Sunday, October 31, 2010

NSFW: Yep, Montblanc Killed my MacBook Pro Today (shamelessly hijacked)

When I was close to retiring from the Air Force, I attended a Transition Assistance Program, or TAP class (and I didn't need special shoes!). During that class, we were told that being a civilian was significantly different than being in the military. First, you need to actually match the colors of your clothes (shoes with belt (and purse if applicable), pants with jacket, shirt and tie to finish the ensemble); if you really want to make an impression, your jewelry should match, too (all gold, all silver, etc). Matching colors was difficult for me at first; after all, multi-colored green-brown-olive pants and shirts always go together, and the boots are ALWAYS black (at least they were when I was still in, which dates me, but who cares).

Another thing they tried to impress on us was a "power pen" was important. One of those larger, heavy, beefy pens that really shows your manliness. Something that the prospective employer would look at and say "Wow, THAT's a pen!" and they'd hire you on the spot. This article is about one of those pens. The only problem with this pen is you can't afford one if you're actually in the military (or if you eat more than one meal a day, even). I've always wanted a nice pen like this, but I think it will be a long time before I get one; especially if it needs to take the place of my laptop. If I can't get to Facebook on my pen, forget it. Just kidding; I can get to Facebook on my phone, my tablet, my laptop, my netbook . . .

NSFW: Yep, Montblanc Killed my MacBook Pro Today: "

Last Wednesday, I got my hands on a new Meisterstück Le Grand Traveller pen. I haven’t touched my MacBook Pro since. It’s twelve months old. RIP.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Before my opening paragraph gets you all worked up, consider what I’m saying here. I’m saying that my TechCrunch options just cashed out and I’ve just used some of the money to buy an awesome new pen. And it’s beautiful. And I want to write a post all about how awesome and beautiful it is.

No – wait – I’ve just looked back at that lede, and you’re right. I am saying more than that. I’m saying that my new pen is so perfect in every way that my purchasing it spells the inevitable end of my MacBook. What’s more, I genuinely and unironically believe that the awesomeness of my pen is such that its halo effect will render your MacBook – and those of everyone you hold dear – useless as well.

But, still, hear me out.

In the next few hundred words I’ll explain all of the myriad reasons why my new Meisterstück Le Grand Traveller – a snip at just shy of $800 (inc tax and ink) – is superior in every way to my $1200 Mac Book Pro. And when you’ve finished reading, I’m confident that you too will want to trade in your clunky old laptop for this masterpiece of German manufacturing. If you don’t, I’ll eat my power cable. After all, I don’t need it any more.

I mean, seriously, did I mention how amazing my freaking pen is?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “but the Meisterstück has been around since 1924 and it hasn’t killed the MacBook yet”. That’s true, but until this week I hadn’t bought one. Now that I have, and now that I’ve written this post about it, surely we can all agree that it’s only a matter of time before the streets are filled with the smell of burning aluminum and glass while former bloggers look on, describing the scenes in their diaries using shiny black fountain pens.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: let’s make a side by side comparison…

My MacBook Pro is 14.35 wide and weighs 5.6lbs. The Meisterstück Le Grand? How about 4.2 inches long and less than a pound in weight. Unbelievable. Of course much of that size difference is down to the lack of a hard drive or battery or any electronic parts in the Meisterstück, but that just adds to its awesomeness. Also, when my MacBook gets warm it sounds like a jetplane taking off – my Meisterstück? It’s literally silent, even when it’s operating at full speed. No one believes me when I tell them that, but it’s true.

And how about battery life? My MacBook manages a decent 3-4 hours on a full charge, but compare that to the Meisterstück: I’ve been carrying it around in my pocket for five days – using it constantly – and I haven’t had to plug it in once. Montblanc are killing it with this pen!

But there’s more! When you get your Meisterstück and remove the cap, you will find exactly zero keys inside. My MacBook has 78! In the Meisterstück all of those have been replaced with a single nib, capable of producing not just letters and numbers but also signs, shapes and runes. For a writer like me, that’s gold! (Note: the nib is actually gold) To be honest, I feel a bit silly having carried around all those keys for so long – the truth is, there are at least 10% that I haven’t ever used. I mean what’s the “^” even for?

