Starting February 14, 2004
New Treo and blogger lunch, Goodbye Prince, I'll miss you, Deciding on platforms and buying a PowerBook, Lunch with Halley, Clayton Christensen at MIMC, Back to Software Garden
Wednesday, March 3, 2004 
New Treo and blogger lunch [link]
Lots of things have been slowing down my work, though one was very welcome and long awaited: I finally got a Treo 600. As many of my longtime readers know, I've been using a Handspring Treo cell phone/PDA (first a 180 then a 270) since they first came out. I've been wanting to upgrade to the new Treo 600, but had to wait months until my carrier, T-Mobile, had a version and the special upgrade price was available. It finally arrived last week.

I love my new Treo, and will do some sort of a follow-on to my old review one of these days. This is one fine machine. T-Mobile's unlimited wireless data service ($19.99 data + $39.99 for 600 minutes of voice/free nights/weekends per month) and some email addresses I had already started using that get little spam (not my main one) really help let me expand my repertoire of what I do on my phone/PDA.

Here's a picture from lunch today with Halley Suitt and David Weinberger taken with it's so-so built-in camera (same place as my last blogger lunch):

Two people posing, one holding a camera  A duck on a frozen pond  Another picture of Halley smiling
Halley, Dan in mirror, and David; two other pictures at full resolution (cropped from 640x480 originals) to show you why this is a camera for web posting and not for pictures hanging on the wall in frames
So much to learn. Add the new Mac and its apps (I've already made a DVD of two recent family videos and delved further into the Unix part than I planned so soon), and the Treo and its new apps and UIs. It's been a very non-Microsoft-centric time. I feel like they are just one of many providers of products I use a lot. The need to test on various platforms makes the heterogeneous feeling even more pronounced. Interesting. The PC becomes more and more just one of many different devices we need to use that have heavy computing power. Like the days when factories went from one motor or power source that drove everything to different types of motors for each use.

Sunday, February 29, 2004 
Goodbye Prince, I'll miss you [link]
Today, after over 12 and a half years of being part of my life, my dog Prince died. As any of you who have lost a dog know all too well, I'm feeling very sad. The sense of loss is more than I expected. He was everybody's friend and loved by many. For me, he was my buddy who went on a walk with me every night before bed. Those were some of the best thinking and inspiration times for me. He often lay at my feet when I coded and when I wrote this weblog. He greeted me in the morning and when I came home in the evening like I was his long lost brother and with a big happy smile on his face. He appreciated my affection, and gave it back in spades. He asked for little and took it with delight. He always had such a playful manner, and a happy gait characteristic of his breed as a Portuguese Water Dog. I can go on and on, but I won't. Just know he was a great dog, and that I'll miss him. May he rest in peace.

Dan holding Prince looking at him  Smiling black and white very cute dog
Prince and me a few weeks ago, Prince in 2001 enjoying a hot air vent
Contemplative cute dog looking at the camera  Prince looking at the camera with a big smile  Sitting and smiling to the side
By his couch in 2001, smiling and standing in 1999
Walking in the woods together in December 2002 -- the background on my laptop desktop ever since

Tuesday, February 24, 2004 
Deciding on platforms and buying a PowerBook [link]
As I start doing software development for Software Garden, the question comes up about which platform should I develop for. I'm planning to experiment a bit and create a variety of utilities that I need or that interest me. I know that some of what I'll do will run on a server machine, and some will be client-side. The client-side will include using a browser, of course, and probably some running code, and perhaps something in a more graphic vein, like Flash. It would help if I use a language system that I'm familiar with, too. Finally, I'd like whatever I do to run on a wide variety of systems, including those of my readers and friends. Today, that means Windows, Mac, and Linux. For servers, Linux and other Unix systems are a must, and Windows of various flavors (not just the latest) would be desirable.

I considered using Microsoft's new .NET stuff, but that would mean learning lots of new APIs and probably a new language (C#, which I hear great things about), and would limit the machines I could run on. Most of the people I know who have a website on a web server are not on .NET systems. So, for now, .NET is out for me, even though it may have speeded up some of the development in the long run. For various reasons, too, I decided not to go with Java.

I'm going to start with a combination that I've been using for the past few years: HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Perl. I may add Flash to that mix, too. We'll see if that works for what I want to do. Lots of people have been suggesting that I use Python instead of Perl because it's so much cleaner, but for some reason as an old programmer I like Perl. I've already paid the learning curve price to be comfortable with it, and anyway I'm doing this partially for the enjoyment of programming, and Perl fits that bill.

People sitting in a large class room with lots of open laptops
Lots of Macs (with white Apple logos) visible at BloggerCon last October
Many of my personal friends and lots of the blogging community use Macs and not Windows machines. I don't want to lock them out. It's not a big portion of my target, but to me it's a very important part. Today's Macs come with Perl built in, and any Linux work I do will help there (since OS X is Unix-based). Apple now ships machines with a new browser, Safari, and the Mac Microsoft Internet Explorer is different than the Windows version, with different bugs/features. I've learned that if you don't test on a system, Murphy will strike and there will be incompatibilities. At Trellix we had an iBook that was used for testing in some cases. Not being there, I can't depend on that anymore. I figure that, for now, supporting at least the latest Apple OS X Panther is something I need to do.

