Monthly Archives: November 2008

The gPhone or Android is Intriguing

I had the opportunity to handle two Google Android first generation mobile phones today, the T-Mobile G1, and while the shape (form factor) is a bit odd, I did enjoy playing with the user interface much more than any of the iPhones I have tried.
Gasp! Shock! Blasphemy!
Every time I use a friend’s iPhone, I am left nonplussed and usually find it to be a bit frustrating of an experience. Yes, yes, yes, I know, I am weird. As with any interface, even learning to use the iPhone takes time. And the truth of the matter is that I am not intrigued enough by the iPhone to want to learn.
The iPhone, as I have detailed out before, has a crappy camera, no video capture, no MMS, and Apple has made it to be a closed sandbox.
For all the claims of the radical innovation and intuitive user interface, I will agree that bringing the metaphor of the web and Apple UI to a mobile device is new and can be delightful to use, but it is not for everyone. I am not the only person I know who has fondled and played with the iPhone and then went and bought another device.
Today I had the opportunity to talk with some folks who perused all the major smart phone options and decided to get the Google / T-Mobile G1 Android phone over the iPhone. After listening to them describe what they wanted and then saw how both of them had hacked/altered the home screen to fit their needs, as well as get a tour of the G1 mobile, I was intrigued.
Yes, the G1 has a crappy camera; yes, there is no video capture; but the UI and the physical handset made more sense to me than any time I have used an iPhone. I did not have to have steps explained to me as I was using it, my hands and mind figured it out. Everytime I use an iPhone, I get stuck and have to ask the owner what to do next – usually this is a question of what to do with the physical handset as I find it too abstracted.
The web browsing experience is good. As good or even better than the iPhone. I ran through a couple of websites that most mobile browsers choke on due to javascript & AJAX and the G1 rendered all the scripts and CSS correctly. Bravo!
What is most exciting to me about the G1 Android phone is that it is open source and one can use python to program it. I like Python. I like mobile python for S60 and will be interested in exploring the Android development platform.
The other two things I liked about the G1 was that it is smaller than the iPhone and I can hold it in one hand without fear of dropping it and it has a physical qwerty keyboard which was easy to use, even easier than the Nokia E71 keyboard.
So, Google, here are my challenges to you:
1) I love open source, but I love unlocked mobiles even better. I am willing to pay the extra for an unlocked phone.
2) Come on, Google, give Nokia, Casio & Sony a run for their money and put a real camera on the G1: at least 5 megapixels or better, with a flash, a quality image sensor chip, and then back it up with the computing power to process the algorithms for great digital camera work.
3) Video capture.
Looking forward to the next iteration of the Google Android phone.


Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent.
If you are like me, Advent has little meaning other than a fun little calendar in your childhood of the days in December that you opened a colorful little paper door and there was chocolate or surprise in side. I grew up vaguely Presbyterian. Vaguely.
As a young adult, I found myself at charismatic churches were ritual is of little to no import. Since the 2004 election, I have been allergic to going to church, unless it is an ancient church in the UK or Europe with ritual. Oh, St. Bartholomew’s, how I love you.
I still know very little of Advent, about as little as I know of Lent. The seasons of the liturgical calendar are a mystery to me, a mystery that I am somewhat intrigued by until my interior protestant gets in a big fight with my interior anti-authoritarian rebel. Not pretty, I assure you.
If you, like me, are Advent-curious but a little afraid to step out and experience it in an out way, then Ken Collins’ Advent Wreath tutorial may be for you.
I have looked at pine wreaths for days at the market trying to determine if I will make the leap away from Calvin and the like and try out a Sunday advent practice starting tomorrow, but I have been unable to commit. I have 2 purple candles and a bunch of beeswax candles, but it seems a bit too heathen for me.
Silly me.
How do you celebrate Advent?

The Imprinted Brain Theory

Compliments of the nice folk over at 3 Quarks Daily, late last week I read this article on The Imprinted Brain Theory by Christopher Badcock who writes on the genetic, gender, and environmental causes of mental disorders / diseases such as autism and schizophrenia, or how it may not be nature vs. nuture but nature + nuture.
Badcock breaks down not only genetics and brain development, but also how environmental factors such as good maternal nutrition can contribute to more cases of autism and famine can contribute to more cases of schizophrenia. Also, there is implications in less extreme cases of non-mental disorders such as tendencies to a scientific / rational persuasion versus folks who tend towards intuition, the arts, and faith.
I have been interested in the recent research of the last few years that is showing that one’s belief in religion or lack thereof may be influenced by the processing of one’s brain. If Badcock’s research and theory are found to be correct, then may the decline of religion in developed countries may be a result of increased maternal nutrition and pre-natal care? Before you get all up in your biscuits defending rational secularism or religion, read the article and think about the implications.

