Sitting At The Camper

I’m sitting on the deck right now, writing this post on my phone using the WordPress iPhone application with a nice cold Sam Adams Irish Red while Jonna sits chilling across from me in our astronaut chairs – which is what I call these lawn chairs she found that recline and are totally comfortable.

While this is not the ideal way to blog for me (my hands get tired very quickly these days), I have to say it’s pretty cool to be able to write a blog post in the middle of nowhere and actually be able to post it.

The application also has support for the camera, so I am posting some quick pictures as well, that I just took while writing this – just to see how it works.

It’s interesting. For all intents and purposes, this place is supposed to be my refuge from technology. Up until now, I have been limited to Twitter via SMS / web and emailing Flickr photos from the phone.

Now I’m sitting here writing a blog post and watching Jonna roll here eyes at me for doing it. Life is good.

I never thought I would be this connected and have these online capabilities from a campground. What a time we live in!

Tonight is Karoke night here. Not a big fan. However, we do have a big stump to burn. Maybe we’ll just hang out here tonight.

More later. Thumbs tired.





What Is It About Twitter?

There is definitely something about Twitter that just sucks you in. The more I use it, the more I love it. Granted, my time with it is limited – I do not use it at work so most of what I do is over the iPhone or on weekends.

I’ve been really trying to figure out what it is about Twitter that is so attractive to me. I figure if I can figure this out, I will have it figured out for the world (I’m that egotistical). I was discussing it with Tom the Architect the other day, and as I was thinking about it actually think I said something that made sense:


Watching Twitter is like what I imagine a ‘precog’ from Minority Report would experience. A million voices from all over the world all talking about a moment.

This is the one thing about Twitter that has really drawn me in. Its not blogging – and its not a chat room – its something really different. It’s like listening to the echoes of a moment from millions of people all at once, all answering one question.

This is the way that I think about Twitter, but I’m really interested in what others think about it. What makes it so attractive to you?

Miscellaneous Updates for February 2008

I’m doing an extremely bad job of keeping the site fresh over the last few months or so. I figured I’d give a quick update of things going on.

I’m Still Not Smoking

I finally started the Step 3 of the Nicoderm CQ program. This one has been rough. This is where you really start physically feeling the consequences of nicotine being removed from your system. I’ve been completely exhausted for the last week. Apparently, that there nicotine is one powerful stimulant and really screws with your metabolism. Your body takes some time to equalize itself and get itself back to where it needs to be naturally. I’m hoping mine gets there soon – because I’ve not had a good time over the past week.

The interesting thing about these “stop smoking aids” is that they defer you dealing with the real issue until you have so much skin in the game that you can’t start again without feeling an intense feeling of failure. Brilliant, but I can tell you that first step gives you an overly simplified view of what it takes to quit smoking. It starts getting a little harsher at step 2 and now at step 3 you really start PHYSICALLY feeling it. The only thing worse will be when Step 3 is over and my body starts eliminating nicotine all together.

Like I said though, I have too much skin in the game now to restart – I think.

New iPhone User

Address Book on iPhoneJonna bought me an iPhone for our anniversary, and I have to say that aside from the GPS she got me for Christmas, which allows me to go out by myself and still be able to get home, it is about the coolest thing for me from a productivity perspective that we have added to my highly disorganized life.

I’m finally able to get all my contact information in one place where it is accessible at any time. I can take notes, I can look things up on the web and I can check personal email. From a browsing perspective, I can get to things that are a part of my life but are blocked at the firewall at work (which is great as well). I feel free.

Now, it hasn’t been without its problems. The 1.1.3 software that came with the phone dropped a lot of calls. It wound up pretty frustrating and I kept my work supplied cell phone so that I could actually hold calls without them getting dumped. The 1.1.4 update took care of this though and now it works like a real phone.

I love the contact management included in the phone. Support for multiple numbers per contact and custom labelled information (including notes) lets me keep track of all the information I could ever want about someone. I can even attach a picture. Integration with the Mac Address book allows me to keep my contacts up to date without having to type into the phone.

And speaking of typing into the phone – I love not having to type on a standard phone keypad. The automatic spell-checking sometimes gives me a run for my money, and more often than not makes me sound retarded, like this little exchange with Jonna:

Trouble With Abbreviations

<Insert large sigh from Jonna because I don’t listen or read>

Overall though, I think between the GPS for Christmas and the iPhone this month, I’ve received the two most useful (and really most used) gifts ever.

