As NASA’s Cassini spacecraft soared past Saturn’s moon Titan, it recently caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas. In the past, Cassini had captured, separately, views of the polar seas and the sun glinting off them, but this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view.

[Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho]

A Clean Bill of Health

I saw a new Otolaryngologist last week for my bi-annual post cancer treatment checkup. I wasn’t impressed with the guy who examined me two years ago, so I mentioned to my Primary Care Doc that I wanted to go to a new one.

Good news all around. After snaking that scope up my nose and down my throat (first time I got to see what she was seeing via a pair of attached display glasses), everything is good. Yeah, my larynx still looks like a war zone with one cord still immobile and the rest of the area remaining permanently swollen, but no sign of any recurring malignancy.

11 years and counting, baby!

Chihuly at Night, Take 1

Last night Ben and I attended Chihuly at Night at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I was really torn as to whether or not to take my DSLR or just my new iPhone 6 to photograph the exhibit.

I decided on the iPhone to put it through its paces and see if it really lived up to all the shooting-in-low-level-light hype.

It didn’t. I was sorely disappointed. The evening wasn’t a waste and I had a good time (it’s been far too long since Ben and I had a date night), but I really wish I’d brought my DSLR along because the iPhone camera simply wasn’t up to the challenge.

In addition, Ben also had issues with the flash on his 6 Plus washing out entire scenes.

Granted, Chihuly at Night is a difficult subject to photograph even with the best equipment. But it seemed I got much better results with my DSLR when the exhibition was in Phoenix several years ago.

Thankfully, the exhibit continues in Denver through the end of November, and we’ve already purchased tickets to return. This time I’ll bring the DSLR and a tripod…

All that being said, out of approximately 80 shots, I did manage to capture of a few decent—not good, but merely decent—pictures:


Say Hello to the Face of Hate Stupidity

From Towleroad:

Boise, Idaho-area couple Justin and Melanie Sease are driving around in a car painted with phrases like “HOMOSEXUALITY is a sin & a abomination”, “Just Say NO to Gay Marriage”, and “GOD’S NOT DEAD”. They say they’re speaking out for others who are afraid to do the same in light of the recent arrival of marriage equality in the state, and whine to KBOI that they’re being ridiculed for it:

2truck“We’ve had a few homosexual extremists who cuss us out and get very angry with us and threaten us.”

Why are they on a crusade?

Says Justin, who claims he’s “taking a stand for the Heavenly Father”:

“We can never accept public homosexuality. It’s wrong, and it’s wrong in God’s eyes first. He’s very clear in the Bible. The Bible says that when homosexuality is publicly accepted, basically it spreads like a cancer….This is kind our little way of protesting the homosexual extremist movement…”

Said Melanie:

“If nobody else is going to do it, why not start doing it. Hopefully, other people will join us and follow us and do what we’re doing.Most everyone who has seen our vehicles gives us a thumbs up, waves, smiles, or honks.”

Watch, here

I have a question for these “Christians:” why is it that their supposedly omniscient, all-powerful daddy-in-the-sky is so utterly and completely incapable of enforcing his supposed edicts by himself? Why does he always have to call upon the assistance of these yahoos who have barely three brain cells between them to do his bidding? In the old days this sky-fairy would supposedly have to do little more than sneeze and fire and brimstone would be raining down upon the unwashed, unworthy heathen before you could say, “Gesundheit!”

The only possible explanations I see are…

◆ Sky Daddy is—despite their pronouncements to the contrary—in fact, dead.

◆ Sky Daddy doesn’t exist—and never has.

◆ Sky Daddy is alive and well and is either perfectly okay with gay marriage—or has in fact moved on to watching over much more interesting creatures than Homo sapiens.

…none of which fit too well into this couple’s narrow, self-centered, bigoted view of the universe.

Seriously…can you imagine spending eternity with these people?

Why I Hate Television

Such a provocative title.

I don’t hate all television, and I don’t hate the medium in and of itself. I hate the way networks have decided to push out series in 8, 10, 12-episode increments and then go on hiatus for what seems like years before returning. (I’m talking to you, Mad Men.)

