So, how much fun is technology? Tons of fun!

  • The 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics  Show)  —  Lots of  new products were announced this year and I’m waiting for some new BlackBerry software to  be released.   But I think the coolest thing I got out of the CES coverage is finding  out  that I can visit a Venice without having to convert currency.  OK, so it’s not really Italy, but it’s slightly less gaudy than the stereotypical Las Vegas neon landscape.
  • The Impossible  Project – I want this to succeed in a big way simply for the irony.  There’s a great blog that highlights the attempt to reinvent instant film for 600 and SX-70 Polaroid cameras, and provides some great examples of instant film  photography.
  • Saw this little gem by T-Mobile UK and can’t help myself – I so want to have people break out in song and/or dance while I’m doing something boring like commuting.  Watch at your own risk – you might want to get up and dance!
  • One last fun  link:  Low-tech entertainment or high-tech for a calendar?  — Check out the Bubble Calendar.   Dude.

Oh, and for those of you keeping count,  Time Warner Cable pulled Channel 19 from my lineup – it’s now only available on the Digital  Tier of programming.   Sure,  it’s only the local community college channel, but I really liked watching the cooking guys . . . they were fun.   Down to 18 total channels (only a handful are real  channels – most are local access and  advertising).


I hope to be in bed before 2009 arrives in my time zone, but once I start on a blog there’s no telling what will happen.  Please forgive the grammatical errors and crazy thought patterns — it’s late, but I actually feel like writing so I’m going to go with it and get this blog started.  I’ll look at this again later and do some editing.

I’m ringing in 2009 quietly — at home, curled up with my computer on my lap and my ‘berry close at hand.   I spent many New Year’s Eves babysitting and I think the tradition is deeply ingrained; when left to my own devices, I want to stay home and watch Dick Clark.  My little one (Kira) is tucked in bed — I adopted her 8 years ago yesterday and it’s hard to imagine what I ever did with myself before I had a wee bird to dance on my keyboard, chew holes in my paper, and drink out of my water glass.  The year I got her, I went to bed before midnight expecting to wake up in spite of the  theories that Y2K would cause the world to end.  This year, I was slightly amused to discover that Microsoft inadvertently created their own little apocalypse — 30g Zunes began bricking themselves en masse this morning, causing a Z2K9 disaster of somewhat mild proportions.  Never fear – music will return on January 1st (like the Y2K problems, it all boils down to programming the internal device calendar – the Zunes didn’t recognize the 366th day of leap year so they just stopped working).  Guess this just proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In my world New Year’s Eve always arrives with a whisper, encouraging me to take a wistful look back at the previous year and adopt a hopeful outlook for the next 12 months.  I suspect that next year will be much like this one – too much work, too little sleep, painful change that results in growth, unexpected joys, and the ongoing quest to become better, stronger, faster, and–with any luck–a wee bit wiser overall.   Looking back, I ponder what more I could have accomplished had I worked a bit harder.   I would have liked to have written a few more blogs, read a few more books, walked a few dozen more miles, and lost a few more pounds.  Ah, well, that’s what the new year is all about — re-evaluating, adjusting, and setting new goals.

So, how did I spend 2008?  Well, this seemed to be my year for learning more about emerging technology and venturing into the Web 2.0 world.  I have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, keep up with a second  (professional) iGoogle/Gmail profile, manage at least two blogs (personal and professional), and use GoogleTalk almost daily.  My Motorola RAZR served me well for 2.5 years, but after switching to the BlackBerry Bold I have to say that I am totally hooked on mobile computing – and will eventually access all of the above sites via my ‘berry  (I’m almost there now).   Internet on the RAZR was so slow it was pointless; I heard the Bold was zippy, but I wasn’t really prepared for how quickly pages load – it really is a powerful device.  Calling the Bold a phone is like referring to the Louvre as a building.  I’m sure the its at least a dozen times more powerful than the computer I took with me to grad school (for example, the Bold has 1g of onboard storage and I added an 4g micro SD card for applications; my first PC had a 120mb hard drive and a box of 1.44mb floppies).  I must admit it was great fun to have instant access to my Gmail (and, of course, text messages) while staying with family over Christmas – I didn’t have to have my laptop in front of me to communicate with friends and family.  And my nephews really enjoyed the Madagascar Penguins movie I downloaded – they asked to watch it on my ‘berry every night before bed.

Anyway, I’m currently subscribing to a variety of tech blogs — including Slashdot, Engadget, and Google Mobile.  I’m getting a grand overview of the innovative, interesting, appalling, and sometimes just plain bizarre world of technology and the people who use technology tools.   I’m also reading a variety of BlackBerry feeds so I can continue with my quest to become totally addicted to my CrackBerry; I take comfort in the fact that I still recognize that this guy needs some therapy, but I can also understand the power of the addiction  (perhaps he gave his bride her own ‘berry to keep her company?).   Of course, I’m following the tragic story of the now very broken Large Hadron Collider  — it looks like we’ll have to wait a while longer to find out if the LHC will bring an end to civilization.

I’m also enjoying some non-tech blogs because, let’s face it, I have a 30-second attention span and blogs are a great way to get info quickly!  To foster my goal of getting 4-5 servings of veggies a day, I read A Veggie Venture–this recipe for green beans is on my list to try this week.    Margaret and Helen continue to write thought-provoking blogs — even though the election is over, there are plenty of issues that deserve the sharp and witty discourse.  Author Jennifer Cruise comments on a variety of topics – including her ongoing narrative about the writing process in general and her struggles to create and edit her current novel.

