So You Want to Write a Book?

You gotta love O’Reilly. Not only are they one of the major publishers of computer and technical publications around (if not the most major), they are also one of the most open and progressive. Therefore, the very forward thinking, detailed and encouraging So You Want to Write a Book? guide for new authors section at … Continue reading “So You Want to Write a Book?”

You gotta love O’Reilly. Not only are they one of the major publishers of computer and technical publications around (if not the most major), they are also one of the most open and progressive. Therefore, the very forward thinking, detailed and encouraging So You Want to Write a Book? guide for new authors section at their site should come as no surprise. That still doesn’t diminish the fact that it is very cool and a good primer for all aspiring writers.

On DNA and The Soul

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a great interest in the intersection of science and spirituality.
I was listening to a podcast of the CBC program Quirks and Quarks. There was an interesting story on about a genetic scientist, Dr. Edward Rubin, who is removing the “junk” DNA from mice in order to find out if it has any effect. As you may already be aware, the vast majority of our genome is made up of DNA that, from all apparent evidence, has no purpose that we know of. Well, the only way to really test this is to remove this “junk” DNA and see if we can tell any differences between those that have had the junk removed and those that have not. His findings: There is not decernable difference in the mice.
Now, he did clearly state that this is in no way a good test as mice are not nearly as complex as humans so therefore the tests we have to measure possible differences are limited. He just wanted to get his preliminary findings “out there”.
This got me to thinking, what if we go further into this and start testing on humans only to find out, when it is way to late, that this “junk” is actually our souls. That because we do not have any way to identify and measure the soul we therefore have no way to classify this portion of our DNA. Being that this “junk DNA” is a much larger quantity than the “usable DNA” we could find that all living creatures are defined mostly by our souls. By removing it, we are creating creatures that, by all physical accounts seem normal but, in fact, are now differentiated by the fact that they have no souls.
(Funny aside, maybe we will be able to tell the difference because all of these soulless folks will become politicians and lawyers)
Include in this idea the recent findings, as reported in a recent Time Magazine cover story, that our need as humans to seek out some form of spirituality may be inherent in our genes, and you have the makings of a some intriguing ideas and even more intriguing outcomes.

iTunes 4.9

I know I am a bit late with this. Therefore, you may already be quite aware that Apple has released iTunes 4.9 that has built in support for Podcasts. Those who know me know that I am a fairly recent convert to the whole Podcast phenomenon but I have become a big fan. I think it is the only viable independent alternative to todays corporate dominated radio.
With iTunes 4.9, Apple has not only thrown it’s support behind this medium but also made it ridiculously simple to subscribe to, mange and sync those Podcasts to your iPod. The implementation is amazingly elegant and practical. Not only that but they also make it easy to search for new Podcasts that you may not be already aware of, thus opening up a whole new stream of audiences to those that produce these shows.
Now my only problem is finding the time to listen to all of the ones I have subscribed to. A 45 min. commute certainly helps but that is still not nearly enough time to listen to all that I would like. That is one of the problems with too much choice, if one is not careful it will become a curse rather than a blessing.


What is Writeboard? Is it a Wiki? Is it a web based whiteboard? One that can be used for anything from brainstorming to mind mapping to basic word processing? Could it be yet another über-application for collaborative and organizational from our friends and yours at 37 Signals?
Well, to answer that question we will just have to wait. A painful wait fueled by the sort of wanting, dare I say longing, that org-geeks like myself seem to do with cool new toys. Jason Fried does give us some clues on Signal vs. Noise. I guess we have no choice but to wait and see.
That being said, if it is a brain-stormy-mind-mappy sort of thing, that would come in real handy right about now. Bethany Snugglewombat and I are going to sit down this weekend and start to brainstorm on all of the lists, projects, plans and hurdles we must overcome in order to merge our lives, and those of my sons, into one household (hers). We have already set up a Basecamp site to manage the project that will spring forth from this but will have to do all of our brainstorming on good old pad of paper (which has it’s benefits for sure).
In any case, I am looking forward to whatever the heck it is no matter what.