It’s not just Mad Men; it’s pretty much any dramatic, scripted show these days. It seems that once you get hooked on something and really start getting into the current storyline, it’s the end of the season’s run—or worse yet, they split a single season up into two parts.

Pretty much everything we watch (or have watched) on a regular basis falls into this category:

Nurse Jackie
American Horror Story
Z Nation
The Strain
Doctor Who
Masters of Sex
The Walking Dead

Now I realize the cost of producing a full 30 episodes of a series like networks used to do when I was young is astronomical these days—especially when you factor in many of the shows we enjoy are heavy on special effects, but c’mon people. 8 episodes followed by a year-long hiatus? What’s the logic in that?

I mean, it’s gotten to the point that we cancel our premium channels for half the year because everything we watch is missing from their lineup. That’s costing you money, HBO & Showtime.

I suppose I should just give up complaining about this because the companies that produce what we watch don’t give a shit as long as the advertising dollars (or paid subscriptions) keep rolling in, but sooner or later if enough people just flat out cancel their premium channels for half the year they might wake up and take notice…


In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d see this in Arizona. I figured the state would have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century.

Wow. Just wow.

Ready for Prime Time?

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I went back to the Yosemite Beta (or, more specifically) the Developer Preview. Apple released Gold Master Candidate 2 last Tuesday, followed up almost immediately with Candidate 3 two days later.

While the MacRumors 10.10 Forum remains abuzz with complaints about things that still aren’t working properly, it seems from my very unscientific and non-professional viewpoint that most of them are of the “if you stand on your head and shake your right foot vigorously, your left hand starts turning purple” variety. Maybe I have a very generic setup and use very generic applications, but I haven’t experienced any of the issues that people are recording. In the interest of full disclosure, there are still a few minor graphic inconsistencies, and I still haven’t fully solved the Magic Mouse disconnection problem, but with Apple’s next big event coming up on Thursday and its expected release of Yosemite to the public at that time, I would say it’s damn close to being ready for Prime Time.

Others, of course, may disagree.


It Just Works

I don’t know what I could add to this (emphasis mine)…

From Rusty Rants:

My first Apple product was an iPod Mini. I still vividly remember being hooked by the design and functionality of such a tiny, sexy device. My next Apple product was a Powerbook G4. Those two products started a long journey of buying and loving Apple products. iPhoto. iPhone. iPad. iWork. I bought them all, and I loved them all. One phrase always kept me coming back for more: “It just works”. After coming from devices that always felt buggy and half-finished it really did feel just like that. Everything, well, just worked.

Fast forward to today, 2014. Zoom in to me. I’m typing this on a Macbook Pro. In my pocket is the iPhone 6. Three metres away sits a Mac Mini. On the surface, nothing has changed. The problem is, it feels like everything has changed. In short while Apple’s hardware continues to impress me, their software has gone downhill at a rapid pace. iPhoto is an unusable mess with the volume of photos I now have. Aperture has been discontinued and is badly lagging behind in terms of both performance and features. iTunes takes forever to launch, and is bloated mess of way too many features and functions. iCloud is still a mess that I wouldn’t dream of storing my important data in. iOS 7 crashed so often that I became intimately familiar with the Apple logo that appeared every time it did. iOS 8 fixed the crashing, but introduced thousands of little paper cut like bugs. I used to install updates from Apple the second they came out, now I wait a few days to see if they are actually any good.

If you think this is just my experience, let’s take a quick recap of the last few weeks of Apple news:

  • iOS 8.0.1 was released, with bugs that prevented iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners from connecting to the cell network, and using Touch ID.
  • Users trying to fix iOS bugs, reset the settings on their devices. This had the fun, unexpected consequence of wiping their iCloud documents, and syncing those deletions to all their other devices.
  • Apple released HealthKit as part of iOS 8, only to pull it, and any apps that supported it due to bugs.
  • Apple ‘fixed’ HealthKit as part of iOS 8.0.2, but my Twitter timeline is still full of people complaining about bugs. By all accounts, and going by the iOS 8.1 change log released today, it’s nowhere near ready for prime time.

