Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Setting Up an iPad 2 at Christmas

My father-in-law got an iPad 2 as a surprise gift from my mother-in-law this year. I was excited for him, because I really do think the iPad 2 is an excellent device. I usually recommend Apple stuff to my friends and family, but this is what setup was like yesterday. I realize that half of this is getting a Google account, but still, anyone who is not a super-nerd would probably not make it through this gauntlet!

  1. Go to Settings to create a new Apple ID
  2. Agree to the Apple terms of service.
  3. Decide not to use his UTSA email address, since he might not have it for long
  4. Let’s create a Google account
  5. “an account is already associated with that email” Send a reset email
  6. Go upstairs to boot up the Windows laptop
  7. Connect to VPN. Crazy password.
  8. Open a terminal for some reason. Crazy password again.
  9. Open Outlook. Crazy password for a third time.
  10. Find account reset email, follow link.
  11. Fill out new password form
  12. We still don’t have Gmail. Click the Gmail tab for a new account form.
  13. Try and fail three times to choose an ID which isn’t taken. Finally go with an ugly suggestion from Google.
  14. Agree to the Gmail terms of service.
  15. Put in phone number so Google’s robot lady can call us(!) and read a verification number over the phone.
  16. Enter verification code into the form. Gmail, finally!
  17. Back to the iPad. Use new Gmail address to create an Apple ID.
  18. Agree to the Apple terms of service again.
  19. Apple sends a verification email to the Gmail address. Back to the laptop.
  20. Go to Gmail inbox, follow verification link in the Apple email.
  21. Enter Apple password to finish verification.
  22. Back to iPad. Can’t proceed without credit card information on file.
  23. Enter credit card information, but the fields have scrolled off screen, so we’re typing blind.
  24. Mistyped security code. Try again.
  25. Failed again. Can’t submit form without a Mr. Ms. or Dr. on your name.
  26. Now we have an Apple ID. Go to App Store to try it out.
  27. Download free Netflix app, type Apple ID and password.
  28. Open Netflix app to have a look. What is your Netflix username and password?
  29. No idea. We’ll skip this for now.
  30. Back to the App Store for what he really wants: Pages.
  31. Ready to spend $9.99. Tap Buy. “this app requires iOS 5.0 or later” WTF x10!
  32. We need iTunes on a PC to update the system. Do you have iTunes on your laptop? Of course not.
  33. Head downstairs. Peggy’s PC has iTunes.
  34. Open iTunes, connect iPad.
  35. Please register your product. Another form: name, occupation, age.
  36. Agree to more terms of service.
  37. Can’t update without synching first. Synching…
  38. An update is available! Start the 758 Mb download.
  39. When the download is complete, the update will be installed.
  40. Baby needs her nap, we gotta go home. Hope everything is ok!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Life Lessons

I’m still figuring this out at 36 years old:

Don’t combine single malt scotch and karaoke in one party.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Primal Blueprint

I just finished reading Mark Sisson’s two books, “The Primal Blueprint” and “The Primal Blueprint Cookbook.” I stumbled across these at Amazon and found that my public library had just ordered them. I’ll cut to the chase: I loved these books and have been inspired to make some radical lifestyle changes.

My doctor had recommended the paleo diet to me four years ago, and at first I expected the Primal Blueprint to be a simple rehash of those ideas. It’s true that the Primal Blueprint closely resembles the paleo diet, but it offers more and addresses some of the problems I had with the paleo diet.

The best overview of what the Primal Blueprint is about is available in this post at Mark’s website.

Mark Sisson advocates a number of things that already been kicking around in my head. Here are a few points that I had already sensed were true, and Mark hammered them home:

  • if you’re eating the right foods, there is no need to count calories.
  • your body will tell you when to drink water, so you needn’t robotically consume eight glasses a day.
  • some people are adapted to digest dairy products. If you are one of these, and you have access to high-quality sources of dairy, these are good foods.
  • fat is not the enemy. If you are eating whole, unprocessed food, the fat is a great benefit.
  • you cannot leave your life and your health in the hands of Big Pharma and Big Agra.
  • body composition is more important to your health than your weight.

I loved the information about the importance of insulin and how the Standard American Diet overburdens our insulin response. The culprits are (refined) sugar and grain, which were not foods that were ever available to people before the advent of agriculture.

Mark’s program doesn’t only deal with diet, but describes a whole spectrum of lifestyle choices, like making sure you get enough sleep, and getting regular exposure to the sun.

As of yesterday, I am giving up refined sugar and grain. To the extent that I can, I am also giving up factory farming, especially grain-fed, confinement meat operations. Although these are not easy rules to follow, I am confident they’re in the best interest of my energy, health, vitality, and longevity.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Learning to Live to a Hundred

I very much enjoyed Dan Buettner’s TED talk, How to live to be 100+. He is a National Geographic writer and explorer who has searched around the world for cultures that produce the most centenarians, in the hopes of learning what they have to teach about long and prosperous life.

