March 09, 2010
My book "iPad Pocket Guide" Is Now Available for Pre-Order
Amazon lists the release date as June 11, but I'm sure that's just a placeholder. I want to have most of the book written by the time the iPad arrives on April 3 so we can get it printed and distributed as soon as possible after the iPad launch.
Does this mean I have an iPad at my disposal? Sadly, no. I'll be getting my iPad when it ships just like everybody else. I did attend Apple's media event, where I was able to use an iPad for about 45 minutes. (You can read about my hands-on impressions at TidBITS, as well as view a photo tour of what it's like to attend a high-profile Apple event like that.)
I'm writing the book based on that experience as well as my knowledge of the iPhone and iPod touch as an owner and author of Take Control of Your iPhone Apps. When I have an iPad in hand, I'll then go back through and fill in gaps and details I didn't have initially.
February 08, 2010
This May Be My Fave Photo Ever
Okay, I'm biased by the fact that I just shot it the other day without giving the image any distance, but I really really love this shot.
It's even better when viewed large.
January 31, 2010
A Day of (Anonymous) Fame
On Wednesday, Glenn Fleishman and I caught an early flight to San Francisco to attend Apple's media event where the company introduced the iPad. It was fun to be there for the announcement, not just because it's a new Apple product but because there's a lot of energy and interest among the assembled journalists. (I put together a photo essay at TidBITS documenting the day: Photo Tour of Apple's iPad Introduction, which you can also view as a slideshow on Flickr.)
The iPad is impressive, speedy, and responsive. It's also very experiential: you get a better sense of it when actually using it, versus reading about its specifications and features. I think Apple will sell a ton of them, mostly to customers who aren't "computer people." Glenn and I wrote about our impressions in "Hands-On Impressions of the iPad" for TidBITS.
We had only a short window of time to use the iPads—those were unfinished prototypes, with some software features missing (such as the iBooks Store and many app preferences, for example). So as a journalist, I spent much of my time trying to think of what features to absorb and which questions to ask. At one point, I launched the iPod app and played some music. Since the room was filled with clamoring (literally, at first) people, I couldn't hear the music well, so I lifted the iPad up to my ear.
(I couldn't tell how good the speaker was, though I definitely felt the bass thumping at the back of the unit through my fingers.)
When I did, Justin Sullivan of Getty Images snapped a photo of me. I didn't notice at the time, of course; as you can see in the photo at right, many people had cameras.
After the event, Glenn and I caught a 6 p.m. flight back to Seattle.
The next day, I received an email from a friend saying she thought she saw me on The Huffington Post Web site. And sure enough, there I was! No doubt the photo was chosen because it looks like I'm having a special romantic moment with the iPad.
Soon after, a bigger surprise arrived via Twitter: someone said the photo appeared on the cover of the print edition of USA Today. I jumped in my car and drove to the nearest grocery store to see for myself (and buy a half gallon of milk). Here's a shot of me with the evidence:
You can view a PDF version of the cover here.
But wait, there was one more appearance: Not only did the photo appear in the Wall Street Journal, it occupied most of the above-the-fold first page of the Marketplace section.
(Sullivan also included another photo of me holding the iPad in the batch of Getty photos from the event, but it's not nearly as good as the first one.)
I can't really claim "fame" from the photo, just exposure. But still! There are plenty of unsavory ways to appear on the cover of a national newspaper. I like this method better.
November 18, 2009
A Financial Milestone
Tonight, I paid off my last credit card.
The image above is a screenshot from my list of accounts in Quicken. I paid off the Jeff-MotleyVISA3 account months ago by transferring the balance to the BECU Visa account when Chase sent a letter saying my long-held fixed-rate card was going to become an adjustable rate card with higher rates. I originally got that card because it offered an 8.9% fixed rate, much lower than other cards I had at the time. My BECU Visa and Amex (American Express) cards remain active - but now with zero balances.
