Memorial Day 2010: A Lancaster County weekend in pictures

This was our third time spending Memorial Day in Lancaster County (check out the 2009 version of this post) and it is official: it is now a tradition! Huzzah.

This time we spent the majority of the weekend in the Churchtown Inn's lovely Covered Bridge Cottage. I will admit that I was a little worried about the cottage based on some online reviews, but I don't know what cottage these people stayed at. The Covered Bridge Cottage was fantastic. Well appointed, very cozy, and fast wireless Internet? Who can ask for anything more?

This year I decided to leave my fancy-pants DSLR at home and see if I could take some nice pictures with my little point and shoot camera (I have a Canon PowerShot S90 , which is a great little camera).

All the pictures below were taken with it, and to tell you the truth I didn't miss having my DSLR at all.

We started off with a quick trip to the Lancaster Central Market where Fiesta Sunshine Mix is always in season:

Fiesta Sunshine mix

Then we were off to the lovely town of Lititz, PA to meet Becky and Eric (this is a picture I took of myself waving at them through the cafe window):

Waving Scott

I think it is a state regulation that while you're in Lititz you must visit Wilbur chocolate:

Wilbur sign

Becky and Marisa talking about lady things:

Becky and Marisa

Becky grew up in Lititz, and I grew up in Yonkers, NY. Imagine my surprise to find a little bit of Yonkers in Lititz:

Yonkers

This was the first of many antique malls we stopped at during the weekend. This floor was a little sparse:

Marisa in an empty antique store

The first of many yard sales we stopped at. Marisa found these boxes of old jars in under 5 seconds:

Marisa finds old jar

One of Marisa's favorite places is this junk store in Columbia, PA. I think it is a little gross, but she loves it (and they've really cleaned it up since last year). Here are a bunch of nails using good old Bethlehem Steel:

NAILS

I've taken this same picture every year for three years (2008 version and 2009 version). Here's the 2010 version:

Year 3

Here's the view of the front of the store:

The shop

The happy couple in front of a bridge:

Us

Marisa's newest obsession is Pyrex. She found lots of it:

Marisa grabs as much Pyrex as she can, moments before she makes a break for it.

Marisa is ready to fight that fire with a tiny spatula:

Marisa will show that fire

You kids can keep your iPads, the Kindle DX is my faithful companion (though I did bring my iPad along with me as well):

Kindle DX - because I'm super cool

Baby goat:

A couple of baby goats were escaping

Marisa can find the nearest Goodwill no matter where you place her in this great country of ours. This is the rather unusual Goodwill Discount Center we found in our travels. It was attached to a normal Goodwill that we spent some time in. After about 30 minutes I said to Marisa, "Don't you want to check out the discount center? It is right down this hall." She said, "No, we should go." I knew she was trying to make me happy but I couldn't conceive of stopping and NOT going to the discount center. I'm glad we did because this is what it looked like (and Marisa found a rare Pyrex bowl):

Odd Goodwill

For all your Amish Stuff needs:

Amish Stuff!

AT&T touts new smartphone data plans

Last night AT&T published a release that re-jiggers their data plans for smartphones (which on AT&T basically means: iPhones) and iPads. The new plans replace some existing unlimited plans (the unlimited iPhone data plan actually has a limit of 5 gigs a month, while the unlimited iPad plan was truly unlimited). The new plans are:

  • DataPlus: 200 MB of data a month for $15
  • DataPro: 2 GB of data a month for $25

Existing customers can keep their old unlimited plans, but new customers will have to choose one of these two new plans starting on June 7th. Oh, and AT&T will also finally offer tethering (starting on the 7th as well) for an extra $20 a month above and beyond any data plans you might have.

For iPad users this is a little bit of a raw deal, if you ask me. The truly unlimited data plan that AT&T offered was a fantastic deal, and now not so much. However, for iPhone users I think these new plans will work out quite nicely.

I have an iPhone unlimited data plan for which I pay $30 a month. That got me to thinking, can I switch to one of the new plans and save a little money? Here's my data usage on my iPhone for the last few months:


myiphonedatausage.jpg

I have no idea what I was doing in February, which is the shortest month of the year, but clearly I required LOTS of data. But even than I didn't even break a gig.

