The Times They Are a-Changin’

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I have been with my current employer, http://www.clickgroupinc.com, for three and a half years now. I have enjoyed working with them through the good times (when we had the ability to fly our clients out to Maui for a traffic summit) and the bad (when Yahoo! shut down the Search Submit Pro product). I have had a great experience there and have grown both personally and professionally while in their employ. They have a great team and they know how to get it done when it comes to SEO and SEM.

However, I have decided to open a new chapter in my career book by joining the talented team at http://gdgt.com. I begin working there on September 1st as a core engineer. I have already had the chance to peek at some of their grand plans, and I’m really excited for what the future holds. The core technologies are similar to Click Group, but as complex and fun as it was to build the myriad internal tools for account management, I’m glad to be able to move back to a customer facing website. It allows me to flex some programming muscles that have gone underused over the past few years. gdgt’s team is passionate and driven, and I can’t wait to join them in their efforts.

Oh, and gdgt is still hiring engineers and more! Check out the current job postings at: http://gdgt.com/jobs.

Third Party Headsets and iPhone 4 (UPDATED)

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When I had a long commute from Livermore to San Francisco, I purchased a pair of Bose QC3 headphones to help block the screeching sound of the BART train and make the ride more enjoyable. Turns out, the QC3, if expensive, are extremely comfortable headphones to wear over a long period of time. I have made these headphones my primary headphones any time I’m using my iPhone. This leads to a problem — it doesn’t have a microphone built in for the phone. I therefore have purchased the headset adapter for them, which, ala the Apple earbuds, adds a microphone on to the cord leading to the headset. This worked fine with my iPhone 3G. I have now purchased an iPhone 4, but the microphone doesn’t work with it. <sadface />

What follows is an email I wrote to Bose for some advice/response:

I have the headset adapter for the Bose QC3 headphones. It worked fine on the iPhone 3G that I had, but now that I have upgraded to the iPhone 4, the microphone does not work. It has a static clicking sound every second which makes it unusable. However, the Apple supplied earbuds work fine. I suspect that the interference on the microphone line is due to the user controls provided on the ear buds for volume up/down and play/pause, which the Bose headset does not support.

It seems that this problem is not limited to the Bose headsets — it seems that many non-Apple brand three lead headsets have the same issue. See the thread on the Apple discussion boards here: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2480660&tstart=0

I’m emailing for a couple of things:

– I wanted to make sure that Bose was aware of the issue. Some acknowledgment of this problem on your website would be nice. A word that you are aware of the problem and working for a solution.

– It would be nice for Bose to investigate this issue and possibly provide a free adapter that filters these pulses and enables the same functionality that we had before.

– Even better, and my preferred option, would be to upgrade the headset adapter to support the volume up/down and play/pause button so the headset can take full advantage of the features provided by the iPhone.

Thanks for your time.

UPDATE: I received a response from Bose today. Their response follows:

Thank you for your inquiry.

We are very sorry to hear about the issue you are experiencing with your Bose® QuietComfort® 3 mobile communication kit and the Apple iPhone 4. We have not heard from customers who are experiencing compatibility issues with these two products, so we asked our Engineering department to test this. While we were not able to duplicate your symptoms exactly, we discovered a variation of the symptom. At this time, it is unknown what causes these symptoms to occur, but our Engineering department will need evaluate this further. As you have noted, there is some discussion regarding this with other model headsets –and the common factor here is the iPhone 4. Apple may also be aware of the issue if other headsets have this issue. You may want to contact them to see if they have any solutions being worked on.

It is unlikely that we will be unable to work around this symptom. If it is determined that the mobile communications kit is not compatible with the iPhone 4, then we will update our website accordingly. If or when there is any update in the future that will prevent these symptoms, we will keep your e-mail on file and contact you if there is a resolution. We are sorry we could not provide a solution at this time.

While not exactly what I was hoping for, they appear to be continuing to look in to it, which is a good sign. I’m sure either Apple or Bose will be able to figure out the problem.

It’s Not Magic (Anymore)

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I wholeheartedly agree with John Biggs’ blog post regarding Apple’s use of “magical” as a way of describing their products. The iPad isn’t magic. It’s a big iPhone. There is no brand new technology in the iPad that we haven’t seen before. Of course, according to Clarke’s three laws of prediction:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Just because an advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic doesn’t make it equal to magic. You may not be able to tell the difference, but underneath the facade is an explainable, repeatable process. We’ve all seen card tricks and slight-of-hand tricks performed by magicians. There is a reason that magicians don’t show how their tricks are performed; they lose their magic. In fact once a magician’s secrets have been revealed, the end result usually turns out to be mechanical in nature. This planet has had the benefit of the iPhone for almost 3 years now; all of the media coverage, both in the technical and mainstream environments, have stripped the iPhone of any semblance of its magical qualities.

The iPad is no different; this is the same “sufficiently advanced technology” that powers the iPhone. Yes, it is a form factor that may change the landscape of personal computing. As the software matures and utilizes the iPad to its fullest extent, we (hopefully) gain the benefit of increased productivity. However, it’s still the same hardware in the same form factor. We know how it works; the illusion is broken. It’s not magic anymore.

Now, if you can turn the iPad into a flying carpet, that would be magical (at least until those secrets were revealed.)

