Hell froze over, I bought a Mac

For the longest time I’ve hated Mac’s of every kind and color. I didn’t hate my Apple IIC though, that was my very first computer and I think I still have a stash of 5.25″ disks at my moms house with a word processing program and a number of games. I’ve been a MS Windows guy for a long time. I’ve used Windows since 3.0 all the way up to Windows 7 (I never used NT though). I recall my last foray into Macs when OS 9 and colorful iMacs were all the rage. I remembered hating the OS beyond measure compared to Windows XP, I couldn’t find any of my files, no one made programs for Mac’s that I wanted to us, and you couldn’t build one up from spare parts (I was frugal back then and upgraded hand me down computers or built them).

Time to fast forward a bit to 2011. By this time I have my home desktop with a 23″ screen, quad core processor, 3GB of RAM, running Windows 7 Ultimate and Office 2010. In addition to my PC (which is pushing 5 years old now), I have iOS devices aplenty. The PC does everything I need it to do but it’s not portable and I don’t want to use my work PC for personal stuff if I can help it. Enter the MacBook Pro with OSX Lion. My father was interested in getting a Mac and I told him I would help him if he got me one too. He decided that wasn’t a bad deal really and made it my 2011 present. I got one with 8GB of RAM, 750 GB of hard drive space and I added in iWorks so I could edit documents. I’ve had the computer for 4 days and I’m still configuring it but I have been able to find window program equivalents for the Mac for my every day usage. Now why the MacBook Pro instead of one of the new Airs? I’m still enough of an old school techie that I like having raw power at my command when I need it which the Pro offers since the Air only has 4GB and I got 8. Another reason was hard drive space. Pictures, music, and videos take up a ton of room and 250GB on board won’t cut the mustard for a portable machine for me. I know I could use an external drive but why go through all that hassle? I could do the NAS option but that involves buying more crap and I can transfer docs and other stuff through Dropbox if needed. I also have the 15 inch screen, I’ve been spoiled with my 23″ desktop screen but didn’t want to go with a 17″ since that would add a lot more weight than I was willing to carry.

I’ll admit that this OS is way better than OS 9 back in 1999/2000. Is at least usable for what I want it to do and with my focus being on photos and music for this computer rather than tinkering like what I use my desktop for, getting a Mac seemed ideal. What really sold me was Lion and the improvements that were made to the OS. The biggies for me was full screen mode, a more iOS like experience, the App store believe it or not, iLife and iWorks. I’ve only dabbled with is iLife and iWorks but so far I like how I can send pictures of my new daughter with nice backgrounds and stuff without having to work so hard. The full screen mode and gestures associated with app switching is pretty nifty along with the pinch to zoom for Safari.

I still had to install Firefox because I’m just used to that browser and the various plugins that I have with it. I’m hoping that they can make that full screen and that pinch to zoom can be used in any application. I won’t be replacing my desktop with this computer. My iDevices overall will still sync to my desktop at home. My desktop has a Bose sound system which is totally awesome and I’m not giving that up any time soon for a laptop. What I am hoping is that the computer will be useful to my wife over the next few months or years. I bought it so we can make some great photo stuff and movies as our family grows so that we have some keep sakes and be able to share some stuff with friends and family. The addition of FaceTime will be big for me too so I can see my family while I’m on the road working. I still plan on getting an iPhone 5 for the two of us but this will be another way for us to communicate if she’s on the computer.

I have to say this for Apple, they have certainly turned things around in the past 10 years. I never thought I would own a Mac but here I am with my first Apple computer in almost 20 years. I hope this thing lasts at least 5 years since thats my current refresh cycle for computers. I’ll continue to get gadgets like the iPad on a more frequent basis as my cash flow allows but for now, the MacBook Pro should do nicely.

Another Birthday Complete

My birthday has come and gone without a lot of fanfare but thats ok I liked having a low key birthday with my wife and daughter.  I have my new MacBook Pro from my father which covers all holidays for the year of 2011 that I’m currently playing with.  I also have my daughter which was the ultimate early birthday gift.  She was kind enough to wait until July 1st to be born so that my entire branch of the Wong family celebrates their birthday in the month of July.  Keeping with Chinese tradition, I had to have some noodles at least once on my birthday so I went out to our favorite dim sum restaurant and got us some pan fried noodles, pork buns, shrimp rice paste, and custard for dinner.  All of my favorites that I like to eat when I’m eating dim sum.  This blog post is a day late because I’ve been busy the last few weeks taking care of my daughter while on paternity leave.  I might have more time to blog later.  I’m still deciding if I should keep a separate journal somewhere or if I should just make some blog posts private that only I can see.