Looks like I'll be switching to the DataPro plan to save a couple bucks.

Now, what I'd really like to see is a lower voice plan. At the moment I pay $39.99 a month for which gives me 450 anytime minutes and 5000 night and weekend minutes. That's the cheapest plan I can get and 16 days into the month I've used 23 out of 450 anytime minutes and 27 out of 5000 night and weekend minutes. Plus I have 4,162 rollover minutes to use.

I'd love to pay $20 for half the talk minutes. How about that, AT&T?


Does this mean I'm actually Internet famous now?

impostorscott.jpg

Those who are close to me know one thing, above all else, about me: my name isn't Dick Michael Michaels. And yet, according to this Facebook profile Mr. Michaels (if that is your real name, and it probably isn't) looks almost exactly like me.

Here's the picture he nabbed from me (it is from this blog post about stepping out of your comfort zone).

For some reason Mr. Michaels is impersonating me on Facebook, and harassing people (mostly Yankees Fans.. if Gruber were on Facebook no doubt my social media doppelgänger would be harassing him as well).

Thanks to Jon for sending me a link to this dude's Facebook profile (you have to be logged into Facebook to see it). I've reported him as an impersonator so we'll see how long it takes Facebook to realize that I'm the One True Scott McNulty.

Accept no substitutes.

On Twitter my bio is "I'm almost Internet famous." I think this incident nudged me a little closer to full on Internet fame.


Buy my books, in Kindle format!

Anyone who reads this blog knows two things about me: I love money and I enjoy promoting myself. Amazon has long had a service that made it possible for me to do both of these things at once: the Amazon Associates program. With Amazon Associate links I get a omission (or "kick back") from Amazon based on what you buy after following the link.

That's why I always link to my books using Amazon links, because I hope that people finding my blog will fall in love with it and then immediately buy every book I've written (in five years I've earned almost $84 with this tactic. I'm well on my way to saying goodbye to the day job). However, for the longest time Amazon wasn't allowing people to get these fees with Kindle books (and I love me some Kindles). That has all changed, though, so feel free to order the Kindle versions of these fine books:

I've also added a little Kindle ad to the right hand sidebar on my blog. I'm not expecting many people to actually buy a Kindle via this blog, but I figured why the heck not?


Writing: Lifestyle or Job?

In addition to being a wildly unstable, lonely occupation with an insane income spread, there are other drawbacks to being a writer.

via www.antipope.org

I don't rate myself in the same league as Charlie Stross as a writer, but his blog post is a must read for anyone looking to get into the writing gig. Sure, I'm a tech book author, but generally speaking I'm a pretty successful author and I haven't laid the foundation on Blankbaby Manor just yet.


See America

seeamerica.jpg

I don't know what it is, perhaps because I am getting older, or because I feel more settled... but I've been on a bit of a home furnishings kick.

I haven't ordered these framed posters yet (because Marisa rightly pointed out that I already have lots of art that needs framing) but I'm blogging it to remember them.

Something about this particular style appeals to me. Given my love of Mission and Arts and Crafts stuff, it is clear I was born about 70 or 80 years too late (though, what did people DO at work without computers and the Internet? Seriously, what did they do? Did they mimeograph funny pictures of cats and send them to one another via inter-office mail?).


Scott Explains

scottexplains.jpgWhen my lovely wife Marisa decided to part ways with Slashfood I assured her it was a good idea. I said, "Now is your chance to build something of your own! No longer do you need to be a slave to a giant corporation telling you what you need to blog about!"

She took my advice and started a very successful canning blog called Food in Jars (go ahead and visit it, and subscribe to the feed. I'll wait).

Of course, Food in Jars didn't take off right away. Marisa worked hard on it, posted lots of great stuff, and people took notice (she was even nominated for a fancy pants foodblogging award).

All the while I was thinking, "Hey, if Marisa can do it, why can't I?!" I've been blogging about technology for a good long while for other people.. so why not launch my very own Mac news blog?

I pondered that very question for a few moments and quickly realized that the world doesn't need yet another Mac news blog. That market is more saturated than something very saturated indeed.

I went back to the drawing board. I thought about what the people I admire in the independent blog publishing world all had in common: passion. That's the ticket! But what am I passionate about?

