November 17, 2008

Nude Riding a Bicycle and In Bed with Google

It feels like ages ago that I made a post even though its only been a few weeks. I've been a little busy and writing a blog entry was fairly low on the list. After last night's activities I feel compelled to fill the gap.

Awhile ago Allurent moved and in the process I acquired a mannequin. At the time I solicited suggestions but nothing inspired me. Earlier this week Annalisa sent me information about a Halloween Bike Ride that was taking place around Boston. Given that I hadn't come up with any other Halloween plans it sounded like a grand idea. It also served as the inspiration for decorating my bike, with what else but, a mannequin. Given the reactions I got while bringing it home on my back I figured a more elaborate setup (and one that I could ride with for the night was in order).

TR gave me the idea of mounting it to my bike rack which would better support the weight than strapping it to my bike like I did in order to get it home. The tricky part was figuring out how to get it on the bike so that it made some sense and could still be ridable. Thankfully with some help from Clara, 3M Packaging Tape, and a little ingenuity it came together. Hence was born "Nude Riding a Bicycle". The ride itself was a blast with over 240 riders starting it off. Some dropped off as the route meandered around Boston but there was a strong presence to the end. My hats off to the organizers for a great night and to New England weather for making the night tolerable.

In other news I've gotten in bed with Google more than I thought I ever would. For a long time I've been running this little neck of the Internet known as NeoPhi including my own web server, mail server, etc. It's given me the freedom to do just about whatever I want. This month I changed some of that. In particular I changed my mobile phone. While for some this maybe a common occurrence, it isn't for me. This is only my third mobile phone, ever. My previous two were each with me about 5 years. It's not that I haven't thought about getting a new phone I just didn't find anything worth switching to.

I seriously considered the iPhone but couldn't justify the price and frankly wasn't that interested in switching from T-Mobile. I looked into some other 3G phones that debuted in European markets but T-Mobile's 3G service either wasn't compatible (since it used a different spectrum) or didn't exist were I would have been using it. Flash forward to a couple of months ago when the G1 was announced. A form factor that was close to my old phones, a platform I could easily develop for if I wanted to, it worked with my provider of choice, and had some cool apps. Without ever seeing one in person I pre-ordered it and picked it up the night of Oct 21.

My impressions so far have been very favorable! My biggest complaint is that with only some of the features turned on the battery drains pretty quickly. My last phone would last at least 3 days between charges while with the G1 I'm having to charge it every night. The touch screen is great and having access to a full physical QWERTY keyboard has made working with it a breeze. The web browser has handled various sites I've thrown at it and I've already downloaded and used some other applications from the Android Market.

In order to start using the phone though you must tie it to a Google account. While I do have a GMail account, it isn't my primary email address. I mostly created it to get access to Google features before they let you sign up with any email address. Given the tight integration between the phone and Google I thought it worth considering what life with Google would be like. I previously used a Palm to track my calendar and contacts (those details that my phone couldn't handle like addresses). With my new smart phone it felt like overkill to carry around both devices. The biggest hurdle though was email.

I figured my insistence on using procmail, SpamAssassin, and Pine to read me email while serving me well for the past 13 years may have been due for an update. To enact the change I signed up for a Google Apps Premier account. Which means that Google and Postini now handle email for my domain. The premier account also lets you import old mail via IMAP which made migrating 13 years and a couple gigs of email a breeze. Well not an entire breeze. My local cataloging system didn't directly translate into Google's label system so after all of my email was in my GMail account I did have to spend a few hours massaging labels to make it work. Now that it's all done though I must say GMail is a reasonable replacement for my old system. More importantly I have complete and easy access to all of it from my new phone.

My contacts and calendar on the other hand are an on going effort to migrate them to Google. In particular getting the data out of Palm Desktop into a format that could be imported into Google was not straight forward. While there are some applications that can synchronize between the two, I didn't want to shell out the cash for them since I wasn't planning on continuing to use my Palm once the transition was done.

I ended up using Apple's Address Book and Calendar to read in vCal and vCard exports from Palm Desktop. I then used a 3rd party utility to export my address book into a Google friendly format and iCal's native export format. Like my email the translation process isn't perfect and I suspect there will be a couple hours of cleanup for each data set before it's Google friendly. In retrospect though it's also prompting me to do some house cleaning of the data which is sometime I've been trying to do in general.

In the process of moving my digital life to Google I also moved my computing life to a new Mac Book Pro. While trying to do the development on PPE the speed of Java on my old G5 PPC was really starting to annoy me. Conveniently the rumor mill said that Apple was about ready to release new some Mac laptops. Turns out the rumors were true and on Oct 14th that happened. I'm very pleased with the new solid case design. While at first I lamented about the lack of a matte finish for the screen, given when I most often use my laptop it hasn't been something that has bothered me as much as I thought it would.

Needless to say between the new laptop, phone, visiting Elissa, having the house de-leaded, and migrating my digital life to Google, my free time has been minimal. For me busy is happiness which has made these past few weeks fly by nicely. I'm hoping to get back to PPE as I really want to move that along so it doesn't become an abandoned project of mine. My closing hint is that when copying files from a Mac with rsync be sure to add the -E flag. Thankfully I had backups and you should to. Time capsule is overpriced but the convenience of wireless piece of mind backups is great.

Tags: android g1 google life mac neophi