What is Bert doing with that two headed goat?!?

Bert with a goat.
I scanned this in from an old Sesame Street calendar I found years ago. I always thought it was funny and thought I would save it for a day when I could really use a laugh. Lotta action going on round these parts. Hoo boy.

[update]: See what I mean?

That SX

I mentioned that my father is a Silicon Valley veteran and was responsible for my love of computers. Some say it could be traced back to the day in 1984 that he brought home a Commodore SX-64 Executive Computer, during a brief stint at Commodore. The SX-64 was like a normal C64 but designed to blind children. The screen was 5 inches wide but that didn't stop Taylor and I from playing Dig Dug and Centipede on the thing... and I wonder why I wear glasses. Good times.

Ticketmaster's Wave of Mutilation (or P2P's 'Making the Band')

and i will tell you this about peer-to-peer networks. i seriously doubt i would have paid $100 out the door to see this band if i hadnt downloaded their Minnesota show of a few weeks ago, their first show in years and years and years - and was amazed at how great it sounded and how many songs i remembered and loved and loved and loved.
Tony calls bullshit on p2p paranoia. Plus he's right about the show, it's a great copy made right off the sound board.

Safari fans, start your Gmail

Preliminary support for Safari has just been added to Gmail.

[update] I forgot to mention, after logging in it currently says 'Gmail does not currently support your browser. See browser requirements for Gmail or sign in anyway.' Just click the 'sign-in anyway' and you are golden.

In other news, somewhere in this post, Chris Wetherell reveals he had a hand in fixing this.

Aren't I Switched yet?

It's a cruel twist of fate that brings a Wired article about my Mac-over on the heels of a frustrating weekend of wrestling with my new 2GHz Dual G5 PowerMac.

I've been an ardent fan of Apple, Jobs, and the Macintosh line for years. Not a customer, just a fan. I've marketed to Mac lovers. I've named and designed product packaging for Macs. I played Oregon Trail in the third grade on an Apple IIe. I learned Photoshop 2.5 in a college graphic design course on a black and white Mac SE. I've even used a Mac or two for the odd graphic conversion that just wouldn't play nice on a Windows machine. I just never had the money or inclination to look at a Mac, or any prepackaged PC for that matter. I blame my Dad.

Being raised in Silicon Valley by a man who works in the high tech industry means that computers are built, not bought. 'Getting a computer' meant going to Fry's to buy components, a motherboard and a power supply. Maybe it would work on first power-on maybe not. Did I have the right BIOS? Did I need a driver. Damn the torpedoes - computing is adventure! Dell can't give you the self satisfaction of the first whiff of electricity in the air as you hover near sleep sitting on the floor with a Taiwanese-built metal chassis lid askance as you see C:/ for the first time at 2:03 AM!

Now all of that was fun, but I'm a married guy now. I have a 2-year old who needs to see Rolie Polie Olie and he needs it now! Computing has failed him when it takes more than 30 seconds between wanting to hear Outkast's Hey Ya and doing the dance to it. Drew has no time for processing. Can anyone blame him? I no longer have time for the adventure of computing.

This brings us to the sweet, sweet OS that is ten or X or some cat name. Mac OSX is amazing and I've been in love with it ever since February when I requested a 12in PowerBook G4 three days before the Etech conference. No respectable geek can go to Etech with a Windows machine three years in a row. It was time to switch and I've been very happy with my silver baby. I only really miss a few Windows apps (mostly HomeSite). Gmail and Firefox have made the switch even easier. Let's stop the lovefest however and skip forward a month.

My good friend Eric Case is the resident Mac expert on the Blogger team. When I told him I was pining for a Mac at home he urged me to check out the Apple Store's sale section. Eric scored a sweet deal there in February and thought I could do the same.. and I did. $600 off of the top of the line 2GHz Dual G5 PowerMac! It was a refurb but still backed by Apple and certified swell by the Apple team. 3 days later I had my Mac in hand and fired it up and then my problems began.