As an aside, for those who are obsessed with not scratching or smudging their iPhone or other Apple products, Jonna also picked up a skin called Best Skins Ever for both Kelsi and myself, which we applied a couple of weeks ago. Kind of scary at first (you need to use water to apply it), but they really are the best skins ever. You don’t even know they’re there. I’m definitely going to pick up one for my iPod, as soon as I get a round tuit.

Well thats it from the Labs for last month. I’m sure as the weather starts to warm and the nicotine continues to seep out of my system, I’ll have more energy to blog about useful things.

New NetFlix User

We finally broke down a few weeks ago and got a Netflix account, after finally getting fed up with local video stores. I know – we’re a little behind the times in certain areas.

I have to say, I’m enjoying the experience.

On the average we rent about 2-3 movies every other week. That comes down to around $16-$24 for 4-6 movies a month. Inevitably, we will wind up with late fees, due to either not having time to watch everything within the allotted time frame, or just plain forgetting that the movie is around.

We joined the “three at a time” plan at the beginning of the month, which runs us $17.99 a month. Since October 30, we’ve had 11 movies delivered right to the house (between all 5 of us). Without Netflix this would have run us $44 for the month of November – not counting late fees. We paid $17.99. A 59% savings for the month.

Normally, I’m not the person worried about saving money in the house. Its one of those things that I’ve never really cared about, as bad as that might seem. My thing has always been convenience. So lets talk about the convenience that I’ve received by using NetFlix over the conventional “go to the rental store and find a movie to watch” experience.

Here’s how the normal experience would go:

  1. Family decides they are excruciatingly bored and we should rent movies
  2. Family gets into car, goes to movie rental place
  3. One or more of family “knows” there was a movie they wanted to see, but for the life of them cannot remember what it was
  4. Family goes through the “new release” section because they are positive that there will be something there that they haven’t seen there that might look interesting
  5. Family cannot find anything that looks remotely interesting
  6. Ron or Jonna remember some movie that they saw when they were kids that they would love to see again and expose the kids to the “fine art of older movie making”.   (Lets use Scanners as an example).
  7. Family goes to the “fine art of older movie making” section, finds “Horror”, finds ‘S’, and Scanners is not there
  8. Someone goes to the counter to find out whether they actually have the movie at the store
  9. Clerk says they definitely have it, and walks us back to the Horror / S section and proceeds to look for the movie in the exact place we didn’t find it
  10. Clerk cannot find it either, shrugs their shoulders, and says it must be in another section and goes back to checking out customers
  11. Family goes through debate as to what everyone wants to see. One picks something, the others don’t want to see it. This goes on for a bit
  12. Family walks out with no movie – or some movie that no one really wants to see
  13. Family member who remembered there was “a movie” they wanted to see still can’t remember

In all, a good 60 minutes (at least) has passed and we walk out unsatisfied.

Now, since the first of the month, every time someone thinks of a movie they want to see, either Jonna or I  go to the NetFlix site and add it to the queue. Our sudden remembrance is recorded and queued to be delivered to the house – asynchronously. No clerks to deal with, no long lines, no late fees.

Here’s a great example. A few weekends ago, Jonna and I were watching the 100 Scariest Movie Moments on Bravo. We are both horror movie buffs, so there were quite a few gems that we knew we definitely wanted to see. I sat with the laptop and added the movies to the queue as we decided we wanted to see them. We got two pretty amusing films: Slither and Rest Stop – two movies we would not have found otherwise.

A few other movies we rented that we would not have agreed to rent otherwise:

  • The Aviator – excellent movie on the life of Howard Hughes
  • Blood Simple – An amusing little thriller that I added to the queue when someone mentioned it in casual conversation. I really liked this movie, though it could have moved a little faster
  • Roger & Me – This was the only Michael Moore movie I had not seen. I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would have.
  • I finally saw Scanners again. What a great movie – as cheesy as it is.

Here’s the bottom line for me – and the base value that I’m getting out of our membership so far. I don’t have to remember these things any more. I have a place where I can just queue things up as we think of them and when they come its a pleasant surprise. We don’t have to wander around the video store anymore and waste time trying to find something that is “there but miscategorized”, and I don’t have to be on a schedule to watch the movies I’ve rented. If I dawdle, I just don’t get the next thing in the queue.

Finally, Netflix has gotten me one step closer to that dream state that I’ve been thriving for – the ability to do all of the things we normally do without ever having to leave the house.

Now – if only PeaPod served our area and my employer would institute a virtual office policy …