yikes.

T60p Arrives

T60p was sitting on my desk when I woke up. It sure looks menacingly dark and prettily thin but damn it's surprisingly heavy like a gun.

I spent most of the day loading it up with the usual software. While at it, I also started breaking in the battery (which doesn't fit tightly into the laptop for some odd reason) by charging it fully then draining it to near empty. Supposedly, I need to do it a few times but never got around to doing it more than once because the damn thing took forever (5+ hours) to drain (/cheer T60p).

While the laptop was very solidly built, I don't see why people were raving about ThinkPad keyboard. I normally use buckling spring keyboards (put on your earmuffs, I am about to start typing!) so I guess I am spoiled. ;-p

I am pretty happy with T60p but I am going to visit an Apple store this weekend to spend some time with MacBook and MacBook Pro to make sure I wouldn't be happier with one of those. I think MBP weighs about the same as T60p though. Plain MacBook is lighter but not by much, like a saturday night special.

Choosing T60p over MacBook Pro is so sane though. I could use a bit of insanity to cut the lousy taste of reality. Sure, I'll be pulling my hair out because nothing I use everyday will work on OS X without a lot of grunting and searching but, hey, babes will dig it. LOL.

It's crazy how Mac loving folks think some beta products mean they can run Windows on Macs troublefree when it's difficult enough trying to run Windows software on Windows. Just look at all the layers of firewalls and VPNs one ends up with these days. Trying to get simple things like file sharing working means hours of fiddling and scratching like I did today. I have 3 layers of firewalls plus one built into VPN client (which I hate the most because I can't change it's security policy), none of which has easy to use UI. Running all that inside Parallels Workstation VM means adding to the suffocating firewall avalanche.

All I can say is, Oy.

Campfire Wisdom

Josh Kopelman's post 53,651 and Brad Feld's post Web 2.0: The First 25,000 Users Are Irrelevant reminded me of the many campfires I built during family camping trips — another one coming end of this month, w00t!.

Starting a campfire can be difficult, particularly in the morning because firelogs dampen overnight, so I usually use something extra to help me start the fire. So, TechCrunch is the firestarter (usually scraps of papers) and the first 25,000 users is the starting fire. Me standing in front of the fire with a ready can of firestarter liquid is harder to place though. Definitely not a VC blogger because a VC who actively and publicly cheerleads a portfolio company is more likely to set him or herself on fire. Yikes.

Just a post to compress wordy wisdom into a picture cuz I am visual guy.

ThinkPad T60p

Just ordered a ThinkPad T60p, basically 15-inch T60 with workstation quality display card (ATI FireGL v5200) and faster drive (7200rpm) to take advantage of their anniversary sale which ends May 15th. At $2199, I am saving around $550 although it's actually more like $350 if you take upcoming (end of May supposedly) Core Duo price drop for 2GHz Core Duo. Actual order price was a little over $2600 due to Office, service plan, and tax. Oh, well.

It's on the heavy side (6.25lb) but I am not a mad conference hopper so it should be alright. I am looking forward to the 15-inch Flexview others have raved about. Besides, I am pretty sure this baby will be able to run Vista handily with Aero fully enabled. Why did I not get a laptop with wide display? As a developer, I need to see more lines of code (read vertical room) than more cells or movies.

Anyhow, the details:

  • 2GHz Core Duo
  • 15-inch Flexview (1600×1200)
  • 100G drive (7200rpm)
  • FireGL v5200 (256mb)

Overall, I think this is a good deal but, unfortunately, shipping date is early June. Nuts but at least I'll have plenty of time to cancel the order if something better comes along while I wait.

Why

Just in case people who read what I write on this blog get confused, let me make it clear what I use this blog for:

  1. let go of ideas I don't want clogging up my head.
  2. let out frustrations accumulated over time.
  3. share what I feel like sharing.

I don't blog to be recognized, get credit for being first of whatever, nor to amuse anyone. I am too much of a bastard for that. This blog is here to satisfy my own needs and no one else's. I tend to give a shit too much so I am trying hard to be selfish in the sense 'I don't give a hoot if other folks in this elevator called Earth suffocates if I fart right here and right now.'

So when I rant, you are looking down the barrel of my mental or emotional shotgun. There is no purpose, political nor economic, behind the act except my need to pull the trigger. It's just mental gas. Nothing more, nothing less. If I seem reasonable, consider it an accident. If I seem to be shooting at you, that is your problem, not mine. Get your own blog and shoot back if you feel like it. If not, leave a comment like you really mean it.

Clear?

Dear RSS Advisory Board: You Are Fired!

I don't know what the hell is going on over at the RSS Advisory Board but it is starting to make my skin crawl. Who is behind all the recent activities? Whoever it is, let me say this to that person: RSS is not your milk cow.

I know many of the newly appointed members and, although I think they are wonderful people, I suspect they are being taken advantage of because I don't see why they are needed.

According to their charter, the board has three duties:

  1. publishing the RSS specification

    DONE

     

  2. guiding developers who create RSS application

    What more can they do beyond what's out there already including several books and countless examples?

     

  3. broadening the public understanding of RSS

    The public is doing just fine with RSS, finding new uses everyday, without any official broadener. The only kind of visible activities by the board I observed was broadening of the board size.

The board has nothing to do! With so many well-known names on the board, it now looks like an Indy racing car on a desert island.

Oh, I know. Why not just rename the board to Atom Advisory Board? After all, Atom is in desperate need of advising and I think the new name will fit the current board far better than RSS Advisory Board. Great idea, huh?