Monday, March 15, 2010

My new toy

I decided to get rid of my 325iC in favor of having a second vehicle that could carry the whole crew. I was really impressed the the 325i, so I decided it needed to be another BMW. After tracking craigslist for sometime I saw the perfect car pop up so I pounced on it. I found a 1998 540i in Alpine white with a manual 6 speed. I bought it from the original owner who had all required maintenance performed and all the service records. The car is an original Bay Area car and has 128k miles on it. After having my mechanic go over it we are all set to take it legoland in 2 weeks. Should be a better drive with this versus the Town & Country. Check out these pictures from our 1st night out with the new car.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Let's take the whole neighborhood!

We have found ourselves biking more and more as we get the opportunity. This weekend was no exception, in fact we did all travels this weekend by bike. On Sunday we were joined by the Larkin's and the Hesse's. We all spent the day riding up to and around the Stanrd University campus. If you have not done this before, you should really take the time to do so. Check out pictures and videos of the adventure here. We would really like to have more people join us so feel free to drop me a line if you would like to ride along.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunny and 68 degrees

It seems as though cycling has become our favorite family activity. We decided to take advantage of the Monday holiday and the sunny weather to do a little exploring and shopping. Julie has been wanting to check out the bay wetlands trails for a long time and I wanted to get our Costco run done by bike so we set out to do both. Our first destination was Shoreline Aquatic Center in Mountain View. You can access several miles of walking/cycling trails along the bay from here. We plan to revisit this spot all year long and see if we can travel the whole system. With a little prep work we were able to plan a pretty mellow route through Palo Alto from our Willows home to the center. We only came into heavy traffice proximity for about a mile of our 20 mile journey. We had a great lunch at the Lakeside Cafe. After lunch we spent an hour or so riding along the trails. We found mostly paved trails, but there are many more gravel ones to explore. You need to use caution while riding as the trails are very populated with other cyclists of all experience levels as well as pedestrians. Our bike bells got a workout. It was great to see so many families out enjoying the outdoors. For the trip I pulled our Burley D'lite double trailer with Emma and Sarah in tow and Julie brought along our Burley Nomad. Our next stop was Costco in Mountan View.

We left Julie's trailer empty to see what we could handle towing home. We did an admittedly scaled down shopping as our trial run. I think that we can do our full shopping by bringing our Wike Large Cargo trailer and a detailed shopping list next time, so the experiment proved successful. We were able to fit everything we bought nicely into the Nomad. There was no room left inside, but the cargo rack could have held more. I estimate that the load was in the 75 pound range and Julie really felt the difference towing it back. Check out more photos and a couple of videos from our adventure. I have to say that family cycling is proving to be more fun than words can describe. Zachary is a little machine. I think Emma will be ready to venture out of the trailer soon. Sarah would ride if we let her :) Stay tuned for more about the Wetlands trails.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Roller Skating Baby!

Our neighbor Rachael celebrated her x1 birthday last weekend. Apparently she is even cooler than I already thought as she held her party at a local roller rink on Disco night. I had no idea there was a roller rink nearby let alone one with a disco night. Julie and I had a great time and I only fell once. Not too bad for not having skated in a hundred years. Thanks to the Abdella's for watching the kids so we could go. Here are a couple of pictures of us. Note Julie's vintage jacket, it is the real deal.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bicycling as transportation

I have been giving a lot of thought about switching to bicycling as our primary mode of local transport. This weekend turned out to be a wonderful break from the much needed rain so we were able to utilize our bicycles as our exclusive means of transport. After logging 21 miles I have come to the conclusion that this mode of transport is totally doable. I believe that planning is absolutely key and maybe that is a larger statement about life. The biggest problem that I have found is parking. There is just not much bike parking anywhere and absolutely none if you have trailers. I am thinking that we may just start using a car spot, but worry that someone will get upset that bicycles are taking a car spot and damage our bikes. Here is a picture of our caravan. If you are interested, follow the link to more photos and a couple of videos of our weekend. Bicycle Weekend 1.0

