The Christmas holidays, or the idea of them. Decorating my phone.

Sometimes I think I like the idea of the Christmas holidays more than the holidays themselves.  My ideal Christmas is very, very low key, with no stress.  You do what you want in your own home.  If you don’t like a tradition, you don’t do it.   If you don’t care for an event, you don’t go to it.  And of course there is no snow or ice or humidity or dampness.  Snow or cold or ice does not mean “Christmas” to me!  I miss being in my home in my California.  Hawaii would be great too, for the Christmas holidays.  In Hawaii the humidity would be worthwhile.

I do like seeing the Christmas lights outside, on the houses and the streets.  And I shop in stores so rarely (online for me!) that when I do, seeing all the holiday “stuff” is rather festive and charming.

I am glad to be of help to my family and I’ve (mostly) accepted the fact that I’m not in California.  And the job scene is looking up – it might be very soon that I have a job!

Speaking of holiday decorations, I never planned to buy this, but I saw it, and then it was in my hands and I was at the checkout station.  It’s a combination night light and snow globe.  It’s nicely designed.  The small amount of heat from the light bulb makes the glitter in the sky move, slowly.  It’s like a snow globe, but I don’t have to shake it.  Isn’t it wonderful?

The Christmas nightlight snow globe combo, December 2010

I decorated my Motorola Droid, my Android OS smartphone, for Christmas, with the Christmas Tree Live Wallpaper, http://www.1473labs.com.    The picture appears on all the screen displays on your phone – my phone has five screen displays.  The snow falls and the lights twinkle.   On one screen  I added a widget, Christmas countdown.  Christmas countdown displays a little image and the number of days until Christmas.  There is a different image for each day of the week.

The wallpaper shows up behind all the icons you have on your phone, the apps, the bookmarks, the folders.  I kept one of the screens of my phone free of icons, so I could look at the wallpaper and the Christmas countdown, all by themselves.

Christmas Tree LIve Wallpaper, Christmas Countdown on my Droid. November 2010

Before I had my Motorola Droid, I used to play fun little games on my Palm TX, a pda, personal digital assistant, like a smartphone but without the phone part and without the internet.  There was a Christmas game I particularly enjoyed, a game where Santa dropped presents, and you had to catch the presents with a cart (or a sleigh, can’t tell).  It was a sweet little way to pass the time.  I haven’t found that game, but I found a Christmas version of a game similar to Bejeweled, called jewellust Xmas, http://www.smartpixgames.com.  Like Bejeweled, you manipulate the icons to make at least three identical icons in a row.  They then go away, and the icons above them roll down.  In this game, your goal is to collect all the mosaic tiles on the screen.  You collect them when you get them to roll off the screen.  The mosaic tiles make a picture.  You have a limited amount of time to collect all the tiles for each picture, but it’s not that hard.  This version of jewellust is Christmasy. The icons make bell like sounds when they drop.   The “three of a kind” icons look like ornaments.  There are candy canes and Christmas scenes.  If you play in Campaign mode, after you complete a level and fill a mosaic tile picture, a Christmas village is displayed, with a line in the snow as you go from one house to the next.  It’s just a line; you have to imagine yourself in the picture!  There are also simple tile puzzles to solve, displaying Christmas ornaments.

I love this game.  It’s a wonderful way to give yourself a little holiday break.

Jewellust Xmas on my Motorola Droid phone, November 2010.

Happy Christmas holiday preparations, if that’s your thing.

Advertisements

Droid Love, it’s like Palm love all over again

In February 2010 I bought a Motorola Droid smartphone.  I’m way into Droid love, which is like tech love, but more specific.  The Motorola Droid is a wonderful thing.

Even more wonderful, all this Droid love takes me back to the old days of the Palm PDA (personal device assistant!).  I loved my Palm devices.  I had a number of them, starting with a Palm Pilot and ending with a Palm TX.  I remember the websites, the print reviews, and the endless talk about what to get for your Palm.  These devices are all about apps, about what you put on them.  Most of the apps I put on my Palms were either inexpensive or free, just like the Droid.

I was a member of a Palm user group.  We had monthly meetings at Palm company headquarters.  2001 to 2005 were especially good years.  There were refreshments — pizza, cookies, chips, soft drinks and water. There were demos of new apps using a projector, with magnification and special lighting.  New devices got passed around.  We exchanged tips on how to do things.  My Palm user group was in Silicon Valley (northern California) but there were Palm user groups all over the world.

I went to three Palm development conferences, which were extra fun because I had no business or work relationship with Palm.  I took notes, using the Palm I had at the time.  Memories.

