Adobe fanboy

March 14th, 2008

I’m beginning to understand that Adobe’s corporate strategy these days is centered around unifying designers and developers, and maybe I’m starting to go along with it.

I went to this VT Flash User’s Group meeting last night and it was actually really interesting. It made me a lot more excited to learn Flex – it seems like Adobe’s really trying to address what they called “designer-developer productivity”: making it easier for designers and developers to work on stuff together, and giving us tools that we can all use collaboratively.

I did not know too much about their new product Air, but it’s basically a way of making a desktop application out of a Flex project. So you could have a Flash app that can work online or offline, and can use local files on the user’s computer, the clipboard, etc.

I came out of the meeting feeling like that’s the future of web development work – for example, a catalog product that has the depth and feel of the print work with the interactivity of the website. People could browse through community features and interact with other brand lovers while online, but they could take it with them and lovingly browse through all the product lines when they’re away from their network connection…what people create could be a catalog that can come to life.

If Flex can live up to its potential and let us bring the design and programming worlds closer together, it could transform the industry. Don’t worry though. It might be Java, ABAP or C#, but there’s always going to be a need for server-side programming. These fancy apps will need to get data from servers and there will always be a need for databases that get them. And we’re always going to need to print stuff. People like to hold things in their hands sometimes. But they’d flow from one of the Central Beautiful Functional Things that are created for each brand.

Maybe it’s the pizza I ate while I was there, but something happened last night that made me swoon over Adobe for a bit. Their RIA page has a bunch of good information too.

Manifesto over. Carry on.

P.S. For the record, yes, I won an iPod shuffle there, but no, that has nothing to do with the enthusiasm in this post. At all.

my birthday

March 13th, 2008

I had a fantastic birthday! The kiddies made me homemade cards, which melt me every time.

Kacey got me tulips, and they’re even in a pot so that I can enjoy them all year.

My wonderful loved ones chipped in to let me feed my gadget love with a new GPS unit, so I can drag all of them out to go geocaching as soon as the icy grip of winter loosens.

And best of all, my wonderful lady surprised me with a night out on the town! She arranged for the kids to be taken care of and everything. It was so great to just be able to have a drink with her and talk. It was strange to sit at a bar with her, since we used to have so much great conversation over beers when we were getting to know each other in San Francisco years ago.

Thank you for the well wishes everyone!

winter sickness

March 2nd, 2008

It’s been one of the worst winters I can recall for sickness. I don’t think our family’s been this sick, this regularly, since Enzo was a baby and started going to daycare.  Not-so-coincidentally, Sal has started going to daycare at the YMCA for an hour three days a week. That’s not so much, but how long does it take to pick up a virus?  I tell myself that it’s part of young childhood, that it will help his little immune system grow stronger, and that it always seems worse than it is, because when he cries it’s so pitiful.

But man, when he wakes up, like he did a week ago, wheezing, and barking like a seal when he coughs, it’s scary! I’ve done this before, with both kids, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of helplessness a sick child can give you. We put him in the shower, and then took him outside, and he started sounding better, and he fell asleep.  We took him to the doctor a few days later and he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  He’s been on antibiotics and sounds much better now, but it’s just the latest in a long series of illnesses this winter.

Kacey got pneumonia herself in the fall.  She had a nasty cough that started in November, and then by the first week of December she had been diagnosed and was laid up for most of a week, spending most of every day in bed.  It’s probably the sickest she’s been since I’ve known her.  She went on antibiotics too, and it cleared up, but minor colds have come back a couple of times in the last month.

I myself have been sick on three or four occasions this winter where I’ve had to miss work, and that never happens.  Most of them have been the kind where I was just too tired to move around much, and where my head would pound if I over-exerted myself.  I have done well for the latter half of the winter, but like I said, minor colds have hit me way more often than they ever used to.

Even Enzo, who is normally the healthiest of all of us, has missed enough school due to being sick that we’ve gotten the first letter from the school district warning us that attendance is very important…

Reason enough to be excited for spring to come!

