Monthly Archives: July 2004

The State of Ohio

Cedar Point was a lot of fun last night! The weather was quite hot and muggy, and there were a few brief rain showers that passed through, but otherwise it was very enjoyable. We went into the park after 5 p.m., so the rate was only $25.95 per person. The lines for most of the rides were pretty short, so we got to ride on almost everything we wanted to. Becky and I wanted to go on the newest ride, the Top Thrill Dragster|http://www.cedarpoint.com/public/inside_park/rides/thrill/ttd/index.cfm. The ride launces a car instantly to a speed exceeding 100 miles per hour, and then shoots it straight up a track to a height of 405 feet!! Unfortunately, we didn’t end up getting there until close to the end of the day. At that point, the wait was 2.5 hours, and the ride had just shut down. It’s such a fast and tall ride that they only let it operate under the best conditions. Anyway, we decided to put it off until some other time. We did however get to ride on the Power Tower|http://www.cedarpoint.com/public/inside_park/rides/thrill/powertower/index.cfm. This ride lets you choose whether you’d like to be shot at high speeds to a height of 240 feet, or instantly dropped from the same height. We choose the fast upward ascent, and were instantly whisked off of our feet to a height of 240 feet! It was amazing! Before you knew what was happening, you could see all of the park, Lake Erie, and Sandusky! It was great fun.

Today has been slightly less thrilling from an adrenaline sense, but no less enjoyable. I’ve been hanging out with Dad today. We had lunch with Mark and then drove around to see different people at Lakeholm|http://www.lakeholm.org/ and MVNU|http://www.mvnu.edu/. It’s great to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while. Dad also caught me up on a lot of the new construction in the area – a new elementary school, new renovations and additions at MVNU, construction in the south end of town.

The ladies today are at an afternoon tea at the Longaberger|http://www.longaberger.org/ company, so I’m at home relaxing and blogging.

Tah Tah!

O-H-I-O

Becky and I arrived safely in Ohio on Saturday evening. Our trip from Beverly to Mount Vernon took about 14 hours and about 22 gallons of gasoline (1.5 tanks – not bad!). Saturday night we played UNO Attack, which was interesting but not quite as good as the original UNO.

We went to Hope Community church on Sunday to hear Mark preach on “Bodybuilding 101”. Afterward we zipped down to Columbus to see Kirsten and Elizabeth compete in a tennis match. Everyone then went to Graeters for ice cream, where we all entered their contest to win a pint of ice cream every week for one year. 🙂 Sunday evening we watched Spider-Man 2 with Mark, Kirsten, and Dad… it was excellent. Becky and I ended the night by visiting Will|http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/ at Taco Bell (oh, and eating some Taco Bell too).

Today Becky and I took an excursion to Newark to see the Moundbuilders park and the Longaberger|http://www.longaberger.com/ Company home office, which just happens to be located inside a giant, seven-story-tall wicker basket. 🙂 Tonight we are headed up to Cedar Point|http://www.cedarpoint.com/ to experience some roller coaster madness.

It’s been a fun and relaxing trip so far, and it’s great to be in Mount Vernon after more than a year. Becky has had the fun side benefit of being able to check out a lot of photos from my earlier years… 🙂

We’ve taken some good photos, but we probably won’t upload them until we get back to Beverly or have access to a high speed connection, whichever comes first. 🙂

Plastic Dentist

Despite the lack of posting, I have actually continued reading. Most recently completed was The Last Camel Died at Noon|http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0446363383/qid=1089336206/sr=8-10/ref=pd_ka_10/002-6457907-6007237?v=glance&s=books&n=507846 by Elizabeth Peters.

Peters has written numerous adventure novels set in Egypt in the late 1800s. The main characters in this one were Amelia and Reginald Emerson, famous British archaeologists. While studying in Egypt they wind up captured by a rogue group of desert folk… and the drama continues.

I enjoyed reading the book, but I can’t say it was a really gripping novel. Because I love the study of Ancient Egypt the tales of Pyramids and mummies fascinated me, but the story itself sometimes dragged on a bit.

Just before that trip to Egypt I finished my second Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, Love in the Time of Cholera|http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/140003468X/qid=1089336835/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/002-6457907-6007237. I was thoroughly enthralled in the relationships that Marquez draws between people and families in the Carribean. I love how I can leave Beverly behind and jump right in to the world in the author’s head.

There was one passage in Cholera that I thought some gals from Gordon might relate to and so I’ll pass it along: [note, the author is describing the picky eating habits of one main character]

qqq| When it was time to eat, it could not be anything, but just what he wanted, and with no defects… At the mere hint of a doubt, he would push aside his plate and say: “This meal has been prepared without love.” In that sphere he would achieve moments of a fantastic inspiration. Once he tasted some chamomile tea and sent it back, saying only, “this stuff tastes of window.” Both [his wife] and the servants were surprised because they had never heard of anyone who had drunk boiled window, but when they tried the tea in an effort to understand, they understood: it did taste of window. |qqq

A nice glass of plastic dentist anyone???