PalmSource Expo 2002.  The general public could attend.  Here’s the press release I copied to my calendar: “The PalmSource Expo, which will open its doors to the general public on Wednesday and Thursday, showcases the hottest new Palm Powered™ devices, software, peripherals and accessories – all in one place. More than 100 exhibitors present everything from handhelds, smartphones, and other mobile devices, to some of the most innovative travel, personal information management, education, entertainment, health, lifestyle, hobby and game software available for any platform”.

Wow – takes me back.

PalmSource Developer Conference 2004.  I went for one day because I got an affordable one day pass on eBay.   I still have the notes from the conference, note I took on my Palm.  Reading my notes – interesting – there’s starting to be a focus on “wireless” – that too takes me back!  In the old days, you got data on your Palm by connecting it to a PC.  Wireless was a new thing.

PalmSource Mobile Summit & DevCon 2005.  I went for free because I spent part of the time doing volunteer work, counting the number of people in a conference room.   We got a mini flash drive for attending.  We got PDF files of the talks, and MP3 files of the Computer Outlook Radio talk show, the shows that were done at PalmSource.   There are 17 sessions of about 20 minutes each, all talk.  Maybe we had longer attention spans in 2005.  I’m listening to one now, the interview with Howard Tomlinson from Astraware. The speakers are clear, but I can hear the conference going on in the background.   Howard is talking about Bejeweled for the Palm.  I still play that game

It was a Palm thing, now it’s a Droid thing. The Droid makes me feel the same way, though I don’t belong to a user group where we meet every month, and I’ve never been to an Android conference.  For a look at Droid love, look at the droid forums on http://www.droidforums.net.  People talk about the Motorola Droid and about other Android OS phones, with the save loving and obsessive zeal that I’ve seen with the Palm.  And the OS is open source and you don’t have to go to one place for apps, though the Android market is quite nice.

Here’s a picture, not of my Droid, but of my Droid case, taken with the Droid.  This was supposed to be a temporary case.  I didn’t even save the name of the company that made it.  I like it so much now I’m going to keep using it.  It’s colorful, it protects my Droid and it’s made with recycled products, whatever they are.  I brought the plants and the pots they are in from California.

Droid Case with my California Plants, March 2010, Pennsylvania

I love my Droid.

My Journey, California to Pennsylvania, July 2009. Part 3 of 3, Missouri to Pennsylvania

In July 2009 (this year) I left my beloved California and moved to Pennsylvania. I wrote about leaving California in my blog post “Leaving My California” – https://amarez.com/2009/07/19/leaving-my-california/

My first travel post describes my journey from California to Sedona – https://amarez.com/2009/12/05/my-journey-california-to-pennsylvania-july-2009-part-1-of-3-from-california-to-sedona/.

My second travel post describes my journey from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Oklahoma – https://amarez.com/2009/12/05/my-journey-california-to-pennsylvania-july-2009-part-2-of-3-santa-fe-to-oklahoma/

After Oklahoma, I drove east to Missouri,  continuing my journey to Pennsylvania.  I’m including my tweets (twitter posts), from that time.

July 26, 2009.   In Joplin, Missouri for the night – currently having dinner at a local place recommended by my motel – just down the street!

July 26, 2009.  So much for SF food snobbery. Grilled tilapia at a place called Whisky Creek, and it’s really really good!

July 27, 2009.  Staying in Rolla, Missouri for two nights. I need a break from driving. The Ozarks are pretty.

Ozarks from Highway near Rolla, Missouri, July 2009

























July 28, 2009 .  It rained here in Missouri. I miss the weather in my California – only rains in winter, no thunderstorms, no snow. Not a fan of weather.

On to Illinois.

Water Tower, Casey, Illinois, July 2009






























July 29, 2009.    Just west of Indianapolis. I saw fields of corn, being that I’m in the midwest.

July 30, 2009.   Stayed at the Hampton Inn – great rate with AAA and business travel is down so room rates are good. Reminded me fondly of business travel.

Hampton Inn, Plainfield, Indiana, July 2009























July 30, 2009.  In Ohio – not much further to go

The highways got more crowded.  Ohio had great highway rest stops, very nature oriented.  There was  a wonderful wooded area, with picnic tables, at the place where I stopped.

Wooded Area, Highway Rest Stop, Ohio, July 2009























July 31, 2009.  In Pennsylvania – not much further to go

Driving on Highway 70 through  West Virginia (briefly) and western Pennsylvania, the scenery was spectacular,  a winding road,  mountains, trees, very dramatic.  Sadly, I did not get any pictures.

