Sunday, October 26, 2008

Goodbye MacBookAir... Easy move to MacBook

Last week Apple announced a new set of laptop computers. A new MacBook and a MacBookPro. I've been using a MacBookAir as my main machine for almost three months now. And I'm loving the Macintosh platform.

I had some time last week in Seattle after visiting the Temple and headed over to Bellevue Square shopping area to the Apple Store there so I could 'check out' the new lappies. Since there was also free WiFi in the area I took along my MacBookAir to catch up on some e-mails and work.
I compared my MacBookAir side-by-side to the new MacBook... they were almost the same height when closed. .95" vs .76" - only .2" difference between the two. The MacBook was also 1.5Lbs heavier... but the other dimensions were the same. Same screen, same keyboard, etc. But the deciding factor was the Hard Drive capacity. The MacBookAir only had an 80GB HD - and so I couldn't have my iTunes and iPhoto with me (thus I wasn't able to sync to my iPhone while on the road)So I went out of the store, went online and purchased a new MacBook right then. No hesitation. I use my laptop as a very large part of my business and anything to be more efficient. (the MacBook also has a built-in Ethernet port, internal DVD super-drive, and a massive 320GB drive to go along with the much faster CPU) - Plus it is way cool that the new MacBook is 'carved' from a single block of solid aluminum - it makes for a stiff, light, strong platform.But I was in San Diego over the weekend, and in Sunnyvale during the week and so I wasn't home to pickup the new computer.

Friday night after arriving home from the Airport I had a chance to start up the new MacBook and then start the 'magical' process of moving all the applications, settings, files, etc. between to Macintosh's. Then on Saturday morning I woke up and 'My' computer was now the MacBook. Everything exactly in the same place and working just like it was on my MacBookAir... but now on the new machine with loads of extra hard drive space.

Then a quick copy of the iTunes folders from the larger MacBookPro that has been my iPhone Sync machine and I was in business!

So to recap... I love the Apple Macintosh Operating System. That same process listed above would have taken me at least 6 solid hours working on two windows machines and I would have never got it 'just right'. This Apple process took my attention for only about a total of 20 minutes and now I'm up and running on a new machine and also have it fully backed up on a local USB Drive as well as an online backup service. Peace of Mind... aahhhh....

Thanks to Ryan, who sold my MacBookAir to a friend of his - I had a replacement buyer and had a very low net transfer cost to move to the new machine. I restored the MacBookAir back to factory default and Taylor came and picked up his MacBookAir last night. I'm sure I'll miss the lighter, thinner laptop - but having a huge HD and quicker response is appreciated!

Goodbye MacBookAir...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Week in Sunnyvale

This was a little 'weird' week - after last week in Seattle, weekend in San Diego with family, then another 'back to back' week coming up the coast to Sunnyvale.

I stayed the week at a wonderful hotel (read cheap) in Sunnyvale - the high quality 'Sundowner'. But at least it was not only in-expensive, but had lots of hard pillows! (I like soft pillows) I've started traveling with my C-PAP machine... and with that sleep machine going, I can sleep on just about any bed!
I spent Monday over at AirMagnet headquarters, working on projects and helping the Survey team on how to best teach folks to use the product to achieve the best most accurate and stable results.

Then for the last four days of the week teaching an Partner Technical Training course at Aruba's headquarters.

I had some time each day after class to do a variety of things to entertain myself.

One day I went to the 'City of Ember' movie. It had Bill Murray - and I think he's pretty funny. But the movie was really about two teenagers trying to save their city from imminent destruction. Inconsistent cinematography, hokey story line, and childish dialog left me wanting more. It would have been a fairly decent ABC Afternoon Special - but not worth spending your money on.

Another afternoon I went over to the Apple Corporate headquarters at 'One Infinite Loop' to take some pictures and visit the employee's Company Store. I found a new cover for my iPhone 3G, and a serial port adapter so I can use the Mac to configure switches and routers (and specifically Aruba controllers and AirMagnet sensors) - I've wanted to visit there for years, over 20 since I purchased my first Macintosh in 1984!
Another late afternoon I went to the movie theater... not knowing what to watch and the only PG-13 movie was this... 'Secret Life of Bees' - I knew little about it, but I'd seen something on TV and it sounded non-useless... so I went.

This was a great movie! I cried, I laughed, I enjoyed a nicely done story. It reminded me a bit of To Kill a Mockingbird kind of story. Set in South Carolina, in the early sixties, mixing between Blacks and Whites. I wasn't expecting very much, but ended up very impressed. I can highly recommend this movie - not for kids mind you, there are a couple of disturbing scenes of family violence and KKK kind of violence - but the story line is compelling and unexpected. Great performances by the cast of actresses.
We also received some photos from Brent's first companion in Brazil - you can see them all over at the website.
I also received a new GPS - a smaller Garmin Nuvi - and I love it! It charges off of a USB charger... so all my devices charge the same way. Cuts down a lot on what I have to carry. I normally leave my bigger GPS at home. Now I'll have this with me wherever I go. I've tried it with the suction cup mount on the windshield... but it also works just as well down in the cup-holder of the rental car just fine.
GPS - the only way to travel! (right Joe?)