Dunkin Domination

If you live in the Northeast, you already know the extent to which Dunkin Donuts|http://www.dunkindonuts.com/ dominates the coffee/donut/bagel marketplace. In the past few weeks, DD has expanded its reach yet again in the city of Beverly. There are now a total of eight DD franchises in our fair city (that I’m aware of). They are indicated by red dots on the map below:

ppp|Beverly DD
Dunkin Domination|ppp

That’s eight DD’s in roughly 2.5 square miles of land. 3.2 DD’s for every square mile. Beverly’s population in 2000 was 39,862, so that puts approximately 5000 Beverly residents to each DD.

DD has been making other moves, too. I recently noticed that the QuiKava coffee hut on Highland Ave. in Salem was just recently taken over by DD.

And their donuts aren’t even that great. Hopefully Krispy Kreme|http://www.krispykreme.com/ can make some inroads – but at this point there are only 3 KK’s in the whole state of Massachusetts.

Konfab vs. Dash – A Second Look

After reading Will’s post|http://pulchersentio.prwdot.org/001875.html and then following up and reading this|http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/dashboard_vs_konfabulator and this|http://daringfireball.net/2004/07/konfab_confab on John Gruber’s blog|http://daringfireball.net, I’ve decided to rethink my position on Konfabulator vs Dashboard. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

I think Dashboard|http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/dashboard.html is a cool looking feature. Being a web developer, I am intrigued by the possibility of being able to build a Dashboard “gadget” by using JavaScript, CSS, and XHTML. For the moment, that is where my happiness ends.

Gruber encourages us to “look under the hood” to see the real differences between Konfab and Dash. Yep, ok, they’re both different under the hood. Konfab uses its own proprietary XML parser and JavaScript engine, while Apple uses its own WebCore technology. But I didn’t need to be convinced that they were different under the hood.

Gruber puts on a pretty good razzle-dazzle show, pointing us to these under-the-hood differences, as well as showing how Dashboard is similar in scope to Apple’s own Desk Accessories functionality of many years ago. But he doesn’t give adequate treatment to my primary concern. By way of analogy:

Say I want to design my own car. I come up with some really great ideas for new components that will produce tremendous horsepower, amazingly efficient fuel consumption, and a silky-smooth ride. I build these components, and put them all together in a frame that could withstand a drop off of the Grand Canyon (while protecting the passengers). Then, I need to design a body. I look at the Audi TT, and think that it looks really sweet. I have had some trouble coming up with my own design for the exterior, so I “borrow” a lot of elements from the TT, and whip up a “new” body for my car, calling it the PT. When the PT is released, the public is going to think that my car looks a heck of a lot like the TT, and they’d be right. But when they got in and took it for a test drive, they’d realize that it was infinitely superior – especially after they drove it into the Grand Canyon. So, the public would eventually discover that it really was a different machine – under the hood. But does that excuse me from borrowing the TT’s body design to use in my PT? I don’t think so.

Neither should Apple be excused for borrowing the look, feel, and functionality of Konfabulator for use in their Dashboard technology. I don’t really have any thoughts on what would have been the “right thing” for Apple to do with respect to Konfabulator, but I am pretty sure that whatever the “right thing” is, it has not been done yet.

One last point – I do understand the comparison between Dashboard and Desk Accessories, at least in terms of scope. They were both designed to be small, lightweight mini-apps that could be run on screen alongside other applications. But I feel that Gruber is trying to read this comparison into Apple’s actual design philosophy, on their behalf. I haven’t seen any proof as of yet that Apple really did use this as a basis for developing Dashboard. I’d love to see a statement or article on Apple’s website that says something to the effect of “Our idea for Dashboard started way back in the 80’s, when we designed Desk Accessories…” If Desk Accessories was truly an Apple innovation, and if it truly is an ancestor to Dashboard, then why hasn’t Apple made that public knowledge? I’m sure that most modern consumers wouldn’t have any clue what a Desk Accessory was, so I can understand not putting the information on an Apple marketing website. But how about tossing it into a developer note? Or maybe, when Dashboard is finally released, there could be a note in the ‘About’ menu that says “Inspired by Desk Accessories”. I’m waiting.

Fixed!

Thanks to an inexpensive aftermarket eBay part, free labor from Ken, and a few pointers from the Haynes ’92-’96 Camry repair manual, the driver’s side window in my car is working once again! Hooray! No more opening the door when going through toolbooths or drive-thrus!

