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September, 2009

  1. Close the Windows & Open your MacHole.

    September 24, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    If you love computers and have most your life, you probably had a PC and ran Windows (and more likely than not Linux at some point). If you’re a total geek about your OS, you probably have criticized Mac all your life. And yes, I have too, but two things have changed this for me the general computer lovin’ public: The iPhone and Vista.

    I promise not to make this a promotional blog or something, I’m an open-source fiend like you wouldn’t believe. But Mac’s really pulled through as far as showing it’s stuff as an American company and especially in being completely ingenious.macaddict

    Basically the iPhone is my companion. To me, it represents the kind of bond that humans will likely have one day with robots, honestly. I am completely dependent on it for my communication, navigation (Google maps is invaluable), keeping me organized (alarm/calender/portfolio pics/documents and all the other usual stuff I keep on my laptop). It’s also been handy for books (has essentially become my web programming teacher, especially with an app to view code), my only device for social networking (twitter, facebook, etc. I only really bother with when I’m on the go with free time), and it’s also, of course, endlessly entertaining.

    I had the iPhone before it had 3rd party apps and even at that point it was a great phone. I’ll tell you what it isn’t though, it’s not a camera. Sorry, it’s just NOT a camera. If you need to snap a quick pic in perfect lighting of a moment you’d never be able to get otherwise, in a pinch, you can use it. I have a really great photo (my first pic with my iPhone, actually) and it’s immaculate, I’ve never taken a picture as great since. It’s a pic of the El Ray in LA billing “The Squirrel Nut Zippers” that was taken at night. Somehow it’s perfect, but that was the only luck I had with it as a camera.

    Being a bit of a spoiled brat & technology connoisseur, I always had the phone with the most bells & whistles. I’ve been a Samsung girl exclusively, LG a distant second and I won’t even get into what I think of other brands. Samsung has great cameras on their phones and they are very user friendly and functional. My favorite phone so far, that was never beat until the iPhone, was a cool Samsung that swiveled like the high tech Japanese exclusive digital video recorders at the time. It only had a 2.0megapixel camera, but the lens and automatic adjustments made the absolute most out of it. samsung swivel camera phone The only catch was Verizon’s gaudy and functionality-slaughtering proprietary interface. Basically they wanted to have “Get it Now” in your face so you’d log on to the internet and download the latest booty-shakin’ song. Bad decision on their part. They have the best service coverage for where I live, but the interface hindered the abilities of my Samsung.

    The switch to an iPhone was slightly apprehensive. After my dad give Mac a more-than-hearty go by getting the latest greatest Mac computer & wider-than-the-desk screen for his business. The OS was probably OS X 10 something, it was about 5 years ago that I think he tried it out. I used a boyfriend’s Mac computer a bit and was outrageously annoyed with the inability to organize files, namely photos. I have thousands and thousands of photos of every kind of thing, and iPhoto is my arch nemesis when it comes to organizing and using photos in any way whatsoever, then and now. Especially remembering working with those funny little one-unit Macs we used in high school, I was hoping that there wouldn’t be any clunkiness that I couldn’t handle. To me, switching OSs is not to be taken lightly.

    After I got that iPhone in my hot little hands, it wasn’t even a few minutes before it got the nickname “new boyfriend” from the old, less feature rich boyfriend, Chris. :) After he was able to benefit from the usefulness of the phone, the joking and criticisms went away.. some. But it is completely true that there is a bond that is made between humans and objects that we rely on so much. There’s a reason that cars and ships have names as though they were lovers or friends. It’s just uncommon these days because digital technology hasn’t sunk in as a potential counterpart just yet.

    After my HP laptop became more of a torture device than a tool, I pleaded for a Christmas laptop. My HP was only 2 years old and couldn’t stop overheating. I’d get a good ten minutes on it before it’d just shut off, it soaked up every virus it came across, and just felt shabby and tired. I have never been so close to throwing a computer out the window.

    When I got my MacBook for Christmas it was a brand new kind of laptop experience. There it was: shiny & white– I love everything white, I’d love to be like Grace Kelly on a white sofa with white high-pile rugs and a neat white linen dress, with a gin & tonic, my MacBook would slip into the scene quite well. I open it up, push the power button, attractive and flush to the case, and instantly the computer is on and ready for my needs. Isn’t this what the future is supposed to be like? When did we decide it was ok for there to be a hundred background processes for nothing and for ads to invade us before we even begin our session at the computer?

    This is an essential feature for me: beauty. Mac is beautiful. It’s truly a well implemented product. I am very in tune to the subtleties of my computers because I spend so much time with them, and Mac provides an experience that lets you focus on design and creativity instead of clutter. The interface of a Mac computer or phone is the standard which other devices should be striving to beat. You see these goofy Mapple & Mypod knock offs all over the place and you can tell in a second that they’re not going to be the same experience. Four buttons?! Sorry, you lost the point. Oh a keypad, nice try, but think again. Oh, now you have your own extension store, how cute. Sorry big boys, Mac wins. You’ll have to try harder to stay on top of the game.

