Here's my household's Comcast data usage over the last 3 months as compared to this month.
I wonder what we were doing in October!
Recently I've had two experiences that make me question my boyish good looks:
My mom was in a physical rehab place for a few weeks in October, and so I would visit her fairly often. They served dinner there at about 5:30, which is when I would arrive if I visited right after work.
Now, keep in mind that most of the patients there (i.e. all of them) were over 60 years old.
This particular evening visit I was seated with my mom, and a few of her friends, in the dining room. It was me, my mom, a lady, and an older gentleman patient. The gentleman got tired of waiting and sort of walked off. One of the worker who was handing out the food came over to the table with a tray for the man. She looked at me and said, "Henry?" (the patient's name, though not really. Respect HIPAA, people).
I assured her I wasn't the elderly gentleman in a wheelchair she had mistaken me for.
I was headed to catch a Long Island Railroad train in Penn Station the other day. The track for the train I was getting was at the bottom of a long flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs was a woman, in her 50's, with 4 suitcases. As I was approaching two guys ahead of me offered to help her with one piece each. That left her with two pieces, so I offered to help her with one. She agreed and I grabbed a bag and carried it down.
She met up with a group of her friends at the bottom of the stairs and started chatting with them. I boarded the train, and started to read my book.
The woman, with her friends, boarded the same train car as me and sat down several rows ahead of me. The woman I helped started to talk about how amazed she was that strangers had helped her out. "Those two guys just came up and offered to help me with my bags! And then that old guy took the last one!
It took me a second to realize I was the old guy in that story.
"You know, I probably wouldn’t call it ‘the hump’,’ said Cook – immediately making it forever known as a the hump. He said it’s so obvious because Apple considers the battery to be a backup device, something that you might need occasionally, not all the time."
An admiral was reprimanded for getting drunk at a conference, going back to his room and then hours later getting locked out of his room and wandering around the hotel. Naked.
Here's what he has to say about it:
“Lesson learned,” he concluded. “I’ll pack my PJs next time.”
That's how many episodes of Random Trek, my Star Trek podcast, I've done.
Given the forecast of millions of Papal pilgrims Marisa and I decided to head the heck out of town last weekend.
The week before the Pope's visit it looked like we made the right call given the signs we were seeing in our neighborhood:
So we packed our bags:
And headed to the beach:
And looked at the ocean:
We visited a couple of random stores, one of which had this interesting model:
We saw a dolphin:
And tried on some hats:
Sadly, we missed the yacht rock:
But we did see the super moon:
And found some interesting soda:
And had some almost butter:
5 months ago I posted that I was trying to get back to being able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill. Then, a funny thing happened. I had to run outside for a screen shot for my latest book (which I'll blog about later), and it wasn't awful.
I've shifted to running outside almost exclusively now (though it is rough in the summer, so I still hit the treadmill from time to time.. I plan to tonight!). I haven't hit a consistent 10 minute mile outside yet, in fact, I'm pretty far from it. However, I have been concentrating on distance over time. What does that mean?
It means I ran 7 flipping miles on Sunday! Which is crazy.
Even crazier? It didn't totally suck.
Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid books, wrote a great post listing some underrated series of books for adults. He wrote this in reaction to having his own series of books listed on this Buzzfeed list of underrated YA series (which lists a bunch of stuff that isn't YA).
I love this idea, and it has inspired me to create my own list of underrated series, one of which appears on Kevin's list (he has good taste!).
The Iron Druid Chronicles
I'll start off listing Kevin's series: The Iron Druid Chronicles. I'm not generally a fan of Urban Fantasy, it isn't my bag. However, Atticus O'Sullivan, the ancient Druid who is the last of his kind, is a lot of fun to read about. And his dog is fantastic (this makes sense if you read the books).
Ok, these books aren't literary gems but they aren't meant to be. They are fast, fun reads. All I can say is that I read one in a couple of hours and then bought every single available novel right afterwards and devoured them all.
Books in the series:
The Glamourist Histories
Jane Austin with a touch of magic is how I describe Mary Robinette Kowal's The Glamourist Histories. That's true of the first book, though the later entries in the series have a heck of a lot more action than you'll find in an Austin book.
Jane and Vincent, the main characters, are glamourists (they can create illusions, and do so for installation in manor houses and the like) who are very much in love and end up in many interesting situations. These situations include everything from encountering Napoleon's army to being fleeced in Venice.
Sadly, the final installment of this series is coming out this month. I'll read it and look forward to what else Mary Robinette Kowal has in store for us.
Books in the series:
The Athenian Mysteries
I'm a sucker for a period mysteries series, and Gary Corby's The Athenian Mysteries fit the bill. Set in ancient Greece, the books follows Nicolaos who has a knack for solving mysteries but has trouble making a living out of it. Pericles is sort of his sponsor, though they have a fragile relationship. Oh, and did I mention Nicolaos has a young brother by the name of Socrates? Yeah, that Socrates.
Once again, these books are fun, light, quick reads that always entertain.
