Quotidian Quest

What does 250 words look like?

Category: writing
#writing #goals

I recently applied to become a professional blogger for macuser.com (a blog run by macworld). As part of the application process, I was to write two articles of 250-300 words to show my qualifications as a writer. I've writen them an have since placed them on my blog.

I remember feeling stressed about creating the entries. Although I like to journal my thoughts time to time. Sitting down and coming up with something for other people to read make me nervous and I had tons of questions like : "What would I write about?", "How can I make what I wrote stand out from the dozens if not hundreds of applicants?" One doubt that really got to e ws the question about how I could do something like this about three times a week and whether or not I truely wanted too.

Now I'm not going to say i'm happy I didn't get the job because I'm not. I would love to get paidfor writing, but I don't think working for macuser at this point in time would be good for the writer in me. I want to be a good write and I feel that writing (like some many other things) needs active practice to get better. The best way to do that is want to write better (other than actually doing it).

At this point, I'm not at the level of John Gruber, John Siracusa or Shawn Blanc, but they weren't always who they are now.

I can only sit down down and write for my #1 audience and that's me.

Put Who in the What Now?

Category: personal
#personal

So I'm taking an Operating Systems class at Sac State and the first feeling is fear. It's been a long time since I've sat down to learn something completely different from what I've done before and I've lost track of that feeling of excitement and discovery when it comes to coding.

True, I do a little bit of coding for work and have kept busy by doing little example programs here and there.

True, I've been attempting to get myself ready for the class by doing simple exercises with gdb.

But, I can't shake my self doubts. I feel like I'm being followed by a huge shadow that constantly sings a chorus of "You're not good enough", "You're gonna fail", "If you were smarter, you wouldn't have to do this in the first place."

Breathe...

I'm going to make it... Somehow...

iFinance 3.3 Review

Category: review
#finance #macosx #software

After Intuit’s announcement that they would only be supporting Quicken Essentials in Lion, other mac developers were happy to ease the troubled mind of users with various options that were designed to take advantage of some of the features of the new OS. Since the last review of iFinance, Synium Software, the maker of Chronories and MacFamilyTree, have been working hard to make version 3.3 a release that can standup in comparison with the other options.

The first improved feature that you will notice is the stock tracker graph which shows the value of a stock over time and allows you mouse over to see the value of a specific day. Unfortunately, the interface is still rather simple as adding your own personal investments is a multi part process of first adding the stock, clicking on the transactions button, pressing the "+" button, putting in your information (purchase date, quantity, cost) and finally clicking around the different textfields hoping your information was saved.

One feature that the release boast is the ability to add more media to a particular transaction. This is great if you want to add a two part receipt, warranty, picture of you standing next to your new purchase or whatever. The problem is that when you click on the media button for that particular transaction, the one window interface becomes even more crowded as it splits the transaction panel in two.

Looks alright on my iMac, but too cluttered on my 13'

Ultimately, I have to say that this release maintains the 2 1/2 mouse rating it was given originally based off of the continued frustration with getting information into the application and overall user experience.

Another look at Yahoo! Mail

Category: personal
#review #yahoo

Nowadays, it seems like everyone is wrapped up in his/her own group of social networks. There's twitter, Facebook, google+, and even myspace; for those of you who are still looking for interesting ways to use the blink tag. The blink tag itself was part of the excitement of the internet at that time and every beginning textbook or html class had an example of how to "best" use it (Hint: Never). Another annoying aspect of being on the internet at that time were the Signatures placed in your outgoing emails. I can understand that a company wants to advertise that they provide free email, but shouldn't the fact that I sent the email via hotmail.com or yahoo.com be enough? To top it off, a lot of free email providers, at the time, where smashed by an assortment of issues like demand for more space and functionality (POP, IMAP, Address Book, etc) and the dreaded SPAM. 

Personally, I was more than excited to get a google mail address (Does anyone else call it that?) and only logged into my old account to look at all the spam to remind me of how good I have it now.

Well, Yahoo! has slowly turned the situation around. The first thing they did was offer free IMAP and contact synchronization to iPhone users. This was great if you had an iPhone, but if you were a regular user you still had to use the web interface if you wanted to send an e-mail, unless you paid for Yahoo! Mail Plus. 

Then wonders upon wonders, Yahoo opened up IMAP free for everyone and eliminated the mountains of spam that onceI get. All without that little signature at the bottom that tells people I'm sending email from the '90s.

My feelings about Lion

Category: review
#OSX #macosx #lion

I consider myself a reasonable person who loves mac products. I've been using mac since the summer of 2004, when I had an internship at Apple Computer Inc. It was one of the greatest work experience of my life and I wish I had done more to pursue a career working there (but that's a whole 'nother topic). The thing is that I've used all the OS's since then and every time a new one comes out I go through a series of steps.

  1. Initial excitement that my favorite OS is getting an update that should make it even better!
  2. A splash of cold water as I notice that a lot of the updates are under the hood (Core) and all the big ticket items are basically eye candy that I don't see myself or anyone else using day to day (dashboard).
  3. Last minute concern that I haven't backed my computer up in… um… a while..
  4. Excitement that I'm installing the latest and greatest!
  5. Admiration that by and large the performance of the OS is better on the same hardware1.
  6. Nit pick at little changes to the user interface (what's with the ugly font and background with the notes in Mail? You can choose to colors blue or grey. What color and shape do you want your folders? That last one is a trick question.) and what not.
  7. Fall in love all over again. With all the software that developers are able to make with the new OS, why would you want to go back? Learn to live with it or learn to tweak it (How? It's a secret2).
  8. Go to work every day wishing that I could work on a mac.