I stayed at a hotel in Bedford, Pennsylvania.  While a bit on the faux “old timey” side, the hotel was confortable and had a certain charm.   The lights in front of the hotel were interesting.  The morning the fog was mysterious.

Street Lamps, Bedford, Pennsylvania, July 2009

Morning Fog, Bedford, Pennsylvania, July 2009





















































Continuing on the Pennsylvania highways.

Pennsylvania Highway, July 2009

























August 1, 2009.   2900 miles, 13 days and I’ve reached my destination! My road trip is over.

The miles are wrong — I was looking at the wrong thing.  Per google maps, the journey was 3112 miles!

Beautiful Garden, Family Home, Pennsylvania, August 2009

My Four California Plants on the Porch with other Family Plants, Pennsylvania, August 2009






























My journey ends.

My Journey, California to Pennsylvania, July 2009. Part 2 of 3, Santa Fe to Oklahoma

In July 2009 (this year) I left my beloved California and moved to Pennsylvania. I wrote about leaving California in my blog post “Leaving My California” – https://amarez.com/2009/07/19/leaving-my-california/

My first travel post describes my journey from California to Sedona –  https://amarez.com/2009/12/05/my-journey-california-to-pennsylvania-july-2009-part-1-of-3-from-california-to-sedona/.  After Sedona, I drove east to Santa Fe, New Mexico, continuing my journey to Pennsylvania.  I’m including my tweets (twitter posts), from that time.

July 22, 2009.   Rolled into Santa Fe several hours ago. Hotel is great. Will explore tomorrow.

July 22, 2009.   Note to self – drive from Sedona to Santa Fe, while spectacular, is rather long.

July 23, 2009.   Santa Fe – having green chili chicken tamales for dinner. Does it get any better than that? Santa Fe is a great place.

Downtown Santa Fe is small and very walkable.  Given the consistency of the architecture, one is tempted to think it’s too cute, too contrived, but it’s not, really.  Everything seems to fit.  Given the high elevation, it’s very comfortable in summer, though I made sure to drink plenty of water.  It was nice to just wander around.  I want to come back.

San Miguel Church, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2009. Oldest Church in the US.

Street Scene, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2009. I sat under the umbrella and drank a lemonade.

Street Scene, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2009

Tia Sophias, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2009. Santa Fe style Mexican breakfasts, incredibly wonderfully good.






















































After Sedona and Santa Fe, I had no specific places I wanted to see.  I took the most direct highway route northeast.

This is from a highway rest stop, the Llano Estacado, or “Staked Plain”, a large mesa straddling New Mexico and Texas.  A “mesa” is an elevated area of land with a flat top and steep sides (thanks to wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesa, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llano_Estacado).  The sense of distance was amazing.

Llano Estacado from Highway Rest Stop, Texas, July 2009
























July 24, 2009.   In Amarillo for the night. Listened to a really good alternative music station on the way into town. Swam in the hotel pool.

July 25, 2009.   Light travel day.  I’m in Oklahoma.

July 26, 2009 (posted this tweet after I left Oklahoma).  Favorite highway sign on I44 east – Oklahoma area – do not drive into smoke. What kind of fires do they have in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, I ended up briefly on Route 66, the famous US highway which ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, started in 1926, paving completed in 1938. (http://www.legendsofamerica.com/66-Mainpage.html)   I stopped at a fantastic commemorative rest stop.  You can also see views of the Oklahoma plains.

Route 66 Commemorative Rest Stop, Oklahoma, July 2009

Tile Picture, Route 66 Rest Stop, Oklahoma, July 2009

Oklahoma Plains



























































In my next blog post, I head on to Missouri.

My Journey, California to Pennsylvania, July 2009. Part 1 of 3, from California to Sedona

In July 2009 (this year) I left my beloved California and moved to Pennsylvania.  I wrote about leaving California in my blog post “Leaving My California” – https://amarez.com/2009/07/19/leaving-my-california/

I drove across country, from California to Pennsylvania, keeping people updated (mostly) via twitter.  Thinking about what I wanted to see the most, I picked Sedona, Arizona and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  So, south from Palo Alto on Highway I5, stopping off at Gorman, California, as I always stop there on my way to Santa Monica.  Then, east through the desert to Sedona, Arizona, east again to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and northest to Pennsylvania.   I’m not a long distance drive and I stopped for two days, twice.  So, around 3000 miles, in 13 days.  Here’s the journey.  I’ll include my tweets — twitter posts.

My Apartment Pool, Palo Alto, California. I loved this pool.

Courtyard of my apartment complex in Palo Alto. I could not take the two trees I was growing, in pots.

