Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sounds, Smashings and Symphonies

The word of the week is symphony.

July 27 – Rockin’ Relationships

My girlfriend continues to astound me.

Now, I'm not coming at this from the position of a lovestruck paramour, but rather from someone who's been searching an extraordinarily long time and not finding what he's been looking for – until now.

For some folks, a relationship is a series of moves, shifting towards a center point determined by areas of mutual interest. By shades and degrees, two people grow closer.

For my girlfriend and I, it's been like two superconducting magnets switched on and smashing together at lightspeed. That's about as simple an explanation I can come up with right now.


For me, it’s been a revelationary experience every time I converse with her, in that she's always right there with me topically. I don't have to backtrack, explain or find a way to meet her halfway on a point where we can have some sort of common understanding… it’s just not necessary, ever.

That's so incredibly rare for me that I'm still trying to get my mind around it.

I'm not trying to say that I get bored with talking with people; not at all. Rather, I rarely have the opportunity to stretch myself mentally in conversations that are of interest to me: to date, I’ve never met someone who not only can keep up with me but can pull me along towards topics that we both find fascinating.

I think that's why we've spent so much time together of late: there's some sort of exponential and logarithmic progression to our conversations, in that they keep branching out again and again to cover areas that we both find we have common interests in, or want to explore further.

It’s also why I pinch myself on occasion, just to check that I'm not still dreaming.


July 28 – Still Pebblin’

My new Pebble Time smart watch has been amazing.

I have to confess, I don't think I'm getting my full use of it quite yet. I've mainly been using it for controlling the music on my way to and from work or while I'm going around town on foot. It's secondary use has been for seeing my notifications, including text messages that I can respond to by voice - that's been pretty cool and raised a few eyebrows of passersby who have seen me talking into my watch… possibly questioning my sanity as well, but that's neither here nor there.

The LCARS interface, using Okudagrams

A recent update this month has allowed some more customization of the watch, including a much-needed ability to adjust the timing of backlight, which at the standard 3 seconds was far too short to actually read any information before went out again. Similar tweaks are made to other aspects of the OS, which alleviated some of my minor frustrations with the watch out of the box.

In the main, my Pebble Time has done exactly what I thought it would for me: allowed me to keep my phone in my pocket and not have to unlock the thing every time I get a notification or want to reply to a message. It also means that I don't have to look down at a device while avoiding things like lamppost or traffic intersections; I can keep my I'm the road and so stay safer while walking.

I'm excited to see what else I can find to do with my Pebble Time as I continue to use it this year.


July 29 – Okudagrams

Some things are ahead of their time.

Take, for instance, the graphical displays from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The displays were a generational( pardon the pun ) leap ahead of the old scifi standard of blinking lights and buttons by the score built into control panels. Instead of dozens of man-hours of work to create a single control panel with all sorts of expensive custom wiring, ST: TNG had simple flat-glass panels lit from behind showing elegant data displays and controls, called the LCARS interface.

Brilliant, in many senses of the word.

When I first saw the designs of ST:TNG, I was hooked. I hunted down a copy of the ST: TNG Technical Manual and pored over its schematics of the Enterprise. I purchased a copy of the ST:TNG Interactive Technial Manual just to experience the tour, with all its Okudagrams:


I really like the interface. It's clean, simple and lends itself to a broad range of configurations based on tasks, to the point where one hopes that it will still eventually make it into a usable OS interface for things like Android tablets. There’s already one for the PC and I even have LCARS on my Pebble smart watch, which looks great.

There was a tribute this week to Okudagrams, marking the 30th anniversary of their appearance, which I didn't know goes all the way back to Star Trek: The Motion Picture where they appeared in rudimentary form as background displays. Even then, they were visually striking.

Long may they be with us!


July 30 – Costume Brainwave!

What the heck do I want to be for Halloween this year?

About three months away now and as I don't like repeating myself, the question has come up in my brain several times already this year.

An Alien? Colonial Marine? Q scary creature? How about a robot?

In browsing the Internet today, I stumbled across this costume, which blew my mind:



The best part about the costume is that it's made of cardboard, so that's the cost is relatively low overall in terms of materials - labor is of course the most time-consuming thing. The second best part is that there is a complete set of plans over at Instructables.com, including how to scale it according to your size. While I'd love to build a 12 foot tall version of Soundwave, I'm certain my technical skills aren't up to the task – yet. Nor do I have a workspace where I can build it easily.