Books in the series:
The Paradox Trilogy
Rachel Aaron, writing as Rachel Bach, wrote a damn fine trilogy of scifi books called The Paradox Trilogy. Devi, the main character, has some sweet power armor and dreams of serving her King. Those dreams don't work out as she had hoped, but she does get to encounter some "monsters" and fall in love.
I enjoy the fact that these books feature a strong female protagonist who falls in love, but isn't super happy about it (it is very complicated, as you'll find out when you read it). Also, did I mention the sweet power armor? It is pretty sweet.
The books in the series:
I've said time and again that K.J. Parker books are great. The Engineer Trilogy follows an engineer who is exiled for creating things that are out of spec, and he get his revenge. A lot of revenge.
This is a fantasy series, but there isn't any magic to be found. There is a lot of blood, gears, and betrayal. This isn't a lighthearted read, but man is it compelling.
The books in the series:
2 weeks ago I blogged about hitting the treadmill again, and yesterday I hit a milestone:
I want to get 3 miles in 30 minutes. Slowly, slowly I go!
I used to run 3 miles in 30 minutes not that long ago. Getting back on that pace. Slowly but surely.
My family and I watch many YouTube videos on the TiVo, and all of my Netflix viewing these days is via the TiVo.
I enjoy flinging YouTube videos from my iPhone/iPad onto my TiVo so I can show Marisa Maru's latest hijinks (oh, that silly Japanese cat). And the Netflix app is good too, though I tend to use my Fire TV for streaming video (via Amazon Prime).
I couldn't resist them (get it?). And they were cast from the original molds used for the props on TNG, DS9, and Voyager.
Marisa was disappointed that they don't beep when you tap them. I had to break it to her gently: they add those sounds in post-production.
For some reason this tweet of mine from 8 years ago is making the rounds of a few folks on Twitter:
seriously doubts there will be an Apple phone.— Scott McNulty (@blankbaby) January 7, 2007
I was totally wrong, and oddly enough I tweeted that out shortly before I left Philly for the Macworld during which Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone:
has just settled into his hotel room for Macworld (I'm at the Downtown Marriott).— Scott McNulty (@blankbaby) January 8, 2007
And I was wrong again about the iPhone:
thinks the iPhone is very cool.. but is not sure if he will buy one.— Scott McNulty (@blankbaby) January 10, 2007
Ok, technically I've bought way more than one iPhone since then so I suppose it is correct.
Also, anyone else remember when you would tweet in the form of the answer to the question, "What are you doing?"
If I had $1300 to waste (which I suppose I could spend on this, but I won't) and some reason for owning one I'd totally get this Wrath of Khan jacket.
It is very slimming, as you can see in the picture above.
Poopy Cat (makers of kitty litter) stock their offices with... cats! It seems like the cats might not care about productivity, but they are darned cute.
[via Laughing Squid]
Kindle Family Library is great. It allows you to share books across Kindle devices (e-ink and Fire only) between two linked accounts (Kirk has a great tutorial on how to set it up, and here’s list of devices on which it works).
Marisa and I set this up, which is great since we do have some overlapping tastes in books. Here’s what my library of books looks like on my Kindle Fire:
Can you tell which books are mine and which are Marisa’s? That’s the problem with the Family Libray, books just show up (which isn’t really a problem, but for the purposes of this blog post it is, OK!?). You can view only you books, but what if you buy a book and you don’t want it to show up in your Shared Libray?
The boffins at Amazon have thought of that, which I discovered after purchasing a Kindle book the other day. Check out this screen you are presented with after purchasing:
Click Do not share and it doesn’t show up in your Family Library.
You can also stop sharing books via Manage Your Kindle. Click “Show Family Library” and you’ll be able to manage which books you’re sharing:
Easy as a couple clicks.
The Internet is an amazing thing. Today’s evidence of this: Larp Trek.
I found out about this amazing comic from Carrie Anne, who will be appearing on a future episode of Random Trek. When she told me about it she said, “You’re going to lose a lot of time to it.” She was right.
Here’s the idea behind it: the holodecks are all offline on the Enterprise and the TNG bridge crew needs something to entertain them. Geordi decides to game master a role playing game where each of the crew members plays a character on the fictional space station “Deep Space Nine."
That’s right, this comic imagines that DS9 was a campaign in an RPG played by TNG characters. I can’t even.
Just read it. Read it now. Start at the first page. If you like D&D and Star Trek you won’t be sorry.
Also, if you like D&D, Star Trek, AND podcasts, you should listen to:
AppleWorld.Today launches, well, today. It is an effort from a few fine folks at the defunct TUAW (of which I was associated from a while there). I wish them all the best of luck!
Here’s a fun fast: one of the main reasons TUAW wasn’t invited to official Apple events (at least according to folklore) is that fact that “Apple” was in the name. It’ll be interesting to see if AppleWorld.Today will run into the same issues. Of course, I have no idea if they even want to go to official Apple events, as they tend to be pretty well covered.
Wow, a new home! On, and there won’t be any new content.
Way to bury the lede.
