Palm is back in the game with the Pre!

Palm PreThe ads that accompanies the original iPhone drove me crazy. They were talking about it like it was something new, when I'd had the same basic functionality I've had on my Treo since 2002 (before the iPod even had USB or color). Sure, it wasn't as pretty as the iPhone, but it was functional as all hell and much, much easier to use (physical keyboard, customizable buttons, copy/paste, etc).

But over the past two years I had been getting nervous. While Apple and Blackberry were continuing to innovate on their phones, and application developers bent over backwards to make snazzy toys for the iPhone, the Palm OS and accompanying hardware just stagnated. You'd get a slightly faster connection in a new model, and some buttons moved around, but nothing worth writing home about.

I was beginning to fear that I would eventually have to break down and get an iPhone in another year or two when my Treo gave up the ghost. Which wouldn't be that bad if they came out with an iPhone with a slide-out physical keyboard. And copy/paste. But the chances of that, I think, are pretty slim as long as Steve Jobs is running the show.

But this week, my faith in Palm has been restored. At CES, they gave a preview of their new phone, called the Palm Pre, and their new Linux-based operating system, called Web OS. It's a damned sexy phone, both physically and beneath the hood.

It does all the basics, plus integrating calendars/contacts from multiple sources, allowing you to run multiple apps at the same time, wireless charger, and has what looks like the ideal balance between touch-screen goodness and slide-out physical keyboard.

For the first time in ages, I'm actually looking forward to upgrading my phone. Yay!

Free Agent

I am now officially a free agent again.

No, no, Rae and I didn't break up. The separation was between me and eBay. We still love each other, but eBay is going through a lot of emotional issues and isn't coping very well, so it needs some "me time." :-)

I have two weeks to wrap up all of the projects and hand them off to one of the survivors, then I'll be sitting down to concentrate on updating my resume and kicking the networking into high gear. So if you know anyone who's hiring product managers, community managers or (maybe) front end web developers, let me know.

And don't worry. I saw this coming and am not terribly upset about it. The severance is better than I expected, and I see the free time I'll have as an opportunity to explore some of the ideas that have been on the back burner for far too long.

Exciting times!

Ok, I’ll join the fold

Napster was great! It let us stick it to the man by making all music free. Screw the studios, screw the musicians, man, music belongs to the people!

And how awesome are BitTorrent and P2P? Forget about having to save up money for that new CD, DVD or anything else. Now it's freely available to everyone, even before it's officially released. Democracy of digital media, man. To hell with the days of people making a living producing media. Power to the people!

Didn't you hear? It's talk like a pirate day.

Introducing My Better Half

Ray & Rae at PolyCon 2008While I did hint at the possibility of not being single for long, it occurs to me that I have not yet made a wide-spread announcement that I am indeed head over heals in love.

I met Rae (also known as stride) at BayCon last month. Cindy introduced her to me along with Darne, Chris, Jen, Snoopy and that whole awesome gang. I instantly knew I was going to keep the whole lot of them, but I particularly had a crush on Rae. And that was before I saw her in the Illyria costume. Yowza!

Of course, since this is me we're talking about, she wasn't single. Big surprise, right? But lucky for me, she was in the process of breaking it off, and that process got accelerated when drama hit the fan the following weekend at Valhalla. And after a few weeks of drama, long soul-searching conversations, mad flirting and far more patience and self-control than I thought possible, here we are.

I can't wait for you all to meet her. She's amazing. She's one the sweetest, most kind-hearted people I've ever met, she's geeky as hell (she does graphic design and web development for IGN/GameSpy, cosplays, and is an RPG & video gamer), she works faire, she knows how to handle a sword, she's just as much of a cuddle slut as I am, she's wicked smart, pleasantly amused by sarcasm, and just all around made of awesome. Oh yeah, and did I mention she's smoking hot? There are soooo many guys pissed off at me right now for "cutting in line." Lucky me! :-)

It's weird. We've only known one another for a little over a month, but it feels like we've known one another for years. I always say the one thing I'm looking for more than anything else is resonance. And I think this could very well be it.

And if not, we'll have one hell of a breakup party in November!
(After which her sister will slice me open and feed me to the fishes.) :-)

Farewell to the King’s Head

I'm at a coworker's going away party at the King's Head right now, and I'm just as sad about the state of the King's Head as I am about losing one of our best people.

It's been gutted. All the old-English decorations that lined the walls - the swords, the armor, the caber - has all been removed (and returned to the original owner). they're in the process of turning it into your average industrial night club.