I received a nice card from my mom just in time for my birthday.  My wife has a gift coming in and I have no idea what she got me since I thought she gave me the best gift I could ever receive.  I’m off paternity leave starting next week which kind of stinks but at least I’m still at home for the most part until I’m put on a project which won’t be for a week or so since I have to complete some training.  Here’s to being 33!

Are professional blogs necessary?

I subscribe to a bunch of sites and some of them regard recruiting. One of the suggestions that I’ve seen is to maintain a professional blog of some kind. I currently keep a personal blog (this one) but I don’t keep a professional one because I don’t see the need to. I can see how it would be useful for maybe a C level exec or something or maybe the head of a development team trying to push out the next big thing for their customers but not for your average worker. With everything that people do during their day at work with their real job, maintaining a professional blog almost seems silly. Everyone has an opinion about something but taking the time to write it all down for the planet to read (probably recruiters or something) just doesn’t seem like the best way to get hired.

I think the best way is to nail the interview and show the passion you have face to face in the work you do. I think that has worked well for me in the past but I know that the real challenge is just getting to the interview part. To be judged by what you write on a professional blog shouldn’t be a huge factor in decoding whether or not to interview someone. I see the value in it but not for the average person looking for a job. Maybe recruiters should think of a less time intensive way for job seekers to make themselves stand out. LinkedIn comes to mind…..

Needless to say, until I make Director somewhere, I won’t be starting a professional blog of any kind unless it’s absolutely essential for me to. I have enough going on in my life that dedicating time to writing stuff about what I do for work on my own time just doesn’t jive with me and my work/life balance goals. Until the next rant….

July 1st Changed My Life

Ten days ago my life changed for the better when I became a father to a beautiful little girl that my wife and I named Elysia. I wasn’t expecting her to come so soon though since my wife’s due date was for today. She was born nice and early on July 1st which was pretty awesome because now I can celebrate all of our birthdays in July. Being the proud father that I am, I’ve taken tons of pictures already and I’m in the process of uploading them so they can be printed.

The sleeping part has been a real challenge since she likes to wake up every two hours or so in order to be fed. I have taken the day shift overall but I can’t feed her since we aren’t using bottles. I am getting better at changing diapers and trying to get her to burp. She still is a bit fussy with me but she is great with her mom who knows what he cries mean already. The one thing that I really love is when she opens her eyes since she sleeps so much. I doesn’t happen for very long but when they do me and the Mrs. take advantage so that she can get used to seeing our faces even though she can’t see that well yet.

The next challenge will be when I return to work and will have to possibly leave my wife and baby home alone from Monday through Thursday. I have a couple more weeks of leave though so I’m going to try and enjoy every minute of it while I’m home and not working.

Why can’t we kill fax machines?

I’ve realized that in my years being in technology, it’s just really hard as hell to kill off old technology. I go to different clients here and there and I hear about critical things running off of mainframes built 30 years ago that can’t be replaced. One of the things that I see that can be placed but hasn’t is the fax machine. I understand the purpose of the fax machine, to send documents to someone else instantaneously without the need of the mail man. I used it extensively myself when communicating with my father about 15 years ago when he was stationed over seas in Japan and Africa. That was one of the best non-intrusive ways of getting a message to someone since at the time no one really used email.

To this day I still have to send faxes even though there is a much better way to send documents about…. EMAIL! Banks are notorious for requiring to have things faxed in which to me is just silly. There is always some lame ass excuse like a document needs to be signed and then faxed over. I can’t tell you hoe many times I’ve faced something to my bank only to see it lost in the shuffle and then having to fax it again. I don’t have a fax machine at home anymore so every time I send a fax it costs me money to do so. There are so many apps now that let you take pictures and make them PDF’s that can later be emailed out. That totally takes away the need for having a fax, not to mention it saves paper! There are lots of arguments about using email, especially about it getting intercepted during transmission. There are plenty of ways around that, one of which is secure websites that allows you to upload the file to a secure area for review. Another is to zip the file and put some password protection on it or using web forms.

The lamest excuse I’ve heard from companies that require me to fax something is that they need the document signed and for your signature to appear on the document sent to them. Even the most basic of businesses have at least one person who can scan in a document, create a PDF out of it, and email it over with no problem. The need for faxed forms has gone away in my opinion but businesses can’t seem to get away from this ancient technology. Think about how many trees could be saved by not faxing crap everywhere? I’ve gone pretty green by not even getting most of my statements in the mail but by downloading it from a website and keeping it in an encrypted file so it cant be stolen. I’ll be glad when I don’t have to use faxes anymore, then I can make better use of my iPad for work instead of using it just for personal stuff like I do now except for the occasional note taking with Evernote.