Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Oh iMac My precious......

Will I get to look a lot like Golum if I keep drooling over the new iMac and wanting to touch and feel? This day has brought yet another addition to a line of superbly beautiful Mac designs. I do wonder about the heat of the CPU right flattened on the display though...somehow it seems like a laptop with the display half melding to the bottom, keyboard removed to wireless. Today's best comment was: "Oh, look a laptop on a stick!" Excellent!

And what the heck is wrong with GMail?! I went to sign in while using Opera's newest and got told "Oh we here at GMail don't support Opera 'yet'." They were friendly enough...offering download links to Mozilla, Netscape, and probably IE. Sigh. You can log in in Opera but nothing works. Get on the stick, GMail. Oh, and on that subject, several people have taken my invitation, which is great. Perhaps if enough people flock over to GMail they will eventually add POP. I mean POPing mail into GMail. It is so large it would make a convenient catch-all for various newsletters etc.

Shall we build an ark?

I asked my family the above question last night, as the waters poured down for the third day in succession. Roads have washed out here, basements have flooded and given way, and the earth has moved downstream in mud slides. This is not typical, especially for this time of year. On the larger scene, the hurricane season has been bad already with devastating effects on Florida and other Southern areas. North Carolina has come in for a heavy dose of storms and wetness. Maybe a trip to the lumber yard is in order!

Monday, August 30, 2004

Movies and books...

Skip "The Big Bounce." Oh my. The plot doesn't even begin to form before it's all done, and the cheesecake on the beach cannot make up for the general lameness of the whole thing. Even with Morgan Freeman, Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen et. al., it just doesn't ever come together. I wasn't even expecting much, just a funny, relaxing escapist flick, but this one wasn't it.

I have moved on through three of Dan Brown's books, and am into "The DaVinci Code." So far the formula is the same. And I do mean formula....plug in one "able smart female", one "academic serious yet hunky man", one hideous plot, and go from there through several plot twists that see our heros through unbelievable escapes from doom, until finally they save the day, overcoming all the weird odds. And they are odd. Frankly, Brown's writing makes Len Deighton, John Le Carre and even Robert Ludlum (his REAL books) look like Hemingway, Conrad and Doyle, but the books are entertaining enough. Fast reading and not hard on the brain.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

That next Season...

It is easy to tell the next season will be upon us soon. Each night as I drive home from work I pass the high school. The football team has been out practicing in the evening sun for about the last week and a half. The boys lined up in their blue and white, scrimmaging on the field of green with the sun glinting down from the West, and gold spreading over the hills. Truly an eternal moment, every year repeating, flowing one year into the next. Ten years ago it was my son's team, and now he and his classmates are far away from the football field through time and space.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Changes on Monday...

Template change here. I want a clean look and one that does not encourage any idea that the blog is a silly waste of time. There are so many blogs that are a silly waste of time, and indeed many that make me sad. So much of blogspace is written in the lowest common denominator, both linguistically and culturally. Knowing that my own blog is no great advance in terms of human intellect, I usually try to maintain a certain humility, but when I go blog reading, it is just sad. I have fallen over one or two very interesting blogs out there, but the drek one has to wade through to find these gems is waist high and rising.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

With regret...

Mariner just went into the trash. I cannot really fund the purchase of a word processor when I already have licensed Nisus Writer Express and Appleworks, yet my need for word processing is minimal. I write whatever letters I need and I produce a yearly Christmas letter (yup - I do that and I don't care what anyone thinks...hahahha). Sad though, what a nice program Mariner Write is.

Spent some time tweaking Opera for Mac last night and today. Very nice, not withstanding the Opera UI is still too much landscape on the page. Too many toolbars, people! But the preferences and the printing choices (disappointingly less in the Mac interface) make Opera a must have. The beauty of the UI in its "Opera Standard" choice is better than the OS X look available in the list now.



Saturday, August 21, 2004

Opera for Mac finally the Opera I knew

I just installed Opera 7.54 for Mac, after installing the Win version on the PC at work. After all this time using Opera (since version 3 on the Windows PC) I just whipped through the preferences to get the setup I wanted. All previous versions I have tried in MAC OS X have been slow, crashy and not up to the standard one expects from Opera. This installation seems to be very good. I had one bad moment when the program froze while setting up prefs, but an "end program" and another try let me do what I wanted. So far this version is doing the job. It works well with Google and Yahoo, and I have seen no bad sites so far. So we'll see. If it is faster than Firefox I will be very surprised, but Firefox has download oddities, so I have been using Safari to do downloads. There is also a problem with the limited print efficiency in Firefox on Mac OS X. I love the many prefs for print setup in Opera.

