Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Treo, Showcase and an Anniversary

I was planning to spend the majority of this post whining about the quality of the lens on my new Treo 700p cell phone. Unfortunately, I am going to have to find something else to write about. I just transferred the photos to my laptop and even the ones that I thought were just horribly dark don't look nearly as bad after running them through Picasa's "I'm Feeling Lucky" filter. I had even been wondering if I needed to carry around my old Treo 650, just to use the camera, which I absolutely did not want to do. I don't think that will be necessary.

Over all, I am very pleased with the new phone. Since it's on Verizon's network, I get a better signal at home and can actually use it at the office. That is marvelous. I have missed so many calls because people assumed that I had some way of finding out that I had a message. It's also just nice to be able to make calls wherever I am, particularly in an emergency. I usually couldn't even get a signal outside in the parking lot most of the time.

Thanks to Verizon's EV-DO broadbandesque network, I can use my the browser on the phone much more easily. It is extremely fast and makes everything much more practical. It's particularly impressive when using the Google Maps client on the phone. Recently, the mobile version of Google Reader has been my favorite app. I've been using TreoTwit in order to avoid per message SMS charges.

Thursday was CIT's 7th Annual Instructional Technology Showcase and it was definitely a success. I worked at the registration desk early in the morning. I got to attend Malcolm Brown's keynote, the lunch and the poster-session. Lunch was catered by the Refectory and I must say that their hummus wraps are great. All of the door prizes that I gathered from our sponsors now have happy homes. I also got to see RN and KD, which was cool.

We had worried about Dr. Brown's arrival, because his original plane had engine trouble, as was depicted in a dramatic collaborative 2D reenactment by HC and SM, drawn on the glass in between their cubes.

After the Showcase, we had out traditional drinking party. This year we went to Satisfaction's and I tried their selection of virgin daiquiris. First, I had a lime one, which was very sour and good and was served in a wine glass. Various other people recommended their strawberry daiquiris, so I tried a virgin strawberry one. That was served an overflowing 16 oz. cup! By that time I'd also eaten several onion rings, cheese sticks, chips, wings and one jalapeno popper, so that was a little much.

Yesterday, at lunch time, a bunch of us went to the Duke Farmer's Market. We ate leftover Showcase wraps while listening to HC play Old Time music with his buddies. The weather was perfect for it. LA and I bought things for our mothers' birthdays.

Today, my mom and I went to the Flying Fish for lunch and we stopped by Callaway Jewelry afterwards. I visited FIFO in the afternoon and followed him around, taking pictures with the Treo 700p. We celebrated her birthday at ACME Food & Beverage Co., of course. What we should have also been celebrating is the fact that today is the first anniversary of the appearance of my doofus woodpecker who has been slamming his head into my windows for the past year. He was at it bright and early this morning. It's so nice to be loved.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Remember the Milk

Thanks to a couple of articles on Lifehacker about why it's better to keep a to-do list using pen and paper, I read about a new (to me) productivity / to-do list web application called Remember the Milk. Aside from having a cute name, it meets a lot of the requirements that I've been looking for in such an application. You can access it from the web application, your Google Personalized Homepage or Netvibes page, or from a mobile phone. It has tons of features, but one of my favorites is fairly mundane but rare from what I've seen: you can have repeating entries. I, for example, water my orchid plants once a week and I would like to be reminded rather than relying on a memory that only seems to kick in right as I'm getting into bed. Remember the Milk can do that for me, even to the point of sending my phone a text message.

Now if only it could actually water them.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

La Forchetta

I keep getting Zogby polls about flatware. It's very frustrating, because there aren't any write-in comments where I can complain about the Bush administration. No, I don't know what company makes those forks you're showing me and until I have the opportunity to stick the tines in a neo-con's hand, I won't need to know where to send my letter of appreciation.

Tonight I went to Cinelli's for dinner and had linguine with clam sauce, substituting rigatoni for the linguine. Unfortunately, the pasta way more al dente than I like, which is better than the alternative, but a little too chewy. Otherwise it was good. We also shared garlic bread, which was great.

Afterwards, we went to see the Ciompi Quartet in the Nelson Music Room. While I'd seen the quartet perform a couple of times in the Levine Science Research Center, I'd never been to a concert there. When I was a student, the second floor of the East Duke building was completely inaccessible and that actually became quite controversial, leading them to cancel all concerts there for a time. Not too long after I graduated, they completed the Richard White Building, next door, which provides access via a catwalk. In any case, it's a very nice venue for music. There was a reception downstairs after the performance, which is apparently traditional for the last Ciompi Quartet concert of the season.

Down on the Corner, Out in the Cathedral

For today's Visualization Forum, we had an excellent talk by Caroline Bruzelius on her course on cathedral building. Basically, each of her students designs a cathedral and writes fake historical documents to go with it. She introduced us to two of her students, one of whom drew the architectural drawings in AutoCAD and the other who rendered his drawings in 3D, using Maya. Both projects were stunning and the ultimate goal of the second project was to convert it into a format suitable for use in the DiVE, so it will be possible to actually walk through his cathedral. I am unusually envious of students who are able to take the course, because it sounds like a lot of fun. I also got to see one of my former professors, Dr. Hans van Miegroet.