Once

February 18th, 2008

My faith in local radio may just have been restored by a movie, of all things.

Kacey listens to the radio in the car and one day she heard some song and the DJ mentioned something about it being from a movie called “one” or something.  When she tried to find it on Netflix, she found a movie called “Once” that seemed close enough.

I knew that it was about a busker (Glen Hansard) and a woman that he meets on the street (Markéta Irglová), and that was about it.  It opens with a guy standing on the street in what looks like a pretty nice commercial district, singing and playing a guitar.  He seems to have a pretty good voice, but he has to stop singing soon because a junkie steals his guitar case with the money in it.  It turned out that scene was really the only one to try to delve too much into what it’s like to be a busker.

After that the title credits start, over a long slow zoom into him singing a whole song, a song that is captivating from the start.  I realized right away that we were in for a bunch of incredible music, as long as the story could stay out of the way of him playing.  And as it turns out, the star of the film is his music.  There’s a loose plot about him meeting a girl and them making some music together and becoming friends-maybe-someday-lovers and then them parting ways after an epic recording session, but in fact a lot of the movie is just singing and playing.  When you read that description, it seems like it’d be boring, but in fact it’s riveting.

The reason is that Hansard and Irglová aren’t really actors, but musicians who got talked into acting, instead of the other way around.  It turns out that Hansard is famous in Ireland as the leader of a band called The Frames, which you can bet I’ll be checking out, and he’s an absolutely incredible musician.  A lot of singer/songwriters have an obvious imbalance between singing and playing, a strength that they naturally play to.  But Hansard seems to know just the right balance to strike between the guitar and his voice, and he’s got a voice to remember – gritty and soulful, with a hint of a growl that can swing up into a falsetto in one strum.  She’s a less obviously talented musician, but she’s a good partner for him in the scenes where they make music together.  She plays subtle piano and has a sweet soft voice to back him up.

The main characters are just called “guy” and “girl” in the credits, but it wasn’t even till we saw the credits that we realized we never learned their names.  That’s the kind of spell it puts on you – you are so much a part of their world that you forget about the usual conventions of movies.  The plot doesn’t move too much, and it doesn’t resolve in a way that you’d expect, which alone is plenty refreshing.

I’ve always loved music, and I’ve always wondered what it would really be like to be one.  Watching “Once” brought me closer than any concert tour documentary or biography could.  And I’m so grateful to have discovered Hansard and The Frames.  I can’t wait to get ahold of some of their albums!

I have returned

February 18th, 2008

It’s incredible that the last entry in here is of Sal as a baby.  He’s a boy now, and we just put his crib away a couple of weeks ago in favor of a toddler-sized bed. And Enzo is in kindergarten now. Kacey’s a full time mom, jewelry artist, business consultant and children’s book rep (all from home), and me?  Well…I guess I’m doing the same stuff I’ve always done.  I’m still working for the same place, and still doing much the same things when I’m not there.  Which as you might expect means that I need some new outlets for my energy after all this time.

So I’m going to have a serious go at blogging now.  I struggled for a while over picking some kind of theme, but as Kacey wisely said, “I think the most important thing is to just start doing it, and a theme will probably come out naturally.”

I know that I’m going to try to review all the media I consume, so there are categories for music, books, and movies.  I watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games, too, so those will probably make it in here at times.  I don’t usually catch things right when they come out, so don’t expect me to be timely, though.

Anyway, you can probably expect some bits about programming and web usability, and just random stuff that I observe.  Sound eclectic?  Yeah, that’s the theme so far…

enzo is 5

October 6th, 2006

Dear Enzo:

You turned 5 today, and this year, just like every year that passes with you, I’m amazed at quickly you grow.  You are a boy now, and every day you get more opinionated, more curious, and I can’t help thinking that you are growing up much more quickly than I can handle.  I’m old enough now that every day that passes seems much the same to me in a lot of ways.  I have the things I do every day, and while the details are different, there are a lot of things that are the same.  But every time I talk to you or even just see you going about your day, I see that every day is still new to you.  You are now old enough to think about things that happen to you, but young enough that the world is fresh.  How exciting that must be!  How scary!