Wolfram|Humor

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So, if you haven’t heard of Wolfram|Alpha, I urge you to check it out. It’s certainly something new in the internet world that deserves attention.

Wolfram Research built the Wolfram|Alpha search engine. Yes, these are the same people that brought you Mathematica. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that when I ask Wolfram|Alpha about the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow, I received the following result:

Frankly, I can’t tell if I like the answer, or if the Wolfram Research people need to get a better sense of humor.

Then again, I suppose they’re mathematicians, so they were born without humor.  I guess this is the best they can do.

Either way, check out Wolfram|Alpha.  Let me know if you find anything interesting!

Birthday… salami?

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So Igor brought me a “birthday salami.”  Uhh.. right

huh?

Tell me something I didn’t know

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Pumped my gas today, and this is what it says to me.

1337 gas

1337 gas

Yeah. 1337.

Oil tycoon bastards.

I blame George Bush…

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On Friday, March 28th, my wife and I went to visit my parents in a nice Sacramento suburb. We parked our car in the driveway overnight, and some bastards take some kind of instrument and smash the driver’s side window and dent the metal trim surrounding the window. Motivation: an iPod Touch that I, now regrettably, forgot to bring into the house.

Thankfully, the iPod was itemized on our renters insurance, and the window was covered with a small car insurance deductible. All in all, it was only a few hours of hassle to get everything sorted out over the phone, have the window replaced and clean up the mess.

However, I have been considering the following question: What, exactly, would prompt a minor crime such as this in a “nice” area of town. Perhaps the area is not as nice as I think it is, but all indications show that the population is generally of the older variety with grown children. Of course, miscreants may swing in to the nice neighborhoods specifically to target people they assume have a higher income than themselves. That notwithstanding, it still takes a certain amount of balls to break into a car just to steal an iPod. I believe that this specific crime boils down to the current economic climate of the country, and, ultimately, the combined actions (or inactions) of our government that has widened the perceived disparity between classes and the overall state of despair.

Our country, with no uncertainty, is in an economic downturn. I’m no economist, but I believe it’s more psychology than economic factors that’s stopping the government and officials from uttering the word ‘recession.’ No matter what it is, it ain’t good. The country is in great monetary debt and many families are tortured by the threat of having banks foreclose on their loans. Though the current administration passed the Economic Stimulus Package, I think it will take a regime change (either Democratic or Republican) before our country is able to get out of this rut. Meanwhile, our “team” morale has been shattered, and people who were doing fine before this rut are now, driven out of some form of desperation, acting on primal impulses and initiating misdemeanor crimes in order to satiate their inner desire.

Granted, no amount of perceived psychological security will ever completely stop crimes of this nature; there are certain primal urges that some types of people are unable to contain. However, as the country recovers from this mess that we’re in, I’m sure crimes of this nature will decrease, and restore the peace back into a local suburb near you.

Spring

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Happy first day of Spring, everyone!

Spring has sprung,
the grasses riz.
I wonder where
da boidies is?

All da boids
is on da wing.
But dats absoid
because da wing
is on da boid.

Who-da thunk it: Garfield is funny without Garfield

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Case in point: http://garfieldminusgarfield.tumblr.com/

As a kid, I’d read Garfield. Heck, I even watched the animated TV show. Looking back on it, my parents must have been spiking the punch or something to that effect.

Flight Simulation

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Among the computer hobbies that I’ve picked up, Flight Simulation has been one of my passions. Although I have very little time to devote to this hobby, it has nonetheless been the source of many hours of challenging fun. In fact, my interest in flying began with Microsoft Flight Simulator for the IBM PCjr.

Microsoft Flight Simulator for the IBM PCjr

You can reach a high degree of realism in Microsoft’s Flight Simulator line of products, but one area that has consistently been lacking in all flight simulation programs is accurate air traffic control (ATC). This, as you obviously may know, is a vital part of the global air transit community. Talking to an actual person on the other end of your COM radio rather than punching buttons provides another level of complexity and realism to the simulation experience.

Fortunately, you can achieve this by using online multiplayer networks such as VATSIM. Using this system you can use voice, obviously the preferred and more realistic method, or text to communicate with air traffic controllers watching the traffic in their virtual scopes. VATSIM aims to be as realistic as possible, so you must file flight plans, use DP (Departure) and STAR (Standard Terminal ARrival) plates, and get required clearances to guide you from point to point in your flight path. Through VATSIM you are afforded a rich and vibrant community of avid flight simmers devoted to achieving the highest realism while also being extremely helpful and patient.

For all the fun this provides me, it still is a time consuming process; flights on VATSIM must be flown in “real time” (rather than using the time acceleration capabilities of the simulator); a 5 hour flight from KSFO to KJFK really must take 5 hours in the simulator as well while you’re on VATSIM. Of course, when you’re offline you can use whatever time shifting you like, but I feel it highly diminishes the entire simulation experience.

Ultimately, there are two roles you can play on VATSIM: Pilot or ATC. If you’re into flight simulation, then you can fly on your own, or find a Virtual Airline that fits your requirements. (I am currently AFA4431 at American Flight Airways.) If you’d like to try the scopes, you can get in touch with a specific virtual air traffic control center and use their documentation and guidelines to train you.

If you’re interested, here are some links for more information:

On one of the forums that I visit, a user has the signature: “If you think Flight Simulation is a game, then get out of my airspace.”


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