Guitar practice was particularly fun tonight, because we spent a lot of time on Down on the Corner. In between verses, there's a base line, which is really fun to play. This is the first time I've played one, so it's tricky for me.

JJ, JA and I went out for sushi afterwards. Cafe Zen had particularly good yellowtail and mackerel tonight. The photo shows most of our order, except for two rolls.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Splitting Twitter and Veggies

Regular readers of this blog may have observed that I write about the (hopefully) not so distant past and never write about what I'm planning to do in the future. At work, we've been using Twitter to let each other know where we are. I started wondering whether I want random strangers to know when I'm not at home or I'm driving home. Most likely, it wouldn't matter if they did, but I've decided to change the username of that account and only send updates to "friends". If I actually know you, you are welcome to add me on If you don't, you can still get my public updates from I don't know what I'll be using it for, though, other than plugs for blog updates and random bursts of enthusiasm, but we'll see.

In other news, we got our first share of vegetables from Elysian Farm yesterday. Now we've had two delicious dinners with asparagus, radish, spinach and green garlic. I've had two pretty heavy lunches (Searle Center yesterday and the Refectory today), so that's been particularly nice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fangirl Favors Fancy Flashlight

Last night, at Ted's talk, I bought four $1 raffle tickets for various toys donated by his company, Lucasarts. I put my personal e-mail address on the tickets, so I was mildly disappointed when I didn't hear anything last night. Well, this morning, I had e-mail from SR, at work! I won the grand prize, the Obi-wan Kenobi Lightsaber! Wow! I thought I'd be lucky if I won an Artoo-Potatoo. If you grew up watching the movies, playing with the action figures, and listening to the soundtracks over and over, then you will understand me when I say how awesome it will be to wave this overgrown flashlight around for hours on end. The sound effects are great and turning it on and off is too cool.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we've had quite a bit of wind. The power was off at my house for approximately 24 hours. Unfortunately, this branch is still precariously balanced in one of my neighbor's trees, along my property.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Could Be In the Dark

The power has been out at my house and for much of this area all day long and there's no sign that it will come back on any time soon. It's been extremely windy here and there are trees down all over the place. I'm really appreciating my generator right now. After having endured literal weeks without power after hurricane Fran and the ice storm a few years back, I don't think I'll be taking it for granted for a while.

At lunchtime CIT had a fun brown bag celebration where we played games the whole time. HC, SE, SM and I played SET, which was challenging and fun. You can play on-line, but it's probably more fun playing in person. The same company also makes Quiddler, which I'd played before and didn't like as much. I was, however, in the mood to play hearts at the time. Before I joined CIT, they used to have game lunches about once a month, so I was happy to finally participate in one.

After work, I went to an ACM talk given by Ted Hung. He was a computer science major, who graduated just two years after I did. It was great to see him again and learn about what life is like as a game programmer. Going to an ACM meeting again was fun. It was definitely a mixture of nostalgia combined with the pleasure of not having to preside over the meetings anymore.

Friday, April 13, 2007

No Child Left Behind

Today was fun and hectic. Not long after I got to work, I had to go to an interview. Then I drove a bunch of co-workers to the American Tobacco Campus for a software presentation and a brown bag meeting. The excitement began when we left and SM was missing! We waited quite a while and I called various labs trying to get cell phone numbers. We finally gave up and decided that he must have gotten a ride with someone else. When we got back to the office, he still wasn't there. I was really beginning to worry, but it turned out that he and LA had gone to Cafe Zen for lunch. Next time I drive a van full of children somewhere, I'm going to make them all hold hands for the whole trip, so no one gets left behind.

Oh, and Mike Nifong walked by me while I was making those frantic phone calls from the parking garage.

Guitar practice was fun. Playing in the spring is so pleasant, because we get to sit out on the front porch. A lot of people walk along West Club Blvd, so sometimes that attracts attention, but not tonight. It was chilly and I was very hungry, so I was eager to go to dinner. We went to Red Robin, which I'd never been to before. It was very crowded, the service was pretty bad and it was very hard to hear. The food, however, was pretty good. I had fish and chips, which isn't the sort of thing one usually orders at a burger joint, but they did a nice job. Unfortunately, they must have forgotten my order and didn't give it to me until everyone else had almost finished, but JA spoke up and they took the entire price off my bill. I'm afraid I was too hungry to photograph the plate when it finally arrived.

My shipment of guitar picks arrived today and I'm very pleased. All of them have non-slip grips, so I shouldn't have any more problems with their rotating in my fingers in the middle of a song. I also now finally a thumb pick that won't twist off my thumb while I'm playing. It's a "bumblebee" pick, so it's even yellow.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Price of Free Speech

I do have good news. I figured out why my Treo 650 was bombarding me with messages whenever I turned off bluetooth. Apparently the keyboard application (or any third party connecting application) will keep trying to access bluetooth unless that is also disconnected. So, once I made sure the keyboard application was turned off, it stopped asking me if I wanted to turn bluetooth back on. As it may now be obvious, I hadn't tried out bluetooth at all until I got the keyboard.

