Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

My first Wilco album was actually A Ghost is Born. I bought it after hearing “The Late Greats” on The Point, and I totally dug it. Then we watched the film I am Trying to Break Your Heart, a documentary on the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and I was blown away. I picked it up at iTunes that night and was in love with it ever since.

I can solemnly swear that Wilco is actually one of the best bands on the planet.

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

I have no idea when I bought this book. Perhaps it was around when i read Catcher in the Rye in high school, but maybe it was earlier. For some reason I have it mentally connected with my sixth-grade teacher, George Penny. Regardless, I finally picked it up recently and I’m enjoying it. Nine short stories most of which appeared in the New Yorker years ago. If you’re a recent ex-smoker, I’d recommend avoiding this book for several years, as Salinger’s painstaking detail of the minutae of life (including describing the way one interacts with their cigarettes) can really put a strain on your desire to remain smoke free.

Front Porch Forum

Front Porch Forum is the second coming of a long-standing neighborhood email list. With a short-term goal of branching out from the initial neighborhood in Burlington’s south end to all of Chittenden County, we needed a way to scale the original third-party mailing list to a grander scale and to offer more web-based access than was originally available.

To accomplish these goals, I developed a site to help introduce the concept to newcomers, a managed user’s section to view, search, and post messages, and an administrative control panel for Front Porch Forum staff to manage member accounts, messages, and other aspects of the site. Members can post to their neighborhood forum via email or the web interface.

http://www.frontporchforum.com

Bootcamp in the Field

So, after a few days of messing around w/ Bootcamp and XP on the Mini, the biggest issue I’d run into was the fact that WinXP was trying to power down my USB Root Hubs to save juice. Unfortunately, I DIDN’T KNOW THIS until I came across this thread over on Google Groups.

I was experiencing the same symptoms except without the luxury of being able to quit Outlook and AIM, etc.. My keyboard & mouse would stop responding after a little while of being back on the Mac side of the KVM. After I would try to switch back to XP, nothing would respond.

However, changing the settings suggested in post #2 of that thread so far seem to do the trick.

Those XP Weenies are going to just love the Mac noobs looking for help to problems that have been solved in 2001.

Bootcamp!

Well, here we are… Writing this using Firefox under WinXP running on my new Mac Mini at 1920 x 1200 on my Cinema Display. The installation was everything it had been cracked up to be, although the BootCamp Beta Installation & Setup Guide isn’t too helpful when it comes to the Windows side of things. That’s understandable considering Apple’s not supporting Windows, etc., so they don’t want to get into the business of making recommendations about what to do or not do. Either way, for a Windows layperson, it SEEMED a little hairy at times (although it actually wasn’t).

Preparing the new machine
The first thing I needed to do was to run Software Update under OS X to get from 10.4 to 10.4.6 (136 MB download), although in the process it also updated Keynote, iTunes, and everything else that comes on board. With that completed, I also needed to go out and find the Intel Mac Mini Firmware Update, which doesn’t come down automagically with Software Update.

Once that was done, I needed to go and get the BootCamp installer. I also printed out the PDF of the installation guide [PDF], which was somewhat helpful (apart from the afforementioned lack of Windows instructions). With all of these pieces downloaded and in place, I was ready to take the plunge.

Installing & Running BootCamp Assistant
The BootCamp installation is painfully simple and is about as quick as installing Firefox. Once it’s installed, you can dig it up in /Applications/Utilities/. When you launch it, it’ll do another system check to make sure that your OS is upd to date (10.4.6) and you’ve got that firmware update (1.0.1).

The first thing BootCamp does for you is to burn you a CD of the necessary drivers to help Windows XP interface with your Mac hardware. This includes adding Bluetooth drivers for wireless keyboards and mice. This means that you need a USB keyboard & mouse for the entire process of installing Windows XP (you’ll install these drivers AFTER you’ve installed the OS, so you won’t be able to use bluetooth until then). This CD burning process takes minimal time and once it’s done it spits out back out for you to stash away for the time being.

Next is the preparation of your Windows partition. This is a pretty slick little interface featuring a draggable slider to determine the amount of space to dedicate to your new Windows box in a box. I increased the default 5GB to 10GB considering I’m really only going to use this to test web pages and Flash movies in IE/XP. The other side of the box will be used primarily for media (iMovie, etc.). Press the “Partition” button to actually make the partition.

Installing WindowsXP
With the partition created, it’s time to install. Pop in your XP CD and press Start Installation. If you’re using a valid XP cd (single disc, standard operating procedure sort of thing), the installer begins running and the machine restarts into Windows.

This was mildly amusing, as the Windows installer still runs at 640 x 480, so there’s this tiny blue box in the center of my gigantic screen. I was prompted to install Windows and then to select the partition I want to install on. The guide says to use partition C which is the one that BootCamp created a moment ago.

Then I’m asked which format to use. The guide simply states that NTFS will be more reliable and secure, but isn’t accessible from the Mac. FAT will allow me to read & write files onto the Windows volume from the Mac. However, it doesn’t mention the differences (or pros/cons) of using the Quick vs. Normal mode. I chose the normal mode (the one that didn’t say Quick). This took maybe 10 minutes, and then the installer kicked in for maybe another 10 minutes.

After this, the computer rebooted and the GUI WinXP installer kicked in. The rest of the installation at this point was pretty straight forward. It asked for the product key (have it handy) and everything else that the installer does. This took about 35 minutes.

