Monthly Archives: June 2004

Contest Winner/Participant

Congratulations to the winner (and sole participant) in my Gmail Essay Contest: Simon Miner|http://www.simonminer.com/!

Simon is one of my co-workers at Christianbook.com|http://www.christianbook.com/. He has been interested in receiving a Gmail account for a while, so I was happy to set him up with one.

Simon has granted me permission to display his winning essay on our blog, so here it is!

qqq|If you have ever checked a dog for ticks, you know what a painstaking experience it can be. The procedure basically goes like this. Using your fingers or a fine-toothed comb, you sift through the dog’s fur, feeling for the tiny parasites entangled in the animal’s coat or attached to its skin. Once you find a tick, you must either pull it from its hairy hideaway or extract it from the dog’s hide. The latter can be accomplished by pinching the buried head of the insect and yanking it loose. This task is particularly messy if the tick is engorged from feeding on the blood of its host.

Tick checking used to be one of the most unpleasant aspects of caring for our dog, until we decided to have her groomed.

The grooming package we selected for our dog included a haircut. Our dog, a Cairn terrier, had never had her hair trimmed before, so we chose to style her fur with a standard terrier cut. This type of cut shaves the fur on the dog’s back and flanks very short, but leaves the hair on her belly longer to hang freely.

Little did we know how such a simple choice would revolutionize the tick checking process. Now, scanning our dog for the pests is much easier. With the advent of our dog’s haircut, ticks have much less overgrown real-estate in which to conceal themselves. Furthermore, the short and evenly cut fur on most of our dog’s body makes it difficult for the insects to burrow into her skin. A tick’s only haven is the animal’s belly, which is a small area that is only partially covered with fur. This vicinity can be completely scanned with just a few quick strokes.

A Gmail account offers all the advantages of a dog with a fresh terrier cut. Other email services require you to waste valuable time sorting and sifting through your mail to locate an elusive message. But like ticks on a groomed dog’s belly, Gmail exposes the message you want with a quick and easy search. Gmail offers the ability to categorize a message in multiple ways, a feature which stands in stark contrast to the hairy and tangled single folder filing system imposed by other email providers, which often causes important messages to be overlooked and forgotten. A free email account hosted elsewhere can quickly become engorged with messages due to restrictive quotas on mailbox space. Gmail’s 1 gigabyte accounts ensure that there is always room for more mail.|qqq

Senor Cardgage Mortgage

Like many twenty-somethings, Becky and I have often dreamed of buying our first home. Now, with a little help from Senor Cardgage Mortgage|http://www.homestarrunner.com/senormortgage.html, that dream might just become a realty-ity.

Or something.

My Civic Duty

Today was a milestone day in my life. For the first time, I was called to Jury Duty at the Peabody Courthouse. For someone who loves Law & Order this was pretty exciting…even without Jerry Orbach.

The first bit was boring…watching a pretty horrible, yet informative, movie about the Mass State Judicial System. Then we paraded upstairs to the courtroom for “impanelment.” Some folks got excused because they already knew the defendants and/or witnesses. The rest of us sat while the lawers picked the 6 jury members.

Since there was only one ‘real’ case on the docket today the rest of us were excused. I was so disappointed. I would have loved to get to sit on a jury, but I guess that I will just have to wait another 3+ years.

Overall, I was proud to have served my Civic Duty to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

DashFabulator

One of the “new” features Apple is introducing in Tiger is “Dashboard”|http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/dashboard.html. Dashboard allows the user to display “widgets” on their screen, which contain information like weather reports, stock quotes, the current time, the current track in iTunes, etc. Sounds good, right?

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, Dashboard is, shall we say, remarkably similar to an existing product: Konfabulator|http://www.konfabulator.com/. The Konfabullator makers have noticed this, and have posted their feelings in their blog|http://www2.konfabulator.com/journal/index.php?start=68&show=1.

This is remarkably similar to Apple’s behavior when redesigning their Sherlock web services software. Find a really cool, useful program (Watson|http://www.karelia.com/watson/), then take its functionality and integrate it (poorly) into the Mac OS, without giving any credit for the idea to the people who actually came up with it. In Watson’s case, Apple still hasn’t done much to improve Sherlock, and it is definitely not up to par with Watson in terms of usefulness. In the latest chapter, Konfabulator is far ahead of Dashboard, and my guess is that it still will be once Tiger is released 9 to 12 months from now.

Well, I suppose not everyone can have their greatest ideas come to them as if in a dream.

WWDC

Today was the first day of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC|http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/tiger/). In his keynote presentation, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs discussed several new technologies coming to Apple:

Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” ( client|http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2004/jun/28tiger.html | server|http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2004/jun/28tigerserver.html ) Tiger is the next evolutionary step for Mac OS X. You can read about all of the cool new features at the above links, but one interesting feature is that the server version of the OS will come installed with a Blogging server based on blojsom|http://wiki.blojsom.com/wiki/display/blojsom/About+blojsom. blojsom is a lightweight, Java-based blogging server inspired by blosxom. Along similar lines, Apple will also be releasing newsfeed-reading capabilities in upcoming versions of Safari. Very cool.

