Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I never met a walk I didn't like

Chattering, lunging, running kids on the way to school

I never met a walk I didn't like

Days too warm or days too cool

I never met a walk I didn't like

Dog charging, barking - sniffs hand, is nice

I never met a walk I didn't like

Meet new client, back soaked in sweat

I never met a walk I didn't like

Wind blowing, bit of rain

Doesn't bother, doesn't pain

I never met a walk I didn't like

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Baking Soda is sooooodamazing.

NOTE: I'm recently getting back into blogging, and I have a large cache of half-written, mostly written and (like this one) fully written posts that I never got around to finishing or posting. Here's the first oldie, from about 3-4 months ago. I was VERY close to changing the cheesy title, but it is late, so enjoy:

Seriously. Until recently, I had never tried using baking soda to clean.

Between cooking in restaurants for 4 of my teenage years, being an enthusiastic cook most of my life, having two children and doing a lot of my own car maintenance over the years, I'm no stranger to cleaning all sorts of crazy messes. Over the years, I've come to think that the more caustic and chemical-laden the cleaning solution is, the better the cleaning power.

Recently, my wife has gotten into cooking with clay pots, with delicious results. However, because clay pots are porous and absorb the flavor of whatever you soak them in, you can't clean them with soap. Instead, baking soda was the prescribed cleansing agent.

I was dubious at first. Surely baking soda is much too benign and simple to have any sort of cleaning power, right? I mean, there has to be some threat of cancer to even begin to have any serious game here.


This stuff is ridiculous. Pour a little pile of the white stuff, and mix it with small amounts of water until it becomes a paste, and it will remove the most caked crap off of any pan, dish or skillet. Forget the scrub/scour pads - you'd have to go steel wool to get even close to the amount of time this stuff saves. I'd still recommend a pre-soak with the bad stuff though.

I may be the last idiot on earth to come to this realization, but if I've helped at least one man, woman or kid clean a really dirty dish more easily, I'll be happy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Cat is a Badass

We noticed our cat was walking and sitting a little funny the other day, and kept licking a spot on his chest. He had what looked like a puncture wound, so we took him to the vet to get him checked out. They couldn't really tell us what happened, but gave him an antibiotic shot and some pain meds for later.

Later, after bringing him back home from the vet, my wife texts me:

Rebecca Sanabria: Looks like a fight of some sort. Helena spotted a bunch of his fur in the front yard 3:45 PM
Me: I bet he kicked the other cat's ASS 3:54 PM
Me: Front yard forensics FTW! 3:54 PM
Rebecca Sanabria: Yeah. He's getting too old for that shit, though. 4:01 PM
Me: Bullshit. Milo is Colonel Fucking Tigh. 4:06 PM
Rebecca Sanabria: ....Who lost his eye.... 4:06 PM
Me: That will just make the other cats fear him more. They'll call him Scar. 4:07 PM
Rebecca Sanabria: Yar! 4:16 PM

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Books on Lunches

Since my kids were little, they've loved books. To be honest, this was less of an option in our home and more of an eventuality. Since my kids have been going to school, I've been writing messages to them on their food containers. Partly, this is because I was required to put their name on all items, and I get bored. I was also inspired by my wife, who likes to write them notes.

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, and I was thrilled when he started writing books for children, as he did so just as my children were old enough to read them. One of my favorites is the warm and mysterious Instructions.

I love to come up with puzzles, solve puzzles, and watch others try to solve puzzles. Instructions was already a mysterious book by nature, so I decided to begin writing bits of the book on my kids' lunch items. I was curious to see how long it would take for them to realize which book it was. Instructions is very distinctive, so of course, they realized on the first day. Despite having figured out the puzzle, they wanted me to continue, so I did.

We're up to the tenth page, and there is plenty of time left in the school year. Though I never intended to write this entire book a page at a time onto their lunch, I should have time to transcribe the remainder of the book on cheese sticks, sandwich containers and bottles. We might even have time to do another short book before summer comes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I'm a big fan of streaming media, and subscribe to both Netflix and Hulu. Nearly every device we have in the house can stream Netflix videos now, and many can also stream Hulu.

However, I've noticed a recent phenomenon has been making it difficult to watch content when I want. The other day, I went to watch Netflix on my TV, which has a Netflix app built in. Instead, I get this:

Well, crap. How about my PS3 downstairs, connected to my projector?

Hmm... How about the XBox360?

Uhhh, no. I don't. I want to watch something right now. Forget it. I'll just watch on my laptop.

I give up. I'm reading a book.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mobile App Notification Overload

This short post is to share a solution I've come up with to an overload of notifications and a relatively short supply of battery power.

I love apps, social media, reading updates and getting news. Managing all these on the latest generations of smartphones can be tricky though. It is easy, even with just a few apps installed, to become buried in updates and notifications, all vying for your attention. Clutter on your phone is only the beginning of the issues, however.

