I'm Mark, Your Host
Be warned this site isn't for emotional minors or the easily offended. It exists first and foremost to amuse me, if you enjoy it also so much the better. Though I'm not a complete egotist; comments are always appreciated. Guaranteed to be Vain & Vapid™ or double your money back.

From my cameras

From my life
Chris M
Chris S

Monday, December 29, 2008

Notes to self:

-Loading a new, rare varietal into the espresso machine at 6:00 PM is a bad idea
-Pulling a test shot of said new, rare varietal at 6:01 PM is a worse idea
-Being overcome by the intense flavor of same varietal and pulling a lungo at 6:05 PM is the worst idea yet

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I've come to hate SMS or texts. If you have my phone number and I know you have email on your mobile, I've probably chastised you when you made the mistake of sending me a text. My hatred for the medium is simple. It's a closed system. You have to read and respond through the handset, unlike email or IM which work with any number of devices that might be handy. The way I see it, if you have a phone with an open protocol you're just being a lazy git when you opt to use SMS.

And now the NY Times indicates that you're also a financial patsy. Seems the senate antitrust committee is looking into whether it's coincidental that during the same period when the national carriers consolidated into four, they all also doubled the cost of a text message. There seems to be no evidence that the carriers' cost to provide text services increased. In fact, the article makes a case for the incremental cost of providing text service to be almost nothing. SMS rides along on infrastructure required for the voice network. In other words, the carriers are charging us (twice btw, both to send and receive SMS) to use resources that have already paid for by our voice plans.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Steve Jobs won't give the upcoming Macworld keynote. Apple won't be at Macworld at all in 2010. Geeks (and the press) gnash their teeth. I yawn and wonder why the company didn't make these moves a couple of years ago.

Let's face it. The last three or four Macworlds have been downright boring. Oh sure, the iPhone intro was exciting. Guess what though. The iPhone isn't a Mac. The web and the proliferation of Apple retail stores rendered the Macworld Expo superfluous years ago.

In retrospect, I'm shocked Apple kept at it so long.

How can I utter such heresy? I've attended every expo since 1996 and the recent ones have induced snores. Last year, I had to force myself to Moscone. I glanced at the MacBook Air then wandered aimlessly for 20 minutes or so before leaving. Frankly if the shows didn't take place down the street and/or I had to pay to get in, I probably would have stopped attending in 2004.

Years ago, walking the expo floor was key to staying on top of new developments in the Mac ecosystem. Today, all announcements appear on the web well in advance of the show. Just about the only thing you can't find online are all those pudgy guys wearing way too many promotional buttons.

I'll miss dodging them about as much as I'll miss dining on Moscone Center pizza. Yum.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One For Me

I know, I know. Not the time of year to be buying gifts for myself. In my defense, the local Starbucks had it at an irresistable price. Marked down 40% to start. Then they had another 20% off sale through the 15th. And I've got a gold card, which means still 10% more off. It all added up to a screaming bargain. At least that's how I justified it while signing the receipt.

For Rich, I rationalized it by replacing three machines on the counter with this one. And less morning mess because it doesn't require any extraneous filters, handles, tampers, spoons, etc.

In the end though, it's all about getting a consistently-perfect shot moments after stumbling downstairs at 6 AM. Any purists still reading will no doubt already be tut-tutting. I get that to an extent. I've had a little semi-automatic pump Krups machine since the early 90s. I could coax nice shots from it, especially after getting a decent conical burr grinder. But the morning fog won as often as I triumphed.

Now I only have to remember to put a cup under the spout. Hopefully I'll be able to hit at least 90% on that.

Monday, December 01, 2008

December 1. Really? [insert Bill the Cat sound]

Just 30 more days until the new year. Seems surreal. I'm not looking forward to the next month. Truth be told, I find December more trying than joyous. Never have completely recovered from working holiday retail back in college.

My mother announced last week that she'd already finished all her Christmas shopping. My mind reeled. It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I wasn't completely sure what I was prepping for the big dinner. No way I could bring myself to contemplate the next holiday.

Now that the gluttony is behind us, I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around the looming gift-buying, party-going frenzy. I'd really like to take a nap and wake up in January.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brilliant. Go. Now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Husband sleeping off a nasty cold means I'm sitting at home a bit bored on a Friday night. Randomly searched YouTube for R.E.M.'s So. Central Rain and I found some clips from their first network TV appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. It's chopped up into three parts. First, Radio Free Europe.

Next up the interview segment. Notice that Stipe semi-hides on the drum riser behind Dave.

Finally, a second song that at the time was "too new to be named." Now of course you'll recognize So. Central Rain.