Oh Dear Mumbai

The Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel and the Gateway to India
Photo of the Taj Hotel and the Gateway to India taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N82 on 02.19.08 from the Mumbai Harbor.

Thurs 11.27.08 – For 2.5 days in February 2008, I stayed in the Colaba district of Mumbai at the end of the Urbanista Diaries adventure in India. I stayed a little less that 2 blocks from the famed Taj Hotel. I ate a small supper the second night at the upstairs bar at Cafe Leopold. I enjoyed wandering around on foot the southern part of Mumbai.
Most of all, what I did experience of Mumbai made me love it the way I love Los Angeles and London. A big sprawling vibrant world class city. The kind of city, like LA or London, that you either love or hate. After being in Mumbai for 15 minutes, I was deep down happy. It was love on first sight.
Yesterday, my heart went out to Mumbai as the news of the terrorist attacks on the Taj Hotel, the Oberoi, Cafe Leopold, the Jewish Center, and the CS Railway Terminus.
I first heard of the attacks on Twitter when an Indian friend wrote a cryptic anguished tweet, I went to the BBC and saw no news, 10 minutes later there was. The news and crisis has continued to unfold over the course of the last 36 hours, getting worse. And made worse by having been at 3 of the 5 places that have been attacked. And worse for loving the city.
Oh, Mumbai, I am dreadfully sorry. Words are failing me to express the upset.

Give Thanks

So most of today, I have been singing the chorus to the worship song, “Give Thanks” in my head, “Give thanks to a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks…”
And then I forget the rest of the lyrics.
Today was a seesaw day. I had the opportunity to have an early supper with some old and dear friends – Mike and Kim from Channel Three (CH3) plus Kimm’s wife Kelli. I have known and been friends with these folks for over 24 years. It was a blessing to hang out, have a few glasses of wine/beer and some food over good conversation.
But this was deeply weighted by some very bad news I received beforehand.
Therein lies the crux or the paradox of life, the good and the bad many times are entwined. Entwined some times in the same hour. The big challenge for me is how to digest it, what to make of it, and how I will choose to respond to the circumstances of life.
One of the things that I have learned in the last 15 years is how to count my blessings or count the things that I am grateful for, even if very small, each day. Write them down if necessary to make the things that I am thankful for more concrete.
Today, I am thankful for dear friends with whom I have walked the miles with, in good times and in bad and in mundane times. I am also thankful for all the folks who did not get shot today in Mumbai. I am praying that peace will reign today in Mumbai. I am thankful for Scruffy and Belle, even when Scruffy had diarrhea inside in front of folks (oops) this afternoon. I am also thankful for the rain that SoCal received last night.
Rather than go on, I would like to link to Mary Beth Crain’s essay in the SOMA journal on “Reasons to Be Grateful“:

My great-aunt Lillian was a real pill–a stern spinster-type who made a loud practice of going around doing good and letting everybody know about it. And she was always lecturing you. One of her favorite admonitions was to “Beee grateful!” Whenever she caught you complaining, she’d deliver an unsolicited sermon on everything you had to be thankful for. Unfortunately, she was so sanctimonious about it that all you wanted to do was kill her.
As a result, Aunt Lil and her “Beee grateful!” became a standing family joke. We kids were always going around imitating her. If my brother stubbed his toe and let out an expletive, I’d respond with “Beee grateful! At least you have your toe! There are some people who don’t have any feet!” Then we’d all crack up.
Well, it took me about 40 years to realize that Aunt Lil was actually right.

Ms. Crain does not only recommend taking stock of what one is thankful for but also what one is angry at or un-thankful for. She hopes that the thankful list will be longer than the other list.
I think it becomes a spiritual discipline to choose to find more things each day to be thankful for than not. Let’s start today and tomorrow to enumerate out our blessings and what we are thankful for and keep doing it each day from here on out.