Friday, January 29, 2010

unteching the tech for nontechies

I am a windows guy who makes his living designing, building and maintaining a professional global network infrastructure. At home I was having some issues with getting my wife Julie online. I made the switch on my home systems to OSX about 4 years ago in an attempt to get my wife online. As a tech guy OSX and the Mac in general is pretty much an appliance. It is pretty turn key in so far as it relates to editing home movies, managing pictures and music. Let me be clear that it is not anymore resilient or less buggy than a PC. The main difference is that Apple keeps it as a black box and does not let you mess with its operation to any real degree. The biggest thrill I have gotten in using the mac stuff at home is that the OS interface was so opposite that of windows, so it was fun doing something different and new much like using my left hand to brush my teeth when I am right handed. Apart from my entertainment switching yielded the results I was looking for as my wife is now online. There are still issues that I have to solve as we have small children and they drag icons around and eliminate things from the dock. As I was adding back the icon for macmail last night it really hit me that as much as the mac is an appliance for techies it is still not simple enough for everybody. The real appliance is the iPhone and iTouch. My wife and my father both use them as their computers almost exclusively. Although my wife ventured online with the mac, once she had her iPhone she became plugged in like a corporate user. My father downloads apps like a maniac and is constantly emailing. Watching the the two of them over the last year really blew me away how right Apple has gotten it. The two most untechie people I know are constantly connected now and would not give up there units without a fight. I am really looking forward to the iPad. It all clicked with me this morning and I understand how huge this will be. In all seriousness, a device that takes OS out of the way and allows seemless interaction with just the apps they need or want is genius. Dock it with a keyboard if you need to type long rambles, but keep it light and portable for 95% of the use it will get. I could see an Imac version of this being pretty cool. Apple has unteched the tech for nontechies.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Portable meets professional

So you say you want the picture quality of a DSLR and the portability of a point and shoot. Well look no further, meet the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1. The GF1 is built on the micro four thirds standard. The micro four thirds standard is an extension of the four thirds standard pioneered by Leica, Panasonic and Olympus. In a nutshell, you get the benefit of a larger sensor than a point and shoot and the shutter and speed of a DSLR without its bulk. The LCD display is a live view off of the sensor, by giving this view they can eliminate the size of having to fit a prism to look through. If you feel you need to have the perspective of a viewfinder you can add on. Lenses can be swapped off and on like a SLR, but it still fits in your shirt pocket. With a shutter and larger sensor comes better low light performance and the ability to stop action quicker. You can get a picture of baby Sarah jumping without the blur. The all purpose setup now is the 40mm Panasonic pancake lense with GF1 body. The colored bodies are $250 more than the standard black, but they sure look snazzy. The GF1 also shoots High Definition video. I hope to get my hands on one soon for an indepth review.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Apple iPad

Yeah baby! It is here. $500! Available in 60 days.


I was thinking about addiction this morning while reading all the last minute Apple speculation and remembered it was time to look at my Quitter app. After years of trying to quit I finally decided it was time. I still have the pack that I was smoking on my shelf at work just in case of an email server meltdown or comet strike. I will not lie, it was very difficult to put down, but the hard parts only lasted 3 or 4 months which is not too bad for a 25 year habit. I am certain that had I not quit, I would not be able to handle the 6 miles a day I am logging on the elliptical machine. On the day I quit I loaded an iPhone app called quitter on my iPod touch. Based on 30 cigs a day at $5.50 a pack here are the results of stopping.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Viruses and Spyware Oh My!

Oy Vey! I don't know about you guys, but I am getting whalloped by end users installing spyware on their systems. The windows look very real and are very misleading so it is easy to see why they are clicking to install it. I have found that you need to login and start task manager immediatley and stop any process called (can be many things)sysguard.exe. Unless you do this, you will not be able to execute anything. You will also find that your browsers connection settings have been changed to use a proxy server so you cannot get to sites to update protection. The good news is that if you stop it and run Microsoft Defender or Forefront it is able to be removed. Here is a pic of what you will see.

New Bikes

To help in the getting fit quest, Julie and I got new bikes. I bought us each a Trek Soho. Very nice bicycles. Gates Carbon belt drive and 8 Speed internal hub. These things are bullet proof and fun to ride. We are working towards using them in place of our cars for local trips as much as possible.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My first CD cover

My buddy Jody put together a CD of his solo work away from Fountains of Wayne. He needed a CD cover and asked if I would do it. I shot this in the village with my Nikon D200 and Nikkor 85mm 1. A big thanks to my pal Leah Kozak who helped out, she has a great eye. Jody's direction was to capture the feel of an old Dylan album cover. The CD was released in Japan a year ago and is now coming to the states shortly. The CD is awesome. What do you think? Click here for Jody's Website

Hello World!

Hello all. I decided it was time to start writing. At almost 40 I have finally quit smoking and am working towards getting fit. I will share my story leading to here and going forward.