In other news, the web-based newsfeed aggregator Bloglines|http://www.bloglines.com/ is celebrating its first birthday|http://www.bloglines.com/about/news. In celebration, they have revamped the look and feel of their site, and have introduced some new features. The most notable of these is called the Clip Blog, which allows you to post to a blog hosted at Bloglines, and is directly integrated with the blog reading service. When you read a new blog item in bloglines, you can easily post about it in your Bloglines clip blog by clicking a simple link. Take a look at my clip blog|http://www.bloglines.com/blog/prwood for an example.

I use Bloglines every day to help keep me up to date with websites all over the net, without the hassle of visiting every website. I prefer it to newsreaders such as NetNewsWire|http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/ on the Mac and SharpReader|http://www.sharpreader.net/ on the PC simply because the interface is the same no matter where I go, and I can access it from any web browser without the need to install a piece of software.

If you are a Bloglines user, you can easily subscribe to World Wide Wood by using the special Bloglines links on the left hand side of our page. Of course, you can also manually subscribe in Bloglines or in your preferred newsreader with the other RSS links, also located to the left.

MVY

Had a great, relaxing Fourth of July weekend on Martha’s Vineyard with Becky, Ken and Dianne. As always there was good food, fun, and sunshine. The weather was terrific, and the flowers in Dianne’s garden were in full bloom. I’ve got some photos, particularly heavy on the flowers this time, and you can see them here|http://gallery.prwdot.org/vineyard_20040704.

The one notable incident of the weekend occurred Sunday afternoon as I was kayaking on Sengekontacket Pond. Admittedly, I am an inexperienced kayaker, this being only my third attempt at doing so. Nonetheless, I felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t have any problems since I had kayaked in the same pond a few weeks earlier. But after examining a small island in the pond, I paddled away, at which point the kayak flipped over and I was thrown into the water. I came up pretty quickly outside of the kayak, so I was not in any danger, but the kayak was filled with water and I did not have the muscle to turn it over to pour the water out.

Furthermore, when I plunged briefly under water, my eyeglasses, which I had been wearing at the time, were pulled off and lost. I didn’t realize they were lost until after I had started swimming back to shore with the kayak in tow. So for the rest of Sunday and most of Monday, I was without my glasses. I can’t drive without my glasses, so Becky drove us home on Monday. Luckily, LensCrafters at the North Shore Mall was open, so we went in with my latest prescription and had some new glasses made. The price was actually pretty reasonable with my AAA discount, and the new pair even came with matching clip-on sunglasses. I had lost my clip-ons a while ago, so this was actually a blessing in disguise. Those glasses were a couple of years old anyway, so it was probably about time for an update.

Here are some photos of me with my handsome new eyewear:

ppp|Peter's new glasses
The new glasses|ppp

ppp|Peter's new sunglasses
The new glasses with the sunglasses clipped on|ppp

Cupertino, we have a problem.

Apple posted an unusual statement on their iMac|http://www.apple.com/imac/ page yesterday. The gist of the statement was that they had stopped production of their current line of iMacs in order to prepare for a new line that was supposed to be released this month. Unfortunately, their production schedule didn’t work out as planned, and the new iMacs will not ship until September. That means their current stock of iMacs will soon sell out, and there won’t be any new iMacs for them to sell from July until September. Two months may not seem like a long time, but in terms of potential lost sales of their most popular consumer PC… ouch.

On the other side of the issue, this statement is also an unusual public confirmation of upcoming, unreleased Apple technology. Though there are no actual details, this provides solid confirmation to any of the rumor-mongering sites that something is coming, and a good estimate of when it is coming.

Coverage around the web:

Think Secret|http://www.thinksecret.com/news/imacdelay.html Mac Rumors|http://www.macrumors.com/pages/2004/07/20040701175119.shtml Mac Central|http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/2004/07/01/imacs/index.php?redirect=1088744685000

Watson -> Project Alameda

I’m a paid registered user of the Mac program Watson|http://www.karelia.com/watson/. Watson is a web services application, similar to Apple’s Sherlock|http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/sherlock/ tool. The idea behind web services tools such as this is that rather than navigate to dozens of different websites to get stock quotes, weather, news, movie tickets, flight information, package tracking, etc…. you use one application that has hooks into these websites. The application does the searching and browsing for you, and puts all of the handy tools in one easy to access location.

Well, the latest news is that Watson’s technology has been licensed by Sun Microsystems|http://www.sun.com/. Dan Wood discusses it in a recent blog entry|http://weblog.karelia.com/Watson/Now_I_can_talk_a_bi.html. Watson will reach its end-of-life on October 5, 2004. In the meantime, Sun has created a new, cross-platform, Java-based version of Watson named Project Alameda|http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/KitchenSink.

Watson is a great time-saving tool, and I’m sure Alameda will continue to be just as excellent. Keep up the good work, folks!