When you have a fancy Samsung Galaxy Nexus like mine, crashes and reboots could be an issue. All those notifications you might depend on are gone once the phone reboots. What if you choose to read your twitter updates, and then get interrupted by a phone call, or need to check a more important notification? Again, you've lost your reminder that you have new items to check. Then there is the quickly draining battery as five, ten or maybe twenty or more apps are using your 3G/4G connection to check for new updates.

Perhaps one of the biggest issues is just general stress and anxiety that can result from a growing list of items and many people's need to empty that list.

I thought, it would be ideal to consolidate all these updates into one list. One list that I could check at my leisure. As soon as I thought it, I realized the solution was right in front of me: email. For many of these notifications, I'm already receiving emails, duplicating the effort to notify me and grab my attention. Here's the solution I came up with that's worked well for two weeks so far:

Step 1: Turn on email notification for everything you want to be alerted to. For me, this included Facebook, Twitter DMs, Replies and Retweets, LinkedIn, text messaging (via Google Voice), calendar reminders (via Google Calendar), weather alerts, Google+, and many more. This mostly had to be done through the web interface for these services.

Step 2: Turn OFF device notifications for all the services listed in Step 1.

Step 3: Some people may want to create some email rules, tagging or other system to categorize this new influx of emails, if the volume of messages is large, or interferes with normal email use. Perhaps just have one label/category for all notifications. Personally, I let them all pour into my inbox, and as soon as I've take action on an item, I delete the email.

Step 4: Enjoy longer battery life on your phone, and (mostly) one stream for all your notifications.

Example Scenario

Someone replies to a tweet I posted.

1. I read an email notification on my phone that I received a reply on Twitter, and I want to reply back.
2. I open my mobile Twitter client, reply back and close the Twitter client.
3. I delete the email.

Have you had similar issues? Have you come up with a different approach to handle this same situation? Let me know in the comments, I'd like to hear about how you handle it!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What the iPhone and Playstation have in Common

There's wrong, and then there's WRONG.

Note, I'm pulling a story out of ancient history for this post (ancient history = 6 years ago in this case). This is not hot off the presses, like some of the stories I post on my security blog. This one is all posterity.

There are industry analysts, and then there are writers that pretend to be. In case you are afraid you're confusing the two, here's an older example to help you spot the difference.

Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone <-- NOT an analyst.

Now, it is easy to point and laugh now that the iPhone is the best selling single model of smartphone on the planet, but consider what we knew then.

Don't Sell These, Apple! You'll be sorry!
Those of us that had closely watched Apple's rise from the ashes of the mid-nineties knew better. Mr. Dvorak should have also. Back when 3rd party licensing diluted the brand, and a lack of vision was dragging the company and its products into obscurity, the Newton and its' small but loyal following were the only ray of hope in those days.

Steve Jobs came back in 1997, and the company's transformation occurred almost overnight, in relative terms. By 2006, when this article was posted, Apple had already returned to profitability, and most importantly, had already stepped outside the personal computer. They had sold almost 100 million iPods by this point.

During the Chicago Bulls' 90's winning streak, did Phil put Jordan on the bench because he had a crazy plan or idea? Right.

Was it so hard to see in 2006 that the iPhone was a small step away from an iPod? Sure, the iPod hit the scene in the infancy of the portable music player industry, and Dvorak's argument is that the phone/smartphone markets were already crowded. His argument focuses on Apple's ability to make profit on hardware. The business model he (and others) failed to see had already succeeded in the video game console industry.

Gamble, or sure thing?
We know the truth now, but back then...
Starting with the Playstation 2 in 2000, Sony took a risk in selling advanced gaming hardware at a loss. In other words, it cost Sony more to build a PS2 than they sold it for. This was a calculated risk, based on the knowledge that licensing fees from game developers should help make up the difference, and that the market price of components would quickly drop over the next year or two. Sony again made this gamble with the PS3, with some estimates setting the manufacturing cost at over $1000 per unit that sold for $600 apiece. This was less of a gamble, as the PS2 was an enormous hit, and after 12 years, is still on the retail market. That's incredible staying power for an electronic device in this age. The truth of the matter is that, if the product is successful, profit will be made on software and hardware for the majority of the device's lifecycle. Sony has been making profits on every PS2 and PS3 made for years now. Apple makes hundreds of dollars on every iPhone sold, on top of 30% of every app sold.

Apple was making the same "gamble". It wasn't a gamble though - Apple already knew it had a healthy fire burning, and the iPhone was a near-guarantee to stoke the blaze higher than ever before. At the time of Dvorak's article, it wasn't yet clear that Apple was banking on the iPhone's App Store (again, software, not hardware) being the big money maker. What we did know at this time was that Apple could do no wrong. Their product ideas, with the exception of the cube, had all been successful, and their one non-PC gamble was the most successful of all. There was every reason to expect another non-PC revolution with the iPhone. With the media player market already in the bag, Apple knew what they were doing, knew how to make a mobile device, and knew how to sell it.

And they did. Sorry, John.

UPDATE: A pre-iPhone release Bloomberg story has been making the rounds. Its author comes to similar conclusions to Dvorak's, though for different reasons.