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A Late Comer to Smartphones

I can still remember quite clearly being rather jealous of my manager when he first got his nokia 6100. It was 2002 and I had been given a nokia 5110 to be in contact. The difference between the two phones was remarkable, it really was a huge leap in terms of size, weight and features.http://fuzzyslogicblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/compare1.jpg?w=252" />Around the same time I was tasked with a project looking into PDAs such as the iPaq. And to recommend if the University where I worked should look towards these style of devices. Long story short, we knew smartphones were on the horizon - though back then we used the words "convergence device" - and figured it was silly to have staff carrying around both a mobile phone and a PDA.So at one point in my life I was really eager for smartphones.When the iPhone came out I wasn't interested in having one. I thought the hardware was amazing, but there was no way I would ever infect a PC of mine with itunes and I had no interest in becoming locked into an Apple walled garden. The Android devices did excite me, but when I stopped and thought about it, I couldn't see any reason I needed a smartphone.I'm a geek who is generally at a keyboard for around 12 hours a day. When I'm away from a computer I'm generally pretty happy about it. By this stage I actually had a nokia 6100 of my own, as it was and still is the smallest and lightest phone nokia has released. The battery lasted for around two weeks and it could make and receive phone calls and text messages as well as had WAP support which I made use of every now and then for geeky things I'd set up like rebooting servers.I have a tiny mp3 player (a Sansa Clip) which I use to listen to music and audiobooks, which also has a battery life of around two weeks. The other upside is that I just clip it onto my collar and only require a short cable on my headphones.One large reason why I'd held out from getting a smartphone was that I know I'm a tinkerer. I'd seen my friends spend hours getting their phones set up just right. From jail breaking iphones to creating personal android apps, I could foresee myself losing whole chunks of my life doing things which I quite rationally decided I didn't actually need.Also, back home in Australia smartphones aren't cheap. I was happily getting by on a pay as you go contract which normally cost me around $15 a month. I was quite happy spending the $60-$70 I was saving each month on important things like beer.Maps was one feature which I could imagine I could make use of, but even though I was now working as a travelling geek and driving all over the city to client locations I got by using the old fashioned idea of preparation and a memory.Among my circle of friends I've become well known for my love of my old phone and my reluctance to get a smartphone.Now I've taken a job where the company provides a phone. They want me to be contactable via email and generally be a modern geek and actually have a smartphone.So I've just spent about 5 hours over the last two days tinkering with the HTC Incredible which I'm using temporarily until the Samsung Galaxy S4 is released later this month. It took me about another hour of research to decide to go with the S4 over the soon to be released HTC One.As expected I do really like having a little computer in my pocket. I've already fallen in love with flipboard, google music, instagram and evernote. However, I'm still using my mp3 player to listen to audio books on the light rail on my commute to and from work.... its just easier.

Outlook 2013 Reading Pane Header

I found the 1st thing I detest in the Office 2013 suite today; the fact that you can't hide the reading pane header in Outlook 2013. MS have removed this feature which was available in Outlook 2010 because apparently some users would hide it and then not be able to find how to re-enable it.

What a ridiculous reason to force all users to have nearly 30% of their screen real estate (if they prefer to have the reading pane at the bottom of the window, like me) taken up by superfluous information.

Systems Center Operations Manager 2012

My 1st project in my new job is shaping up to be the installation and configuration of Microsoft's System Center Operations Manager 2012. While this system will allow a range of monitoring features which will be very helpful in our environment, the main use case which is driving the project is auditing.

The company I'm employed with needs to get an accurate picture of exactly what systems they have out in the wild, what operating systems they're running, what patch levels are they at and what are the specs of the hardware. We also need these details to be easily checked again in the future, so that manually doing an audit "just this once" isn't a good plan.

So in steps SCOM 2012. Here's the promo copy which MS use to explain what operations manager does:

Businesses, small and large, are typically dependent on the services and applications provided by their computing environment. IT departments are responsible for ensuring the performance and availability of those critical services and applications. That means that IT departments need to know when there is a problem, identify where the problem is, and figure out what is causing the problem, ideally before the users of the applications encounter the problems. The more computers and devices in the business, the more challenging this task becomes. Using Operations Manager in the environment makes it easier to monitor multiple computers, devices, services, and applications. The Operations console, shown in the following image, enables you to check the health, performance, and availability for all monitored objects in the environment and helps you identify and resolve problems.

I'm currently reading through the SCOM 2012 survival guide.

Back To Work

My ~6 month holiday from work is officially over today. I'm back in cubical land, this time employed as a Senior Systems Administrator. I've just spent the morning getting my new Lenovo L412 laptop all set up and figured I'd drop some thoughts about it and about Windows 8, which has been installed on it.