    Everyone has an iPhone these days. And though trends that sweep popular culture are usually a thing that repels me a bit, I can’t help but feel that iPhone’s more than earned the hype. There is no superior phone available, and they nearly eliminate the practical need for a laptop for most personal and business applications. I can’t help but wonder if the streamlined ease of keeping in touch with business contacts has had some kind of positive impact on people’s businesses, even in these hard times. Even today, I was able to train a client on a website, keep up to date with my fashion business while at work, and pull of rescheduling an interview via email, Google maps showed me the way and I was there with time to spare.

    I never thought I’d say it but I’m a Mac girl now. I hope they keep up the innovation like they have been. Take a look at the latest iPod shuffle. Go look at it. It’s ridiculous. You’ll feel like James Bond. It’s smaller than my thumb and holds more music than I even owned in high school (still saying A LOT) back when I was carrying around my 64MB SD player that was so small I had to switch out the small playlist it could hold every other night or so because I’d get tired of it. That cost $400 at the time (not including that teeny tiny chip). And I’m not that old, folks. Graduating in 2003 that was near top of the line technology, so fancy you had to buy it online. My iPhone also has as much storage as my first laptop did, but that’s really showing my age now, isn’t it?

    After casually mentioning my feelings for Mac to a couple other programmers & developers I feel pretty justified in my Mac Lovin. It seems that it really has gotten to be a superior product pretty much all around. If you could install it in your own home-made computer that would be the tops, but until then, I’ll have to give Mac an overall 9.999 rating :)

    My favorite Mac abilities:
    -Beautiful in form and function.
    -Fast
    -Has really cool tricks for making your work faster (spaces, command+Tab, actually useful hot corners that always make strangers to my computer end up on my desktop and frightened, widgets are cool but should be more iPhone app-like, F3, etc)
    -Did I mention Beautiful?
    -Pretty powerful
    -Best OS for a laptop, handsdown.
    -Good if you’re a Unix person (which I’m thinking about learning a lot more about..)
    -For media stuff, presentations, etc, it can’t be beat. All of Windows looks like 90’s clipart in comparison… and Vista looks like an old Vegas cocktail waitress who puts on too much make up to hide the mess! But I digress…
    -Personalized settings are streamlined and useful.
    -Cool included software like: stickies, dictionary/thesaurus/wiki thing, iCalender, Preview (I love Preview for opening things I couldn’t otherwise view without opening the huge default program like Photoshop), TextEdit (it’s cool but I wish it was a bit better)

    Mac No-No’s:

    -A lot of native Mac programs are still awkward. iPhoto has ruined my plans to have organized pics on my Mac. Who has room for original and modified versions of every pic on their computer? And good luck browsing for them easily, you’ll have to view your entire iPhoto library everytime.
    -I hear the latest version of the Mac OS won’t automatically open the files you made with the same program you made them in. Unless that means “preview” that’s bad. Windows does similar funky stuff.
    -Keyboard friendliness of Mac is lacking and initially really bugged me. I like to tab between “yes” or “no” or other options when doing things. Other keyboard stuff is missing too.. “enter” means yes but only sometimes.
    -Toggling between open programs in Mac and Windows are different bad solutions to a big problem. The seconds I waste switching between programs probably have added up to days, I’m sure. Initially with Mac I’d click the program icon, but if you have say, 2 Firefox windows, you have no way to toggle between them. Mac is close with it’s tab+command. It wins vs. Windows but should have something more logical.
    -The X-+ in the window. Why does X not close a program, just *mostly* close it? What is the purpose of this?
    -Can’t be installed on a non-Mac computer. I hate proprietary junk. Fortunately I’m a laptop girl through and through and this doesn’t really affect me, but I would like a really powerful media computer that could also run Mac..

    Remember I said there were two reasons that Mac is the superior OS in the bipartisan world of Mac vs. Windows. Windows Vista is useless. It has made a waste of every computer it has been installed in. I’ve been using Windows since I was very little, and no other version had deviated so far from what it originally was in terms of functionality and expected features. Vista is trying to be Mac and it’s failing horribly. It switched out it’s logical control panel for one that looks pretty and is easy to get lost in. It has features that are clearly poorly tested. It’s no faster at starting up except when you first get it. And that being said, HP has gone the way of Dell by adding goofy branded programs that say, “I’m an HP and here to help! Let me help you! I’ll show you how to do it, ok? Watch!!!” Even if this is your first computer, it’s confusing and must make people actually suffer.

    The computer I use at work is running Vista. HP has an obnoxious popup that tries to remember your passwords. You get the swirly blue ring of death any time that you have more than two programs open (this is a brand new computer, and I’m talking Dreamweaver & Photoshop). The web experience is the only part that hasn’t been touched, as Firefox works well in it’s Window’s optimized ways.

