Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s C.E.O.


Been feeling really stuck lately. So many events have occurred recently on so many opposite ends of the spectrum. It seems for every good event in my life I have one that is so disheartening that it really takes away my ability to feel motivated to do anything at all.
I returned yesterday from a really great trip to Washington DC. My father lives there and Princess Bethany and I have many friends that live out that way to. Despite the inclement weather (icy and sleet ridden due to a nor’easter that blew through – more on that later) we managed to see a lot of the sights and spend the quality time we wanted to with friends and relatives. A really great time had.
Of course, as said previously, lately it seems that life can’t let me have a good time without giving me something horrible to balance it. It turns out that the nor’easter mentioned earlier caused major airline cancelations on Thursday and Friday while we were in DC. In turn, stranding over 100,000 people. many of them at Philadelphia International Airport, where it just so happened we were due to connect through to Minneapolis/Saint Paul (where we live) on Sunday. Are you asking how that bad weather on Thursday caused any issues for me on Sunday? Well, here is how…
When the nor’easter that hit the east cost on Thurs/Fri caused all the airlines to cancel flights, the solution that U.S. Airways came up with to get those people, now stranded for days, to their destinations was to cancel a slew of regular flights on Saturday and Sunday (i.e. mine) to cover those rebookings. Smart, huh? Here is the deal… The airport industry runs their fleets with as few flights as possible these days in order to ensure that every flight is full. In fact, more often than not, they overbook as it is cheaper to bump people than to risk a less than full flight. Therefore, when weather issues cause cancelations, there is no “breathing room” and it causes a domino effect. People like myself flying on Sunday arrived in Philly to find our flights had been cancelled. As a matter of fact, the real kicker is that they were canceled long before we boarded in Washington DC and they did not even bother to tell anyone. We were just stranded in Philly with no way to get home other than to wait on standby for the next flight. In this case the first one was the following morning! Oh, and we were not the only ones. There were over 40 people waiting on standby for a flight to Minneapolis alone. And this was the airline’s plan amazingly enough.
Now one may think… “Wow, it must cost them so much money to put people up in hotels and give them free tickets for the trouble”
This is where you would be wrong. You see, all of this was still considered “Weather Related” and airlines do not have to compensate you in any way whatsoever when it is the fault of weather. Not to mention the fact that I was flying on free tickets from being bumped last year from a flight complicated matters as they were not even obligated to find me a flight on another airline…
We spent Sunday night in the airport, waiting for the 8:00 AM flight. Then, along with the 40 or so others, the 9:45 AM, the 1:30 PM, the final flight at 8:00 PM. All of them were full. No one was leaving from the standby group. We were stuck.
The airline gave me a voucher so that myself and my sons could go sleep in a hotel Monday night so we could return early on Tuesday and go at it again…
We eventually did make it home but, damn, what an experience…
The point of all of this is that life has been taking big chucks out of me lately. Out of my time. Out of my desire. Out of my soul. The burglary, the travel, the workload. It has all gotten the best of me.
I will get out of this mood and get to posting again. I mean, there is a lot of cool stuff going on. Hopefully, in the coming days I will find the heart to say something about it.

Remainders 03.09.2007

Take a look a these sexy action list planning pads from Behance.
MoCo Loco has a quick peek at the Moleskine City Notebook for New York City and mostly likes what it sees. We used the Barcelona model while we were there and found it very useful – especially the maps and being ale to write down addresses for places we wanted to go.
You just have to check out Timbuk2’s new line of Moleskine Notebook Covers as well. Very nice. I have been a fan of their bags for a very long time (10 years). If that is not enough, they have a whole line of office pr0n.
Since my laptop was stolen, and I need to keep as much out “in the cloud” as I can until I purchase a replacement, I have been using Google Reader for my RSS addiction. You know what? This is a very nice web based feed reader. I may actually find myself sticking with it. It has been very nice to have my feeds available to me any place I can access a browser.

Back and Gone

The Good News…
Bethany and I have arrived safely back home and had a wonderful honeymoon in Spain. It was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. A perfect honeymoon. We found people very friendly and, since we stayed in the old parts of the towns, very easy to walk most places. I think I lost about 10 pounds while there because of the amount of walking we did.
The Bad News…
This past weekend, while we were still away, our house was broken into. They kicked in our two inch thick solid wood back door, literally off it’s hinges. We are still enumerating the items taken. Suffice to say that it is totaling in the thousands of dollar range. All of our laptops, iPods, a DVD player, some watches from my collection, about a third of our wine collection and more booze on hand, some cash, gift cards… And that is only about half the list. Even more painful is that Bethany did not have a very recent backup so lots of her work is lost.
Therefore, please bear with the continued delay between posting as we try to recover (and since my main computer was one of the ones taken).

Hello from Seville, Spain

Not much time to type. Trying to fit a lot of internet into a little bit of time. Just wanted to post real quick about how things are going so far. Here are just a few of the highlights…

  • Barcelona is a wonderful city and we did not have nearky enough time there. The apartment we found on Craigslist was perfect and the host, Kevin, was gracious and kind. The aprtment itself was very well located and was easy access to all of the main parts of the city. I can not detail all of the things we did here, I will do that when I return. Let me just say that there were all sorts of wonderful moments and surprises. Too many to list.
  • Seville is proving to be equally special in its own way. It is a beautiful city. Very old world. Very respecful of its many influences. We saw and amazing flamenco show last night, had tapas in some wonderful little local bars and had a great walking tour today. We hope to get a carriage ride in as well before we head on to Ronda tomorrow.