So what's the deal with lion

I actually really liked lion when I first got it. Although at first glance it looks like someone has been sucking more and more color out of it, you can tell that a lot detail went into how things looked. Mail.app has really gotten a good shining and I was pleasantly surprised/creeped out to see how safari was smart enough to see that I was logging into my old yahoo account and then set it up in mail with only a couple button clicks. The key thing about the whole process is that it's really smooth and -for the most part- you wouldn't know that a whole lot of things have changed and if you ask me a couple months from now I probably wouldn't want to go back.

But...

As with most changes, there are somethings that I don't like about lion.

  1. Where are the scrollbars?
    I know I'm not the only one out there who misses them. I was concerned about this since they demoed it during the WWDC keynote. I understand that they are supposed to flash when you first load the page or some kind of change happens, but I think that disappearing scrollbars are pointless when I'm using it at home on my iMac. In fact, I feel that they work against the user in some circumstances. For example, when I'm in Mail.app and I'm looking at the list of messages, I shouldn't have to look at the number of message at the top to figure out that I should scroll down to get more. Problem with mail Lion mail.app When you do enable the scrollbars, they have a tendency to look kinda bland. I like to imagine them as grey tear drops that are sad that they have to be there.

  2. As natural as a gesture
    I understand that this point and the last could probably be a non-issue if I only had a magic trackpad or used the new OS with a laptop like they did with WWDC keynote demo. But, I don't have one. I have a 4+ button mouse that I use instead of the magic mouse that used to hurt my hand after an hour or so (great reason to enjoy more family time). I know I could probably get used to it if I wanted to, but this is my family's home computer. My wife and I have to work all day and use our windows boxes. This is not a strong argument, "Hey baby, I know that you've had a long day at work typing and whatnot and you want to use the machine that helped pay for to relax and check on that book of faces and electronic mail thing the kids are all into, but do you mind re-wiring your brain to make up down and down up because I don't want to go into preferences to change it back to what you are accustomed to".

  3. Rum-rum-resume
    It is at this point that I feel a lot of people might disagree with me. I wish the resume feature of the OS was a little better fined tuned. As in, I wish I could turn it off. What? You love the fact that you can start exactly where you left off in a program? You know what? So do I! Does my wife like seeing all the safari windows that I had up when I was on there last3? Do I like waiting an extra couple minutes while all the applications that I had open before I restarted the machine start back up and restore themselves to their previous state all at once? No. Some would argue that I could simply hold down the option button when I close a program to stop this behavior and that it does help in a lot of ways. I don't dispute this, but I do feel that there should be more control over this. If you have a faster machine (like something with a solid state drive), then you wouldn't have a problem with this. But it is a reminder to me that OS didn't have this feature before because of the overhead associated with it. I know that a year or so from now it will be a non-issue.

  4. The witches brew
    This last part is purely a geek pet peeve for me, because this doesn't affect anyone other than developers. I use a couple of software packages to create this site and play with my pipe dream of being a cocoa programmer. One of the tools that I use is homebrew. Homebrew is a package manager that downloads the source code of other software (ex. MySQL, Node.js), compiles them and install them in a way that doesn't cause your system to fall to pieces. The problem is that the new OS uses a different default compiler and has changed the permissions on some of the folders. I could change the compiler back, but I didn't want to mess around with it too much. The machine that I have lion installed on is my family computer and I don't want my wife to kill me when I need to re-install for the third time to fix something that I didn't understand fully. It probably already fixed...

The conclusion

Overall, I really like lion and I look forward to seeing what developers can do with the new technology going forward. Does it have some faults? Yes, but with any healthy relationship you have to understand that OS change over time.


  1. Of course there is a little slow down when loading dashboard for the first time and the little bit of slow down when spotlight is indexing everything, but after that you wouldn't know unless you were already hurting for resources.  

  2. I actually don't use secrets. I used to do a lot of re-installs so I just change a couple preferences and leave it as is. The only thing that I know use that would be considered a tweak would be LauchBar.  

  3. Spoils the surprise trip to Fry's! 

It's just how I feel about the subject

Category: personal
#comics

Don't get me wrong, I love a good book, but it seems like a lot of my teachers where focused on adding more words to simple meanings.

Require Reading

Another day

Category: misc

Hello, World.
I'm alive for another year.

Looking back

Category: personal
#personal #review

I'm just a guy trying to make the best of the world.

Getting back into it

Category: personal
#personal

Well, the last couple of weeks have been really busy in between moving to a new location, new routines, new expenses and just a lot of new things. Unfortunately, I've allowed myself to get off the routines that I've been putting together and the biggest reason is my own procrastination.

Part of me wants to make this blog "Perfect", so I spend too much time thinking about all the little tools I should use to make it. I wonder "How am I going to host images?", "Am I going to continue hosting it on google?", "How do I keep track of old post: Should I leave them on the server or on my local machine?", "What if my laptop gets stolen?", "Should I only write on my laptop or anything I get my hands on?"

It goes on and on, and I forget the important thing. This blog is for me. I do it to put my thoughts into words and from there I post it for the whole world to see. I make it, not the other way around.

If you don't like it, you don't have to read it.

The New Digs

Category: blogging
#website

So, I'm in the process of moving in. The goal? To own everything I make. I don't expect many people to understand, but then again...