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< Piro >

Jack & Daddy, the Post-Op Lounger

"Post Op & Library-ing"

Thursday - October 22, 2009

[Piro] - 12:11:12 - [link here]

If you have been paying attention to my twitter-sludgestream lately as opposed to waiting for me to update this poorly neglected column, you will know Tuesday was a rough day for my little guy. Jack had his Tonsils and Adenoids removed, which is a big deal when you are barely two years old. The good news is that he came through everything just fine and after spending a night in the PICU we were finally able to go home yesterday afternoon and he's doing great. In fact, you'd hardly know he had the operation two days ago the way he's popping around today.

Now his parents didn't fair quite so well in the ordeal (i wont get into the long list of 'you gotta be kidding me' things that happened, like the surgery being delayed and his post-op medication wearing off and having to go in and hold and comfort the little guy him while they gave him anesthesia, dealing belatedly with the fact that parents are not big on remembering to feed themselves when their kid is in the hospital, and having a dead battery in the vehicle at 2am in the hospital parking structure) but now that we're all back home I think we survived. The rant image is from yesterday when i had pretty much been pressed into service as a lounger for Jack as he slept of the drowseys. Kids can exercise some serious Sleep Voodoo on you when they want to, especially when you are seriously overtired. Oh, and Mommies should not be allowed to have cameras.

I've been threatening to start writing rants again since a week or so before Jack's little fun day at the hospital, but as usual i found myself extremely preoccupied with things leading up to it. Yes, i am an obsessive and worry too much about my boy when it comes to things like this, it's just the way I'm wired. Now that we're on the other side of it i feel tons better, and after looking at the calendar i realized that i really should write about what i'm doing this weekend. :)

On Saturday October 24th I will be giving a presentation at the Dexter District Library in Dexter, Michigan from 2:00pm to 3:00pm. It'll be on the lower level and should be pretty easy to find, all are welcome to attend. I plan on talking about both the drawing and writing processes involved in creating comics (mine, at least) as well as ways to explore and expand upon your creative ideas. It's a pretty casual thing, so be sure to bring some questions. Hopefully i'll be able to provide some semblance of an answer. I will also be helping judge entries to the Manga Illustration contest and announcing winners after my presentation.

So, if you live in the area and have some time, stop by the Dexter District Library and join us. Should be fun.

You may have noticed that we have some additional contributors who have been writing and contributing rants to the right column. These are some of the guys who have been helping me in recent years, most noticeably in the website overhaul and rebuild. Now, these guys are pretty decent guys and have not caused me the kind of grief that would make me want to make them into MT characters (an abusive and cruel act that i would not put upon anyone lightly) but i figure some ranting into the void won't be too detrimental to their lives. If they get out of line, Dom will it.

Right now, i'm off to get some shirt printing done and then see what i can do to get that last comic finished and get the next one on deck and up before it becomes 'next week'. Even in spite of Jack's thing this week, i'm pushing to get the comic output up to at least two comics per week. I apologize for the slow flow lately, hopefully it can become a thing of the past. I'd say that for 'not ranting' too, but i know better than to say it. Any progress on that will happen by doing it. I will say that i'm getting really sick of Twitter's 140 character limit.

< Kalium >

Sorry, Marvin.

"Paranoid Android"

Thursday - December 10, 2009

[Kalium] - 23:01:08 - [link here]

Due to family, I found myself in sunny Naples over Thanksgiving. Florida, not Italy. While I was there, I finally got fed up with my crusty Sprint Katana phone. I decided it was time for a new one, so I went looking. Being the shameless gadget addict I am, I went for a smartphone.

I knew already that I didn't want an iPhone. They're nice phones, but there are major aspects I don't like. I don't like Apple's stranglehold on the App Store, or having to jailbreak to get around it. I don't like the way AT&T treats their customers. I don't like being limited to only running one application at a time.

So an iPhone was out, but the Android phones caught my eye a while ago. With the recent ad blitz from Verizon for their Droid line, I thought those were worth checking out. The Motorola phone was prices at $200 with a contract, and the HTC Eris at $100 with a contract. Both sounded like good prices.

Once I got to the mall, I went to the Verizon kiosk and asked about contact rates. The response blew me away. The man behind the counter said it would be $150/mo for basic voice with unlimited text and data. I looked at him like he was crazy. Then I went over to the Sprint kiosk.

Sprint wanted close to $300 up-front for an HTC Hero phone, with $100 mail-in rebate. Obviously, a lot more than Verizon. However, Sprint offered me a plan at the very attractive price point of $70/mo. That plan would include unlimited text, unlimited data, unlimited calls to mobiles... pretty much everything I wanted, for less than half the price Verizon quoted me. I shelled out and walked away with the phone.

The Sprint people were nice enough to import my contact from my old phone, so I was spared that pain. As I walked away from the booth, I was already filling in social networking site logins - twitter, facebook, flickr, google account, that sort of stuff. It immediately synchronized with my google contacts. I was soon arranging widgets on the seven (seven!) home screens, and was happily using them.

The built-in camera is a solid five megapixels. I'm no photography buff, so it suits my needs pretty well. The flickr and facebook integration makes it very easy to upload photos right after taking them, avoiding the need to synchronize and upload later. This is done in the background, so you can do other things while your pictures upload.

The array of applications is broad. Predictably, the very first thing I installed was an SSH client - ConnectBot. In case I feel the sudden urge to administer a server from an improbable location, maybe. Still, I feel better for having it. Should I ever need it.

Look, it's cool, OK? Don't judge me.

RingDroid is a fun and practical little application I grabbed early on. It lets you take any bit of audio and convert it to a ringtone. I now use VNV Nation's "Nemesis" as my default ringtone.

To make good use of the ability to run programs in the background, I grabbed an IRC client. After trying several, AndChat seemed to offer all the features I wanted at no cost. A lot of other programs use the background process ability offered by the Linux origins of the Android platform to good effect. One that comes to mind is DealDroid, which monitors a variety of websites and informs me of important events like woot.com offering a new item.

Far and away the coolest app I've found is Google Sky Map. Now, stargazing is fun. Stargazing is more fun when you have a starchart. A computerized starchart is even better, because it eliminates the need to manually compensate for location and time. Google Sky Map use GPS and time data and then adds accelerometer data to determine which direction the phone is facing. The net result? You point the phone at a patch of sky, and it tells you what you're looking at. Pretty damn cool, in my book. I know I'm going to get a lot of use out of it on some clear nights.

There's also the predictable array of social networking and local search apps. I use a few, like GigBox and UrbanKite, but most of them aren't worth making a fuss about.

The Android has a few shortcomings. The on-screen keyboard takes some getting used to, and I still tend to fat-finger it a bit at times. There is no unified email inbox, so I have to monitor three or four different accounts distinctly. Not every application let me turn it sideways for easier typing.

Battery life isn't all that great, but that obviously depends directly on how much I use it to do interesting things. The SDHC card it came with is a measly 2 GB, but that's upgradable easily enough. HTC hasn't finished porting their user interface - Sense - to Android 2, so my Hero and I are stuck at Android 1.5 for the time being.

The Android browser has some odd bugs. There's an issue I'm aware of - but haven't identified yet - where it renders some PNGs in a degraded state. This can be a problem the PNGs are your favorite webcomic. Interestingly, I know this bug exists in Droid phones too. No idea what it is.

When all is said and done, I like my phone quite a bit. It does everything I need and want from my phone, including making lightsaber noises and playing "Duel of the Fates". I look forward to the Android 2 update, when my phone will do even more cool things.

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