I'm torn. On one hand, I'm sad that such an awesome pub is going away. But the new owners are really nice people, they went out of their way to get the old decorations back to the original owner, and I get it that a night club really would make more business sense than the old King's Head.

It's the end of an era. I still remember coming down here with Will and Tim every week for Irish dancing. Until the hot chick from Austin moved back home and it all fell apart.


Dr Horrible Release Plan

Joss has posted information on the release plans for Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. For those of you who don't have time to read the full post:

  • 15 July - Act One will be released on the web

  • 17 July - Act Two will be released on the web

  • 19 July - Act Three will be released on the web

  • 20 July - All three will be removed from the web.

  • Soon after, they will be made available for download for a nominal fee (no details yet).

  • Somewhat after that, it will be released on DVD with "the finest and bravest extras in all the land." Details will be shared at ComicCon, but no word on whether or not the DVDs will be ready by then.

For those of you in the Napster/YouTube crowd, I'm curious to hear what your thoughts are on this.

  • Will you honor the content owner's wishes and download the legally purchasable copy after the 20th?

  • Or will you instead go to the illegally copied versions that will no doubt be available on YouTube, etc?

  • Does it make a difference to you that this is a self-financed project rather than a studio project? Would your answer be different if episodes of Dollhouse were released in the same manner?

Update: In his follow-up post, Joss points out that there will indeed be a soundtrack, t-shirts and other schwag.

Chris’s 3 Rules of Dating

At BayCon, Chris revealed his three rules of dating, which contained enough insight and resonance that we later pressed him to post them for posterity. And after reviewing his expanded version, I have come to the conclusion that they're just as relevant to one's work life as one's love life.

Since I think these are pure brilliance and don't want anyone to miss them just because they're too lazy to follow a link, I'll reprint them here:

Chris's 3 Rules of Dating

I developed these some years back and several people asked me to write them down for them so here goes. Will they work for you? Maybe. I am reasonably confident that they worked for me given the beautiful, competent and intelligent woman I wound up marrying (see Poeso)!

Any set of rules/guidelines should be as succinct and unambiguous as possible which necesitates them being broadly worded. It also means that there are clarifications for specific points (in case you didn't catch the obvious intent) I have included a few. Finally, like Asimov's Laws of Robotics, these rules are in an order for a good reason...

Rule #1: Be comfortable with yourself! If you can't be comfortable with yourself then other probably can't be either. Being comfortable includes being comfortable around people you don't know or by yourself. Don't always rely on the opinions of others. In the end, it is your opinion of yourself that matters. Don't mistake Arrogance for Confidence. The Arrogant need other people to be wrong so that they can be right which builds in weakness. The Confident recognize that there are many viewpoints that can be right and refines their viewpoints by allowing them to be challenged.

Rule #2: Meet new people. There are many people in the world who can be "right" for you. The more people you interact with the more likely you are to meet one of them. Just because someone appears to be "right" doesn't mean that they are not already taken or will ever be emotionally available to you. Take heart, enjoy your time with them and LEARN what a "right" person looks like and looks for. The worst that can happen is you get a cool new friend and maybe learn something about yourself. Sometimes meeting new people means expanding upon the relationships you already have. "Friend of a friend" is more likely to have common interests and come to you "pre vetted" by the people you already trust. Make time for the people who make you feel good about yourself. Who knows, one of the cool friends you have may have been waiting for you to become "emotionally available" and you may not have noticed it. Either way, it helps with Rule #1.

Rule #3: Avoid worthless relationships! Admit it, everyone has gotten into or stayed in a relationship that is just not fulfilling and never will be. Sex, routine, emotional security, what ever the reason in the end all you are doing is keeping yourself from growing as a person. Either work to improve the relationship you are in or get out! Grow or leave. Harsh, but this is the biggest trap most people fall in to: staying in a dead end relationship because they lack the confidence to either make it work or end it. If you are not yet in a relationship, remember rule #1, enjoy being with yourself. You don't need to get hooked up just to validate your self image. Flirt, have fun, be daring, but don't date some one unless you see in them the qualities that make you say "wow, I'd be really happy to tell my friends I am dating this person"

The Invitation

Thanks to Scott for reminding me of this. I loved it when I first found it a few years ago, but it seems particularly appropriate now.

The Invitation

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Here we go again. I wonder where this one will lead…

I didn't really realize how stressed I've been lately until I went to BayCon.

Well, that's not entirely true. I did come to a realization last week that work is stressing me out more than it should, and had a talk with my boss's boss about it. It felt good to get some things off my chest, and I think the upcoming follow-up conversations will be productive, to a degree. But there are still a few things that are very much up in the air.