Some plants from my container garden. Four plants made the journey with me.


Google Map of My Tip, July 2009





























































































July 20, 2009.  I5 to Gorman, California. Very hot. Econo Lodge kept the chandelier from the former Caravanseri Motel!   

Econo Lodge Hotel, Gorman, California, July 2009. They kept the chandelier from the Caravanseri Motel.































Drove east through the Mojave Desert, on to Arizona, highway through the desert.  Lots of space.  It was very hot.  The Mojave desert had a stark beauty.  Continued on through the Arizona desert, which was beautiful.

Mojave Desert from the Highway Rest Stop, California, July 2009

Arizona Desert, West of Sedona, July 2009
















































July 21 , 2009. From what I’ve seen in the dark, Sedona looks like all kinds of wonderful, my kind of place.

July 21, 2009. Looking forward to actually seeing the red rocks of Sedona, tomorrow, as I head out of town.

July 22, 2009.  Eating breakfast (huevos rancheros, yum) at a cute place down the street. The red rocks of Sedona are everywhere – dramatic, beautiful.

View of Red Rocks, Sedona, Arizona, July 2009

Tile Picture, Kaiser's West Restaurant, Sedona, Arizona, July 2009. Great Breakfasts

View of Red Rocks of Sedona as I Leave Town, Sedona, Arizona, July, 2009






























































Next Blog Entry, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and east.

On being optimistic, tech, the quality of the light, good weather

I had lunch with a friend from high school, someone I had not talked to in years, except for a few brief words when I was back in town visiting my family. We ended up talking about whether we were optimistic about the future.


The economy is in terrible shape, jobs are hard to get if you don’t have one, and there’s a lot of scary stuff in the world. Even though my situation is less stable than before (looking for work will do that to you) – I realized that I am somewhat optimistic about the future – not as optimistic as some people I know (Hi Miki!) but reasonably optimistic. I see the same world as other people, but I think that my life, and the lives of the people around me, even the economy, will get better. I kind of see the glass as half full rather than half empty.

This isn’t a discussion about whether this is a correct or incorrect view, but in how we see the world. Sometimes I think that being optimistic has to do with the fields we are in, the work we do. Working for a tech company (like I did in the past) – it makes you optimistic.

There’s something about being in the tech world that makes you think that the future is full of possibilities, and you can do your part to figure it all out. Not only will you be happy, but, whatever you are working on, it’s going to make the world a better place, and even the non glamorous tech stuff is just so darn great! For some idea of what this is like, read the latest copy of PC World, quickly. Skim through it. Focus on the mood, the vibe, the feeling. Even when the writers at PC World are, understandably, complaining about the latest tech thing that isn’t working, you get the feeling that tech is swell! Tech is swell, and so the rest of the world must be swell too, because tech is in it! There’s a sense of optimism, a belief that the world is a good place.

Sometimes you see this happening in B-School – MBA land, though less often, recently. Perhaps it has to do with the idea of control, that you can do something to make things better and you can make a good living too. I enjoy the belief that you can make things good in the world and not suffer.

Then there’s the quality of the light, and good weather. In my admittedly limited experience the people from my life in California were more optimistic than not about the future. Since tech (and at the time a better economy) is threaded all through my time in California, I can’t separate out the tech optimism and the better economy from the optimism that comes with the wonderfulness of California. I like to think that being in the land of amazing natural light, low humidity, outdoor natural beauty and outdoor comfort – it makes you a happier and more optimistic person. I like to think that the Pacific Ocean and a Mediterranean climate make a person happy. I have absolutely no idea if this is so. Perhaps I would like it to be so, or perhaps that’s just how it was with me. California brought me a life of promise and a life of wonder, though of course there was also the not great stuff that we all have in our lives. You can read my blog post to see what I thought about California – https://amarez.com/2009/07/19/leaving-my-california/

The challenge is to keep that wonder and promise in my new life, not because it’s good or right, but because I want to do so. Can I still feel wonder and promise while living in eastern Pennsylvania (for now, might end up in New Jersey or Delaware). I think so. We’ll see.

Here are some photos on the quality of light.

A sparkling creek in Pennsylvania, near where I live now.   What an interesting reflection.

 
 
Creek, Pennsylvania, September 2009

Creek, Pennsylvania, September 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sunset in the Palo Alto Baylands.  

Palo Alto Baylands, California, November 2008

Palo Alto Baylands, California, November 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Went for the day to Ocean City, New Jersey, with a family member. I love the ocean!

Seagulls at Ocean City, New Jersey, September 2009

Seagulls at Ocean City, New Jersey, September 2009