iPhones, Apple Computers, Watches and Trade-Offs

Everything feels like a massive trade-off right now. powerOne really needs some tender loving care but we are deep into Equals now, moving toward a launch with a partner and don’t have time. This doesn’t even include the awesome keyboard and extension ideas I have, none of which I have time to write. So we did what we could and fixed the bugs and kept powerOne running, biding my time until I have more time. The hours in the day no longer feel like 24. Somewhere along the lines I’ve had an hour or two removed from my day. I get up and then go to bed. Or at least it feels that way.

The iPhones 6 ship today and I’m stuck there, too. I love the 4″ sized device and am very uncertain about bigger ones. 4.7″ seems huge, 5.5″ seems ridiculous. For the first time in years I have to wait to see them before buying. The 5.5″ might allow me to not carry an iPad around, one less device to buy, but then I’m a minimalist by nature and would prefer smaller not bigger. Of course less devices is minimalist, too.

Could I go with a 5.5″ phone and a watch? Maybe, but I have no idea what the watches will be like. So maybe I stick with my beloved 4″ phone and bide my time.

My desktop system is long in the tooth, too, barely able to run developer tools that I make my living with. Is it time to upgrade? Yes, but we seem to be between cycles. I love the Macbook Airs but really need a desktop system for my desktop. (Long story having to do with 1.5TB of iTunes media.) The Airs don’t have retina screens, though, and I don’t want to buy non-retina if retina is right around the corner. I could buy a Macbook Pro but I prefer the weight of the Airs. And again, it isn’t a desktop system. I prefer desktop because I have 1.5TB of iTunes media that needs a constant connection, and that says desktop not laptop. But the Mac minis are two years old and the Mac Pros, well, I don’t have $5k lying around to buy an over-powered computer. I already have an awesome 30″ monitor. I don’t need a second one on an iMac (nor the desk room for it). Again, I bide my time.

I’m stuck and rambling about it here. This age of technology abundance means too many choices, and that makes it harder to choose. Once upon a time I had one choice: one choice of laptop (Macbook Pro), one choice of desktop (Mac mini since I had a monitor), one choice of smartphone (iPhone), at least that was the case if I bought Apple.

Now? Too many choices. And every choice feels like a massive and expensive trade-off.

Adam, ALS and The Ice Bucket Challenge

I have to admit when I heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge I was skeptical. I abhor stupid publicity stunts and was struck by the number of people who know absolutely nothing about the disease, have never even heard of it, who are dumping buckets of ice water on each other’s heads.

But the “stunt” has grown on me. First, it has raised a ton of money for ALS research, which was horribly underfunded in the past. I believe the ALS Institute is close to passing $50 million in donations during this period when “Ice Bucket” became a trending term on Facebook.

Second, people have at least now heard of the disease. If you follow baseball and/or sports you probably know about it as Lou Gehrig’s Disease¹, which probably hasn’t helped the fundraising effort over the years as it confuses people about what they are donating.

Third, the Ice Bucket Challenge has added a little jocularity to what is otherwise an ugly and depressing disease.

I have a college friend who was diagnosed with the disease in his mid-30s. He joined the military after college and was diagnosed while serving. Apparently the incidence in the military is higher than in the general population. While no one knows for certain the last I read the primary belief was exposure to heavy metals.

Adam was a funny kid. He was extremely shy, had a heck of a time being friends with anyone because of it. We’d get together when he’d come home from the military and sometimes the conversation would be like pulling teeth. He was so quiet! It’s like having a long conversation with a stuffed animal. But he was an extremely loyal and thoughtful person and I always enjoyed seeing him.

On one of those trips home, when he must have been 34 or 35, we went to lunch and he told me he had been diagnosed. We talked about the disease for a while and he was certain he still had many years. The doctors gave him 7.

What impressed me most was his attitude. I would have been mad at the world, mad at God, mad at everyone for a life cut short. Adam wasn’t mad, he wasn’t upset. He has stood up to this nasty disease with such incredible bravery.

Before it got bad Adam did all the things he wanted to do. He traveled, saw a playoff game at Fenway Park (big Sox fan), spent plenty of time in Vegas. He stayed independent as long as he could, too, moving back home about a year ago. He even got over some of his shyness. He’d text me pictures of himself talking to girls — girls! — which is something I’m not certain he ever did before that.

I saw him this past weekend when we out at the coast. His ALS has advanced visually in that time but not as quickly as I’d feared. A year ago he was still walking around a little with the help of a walker, had control over his hands to some extent. Now hand control seems to be almost gone and he moved around in a desk chair. A scooter is coming soon. I believe he was diagnosed eight years ago now.

