Posts Categorized: ideas + opinions

Five Things I Suck At

Sometime last week, after pondering and talking about a topic on Twitter, Dhruv Bhutani asked me if there was anything I wasn’t good at. While I have a fatal case of over-curiosity and a big reading problem* and thus appear to be the walking talking encyclopedia, there are many things that am only ok to down right bad at. Here are a few that come to mind immediately:
1) Small Ball Sports…. such as tennis, badminton, table tennis, handball, and golf: Basically any hand-eye coordination sport that involves a small ball**. For reasons unknown to me, I am decent at baseball/softball, volleyball, football/soccer, and basketball. And after much practice, I can draw, so I am not a total wash out at hand-eye coordination.
2) Learning dance moves and/or participating in any synchronized dance. More times than I can count from age five to thirty-five I have enthusiastically taken a dance class only to end up in tears about 15-25 minutes into the class as my eyes & ears can see / hear the instructions on how to make the body movements in question, but I can’t for the life of me get my limbs to do said activity. Tears in public, tears while surrounded by graceful dancing swans who get it right the very first time around.
3) Timing. Be it in dance or piano, I am usually two steps/beats ahead or two behind. This is an analogy for my whole life and got me kicked out of ballet & tap class at age five just before the class performance at the Costa Mesa Fish Fry, as well as causing me problems in middle school piano recitals and swing dancing during the late 90s/early 00s craze. Good thing I did not seriously practice bass guitar, as any band I was in would have had a drummer ready to kill me.
4) Illustrator. I took my first Adobe Illustrator class in 1990, again in 1991, another in 2000, more valiant attempts at the pen and path tools through the whole of the 2000s, basically I suck at Illustrator or Inkscape. I do just fine in drawing with Flash, Fireworks or Photoshop, but I want to throw my computer out at the window with Illustrator. I only use Inkscape under extreme duress now and then only for badly done mobile app SVG icons.
5) Writing for deadline***. If I am writing for myself for no particular reason at all, like this blog post, I can type out an amazing amount of words in no time at all. If I am writing for a deadline, be it school, masters thesis, business, clients, or a magazine; even if my reputation and friendships are on the line; for whatever reason, I get horrible writer’s block and have been known to stand on toilets bleaching ceilings rather than write the 85 – 20,000 words needed. This is a problem.
Mind you, just because I think I suck and after much trying still can’t do the above activities, it doesn’t mean that I have stopped trying. I am overly persistent. Well, I don’t play tennis or golf, as I have been known to bean people in the head with said ball…
– – – – – – * Notes – – – – – –

* My ideal house would be mostly full bookcases with a few paintings on the walls.
** On my Mom’s side of the family, they are almost all serious athletes, be it pro or am. My Mom is 69 and is a keen surfer & skier. I have several cousins who are/were the best in their sports, a stepfather who was/is sports obsessed, and a grandfather who won the 1987 sailing world championships. To be bad at sports and bookish in my family made for a moderately miserable childhood. I fought back with goth attire and punk rock.
*** Express apologies to long-suffering CS who has been waiting for a one paragraph synopsis out of me since… oh… May.

Unleash the Phones: The Dead Mobile Platforms Special

Yesterday, I had the privilege to guest once again on the Unleash the Phones weekly video-cast. This time myself and two other guests – Michael Faro Tusino and Everything N9 the masked mystery man, as well Clinton Jeff & Alvin Wong of Unleash the Phones spoke/conversed/debated about supposedly dead mobile platforms. We mostly spoke on Web OS, Meego, and Maemo 6/Harmattan and how the communities of the said platforms are keeping their hearts beating.

