Archive for October 2008

Anil Dash on Sarah Palin

28 October 2008 | 0

Dash offers up a great look at the language Palin uses, and how it allows her incite a riot in the Republican base, yet still avoid charges by the media that she is in fact inciting those very riots. Scary stuff.

An Android in My Pocket

23 October 2008 | 1

I got my G1 on Tuesday, and two days in, I already love it. It’s largely eliminated my need to carry my iPod touch with me everywhere. Sure, there are problems, and I’m constantly comparing it to the aforementioned gadget, but most of the issues I find with it (with the notable exception of multi-touch) look to be resolvable with software.

My biggest issue so far is that it’s really, really easy to get lost. The screen transitions so readily apparent in the iPhone are truly useful, giving you a sense of flow and sequencing that make the system feel much more physical and navigable. I don’t know what degree of difficulty there would be in trying to get something similar implemented in Android, but it should definitely be doable now that the system has been open sourced. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that very feature built into Android version 2.0.

I also find myself not very keen on all the buttons on the chin of the device. The iPhone shows us you can get away with just two physical buttons (Home and Power/Lock/Sleep), and taking a cue from that design would have been nice. I have to admit, the scrollball is a nice input mechanism, but I would have preferred that be the only addition above the two buttons of the iPhone. The Menu button is a constant source of consternation for new users, as everyone I’ve let play with my phone gets totally confused when they try to figure out how to input a URL in the browser. One could argue it’s a case of having been trained by Apple’s devices, but I think there is an obvious disconnect between the locus of attention (the address bar) and the physical button at the other end of the device you have to click on to interact with it. Again, it’s resolvable in software, but only if developers eschew the Menu button.

Speaking of the address bar, a non-physical keyboard would be handy at times… I find myself missing it, but that feels more like a UI convention I’ve become accustomed to with my iPod, than an actual limitation of the device.

Enough complaints, though… what’s good? The Google apps integration is seriously top notch. My email always hits my phone first, before it hits either my desktop or my iPod email client, and IM and search are really well done. The Market is good, comparable to the App Store, and will only get better as we get more apps (someone build a better Wikipedia browser than what’s up there now and I will be forever in your debt… oh, and I could use a PDF reader while you’re at it…). The fact that it has removable storage means I can make this device grow with my disk usage, and SD cards will only get cheaper and higher capacity.

Overall, it’s a solid device, and I’m happy with the fact that it’s open source and that it has a much more open development and distribution model than the iPhone. Of course, you have to do development in Java instead of Objective-C, and you don’t have the benefit of Xcode or Interface Builder, so whether that development is even worth doing is another question.

The only thought that I have left after playing with this device for two days is…

How does not having a non-carrier based Android device affect Google’s potential developer base… and when are we going to see the iPod touch equivalent of the G1?

Oh god, I hope it’s not my fault

22 October 2008 | 1

I’m now particularly glad that I sent $15 to MoveOn… this is damn hilarious.

Birthday Birthday!

22 October 2008 | 1

So, this is a little late coming, but my birthday was a couple of weeks ago. The day of my birthday was pretty quiet — I picked up my little one from school and headed up to my mom’s for a quiet little family get-together with my mom, dad, brother, sister and Ali. The night before I had met with Robb do crank out some frames for an animated sequence of one of his short flicks, and afterwards he and I got together with a small group of my closest friends for drinking and good conversation at the Chatterbox in St Paul. That was the night of the second debate, so we had plenty to chat about, and it seemed everyone had a good time — I know that I certainly did.

Hannah had told me weeks in advance to save the weekend following my birthday for a big surprise she had planned for me. We had joked about it for a while, with her asking me “what do you think we’re going to do?” and “where do you think we’re going to go?” and me offering up ever more ridiculous locations: “I hear Des Moines is nice this time of year”; “What’s going on in Bismarck?”; “I’ve always wanted to go back to Winnipeg.” At one point, I even suggested she might take me on a staycation to St Paul, since I have a special bond with the city I attended college in, a city Hannah lovingly refers to as “East Minneapolis.”

Little did I know the adventure that was in store for me on Saturday at 2:00. She told me to pack a days worth of clothing, as well as some nicer “out on the town” clothes, and we headed eastward. At this point, I was thinking “well, maybe we’ll go to her dad’s in Afton, or we could even go as far as Madison.” When we exited in St Paul, then it hit me: We really are going to St Paul for my birthday.

