In The Land of More Doors

In a hole in the ground there lived a Dan. It was a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, and sometimes a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was my basement, and that means I love it. So enough with the Tolkien references, Precious.  My house continues to yield up treasures, including boob-lamps, a fondue set, and doors.  Lots of them.  The profusion of doors stacks every which way in the basement and the garage is sort of dizzying.  The basement alone yielded up three of the original exterior doors.  This is a great old house with great old doors, but there are actually too many doors laying around. Earlier, I talked about hanging doors.  Here’s what the back door looks like in it’s near final form: Sure, it needs trim and a tiny bit of touch up paint.  But it’s a solid door in a solid wall- which is more than it used to be.  The thing is, the original house didn’t have a door there, or even a wall, so I had to buy a door to fit.  But the original doorway, and the original physical door to the house are about 8 feet behind the orange door. The original door was in the basement all along.  The basement isn’t exactly dry all the time, so it’s slightly rotted at the bottom.  For reasons beyond my understanding they chopped 3 or 4 inches off it, so now I have a rather fashionable towel decorating the mantle and keeping the...

Money Crazed

A few days ago I heard something on the radio describing our current Western frame of mind as “money crazed.”  I nodded, because it seems everywhere you look some bank is collapsing, someone is losing their house, some talking-head is telling you how to retire with financial security, or how you can make more money.  Even our colleges have gotten into the hype by selling degrees to “get a career” instead of an education to have a life. Some pieces came together today though.  I don’t know on which side of the chicken-egg conundrum this falls, but here goes: I read a recent study that showed money influences how people act to each other- and it differs depending on the size of the group.  The take-away is that in small groups, money is disruptive.  The real currency between you and your friends, your neighbors, your community, is trust.  It’s generosity, kindness, involvement.  If you introduce money as a form of exchange between you and your community, it drives you further apart.  What if you paid your close friends in money for every small favor?  How long would you be friends if you started counting that relationship in dollars owed? The flip side of that study is that money is a great means of exchange between you and strangers. The connection I think I made is that so many people these days seem afraid.  Afraid of everyone, everything…  alone.  It seems consistent with the “money crazed” idea: we’ve focused so much on money lately that we as a society let it get between us and out neighbors.  We put money...

Fat Guy in a Little Coat: Angular.js and WinJS

This is the second in a series of articles about the experience of writing an app for the Windows 8 App Store.  In the first I talked a bit about some of the good and bad of developing with WinJS, and hopefully showed some pointers if you want to go down that route.  In this article I’m going to cover Angular.js, and how to successfully manage its relationship with WinJS. Control(ler) Freak Anyone following the explosion of JavaScript development frameworks will be familiar with the newest breed: MVC frameworks.  MVC (Model-View-Controller) frameworks seem to be hot stuff these days, with heavy-hitters like Knockout.js (sorry for the pun), Knockback, Backbone, Spine, Ember, Maria… it goes on and on.  There’s even a JavaScript MVC framework called “JavaScriptMVC” just so it’s perfectly clear what it does.  Angular is part of that family, but it has rapidly become one of my favorite tools for developing front-end interactivity. For the uninitiated, the Model-View-Controller pattern separates different kinds of programming code into different locations.  For instance, the code that tells the computer how things will look (often called “markup” or the “view”) will be in one place, the code that calls the shots, reacts to user clicks, etc will be somewhere else.  It’s called the controller for obvious reasons.  The “model” part of the design is the stuff that gets moved around by the controller and shown by the view.  Think of a model as your arms or legs, and the view like your clothes.  Your brain is the controller: it calls the shots, moves your arms and legs, and if everything goes right, the...

Trigger

I’m a pretty patient guy.  Perhaps more so than others, and mayhap even more than is healthy.  Today I had an exchange that sort of set me off though.  It was less an exchange than a tactic, and I just sort of a blind recipient of a blind machine. See, I’m a nerd.  And nice one.  Nice enough to get myself in trouble sometimes because I don’t burn bridges.  And nerdy enough to get excited about possibilities, even if somewhere my common sense knows better. And the real problem is that I know it’s my own dang fault, so I’m nice even when I should blow up and yell. In this case, the sparkly possibility was a Samsung Galaxy Tablet computer.  And the enabler was Verizon.  I’ve been a Verizon customer for more than 10 years, and I can’t say that I like them.  In fact, they suck.  But they seem to suck slightly less than the other carriers, so c’est la vie. A few years ago I bought the tablet and discovered in short order that it also sucked.  A lot.  It crashed, the touch screen lagged, it routinely lost signal while I was trying to depend on the maps app…  basically it was no good for the things I wanted to use it for, but was very good at being a paperweight. The beauty of the American cell phone industry is that it’s predominantly contract-based.  They don’t make money from selling the phone to you, they make money off of you subscribing to their service for 2 years.  And 2 years is exactly what I had to...

Blink

A friend of mine is struggling with her relationship, and I’m trying my best to be her friend.  But I’m also trying to learn about myself in the process, because there’s a lot about her story that feels like a mirror. I want to set this up a little bit, because today’s not just any day.  It’s New Year’s Day, that great equalizer.  A lot of my friends are posting “a year in review” type stuff.  Some of it’s deep, some of it’s bitter, some funny…  and though I’m not really into the whole NYE-as-self-help-plan thing I can’t help but pause to take stock.  This year has been pretty rad, and I’m grateful for all the amazing things that have happened, but with the amount of amazing things I’ve experienced, some of it feels a little like work. Yeah, yeah, first world problems: “I’m too lucky, I have too much opportunity, I don’t know what I’m going to do, blah blah.”  That’s what I’m saying, but it’s not what I mean.  Imagine sitting as a child under the Christmas tree and unwrapping presents.  Each one you unwrap is something wonderful, something that makes you smile.  But you keep unwrapping and after a while you realize you’re just going to keep unwrapping presents forever, like some mysterious level of Yuletide Hell in Dante’s Inferno, and you never get to sit down with any one present.  The unwrapping has become the task, and you just want to disengage from the excess and enjoy a few simple things. This year has been amazing because of the bounty, but in that bounty I’ve...