A Few Sunday Thoughts: Auto-Focus Lens Calibration and ComicCon

I am in the last month of finishing up my apps and my blogging has fallen into a deep crevasse since April. I suck. Go look at my Flickr or Twitter for visual and textual updates. Will resume normal service once my apps are submitted.
In the meantime, a couple of thoughts from the weekend:
1) Auto-Focus Lens Calibration: Ever since I bought my Nikon D800 and a few new lenses, I have been surprised how my cheap, $120 nifty fifty Nikon 50mm 1.8D lens has repeatedly shot great, sharp photos but that my ‘good’, expensive lenses have been a little soft in their focus.
Last week over at The Mansurov’s photography, Bob V blogged on “Nikon D800 – Cavier, Sardines, or … Spam?“, of which I am not experiencing a soft left focus on my Nikon D800 but the article did bring to my attention that one could purchase a Datacolor Spyder LensCal and calibrate one’s lenses at home.
That is what I did today, as the Datacolor Spyder LensCal (link includes a how-to video) arrived on Friday afternoon. As I expected, my Nikon 50mm 1.8D lens was pretty close to spot on with only a tiny bit of Auto-Focus fine tuning needed (-2), but my other lenses needed between -4 and -12 in fine tuning their focus. I was very pleased with the sharpness of focus that my Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 lens was able to achieve after calibration, but my 50mm 1.4G and 85mm 1.8D remained a bit soft even with calibration and the 85mm has a chromatic aberration issue.
I will not bore you with the tiny details or with the photos that I took to complete the calibration, but I need to do some research to see if the 85mm 1.8D lens is known to have a color shift or does the lens need to go to Nikon servicing.
2) While I am a Sci-Fi/Fantasy book fan and have been so since my late childhood/early teens, I am not a big comic book person nor do I watch TV or Sci-Fi movies. When I first heard of ComicCon and found out that it was not for Sci-Fi book readers also but for comics and film fans, I was a bit sad but happy for my friends who do love comics and film to have their own Con to go to. Other than a few dips into Pern and Discworld Muus and Mudds in the early 90s, I have not found myself involved in any fanfiction, roleplaying, and Con worlds. I spent most of the 90s and early 2000s heavily immersed in music worlds.
Thus when I get asked every year around this time if I am going to ComicCon and I demure, I usually get nods from my friends who are vets of the Con and bewildered expressions from folks who only know about it from the evening news. The second group usually says, “But you like weird hair and dress, you are artsy, AND you are a geek, shouldn’t you go?”
I will leave it for my friends for whom it is the highlight of their year.
Speak of friends, BEST. PHOTO. EVER. of Christopher Schmitt taken by Arianne from this weekend at ComicCon 2012:
meeting Zombie @teleject for the Joss Whedon panel

Life List Achievement Unlocked: Midsummer in Finland by Water

The S/S Ukkopekka docked at Naantali View of the island sea and sailboat from Naantali Midsummer rose, Naantali Museo Back on the S/S Ukkopekka, rain outside Loistokari Island Midsummer's evening on Loistokari Island Steaming away from Loistokari Island

All photos taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia 808 Pureview Camera phone.

Sun 06.24.12 – In November of 2009, in a flurry of dreaming about traveling, I made a Life List that was mostly crazy, off the beaten path travel to-dos. This last week and weekend I checked off #16: Spend a week in a cabin / summer house on a lake in Finland.
When I originally wrote my Life List, I had hoped to be able to spend a week in a Finnish summer cottage on or by a lake, but when it came time to book, in early May, such an event for the last two weeks of June, I was unable to find a rental cottage that was not HUGE in my rental price range. By HUGE, I mean for 18-24 people – overkill.
Carol Chen came to the rescue when she found out that I was planning on attending Devaamo 2012 in Tampere, Finland, by offering to let me stay in her extra room at her apartment in the wooded & lake’d Tampere suburb of Hervanta.
For one week, I had the opportunity to get to attend Devaamo, hang out with amazing geeks, wander around Tampere & Hervanta, and walk around local lakes. Not quite the summer cottage by a lake, but close enough for rock’n’roll without the mosquito bites!
This weekend, Carol and I went to Turku on the far southwestern coast of Finland, which is the jump off area to visit the Finnish Archipelago – Saaristomeri. We left Tampere via the Inter-City train mid-day on Friday, which was Midsummer’s Eve and arrived in a very shut down all closed Turku on 2 hours later.
Luckily for us a few of the tourist options were open, like the Turku Cathedral and a few riverfront bars and restaurants. We had dinner at a nice jazz bar with a swing/ragtime live band, as well as bought tickets to tour a bit of the inner islands on the S/S Ukkopekka for the next day.
Yesterday, Midsummer, we went on two island cruise trips on the S/S Ukkopekka, the first one a day tour to Naantali that included four hours of wandering around old town Naantali and the Moomin island, and the second was an evening dinner cruise to Loistokari Island. Due to rain in the evening, dancing on the island was cancelled, but dinner on the boat with a sing-a-long band was still a lot of fun.
Today I returned to Helsinki with much of life still shut down for the national holiday weekend. I am very fortunate to be able to visit Finland in the summer, particularly over one of their biggest holiday weekends of the year.
People, do not allow any Finn to convince you otherwise, but the big secret they like to keep is how amazingly beautiful Finland is in the summer, even if a bit cloudy and rainy at times. Finland is a truly lovely country.

Hyvää Jussia!

Fri 06.22.12 – Happy Midsummer’s Eve to you and yours! While the astronomical / solar summer solstice was on June 20, 2012 at 23:09 UT*, Midsummer is celebrated in Finland on the first Saturday after the 19th of June.
I am fulfilling a life list point by spending Midsummer in Finland. I had hoped to go to a summer cottage on a lake, but that didn’t work out, so my friend Carol and I are in Turku down at the start of the Finnish island archipelago. So there is water and a midnight sun.
Tomorrow for Midsummer, we are going on a cruise to an island about an hour from Turku, as well as visiting Naantali.
Finland is very beautiful in the summer, green everywhere, wildflowers blooming, and well worth the visit.
* 6:09pm on June 20th in the Pacific Daylight Time Zone and 2:09am on June 21st here in Finland.