Another project for the week was to get a Serial Connection to a Terminal service running from my Macintosh MacBookAir. Many people online had tried - and I've failed a couple of other evenings to get it to work right. This is the technique used to connect and configure a laptop computer to a Switch/Router/Controller that only has a 9-pin serial console connection.

One of the reasons I've always used Dell Laptops is they have a 'standard' Serial DB-9 connector and this is very simple to do on a Dell.

But since I've been trying to move over to the Macintosh platform, this was one if the more difficult things to do. Well, I've now completed it. Actually have two different USB to Serial adapters working! Yea! (Send me an e-mail is you want the specifics)

One final note on this long blog post. I've been a user and evangilist for the Amazon 'Kindle' e-book reader. It has made my book reading so much better. It allows me to easily carry 40-50 books with me as I travel as well as being much easier to read than a real book. Now Oprah has also 'found the light'
Now I get to go home for a weekend! Yea!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brandon Sanderson's 'Mistborn' Trilogy

I just finished last night the final book in the 'Mistborn' Trilogy. I was turned onto these books and this author from my nephew Todd Rife. Thanks Todd!

These were great.
Usually if I'm going to be reading fiction... I like historical fiction, like Bernard Cornwell, or mysteries like PD James or Patricia Cornwell... but this Fantasy stuff is pretty cool as well.

Brandon Sanderson is an amazing author. Making a very believable world with some very unique 'magic' like attributes, power and abuse of power, political intrigue, and great characters to go along with a story line that just brings the reader along.

The series was both entertaining, and thought provoking. Making me think about the 'technology' and 'magic' and how it might work together. And like all great authors made me want to be IN the story!

I was so very pleasantly surprised by the ending to this trilogy. I was half-way through the book and though I would be able to predict the end... no way! A far better ending that I could have even hoped for the trilogy. Well done Brandon!

So if you are looking for a good read - look no further than the following Brandon Sanderson books.
By the way his first book published... Elantris was also wonderful and I can highly recommend it as well.

UEA Trip to San Diego

Hello from the great state of California. I was teaching last week up in Seattle and then flew down to San Diego to go to SeaWorld and the 'Seaport Village' with the rest of the family over the weekend. Since I had to teach in Sunnyvale this week I just flew up here from San Diego yesterday.

Jill, Ryan and Alysha drove down last week to Las Vegas Wednesday after work... then picked up Joe after school on Thursday to drive the rest of the way down to San Diego. They took McKinley to the San Diego Zoo on Friday, we went to SeaWorld on Saturday, and then Sunday down at Seaport Village (by the Embassy Suites we stayed at before) - then I flew here, and they went on to Coronado Beach and Hotel for the rest of the afternoon before driving back to Vegas.
Jill was really looking forward to seeing McKinley at the Zoo and SeaWorld... and she wasn't disappointed! McKinley LOVED the Shamu show (Karrissa... the Shamu Whale show?) - so much that we went back at night and watched it again.

Though McKinley was talking about 'See Sharks' for the last couple of weeks... she actually slept in Jill's arms all through the shark pavilion. But I carried her through the Penguin exhibit and she loved those as well as the Polar Bears with Jill later in the day.

Kylie was just perfect - laughed, entertained herself and hardly made a peep all day. I'm sure Karrissa is going to post some of the Zoo pictures as well on her blog.

I got soaked on a couple of the rides - but Karrissa and Joe really got drenched. We had to get some new clothes for Karrissa... Don't get in the front seat of the 'Atlantis' roller-coaster/water drop ride.

I think they'll go shopping at the outlet stores today then drive on home.

Here's some photos from the great weekend in San Diego!

Grandma 'G' (pronounced with a hard G sound like M) and 'her' girls

Poppa with McKinley watching the whales


Winward Family after a day in SeaWorld

Right Before Atlantis - Don't they look 'Dry and Comfortable'?

After Atlantis - are those wet rats?

Dolphin Area - Where Brent' almost jumped in years ago - they have the same schtick today.

Family After a long day - over 13,000 steps on my pedometer!

McKinley Enjoying the Shamu Show

Waiting for the Killer Whale show to start

Nice stroll around the harbor in San Diego's 'Seaport Village'

Monday, October 20, 2008

Private AM-105 Class for Boeing in Renton

I had a chance last week to spend some time back up in the Great Northwest. The weather was nice and crisp... just as an autumn day should be. Oh, but I was also in Seattle... so I also got grey skies and rain. But when it's pretty there... it's very pretty.