So BayCon was a breath of fresh air. I got to see a lot of people I very rarely get to see. I ran in to a few people I haven't seen in years (who had very interesting stories to tell). And I made some really amazing new friends. The kind of people you instantly know you'll be keeping for decades, rather than months or years.

But mainly, I got to be myself. At work, lately, I've been a tangled mass of pent up passion, nervousness and frustration. At home, I've been exhausted, distracted and unfocused. And socially, I've been a bit of a hermit. That's not me. That's the hollow shell of me that keeps shit together while the inner me makes course corrections. It's not a big deal. It happens every so often. And it gets easier, the earlier I can recognize it for what it is.

So now I need a vision quest. I need to get away from the world I'm currently saturated in, to get some perspective, reflect on my options, and decide where I want to go next. Or, more precisely, who I want to be.

Luckily, it just so happens that Valhalla is this coming weekend. And Bill, bless his heart, is willing to gatelist me for the weekend. A weekend on holy ground, surrounded by My Kind, with the therapeutic smell of pine and wood fire all around. This could be just what the doctor ordered!

Anyone going to Valhalla this weekend and want to carpool?

The Fate of the Cow Palace

To many of us, the Cow Palace represents one thing: the Dickens Christmas Fair, where so many of us enjoy spending a good portion of the winter months, reveling in Dickensian England, surrounded by dozens of our closest friends and entertaining the public.

But Dickens Fair only takes up a small side-building of the Cow Palace, for just two months out of the year. The rest of the year, the Cow Palace remains a hollow shell of the grand gathering place it was in decades past. Chainlink fences separate it from the surrounding community, the gigantic parking lot is typically a desolate stretch of asphalt, and when niche events do use the venue, they give very limited contribution to the surrounding community.

Even the Dickens Fair doesn't really bring anything to the neighborhood as a whole. A few actors may pop over to McDonalds or KFC for a snack occasionally, but predominantly the money that the event generates stays within the chain link fence.

Now that the city is planning to buy the Cow Palace, level the existing venue and replace it with housing, shopping centers and a school. Things that the community desperately needs all twelve months of the year. They want to destroy the venue in which we've spent the past many years celebrating the holidays in an unparalleled manner. So our instinct is to resist, to fight back, to petition the city to keep the venue as it is, so we may continue out revels.

But please, take a step back. Look at the Cow Palace as a whole, instead of just our small portion of it. Look at the community that the Cow Palace is in the center of. Is it really the best possible use for such a huge plot of land? Should we really be fighting to save a venue that is out of code, out of its time, and out of sync with the neighborhood in which it resides?

The Dickens Fair didn't start at the Cow Palace. We can move our little slice of England to another venue and it will continue to live for decades to come. I urge you all to keep this in mind over the coming months. Instead of pouring your energy into "saving" something that's already showing signs of decay, why not instead pour it into finding a new venue for the event that we all love so much.

Don't fight to keep hold of the past. Look forward to rebuilding fresh for the next chapter of the Dickens Fair's history.

Felicia Day’s “The Guild” is made of awesome

If you play Warcraft, you need to watch this. If you mock those who play Warcraft, you need to watch this. If you know anyone who plays Warcraft or mocks those who do, they need to watch this.

Episode 1: Wake Up Call

Not only is this hilarious, it's a great testament to what you can do with a video camera and a very low budget. This baby is higher quality humor than most of the mainstream sitcom fare, and hits its target market square in the jaw.

PS: For those of you asking "Who's Felicia Day?" she played one of the potential slayers in season seven of Buffy. But she's better known locally as "that gorgeous redhead from the Mutant Enemy strike."

Don’t Fear the OOP

I got an awesome email today from an old WebTV coworker's dad today.

Jos (pronounced "yose") was an amazing guy. One of those people you just couldn't be in a bad mood around, who was always creating these wacky side projects that were sometimes more successful than some of the company's main projects.

One of my favorite Jos projects was called Don't Fear the OOP. It's a brief, informative and highly entertaining tutorial on "why coding Java (or any other object-oriented programming) is just like writing a trashy Western novel." Each page was separated into three sections: explanation in normal English, using cheesy Western novel metaphors; pseudo-code that was still readable, but structured more like code; and actual Java code. Add in a bit of Jos-patented humor, and it really is a brilliant way of teaching object-oriented programming.

Sadly, Jos died not too long after completing the tutorial (and the WebScissors tool that I maintain on his family's behalf). Healthiest man I knew, and he died of a heart attach at his desk one day. Just like that. I suppose it's true what they say: "You get what everyone gets; you get a lifetime."