Long time gone

Sorry for the length of time between posts. I was in Seattle and Portland on vacation. Bethany had a conference out that way so we decided to have me tag along and tack a couple of days on the back end to enjoy a little R and R.
We had a great time. Seattle is a really nice city. Very hip and cool and all of the things I had heard about it. Good food. Good shopping. Great views and fast efficient public transportation. It reminded me very much of the Twin Cites with it’s well kept and defined neighborhoods offering a real since of community. Lots of local businesses and home grown flavor. Trendy without being forced.
My good friend Avery came down with his wife Maureen came down from Vancouver to hang out with me there while Bethany was slaving away at her conference. I had not seen him in a while and it was a real treat. Especially since he was kind enough to bring down some cigars that are not available in the states due to our country’s outdated and backwards thinking trade policies.
Portland was a little different than expected. I had read several recent magazine articles about the city and it’s revitalization and its new found swank. Therefore, I was expecting it to be like, well, Seattle. Like I wanted it to be more than it was. What I found instead was a city that was very bohemian. Hippy but not hip. Many nice little spots but no cohesion. No overall sense of what it was or wanted to become.
I always find it interesting to visit other cities in our fair and free country. Especially because I think the “feel” of a city directly affects the people, companies and press that comes from it. Portland has been getting a ton of good press lately. It is the sort of press that Seattle used to get in the early 1990’s before they became “Seattle”. It seems like a city on the rise, attempting to capitalize on and refine it’s bohemian roots yet not quite sure it wants to go there.
This is not to say that we did not have a good time in Portland. Seeing my friend Paul was a blast. I had not seen him in several years. He was an excellent host easily flowing from his personal experiences in the city (he has lived there most of his life) to local history, politics and geography. We did some hiking in the mountains, had some great meals (breakfast at the Tin Shed was a highlight) and some unexpected surprises (McMenamin Pubs and an impromptu art viewing at his friend’s gallery).
On a sad note, I lost my digital camera while in Seattle. Bethany, Avery and Maureen (his wife) ate dinner at The Bombay Grill on Friday night. The food was very good but I brought my digital camera in to take pictures. It was in a case and I sat it by my chair. I forgot all about it and, therefore, never moved it from beside my chair. We were having a good time and were the very last people in the restaurant besides the staff when we finally decided to leave. Bethany and I arrived back in our room and it was then that I realized that I left the camera at the restaurant. I called the following day and several days after and they claim that it was not found… Now, this means that someone must have taken it (i.e. one of the staff) as we were the last ones out that were not staff.
I wish I could say that this was simply a plan to provide a reason to get a new digital camera especially the one I have been lusting after for a while. Alas, if it was, I would have made sure that I could afford a new one first. Since I can’t, I guess I will have to be without for a while.

OK, I am ready now… Apple and Intel

OK, unless you have been living under a rock or just plain don’t follow these things, Apple is planning on switching to Intel Processors within the next year. Not a special intel processor just for them but a regular old CISC based x86 processors just like the ones every PC manufacturer uses. The implications of this are huge. I am not entirely sure what Apple is thinking here and this all makes me very worried about Apple’s long term outlook. Why? Well, let me do the bullet point summary:
• Apple is a hardware company. Apple has always been a hardware company. Apple make the vast majority of it’s profits on the sales of it’s hardware. Apple has traditionally made software for one reason… To add value to (and, therefore, help sell) hardware. Take iTunes and the iTunes Music Store for example, Apple makes the player for Mac and PC and gives it away free. Apple sells songs on the iTunes Music Store that only work on the iPod and they make little to no profit on those sales (and by some accounts actually take a loss). Why? To sell iPods which have a huge profit margin and have been a huge hit. Mac OS X, while being an excellent piece of software, exists to add value and functionality and an operating system to the Macintosh hardware. That is where Apple makes it’s money.
• Running on special processors have allowed Apple to be a monopoly in their own little space that they have created. If you have wanted to use Mac OS X you have had to buy Mac Hardware as Mac OS X would not run on CISC based x86 hardware. They have not had to compete with Dell or any others in the PC space because, they did not make PC hardware.
• By switching to Intel based Macs they are now opening the doors for Mac OS X to run on Intel based hardware from any manufactures. No matter what hoodoo voodoo they try to do to prevent Mac OS X from running on anything other than Mac hardware, as soon as some enterprising hacker figures out a way to make it happen anyway (and they will) then there will be no reason for anyone to buy a Mac when they can buy a cheap PC from Dell and run Mac OS X on that.
• Since Apple can’t compete with Dell on price (they just plain can’t, I dare any arguments to the contrary) then Mac sales will plummet as Apple will no longer have a monopoly.
• Now, that they are no longer a hardware company they will have to compete with Microsoft in the OS/Software war. Once again, they can’t compete in tat spacer because of Microsoft’s dominance and monopoly. No matter how much better Mac OS X is, Microsoft gives it away for free. Apple can’t do that. Period. They can’t compete.
I am sure you can see where we are going with this. Apple, as a hardware and/or a software company is doomed if it has to compete in the same space it has stayed doggedly away from having to compete in and for good reason. It was inevitable I guess because IBM was just not able to give Apple the chip performance they promised. There is a lot of speculation about who dumped who in that marriage but it really does not matter. The future is coming and, for better or worse, it can’t be avoided. I guess we will see.

My Conundrum

I am at a crossroads. As I have mentioned previously, I now use a iety of web based applications for my daily tasks. I have even found an easy to use, password protected, wiki that I am experimenting with trying to use for notes and such. I love Firefox for all of the reasons I have mentioned before (speed, customizability, etc.) but it is missing some things that I did not know how much I relied on until I was not able to use them (Mac OS X Services support, built in spell checking, autofilling of web forms to name a few). This has become even more apparent since I got on the web app bandwagon. Safari a better choice for many of the things I do but I like so many of the features of Firefox…
If anyone out there has an opinion or suggestion I would love your input.