All fans came on and stayed on. It sounded like a Harrier jet had landed in my home office. Quick trip to the Apple Store in Palo Alto confirmed that this was bad. Seems it had a bad motherboard among other things. They even replaced the metal case. Odd but fine. I brought the repaired box home. Weird static sounds came out of the speakers. I brought it back in. Nothing. Must be my imagination and I brought it back home. Static...again. Aha! The machine hadn't warmed up in the store and the audio problem presented itself only after being on for 10 minutes or more! I brought it back. Yes! My new buddies at the Apple Store Genius bar confirmed that I was not insane and there was something wrong. More days of waiting. Confirmed, it was indeed another bad motherboard. They replaced it and everything appeared normal...until I tried to install Photoshop or Illustrator. 'Application unexpectedly quit'. KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS. At least I know when a PC barfs what to do, this is like taking a foreign language. A Mac that can't run Photoshop isn't a Mac! I've owned the machine for almost a month but it's only been in my possession for about a week of that time. I'm frustrated and the G5 is not a light machine. I can't bear to lug it back in to the Apple Store a 6th time. I'm regretting buying a refurbished machine for sure. What shall I do? AppleCare tells me to take it up with Adobe. The Apple Store tells me to take it up with AppleCare. My gut tells me to ask for your help dear readers. What shall I do next?

The gravy train has come to a full and complete stop

Thanks for playing, but the Gmail account giveaway has ended - for now. Gmail should be available to the world soon and thus I can stop giving away accounts from this little blog. I must say the level of begging was impressive. I'll enjoy driving around town in my newly-gifted purple Escalade and paying my rent in PayPal 'donations' for the next few years. For those without a funny bone I'm kidding... about the rent. I have a mortgage.

However, more info about Gmail won't stop. I'm going to talk with the Gmail team later today and hopefully have some good insider dirt to share about new features and answer some of the questions users have brought up in their Gmail reviews.

Gmail redux

It's no secret that we have been giving out accounts to our blogging friends and journalists. Here are some early reactions to Gmail (good, bad and otherwise) :
  • Baby and Baggage : It pains me to report that apparently, without my realizing it, I have become too stodgy and boring to become 'denisester-at-gmail.com,' though Google to its credit did its level best to talk me into it.
  • Chris 'Lockergnome' Pirillo : y'all should have an Atom feed for the Gmail inbox (via AIM)
  • Matt Haughey : I want to test out the limits of this new email app, see how long it stays spam free...[updated] Gmail Review
  • Stewart Butterfield : The test group can't be that small if 'stewart' and 'butterfield' were already taken.
  • Jeff Jarvis : Just got a GMail account. Will let you know what I find. So far, I see nothing revolutionary.
  • Rick Bruner : So far, it looks pretty cool. Automatically adds any email address you send to, to your address book, which is handy.
  • Andre Torrez : This feels like Google (and not Orkut, thank God).
  • Mark Pilgrim : Gmail is Google's upcoming free webmail service. The service is not open to the public and is still in active development, and this feedback may be obsolete by the time the service goes live...
  • Aaron Schwartz : It's incredibly fast, it's got nice keyboard controls, and the interface is simple and clean...
  • Prolific : The advertising is inobtrusive. It's fast and smooth. No image bloat. Yay.
  • Forbes : On other e-mail programs or services, the most effective way to search message content without taking a long time is to rearrange e-mail by date, sender or subject and then try to zero in on the message you're looking for. Gmail has solved this problem brilliantly.
  • Me, Myself and Ehsan : Everybody (I mean others with gmail accounts) have written a lot about it's features, so I'll write about its persian (unicode) features.
  • Luiz Eduardo : you can apply a label to a message when reading it, it's sorta virtual folder; search seems to be really good and fast (duh! it's Google)...
  • Ahmad Anvari : Wow! The fastest and the most sophisticated email spell checker in the world. It's like running your spell checking application on your machine!
  • Olivier Travers : Access Yahoo Groups through Gmail and get rid of obnoxious ads...
  • Sudarshan Ananth : Gmail offers plus addressing which lets you use username+anything@gmail.com as an email address.
  • Sarah Hatter : So far, the only thing I don't like is that it Gmail doesn't play the Jetson's theme when I get new mail...
  • in pari delicto : Searching is REALLY powerful. I like being able to set more than one label (folder) for a message, and I'm finding that I'm able to locate the messages I'm looking for more quickly than I used to be able to.
  • kwc : The spell checker on GMail is also friggin' awesome.
I'll update this post as more reviews come in. Drop me a note if I've missed your review. For those of you still waiting for an account, here is a brief intro to Gmail. I'll see if I can dig up some invites for shellen.com readers.