Mac Driver Installation
Once the WinXP installation finished, it was time to pop in the Mac Drivers disc that I burned at the beginning. The autorun kicked in and drove me through the installation of these drivers. Well, actually, it effectively drove itself, although here’s where you really see the beauty of OS X shine through this Windows crap: Instead of the standard, streamlined OS X installer window (one window) to show the progress of what’s happening, I’ve got pop-up after pop-up appearing telling me that there’s new hardware and should I look on the web for the driver, etc. Incidentally, this is also the spot where the guide breaks down:

After your computer restarts, follow the instructions in the Found New Hardware Wizard to update your software drivers.

There ARE no instructions in the FNH Wizard. All it says is that it found new hardware and then SEEKS instruction by asking you what it should do. I took the dangerous road and pressed whatever button equates to “don’t worry about it”. This appeared to b the right move. All of these little windows finally went away and the machine said it needed to reboot. So, reboot I did, and lo, she came back up at full-screen mode (1920 x 1200).

A couple of Windows Updates later and a quickie install of SAV to keep the boogey man at bay and I’ve got a bonafide IE testing station (because, come on… that’s all Windows is good for anyway)

Now I just need to keep in mind that Option+Left & Option+Right (jump a word left or right) equate to Alt+Left & Alt+Right (browser back & forward) and the Command (Apple) key maps to that stupid Windows key.

Waiting for New Babies…

First off, a hearty Congratulations going out to the Parker family on the long-awaited (but early nonetheless) arrival of Vanessa Kelly Parker early this morning.

Now for the big news… We’ll be waiting for our new baby to arrive, and this should happen some time next week… I’m proud to say I’m throwing my hat into the Intel ring, as the current POS Windows box on my desk is just that…. a POS windows box… and it doesn’t even FIT on my desk. I guess that’s why they call it a laptop 😛

My KVM switch shipped a little while ago, but the MinTel is getting a little more RAM and HD space than default (I went with the 1GB RAM / 100 GB HD move… seemed sufficient for my needs of running IE/XP to look at CSS issues), so it should ship in a few days. I’m psyched though.. This is exactly the machine I need to complement my PowerBook (I guess Flash and Photoshop for XP would technically be running natively, but I wouldn’t dare run them under Rosetta– hell, Flash on OS X is bad enough), and when Adobe gets their shit together and ships CS 3 (?!), I can relegate the MinTel to be a true media center.

I’ll post pix and follow-ups about BootCamp, etc. when the time comes… For now, I’ll just be eating for two. Wait.. I already do that 😛

Windows Vista?

This has got to be one of the best Windows Vista demos I’ve seen. You really get a great sense of the ease with which the consumer can do things on a Windows PC. It’s amazing what they can do with computers nowadays. And Microsoft has now given the user the confidence that their photos won’t be altered after the user has altered them. Perhaps this is the same level of confidence that the user has that their whole system won’t be corrupted (orginal photos included) by mal/ad/spy-ware. Not to mention the other crap that can kill a Windows box.

Enjoy the Microsoft Vista feature presentation at Google Video

GTD (again)

It’s not necessarily a nervous breakdown, per se, but when things begin to pile up, people start coming undone. I’ve always had the problem that when things build up in my life and don’t get dealt with, they take me over and I shut down. I think most people succumb to this on some level.

So, as a way to deal with the slowly oozing volcano that is all of the crap in my life, I’ve opted to resurrect my David Allen. I broke out the workbook from the GTD RoadMap seminar Justin & I went to last year. As I was re-reading through it and dumping my brain all over an 8-1/2 x 11 standard-ruled pad, I realized that if you’re new to GTD, the whole concept of a life-altering organization system can be WAY overwhelming. Almost as much as the pile of crap that shuts me down.

Part of the problem for me was that I didn’t really have a sense of how powerful the whole thing could be, and what’s really involved— the sort of time committment that you need to actually change your life. Using hindsight, I began reading through the workbook (thankfully filled out with the correct answers during the show) again, and was able to quickly see how I need to re-map GTD to my life. I didn’t really grasp this the first time around, but that’s because I was so wrapped up in the evangelical moment that is a GTD show.

So, now that I’ve opted to give GTD a whirl again, and with a bag of mistakes in my arsenal of wisdom, I figured I’d check out 43 folders to see what was going on. I popped their feed into NetNewsWire and started perusing. And then something else struck me: A link to this artcile on LifeHacker about mindfulness and being ceneted at all times. Katie and I were just talking about the book Be Here Now and trying to remain focused on the present. The whole idea of not dwelling on the past and not stressing about the future because neither have any real bearing on the here and now. Sure, the past got you here somehow, and here and now will become the past in your future, but that becomes too overwhelming when you’re just trying to be. Apart from that, Merlin points out the amazing importance of the weekly review. Again, something I didn’t fully grasp during the show (regardless of the fact that David stressed it so much).

So…

Here I am, right now. Armed with my Mac, my Treo, and a shitload of pads & pencils to make the most of my life.

Just don’t forget the weekly review 😛

Vermont Rural Water Association

Vermont Rural Water Association (VRWA) needed a site redesign that that looked fresh and that made content more easily available to their users. Additionally, office staff needed to be able to maintain the dynamic portions of the site with ease.

I came up with a new design that captured Vermont and conveyed VRWA’s sense of no-nonsense dedication to their profession. All of the really pertinent information their audience is looking for is available in a persistent sidebar. Additionally, this new site sits on top of a streamlined content management system that enables their office staff to input any continuously changing data.

http://www.vtruralwater.org