Ok, so that’s hardware: how about applications? Of course, this is where the MacBook should have the edge: after all, with my MacBook I’m able to listen to music, write and send documents and use social media tools like Twitter. Surely my Meisterstück can’t compete with all that?

You wanna bet?

Here I am, not just listening to music, but ACTUALLY PLAYING IT….

Twitter? No problem!

And how about writing and mailing documents, or publishing blog posts? Well, ok, I admit that’s a little slower with the Meisterstück. I started writing this column shortly after MG published his anthology of love poems to his new MacBook Air, and it would definitely have been funnier if I’d been able to publish sooner – but first I had to write it longhand….

…..then mail it to AOL to be transcribed….

….the wait for it to be published. But, as any MacBook Air user will tell you, sometimes you have to take a few technological steps backward in order to make a giant leap forward.

And those leaps just go on and on: my Meisterstück has a pocket clip, a removable cap and a brass insert capable of holding two ink cartridges (along with the six spares kept in the leather carry pouch). I called Apple a few hours ago and asked if ANY ONE of these features was on their roadmap for the MacBook. They hung up on me, but I think we all know the answer! Yeah – Rest In Pieces, MacBook!

With my purchase of a Moleskine notebook three years ago, I put the wheels in motion to kill my MacBook. This week, by purchasing an awesome pen, I kicked off my final assault. There will be no survivors.

Now if you’ll excuse us, my pen and I are heading to Hawaii for a few days of “couple time” away from all you lameos and your tired old “crap books”. Try not to be too jealous when you see my pen gliding through the x-ray machine without me having to remove it from its case!

See you in the future, suckers!


Seriously, it is an awesome pen, and it should be for $800. Maybe someday.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eddie (Used with permission of the author)

If you're looking for geek talk this time, forget it. But feel free to read on, and please comment. If you think I've missed the mark here or I've misquoted something, or I'm taking something out of context, let me know. Or, if you just want to flame me, go for it. I'm an easy target.

I follow a very diverse group of blogs; tech, gaming, and Christian. Tricia is a friend of mine from when I worked with World Prayr, a little over a year ago.

When I read her post about Eddie, I started hearing this song in my head:

Make sure you watch the video, because it isn't what it looks like in the still shot.

As I read on through the story, I could see the events unfolding in my mind; and I could hear the words ringing in my brain: "Blessed are the merciful, for they well be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7), and then my mind went to the "least of these." (Matthew 25:31-46)

When was the last time I was merciful to someone I didn't know? When was the last time I shared a meal or gave a meal to someone who couldn't give it back to me? (Luke 14:12-14) It's not because I'm selfish. Well, actually, yes, it IS because I'm selfish. As the song says, I'm in my own little world most of the time, and I don't really see or decide NOT to see what's going on around me. Life is so much easier that way, you know? Not quite so messy. Every day can be tied up nice and neatly with a little bow and put on a shelf when I'm done, and I can move on to the next day.

Life isn't that easy.

I've never been an Eddie. I feel very blessed to say that, but I'm also almost ashamed to say it, because I'm sitting here on my leather love seat, in my 3000+ sq ft house, in front of my 48" flat screen TV, with my gas fireplace going (it IS cold outside, after all), typing this on my netbook computer, my (counting in my head) sixth computer if you don't count my phone (and those are the ones that no one else uses). Yeah, I'm very blessed (but I worked hard to get where I am!). My life has had it's ups and downs, but my downs were never as low as Eddie's. And I'm sure there are thousands of Eddie's out there, all over the US, right now, and lots of them are in places much colder than it is here.

The American Dream is to be able to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and make something of yourself. That's not a bad thing. And having things isn't a bad thing (and I say that not just because I have lots of things). It all comes down to what controls your life. Jesus never told anyone they were wrong for having stuff; he told people they were wrong for having a selfish attitude about their stuff. (Mark 10:17-31)

Eddie has a dream, too, I'm sure. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs illustrates that there are levels of needs that need to be met, and that we must meet the needs of one level before we desire to meet any of the needs on the next level. Eddie is stuck in the first level of the hierarchy for some reason. Why? I have no idea. I could be one of many reasons, but that's not the point. The point is we should be out there helping the Eddies of the world (and I'm pointing my finger more at myself than at anyone else here). There will always be people who need our help (Mark 14:7). Maybe Eddie was at that one place at that specific time so that Trisha could help one of "the least of these".

