31 March 2008

Postmen in the Mountains

Yesterday I finished watching the Chinese movie Postmen in the Mountains. I try to watch Chinese movies every now and then to learn a word or two. In Chinese, the movie name is "那山那人那狗", literally meaning "That Mountain, That Man, That Dog". To me, that sounds more like a palindrome than a heartfelt movie. A palindrome is a word or sentence that spells the same backward or forward, with punctuations and spaces ignored, such as BOB or "Wonton? Not now." One of the long palindrome I know is "A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama."

The mountain in the title refers to the mountainous route that a mailman makes. His faithful shepherd dog accompanied him on the route. The man had retired and his young son took over his work. For one last time, he delivered mail and showed his son the different aspects of the job. The work involved long trips on foot, over many days, through the various villages in the mountains. Along the way, father and son developed a better relationship.

It is a good father-and-son movie. I cannot help thought about my own relationship with my father, then between me and my Son. In one scene, as the pair passed a road with a bus moving on it, the son remarked that it was so unnecessary to go on foot. He could have paid for that section of the trip. The father disagreed vehemently and told the son to stick to his route. Ah, the younger generation, always looking for the newer, better things. I used to think my father didn't know enough. There is a tennis center near my house. In warm weather it is not covered, but during the winter it's covered up. I thought my father wouldn't recognize the covered court and asked him about it. He was upset that I had to even ask him and correctly pointed out that it was just the tennis court covered up.

In the movie, the older postman didn't spend enough time with his son. He wasn't even home when the son was born. He would buy his son gifts on his return trips, but then he would disappear for days, walking the mail route through all those mountain villages. In the end, his son understood his father's job, and the man, better. I think love can be a supply/demand thing like economics. If there's too much of it, it's taken for granted. I know some nieces and nephews whose fathers don't spend that much time with them. Yet, they seem to love their fathers more. Whenever the fathers are home, the kids would try to spend time with them. In my case, I think I spend more than enough time with my Son already. He doesn't seem to appreciate me as much as I think he should. If there's a light-hearted "fight" between me and Mommy, he would side with Mommy. Some nights he would beg to sleep with Mommy. Just my random ruminations, really, as I still want to spend lots of time with my Son.

18 March 2008

Painless Transition

The title of this blog entry is not about the transition from Eliot Spitzer to David Paterson. I am sure the World has heard enough about political sex scandals. Instead, the transition I have in mind is that from a G4 Mac PowerBook to an Intel MacBook, Black, no less!

As my Wife tries to put more efforts into her side business, the details of which shall remain unmentioned, she wants to have her own laptop (LT) computer to conduct business, perhaps at meetings and so forth. Luckily, she agreed to get a Mac so a few weeks later she has her Mac laptop. Maybe just to be easily distinguished from my silver color LT, she wants the Black MacBook.

I was unpleasantly surprised that the LT came with Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4). Hello? It's been a year since Leopard was released, why isn't it pre-installed? Luckily, a Leopard DVD was included in the package and installation went without a hitch.

The exact painless transition I have in mind is the migration of accounts, data, and apps from the old LT to the new one. What a beautiful process! One unique thing with Mac computers is that they can be easily turned into a hard drive, external to another Mac. While booting up, just hold down the letter T, short for target, and the Mac will become, in this day and age, just another FireWire device. Hook up a FireWire cable from the target Mac to another, and you can transfer stuff over to the other Mac. I know in the old SCSI days, the same thing can be done, whether it was another letter on the keyboard I am not sure.

Apple's Migration Assistant worked well for me. On the new LT, I just had to delete the new account I created for my Wife then the Assistant imported her old account and its data. I also brought over everything in the Applications folder. I should do the same for my account. Even though I won't be using her LT regularly, I can think of the new toy, uh, work device, as an extra backup.

11 March 2008

That Syncing Feeling

I took another step toward replacing my PDA. Out will be the Visor Deluxe and In will be the iPod touch. Apple's iSync software has been around for a long time but I never bothered to use it. I finally gave it a try. After a few adjustments here and there, I can sync the Visor's Address Book etc. to Apple's Address Book on the Mac. From there I would use iTunes to sync the Address Book to the iPod touch, along with the usual music and photos. Back when I first had the touch, I imported my Contact List from my Yahoo!Mail account. Combining three sources of info - Visor Address Book, Apple Address Book, and Yahoo!Mail Contact List - into one no doubt yielded many duplicates. I now have to slowly clean up the big list. To make things more interesting, I am also going through an old cell phone to make sure whatever I have there is transferred into the touch. The cell phone is too beat-up to donate at Staples but I plan to recycle it someday, better not to have any contacts info left in it.

As I go through the contacts list, I occasionally come across names that totally elude my memory. It is amazing how the brain totally loses things. All these names-numbers pair don't have anything else, so I have no idea who those people are. It would be fun if I call them up and try to rekindle the relationship. Maybe I will Google those people first...

09 March 2008

Demand Jonathan Coulton

Even though I don't like every single song by Jonathan Coulton, I thought of seeing him perform live! That's unusual for me, as I normally cannot stand crowds and noisy places. I rarely go to concerts. I went to a few by Hong Kong superstars but I don't recall anything memorable about them. The long trip to Atlantic City, sitting too close to the stage, maybe the odd hours. But here I am, trying to find out when Brooklyn's own musical prodigal son will perform at home. I guess I get into the game too late. JoCo used to do shows with John Hodgman (of the Get A Mac commercial) in Williamsburg. That's Williamsburg in Brooklyn, the area where you are in if you take the Williamsburg Bridge from Delancey Street into Brooklyn, with all the Hasidic Jews. I am not done reading all of JoCo's blog entries, but I wouldn't be surprised if he used to perform at some small venues in NYC. I just added the Eventful Demand JoCo to the sidebar. If you like his music, Demand JoCo for your city!

02 March 2008

Jonathan Coulton

Code Monkey. Brain-eating zombie colleague. Murderous A.I. with a wry sense of humor. That Jonathan Coulton sure has some great songs on topics some people can identify with.

I first discovered Jonathan Coulton, or JoCo for short, on TWIT (This Week In Tech) podcast #133. I learned that JoCo was a successful niche marketer on the Internet. Leo Laporte mentioned Code Monkey as one of the more famous JoCo song. At the end, Leo put on the song Still Alive, which is sung at the end of the game Portal. It was a very nice tune and I decided to check out JoCo.

I finally went to JonathanCouton.com and what a treat that is. All his songs can be listened to online and there are many ways to buy them. As suspected, Code Monkey is about a computer programmer and what a sweet story it is, as he was infatuated with some girl in the office. Next, I smiled a few times as I listened to Re: Your Brain. Ah, just another day in cubicle-ville, with all the office lingo, except the need here is of one zombie colleague wanting to eat the brain of another. I already bought Code Monkey, Re: Your Brain and its French version, Re: Vos Cerveaux, and probably end up also buying A Laptop Like You ("I forgive your strange one-button mouse"... Hmm, which laptop has a one-button mouse?) and The Presidents (I love history.) I don't like the "cover" songs that JoCo made, especially when they are not as powerful as the original. Still he sure has some great tunes written for the cubicle-dwelling crowd and the geeky population out there. He even mentioned my favorite snack (Frito) and my favorite drink (Mountain Dew). Last but not least, he lives in Brooklyn! I'll keep an eye out for him on the subway from now on.