Popularity Contest

Facebook’s most ‘popular’ pages are as follows:

In what universe is Vin Diesel more popular than Barack Obama?  For reals?  I can understand Michael Jackson being #1… but Vin Diesel as #3?  I’m surprised…

This is a throwback to high school.  For most people who aren’t caught up in the high school experience, on the surface it seems like one big popularity contest after another.  Hallway politics, assembly attention-getters, sports stars, and cheerleaders… it all seems so important when you’re in it, but it’s not really.  True talent is rarely recognized except by some teachers who truly reach out and mentor their students.

You have to leave high school to ever realize that popularity is irrelevant.

…Kind of.  Just ask Barack about the importance of popularity.

This reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite movies: Little Miss Sunshine.  I’m afraid this quote won’t really make sense out of context, and you’ll have to pardon all the asterisks… but it’s one of the BEST moments of the film.

You know what? **** beauty contests. Life is one ***ing beauty contest after another. School, then college, then work… **** that. And **** the Air Force Academy. If I want to fly, I’ll find a way to fly. You do what you love, and **** the rest.

The New MacBook Pro

After four years of loving my old, 15″ MacBook Pro, one of the first Intel machines to roll out of Apple’s headquarters in January 2006, my well-used friend is going the way of all computers – to the recycle bin – to make way for a new era in WhiteEyebrows computing…

…My shiny new 15″ MacBook Pro!

While the computers share the same name, don’t let them fool you.  This is a great advancement in both hardware and software!

Here is my initial design review after using this computer a week.

Unibody: The biggest design advancement in this machine is the fact that the base is carved out of a single, solid block of aluminum.  Its biggest advancement is also it’s best.  This manufacturing process gives the computer an incredible rigidity not found in any other laptop I’ve ever used.  The case will definitely not suffer from the same fate that my four-year-old Mac did, with the various adhesives and fasteners coming loose and with various parts of the case starting to come apart from the others.

Keyboard: Initially, I didn’t think I’d like the new keyboard.  I liked the look and feel of the old one and thought that the new design would prevent your fingers from as easily sliding from key to key.  However, I like the new keyboard.  It feels less mushy that the last one, and is very tightly sealed.  I’m not willing to spill a Diet Coke on it to test the seal, but my guess is I’d have less seep-through with this keyboard than with the last.  Apple has also updating the functions of the F Keys.  The old MacBook had several functions that were missing (music controls) and were poorly labeled.  It looks like they’ve re-prioritized the functions as well as refreshed the icon design on the keys.  Works for me.

Color Scheme: The introduction of black-on-grey give teh computer a slightly more serious look, and is a bit more dramatic than the old grey-on-grey approach.  Also, the black band around the display helps focus your eyes on the screen, rather than the boundaries around the screen.  Nice touch!

Screen: Speaking of the screen… I have a few gripes here.  Glass.  I hate the glass.  A great majority of Apple users will use this computer around a light source, probably a fluorescent one, which is gonna glare like MAD on the glass covered screen.  I know they offer a non-glare screen (which essentially removes the glass and puts a grey border around the screen), and I would have gotten it had my work offered the option.  Matte!  Matte, people!  I don’t want to be looking back at myself every time I look at this computer!

The glass does offer one or two advantages, though.  My old MacBook, over time, saw permanent imprints from the keyboard on the LCD.  It didn’t degrade the actual usage of the LCD, but was noticeable when the machine was turned off.  Also – fingerprints.  I hate when people come and touch their grubby, oily fingers on my LCD screen, and this glass will at least prevent them from poking their pointy little fingers through the backside of my LCD and permanently ruining the color in that particular spot.

Overall, the LED backlit display is brighter than its predecessor.  I like the power-savings from the LED backlight on this display, but Apple has traded off a lot of color accuracy for brightness in the default configuration.  You’d better believe that a graphics professional, such as myself, will have to calibrate the heck out of this thing so that blacks look black and not grey.  It’s a dirty trick to play on users, but one that makes them look awesome.