Nokia viNe Has Been Released

It is official, Nokia viNe has been released into the wild and is now available for download. This version of Nokia viNe is a mobile geo-path-tracking / photo / video location based mobile app that allows one to create “vines” or “journeys” on one’s phone and then upload it to the nokia server to be displayed on the web or via a widget.
Nokia viNe version 1.02 released by Nokia today is for the following Nokia mobiles: the E71, N78 & N79, N82 & N85, and the N95 8GB & N96. I have tried it with my Nokia N95-1 and it won’t login to the server and start working, sad this.
I promise to write a new Nokia viNe How To tomorrow that will reflect the changes in the new version that has been released to all. Not only are there some nice improvements and changes to the mobile app since I wrote my tutorial (faster uploads!), but the Nokia viNe web interface has greatly improved.
There are three features I would love to see in the next iteration of the Nokia vine mobile app and web interface:
1) Multiple logins on the mobile app. I currently have two logins and would like to toggle between accounts as to what I upload where.
2) Be able to have finer control of what is public and what is private, not only on Nokia viNe, but also on Sports Tracker and Share on Ovi. I like Flickr & Vox’s approach of up to 4 plus levels of privacy to public with: private (only you), Friends & Family, Contacts, and Everyone. At this point, there is no way I can control this from the Nokia viNe mobile app, nor from the web interface. Given that Nokia viNe is a location based service this is extra important for trust and safety.
3) Be able to determine in my account settings if I want my photos or video to be able to be downloaded once they are up on the Nokia viNe site. Right now, I have no control, which as a beta tester over the last 2+ months didn’t bother me, but over time it will. Flickr allows me to set who I want to be able to download my photos (none, family, friends, friends & family, contacts, and everyone). This is important for trust and copyright.
Overall, I would like to say Bravo! to the folks who have been working hard to make both the Nokia viNe mobile app and the web interface.
My other posts on Nokia viNe:
The Nokia viNe Promo Video is Cute & Funny!
Nokia viNe How To Tutorial (The Alpha Version)
Nokia Nseries Widget or Why Nokia Really Needs a Good Internal Communication System
Batteries for Ricky
Nokia’s (life) viNe

William Wendt and Early California Painting

William Wendt Painting

Tues 11.25.08 – This afternoon, my Mom and I drove down to the Laguna Art Museum to see the William Wendt exhibition, which is entitled, “In Nature’s Temple: The Life and Art of William Wendt”.
While some of Wendt’s paintings were a bit too landscape-y and verging on the academic, many of them were delightful and a few were transformational. Almost all of the paintings in the exhibition were from his California days (1901 – 1930s) and they represented a California that is now gone or at least highly developed over.
For all of the wide, open landscapes, sycamore and eucalyptus trees as figures, and canyons turned majestic, I loved his approach to color the most: greyed out greens and darks that were purple, as they were the colors of California when she is cloaked in glory. And in that glory is how Wendt portrayed her. A glory that can only now be found in glimpses, if one takes the time to go hiking in the hills or up a canyon and one diverts one’s eyes from the stuccoed McMansions on the ridgeline.
A docent overheard us talking about one of the paintings, and asked how we knew so much about painting and the California Impressionist era. I explained that I was the 5th generation of artist along my mother’s line and that my mother’s grandmother (great-grandma Rachel) dabbled in the California Impressionist style in a few of her paintings dating from 1910 – 1925 and that we still have the paintings in the family. I grew up with looking at those small paintings and we as a few others that my mom and grandmother have by other artists of the genre.
It is a genre I like and possibly love, as the California Impressionists were not painting in the vein of the American Romantics or Hudson Valley School or even the Ash Can School, but were taking queues from the innovations coming out of France and then applying the plein-air, loose marked strokes to the California that they saw.
Some of the best of the paintings we saw today could only have been painted in California, all while one could see the cues that Wendt had taken from Cezanne’s Provencal period as well as a few tips from the Les Nabis. As we stood in directly in front of Wendt’s work, most of the paintings dissolved into marks and colors, but when we backed up 15 to 20 feet, the paintings would look refined and defined, much like may Impressionist and post-Impressionist pieces.
Cues from the French or not, the true glory of the Wendt show at the Laguna Art Museum is the vibrant views of a California gone by. At times, I giggled at some of the works, “Look, Pacific Coast Highway as a one-lane dirt road.” “Hey, when did Aliso Creek ever have that much water in it?” “This painting looks like the grand view of Santiago Creek and its Sycamores” etc.
A celebration of Los Angeles and Orange Counties long before the current blight of stucco and strip malls.