    My little ol’ landlady the other day had to have me come over and help her because she changed the DPI on her computer so she could see better. Vista is so brain dead that it defaults everything to about 900% of your screen with no way to navigate the computer whatsoever to change it back. That’s unacceptable. There shouldn’t be any setting or button you can select on your computer on your own that will cause it to basically become a paperweight without the intervention of a professional. In fact, having to help her out is kind of what brought me to blog about it. It just seemed so unfair.

    Anyway, I still won’t put one of those trendy Apple stickers on my car… as cute as that would be.


  2. How to chastise a chipmunk and other impossible solutions in caring for a wild animal.

    September 11, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Chipmunks aren’t like other pets. They are so unlike other pets that they adapt to become experts in getting what they want, and psychologically breaking down your will power to resist them.

    Don't be fooled by his Disney-like appearance!

    Don't be fooled by his Disney-like appearance!


    Today I worked from home. It was going to be a nice, quiet day at home. And best of all, I would be able to let out my darling chipmunk, Artie, to explore the bedroom supervised as I work. The only catch was that he had other plans.

    It started out as our usual day of him being out in our bedroom playing. He’d make some imaginary game with himself and run around the room like he was going to be chased by something outside the window. He’d run from the window to me, start nibbling my fingers to play, and so on back and forth.

    Today he decided my computer keys were the ultimate treat. Our normal game of him play attacking my fingers turned into him liking the sound of me click-clack typing and an extra exciting version of our usual game: with sound effects! Plus, this way he could get my undivided attention because I couldn’t even have my hands on my computer. He’s been known to try to bite my keyboard keys before, so I always scoot him gently off my computer and continue working.

    Sneaking around on Chris' shoulder

    Sneaking around on Chris' shoulder


    Of course, I told you my chipmunk had other plans today. After being on my computer a whole 2 seconds he managed to completely rip off my “arrow down” key. He then ran off with it and had me chase him around the room until he hid in the window sill tucked it in the corner and made little scratching hand motions as though he was burying it. At least I can out smart him here. I picked up my key and gently wrangled it back in place.

    This was so amusing to him that he thought he’d try it a second time. And so about half an hour later, there I was following him around the room again with a little white rectangle in his mouth. He knows, he just *knows* that this is the best way to get my attention and he does it. He’s much smarter than most pets, and his tiny size enables his trouble-making with the added benefit of escaping in a hurry and looking adorable doing it.

    After him falling into a cup of water a couple weeks ago, I no longer can have any beverages in the room with him. Not anything. And certainly not a cup of coffee because I’m sure the last thing a hyperactive chipmunk needs is a caffeine bath! So when I had some coffee I would put him away for a little bit. But he’s got so much energy he can’t stand even our big cage, so I gulped down my Kona blend and let the little guy out again.

    One super cute pic of Artie, just to prove he's my favorite :)

    One super cute pic of Artie, just to prove he's my favorite :)


    While writing this, I had my right arrow key stolen. This time he just accidentally dropped it and I was a little quicker at picking it up. He only steals the arrow keys. So far the “up” key is the only one he hasn’t taken, and now the right key has a nice big chipmunk sized bite in it, which was presumably taken with such force because he knew I was right on him to scoot his butt some place else.

    You can’t tell a chipmunk “no.” You can say it to them for your own benefit, but they won’t get anything out of it. Unlike dogs who are in tune with what humans mean and the importance of the symbiotic relationship they have, chipmunks don’t need us and don’t care if we need them. Artie is genuinely sweet when he wants to be. But he’s still a wild animal and is only domesticated to the point to understand the living situation he is in, not so much that we love his little stripes and that we raised him since before he could see.

    You can’t put him in “the doghouse.” You’ll just feel bad putting him in his cage when you’re able to have him out and end up letting him out again.

    You can’t tell him, “seriously, you just ate my favorite necklace.” No you can’t. I would know. I look over after letting him out again, and there he is, chewing on my favorite necklace I got from a cute couple from Africa at a local farmer’s market. Little glass and wooden beads spilled everywhere! As I was scooping them up, so was Artie– right into his mouth! He was even trying to eat the glass ones until I distracted him and he just dropped them. He didn’t get away without demolishing a couple of the wooden beads, just for good measure, to round off his day of shenanigans.

    I still haven’t put him away. He’s got too much energy still! The human mind can’t process enough frames per second to even see his little feet move when he’s running or grooming himself. So while simple things like running appear as a blur to most humans, you have to keep that in mind if you’re going to open a door around this little guy. Even putting him in his cage gets difficult when he’s fast like this.

    Well, I was going to make this post longer, but with all the attacks from Artie nibbles I think I’ll get back to non-click-a-clack sounding projects.

    California Chipmunk species log:
    9/11/2009
    Newly discovered behavior characteristics: endlessly curious, stubborn, like to inspect the world with their mouths, an ability to adapt quickly enough to their surroundings to be able to escape/sneak treats/get attention as they please.
    Artie’s tail is looking better and he never seemed to be bothered much by the terrible and mysterious loss of his tail.
    He’s hoarding and getting fatter as the weather cools, and he’s also slowed down in his growth rate.