30″ Cinema Display|http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2004/jun/28displays.html That’s just big. I want one, of course, but that’s about as far as I’m going to get towards owning one.

XCode 2|http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2004/jun/28xcode.html If you’re developing applications for the Mac OS, you’re going to want this.

Many of the new software features in XCode and Tiger are geared towards full support for 64-bit processing. That’s great news, as 64-bit capabilities were introduced when the G5 PowerMacs were released, but are not as yet fully supported. When Tiger is released, G5 owners can expect a major boost in overall performance.

Blogroll

If you’re curious about what websites and blogs I watch on a day-to-day basis, you can now check out my blogroll|http://prwdot.org/?p=peter_blogroll. This is powered by Bloglines|http://www.bloglines.com/ and reflects an up-to-date list of the sites I monitor through the Bloglines web-based aggregator and Notifier service.

Contest Extended

Well, nobody entered my contest to receive a Gmail account by today’s 8 a.m. EDT deadline. So, I’ll extend the contest. You now have up until Wednesday at 8 a.m. EDT to submit your essay. Refer to the previous entry|http://prwdot.org/?p=archives/001852 if you need the full details.

I realize that many of my regular blog readers already have Gmail accounts, so I can understand that you’re not interested. And perhaps some people have no idea what Gmail is. For those people, here’s a quick run-down:

  • Gmail|https://gmail.google.com/ is a free, web-based email service which is currently in the testing stages. It is provided by Google|http://www.google.com/, and has many groundbreaking features such as 1000 megabytes of email storage space, built-in searching, a fast, minimalistic interface, unobtrusive context-sensitive advertisements, and automatic grouping of email “conversations”.
  • There is currently no way to directly “sign up” for a Gmail account. Google initially processed requests to sign up as a tester, but did not immediately grant those requests. Google also provided Gmail accounts to many users of their Blogger|http://www.blogger.com/ service. There is now a growing number of testers, who occasionally receive “invitations” to give out to others. I received my Gmail account by way of an invitation, and I have been granted one such invitation to give out.
  • If your primary email address ends in “@yahoo.com” or “@hotmail.com”, or you are not happy with your current email provider, you are a prime candidate for a Gmail account.
  • If you would like to find out more about Gmail, visit the Gmail page|https://gmail.google.com/.

Beautiful Day!

Today we had some gorgeous weather, so we decided that we ought to go on an outing. We flipped through Country Walks Near Boston|http://www.globecorner.com/t/t29/14543.php and decided upon Maudslay State Park|http://www.mass.gov/dem/parks/maud.htm in Newburyport. Neither of us had been there before, but it was not too far away, so we got in the car and headed up.

The weather could not have been any nicer. The park is overall quite fabulous. It covers a swath of land on the south shore of the Merrimack river, on the border between West Newbury and Newburyport. At present, there is an outdor sculpture exhibit set up all around the park, entitled “Layers”. So there were lots of interesting pieces of artwork to look at, besides the beautiful natural scenery.

Here are a few samples of some of the stunning scenery:

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You can view the full gallery here|http://gallery.prwdot.org/maudslay_state_park.

On a completely unrelated note, we had lunch at the Taco Bell|http://www.tacobell.com/ at the North Shore Mall, and were excited to discover that they now have the full Big Bell Value Menu|http://www.tacobell.com/w06/, including the Beef & Potato Burrito. Yum! Hopefully the Salem TB will have it soon… right now they only have three of the new menu items.

A place to carry my things

Anyone who knows me will most likely tell you that I’m not a “purse girl”. I try to carry everything I need in my pant’s pockets. This has been a pretty good plan for me until recently. My new job in Boston allows me to take the train to work. I like this, but it means that I can’t just unload my stuff into the car. I also tend to dress in skirts and nice pants without pockets. Oh No!

I’ve been looking over the last few weeks for a bag that will suit my purposes. I really don’t go for your traditional purse or handbag. I don’t like carrying a bag with the strap on one shoulder, and I’m not really a Chanel girl. So, cute handbags are out.

I have a nice back pack that I like. It would fit my things and be comfy to carry. However, I think that it is a little more bag than I really require. I’m not trekking the Appalachians or anything.

The solution came to me as if in a dream. A month ago I made a cute little purse for Jennifer|http://junefourteenth.blogspot.com. Inspired by other’s creations found on Craftster.org|http://craftster.org I altered the pattern. I made it large enough to hold some paperwork and my planner as well as my lunch and Nalgene water bottle. I also made a large flap to keep my stuff in, and the rain out. And I made sure the strap was long enough to cross from one shoulder to the opposite hip…making it like a messenger bag.

Here is my creation. First with the flap in place, and then open to see the inside.

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Weekend Gmail Competition

I have one Gmail invitation to give out.

If you are interested, please compose an essay of no more than 500 words describing why you are the most worthy to receive a Gmail account, and send it via email to:

peter [at] prwdot [dot] org

(where the words in brackets would be substituted by their symbolic equivalents)

I would suggest you include in the essay a description of what exactly you would be using the Gmail account for, why you feel Gmail is better than any other free alternative, and any other personal reasons that you feel qualify you for receipt of such an account. Bribery probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

The deadline for receiving submissions is Monday, June 28, at 8 a.m. EDT

Good luck!