Trisha, thanks for posting about Eddie. You've tied together a lot of good sermons I've heard lately and put a human face on them.

Eddie: "

On September 29th God showed me exactly how one-dimensional I had gotten, how small my world had become. Here’s how…

That morning my son had a doctor’s appointment at 10 am. Although the appointment itself was about 20 minutes or so, the doctor was running late (as most doctor’s are these days, which btw does not bother me, if they’re late it means they’re giving people the attention and time they need and they’ll do the same for me). The appointment finished up around 11:00. Of course, when we left it was close to lunch, so my son wanted to stop somewhere. The answer was of course, no. He needed to get to school and I needed to get home for my own homework. He finally convinced me to stop so he could use the restroom. We ended up at Wendy’s and while he went to the restroom I got drinks. As I was buckling my seatbelt in the truck a man approached the window, and when I looked up it startled me (actually scared me). From his clothes and demeanor you could tell that he was most likely homeless. I rolled down the window just a bit, already annoyed at this intrusion into my already rushed morning. He looked at me and said, “Can I get something to eat?” I responded that I was sorry but I didn’t have any cash, which was true, I didn’t. He again looked at me and said, “I just want something to eat.” Same response, no cash. We went back and forth like this several times and finally I apologized for not having anything, asked his name and said I would pray for him. His immediate response was to stick his hand out to shake mine and say, “thank you so much, can I pray for you too? What is your name?” I rolled down my window a bit more to shake his hand and as our hands came into contact I was hit with a bolt of lightning. I had to buy this man some lunch. No questions, no more hesitation, just get out and get him something to eat. I was almost in tears at that point, but not quite. You see, the whole time I was saying no I was feeling annoyed and trying to get on my way, but I felt like I should help him. I just didn’t want to. The excuses were running through my head: we’re on a budget, I don’t have time, I don’t have cash, etc.

As I got out of the car Eddie started to thank me, with more gratitude than anyone has ever expressed, at least in my life, it felt like ever in the history of the world. As I asked him what he would like he simply said, “a small chili and a baked potato, they’re only $1.00.” I told him he could get anything he wanted. When we got inside the girl behind the counter looked at us with what can only be called disdain. I introduced her to Eddie and told her that he would like some lunch. She looked at me like I’d just completely lost my mind. When I asked him what he would like, he repeated his simple request, a small chili and a baked potato. When I asked if he’d like a drink I thought he was going to fall over from surprise. He stammered for a minute and asked if he could have a soda. The girl asked him, in an irritated voice, what kind he would like and he paused, finally answering a Dr. Pepper, “if that was ok.” I told him that he could get whatever he wanted. He said that was all, just a chili and baked potato. After I paid for his meal I stood there with him for a minute or two waiting for his food, he smiled at me and thanked me again. He said that he would pray for me. I told him that we were there once a month or so and I would look for him. He smiled and said thank you, then he said what hit me the most, “I usually sleep back there or across the street.” You see, I knew he was homeless. I knew that most likely he was sleeping on the street or possibly in a shelter. At his simple, almost nonchalant, statement of that fact I was floored. The reality hit me like a ton of bricks. He thanked me again, and I thanked him for allowing me to buy him lunch, then hugged him, and walked out the door.

As I walked across the parking lot the tears started. By the time I got to my truck I was sobbing. I was so ashamed of how I had originally responded, and so grateful to God for showing me. There was another blessing also. My son was in the truck during all this. When I took Eddie inside Wendy’s he stayed inside the truck and when I got back he had tears in his eyes too. All the way back to the school we talked. About helping people, about loving people, about showing everyone the love that Jesus has for them, about trusting God and listening to Him when we feel the Holy Spirit pushing us.

I know that in the past I’ve felt good when I’ve handed cash or offered to pray for a homeless person. Like I’m doing good and helping them. That Wednesday Eddie helped me. He gave me one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I have no doubt that he was put there by God, to teach me that valuable lesson. Take my eyes off myself, focus on Him, and on loving others as He loves me. Matthew West has a wonderful new song out called, “My Own Little World” and every time I hear it I think about Eddie and what he did for me.

