One Aging Geek

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gadget Christmas

This year was a Year of the Gadgets for Christmas. My grown daughter must have had a very good year. She and her husband bought new cars just before the end of the year. And she dropped a bunch on gadgets for the old man. One gift didn't quite work out as planned. She bought me a Samsung i730 Windows-based phone. I tried it out for a week and decided we were not a match. The phone was about like having a laptop in your pocket with Word, Excel, and whatnot. But it had several downsides. The thing weighed in at almost half a pound and was ... quite large. Since I do not get along with belt clips, it made quite a lump in my pocket. It had some other downsides like being incredibly battery hungry. And, being Windows, it locked up and had to be rebooted about once a day. Verizon has a 15-day trial period with purchases so before the time was up I did some research and swapped the Samsung out for a black Motorola Q. The Q is only a bit over 4 ounces and is thinner than a RAZR or the LG Chocolate I had. The Q is still a Windows-based device but it uses a "lesser" version of Windows Mobile. In the case of Windows, less is definitely more. I've had only a very few lock ups on the thing. Having access to my calendar and email and to-do lists on the phone has been quite useful. I've still got some stuff on the old PalmOS-based PDA but that device is destined for the dust bin. The other major gadget that the kid got me was a Logitech Harmony 550 programmable remote. The Harmony line is sweet! Plug in to a computer via USB and log in to a web application. Define your devices and "activities" (like "Watch a DVD"). The web app sorts out all the right settings and loads up the remote. So now with one press of a button all the right devices are turned on or off, set to the right mode, etc. Very sweet.

State of the world tour

I am between trips on my "world tour". I ended up blowing most of my Christmas vacation catching up on a major work task. I created a class for one of the software products I've worked on for the last couple of years. That was the downside. The upside is I get to take the class on the road. I taught it to a class of 23 in Houston (home), the second week of January. Then the week before last (fourth week of January) I taught 18 people in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam class was oversold so I'm going back for an additional dozen students. I'll spend most of the next four weekends on airplanes. To and from Amsterdam, then on Friday the 23rd of February I'll be off to Sydney. I'm adding a day or two to the stay in Sydney just to see the sights. And that will probably be that. After these trips it might be a long time before I go out of the country again. My last hurrah for this class will be to team-teach it with a professional instructor. From then on the class will be a chargeable item for the company.

The current pet situation

It's been a while since I've posted here. So I'll do some catching up in bits and snippets. It took the dog a month from the time we got her until she could negotiate the stairs. We could have accelerated her learning but we chose to leave the upstairs as a dog-free zone for the cat's safety. During that month we kept a close eye on the interactions between the two. By the time the dog managed the stairs we had actually over done it and she was afraid of the cat. Any time the cat came into the room, the dog would leave. For a time it was so bad that if the cat came downstairs, the dog would go upstairs or vice versa. The only neutral ground was the master bedroom at night. The cat sleeps on the bed and the dog on a blanket at one end of the room. We've now gotten things on a more even keel. The two of them have finally decided that the other is mostly harmless. So all seems to be well on this front.