As you can probably guess, this is a Big Deal. I've had a sizeable chunk of credit card debt since college. That's what you do, right? So what if you float some balances month to month? I don't want to even begin to think about the amount of money I've paid in interest fees.
But at some point it just became too much. So over the past few years, I've been aggressively paying down my balances, mostly by overpaying each month with a few satisfying payments contributed from royalties from the books I've published.
(A quick aside about royalties. My first technology book, Palm III & PalmPilot: Visual QuickStart Guide, was fairly successful, and I figured I would use royalty money to pay off my credit cards. I'd learned long ago that unless you're a superstar best-selling author, the best approach to royalties is to consider them gravy. The book's advance should cover the amount of work you put into creating it, and royalty money is just a nice bonus - but not to be relied upon. I've had quarters that were good, and I've had quarters where my royalty was a big fat zero. So although I have put a large amount of my royalty earnings toward reducing my debt, it's taken far longer than I optimistically thought at the beginning of my career.)
And now, my credit cards have a zero balance. It feels really good.
They probably won't remain at zero all the time (except the Amex, which must be paid off every month). But they're going to stay low, especially since I came home to find a letter from BECU saying that they, too, are switching to an adjustable rate—but at least it has a reasonable cap to the maximum rate. I won't be forking over huge amounts in interest fees.
I'll say it again: It feels really good.
April 04, 2009
Pixar or Not? Flowchart
Inspired by this great Pixar vs. Dreamworks illustration, I've created a flowchart that sums up Pixar versus all other makers of computer-generated movies:
January 20, 2008
Hectic, but Calming
I've been fortunate in the past that if a project slips behind schedule, it's possible to renegotiate the deadline. (The lesson I've learned over the years: you can work around slippage, but make sure you tell your editor/publisher/boss/whomever early. Communication goes a long way.) With Roo (our temporary name for the baby), the deadline is going to be whenever the baby decides it's time to arrive. Baby's not going to wait just because I need to wrap up a chapter.
We're in the stage where labor could start at any time, so I'm simultaneously freaked-out, waiting on pins and needles, busy as hell, and yet starting to get oddly calm. The notion of being an active father, versus a theoretical father, is seeping through my brain. Am I completely ready? Hell no. But that seems to be the default mode from here on out anyway.
This could be my last blog-surface until I have a chance to report on baby news. Until then, I've got work to do!
November 16, 2007
Accessing My Home Music Library with Simplify Media
When Apple first added the capability to share an iTunes library with other iTunes users on the network, my friend David Blatner loved the fact that he could sit on his porch at home with his laptop and stream music located on his computer at work. The Internet is just a big network, after all. At the time, I didn't really care because all the music I needed was already on my laptop.
Unfortunately, Apple locked down the Internet sharing aspect in a subsequent release, so now you can only share over a local network. That's what I do at home: my entire music library lives on an external hard drive connected to my old PowerBook G4, and I carry a (still large) subset of it on my MacBook Pro.
Recently I was introduced to Simplify Media, a utility for Mac OS X or Windows that opens a connection between two machines, no matter where they are connected to the Internet, and enables you to stream music within iTunes (or Winamp). You set up a free account with Simplify Media and run their software on each computer you want to make accessible. Specify your music folder, log in, and forget.
When you launch iTunes with Simplify Media running, your machines show up in the Share category of iTunes' left column. Click one and you'll see your library as if it were loaded onto your computer's hard drive.
Now, when I get a hankering to hear a specific song or artist that isn't on my MacBook Pro, I can tap into the big library at home. It is almost time to start listening to holiday music, which I hate to add to my computer and then remove in January to make room for other music.
November 13, 2007
Chocolate Typographic Goodness
This appeals to me on so many levels that I can barely stand it: http://typolade.de/ .
October 15, 2007
Amazon Ad Wording
From what I understand (and after watching my niece for a few hours over the weekend), you just have to wait a while to find out what was in baby.
October 11, 2007
Even More Autumn
I'm utterly swamped with deadlines and home renovation, but I snuck some photos of autumn leaves near where I parked at the office today. (Click to view the larger version)