I finally replaced my old regular cell-phone which was literally being held together by a rubber band with a fancy new G1, my first Internet accessible phone.
I had to call the T-Mobile support line to get data added to my plan and the person helping me was disconcertingly friendly. She asked about my weekend plans and so I felt compelled to ask her the same. Her plans involved replacing her video card so she could get back to World of Warcraft and do I enjoy computer gaming? I couldn't tell if she was genuine or if she was signing me up for magazines.
I was with Sarah in her new car, trying out the phone's GPS functionality via Google Maps while she drove. I switched to Street View and happened to find my car. It was a weird feeling, kind of like those Google conspiracy videos.
The phone runs Google's open source OS and I really enjoy the application API. Its all in Java and URIs and mime-types are sort of basics. Rather than invoking the builtin item picker control directly you invoke an 'intent' specifying the URI of your list of items, a mime-type describing the type of items in the list, and an action 'PICK' and whatever is registered as the picker on the system pops up and lets the user pick from that list. The same goes if you want to 'EDIT' an image, or 'VIEW' an mp3.
I wanted to replace the Google search box gadget that appears on the home screen with my own search box widget that uses OpenSearch descriptors but apparently in the current API you can't make home screen gadgets without changing parts of the OS. My other desired application is something to replace this GPS photo tracker device by recording my location to a file and an additional program on my computer to apply those locations to photos.
Electronic devices shouldn't fail, they should just sit wherever I place them and work forever. A while back my home web server started failing so I moved over to a real web hosting service. And this was the home web server I built from pieces Eric gave me after my previous one died during the big power failure the year before. The power socket on my old laptop has come undone from the motherboard so that it can no longer be powered. Just a week or two ago my Xbox 360 stopped displaying video. The CPU fan on my media center died. I also want to put my camera and GPS in this list, but the camera died due to accidentally turning on in my pocket and the GPS was stolen so those aren't the devices just arbitrarily failing.
My GPS was stolen last night or this morning and I'm missing it already. For instance when I drove to Novus glass repair to get my front passenger window replaced I drove down the wrong road for a while.
When I got out of my apartment this morning there was a police car sitting in my parking lot and the officer asked me: "David? ... What'd you leave in your car?". My face must have changed a lot when I had the following sequence of realizations: (a) a police officer is asking for me by name, (b) I'm not in trouble, (c) my car must have been burgled, and (d) my GPS must be stolen.
The officer was waiting outside my complex because someone had reported my car's broken window to the police in the morning. The officer was very courteous and upon taking my date of birth noted that we were born on exactly the same day. The window's safety glass was shattered and lying in tons of tiny pieces all over the passenger seat, my glove box was open and the middle armrest where I keep my CDs was open. Nothing appears to be missing other than the GPS, the GPS power cable, and the GPS dash mount. Adding insult to theft, the their scattered my CDs throughout my car and didn't take any of them, insulting my taste in music.
My car's window should be repaired now and hopefully the rain that came in through the broken window until I covered it with plastic bags (classy!) didn't do any permanent damage.
Last weekend while Sarah was up in Canada for a spa weekend with her sister and her sister's other bridesmaids, I went to Saul and Ciera's wedding in Three Rivers, California near Sequoia National Park. I flew into Fresno picked up a rental car and my GPS device navigated me to a restaurant with the wedding location no where in sight. "No problem," I thought, "I'll just call someone with an Internet connection and..." I had no cell reception. What did people do before GPS, Internet, and cell phones?
A waitress in the restaurant pointed me down the road a bit to the wedding location which was outside overlooking a river. Their wedding cake was made up like a mountain with two backpacks at the top and rope hanging down. Ciera's father married them and the ceremony was lovely. The music after included Code Monkey to which all the nerds were forced to get up and awkwardly dance.
Besides getting to see Ciera and Saul who I hadn't seen in quite a while, I got to see Daniil and Val, Vlad, and Nathaniel. Since last I saw Daniil and Val they had a child, Katie who is very cute and in whom I can see a lot of family resemblance. The always hilarious Vlad, Daniil's brother, was there as well with his wife who I got to meet. Nathaniel, my manager from Vizolutions was there and I don't know if I've seen him since I moved to Washington. It was fun to see him and meet his girlfriend who was kind enough to donate her extra male to male mini-phono cord so I could listen to my Zune in the rental car stereo on the drive back.
I signed up for the pre-release beta and purchased a Chumby last year. Chumby looks like a cousin to a GPS unit. Its similar in size with a touch screen, but has WiFi, accelerometers, and is pillow like on the sides that aren't a screen. In practice its like an Internet alarm clock that shows you photos and videos off the Web. Its hackable in that Chumby Industries tells you about the various ways to run your own stuff on the Chumby, modifying the boot sequence (it runs Linux), turning on sshd, etc, etc. The Chumby forum too has lots of info from folks who have found interesting hacks for the device.
When you turn on the Chumby it downloads and runs the latest version of the Chumby software which lets you set alarms, play music, and display Flash widgets. The Chumby website lets anyone upload their own Flash widgets to share with the community. I tried my hand at creating one using Adobe's free Flash creation SDK but I don't know Flash and didn't have the patience to learn.
Currently my Chumby is set to wake me up at 8am on weekdays with music from ShoutCast and then displays traffic and weather. At 10am everyday it switches to showing me a slide-show of LolCats. At 11pm it switches to night mode where it displays the time in dark grey text on a black background at a reduced light level so as not to disturb me while I sleep.
I like the Chumby but I have two complaints. The first is that it forces me to learn flash in order to create anything cool rather than having a built-in Web browser or depending on a more Web friendly technology. The second complaint is about its name. At first I thought the name was stupid in a kind of silly way, but now that I'm used to the name it sounds vaguely dirty.
"This is the first blog from the IE team that I have found rigorous and informative. I skipped to the bottom to find it was written by one of the TA's from my first class at Cal