Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dusk, Dawn, and 30-Day Challenges

Note: This post is old old old, and is being published now just for the sake of self-ridicule; none of my 30 day challenges were met, and only one was even begun.

Frequent readers of this blog will need no introduction to my good friend and erstwhile roommate, Ota. Frequent readers of this blog will also know that I subscribe to the Neal Stephenson never-say-in-100-words-what-you-can-say-in-1000 school of writing, so said (illusory?) frequent readers will not be surprised that I shall now proceed to tender an introduction to the illustrious Ota anyway.

I met Ota on the very first day of classes back at The College of William and Mary in 1997. We had both signed up for Japanese 101, and the first day entailed learning the fine art of 自己紹介 (jikoshoukai, self-introduction). Both of us claimed to be from Virginia, and Computer Science majors. As computer geeks are wont to do, we sized each other up warily, then met after class to compare programming credentials. I had more "serious" experience, having written a couple of trivial programs as a consultant (but in Visual Basic--a toy language). He was more into game programming, and showed up to class the next day with a floppy in hand (in 1997, the idea of transferring files over a network was iffy at best, except to Unix geeks, which I would not become for another year or two). I went home, popped the floppy in, and copied the binary over to my hard drive. Executing it (I seem to remember it being a compiled QuickBasic binary, but I suppose it could have been written in Visual C++; maybe Ota remembers) revealed a tasty riff on Pong; multicoloured balls flew about, and you had to smack them this way and that without letting them go in your goal (at least, if I recall correctly, which I may not; 10 years still seems a long time ago to me).

So Ota, having proven himself as a cool game programmer, rapidly became one of my friends. We worked together on the various group projects demanded in Japanese class, and started meeting occasionally for lunch or breakfast at the Caf (our dining hall). Toward the end of freshmen year, when it came time to decide on housing for the next year, we agreed to room together, in the Japanese House, which was a dorm for students of Japanese and Japanese exchange students.

Three years after graduation (well, just two for me; I took five years and thus graduated in 2003), we found ourselves both living in the Tokyo area, and started hanging out more frequently than once every three years. :)

A year later, I was working in Shibuya and he in Naka-Meguro, so we started meeting for lunch once a week, a habit that we have more or less maintained until the present.

Ota has had a blog for even longer than I have, and he's written in it even more infrequently than I have. ;) This is until about a month ago, when he started blogging at Dusk and Dawn a cool little bi- (tri-?) lingual blog he and his girlfriend do. I subscribed to the feed a couple of weeks ago, but did not have time to actually read any of the blog until today.

I have to say, it is neat. The layout is nice, the photos adorning the header are gorgeous, and the writing is interesting. I was especially inspired by his post entitled "The 30-day challenge; a year of self-improvement". I like the idea of trying to bootstrap a good habit by just committing to it for a month, and seeing what happens.

Ota and I had all sorts of contests back in school, some of them involving self-improvement and some... well, not. So I think this is a great opportunity for me to announce my own 30-day challenge goals, and see if Ota and I can keep each other honest and inspired. :)

  • October 2007 - (same as Ota's, but a lesser time) run, every day, for at least 15 minutes (Ota is doing 30, but I don't have that kind of time, man!). My motivation here is two-fold: to become more fit overall, and to increase my endurance so I can become a more effective striker on the futsal pitch.

  • November 2007 - no swearing. I have a, let's say, colourful vocabulary, which is not always the most appropriate to every situation. 'specially situations in which my baby boy is also a participant. I'll go the entire month without uttering a swear word (should there be an accidental slip, I'll pay for it with a household chore, above and beyond my normal share).

  • December 2007 - TBD

  • January 2008 - TBD

  • February 2008 - (same as Ota's) write a blog post a day. I enjoy writing, and need to do it a lot to keep my prose honed.

  • March 2008 - TBD

  • April 2008 - TBD

  • May 2008 - (same as Ota's, but with a twist) read a book a week... about software engineering or the management thereof. Reading a book a week would be a slam-dunk goal for me, since I average that already. But I have quite a backlog of work-related reading to do, and I am always wanting to pick up tips here and there to improve my craft.

  • June 2008 - TBD

  • July 2008 - TBD

  • August 2008 - TBD

  • September 2008 - TBD

Monday, September 17, 2007

iHave become iNfected

Note: this post is old old old, and finally published just for historical curiosity, mostly my own.

Yes, it is strange but true; this Linux jockey has succumbed to the world's most powerful marketing machine and is typing this blentey on the sweet sweet virtual QWERTY keyboard of an iPhone. Worse yet (because the iPhone is not mine--'tis a company plaything), I must confess to buying my wife a MacBook for last Christmas. Disgraceful, I know.

I originally bought the MacBook for the hardware; I was planning to just peek at Mac OS X, then partition most of the drive out for Linux, using a filesystem that both Linux and OS X could use. But tragically, I waited too long, and when I finally got around to trying Boot Camp, it failed to repartion my drive. A real hacker would have booted up a Gentoo LiveCD and fired up GNU parted, but I feared the potential time sink and the wrath of my wife--who had become quite enamoured of OS X--if things did not go according to plan. So I ended up sticking with the Mac OS, but mainly using my old Linux 'top, as I could not live with giving up my Openbox keybindings and virtual workspace config.

So what, you may be wondering, do I think of the iPhone? Well, given that I am typing this on one, feel free to assume that I *love* it. This weekend, I've used it for checking my Gmail (which works, but shame on Google for not detecting the iPhone User Agent and doing something optimised for the iPhone's screen size, like we do), reading through my WWdN:iX backlog (reading blogs may well be one of the iPhone's--and, by extension, the iPod Touch) killer apps; a native RSS/Atom reader might be a good idea), and written this blog entry.

So the iPhone works as advertised, and will work even better once some of the bigger sites out there get their act together and offer an optimised experience.