I never really thought I’d be a writer. In fact, for a long time, I thought I was going to end up being a physicist. Fast forward to freshman year in college when I realized that calculus wasn’t for me and I waved goodbye to my aspirations of a career in the hard sciences.
I didn’t immediately think, “Well then, I’ll just be a writer!” I had to pick a major, so I went with English. I graduated, started looking for careers and ended up in Higher Education (which is where I still work!). I never really thought of myself as a writer until I saw a post by Barb Dybwad on The Unofficial Apple Weblog. They were looking for bloggers (not writers) and since I had been blogging for awhile and I liked Apple stuff I figured why not apply.
I sent off an email and waited. I didn’t hear anything, so I figured that was that.
This was all 10 years ago, mind you, but I still remember seeing that email from Barb asking me to join up with TUAW. I did, and wrote this first post, and after a few years I ended up becoming the Lead Blogger at TUAW. I covered a couple of Macworlds for the site (that first Macworld I wrote something like 25 posts A DAY, which meant that I didn’t talk to anyone at the actual event), “starred” in a couple of videos, and wrote and wrote and wrote (my back of the envelope math shows that for the 3 years I was there I wrote 2.7 posts a day on average, or a little over 3000 posts).
More importantly TUAW gave me the opportunity to meet lots of people: fellow bloggers, writers, developers, and fans. So many people, in fact, that as I started listing them it grew so long that I decided not to include it with this post.
I left TUAW 7 years ago mostly because of AOL’s incompetence, so it came as only a mild shock to hear that AOL is shuttering the site and waving goodbye to all the talented folks who worked there. There’s some corporate speak saying that TUAW would be “rolled into” Engadget which means, I assume, the content will be absorbed into Engadget’s archives so they can still put advertising around it (and sip on that sweet, sweet SEO juice). A sad end to a fine site. A site that is directly responsible for the fact that I now honestly think of myself as a writer (though I still find it hard to believe that I’ve written books that you can buy in a bookstore! Sure, no one actually buys them, but they could and that’s what counts!).
Since today is the last day of publication for TUAW I wanted to thank everyone who read the site, anyone who was involved with it, and everyone I’ve met because of it. Writing for TUAW gave me my first taste of limited highly specific notierity (there was a time when I was recognized whenever I walked into an Apple Store), and my first realization that somewhere on the Internet there is someone who has nothing better to do than to tell you how whatever you’ve shared sucks (now I just go to Twitter for that).
You can read some more about my thoughts about TUAW in my farewell post (which used to have lot of lovely comments from readers wishing me well, but they seem to have been axed whenever TUAW changed commenting sytems. You can see why I have my doubts about the TUAW posts being around for the longhaul).
Since it is the holidays here in the good US of A (and elsewhere I presume, but I don't concern myself with the goings on outside of our fine borders) I thought it only appropriate to share some of the best books I've read this year. Along with affiliate links and a plea for you to buy them for friends, loved ones, or enemies.
The Golem and the Jinni
Hard to believe I read this book in 2014, but I did (finished it on Jan. 25th, 2014). This is a great book, as discussed on this episode of The Incomparable. And at the moment it is only $2.99 in ebook format. Why haven't you purchased it already?
Ok, so you want to hear a little bit of what this book is about. A golem is shipped to NYC, as you do, and he master dies. She's left to fend for herself and ends up meeting a Jinni. It is great.
My Real Children
I love Jo Walton. Well, I love her writing (I'm sure she's a lovely person though). After reading her Small Change series I decided that I would just buy whatever her next novel is without question. That's why I preordered My Real Children and read it as soon as it appeared on my Kindle.
This book is science fiction, but with a light touch. The main character is an old lady who is in a old folks home and remembers living two lifetimes. Is she crazy? Nope, she is just remembering two different timelines of her own life.
Fantastic. And there are moon-bases, so: science fiction.
The Bone Clocks
David Mitchell knows how to write a book I tells ya. The Bone Clocks is definitely science fiction, but since Mitchell wrote it people you'll find it shelved in the "Fiction" section of the bookstore (serious writers don't do science fiction, you see. Even though the Cloud Atlas was also SciFi).
This book pings around the world and history following the story of Holly Sykes who ends up involved in a war that she knows nothing about. I devoured this book (after I got through the first 30 pages or so).
I'd never heard of Emily St. John Mandel before (but what a name), however, this book is crazy good. It is a post-apocalypse book, but it isn't apocalypse porn. Most of the action happens a good while after the fall of society, when new rules and societies have been formed and life is somewhat stable (though nothing like we know it).
A traveling band of Shakespearean actors are the main vehicle of the plot with characters connecting threads across time before, during and after the pandemic.
And the sequels
There are two other books that I quite enjoyed this year, but it is difficult to recommend them since they are both a part of a larger series.
The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi blew my mind with the bizarre stuff that it contains. This is a science fiction lovers science fiction book (though if you don't like rather baroque writing, this might not be your cup of tea).
Last year Ancillary Justice was my favorite book, and this year the sequel (Ancillary Sword) is on my best of list. You should read the first one though, and then pick up the second.