So...for the first time since I bought a Mac SE in the late 1980's, I've bought a computer made by Apple. (Some of my long time Mac-user friends are enjoying laughing at me for being "forced" to go their way after singing the praises of Wintel machines for so long.) I've been a satisfied Microsoft DOS and Windows person since I bought my first 64K IBM PC in the early 1980's. I type this on my Tablet PC. But, I'm happy that I now have a PowerBook, too. It will mainly be used to test compatibility and to help me write installation instructions that will let Mac users use my programs. I may use it as an alternative to my Linux box as a Unix platform for development, especially on the road. Also, as an industry "guru", I need to be more familiar with Apple's iLife offerings, since they come up in discussions frequently, and are having an effect on the uses people are expecting from their computers. Finally, as a regular person, I expect to use some of those programs for my own purposes, such as moving a lot of old home videos to DVD. (I already have an iPod which I happily use with MusicMatch on a desktop PC.)

Being new to the Mac world, I asked around about what to buy. For simple compatibility testing, any new machine would do. To save space, and as a backup to my Tablet PC, I decided that a laptop would be best. That means either an iBook (inexpensive) or a PowerBook (more). I went to a local Apple store to check them out. The PowerBook is a bit smaller (good). Given that I plan to do some video editing, and perhaps some development, the extended desktop dual monitor ability of the PowerBook, along with the iDVD-compatibility of the SuperDrive, the audio-in jack, etc., etc., pushed me to spend the extra on a PowerBook (plus it does look nicer, and, as I wrote the other day, people do pay for style...). If I'm serious about understanding the Mac world, I really should get a serious machine and use it.

Here's what I got: A PowerBook G4 with a 12" screen, 768MB of RAM, 40GB disk, AirPort Extreme 802.11b/g, SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW). Why so much memory (supposedly Macs need less than Wintel systems)? I was told that you really want at least 512MB, and more may help. Specifically, one person explained how he used his Mac with PC emulation to do Windows testing, too, and that needs enough extra memory to run Windows...

Three LCD screens and keyboards on a desk
My PowerBook next to my Toshiba Tablet PC and the monitor for my Windows desktop machine
I use a mouse -- I'm starting with a small wireless Logitech one that I had been using on the road with my Toshiba (I like having a 2-button mouse with a wheel, too, which OS X and the apps support). I don't like the touchpad (though Apple's is quite good as those things go), and there was no tablet/pen option -- without a mouse I find myself sometimes reaching for a pen now that I've used a Tablet PC for so long.

So, I hope this will pay off in giving whatever I do a wider audience. Apple continues to be a benefit to the industry, providing a source of innovation in form and function, and my purchase (and use) is an acknowledgment (and a small token of encouragement I hope) of that. I put my money where my mouth is about that. I'm not leaving Wintel, I'm just widening my field of view as I have for the past year or two with Linux and Perl.

As I work on a new CSS style sheet for the Software Garden website, and prepare to release a very simple product in the coming weeks, my PowerBook is already helping me feel more confident about the compatibility of what I do. There definitely are browser differences out there... As I write things that involve the Mac, all you who have been in that world for a long time, please be tolerant as I learn my way around and learn what everybody knows and what they don't, and pardon my Wintel "accent".

Friday, February 20, 2004 
Lunch with Halley [link]
Blogging isn't just about virtual relationships. As you read in many blogs, bloggers often get together in the real world. (Remember BloggerCon?) Reading someone's blog helps you learn a lot about them, but there are questions you want to ask and conversations you want to have that just don't work other than face to face. The contents of the blog, though, give a base of trust and familiarity that really helps.

After I got up yesterday morning, there was a little email from Halley Suitt in my inbox. She was working in my neighborhood that morning and was wondering if I, and a few other local bloggers, were interested in lunch. Yesterday was a good day for me for lunch out, so I quickly responded "yes". It turned out that only she and I could make it. We had lots to talk about, some related to blogging (of course, since this was a blogger's lunch) and some related to work (now that I'm a consultant, too).

Here's a picture we had the waitress take (you can see the waitress in the mirror):

Two people smiling at the camera sitting at a restaurant table
Halley and me

Thursday, February 19, 2004 
Clayton Christensen at MIMC [link]
I attended another of MIMC's Fireside Chats last week. This one was to hear an interview with Clayton Christensen. He's famous for writing The Innovator's Dilemma, and is now promoting his new book, The Innovator's Solution, which I reviewed here on this weblog last October. Great meeting. I've written up my notes and added a few pictures. Clayton comments on things from drug research to low-cost airlines to Open Source.

Clayton smiling, in yellow tie and dark suit
Clayton Christensen listening to a question from the audience

Saturday, February 14, 2004 
Back to Software Garden [link]
I have resigned from Interland as an employee and CTO. I will be available to them to provide advice on product and service offerings, and possibly participate on their behalf in various external relationships.

I am going back full-time to Software Garden, the tiny company that I founded in 1985. I plan to do consulting (for Interland and other companies) to bring in revenue, as well as product development and sales (for Software Garden).

For more information read "Back to Software Garden".

An open peapod

The latest Software Garden logo, now created with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop instead of the pens and brushes of 1985

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