My most recent discovery —The New Adventures of Mr. Stephen Fry— makes me quite giddy, as I feel like I’ve been reacquainted with an old friend.  No, I don’t have delusions of actually knowing the man but, after reading his autobiography and scouring bookstores for a sampling of his novels, I find that I continue to crave more of his literary creations (not to mention his film work).  Digging into one of his lengthly blogs gives me the same cozy feeling as settling in a comfy chair and wrapping up in a soft blanket.  Plus, his addiction to technology gadgets makes me happy – the man travels all the time with a suitcase of gadgets – and I get a kick out of reading his Tweets.

Still not much into TV these days, as I stay pretty busy doing other things.  Plus, I figure the networks will just cancel the programs I like and Time Warner will just dump yet another batch of my favorite channels (as of midnight tonight).  While Chuck is still my can’t-miss show, I started watching House again and got hooked on Fringe — so I’m up to 2.5 nights of TV shows a week.  The iPods are getting a workout; the Nano (the short squatty 3g version) accompanies me on walks and to the gym and my video iPod travels between my home and office docking stations.  I can sync my Bold with iTunes, so I take music podcasts with me everywhere.  No wonder XM Radio is dying!  With HD radio, tagging, and iTunes integration, it’s possible to listen only to what you want to hear — with no monthly fees.

I’ve also spent some time crafting this year – the return of my creativity is a sure sign that I’m a bit healthier than I’ve been in recent years.  I dug out my watercolors, pounded out a bunch of card sets to sell  in a local salon (results pending), and continued to work on my jewelry-making skills.  I’ve spent most of my free time working on projects instead of digging through the ever-growing pile of unread books – but suspect at some point I’ll put away my crafting supplies and go back to a more calm and orderly existence.  I’ve got some great novels waiting for me  (including Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth / World Without End and the Twilight series).

Well, so much for 2008.  I’m ready to move on to the new year – I have big goals and am ready to chart out the steps it will take to get me where I want to be by this time next year.  Not a big fan of resolutions, but I will state here that one of my goals is to write at least one SparklyShiny blog a month.  If I want to discover my “blog voice” I have to actually practice writing, right?  And by the looks of it, I need to add some photos!

I hope that each of you will find unexpected joys and many opportunities for celebration in the upcoming year.  Thanks for reading.  Leave a comment, come follow me on Twitter (see the About tab at the top of this page for more info), send me e-mail and/or text messages – I’d love to hear about your resolutions, goals, or general plans for the year.


September  is over . . . what a month it was.  My family survived Ike with no damage or injury; my parents’ power was restored within a week but the last I heard my brother was still waiting.   Charitable donations to aid organizations are dramatically underwhelming, the State of Texas will go broke paying out on the insurance policies it (duh – unwisely) sold to coastal residents, and the folks on Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula (in addition to hard-hit areas of Haiti) will feel the effects of Ike for years. Then the Large Hadron Collider broke.  Our economy broke.  Time  Warner threatened to stop carrying local stations as of October 2nd.  And ABC tried to make it all better by encouraging us to watch more TV through their “National Stay At Home  Week” campaign.

OK, so life has its ups and downs.  Thankfully, I have a low humor threshold and find many small things entertaining.  For example, pretend doctors made a comeback – Kelsey Grammer, Julius Erving, and Neil Patrick Harris all have fun commercials running.  I have to admit that each of these caught my attention and made me giggle.  And speaking of giggles, I’m happy that Big Bang Theory and Chuck are back!  I didn’t miss many TV shows after the writers’ strike, but I missed these two.  It was a good day when I was surfing YouTube and discovered a fun cross-over commercial for Hellboy II.

I’m giving up on TV except for Monday nights.  There really isn’t much on — and if TWC drops my local NBC station I’ll be down to mostly nothing to watch.  Which is probably better for my brain anyway.  I’m  spending a lot of time online these days – CrackBerry is feeding my BlackBerry addiction until AT&T releases the Bold –  perhaps as soon as Halloween.  I’m striving to keep up with family and friends via e-mail, Twitter, and FaceBook . . . even though I don’t get the point of FaceBook yet.  When I shut down the computer, I read — I’ve moved on to Julie Kenner’s Manolo Matrix and have Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series waiting in the wings.

Ah, October is finally here!  It brings the promise of cooler weather and the start of the holiday season.  I’m ready to embrace the renewed energy that comes with the end of the oppressive summer heat.   And maybe, just  maybe, AT&T will release the Bold so I can get my first BlackBerry!

For much of this week, I’ve been bemused by Engadget’s recent posts announcing the world ending on Wednesday, thanks to the Large Hadron Collider.  (Given the fact that Hurricane Ike is building in the Gulf, it might have been good timing. )   I didn’t realize there was such an outcry against the project.  Besides,  Wednesday seemed a bit premature for total world destruction – I mean, the Mayans predicted the world will end in December 2012, so wouldn’t it be a bit rude for CERN to trump the date by more than 4 years?  Still, I dutifully posted the warning on my office door lest the LHC’s activities catch my coworkers unprepared.

In case you haven’t noticed, sending protons clockwise then counterclockwise through 17 miles of underground tunnels didn’t cause a catastrophic event.  However, there’s still time.  It will be a few weeks before CERN starts smashing protons – the effects of which could lead to the end of the world.  Thankfully, Woot’s WWWoundup has provided the perfect resource for answering the question: Has the Large Hadron Collider Destryoed the World Yet? Thanks, Woot!  I feel totally empowered now!