  • Being able to have the Nokia N800 for internet and VoIP access has been a life saver. It has been a breeze connecting from wherever we can. I even was able to do a little ¨wardriving¨¨with it last night when language barriers prevented the night hotel person and I from figuring out I needed to know what the password was. I simply walked around with the N800 and let it scan for networks until I found an open one. I then connected, started up Gizmo Project and was able to call back home.

All in all this has been an amazing honeymoon so far. Even though Bethany is a bit under the weather we are managing to make the most of every minute. I may post again but I will certainly do a few posts when we return. I would like to go into more detail about so much of what we have seen.

Off to Spain

Princess Bethany and I will be leaving tomorrow for our, much delayed but well deserved, honeymoon to Spain. Here are some details, thoughts, and observations I have before we leave:

  • We plan on visiting several cities over a 12 day period including Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Ronda and Granada which should give us a fair sense of the country as a whole.
  • Most of our travel within Spain will be via Vueling Airlines. They seem kind of like a Spanish version of Easy Jet. Unbelievably cheap fares for travel within Spain. We are not making reservations. We will just show up at the airport, choose the flight we want, put some cash down, and go. Adventure baby!

  • While we are staying in hotels in most of the places we are visiting, in Barcelona we will be renting an apartment in the Raval area we found offered on Craigslist. I have had several e-mails back and forth with the very friendly host of the place – he seems like a great guy. I even was able to use Paypal for the deposit. I feel so very 21st century.

  • We will be leaving our laptops behind. Instead, I will be bringing the Nokia N800 and a Think Outside Bluetooth Keyboard for our connectivity needs. We will not only use it for internet and e-mail access but also plan on using Gizmo Project to make cheap VoIP calls. I plan to post about how this works when we get back.

  • I also have a Moleskine City Notebook for Barcelona which I plan to use the heck out of while there. I have already started writing phone numbers for airlines, lodging details, etc. that I will need. I plan on trying to keep notes on places we eat, things we see, etc. I will post about this as well shortly after returning.

Although we will most likely have internet access available wherever we will be staying, posting will be slower than even it’s recent slow levels. As stated above, I plan to post much of my experience when I get back to compensate. Also, I will most likely be slow to respond to e-mail or comments. I will be on my honeymoon after all.

Open To The Possibility

I am not a hacker. I am not a guy who really needs to know what is going on under the hood. When it comes to technology, I like it to “just work”. I don’t want to have to needlessly tinker with it. This does not mean that I wont tinker if the need arises. I just would prefer not to have to do it unless I want to do so or have to do so, but I prefer the option to be mine. While the words “some assembly required” actually make me a little nervous, increasingly words like “this will void your warranty” or “this will break your licensing agreement” make me even more so.
I am not an open source zealot. That being said, the idea of software that is open source, hardware that is open and standards that are open, garners an increasing amount of weight in my making the decision to use technology. Here are some examples:

  • When it came time for me to purchase a new wireless router, I chose one that was based on open source firmware. It works just fine for my needs as it is out of the box. I have no plans to flash it with alternative and more feature rich firmware an time soon. I may never do so. It is just the possibility to be able to do so that appealed to me over other alternatives. The fact that I could add features or capabilities beyond the factory defaults if I wanted to was a huge selling point.
  • One of the big selling points in the purchase of my Nokia N800 was the fact that the software platform that drives it is open source and the Nokia’s own developers are really active participants in the open source project. The platform is based on Linux so there are hundreds of applications being ported to the platform. In other words, out of the box the device is very useful but with so many others able to develop for the N800, it can be so much more.

  • I have increasingly been using Jabber for IM over iChat/AIM. It is the default protocol in the Google Talk client bundled with the N800. iChat also supports Jabber so it easy for my existing “buddies” to find me there.

  • I use GizmoProject over Skype for VoIP. Gizmo is open. Skype is not.

The point is, “open” has become huge for me and I really did not see it coming. I never would have imagined it before recently. Now it is one of the first things I consider when embarking on any technology decision. I suspect I am not alone. I suspect that there are many out there just like me. We are not hackers, makers, zealots or freaks. We don’t want to have to tinker with technology. We just want the option. We just want to be open to possibility.

Remainders 02.15.2007

37 Signals introduces Highrise (formerly Sunrise), their contact management solution.
Throw a few bones (seven of them to be exact) to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and pick up this nifty set of stickers. They are fighting for your digital freedoms after all. Plus it will give you a lot of geek cred. (via Boing Boing)
Gizmodo emeritus Joel Johnson has unleashed an editorial spanking that rips all the gadget sites a new one. It is nothing short of breathtaking. One of the most hilarious and spot on editorials I have ever read. (via Daring Fireball)
Zen Habits offers a great little tutorial – 3 Steps to a Permanently Clear Desk.
It has been a long dream of Princess Bethany and I to eat at world renowned restaurant The French Laundry. We have not been able to because they close for their winter break the same time as I am in the San Francisco/Napa area during Macworld every year. Perhaps we should do what this person is doing – Cooking every meal in The French Laundry Cookbook and blogging about it. If only I had the time… (via Megnut)

Remainders 02.10.2007

Multi-Touch on steroids… In the not so distant future, we will all interact with computers just like this. (via MacDevCenter)
Here is a great little video of how the way we are using computers in today’s Web Two-Point-Oh-no-you-didn’t! world is actually teaching the machine more about us. (Thanks Carly)
Interesting article about the construction of a “doomsday vault” in Norway designed to hold around 2 million seeds representing all know ieties of the worlds crops in case of catastrophic worldwide loss. (via WorldChanging)