Think about it the next time you see an, “Eddie” out there. It doesn’t matter what they do with what we offer, it’s not ours anyway. It’s God’s, He’s trusted us with it, and He wants us to care for others with all He has given us.

Thanks Eddie!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Droid 2 update begins with promise of better battery life and more

If any of you out there have a Droid 2 like I do, you may want to try to force this update. I haven't actually tested it yet, but it's downloading right now. Go to Settings, About Phone, System Updates. This is a Verizon update, so if you're outside the US, I don't know if this applies.

After downloading, my phone is now rebooting and installing the patch (Play-by-play blogging!). Make sure your battery is charged up before you start your update. Not necessarily a problem, but always a good idea. Now that the phone has updated, it reboots again, and this should be the final restart so I can see the update. And now my screen says the update was successful. The screen seems to be more responsive; amazingly, all my contact information shows up MUCH faster (I have over 1000 contacts in gmail), and search is VERY fast now. So far, I'm happy.

Droid 2 update begins with promise of better battery life and more: "We've receive a number of reports that a 2.3.20 software update for Verizon's Droid 2 is slowly making the rounds this morning. The OTA push promises a number of improvements and enhancements with the promise of better battery life, faster transitions between WiFi and 3G data connection, and quicker location tracking when using GPS being perhaps the most notable. Here's the full breakdown as we understand it:


  • Improved battery life.

  • Heightened proximity sensor accuracy to enable faster screen response.

  • View the Weather widget in both landscape and portrait orientation.

  • Simpler setup, improved user interactions, and better notifications for Visual Voice Mail.

  • Background Email Sync during display inactivity for better user experience.

  • Support for email domain suffixes containing more than three characters.

  • Keep text messages organized with chronological in-box screen.

  • Edit text messages after you've inserted a video file.

  • Improved audio sound during recorded video playbacks.

  • Stream Guided Tour videos on device in Help Center application with ease.

  • Faster location tracking during GPS navigation.

  • Faster transitions between Wi-Fi and 3G in data connection.


  • New ability to add pictures from your Gallery to a contact.

  • Export all your contacts to the SD card.

  • View details of Social Networking contacts.

  • VZ Navigator is now preloaded on device.

[Thanks, Mark L.]

Droid 2 update begins with promise of better battery life and more originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 28 Oct 2010 06:14:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Droid Life | sourceVerizon | Email this | Comments"

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Google’s Self-Driving Car Spotted On The Highway Almost A Year Ago [Video]

Hmmm. Autonomous Autos? Maybe I should be glad I live on the east coast? At least I'm guessing that Google didn't test any of them out here around DC. Although, it would be cool to see one. But, the way people drive around here, maybe they wouldn't have survived the test here.

Google’s Self-Driving Car Spotted On The Highway Almost A Year Ago [Video]: "

In November 2009, Ben Tseitlin was driving along on the 280 highway between San Francisco and Palo Alto when he noticed something weird. There was a Toyota Prius next to him with a weird spolier-like thing on the roof. And on top of that was some sort of spinning contraption. It was weird enough that Tseitlin decided to take a video of it and posted it to his Facebook page, guessing it was sort of test wind-powered Prius. Little did Ben know at the time, it was actually something much more.

What Tseitlin captured, of course, was the Google self-driving car. The secret project, which Google revealed for the first time today, is a combination of different technologies developed by Google that will allow a car to drive itself — yes, even on the highway. Google has disclosed that they’ve been testing these cars “recently“, but they’ve clearly been testing them for longer than that, as Tseitlin’s video proves. The fact that these specially-equipped Priuses (and one Audi TT) have racked up over 140,000 miles (1,000 of while have been completely human-free) on the road, suggests a longer cycle of testing as well.

One of the most interesting aspects of this whole project is that local authorities were fine with Google road-testing these cars. “We’ve briefed local police on our work,” Google noted today and said that human beings are always present in the driver’s seat when the cars are on the road just in case a manual override is needed. The only accident over all these months involved someone else rear-ending one of the cars.

Tseitlin tells us that he’s actually seen the cars around a few other places as well in the past several months. A commenter on his Facebook post notes the same thing.

Google’s secret project has been driving next to many of us all these months and we never ever realized it. That won’t be the case anymore. Watch Tseitlin’s video below.