Crater Lake

Karen and I just got back from a three-day weekend in southern Oregon, the highlight of which has to be proclaimed as seeing Crater Lake. Oh my lord, what a spectacular place that is. It was snowed in at the rim, so we got only a limited view, but it was truly incredible.

We drove down Friday to Pat and Bill’s (Karen’s aunt and uncle), who live near the town of Merlin, OR. That alone is pretty darn nice, but then we took saturday and spent it road tripping around to Crater Lake and a couple of really beautiful falls.

The pics are still in the camera, so some of those will just have to wait. And the drive home was (at you might expect) exhausting, so I’m hitting the sack.

All sorts of bits

We have an XCoders meeting tomorrow, where we’re “dragging” Brent into the local spotlight again after his (relatively) recent transition back to a full time developer with the dudes from Newsgator. That ought to make for a good evening of chatting!

I’ve started playing again with a tablet PC – this time a Thinkpad X41, which I’ve got to say is a pretty nice piece of equipment. It has a good, compact design and it’s not a lead brick to carry around everywhere. I’ve been interested to try out One Note, since I’ve been reading Chris Pratley’s blog on and off for the past year or so.

And yes, of course I’ve been keeping track of the latest buzz from the folks in Redmond – the leaked internal memo from Gates, and the corresponding bits from Ray Ozzie are interesting reading. It is, to me, almost amusing that we’re reading Microsoft say “Oh shit, let’s make money from ADS!!!!”. I mean – wasn’t that the dream of all these dot-com crazies back in 1999?. Heh – and Google has just completely kicked their ass in that particular game too. Not that I’m writing them off, or that the game is even over – just that they succeeded where a LOT of other folks failed.

The most interesting piece in Ozzie’s bit is his statement : The demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that ìjust workî. Services are a whole new game here, and while they’re reasonably decent at their services, I wouldn’t claim MS is the leader. I’d love to say something really smarmy like “MS can’t get it right”, but I think the truth is they’ll do a pretty darn good job at stabbing at it. If they can break out of this “lock in the MS technologies only” thing they have beating through their lifeblood, they might even get back to being amazing.

OLSR at Mindcamp

One of the neat experiments at Mindcamp has been talked about a bit – the Seattle Wireless Network put up (or attempted to put up) a rather large ad-hoc wireless network using OLSR. It’s been commented on by others, so I’ll just summarize by saying: “Neat experiment, didn’t work for us”.

I was very skeptical right off the bat, mostly because I saw a field of laptops that they were asking to all be tuned onto 1 ad-hoc mode channel. It’s like asking 50 people to all start singing different songs in a small enclosed room. There’s only so much bandwidth, and that sort of setup will just flood it. Its the biggest (IMO) problem with the mesh network thing – the technology isn’t (yet) well set up to swing around and take advantage of side channels, so when you get enough devices into a smallish area, you just flood the area with noise and nobody can talk.

Now that I’ve proven how ooh-so-savvy I am about wireless tech (NOT!), this technology is really cool. I hadn’t been aware of OLSR previously, and I’m really glad I am now – even though I’m not spending as much time with wireless technology as I used to. Open source, and it clearly works (albeit with problems like what we saw) – that is cool!

Presentations and the Zen Aesthetic

Presentations and the Zen Aesthetic is a great writeup about how presentations can be made to the essence of simplicity. I personally think it applies directly to a lot of other things, most recently including software design.

I’m sure some of my coworkers are sick of hearing me burst out “if you’re not using it, delete it” when I take a gander at code, but I think it is the first step to refining and making something really elegant. When I was adding to UnitKit, Duncan was very patient with my blundering style and directed me to work with much more elegant solutions. More of that is needed, I think. I do the same thing with writing (well, obviously NOT here). Cram a bunch of stuff in as I think of it, and then go at it viciously with the paring knife. It always seems to come out much better.

Mind Camp – a few days later

Wow, so a whole bunch of people have dug around and written about Mind Camp.

Scoble, while taking the a pot-shot at Google, has some links if you’re interested. If you want pics – check out Flikr with the tag mindcamp10.

I think Ted’s writeup is the most complete, and captures the event pretty well. All sorts of tidbits that are clamoring around in my head, even now. Avi Bryant’s Dabble DB was incredible (gus caught that too in his delicious links). There was another fellow there with Avi, and I feel terrible for not remembering his name. I do remember Todd Blanchard‘s ObjectiveCLIPS which was really cool, and in which I almost passed out from just being tired. Sunday morning was not the best time for sessions…

One of the most intriguing sessions that is still roaming around in my head was the first one I attended – where I accidentally nicked Buzz Bruggeman‘s chair while he was talking. We chatted a bit during and after that session on computers and augmentation of human capabilities, and some time late that night he wandered over to me and gave me a lovely Windows Longhorn jacket (very nice shell), for no reason that I could tell other than we’d had a good conversation and he thought it would fit me.

Update:

Avi wrote me – his partner in crime that afternoon was Andrew Catton, co-developer of Dabble and co-founder of Smallthought. I couldn’t find a blog from Andrew, but he and Avi have been cited in a paper about explicit programming, so I’ll leave it at that link.

Jarhead

Mindcamp is over, and it was really good. Very worthwhile, although I’m a bit tired after the whole thing.

So what do you do? Well, you follow it up with taking in Jarhead with a friend for a sunday afternoon matinee. Wow – that’s a damn good movie. It hits close to home for me, as that whole piece of craziness was exploding while I was wandering around Europe after graduating from college. It was really heavily on my mind, but then I think it was really heavily on everyone’s mind at the time.

It wasn’t a big “blow ’em up” movie, but it was intensely personal and mad props go to Jake Gyllenhaal for his portrail of Swoff. I enjoyed him in Donnie Darko, and although I haven’t seen him in the intevening roles, he’s progressed very well as an actor.

There is a lot of chew on from the movie. Little tidbits are even now (hours later) coming back to poke and prod at my mind.

MindCamp

Getting… Sleepy…

MindCamp has been variously boring and really interesting, depending on the moment, discussion, and relative proximity to random happenings all around. I’ve got to say it is much more successful than I expected.

There’s folks that I’ve written back and forth with over the past several years that I’d never met until tonight. Others that I’d worked with previously who I hadn’t seen in a year or so. In general, it’s been a huge diversity of folks and topics. Gus took off for the night, but I’m going to stick around and run through the night. The population definitely dropped off about 10pm – we had easily 150 earlier today, and as I’m writing this we’re down to maybe 60 or 70 people scattered about several room and one really large room.

The most interesting topics today were augmentation (early in the morning) and visualization of language (late tonight) that really had diverse folks involved in them.

Not sure where I’m going to crash yet (lots of space, it’s just getting a corner that I like at this point). I expect getting somewhere nailed down is the next order of business.

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