In other news, Darryl Worley on iTunes has been successfully purchased. His music is just infectious. Thank you Apple for bringing us iTunes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Nisus Writer Express where are you?

Well, after trying Mariner Write, my teeth are gnashing. I paid for Nisus Express, and every time one goes to the site it says "Nisus Express Version 2.0 COMING." Well, it seems we have waited a long time, and they also say that the new version will not accommodate embedded graphics with a simple text wrap. Now, Mariner Write does this so flawlessly that I am wondering if I should have spent the money on Mariner that I spent on Nisus, but I don't want to hear the answer. I could license Mariner right away, as I said I was going to do in a previous post, but the cost of Mariner is the only real drawback. It is quite expensive at $69.95 for the download edition. But, perhaps worth the price. Indeed, I would not hesitate, except that I don't need much more than I have already, what with Appleworks and Nisus Express.

No more ads?

After becoming fascinated with the rotation of ads on the top of the page, I was amazed to see the new "navbar" after posting a few days ago. This is a good thing. Very sleek and useful, but somehow I will miss the fun of the ads. I can't seem to find out if this is permanent or it there will be ads in a new configuration? Well, time will tell.

Commensurate with the new look I also tweaked the template one more time to blend the background in with the bar, having never really liked the background. And, I also never really liked the redwood color of my title, so that went away too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Summer reading ...

After finally registering eReader Pro, I have really "wasted" a bit of time on ebook reading the last few weeks. The package comes with a few free ebooks - mainly the best seller type - or what I usually refer to as "schlock." I have to admit I am enjoying them.

Another book I just finished is "Digital Fortress" by Dan Brown. Dan Brown's books definitely fall into this category. His writing is very Ludlumish, and evocative of Tom Clancy as well. "Digital Fortress" was his first novel, and it is 'pretty good.' I had the thing figured out but the action was non-stop, so it held my interest. Don't take things too literally in his books, they are not science, nor are they fact...they are fun quick reading. Enjoy them and don't get caught up in the controversies and don't believe everything you read. Next up: "Angels and Demons."

Beautiful but noxious Purple Loosestrife...

We are trying to rid the area of Purple Loosestrife, yet another observation I made on the trip to new York State was the plethora of loosestrife along the highways, and in wet areas wherever I looked. I don't know if any control is in place in upstate New York or if there just is no money to fight this infestation. While being lovely, loosestrife is noxious in the way it proliferates and it chokes out native species and will close off waterways and lessen habitat. Here in Vermont there are volunteers out trying to pick the plants out by the roots one at a time to prevent the seeds from spraying out when they ripen. It seems like a loosing battle if right across Lake Champlain the loosestrife goes wild.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Darryl Worley...

I was fortunate to get tickets to a benefit for military families last Saturday night. The featured artist was Darryl Worley. I can't believe I never paid much attention before. This young man is extremely personable, extremely talented, and his rapport with the audience was stunning! His music is a winning combination of humor and energy, with some serious notes. I recommend his music to anyone who loves country as it was; country as it should be. Somewhat reminiscent of George Strait, with some Jimmy Buffett influence, some Haggard and some good old traditional roots.

Opening for Worley was Donovon Chapman, much less polished but he has potential and real charm. Donovon has just signed a recording contract so I am sure the company will polish those edges. I look for more from him. His music is very influenced by both Hawaiian sound (he is half Hawaiian) and by Jimmy Buffet sound, as well as the more traditional country styles.

Also opening was Steve Vaus. Steve is an older performer with quite a history of patriot song writing. At the moment he has a children's album and plans for a SONY sponsored television show this Fall. All in all an interesting evening.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Mariner Write is beautiful...

I got the newest version yesterday and installed that to my own Applications folder. It is just so nice, functionally as well as visually. The options are presented in an intuitive way, and there are lots of them. They have them arranged in an easily handled fashion, and the editing "ribbon", the edit toolbar actually, is removable as is the ruler. Pretty standard in a word processor, but none does that all so beautifully, and the customizing of the toolbar is also easy. You will be up to par with Mariner Write in a very short time - like for instance - ten minutes, if you have used WPs in the past. The PDF manual included could have OS X illustrations, since OS X has been around awhile now. But as a manual it is great. I will register Mariner Write.

This program is elegantly styled and just very lovely to look at as well as fast. Did I say that last time? Well, it is, and it opens WORD docs too, from version 6 on. Mariner will save in rtf, and has also got a save as PDF right in the save dialogue. All in all, Write is heads above Nisus now for my needs, and although Appleworks does so many things, Write has the WP game wrapped up on the Mac, if you don't need WORD.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Repair Permissions...