On the developer front recently:

  • iTunes Connect is still amazingly buggy, and Apple managed to make it more so while developers were submitting their iOS 8 updates. I saw so many automated rejections, upload errors and bugs fill my timeline.
  • Xcode still crashes for me, at least once or twice a day.
  • Apple bought TestFlight, much to our delight, only to reveal that their answer to ‘beta testing’ is to let us distribute to 25 people that have administration rights over our apps. Do you want your beta testers to be able to change your app prices, descriptions, screenshots and to be able to pull apps from the store? Yeah me neither. The alternative is to submit your app for app review, before you’re allowed to distribute it to beta testers. Really Apple? Did I mention that the review queue is currently 9 days long and growing? Thank Thor that HockeyApp still exists.
  • Size classes, Apple’s answer to ‘how on earth are we going to deal with the new screen sizes’ lack even the most basic functionality required to do that. The iPhone 6 Plus has it’s own size class, in landscape, but in portrait orientation? Every single iPhone ever made is treated the same way. That’s right, you can’t lay out a different UI for the 3.5″ iPhone in portrait than you can for the 5.5″ monstrosity of a 6 Plus. How Apple missed this basic developer requirement is baffling to me.
  • Swift, the language we were all amazed by in June, has turned out to be a bag of hurt for anyone that jumped into it headfirst. It’s clear that it too wasn’t ready for prime time. I would have happily waited another year or two, especially if Apple built some major apps using it first. As it is we’re beta testing it for them, even after the 1.0 release.

Tim Cook keeps telling us that ‘Only Apple’ could do the amazing things it does. I just wish that Apple would slow down their breakneck pace and spend the time required to build stable software that their hardware so desperately needs. The yearly release cycles of OS X, iOS, iPhone & iPad are resulting in too many things seeing the light of day that aren’t finished yet. Perhaps the world wouldn’t let them, perhaps the expectations are now too high, but I’d kill for Snow iOS 8 and Snow Yosemite next year. I’m fairly confident I’m not alone in that feeling.

All that being said, at this point you’ll still have to pry my Apple devices from my cold, dead, hands.

My New Work Attitude

I had a one-on-one with my supervisor the other day. I approached this with the attitude that I was going to be totally honest with her, and if I got fired afterward (I should be so lucky), so be it.

“So how are things going?”

I got up and closed the conference room door.

“Oh dear.”

“To be honest, I am very unhappy. In fact, I’m looking for another job.”

The look on her face was priceless. She was genuinely thrown off by this revelation.

We proceeded to discuss the sources of my unhappiness—including the frat house atmosphere of the department—and she promised to start making some changes in that regard…at least at first. By the end of the meeting, however, she was backpedaling and trying to tell me that this middle-school maturity I am immersed in on a daily basis is typical for our career. “I’ve worked with lots of techs and it’s the same everywhere.”

Uh, no it’s not.

“Please don’t leave! You’re the only tech I have who people haven’t complained about!”

That told me reams.

I would like to think something positive will come from our little chat, and to her credit she did call out someone yesterday who let an f-bomb fly, but I’m really not expecting much. A lot of what I hate about this place is engrained in the company DNA, and nothing is going to change.

Ironically, the annual employee survey came out the day after our meeting, and I was totally honest there as well. “Have you thought about resigning within the last six months?” Seriously? Unfortunately there was no every single fucking day response available.

Would you recommend ██████ services to friends or family?

Not only no, but hell no.

The remainder of the questions were mostly about my satisfaction with the company—much like the survey you get after eating at Jack-in-the-Box, where 1 is “highly dissatisfied” and 5 is “very satisfied.” I couldn’t answer a single question any higher than “neither satisfied or dissatisfied,” with the majority of them being “dissatisfied” and “very dissatisfied.”

And at this point—even if the survey isn’t “anonymous” as advertised, and it gets tracked back to me, I DON’T CARE.

And not surprisingly, my supervisor hasn’t exchanged a dozen words with me since our meeting…