He found five remarkable communities: Sardinia in Italy, Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya in Costa Rica, and California’s Seventh Day Adventists. Though these cultures are dramatically different from each other, he was able to isolate what they have in common. In all these communities, they:

  1. Move Naturally - physical activity is a regular part of their daily lives. They don’t have to go to the gym; They are naturally in motion throughout the day.
  2. Right Outlook - they feel a deep sense of purpose in their lives, and they experience periods of calm in every day.
  3. Eat Wisely - they don’t have a special diet. They eat the foods that come from their community. What they don’t have is anything processed, anything made in a factory.
  4. Connect - they keep themselves surrounded by family and best friends. They belong to a community of faith.

While I am fascinated by his adventure, and his findings make intuitive sense to me, there is one thing he didn’t mention that I feel is critically important: none of these people needed to be taught to live this way. They didn’t see Dan’s talk, or read his book, nor did they hear about his prescriptions for long life on Oprah. In other words, far from heaving a set of rules upon themselves, the good life, for them, was automatic, a natural consequence of living the only way they know how.

This next bit may sound a bit heretical to an American audience: the true gift of these cultures to their people is that they were freed from the burden of choosing. In the U.S.A., we take pride in fitting ourselves out with an individualized life: what kind of food we’ll eat, what kind of home we’ll have, what we’ll be “into,” what we do for fun. The trouble is, we, as a culture, traded the effortlessness of being with the unending chore of knowing. We have to know everything all the time. Is there lead in the paint? Are there hormones in the milk? What are the seven secrets that will drive him crazy in bed? We can never know enough, we can never finish choosing. And a by-product of such determined individualism is that you are personally to blame if you fail. So is it any wonder we have a society which is wracked with anxiety?

Perhaps a culture may be judged by what sort of lives people live by default. Our growing crisis in the U.S. is that the default is the polar opposite of the principles Dan Buettner learned on his travels: we don’t move naturally, we have the wrong outlook, we eat unwisely (to put it mildly), and we are increasingly disconnected from family and friends. I don’t mean to suggest that there is nothing we can do, just that the problem runs very deep, and if you want to make a difference for yourself and the people you care about, you will need to dig deep for an answer as well.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Getting Started in Software Engineering

Since I wrote an essay about how to become a software engineer, people regularly email me for more advice. Here is a reply I wrote this morning:

The great thing about working in software engineering is that you only need three things:

  1. a computer
  2. reliable Internet access
  3. the will to learn and expand your skills every day

The bad news is, #3 cannot be bought, and it cannot be given to you. But, assuming you have those three things taken care of, you get started by choosing a platform, downloading (in some cases, purchasing) your development tools, and seeking out some tutorials.

When I say choose a platform, I mean the kind of system that your software will run on. All the tools you use, tutorials you follow, books you read, and conferences you attend will be relative to the platform. Right now, there are only a handful of real choices: the Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and maybe soon the Palm Pre.

Often, these platforms overlap. For instance, I develop Web applications on a Mac with Java, but the finished software runs on Linux servers.

If you haven't already chosen a platform, and you want to see the quickest results with the least hassle, use Google App Engine. It's a framework for hosting web applications which takes care of all of the infrastructure effortlessly. In other words, you don't have worry about setting up a server or figuring out to get everything online. You just write the code, and Google ensures that it will run on the Web.

And here's a book about it that will come out later this month. Charles Severance is a friend of mine: Using Google App Engine

Before you can begin programming for a career, you need to get some code under your belt. There's no time like the present.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kindle 2, also WTF?!

Amazon just announced the Kindle 2, and I’m pretty sure there’s going to be one in my house at some point. It looks awesome.

On the other hand, feast your eyes on this “Kindle exclusive” Stephen King opus they’re hawking for merely $2.99:

Written exclusively for Kindle, Stephen King reminds us why he’s still the master at the top of his game. In his new novella, UR, King is at his unsettling best as he examines the future of the written word—for better or worse. Following a nasty break-up, lovelorn college English instructor Wesley Smith can’t seem to get his ex-girlfriend’s parting shot out of his head: “Why can’t you just read off the computer like the rest of us?” Egged on by her question and piqued by a student’s suggestion, Wesley places an order for a Kindle. The device that arrives in a box stamped with the smile logo—via one-day delivery that he hadn’t requested—unlocks a literary world that even the most avid of book lovers could never imagine. Get it only on Kindle.

Um, yeah … I’ll get back to you on that one.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Overheard (2)

Overheard in the corridor at the San Marcos Activity Center:

He’s really not a bad president — he’s just stupid.