Home Free

Walking through the pedestrian tunnel under the Serpentine Bridge in Hyde Park, London

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8 while walking in Hyde Park this evening.

Tues 05.22.12 – A week and a half ago, I was in Amsterdam for Mobilism and at dinner with friends old and new, when one asked, “How is your first week of homelessness going?”
It was one of those half in jest, half in his bewilderment question/statements. The person who asked this is approximately 35 and is on his second owned home.
I laughed off the question and stated that my AppRetreat was off to a great start and I was not homeless as all my stuff was in storage and I have a place to stay for the next two months.
For most of my adult life the idea of actually owning a home in the Los Angeles area has been repugnant to me, as it represents both a stagnation of dreams and a tying down of my life to servicing a huge mortgage*. For what? Really, for what?
At the same time, I have longed deeply for home. But Los Angeles is not the deep home that I have longed for.
By the time I was 22, I had lived in over 27 different residences. By the time I was 22, my dad had been married 4 times and my mom 3. With so many marriages and divorces there had been many moves, along with moves of choice. My mother always buys a home each time she moves, even if it is every 3-5 years. My brother has reacted to all of this by buying one home in 1997 in Huntington Beach and staying put.
If I had the money, I would love to buy an apartment or flat in London or Barcelona and then have a rental apartment at the beach in Southern California. But that is not in the cards right now, nor do I have the visa(s) needed to travel back and forth frequently.
My Grandma Grace traveled twice a year for over 35 years between a summer home in Oregon and a winter home in San Diego. My Grandpa Jim and his wife now split the year between Marina del Rey and Uraguay.
Even as giving notice, packing up my Seal Beach apartment, putting all my stuff in storage, and traveling to Europe for these two months has freed me up greatly to get a back log of personal projects done, as well as freed up my spirit, I have woken up nearly every morning with my first thought of, “I want to go home.”
But I don’t know where home is. I don’t think I ever have known where home is, other than hoping it is at the next location.
I am ok with that right now and for the near future even though I long for home.
I am beginning to think that C.S. Lewis and Peter Kreeft were/are right and that home is not found here.
* For those of you who live in a cheap part of the US or world, please chortle now, but for those of use who live in the land of $525,000 starter homes with dry rot and bad neighborhoods, really it is not so attractive to own.

Facebook, You Have Been Deleted!

Fri 04.13.12 – I deleted my Facebook account today. I have wanted to delete it since the first 15 minutes on Facebook book back in 2007. Today I did it with no regrets only a feeling of true relief.
I will let my Tweets tell the story, click on the links for each Tweet to see the conversations that followed:

8:28 AM – 13 Apr 12 Facebook only comments does not build community, it excludes. Looking at you @nokiaconnects. Give more commenting authentication options.

8:51 AM – 13 Apr 12 @nokiaconnects @texrat @ktneely Give the reader choice, don’t force them to up your boss’ stats for his/her ROI discussion with his/her boss

9:12 AM – 13 Apr 12 Is re-reading the instructions on how to Really and Truly Delete my Facebook account. Deleting will be my early birthday present to myself.

9:16 AM – 13 Apr 12 Done. Goodbye Facebook. I never loved you. Not even a little. 14 days my data will be gone too, not that there was much of it. #ExtraHappy

G+ Announcement on Breaking up with Facebook:

I pulled the Trigger or in this case a few clicks and a captcha and Deleted my Facebook account! I would specifically like to thank the +Nokia Connects folks for pushing me over the edge this morning with their switch to Facebook Comments only.

My G+ comment expanding on the whys:

+Valerie Lynn Yes, I jumped ship after threatening to do so for years.
+Abhinav Natarajan From the time I started on FB in 2007 or so, I really didn’t like it but felt forced to be on it. The way I managed my dislike was to only log in once every two weeks or once a month and stay on just about 15 mins to check in with folks I otherwise would never see online. I made sure that I didn’t have photos or any real content up as I don’t like their TOS and copyright. So, I never really used it to start with.
As FB has gotten more invasive, I have gotten more frustrated.
Per the usual, my true social media love is Twitter []. I remain on Flickr [] and Google Plus. ;o)
+Hector Hurtado I had my account deactivated for the 1st 18 months, I only activated it when I had to for a work event in 2008. And then it just snowballed into a place where many of my friends who don’t like being online but do like a nice closed sandbox (MySpace or FB) started posting. But in the 4 years since, having access to an occasional conversation with a person who is only on Facebook does not outweigh all the yuck/sh*t about FB.

For those of you who are now wondering where I will go online, I am not changing any of my ways, I am just taking out my once every month 15 min login to IrritationLand. And if you only have Facebook Comments on your blog or website, then sorry, no comment.
Per the usual, I can be found here on this blog, on Twitter, on Flickr, and on G+.
And a little humor…. The Oatmeal on “How to get more likes on Facebook