In the year and a half since I bought my Mac, I have only done "Repair Permissions" twice. I think it was last winter the first time and then last night was the second. In both cases it was after the Applications folder wouldn't let me put something in it that I wanted on the system for all users. I was told the folder was locked. Well, the Disk Utility repaired permissions nicely. I really must get up the energy to research why this happens. I know I had a few programs in trial mode in and out of the Mac, and in fact just two nights ago I was trying out Mariner Write and I put that program in the Applications folder. So perhaps the tossing of that trial demo and the associated files was my problem. Who knows. I do know that the advice offered every time an update from Apple comes is to do Repair Permissions before and after the installation. So, perhaps once in awhile I should do this routinely.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Doing good far away...

I have to collect my thoughts in order to write about people who go to great lengths to "do good."

So many times I read in our newspaper or see a feature on television about someone from the area who has gone to India, or Bangladesh, or Latin America, and even Selma, Alabama in order to do works of charity: to hold orphan children, to succor the ill in Africa, to bring a few days of order to a primitive hospital, and to, in general, get in touch with the seamier side of human existence, while at the same time some of these people show a certain amount of scorn and distain for those around them in the normal daily routine of life in Puddletown, USA. I am often amazed because the same spirit of generous and spiritual giving could have been accomplished right in town. I often hear that such experiences give a "groundedness" even a "spirituality dimension" to those to whom the luxury of travel to a faraway place can give a feeling of being in some way superior to those who go about their daily routines and may give in other ways as best they can but without the publicity. I know many people who have never had a newspaper spread nor have they gotten public notice for what they do every day to bring some comfort into the lives of others.

I believe that doing good faraway is another incarnation of the "White Man's Burden" sort of thing the Europeans were so chastised for in another era. Is holding and comforting a baby in India somehow better than holding and comforting a baby in the local clinic while his Mom is being seen by the nurse? Is it better than holding and comforting a child whose family has to depend on the local food shelf because of the unemployment of the family - or to help out with time talent or treasure at the local shelter, food shelf or school? Is it better to travel to another continent to do a few days or a week of comforting people whom you are going to leave in the lurch again? In order to change something, time has to be invested. Better to invest it locally and hope the rest of the world will do it to. We won't be able to make a difference unless we do it one person at a time where we are. As the old hymn says, "Brighten the corner where you are..."

Monday, August 09, 2004

Mariner Write compared...

Ah HA! Yes, indeed. Now the ads up top are for the reunion sites. An odd thing to me was to find that many schools have people with the additional duty of coordinating alumni information, and herding the collection of older yearbooks. These initiatives might increase the number of gifts to schools from alumni, an idea that may have filtered down to the high school from the college level. Interesting.

I should mention that I am in the early stages of a trial of Mariner Write for OS X. It is a very pleasant software package indeed. I love the intuitive elegant interface, the swift response to all commands, and the very nifty capability of surrounding a graphic with text without the usual several level preference screens one has to go through in most word processors. As far as I can tell the only drawback is the price. Since I already have Appleworks and Nisus Express, I can hardly validate the need for Mariner Write, but Nisus is rather a cumbersome beast in some ways, especially the default save mechanism...a dedicated folder with Nisus documents. I always feel I should back them up in a folder of my own making. Appleworks is very capable but rather slow. The varied capabilities of the program itself are probably what make it so ponderous. I do like the look of both Nisus and Appleworks though.

Overall Mariner Write looks the best, moves the fastest, and just might get my money in the end!

That website editor software...

Need I say I really don't like "you-know-who-Frontpage" web editor? I like the clean simple html coding of yore. I like to do it simple and do it myself. I have to use Frontstuff at work to edit my site there. Well, I probably could entirely rework it, but then when I brought it into the server it would be Frontpaged anyway. It isn't the prettiest stuff when you look at the source code. It is actually a hideous mess in that view. If I didn't have another site created with a simple editor - TACO for Mac OS X - I would probably spend more time on the work web. Since THE BLOG, I can't really see the point of the strictly personal web site anymore, unless some content which will remain static is housed therein.

Again, the ads at the top of the page are becoming a fascination for me. What text will Google like next? Part of the fun...but you have to be careful what you say because you could end up advertising "you-know-who-software." >;)

Peru High School Reunion...

After all these years. So many classmates have seen each other over these past years at one reunion or another, some even at all of the reunions. I have not seen anyone in my graduating class since graduation.

I looked forward to this off year reunion, but I was nervous. After all, I had been there only a short time compared to "regular" kids who grew up in Peru and environs. What, after all, did I know about these people and their lives after all the time and space that has passed between all of us?