Over the last couple of years I've written a couple of books, and they haven't sold too badly (well, I wouldn't mind it if a few more people bought my Kindle book, but what can you do?). These books are all technical books, you know the sort. They teach folks how to use a piece of software or a gizmo or some such. That's when it hit me: I enjoy writing tutorials.

Why not launch a blog dedicated to teach people how to use the technology they already have? Brilliant (if I do say so myself!). And so I present to you, uncaring Internet, Scott Explains.

At the moment there is only one post up, detailing how to turn off that dumb 'Send from my iPad' email signature that is on by default on Apple's latest and greatest geegaw, but there will soon be more.

Why launch now? Over the years I've had many a great idea but I've always been flummoxed by my uncanny ability to over-think things to death. I figured the only way I would actually ever do Scott Explains was by actually launching it.


Talking to people about golf in 3D

For ye olde day job I'm often tasked with mixing and mingling with a crowd, and interviewing folks about the topic of whatever event I'm at. I'm also in charge (most of the time) of editing the resulting video (though generally I don't have to shoot the video, which is fantastic).

The other day we had a 3D viewing party, and I grabbed a microphone, a camera guy, and worked the crowd. I enjoyed how the video came out, so I thought I would share it.


Czech it out, my book in Czech

Holy crap, they translated my book!

I've got to admit that being a published author is kind of cool.

When we got back to the apartment tonight there was a package waiting for me. When the front desk guy handed it to me I thought, "Have I ordered something and forgotten about it?"

I ripped open the package when we got into the apartment and found four copies of my WordPress book. It would seem it has been translated into Czech (neat) and so I get four author's copies.

It is a little odd to have written a book and then see it translated into a language you, yourself, don't read (they even had someone retake all the screenshots so that they're in Czech too).

You know what this means! More royalties for me! And, I suppose, since I only need one copy for myself I'll be giving away the other three copies.

So, if you can read Czech and want a copy of my book leave a comment on this post.


Conspicuous Consumption Friday: iPad pre-order edition

Note: I wrote this last Friday, but neglected to hit the 'Send to Weblog' button in MarsEdit. Travel back in time with me, won't you? All the way to March 12, 2010!

ipad-1.jpgTo say that I enjoy Apple products might be a slight understatement. I'm a fan.

You probably have heard of the iPad, thanks to Apple's truly remarkable marketing power (so powerful, it is, that it doesn't even APPEAR to be marketing to most people... even those in the press. I recall earlier this year a former Apple PR person wrote a post, which I can't find, describing how Apple sometimes leaks stories to the press itself. The scandal!). Anyway, you might not have known that iPads are now available for pre-order. In fact, they became available to pre-order this morning at 8:30am.

Here's my order confirmation:

ipadforscott.jpg

Notice the time, 05:35 AM PST. Yep, I was on my computer at exactly 8:30am pre-ordering a silly gadget. My order would have gone through a few minutes earlier but Apple's store was having a little trouble, so I had to reload the page.

Clearly, I need help but at least I don't live on the West Coast so I didn't have to wake up at 5am to order a device I've never even touched. That would just be silly.

I know what you're thinking, "Scott, why didn't you get the iPad with 3G wireless access and more memory?" Because I ALWAYS have my iPhone with me, so my iPad doesn't need to have 3G (plus WiFi is plentiful in the places that I find myself most often) and I don't think I'll putting much music or movies on my iPad. 16 GB is good enough for now (and I'll eventually replace this iPad with the newer, shiner one that Apple is almost certainly already planning to release).

bitmonster.jpgFrom the high tech to the low tech, My orgy of buying continued! I also nabbed myself one of 200 Bit Monsters Letterpress Prints from Simple Bits.

I did this without consulting Marisa, though when I showed it to her she said, "That's totally you." Which, I suppose, is a good thing. I am fairly certain that she would never have purchased something like that herself, but marriage is all about compromise (and we haven't yet had the discussion as to where we will be displaying this... especially since I'll need to get it framed first and I have about 8 other odds and ends that I need to get framed that I've had for varying lengths of time. The placement discussion might take awhile to get to).

Anyway, it is letterpressed which I think is cool and it features some pixalated creatures (monsters, I suppose) which I also enjoy. You can watch the process that went into make this by checking out this movie (maybe they were making my print during the filming!).