On Tuesday I went to a Durham FM Association meeting and we had an excellent speaker, Carlo Tomasi, who talked about his work with Canesta on the laser virtual projection keyboards and 3D sensors. I'd been admiring the keyboards on ThinkGeek for some time, so it was neat to see one in person and learn more about the technology.

Last night, I went to the Duke Symphony Orchestra concert, which was great. I didn't think my dad was going to be able to go with me, but he decided he would rather do that than grade midterms. We went to Taverna Nikos beforehand and I seem to be in another trout rut. My last one lasted over a year, but we were eating there a lot more often at that point.

Today, AE had the day off, so she came over to campus and we ate at the Refectory for lunch. It was such a beautiful day and it was delightful to eat outside. We had "Sopa du Soya", which is the faux chicken version of my favorite Mexican casserole dish. I like the chicken better, but whatever soy product they were using was quite good.

I'm going to do something unusual for this blog and weigh in on the Don Imus debate. I had actually didn't even know who he was until this controversy arose, so obviously this was a good publicity move. I've read various articles that say that it was his first amendment right to say what he did and therefore he shouldn't have been fired. That just doesn't follow at all. The constitutional right only applies to the legality of what he said, which I don't believe is being disputed. Don Imus, as an employee of a business, represented that business. If a business believes that it is not profitable to have him represent them, then it is that business's right to fire him. I am almost positive that if it had been financially advantageous to keep him, then they would have. Then that would suggest that advertisers thought that the majority of their consumers felt that this was acceptable behavior. If that were the case, then we would have a much larger problem on our hands than just one announcer.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Misbehaving Mobile Device

My beloved Treo 650 has been frustrating me. Yesterday afternoon, while I was watching a movie, Immortal Beloved, it beeped, indicating that its battery was low and needed charging. I dashed off to my bedroom and plugged it in. This morning, before I got up, it beeped again, so I charged it while I was in the shower. Note that it never did this before yesterday.

I decided to try turning off bluetooth, since I enabled it a few weeks ago for my bluetooth keyboard. Well, apparently if bluetooth has been on, then it doesn't like being turned off. There could be a way to turn it off for longer periods of time, but it kept popping up messages saying, "Do you know bluetooth is turned off? Do you? Do you? Feed me."

I eventually just ignored it. Well, eventually it got to the point that I could neither cancel the message nor re-enable bluetooth. It just kept flashing the message over and over. This afternoon I just decided to take out the battery. Then it started rebooting itself, over and over. It just wasn't my day.

I ended up having to do a hard reset and now I think it's fine. Fortunately, I sync it with my laptop fairly often, to get all those food pics off of there, so I have the meeting minutes that I took last Wednesday. I don't think I lost much, really. I guess I just lost yet another picture of an ACME lemon pudding cake from last night and some really nice Shade Tree Coffee latte art from Saturday. I think I'll live.

I think my phone has been listening to my talking about ditching Sprint and upgrading to a newer model on Verizon.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring Beauty and an Ant Experiment

I'm conducting an experiment. Can and will teeny ants get out of my new Black & Decker hand vacuum? It's shaped quite differently, so it's possible that they can't. They easily got out of my previous one, but spiders were too lazy. I had a bag of birdseed in the garage that was full of ants and they seem to have decided to visit my less than immaculate kitchen floor. I guess I haven't been swiffering often enough. Given the fact that I can't remember the last time I swiffered might also be some indication as well.

It feels as if I've been neglecting my blog, but I guess it really hasn't been that long since I posted. I spent much of the end of last week and the weekend working with SE and SM on an internal CIT April Fool's newsletter. That was just a tremendous amount of fun and I have even more of an appreciation for GoogleDocs, because it handled three people's working on the same document beautifully. I also had to work on DFMA minutes and other secretarial duties, which were not nearly as enjoyable.

Speaking of beautiful things. The spring flowers around here have been stunning. Even more daffodils have bloomed in my yard, thanks again to a regular reader and our neighbor/landscaper. Other flowers bloomed about a week early, so there was much more of an overlap of the redbuds, dogwoods and wisteria. My commute, primarily on Highway 70, has just been bursting with light purple and white. Since we've had a decent amount of rain, just about every dogwood is gorgeous and full of blooms. Unfortunately, a cold front is coming through tonight and, if the weather people are correct, I'm going to have to appreciate brown blossoms instead. I hope they're wrong. Many of the trees have their leaves out, too, and I'm afraid they're going to get zapped.

Recently, I've had lots of good dinners and lunches with parents and friends: DS, AE, NP and JH (serendipitous). In the evenings, I've been busy working on collecting gift certificates to use as CIT Showcase door prizes. so I've been going out to eat even more than usual. Since I want to finish this post and still get some sleep tonight, I'm not going to go into detail this time.

What else? I met two lovely cats last night. I really miss being around cats. I was photographed by the paparazzi yesterday. I went to the Duke Computer Science picnic on Saturday and had a good time.

We have a lot of pollen here and it's everywhere. We breathe it, live it and photograph it. Fortunately, I'm not terribly allergic to most of it, so I think it can be pretty.

Well, it looks as if I may have solved my ant problem.