So I’ve come to terms with the Ice Bucket Challenge. A silly stunt? Sure. But maybe a silly stunt is exactly what this disease needs. Besides, I can hear Adam laughing at every person jumping out of his/her skin as that freezing water pours over head. I forgot to ask but knowing him for 21 years, I’ll bet he loves the Ice Bucket Challenge.

¹ Lou Gehrig may be the most famous person to contract the disease, although Steven Hawkings could give him a run for his money.

John Day Fossil Beds

My family and I spent the past few days in North-Central Oregon in the John Day Fossil Beds. This is a part of the state I had never seen before and was surprised at how different it was. I have now explored most of the western and central parts of the state and am surprised at how diverse it is. I’ve easily seen eight completely different landscapes in those miles.

In the age of the dinosaurs, most of Oregon (in fact most of the US) was at the bottom of the ocean. 40 million years ago this part of Oregon was actually a tropical land not unlike Panama today. 30 million years ago massive volcanoes dominated the landscape. The mountains we know as the Cascades (from Canada to California, with peaks including Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Lassen) migrated west. Over time the earth cooled and eroded and left an unbelievably varied and beautiful landscape behind just 3.5 hours from Portland.

Given enough time, everything changes.

I hope you enjoy a few photos I took, all with an iPhone 5s.









Shooting Themselves In The Foot, Hopefully

The pace is escalating and I no longer care your politics, it is way past time to do something about gun deaths. I’m tired of the NRA fighting for our rights to all die by gunfire.

This morning it’s a shooting at Reynolds High School near Portland, Oregon. A couple of days ago it was two police officers stalked and shot near a Walmart in Las Vegas. Last week it’s Seattle Pacific University. Two weeks ago it’s Santa Barbara City College. Mother Jones has taken to creating a map of mass shootings, which was written three weeks ago and already woefully out of date.

And yet there is no movement on this issue, mostly because the NRA owns politicians.

I’m not anti-gun (although I don’t own any) and believe strongly in the Supreme Court who has decided, rightly or wrongly, that gun ownership is every citizen’s right. That’s the facts on the ground. But so is the facts that young and old people, citizens and police officers, are dying because we refuse to do anything about guns.

Don’t want to control gun sales and type of gun sales? Fine. What about wait lists, smart technology to keep the wrong people from using them, and registries? What about using technology to get on top of this issue? I know. Gun people don’t want to be tracked by the government. Well, I don’t either. So why doesn’t the NRA become active and the registry of choice? Don’t gun people trust the NRA? We can’t even have a discussion about it today since the NRA and a government bought and sold won’t let it.

The only consolation to all this is that the backlash will eventually be aimed the NRA’s way. I know police officers don’t like this. They don’t want to get shot for pulling someone over for speeding. Yes, the NRA has bought a big part of government right now but at some point all these shooting will come back to haunt the NRA and its no-control-at-all-costs stance. I hope it happens sooner than later, because I sure feel helpless to protect my family right now.

Doing What I Love

The last few years have been hard. I’ve been doing way more of the stuff I don’t like and far less of the stuff I do. I’ve struggled to motivate myself. Mornings kind of drag out. I wake up groggy and stay that way for hours. If I get in a groove it’s for a couple of hours straight, not the four-six hours it used to be. “Quitting time” never seems to come fast enough. Weekends are required just to recover from the week.

For a while I thought, well, I turned 40 this past fall and I must be slowing down. I can’t write code like I could when I was 24. I can’t work for 14 straight days, 16 hours a day. Heck a few days in a row of straight coding is wearing me out.

The last couple of months have really shifted. The code is more interesting. I’ve learned new stuff. And now Equals is functioning, the help documents are almost done and we are writing sample notes to help people out. We’ve started to talk about what’s next (feature-wise), something that has been taboo for too long because we weren’t certain we could get to the pains of completing what was already on our plates.

I spend all day writing code or writing help or whatever and can’t believe it when I look up and it’s 2 in the afternoon and I never ate lunch. I eat dinner with the family then either go back to the computer to finish something up or at least have thoughts rolling around in my brain. There has been more nights then I can count where I have been unable to fall asleep because of the excitement and desire to keep going.

Last week things moved to a new level. Watching Apple’s announcements at WWDC, reading and listening to other developer’s reactions, thinking about all the cool things we can do with iOS 8, now I am excited on multiple fronts. There isn’t enough of me to go around!

We have a vacation planned for late next week and, for the first time that I can remember, I really don’t want to go. Yes, I want to spend time with my family but we have momentum now on the products and I’m afraid to lose it.

I woke up this morning ready to go. Out of bed, dressed, ate some breakfast and here I am, sitting in front of the computer soon-thereafter, ready to fix bugs and write docs. Time to hit send on this and get to work.