I'm amazed it's been more than 25 years since that aired. I distinctly remember watching the original broadcast in my Austin apartment. I was already a rapid fan by that point and was beside myself that a band like R.E.M.--a band I'd seen in person at Club Foot a few month before--was on national TV. Coming out of the dreadful 70s music scene, I was so used to my tastes being on the margins it seemed fanciful in the extreme.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For what it's worth, I'm addicted to the Clover offerings at Starbucks. Reminds me of how the coffee tasted in the early 90s during our first trip to Seattle. When the only sizes were Short and Tall. For a New Yorker used to "regular" in the blue faux-greek cups, the dark roasts of the Pacific Northwest were a revelation. No question Starbucks basic coffee has suffered neglect in the age of Frappuccino. So now I take perverse pleasure in moving away from the hordes milling around the espresso machines. It's also nice to realize that after ordering 20 plus Clovers, I've never been asked if I wanted room. Coffee for coffee's sake. No milk. No sweetener. Just pure, nuanced flavor.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nationwide protest against Prop 8 today. Find your local event.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I'm a bit tardy with this link but my pal Jake has an unbelievably well-written entry on Prop Hate. He also needs donations to reach the fund-raising goal for his Hustle Up The Hancock run. Come on, you can afford the equivalent of a couple of beers to help such a nice, extremely-literate and oh-he's-also-a-major-hunk guy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'm deeply depressed over Prop 8. It's either time to leave in a homo exodus. Or start raping Mormon missionaries and firebombing churches.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Rich and I celebrated our 21st anniversary a few weeks early on Saturday by getting married yet again. For those counting, this marks the fourth time we've formalized our relationship for a governmental body.

1993--New York City Domestic Partnership
2003--State of California Domestic Partnership
2004--State of California Marriage (voided)
2008--State of California Marriage, Take Two

We had a nice get together with a handful of friends. Very much a formality since it's pretty clear we're committed to each other. The fact that we had to take this step prior to the election annoys me. It's also a highly personal example of just how discriminatory and hate-filled Proposition 8 is. How would you feel if you had to commit to the same person four times?

If you're a California voter, please vote No on 8 Tuesday.

I was appalled to see a pro 8 message over on the left earlier. Not my doing, must be what gets served by the bots in Mountain View. I thought about trying to remove it then realized that I should leave it be. I can't imagine that they'll convert anyone reading my blog. Plus folks who do happen to hit it--only once per computer--will drain a few more cents from the funds those religious whack jobs have been flooding into the state.

Update: I've seen a lot of Yes on 8 placements as I've surfed California based sites. I'm clicking on all the ones I see. You should, too. Make them pay per click.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Apple tells me there's officially nothing wrong with the MacBook Pro. Time to sell. I just can't deal with it anymore.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I think my well-documented love affair with Apple might be coming to an end. Or at the very least it's at a low point. What's the problem, you ask. Certainly not the iPhone or the hot pink nano I just acquired (best iPod ever). No I'm talking about the MacBook Pro that's been stealthily taunting and subtly torturing me for 361 days now. It's failed outright once already. Even after being "fixed" it still seems to delight in frustrating me with recalcitrant and unpredictable, meaning impossible to replicate at the Genius Bar, behaviors.

With a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB RAM, it should scream. Day-to-day, it doesn't. It feels maybe 10% faster than the PowerBook G4 it supposedly replaced. For some specialty video tasks, the 2002-vintage Power Mac G4 dual 1GHz is significantly faster.

Asking the MBP to switch apps or do almost anything in a heavyweight program such as Photoshop or Aperture practically guarantees appearances from the spinning beach balls.

Worst of all, I find myself more and more reluctant to move it from the desk. It seems to really hate my style of portable computing. Meaning using it on my lap for a task. Then shutting the lid to put it to sleep. Then opening it for the next task. After a few cycles of use/sleep, it will get flaky and have to be restarted. Of course, it never displays the same weird behavior twice so again I'm out of luck asking for a fix.

Lately, I've been toying with alternatives. But before you go there, let me stop you. This isn't Mark trying to justify one of the new MacBooks. I find the design kind of ugly. And the glossy displays are a complete deal breaker for me.

I got a new 24" iMac in my office at school last month; its glossy display makes me crazy. I went so far as to rearrange the workspace so no lights are behind me. However, it does scream. Exactly the kind of performance I expected from the MBP but haven't seen.

So I'm thinking seriously about moving on from this MacBook Pro. I should be able to sell it since it's got two years of AppleCare still to go and there's probably nothing really wrong with it. Any problems are likely all in my head.

A Mac Pro is tempting since I've already got the Cinema Display. But do I buy now while discounts are around or wait for the refresh that's due around the New Year?

And to show you just how desperate I've been feeling, I even briefly toyed with the notion of PC laptop running a Linux distro. Briefly.

The Bay Area is getting a Zeppelin. Who knew they were still made? While $500/hour seems a bit stiff for a joy ride, the folks at the new company do have an amusing blog that effectively gets across the excitement they feel as the new company literally gets off the ground. Nice to see some writing that's not the usual corporate PR babble.