So far I quite like the laptop. When I accepted the position I knew that they used Lenovo laptops and I was kind of dreading receiving one of the new models which has removed a lot of the features from the thinkpad machines which I've always liked. Luckily I got an L412 rather than one of the newer L430 models. The main difference with the newer L430 is the "chiclet keyboard", where the keys are separate little "islands" rather than the more traditional keyboard which I prefer.

One thing which I'm not a huge fan of with the L412 is that the power cable connects on the right hand side of the laptop, along with the two USB slots. This tends to interfere with my mouse hand when I'm using an external mouse.

Another downer which thankfully I was able to overcome was the fact that the keyboard has the function key in the position where a standard keyboard has the left control key. I quickly found that in a recent BIOS update lenovo added an option to switch the function of these two keys around. So I don't have to retrain my left pinky.

Onto Windows 8..... I like it. Well, I like it now that I've installed Windows 8 Classic Shell and won't ever need to look at the new Metro Start Screen ever again. I think the flat UI in Win 8 is really nice and clean and beyond that I haven't found anything which either isn't basically the same as Win 7 or an improvement. I'm sure with more time I'll find more things to comment on.

Falling From The Sky

I've planned my 1st skydiving in 5 years planned for tomorrow morning, which will be at one of the biggest drop zones in America; Eloy, AZ. To say I'm pretty excited is somewhat of a massive understatement. Hopefully my plan for overly tight leg straps will prove successful in avoiding the incredible amount of pain I was left in last (when on opening my leg strap had slipped below my bone tumor and "grated" across it, causing huge bruising). Because, hot damn I miss falling.

Goodbye Posterous

As with all things which are too good to be true, posterous is going the way of the dodo. They were bought out by twitter a while back and finally twitter are pulling the plug on the best free blogging service I'd found. It was so simple!I've now exported my content from posterous and imported it here to wordpress.com. I've never been a huge fan of wordpress but it had been some time since I'd checked it out. Since they offer a free hosted blog service and they seem to have a solid business model which should mean they'll be around for at least a few more years, I decided to move to it.This is really just a test post to check that my code to integrate the feed from the new wordpress blog into my system on fuzzyslogic.com.

