Free­dom
by Jonathan Franzen
A great book about a guy from Min­neso­ta.

The Girl with the Drag­on Tat­too
by Stieg Lars­son
I am the last per­son in the world to read (and thor­ough­ly enjoy) this nov­el.

The Cir­cle
by Dave Eggers
Pre­dictable, creepy, and fun. A book of our times. Like it on Face­book!

The Idea Fac­to­ry: Bell Labs and the Great Age of Amer­i­can Inno­va­tion
by Jon Gert­ner
Defin­i­tive proof that I was born a gen­er­a­tion too late to achieve great­ness.

December 24, 2013 December 24, 2013 reviews by Scott No Comments

Reports keep sur­fac­ing that var­i­ous suit­ors are prepar­ing to make bids to buy T-Mobile.

An acqui­si­tion is prob­a­bly bad news for me. T-Mobile’s long sta­tus as a fourth-tier out­sider has led it to make a lot of deci­sions that are pret­ty great for cus­tomers.

For exam­ple, back in the day it was the only tele­com to pub­licly denounce the Bush administration’s war­rant­less wire­tap­ping pro­gram. In 2013, it was the only tele­com to state for the record that it does not sell cus­tomer data or call logs to gov­ern­ment agen­cies (the oth­er com­pa­nies had no com­ment). They have trans­par­ent and non-con­fus­ing pric­ing. And now they offer free inter­na­tion­al roam­ing and data, which is insane­ly great for trav­el­ers.

If Deutsche Telekom sells their shares to Soft­Bank, my only hope is that the con­tin­ued for­eign own­er­ship keeps the man­age­ment inter­est­ing and fore­stalls the adop­tion of the same creepy, cozy rela­tion­ship that the oth­er tele­coms main­tain with the gov­ern­ment.

December 24, 2013 December 24, 2013 in-the-news by Scott No Comments

I gazed out to our front yard, and what to my won­der­ing eyes should appear:
Frosty melt­ed and turned into a (func­tion­ing) iPhone–oh dear!

A phone appears in the snow

December 23, 2013 December 23, 2013 oddities by Scott No Comments

Gar­ri­son Keil­lor is not a con­ven­tion­al author, so in hind­sight it shouldn’t be sur­pris­ing that after a very con­ven­tion­al intro­duc­tion, Mr. Keil­lor calm­ly stepped in front of the podi­um, glanced toward the ceil­ing, and began hum­ming a hymn with the tac­it assump­tion that all present should sing along in four-part har­mo­ny. (The audi­ence oblig­ed.) So began the event billed as “Gar­ri­son Keil­lor reads from and dis­cuss­es O, What a Lux­u­ry: Vers­es Lyri­cal, Vul­gar, Pathet­ic & Pro­found.”

The oth­er cir­cum­stance which shouldn’t be sur­pris­ing is that Mr. Keil­lor did not read from any­thing. A man who can recall Shake­speare and Frost with the same ease as his own verse, min­gling them effort­less­ly with his rich­ly detailed tales, has no need for such a crutch.

For­tu­nate­ly, there was dis­cus­sion.

Freddie’s ques­tion was my favorite: “Do you ever get writer’s block?” Keil­lor stood next to us and respond­ed with­out hes­i­ta­tion: No. Peo­ple who get writer’s block are the kind of peo­ple who want to have writ­ten some­thing, not those who want to write. “Den­tists don’t get den­tal block… or at least, if they do, they don’t tell any­one about it.”

December 3, 2013 December 3, 2013 reviews by Scott 1 Comment

I’ve been rid­ing the same bro­ken-down GT fix­ie that I bought on Craigslist in 2004. Nine years is a good life for a city bike. And it nev­er real­ly fit me any­way. With the slight­ly longer com­mute that came with my new job and house sit­u­a­tion, it was final­ly time to upgrade to a win­ter-capa­ble com­muter bike that could sup­port all my weird require­ments:

  • Lugs for racks and fend­ers (I want a front basket–more on this lat­er!)
  • A way to car­ry a choco­late malt on the go (Pos­si­bly not in the win­ter.)
  • Clear­ance for wider 700c tires (to absorb the pot­holes) and stud­ded win­ter tires
  • A guard to keep my pant leg from get­ting greasy or snagged
  • At least one disc brake for stop­ping pow­er in dirty, wet con­di­tions
  • Main­te­nance-free belt dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy from the future!

Since I was look­ing for a most­ly off-the-shelf solu­tion, this list nar­rowed my options down to basi­cal­ly one bike, the Spot Wazee, which arrived Sat­ur­day. I got mine through Bel­mont Wheel­works, Spot’s unof­fi­cial non-deal­er in the Boston area.

L1003573

Yeah, it’s great!

L1003567

The frame is made in Tai­wan, but it still has some nice touch­es that are usu­al­ly found only on US-made bikes, like this brake bridge detail:

L1003583

The rear hub is fair­ly heavy but it shifts like a dream. This is my first inter­nal­ly-geared hub and I’m impressed.

L1003584

The Gates Car­bon Dri­ve is real­ly well made. At low speeds it is less effi­cient than a chain, but the dif­fer­ence is hard­ly notice­able. It’s qui­et and smooth. And clean to the touch!

L1003576

November 24, 2013 December 23, 2013 bikes by Scott 4 Comments

These are a few of my favorite things: “The 20th-Cen­tu­ry Archi­tec­ture of Eero Saari­nen

November 20, 2013 November 20, 2013 design by Scott 1 Comment

This whole arti­cle is unset­tling: Res­i­dents Suing to Stop ‘Fortresslike’ Plan for World Trade Cen­ter.

Sum­ma­ry: A small group of New York­ers are suing the NYPD in what will prob­a­bly be a vain attempt to keep them from turn­ing the streets near their new World Trade Cen­ter into a mil­i­ta­rized ring of secu­ri­ty check­points and bar­ri­ers. The report indi­cates that cyclists may even be required to dis­mount just to pass through.

Boston is get­ting a dose of secu­ri­ty fever these days, includ­ing the sud­den and rapid pro­lif­er­a­tion of state-oper­at­ed video cam­eras on streets and in parks–stuff I strong­ly dis­ap­prove of. But sto­ries like this one make me glad I don’t live in New York.

November 13, 2013 November 13, 2013 rants by Scott No Comments

Keyboard on desk

They key­board on my Mac lap­top has nice keys–they got that part right–but the over­all design is a human-fac­tors night­mare. One’s wrists rest on a cold, flat alu­minum sur­face and a too-sharp met­al edge cuts against the band of your wrist­watch.

The typ­ing expe­ri­ence on Mac­book lap­tops has made me pine for my old Thinkpad. If only Leno­vo built lap­tops with dis­play qual­i­ty, bat­tery life, and per­for­mance that were in the same league as Apple’s.

I don’t usu­al­ly plug prod­ucts here, but this one is pret­ty great: the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonom­ic key­board. I’m still on the fence about the bizarre-look­ing mouse that’s bun­dled with it (though I con­cede it’s pret­ty com­fort­able). But the key­board is amaz­ing and com­fort­able beyond my imag­i­na­tion. I appre­ci­ate the clever use of mag­nets for the bat­tery doors and the height-rais­ing stand (pre­sum­ably includ­ed for the ben­e­fit of stand­ing-desk peo­ple). It is also pret­ty easy on the eyes. Glad I tried it!

Note to Microsoft: why don’t you sell this prod­uct in your Microsoft stores?

November 10, 2013 November 10, 2013 computers by Scott 1 Comment