You seem to have a contemplative nature like I do.  I can’t count the number of times you’ve surprised me by asking about something that happened days or even weeks ago, and the questions usually cut right to the heart of the matter.  There is no doubt that you are quite intelligent.  You have a knack for getting to the heart of things, and you are already starting to ask questions that I never know quite how to answer.  Like when you asked Kacey and I in the car on the way down to New Hampshire, “What is heaven, mommy?”  Kacey and I looked at each other for a minute and we let a silence go by that must have puzzled you.  Eventually we told you that it’s where God lives, and that seemed to satisfy you for the moment.

You were baptized this year, and though you seemed excited about it, I am not sure if it was due to the novelty of something unique or if you had an inkling of what it was all about.  We talked about it, but it was mostly in terms of being part of a community, rather than in God terms, just because it seemed to make more sense that way.  I don’t really know how to talk to you about God, and maybe that’s ok.  You will have to come to some things yourself, just the way I did.  I want to give you a framework for right and wrong, but you will have to decide them for yourself one day.  I think you are probably closer to Him than I am anyway, just by virtue of your young age.

You have really learned to love active sports too.  You love playing games like baseball and basketball and football with me, the holy trinity of father-son backyard goodness.  The weird things is that those are all team sports that you have never really played with any other kids.  I think if we played bocce, curling, and speed walking you would still love them.  Right around your birthday, we started your first organized sports, soccer, an hour once a week for four weeks.  There were no games or anything, just little fun drills and basic soccer moves.  When we were there you seemed like you were having fun, but you didn’t really seem interested in playing soccer skill games at home.  You just love going outside and playing.  Hockey, tag, hide and seek, or just plain imaginary made up games.  It’s different every time, and that’s what makes playing with you outside so fun!

In short, my son, it’s been a wonderful year, and I love you more and more every day.  You are now officially getting old enough for me to start worrying about you growing up too fast (even though I don’t think you are).  Keep having fun, keep learning, keep growing, and know that Daddy loves his Enzo.

Oh, and what did we do for your birthday?  Well, I took the day off work, and we went to Colchester to get lost in a corn maze.  We didn’t really get lost though, since we did the easy one and also because I am good with maps.  We forgot to bring the camera, but I brought my GPS…

da-da

December 31st, 2005

Yesterday morning, when Sal woke up he was on his hands and knees in his crib, rocking back and forth, saying “DADADADADADADADADADADA.”

I think he was calling for me. He doesn’t say it as a two-syllable “da-da”, but he’s getting close!

russian climbing video

December 27th, 2005

This may very well be the most amazing video I have ever seen.

I don’t really know how to describe it except as the stunts in the “The Matrix” except these guys can do all those things for real.

Call it applied gymnastics.

Mark Morford on de-cluttering (and the SF reuse culture) | 43 Folders

November 4th, 2005

Here’s a shoutout to what KC and I used to call the “ghetto mall” when I lived in the Mission District in SF. As you walked down the streets there, people line the streets with blankets covered with assortments of old stuff. I got half my books that way. I’ve always had a theory that many homeless are more literate than the average person because books are some of the only entertainment they can afford. With no electricity, very little money, and lots of time, books are probably the best way to entertain yourself, I imagine.

why tivo was invented

October 29th, 2005

The World Series.

Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs.

Chicago is one out away from breaking the curse of Shoeless Joe Jackson, and their first World Series title since 1917.

Then the baby wakes up and starts to cry.

I go upstairs and comfort him for a few minutes, till he falls asleep and I put him down again.

When I come back downstairs they are doing champagne-soaked interviews.

On Monday I’m going to pick up an Adelphia DVR.