Hello Fiber, Goodbye Cable

Our neighborhood in Minneapolis got fiber installed this month. As of today we have 100Mbps up and down for $48/month via US Internet. It’s like we’ve arrived in the future! Or South Korea!

We could get 1Gbps for $65/month, but I can’t really think of anything I do that would be better if I had 1Gbps instead of 100Mbps. When I do, 1Gbps is a quick phone call away. Curious to know if anyone else has a use for that in their home.

Loving IRCCloud

I tend to use pretty basic (and preferably cross-platform) software so I can be comfortable on systems that aren’t highly configured to my specific taste. I don’t change the software I use on a daily basis very often. However, I recently switched away from the IRC client that I’d used heavily for many years, and started using IRCCloud instead. I’m so happy with it that I thought I’d write about it.

I used Colloquy, and I was pretty happy with it. It’s about as good as a native application IRC client can be. It has two major down-sides though, both of which are consequences of its being a native application.

First of all, when my computer was off or asleep, or I forgot to start the application for some reason, I was offline. I frequently missed interesting public conversations and private pings.

The second problem is that Colloquy only works on OS X, and if I’m using different machines I have to configure an IRC client on each one. I’m frequently using a couple of machines at the same time, like an Apple laptop with a bunch of OS X-specific applications open (e.g. iTunes, Word) and a Linux machine that I’m writing code on. If I want to copy/paste something to IRC from the machine that isn’t running Colloquy, I can’t unless I quit Colloquy on OS X and start some other IRC client on the other machine. Not being able to easily be on IRC with the same nick from multiple machines was annoying.

About six weeks ago I signed up for IRCCloud, based on a blog post I had read. Once you create an account, you can configure it just like any other IRC client and connect. The connection is persistent, so you’re online on IRC even when you’re not on the site. When you log on again, you can see what you missed in public rooms, as well as any private pings you might have missed. Fantastic. Because it’s a web application, it works on all platforms. You can even be logged in from multiple machines at the same time!

Switching to IRCCloud has improved my IRC experience immensely. I highly recommend it if you’re a regular IRC user.

Incredible 2011 NBA Finals

I’m not a big basketball fan. I rarely watch during the regular season. However, the NBA finals are fantastic every time I watch and this year was no exception – loved it! Energetic, passionate, and incredibly talented play. Jason Terry was my favorite player in the end. His performance in game six when Nowitzki had a tough night was inspiring.

Congrats Mavs!

Goodbye iPhone, Hello Nexus One

I got an iPhone 3G two years ago and I loved it. It was fast, easy to use, and beautiful. Since then I’ve fallen out of love and every time it takes the phone 5-10 seconds to show a new text message I have to resist the urge to smash it. I was never very pleased with my high cell phone bill or the accompanying contract, or the fact that it’ll probably be a long time before I’m allowed to run Firefox on the phone.

I thought long and hard about getting an iPhone 4 because it would solve some major problems (speed, screen quality) and despite the other issues the user experience is just amazing. However, I decided to go with a solution that also solves the other problems. In total I wanted better phone performance, a nicer screen, better network service, the ability to run Firefox, I don’t want a contract, and I want to pay significantly less for service than I do now. I chose to go with a Nexus One from Google on T-Mobile and so far I’m pretty happy.

The T-Mobile plan I chose has no contract, 1000 any time minutes, unlimited text messaging, and unlimited internet for $70. The AT&T plan I had has a 2-year contract, 900 any time minutes, 1500 text messages, and unlimited internet for $105. T-Mobile reportedly has great service in New York City, so this is an easy choice.

The Nexus One is sold unlocked, it’s fast, thin, has a beautiful screen, gets Android updates quickly, and runs the only two third party apps I really care about – MLB At Bat and Firefox. My only two issues are that the Android OS is generally less polished than iPhone’s iOS and MLB At Bat for Android is junk compared to the iPhone edition.

Getting Ready for the 2010 Birkebeiner

I’ve decided to do the 2010 American Birkebeiner (skate course) despite the fact that I live in Brooklyn and I haven’t done any serious cross-country skiing in eight years. It will be a fun challenge and I got some of my more athletically-inclined family members to join me. I’m really looking forward to spending the weekend skiing with them.

The race is on February 27th, 2010, in Cable, Wisconsin. It is 50 kilometers (31 miles), with a total elevation gain of 1,398 meters. The average low temperature in Cable, Wisconsin, on February 27th is +13F and the average high temperature is +34F. The record high is +42F and the record low is -20F. Last year the low temperature on that day was -16F, with a high of +8F.

The race has an interesting history:

“It started in 1206. Birkebeiner skiers, so called for their protective birch bark leggings, skied through the treacherous mountains and rugged forests of Norway’s Osterdalen valley during the winter of 1206, smuggling the son of King Sverresson and Inga of Vartieg to safety. The flight taken during the Norwegian Civil War took the Birkebeiners and prince from Lillehammer to safety in the town of Trondheim.”

Unlike the Norwegian version of the race, skiers in the American Birkebeiner don’t typically carry a 3.5kg bag simulating the weight of an 18-month-old baby.

I train most days in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, though sometimes I run a course through Red Hook where there is little traffic and some other nice parks. Prospect Park is beautiful and full of smiling people, I always look forward to my time there. I’ll spend 2-3 weeks before the race in Duluth, MN, so that I can actually train on skis.

French Lop House Rabbits

I was recently in Arcata, CA, and I met some really awesome rabbits named Gilley and Chumley. Gilley, the girl, is 13lbs and Chumley, the boy, is 10lbs. They stay in the house and even use a litter-box. They’re super happy, especially when they get bananas for a snack in the morning. They like to play in the kitchen because the floor is slippery and they slide around. So awesome – I had no idea that people had rabbits like that for house pets! These pictures are of me feeding them bananas. Gilley licks the plate clean.