2012 Through Fuzzy Eyes

I'm taking a spin back through the things I collected in my diigo feed, fav'd on youtube, liked on vimeo, posted on facebook and spammed into IRC. Here's the cream of the crop:Web Sites* `Trello`_I've never been good at being organised. Over the years I've tried a heap of different project management / todo list software and for some reason only Trello has ever worked for me.* `GoodReads.com`_I've got calibre (the software I manage my kindle books with) hooked into GoodReads so I'm able to track what I've read, what I want to read next and get recommendations for more books.* `OpenPhoto.me`_Simple online photo management and hosting (when combined with dropbox, box.net or similar).Articles* `What does the year 2512 look like?`_Charles Stross' predictions of what the world will look like in 500 years.* `Most Citizens of the Star Wars Galaxy are Probably Totally Illiterate`_Not once in any Star Wars movie does someone pick up a book or newspaper, magazine, literary journal, or chapbook handmade by an aspiring Jawa poet.* `How We Won the Hominid Wars, and All the Others Died Out`_The unique adaptability of Homo sapiens is what allowed us to survive when so many other species died out, paleoanthropologist Rick Potts contends.* `Hacking is Important`_The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.* `Bob Brown delivers the 3rd Annual (Australian) Green Oration`_I hope this goes down as one of the all time best speaches given by a human. More people should be aware of these words.YouTube* `The Final Table`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cyl_KbHFmQY?list=PLham2Zudq-cblHeq5xCd9EYDidngCCYHB]6 wonderfully produced videos which focus on professional poker player Russell Thomas in the 3 month lead up to the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table. Russell contacted fellow professional Jason Somerville to help prepare.* `Jeb Corliss Grinding The Crack`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWfph3iNC-k]Incredible footage of Jeb piloting his wingsuit through the infamous "crack".* `Shit NEVER said during the Olympics`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oss0bTL14eE]Aussie comedian Troy Kinne and his mates sum up the olympics in typical Oz gutter mouth style.* `Push to add drama!`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OIJRMqYAA0]TV channel TNT in Belgium placed a big red push button on an average Flemish square of an average Flemish town. A sign with the text "Push to add drama" invited people to use the button.* `Eye-Level Camera Formula 1`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBbPGQ3Bpug]The closest most of us will ever get to a hot lap behind the wheel of an F1 car.* `Longboarding: Let Go`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkviQ41u0eQ]This video perfectly captures the thrill and freedom of downhill longboarding, with out the risk of losing your own skin.Vimeo* `5D Wingsuit Soul Flyers Camp`_[vimeo 35114449 w=425 h=240]This amazing footage makes me so excited to fall out of a plane again.* `Urban Side`_[vimeo 35981251 w=425 h=240]Armed with a paraglider, amazing skills and a kick ass camera, Jean-Baptiste Chandelier created an amazing video.* `Cheetahs on the Edge`_[vimeo 53914149 w=425 h=240]1200 frames per second while zooming beside a sprinting cheetah, brilliant.Books* `Dune by Frank Herbert`_http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348025089l/104.jpg" width="120" />I finally got around to reading this master piece and it didn't disapoint. I trudged through the next two books in the series, but they don't come anywhere near the heights of the original.* `Reamde by Neal Stephenson`_http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1305993115l/10552338.jpg" width="120" />Sensational. Stephenson has always been one of my favourite story tellers and in Reamde he delivers again.* `The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle`_http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1237166991l/1903886.jpg" width="120" />One of my all time favourite books, I re-read this book during the year and the sequel, `The Gripping Hand`_ for the first time. Both are highly recommended.TV Shows* `Suits`_http://www.thetvdb.com/banners/graphical/247808-g8.jpg" width="425" />Don't be put off by the fact that it is about Manhattan's top corporate lawyers; this show is funny, smart, sexy and deep.* `Castle`_http://www.thetvdb.com/banners/graphical/83462-g10.jpg" width="425" />My lovely wife is addicted to this show and dragged me into her obsession. Highly watchable and witty. `The Castle drinking game`_ is also pretty awesome.* `Homeland`_http://www.thetvdb.com/banners/graphical/247897-g7.jpg" width="425" />If you haven't seen this yet, don't read anything about it. Just go watch both season. In order. Go. Seriously.* `The Newsroom`_http://www.thetvdb.com/banners/graphical/256227-g3.jpg" width="425" />From the opening scene I knew I was going to love this show. Its Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) at his best.* `Sherlock`_http://www.thetvdb.com/banners/graphical/176941-g.jpg" width="425" />A modern spin on the old classic. It is thrilling, funny, and outrageous. Just as advertised.* `The League`_http://www.thetvdb.com/banners/graphical/114701-g3.jpg" width="425" />A show about a bunch of friends who are in a fantasy football league. Doesn't sound like much does it? It is awesome.Movies* `Lawless`_http://fuzzyslogic.com/pix/lawless-425.jpg" width="425" />Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits.* `In the Shadow of the Moon`_http://fuzzyslogic.com/pix/In the Shadow of the Moon-425.jpg" width="425" />The surviving crew members from NASA's Apollo missions tell their story in their own words.

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Unknown target name: "trello`_i've never been good at being organised. over the years i've tried a heap of different project management / todo list software and for some reason only trello has ever worked for me.* `goodreads.com`_i've got calibre (the software i manage my kindle books with) hooked into goodreads so i'm able to track what i've read, what i want to read next and get recommendations for more books.* `openphoto.me`_simple online photo management and hosting (when combined with dropbox, box.net or similar).articles* `what does the year 2512 look like?`_charles stross' predictions of what the world will look like in 500 years.* `most citizens of the star wars galaxy are probably totally illiterate`_not once in any star wars movie does someone pick up a book or newspaper, magazine, literary journal, or chapbook handmade by an aspiring jawa poet.* `how we won the hominid wars, and all the others died out`_the unique adaptability of homo sapiens is what allowed us to survive when so many other species died out, paleoanthropologist rick potts contends.* `hacking is important`_the hacker way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. they just have to go fix it &mdash; often in the face of people who say it&rsquo;s impossible or are content with the status quo.* `bob brown delivers the 3rd annual (australian) green oration`_i hope this goes down as one of the all time best speaches given by a human. more people should be aware of these words.youtube* `the final table`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyl_kbhfmqy?list=plham2zudq-cblheq5xcd9eydidngccyhb]6 wonderfully produced videos which focus on professional poker player russell thomas in the 3 month lead up to the 2012 world series of poker main event final table. russell contacted fellow professional jason somerville to help prepare.* `jeb corliss grinding the crack`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twfph3inc-k]incredible footage of jeb piloting his wingsuit through the infamous "crack".* `shit never said during the olympics`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oss0btl14ee]aussie comedian troy kinne and his mates sum up the olympics in typical oz gutter mouth style.* `push to add drama!`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oijrmqyaa0]tv channel tnt in belgium placed a big red push button on an average flemish square of an average flemish town. a sign with the text "push to add drama" invited people to use the button.* `eye-level camera formula 1`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbbpgq3bpug]the closest most of us will ever get to a hot lap behind the wheel of an f1 car.* `longboarding: let go`_[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkviq41u0eq]this video perfectly captures the thrill and freedom of downhill longboarding, with out the risk of losing your own skin.vimeo* `5d wingsuit soul flyers camp`_[vimeo 35114449 w=425 h=240]this amazing footage makes me so excited to fall out of a plane again.* `urban side`_[vimeo 35981251 w=425 h=240]armed with a paraglider, amazing skills and a kick ass camera, jean-baptiste chandelier created an amazing video.* `cheetahs on the edge`_[vimeo 53914149 w=425 h=240]1200 frames per second while zooming beside a sprinting cheetah, brilliant.books* `dune by frank herbert`_http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348025089l/104.jpg" width="120" />i finally got around to reading this master piece and it didn't disapoint. i trudged through the next two books in the series, but they don't come anywhere near the heights of the original.* `reamde by neal stephenson`_http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1305993115l/10552338.jpg" width="120" />sensational. stephenson has always been one of my favourite story tellers and in reamde he delivers again.* `the mote in god's eye by larry niven, jerry pournelle`_http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1237166991l/1903886.jpg" width="120" />one of my all time favourite books, i re-read this book during the year and the sequel, `the gripping hand".