Ports Plugs and Drives: This one is easy.  I like the DVD drive’s move to the side of the computer, and the slot-load (as opposed to tray load) has always been one of my favorite Apple details.  With the DVD on the left, all of the ports have been moved to the right, which actually helps the user locate the correct port. No more picking up and rotating your computer looking for the location of a particular port!  Even people who own computers forever forget where their ports are when they are divided between sides like that.  The built in SD card reader is a great addition, but I’m no fan of the new MiniDisplay port.  I just don’t like the fact that it now requires me to carry around and keep track of yet another doohickey!  (A doohickey is the technical term for the adapter that allows you to convert MiniDisplay to VGA or DVI)  I love that Apple lives on the edge and is a leader in display technology adoption, but VGA is just not dying fast enough in today’s world!

Odds and Ends: I like the multi-touch mouse pad, but it has taken some getting used to.  I’m trying to master the art of one-handed drag and drop and other new gestures it has enabled.  Ninety percent of the time, though, I find myself clicking exactly where the the mouse button used to be on the old trackpad.  So, I guess it’s good that Apple left the size and proportion of the trackpad area alone so it wouldn’t be as error prone.

My coworker also pointed out the pointy edges near the trackpad (the part that is carved out so that you can lift the lid).  While I have yet to draw blood on this part of the computer, it seems like something Apple could have very easily refined in the aluminum milling process.

Lack of Removable Battery: This is my greatest point of contention with Apple.  Battery technology has NOT advanced to the point that a computer with a life of 3-4 years will not need a fresh battery sometime in there.  In fact, I changed the battery in my old computer 3 times during its lifespan.  Especially for the everyday user and mobile user, a new or extra battery is crucial!

Software: Snow Leopard is great, though it’s nothing to really write a long blog about.  It’s just better in every way, but not in any single way.  I like the inclusion of a native Cisco VPN.  I like the clean break from the PowerPC architecture.  I like the native Exchange support.

Well, I think that’s all.  Happy computing, everyone!

Pants on the Ground

This is why I watch American Idol.

Yes, you have to suffer through some really bad auditions.  Yes, you have to suffer through a lot of Simon and Ryan and Randy.  Yes, most of the audition shows are nauseating and make you want to go vomit…

But this is why I love this show.  Season 9 may not be so bad after all:

[flashvideo filename=”/video/pantsontheground.flv” /]

Pants on the Ground, baby!

Season 9 Premiere

American Idol premiered last night, and honestly, it came out whimpering rather than barking.

Simon was in his usual form, wearing shirts that left little to the imagination and showed just how cold it was in every room he walked in.

Randy sat by Simon on day one, which made camera-right feel like a sausage festival and which left Kara completely out in never land on camera left.  Was there even a saucy little Briton between them?  It might as well have been a cardboard cutout, because that’s about what she contributed all day.

Thankfully producers put the kbosh on the seating arrangement for Day 2, placing Randy in the camera-left side, anchoring of the table and providing balance to the Idol universe.  Please get it right, Randy!

It was hard without Paula.  Really hard.  Harder than I expected it to be.  I miss her jiving to the really bad singers, and Day 1 fell completely flat without her to tell them how wonderful they were, to call them sweetie, and to be nice and sweet no matter how awful.  It just turned into four professional, ornery judges whisking loser after loser out the door.  It was more like real auditions are; no commentary, no explanations, no getting-to-know you, just sing and out the door you go.

Even Seacrest is phoning it in.  He didn’t even bother interacting with any contestants except for the ones directly outside the door, leading me to believe he only flew in for the day rather than for the whole 3 day audition process.

Yes, the franchise is on the downhill.

Simon can see, just as everyone, the free fall and saved his announcement that Season 9 would be his last for right before the premiere to try and raise ratings for his last hurrah.  If Fox knows what’s good for it, it will pack up the show and close down when Simon leaves.  We might be able to limp along for one season without Paula, but you will have to put Idol on an artificial respirator to make it live on without Simon.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to be here for every moment of Season 9.  I’m going to be loving and blogging every minute of my last hurrah, but if Simon really is packing his bags this May, I’m packing out with him.

We donkeys have to stick together.