Our first stop was Heimie’s Haberdashery, the finest mens’ clothing shop in the metro. I had never been in before, despite having spent a fair amount of time wandering the streets of downtown St Paul, but I had heard great things from Hannah’s dads. Upon entering, I was surprised (but not too surprised) to see Richard, Hannah’s dad there. He and Hannah informed me that we were to be picking out some fancy new clothes for me, which we then proceeded to do. I got placed in a pretty sharp pair of slacks, button down shirt, sweater, sport coat and scarf, a few of which I ended up leaving the store with, the rest staying behind to be tailored to a perfect fit (I have to admit, I look damn sexy in the whole shebang).

After the clothing adventured, we walked the edge of Rice Park to the St Paul Hotel, where Hannah had arranged a fancy suite for us, right in the heart of the city and across the street from Rice Park (the cutest little European-inspired park in the city). We unpacked our bags, watched some TV, ordered some room service, and just hung out and relaxed for a few hours before dinner.

Hannah hadn’t planned dinner (she did try to get us in at Meritage, but it was booked), so I decided on Pazzaluna, an Italian restaurant I’d heard great things about but also never checked out. We got all fancied up and walked outside and across the street for dinner. The drinks at Pazzaluna were superb, and the gnocchi was seriously to die for; it just melted in your mouth (my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it…).

After our amazing and romantic meal, we decided to take an evening stroll around the city. We wandered up and down the river, stopping to chat and kiss and explore the buildings. We eventually made our way back into the downtown, to the area I referred to as the “dimly lit part of St Paul.” Eventually we ended up passing by a little bar called Señor Wong. The bar was new, and I had never heard of it, but since the night was still young and our hotel was within stumbling distance, Hannah suggested we take a peek inside and maybe grab a drink or two.

We got inside, and Hannah seemed to be actively looking for something, but I wrote it off as her being curious. Then it hit me:

“SURPRISE!”

You know that moment when you run into someone, like a business associate or a school acquaintance, but they’re out of context, like at a grocery store or a Death Cab for Cutie concert? That was the experience that I had seeing my family in this bar I had never heard of, in a city they rarely come to, at 9:00 in the evening. When it hit me that I was actually looking at my family and friends, and yes, Hannah had indeed arranged this whole thing far in advance, and had thrown my the first surprise party in my 28 years on this earth, I was blown away. Hannah had even arranged for the bar to mix a special birthday drink for me: a sort of a caipirinha with fresh limeade. My friends and I all drank and chatted and ate and had a great time (watching Michael fail miserably at drunken pool was a particular highlight). Hannah had pulled off the perfect surprise party for me, and given me a birthday day to remember… I’m most definitely the luckiest guy ever to have managed to end up with her.

Thanks, honey… you’ve set quite a bar for me to try to hit for your birthday next month ;)

Hot off the press

21 October 2008 | 0

We got a little write up in the Rake a couple of days ago. Yes, we really are a sexy, sexy agency.

Android-Powered

9 October 2008 | 0

I’m glad to see that John Gruber picked up on this:

In the same way that Apple took Mac OS X and Cocoa and shrunk them to serve as a handheld device OS, I think Google could take Android and grow it to serve as a PC OS.

I’ve been having similar thoughts lately, and I won’t be surprised if, when Android is fully open sourced later this year, we begin to see the system become the OS of choice on netbooks and eventually generic PC laptops and desktops. It will, as Gruber also points out, be a nice alternative desktop environment to Gnome and KDE, even though I have some alternative desktop environment allegiances of my own.

The Choice

7 October 2008 | 0

The New Yorker has a beautiful and insightful endorsement of Obama:

We cannot expect one man to heal every wound, to solve every major crisis of policy. So much of the Presidency, as they say, is a matter of waking up in the morning and trying to drink from a fire hydrant. In the quiet of the Oval Office, the noise of immediate demands can be deafening. And yet Obama has precisely the temperament to shut out the noise when necessary and concentrate on the essential. The election of Obama—a man of mixed ethnicity, at once comfortable in the world and utterly representative of twenty-first-century America—would, at a stroke, reverse our country’s image abroad and refresh its spirit at home. His ascendance to the Presidency would be a symbolic culmination of the civil- and voting-rights acts of the nineteen-sixties and the century-long struggles for equality that preceded them. It could not help but say something encouraging, even exhilarating, about the country, about its dedication to tolerance and inclusiveness, about its fidelity, after all, to the values it proclaims in its textbooks. At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader’s name is Barack Obama.

“I disagree with what the majority of the American people want”

6 October 2008 | 0