I'm still not sure, as I wouldn't mind going around as a Colonial Marine from Aliens. Those guys are all about looking like they could kick butt any day of the year at a moment’s notice.
Soundwave, though… he carries a small army around inside his chest. That’s pretty badass too.


July 31 – Smashing Stupidity!

Well, #$$@%!

Due to my klutziness, I managed to break an expensive piece of hardware today after work. I have only myself to blame, along with a sudden case of butterfingers.

It was a fairly stressful day and I was rushing about tonight in order to get things done before my writing time arrived after dinner. As my sister was using the main computer for her work, I perform some tasks on my laptop and when I was done I brought it back to the living room to charge it before dinner, as I always do in order to maintain the battery properly.

As I was moving to place the laptop down beside a table and connect the charger, it slipped in my grip and hit the table corner-first with a solid whack.

Unfortunately, my Samsung S3 phone was in the way. The result:

Farewell, old friend... it was fun.

This is a fine example of a million-to-one accident where nothing I could of done would have prevented damage to the phone. Even if had I chosen to get a tempered glass screen for my S3, the spot where the laptop corner impacted would have been outside the protection of the glass and still managed to shatter the underlay of the S3 screen beneath it. It's bad enough that the local repair shops are all quoting over $200 to fix it. So again: #$@! $%@!!!!!

The most frustrating part?

I still have 2 more payments left to go in my 3-year contract on the phone.  #$@%!!!!!


August 1 – Bionic Earbuds?

I heard something intriguing today.

As some of you may know, I'm the proud owner of a pair of Parrot Zik headphones that have active sound-canceling which tune out much of the noisy world going past my apartment's front windows. They're not perfect, but they do get rid of most of droning loud noises.

What's the next step?

It could very well be the new technology that Doppler Labs is creating, meant to live inside a pair of earbuds and allow you to literally to the world around you to your liking.
 

While they look kind of dorky at the moment, the concept behind the earbuds is sound: you can turn the base up or down in real time at a concert, adjust the pitch so you can hear the singer better or even tune out a crying baby at a restaurant. The possibilities are staggering and I hope that they managed to get the prototypes functioning well enough to consider commercial product release.

It's the next step in tuning out life's annoyances while still being able to hear what’s important.


August 2 – Splash and Shakespeare

Today was a double feature.

In the afternoon, my girlfriend and I, along with several of her friends, attended the Shakespeare By The Sea performance of The Tempest. It was being held down at Ogden Point, where all of Victoria’s cruise ships dock, on a lovely floating stage-barge set off to the side of all the busy-ness.


The performance itself was splendid! All of the actors brought their full game to the characters, easily enveloping the audience in their performances while staying true to the nuanced lines of play. It was a friendly, engaging performance made all the better by the splendid weather, with the backdrop of the placid waters inside the breakwater adding the perfect touch to the play which takes place on an island. Afterwards, the small group of us found a shady spot inside the lower eating area of a nearby café, where we discussed all sorts of fascinating topics regarding media, personal informative choice, ignorance and factual checking all rolled into one. Some great thoughts there, indeed.

A little before 10 PM, my girlfriend and I headed out to the fireworks down at Victoria Harbour, to catch the tail end of today's Symphony splash. The celebrations concluded with a rousing rendition of the 1812 overture set to the exploding fireworks in the sky – spectacular!

At least, that’s what WOULD have happened if I hadn’t screwed up the timing. 

The concert listing said it was going to end at 10pm, so I planned on meeting my girlfriend near the Parliamentary Buildings 15 minutes before that, plenty of time for the show to start. Only as I was locking my door to leave, my ears picked up the unmistakable sound of explosions in the air in the distance. Trotting to the street corner, I espied the night all glow in the direction of the harbor and cursed my over intelligent guess as to when we should have met up there.

The funny part is, this is the third big firework show that we've missed seeing together. We've probably set some kind of minor record somewhere, but all I can do is laugh.

And be early for the next show we see. Really, really early.


Thanks to my current job, not only do I get a 3-day long weekend but I also get this coming Tuesday off for total of four days, thanks to my choice of EDO( earned day off ). I'll be using the time to write, as always and I hope that my Muse will cooperate by being in fine form for the day.