Monday, August 27, 2007

Camping and a boat

This weekend I am going to take the girls camping at Torreya State Park. Kim and Arianna will be staying home.This trip should be pretty excellent. We will be primitive camping next to the river a few miles hike. We will be there soon enough to allow for plenty of stopping along the way, as I'm sure it will be a nice little hike for my two daughters, but we've been through rougher walks in Nevada with my dad with the girls.The weather forcast calls for some rain, but if it is anything like what we had the last two days, it shouldn't be anything we can't rough through. We will bring some fishing poles and worms and hopefully catch some fish. Aurora is quite the fisher, and even if Athena and I catch nothing, she'll probably land a few.After much effort I got Vicky, Zeke's girlfriend, truck transfered in to my name. I get off work at 4:30p and the tag office closes at 5p. Because it was under a Georgia registration they needed the truck on location to verify the VIN. This presents a problem because without a license plate I can't really drive it any where. There is a tag office ~1 mile from my house so on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I drove immediately home after work but could not get the truck to the tag office before 5. On Friday I left just a little bit early and made it just in time and got everything transfered over.The truck had a problem where the head lights worked intermittenly. Most often they did not work.On Saturday I went to my parents house with Athena to pick up my Nick's boat, which he is letting us borrow indefinitely. On the trip home it started pouring down. On top of having no head lights, the left wiper was shot as well. We pulled over at the T&T canoe rentals on the Wakulla River and waited out the rain. Athena was asleep but woke up when I turned the car off and started crying that she wanted to go home. Then she had to go to the bathroom. The rain was still pouring down, but a three-year old that has to pee is not a matter to be taken lightly. I held her and ran her through the rain to the canoe rental place. The lady at the shop was just closing down on account of the weather. She let us stay on the porch as long as I promised to lock the gate behind me. When the rain settled to a small trickle we locked up behind ourselves and went back to the truck. I put switched the wipers, discovering that the working wiper isn't really for this vehicle, but work enough to not come undone, and we headed back home. While I probably should have had my head lights on, it wasn't such that I was endangering us at all.I'm not really learned in how wiring works in vehicles, other than the complete basics, so the headlights problem wasn't something I was good at hunting down. With some luck I discovered that the switch hooks up to a part that had a blown part in it. On Sunday I went by Discount Auto Parts. They told me I was going to have to get the part at the dealership. I tried NAPA and they happened to have the part, which came to some surprise to the clerk there so I guess I lucked out. With some windshield wipers everything totaled to < $50 and when I got home I now had a road worthy truck.On my drive to work this morning there was some nice rain and was glad to see the headlights and new wipers where doing me good work.The next pressing matters on the truck will be:The right rear-view mirror is non-existant.The tires need to be replaced.A good cleaning with Armor All and other cleaners.
There are other smaller matters but these have some urgency to them.
so I mentioned previously about grabbing Nicks boat. It has a working trolling motor, but the engine proper has some of it's own issues. The mounting bolts are frozen. I have serious doubt that the motor will even crank as it has not been cranked in probably four years. I know absolutely nothing about boat motors and getting it working will probably be done by paying someone. It also needs a mariner battery for the trolling motor and a charger so I can charge it in between outings.The boat's trailer needs some new tires. One of them has pretty bad dry-rot which made me very uncomfortable as I was towing it home.As I now have a pickup truck and boat in my yard I feel I fit in much better with my community members in Woodville. Maybe I should get a "Heritage Not Hate" bumper sticker. If that happens someone needs to buy me a first class ticket to the city. *Shudder*
Aurora spent the night at Judith's last night. Judith took Aurora to school today, which I bet was fun for both of them. We took Athena to McDonalds last night because she felt left out not staying at Grandmas.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Online Desktop

There has been a lot of buzz about the online desktop. The online desktop is something that I have been skeptical of. I have recently given some online Google apps a try, and so far I like it. In fact, I like it a lot. I am now convinced that there is very little that really needs to be local on the desktop. I have been imaging where the online desktop could go and how it could work. I think what we need is for programmers to start utilizing and building the online desktop to it's extent. The following is a rough idea of how I think the online desktop could be a seamless and pleasant experience for the end user.

In a true online desktop, when you boot up your computer and sign in your local computer would have your whole online profile stored localy that automatically starts connecting to online services.