[update] Some folks I've invited to Gmail with yahoo.com addresses have reported seeing the invites go to their 'Bulk' folder. If you have requested an invite and are on Yahoo! Mail please double-check before sending me a reinvite request.

Amazon outage

Amazon was down (or unreachable) for ever so brief a moment. It was like when the cat walked by twice in the Matrix. (Oh like this wasn't a geeky post to begin with without the Matrix reference?)

Dvorak: I'll keep my pencil and paper thankyouverymuch!

And then there is Yafro, a site laced with lewd and lascivious snapshots. If you're an exhibitionist, this is the place for you. I never knew it before, but there seem to be a lot of women who like walking around stark naked, having their pictures taken (not porn, mind you), then posting these pictures on the Web just because, well, they think it's cool. I do not need this distraction.
From apparently new internet user, John Dvorak's incredulity and histrionic-laced article on camphones, moblogs and a tiny subset of clothing optional users of the aformentioned.

1GB of email - you're kidding right?

On Wednesday afternoon I speculated on an internal Google mail list...
Let me begin the headline speculation game for tomorrow:

CNET: Google email no joke
NYTimes: You've got Gmail
WashingtonPost: Prank is on spam
My colleague Kevin Fox filled in the blanks today.
Actually, it was:

USA Today: Google: 'Gmail' no joke...
CNN: You've got Gmail
Tech Review: Gmail: No Prank


For those still wondering, it is the real deal. I finally received my personal Gmail account last night and promptly forwarded 6-months worth of mail into it. I did a similar thing this time last year when we received our internal Gmail accounts. I have Meg and Ev's first email to me and the old 'Friends of Pyra' email all just a blazing fast query away. I can't wait 'til the rest of the world gets to take a look at all this hard work and cool technology. Soon enough I hear. For now I suggest you add yourself to the announcement list.

[update]: How about a few screenshots? Gmail thread collapsed (small), Gmail thread collapsed (large), Gmail thread expanded (small), and Gmail thread expanded (large).

Turkey's Shoutout

Why create original content when you can have celebrity or animated shoutouts? View Turkey's Shoutout. If you have a shoutout for this site or even better, Blogger, send it my way.

Treo 610

A friend at PalmOne hooked me up with the widely anticipated Treo 610. Some have speculated what would be in this product update since it's only been a few months since the Treo 600 was released. I love my Treo 600 but the new 610 includes BlueTooth, a hi-res 1.3M camera and greater amount of memory (128MB) than the Treo 600. It looks similar to the GSM models.

Treo 610 camera detailI'll follow up with a longer term test, but right now I can tell you Bluetooth allows for much easier syncing of my PowerBook address book with the Treo, but even more stunning it allows me to use my Sprint service with the PowerBook when WiFi isn't available. It's not blazing fast but a nicer way to email than using the Treo's thumb board. The camera, shown in detail to the right here, takes decent photos but isn't going to replace my Canon yet. Here is a sample photo. In the few days I've had the device I can tell you it's been indispensable. No word on whether this is going to cost more than the 600.

[update]: Yes, this was a very geeky April Fool's joke. I do have the 600 and recommend it to those of you suckered in by this post. Nice sleuthing on the TreoCentral Forums. FWIW, I don't think there will be a Treo 600 successor until late this year.