Archive for October 2010
One of my coworkers declared Thursday “Necktie Day.” Many have joined in the fun. Before I started with my current company, I had to wear ties almost every day, so I have quite the stockpile.
One sad thing about it is that I have several fun ties that would be OK for a random Thursday in the office, but not for the occasions I wear ties to these days (weddings, etc.).
This particular tie is from a series made for the Save the Children foundation, where kids drew the pattern, and it was made into a tie. I like this one because it almost looks like a typical necktie pattern, until you look at it…and realize, it’s a giraffe.
Decidedly a point in favor of The Dark Side.
This was the last weekend for the cheetah runs at the zoo. It was also “Hallow-Zoo-Ween,” when they set up trick-or-treating. So, we went out to see the cats.
We got to the Cheetah Encounter. Miss Minnow dived after fish.
I’m already looking forward to seeing them next year.
At nineteen years old, Maggie has simple pleasures. Laying on the back of the sofa and looking out the window is her favorite passtime after cuddling with her people.
I love how her paws reach across to the windowsill.
Until I was eight, my dad was a pilot in the Air Force. At the time, it may not have clicked with me, but now I admire his discipline. His learning style was what I imagine to be that of many military aviators: you read the manual, cover to cover, before even sitting in the aircraft you are to fly. When he left the service, he took a similar approach in his new career: Read. Learn. Understand. Do. This is one of those things I think that contributed to his success in his field.
On the other hand, my learning style was more that of a hacker: alternating reviewing documentation with hands on experience. Incrementally learning how something works, applying this knowledge, and expanding it as I went deeper into whatever I was interested in, be it a computer, a bicycle, or cats.
There may not be a right or wrong in this discussion–each has its strengths and weaknesses. I do admit that I really could stand a bit of his knack for sitting and reading something cover to cover before trying it. I think he saw that, for some things on the computer, you learned as much by tinkering as by reading.
There were also times when this difference caused frustration on the part of one or the other of us. When I was thirteen, we got our first computer, a Commodore 64. I had learned some BASIC at school, and felt I had a good view of the fundamentals. I was ready to hook up the beast. My dad, on the other hand, wanted to read the manual, cover to cover, before using it. He relented, at least, to hook it up after finishing the relevant chapter.
Still, I was eager to get at it. I lacked the patience to watch him read about the PRINT statement. He would read a bit, and I would try to stick my hands on the keyboard. Finally, he walked away frustrated. He didn’t get to really explore the computer, his way, until I went to bed. Sorry, Dad.
They say that grandchildren are a parent’s revenge. I like to think my dad got his the other day. When my mom was in on a visit, she had a game called Angry Birds on her iPad. Caitlin played it, and dug it, I had heard good things about it, so I got myself a copy. I gave my daughter a crack at it first.
Later, I sat down, ready to play. As soon as she heard the theme music, she was right next to me, trying to coach me. She asked to play my man on a few occasions, even remembering to ask me before doing so once or twice. After a while, I let her play, determining my best bet was to play after she went to bed.
What distinguishes fountain pens from dip pens is their ability to carry their own ink supply. The advantage of this is fairly obvious, however, I think it became revolutionary. Carrying a pen became relatively simple (consider that the earliest fountain pens didn’t bother with pocket clips–now something that seems odd not to have).
While it sounds simple, the exchange of ink and air is a complicated bit of technology called a feed. While this is fascinating, it is also a fairly hidden attribute. An obvious difference among pens is getting the ink into the pen in the first place.
With this post, I’m starting a five-part series on fountain pen filling systems. In this first part, in addition to this introduction, I’ll cover eyedropper fillers. Subsequent posts will cover sack-and-spring, piston, and cartridge filling pens. I’ll wrap up with some experiments that did not go into widespread adoption.
The earliest fountain pens could not, on their own, fill themselves. Instead, a fairly simple mechanism was used: an eyedropper. The front part of the pen–the nib, feed, and section, would unscrew. the entire barrel would act as a chamber to hold ink, delivered by the aforementioned eyedropper. Then, the pen would be reassembled.
Above are two eyedropper fillers and an eyedropper. Both of the pens are from John Holland, a Cincinnati producer of pens that is no longer in business. The top pen is circa 1890; the bottom, 1907. The bottom pen has its section removed. The cap is posted in both pictures–neither one has a clip.
When I fill these pens, ink tends to seep out of the joint connecting the section to the barrel (yes, I do write with these pens on occasion). I’m not sure if that is function of age or of eyedropper fillers. This is cured by adding a bit of silicone grease to the threads. While it is effective, I have a hard time believing this was common in the drawers of the folks of the late nineteenth century.
The eyedropper era started to fade in the first decade or so of the twentieth century. This is where the innovation began.
I dare say many of the folks reading my blog are what I have termed in my RSS reader as “Vox Refugees.” We all received notice about a month ago that Six Apart decided to discontinue their Vox service. Yesterday, September 30, was its final day.
When it came out in 2006, I think Vox had a great “fit-to-purpose.” For a casual blogger, you were able to produce a pretty good looking blog for minimal effort. The concepts of “Neighborhoods,” “Friends,” and “Family” made a simple security model. It worked and played well with several popular services, such as YouTube and Flickr.
After a year or two, though, it started to feel old. In 2006, FireFox and Internet Explorer were really the only choices for browsers, and attaching a picture to an e-mail really was the best anyone could hope for for a mobile solution.
By 2008, the iPhone demonstrated just what the mobile web could be. Safari was becoming a key player with Chrome following behind it. Twitter was showing the value of stand-alone applications driven by an API. Other players (such as WordPress) quickly embraced these changes. Vox continued to soldier on like it was 2006.
While I dipped my toe in the water here and there, getting an iPad is what finally convinced me that Vox was dieing. Here was what many viewed as a revolutionary product–something that would bring “mobile” to the forefront. Vox offered little in the way of support. It was still operating like it was 2006, with FireFox and IE as the whole world. I figured we’d either see Vox 2.0 or the service would be rolled in with one of Six Apart’s other offerings. It seems the latter option is the closest fit.
Overall, I view Vox fondly. I really started blogging with it, and met a lot of great folks. For the most part, I’ve been on WordPress all summer; I moved on. Still, I’m sad to see it go, doubly so as it simply faded away due to neglect.