At the top (or bottom, or wherever you want it) of your screen you would have a bar. This would allow you to access local services. In this example we see a typical Ubuntu/Gnome Linux toolbar. In the top-left we have menus so we can easily make changes to our system or access locally isntalled programs. Under places we may have access to all sorts of content. Our bookmarks/favorites will all be in here, as well as access to local and networked drives.
Then we have a shortcut to the terminal window, again for local administration.
Next we have a place to type in a URL. If everything is properly integrated this should actually be used less-and-less. We may have services that automatically take us to our desired pages. So if we want to access our pictures, we may select "My Pictures" under Places and it will take us to or to, depending on the user's preferences. The important thing is that the user can select the services he or she uses, but it is all accessed via the internet.
Next we have some icons representing the status of some local and online services. The first icon is the Google Desktop icon we use so that even when we are searching our local drives we do it via an html web-like service.
The second icon is our skype web-telephone icon. The normal status shows us that we are connected and have no incoming calls or messages. Even our phone service easily becomes an online experience that we can access anywhere we have an internet connection without worrying about our location.
Third the GMail notifyer shows us we don't have any mail. It would be blue if we did. What would be better would be an icon that could connect to an POP or IMAP service and show us the status of our e-mail regardless of our provider. A simple click, or double-click, could take us to our online provider.
The rest of the icons show us the status of local services, UPS status, wireless status, volume, date/time (this is actually updated periodcally from an NTP server ensuring accurate reporting), and a logout/shutdown button.
This could probably be streamlined to provide a much more streamlined, online experience.
Below our menu bar we would have tabs, like what is provided in Firefox, Opera, and IE7. Each tab would be a different web page. Certain web pages could be made to open automatically upon computer boot. Ideally you would have one configurable page that would allow you to put your important services together. A great example of this is Google's igoogle. With igoogle you can have all of your RSS feeds, news, mail status, calendar, and much more all on one page. Further services could be added to bring you even closer to your physical desktop. Widgits could be configured that show all local hard drives and allow you to browse their content right in you web browser. Another could show you the status of things such as attached cameras (and allow you to pull photos directly from your camera to your online images), music (purchased through various online retailers such as, but not limited to itunes), videos (, google videos, etc.) and anything else.
So with all of this, why would anyone want to do everything online? The two biggest reasons are accessability and data backup. When you use online services, you can have a relatively seamless computer experience anywhere you go. And if for some reason you have computer problems, including hard drive failure, your data is (hopefully) safely stored by a 3rd party online content provider.
Most tasks most commonly performed on a local computer are now available as online services. I would predict the following are the most often performed tasks on a computer:
  1. Writing a paper. This is usually done in Microsoft Word or Open Office. has a great online office suite supporting word processing and spreadsheets.
  2. Listening to music. This may be harder to turn in to an online service because of the RIAA, but it could easily become an online service such as youtube where you can upload your ripped CDs or music purchased through online service and then listen to it based on your login. There are already various online radio services, but the RIAA and other organisations are trying hard to kill these off.
  3. Watching videos. and are the two most popular ways of doing this currently. There are countless other web sites that provide the exact same service to varying degrees of quality. The current problem is a way to upload your own legally purchased videos so that only you can watch them.
  4. Playing games. Online games are clearly not up to par with cutting edge video games, and it is unlikely that the likes of Halo 3 will be an online Java or Flash game anytime soon, or that any cutting edge game could easily be provided via a small download online. But for those of us content with the online flash games to play things like Tetris, pinball, etc. the online experience is actually pretty good.
  5. Manage finances. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge there is not ane online version of Quicken or Microsoft Money. This may be a good thing though.

The easier we integrate these services into online applications that become seemless with the desktop experience, the easier and more useful we make the whole computer experience. We are already to the point where many users don't pay attention to the difference of what is a local service and an online service. If we put it all online, make it accessible from anywhere then we really empower ourselves to have all our information on the go and sharable within an instant.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Bad experience at the mall.

We had quite an experience at the mall yesterday. After a planned trip to the swimming pool failed to materialize, we decided to just walk around the mall. This would allow us to just get out of the house and do something.
With us was Kim and myself, Aurora, Athena, Arianna, and Rachel with her twins, Malachi and Magdalene. We had our double-stroller and Rachel had hers.
Athena was very grumpy the whole entire time. The only time she was happy was when we visited the toy store.
When we decided to go back home we had to take the elevator back up to get to where we parked. The elevator is very small, and our two double-strollers, plus two standing adults and two stranding children made for a very tight squeeze. I was holding Arianna when I heard scream. I looked over to find Athena’s arm stuck in the elevator door. It was trying to open, and with her arm rested against it it was pulling it in to the wall.
I panicked really bad. I was in a frenzy and had little rational control over myself. I first tried to force the door open but it was apparent that the door motors where way too strong for me. At this point I thought for sure that she was going to loose her arm. Kim was pulling on her arm trying to get it out when she yelled to hit the “Door Close” button. Rachel looked and saw that it only had a “Door Open” button. I tried to look but being in a panic I couldn’t see straight. I was finally able to make out that aside from the numbers there was only a “Door Open” and “Alarm” button. I started hitting the alarm button which made a ringing sound. We were all sitting there with the door partially open screaming when her arm finally came out. We are not sure if the Alarm button triggered the elevator door to stop trying to open, if it just stopped trying to open on its own, or if Athena just managed to get her arm undone by herself.
Then Kim yells, “You dropped the baby.” Arianna was lying on the ground behind me crying. I have absolutely no recognition of what happened, but I think I tried to lay her in the stroller and in a panic didn’t set her down properly. I really don’t know for sure though. She probably dropped about three feet down. We all left the elevator being really quiet. I kind of expected there to be someone there waiting for the elevator looking at us like, “What the hell is going on.” But no one was there.
Athena’s arm was just fine. It had a little bruise, but it wasn’t anything bad. We filed a report with the mall security. My adrenaline levels were very high and it took me a long time to come down. When I got home I was still pretty shook up and I had to take a nap. When I woke up I felt much better.
Kim took both Athena and the baby to the doctor and he verified they were both ok.

Friday, August 3, 2007


Today Rachel is coming to pay us a weekend visit. She could do us a kinder favor and move to Tallahassee, but there's not sense in beating a dead horse.
When Kim and I lived in Orlando Rachel was always there for us when we needed her. And, we did need her quite a bit.
Even better than Rachel visiting is that she is bringing over her twins, Malachi and Magdalene. They will be turning one at the end of next month, and we will be heading out to Orlando to celebrate the occasion.