The class was held at one of the office buildings in Renton - I had to get a special pass, showing my passport and everything... whoo whoo.
I had a chance to visit for a long dinner and lots of talk with my old friend from High School - Dave Conger. Dave was working the the Microsoft campus and so we met at King Wha's in Burien on his way home. (best Mongolian Beef in the world!)

After four hours of talking, and solving the world's issues, we decided to make it a night.

Another evening I had a chance to go to the Seattle Temple. This is where Jill and I were married nearly 27 years ago! The outside was getting a face-lift... but the inside looked great (already been upgraded with new tile, wood, and furniture)
Then on Thursday had a chance to do a little 'field trip' over to the plant where they produce the 737s, pretty cool to see the production line there. The planes move forward at two inches per hour... working their way down to total completion in a little under five days. They contain over 327,000 individual parts!Perhaps this will be their newest plane that can go faster, eh?But the facility was stopped due to a labor union strike. (don't get me started on Labor Unions!)

The fall colors in the trees were really something to see. Bright reds, oranges, and yellows... these are just from the trees around my hotel.
Then off to San Diego for a little vacation with my family!

Development of VoIP Portion of AirMagnet Course

I've been a bit lazy and not staying up with my weekly blog... (slap on the wrist) - So this is from two weeks ago.


I've been tasked with an upgrade and enhancement to a course I've been teaching for AirMagnet. I needed to add a section on Fundamentals of Voice over IP as a prep for the AirMagnet VoFi Analyzer product.
So this week was spent in that development

Flying over to San Jose to meet with the team who developed the VoFi Program and sitting through a VoIP generic class so I could glean something on how to best teach the basic fundamentals of VoIP.
I learned a lot from the developers and basically nothing from the class. Sometimes it is a bit frustrating in this industry of IT Training... not everyone is very good at what they actually teach.

This instructor was a retired Southwest Bell engineer... old, boring, and was tied to the history of how telephone companies did things... not about the great technology we have today to use IP packet to transmit voice conversations.
These enhancements in voice traffic are what made all those expensive long-distance calls of the past now drop down to mere pennies... So I'm kind of on my own, well me and about 15 books, to pare down to a single 1-2 hour lecture.

So here's a picture of a mix between old telephones and new IP networks...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Syncrude and the Athabascan Oil Sands

This week I was hosted by a company Syncrude who is the world's largest producer of Synthetic Crude Petroleum from processed Oil Sands. Not only did I have an opportunity to teach and discuss topics with these fine folks, but was able to go to their plant to do some on-site analysis and see the workings of Oil Sand recovery and processing.

The Oil Sands are a tar-like substance embedded in about 300' thick layer across hundreds of square miles of northern Alberta.
In order to get to the oil sands... they must first remove a layer of muskeg, a swampy spongy bog, then about 250'-300' of more earth called 'overburden' to finally get down to the layer they are looking for. They just move the overburden to the side and reuse it later to reclaim the land and return it to a condition better than before without the muskeg so you can have a forest back instead. There is now a thick layer, 300' deep, of sticky black sands impregnated with Bitumen, a tar-like substance. They used to use huge Drag Lines with a monstrous bucket to scoop up the sands and then extremely large scoops and conveyors to transport the material back to the processing plant. But today they use those HUGE trucks and big shovels to load and transport the sand. These Haul Trucks are the largest in the world and can carry between 400 and 600 tons per load! The processing starts by removing the sand from the Bitumen with hot water and agitation. The Sands and water come out and go to a tailings pond to let the sands drop out leaving water on the top of the pond. The Bitumen continues on to more processing to 'crack' the long carbon chains into smaller chunks thus transforming the tar into Light Sweet Crude oil that is sent via pipeline down to refineries to get us the gas and other petroleum products we use. This is a fairly expensive method to extract oil at around $30 per barrel, but with oil selling at $100 per barrel it is fairly lucrative.

They mine over 600,000 tons of oil sands per day, processing this into a Million barrels of oil each day! This plant alone accounts for about 20% of all of Canada's daily oil production.
For those of us in the US... this is included in the 'foreign oil' we consume.

Oil production is a dirty, messy, stinky proposition - and the area around the mine is ugly, ugly, ugly. But as they finish mining an area they are required to reclaim the land. Putting back the overburden and re-landscaping the area back to a livable habitat. They spend 100s of millions each year in this reclamation, making forests, lakes, streams, out of what once was some of the ugliest spaces on the planet.

In researching for this blog I came across this graphic of Energy use in the US that I found interesting... spend a moment learning what it has to say.