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Unknown target name: "suits`_http://www.thetvdb.com/banners/graphical/247808-g8.jpg" width="425" />don't be put off by the fact that it is about manhattan's top corporate lawyers; this show is funny, smart, sexy and deep.* `castle`_http://www.thetvdb.com/banners/graphical/83462-g10.jpg" width="425" />my lovely wife is addicted to this show and dragged me into her obsession. highly watchable and witty. `the castle drinking game".

Diablo3, Starcraft2, Trackmania, Poker

For me the shine of Diablo 3's gameplay has faded away into the controversial reality of the option of either grinding for gold or investing real money to continue to be able to progress through the end game deathfest which is Inferno difficulty. I found myself being pulled back to my Starcraft 2 addiction which I'd put on hold while I hacked and slashed my Demonhunter's way to level 60 in Diablo 3, but after completing my placement matches I couldn't help but consider my options.

My enjoyment of Starcraft 2 stems from the deep learning curve and the process of progressing along it. The Starcraft 2 ladder system naturally leads to a Peter Principle; you will be promoted until you reach your own skill ceiling and will then play only matches with those who are of equal skill. I just don't feel that I enjoy the game enough to warrent the amount of time, effort and study which would be required for me to progress beyond my current diamond ranking. Unless you're enjoying that process you've got to ponder why you're doing it at all.

Starcraft 2 has that cycle of learning and development to draw you in, Diablo 3's end game reliance on items and gear to allow you to continue to progress it comes down to receiving lucky item drops, investing further real money into the game to purchase items or grinding for in game gold (which Blizard continuously make harder and harder by patching sections of the game which are found to be the most rewarding in terms of gold collection).

With these thoughts flowing through my mind, I had a flash backs to other games which satisfied my desire for a learning cycle which results in the enjoyment of realising that your skills and knowledge are improving and thus your skill at the game increases. On which I hadn't thought of for some time was Trackmania. As a racing game, at its heart, it is quite simple. The tracks are created using premade sections and can therefore tend to be a little samey, but like most things in life the restrictions lead to amazing creativitiy and imagination. The game puts the track editor into the hands of the players and a huge number of tracks are available. Some which push the boundies of the game engine in spectatular and interesting ways. Players race on these tracks against a number of players from all over the world and an extremely broad and welcoming community has sprung up. It is a real thrill to be battling against players who are playing from countries you only rarely hear about in the news.

The Trackmania end game is an endlessly repetitive, frustrating and punishing thing. Players are driven to shave hundredths of a second off their record times, eeking out the slimmest of advantages and generally getting into "the zone" to produce near perfect laps. I returned to the game for the 1st time in 853 days (I know this because the game told me when I logged back in) and found myself ranked ~2,700,000th on the ladder. After a few sessions I passed other players on the ladder who were also inactive and climbed to around 1,200,000th and decided that I was enjoying myself enough to challenge myself to break into the top million. After a few more enjoyable sessions I reached my goal and also felt that I'd got back to the level of skill I'd had when I played the game all this time ago.

So I was left again pondering if I was enjoying this game enough to invest the time and effort to progress in skill further? Because while I really do get a kick out of chatting with other players who are spread all over the world, in the end my enjoyment of any game hinges on constant learning and development.

I realised that if I was going to go through a reset and invest in a game I should seriously consider diving back into poker. If I'm going to invest time and brain power into something, then poker has the large advantage of actually resulting in money.

After a week, 2,000 hands of cash games and 32 tournaments I'm ahead $500 (roughly 10 buyins for the stakes I'm playing) and really enjoying being back at the tables and more importantly; getting enjoyment from studying the game and learning.