But Jos really did something with his. (Besides the obvious, of leaving behind scores of people who loved him dearly.) It's been... wow, has it really been almost a decade since we lost Jos? And yet his WebScissors tool is still getting a few thousand hits a day, and his Don't Fear the OOP tutorial is still out there on the web, helping people get friendly with Java.

Which brings us back to the letter. Jos's pops just forward this email that he got from a high school programming teacher (does it make me old that that's a foreign concept?) who stumbled upon Don't Fear the OOP and used it to great effect in his class.

Letter from a happy OOPer...

Love is in the air…

Two wedding announcements in one week.

Wedding #1 - The other day, my roommates let me know that they're going to be getting married next January. In Vegas. Cindy & Jason are my Lily & Marshall (for you How I Met Your Mother fans), so their getting married is no surprise. In fact, they pretty much act married already. But it'll be nice to see it made official.

Wedding #2 - Tonight, Fred & Malaya took me out to dinner. They got me a gift while they were in Athens, so we've been trying to schedule this dinner for a while now. But it turns out they had other motivation as well. They let me know that they've finally set a date, and will be getting married in September. And, since I'm the one who set them up... they asked me to marry them! Of course I said yes! I'm incredibly honored.

But, the real fun came later, when I called my mom. "You remember Malaya, that school teacher I dated that you really liked? Well, I'm marrying her. Yes, really. In September. No, I'm not lying. I'm marrying her to the guy I set her up with." Getting my mom's hopes up just to crash them back down is really much more fun than it should be. :-)
And any time you can get your own mother to call you a son of a bitch, that's just a bonus.

Of course, this means I need to find a date for the weddings. Preferably one who doesn't mind the idea of being the priest's date. :)

Now I need to figure out when Father's Day is, so I can go shopping for a new suit.

Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition

Scott just pointed out that there's going to be a new Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD coming out in November, just in time for Shopping Day. No, it doesn't have two different covers. That's the same cover, cleverly designed to make "princess bride" read the same backward and forward. And the artwork is gorgeous!

Even if it didn't have any additional special features, I'd still buy it just for that cover. Art is worth spending on, right? But it does have a few new features (nothing earth shaking, but interesting enough). And it's only $14. So that's pretty much a no-brainer. Now I just need to decide who to pass my Dread Pirate edition on to.

Princess Bride - 20th Anniversary Edition

Amazon won’t let me buy Firefly

I haven't bought a copy of Firefly from Amazon in over a year, although I've bought about 40 copies total from Amazon since its release (24 of which were for the 2005 ComicCon fan table).

Now I want to buy a new copy, since I got rid of all my loaner copies in the recent DVD blowout. And Amazon has it on sale for $19.99, so I thought it'd be simple to just add it to my Heros: Season 1 purchase. Wrong.

Apparently, there's a limit to the number of copies you can buy of Firefly through Amazon. And since I haven't bought a copy since March 2006, it's looks like it's a lifetime limit. It lets you add it to your cart, but when you go through the checkout process it gives you an error message and bumps your quantity down to zero.

Am I the only one this is happening to?

Amazon limits Firefly sales

I guess I'm off to Target to buy a copy there.

Palm comes to its senses and kills Foleo

Palm Foleo DiscontinuesIn case you missed it in the news a while back, Palm announced that they were going to be releasing the Foleo smartphone companion, which would be a small $500 laptop that syncs directly to the Treo in real time. They thought it would be the ideal companion to the Treo, since it is relatively small, starts instantly (no booting up) and doesn't take any time to sync with the Treo.

But instead of saying "wow, that's awesome, when can I get one," the vast majority of spectators either laughed or cringed. It's a phone accessory that costs more than the phone? It's a laptop that doesn't run 90% of the applications people want to run on their laptop, but costs the same as an entry level Dell? It doesn't give you any functionality that the old fold-out keyboards and is five times as expensive and five times as bulky? And you're spending all that money on this instead of investing in raising the bar on the Treo to blow that upstart "revolutionary" iPhone out of the water? These are just a few of the questions that were asked. Also, not uncommonly, "have you lost your frikkin' minds?"

Well, Palm may have had a brief bout of temporary insanity, but they have not completely lost their minds. They're admitting that it would take a huge chunk of change to make the Foleo into something to be proud of, and have the good sense to realize that they'd be much better served investing that money into the existing Treo platform. So they're giving the Foleo the axe.

This means that they've blown $10 million that could have been spent on a next-generation Treo, and fallen a few months behind in reclaiming their "coolest smartphone ever" title from Apple. But at least they're admitting their mistake and changing course before it's too late.