When we gathered, we were only 16 classmates, three of whom were Milbrats, myself included. I walked in, recognized several people right away, and was recognized by several others. We knew faces sometimes without knowing names, but once we began to talk and share our lives, we felt a bond that can exist only with those with whom you share a generational experience. I am not really even sure that this bond is only with those you know - perhaps you could go to any reunion of that same year and the life experiences and the growth those experiences trigger could help you feel at home.

I had brought pictures I had taken the last few days of our senior year. Several others had brought pictures, and there was a yearbook in residence on the reception table. I think we enjoyed the pictures of past reunions as much as any other pictures. The women who organized the reunion worked very hard to find others in the class and entice them to join us, but it is amazing how many people can't make room in their lives for even one evening with old old friends. We did talk about the reasons some may have, but we missed their company and hope for the gift of their attendance the next time. You know, even if you think there weren't many friends, you would be amazed how time makes friends of old classmates. After all, we were so young then, the world and our lives were unfolding before us, and the magic was yet to happen. Now, we have had bad thing and good things happen, and we have weathered it. I think the celebration is in the "being there." Those classmates whom we have lost were remembered.

There were of course those for whom I had special fondness in that sparkling misty dawn of time so far away. I still feel fondness. There were those whom I had not known as well, but whom I now know better after having joined with the group in the memories and the sharing of just that one special evening on that warm summer night in August.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Support Our Troops...

Our "Support our Troops" yellow magnetic ribbons were stolen by some piece of human excrement.

I didn't notice mine last night when I left the parking lot at the college, but they either disappeared at home in the driveway or in some parking lot. So many people never learned this basic fact of civilized life: IF IT ISN"T YOURS - DON"T TOUCH!

The yellow ribbons are not a political statement. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the magnets is going to the fund for the families of our National Guard members presently deployed to the Middle East. We remember the men and women who serve, and we pray for their safe return. I deplore the deaths and the injuries in this war, as in all others, and as a military family, we know that there are so many lonely separations and times of hardship that affect our community, both military and civilian.

The next thing I attach to my car will stay.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

My PBS station scheduling...and global warming

We were enjoying the new episodes in the British series "Foyle's War." But Sunday evening at the usual time, my PBS station had no trace of the third episode, nor was there any sign of the fourth episode in the guide for this month. Now, the guide doesn't include anything after about midnight at all, so imagine my surprise when I emailed the station and the reply was: "Oh, we were going to run it in the overnight hours about 1am, but technical difficulties precluded this. " ? Here we have a new episode of a new series. Something like this doesn't come along very often these days on Public Television. Add that to the fact that I had no way to know they were planning on offering it in the middle of the night. Oh - I am supposed to go to their website and what? Print out the schedule?! I get the guide because I send a yearly pittance to the station, and it would be nice to have the WHOLE broadcasting schedule in the guide.

Now, with the demographics of Public Television showing that the audience is older and pretty small, you would think that a new series would be a headliner event. The OTHER PBS station in the area, from the state across the lake, has the series on in prime time every Sunday night. This week it is preempted for a special, but there it is, in their guide for next week, so my day is happier. I really like the OTHER station and I support them too.


If Public Television is going to grow and keep on getting viewership, they better get some idea of scheduling for more of the masses, both in programming and in timing. Wouldn't Friday night be a nice time for a really good movie in prime time? Even an old B&W classic? For heavens sake, that is not the time I want to see political pundits envelope the planet in hot air. HHmmm...is politics the real cause of global warming?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Reunion...

This weekend is a high school reunion, year unmentioned. It will be interesting to see how everyone has made peace with the world over the years. Unfortunately a couple of my really good friends from that time are not to be found, so they won't be there. Well, many of the people I remember fondly will be there, so I am sure we will enjoy the evening. I haven't been able to attend any of the reunions, in fact didn't know of them since the tenth. The wonder of the web has changed all that. I added my email to the list at the high school alumni site, and there you go.

I was disappointed in Johnny Depp's "The Secret Window." Not very good. Creepy without any redeeming resolution. Johnny must have needed the cash. Looking forward to Juliet Binoche and Jean Reno in "Jet Lag" which is rented and awaits our viewing. I just saw "The Others" over the weekend, and I have to say it is well done and gripping. Nicole Kidman is, as usual, a flawless actress. She was at her peak in "The Hours", a film which I recommend only for the performances, as the story is a bit too long in the telling.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Steve Jobs recovery...

I wish Steve Jobs a speedy recovery. I know that his health is directly related to Apple as a company as well. I read the positive prognosis in the articles regarding his illness, and I certainly hope they are 100% accurate.