We’re All DOOMED!

October 19, 2007

Forget ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night. Every mac user knows the true meaning of fear. It goes by many names: The Spinning Beachball of Death. The Marble of Doom. The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. Ok, maybe not that last one. But the OS X spinning wait cursor is well-known and well-dreaded by Mac users around the world.

Now there is a fun way for Mac users to band together, share their frustrations and take solace. Thanks to the marvel of the Internet, MarbleofDoom.com lets Mac users vent their collective annoyance at being held hostage (5 or 10 seconds at a time) by this unwanted glassy harbinger of OS X.

Photoshop hung up for almost a minute? Is Xcode showing you the beachball love? Spin on over to MarbleofDoom.com and select the appropriate application, and the time spent waiting for it to relinquish control of your system. A running total of all the time wasted is displayed for all the world to see. The site also includes a more detailed data page where you can see how much time individual apps have contributed to the total. If misery loves company, then MarbleofDoom.com is a way of organizing one big, online therapy session for frustrated Mac users everywhere.

So don’t just powerlessly shake your fists in rage! Powerlessly shake them, then tell the world how long you were shaking them. All of us over at the Iconfactory hope you’ll spread the word far and wide, and remember, it’s all in good fun. Enjoy!

P.S. – Watch for a follow-up post about how MarbleofDoom.com came to be. It really is a funny story, so stay tuned!

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The Rainstorm

October 15, 2007

I had never really known how much something as simple as a phone call could change one’s life. In the early morning hours of September 29th, 2005, I picked up the phone and got news that no one should ever have to hear. My wife and I huddled around the speakerphone to listen to my doctor tell me the results of my biopsy were in. The growth I had felt on my right clavicle, was in fact, a malignant lymphoma. Mindy and I had been bargaining our fears away for a week leading up to the results. We thought it was an abscess, a fatty deposit or Cat Scratch Disease. When the doctor told us that instead I had Hodgkin’s Disease, my world quite literally crumbled all around me.

“Then the rainstorm came, over me and I felt my spirit break. I had lost all of my, belief you see and realized my mistake.”

Tears came as we spoke to the doctor as he recommended I meet my new oncologist as soon as possible. The call to my mother that morning to inform her was one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Her only son had developed cancer, and I could feel the pain in her voice as we spoke. Fighting back sobs, mom, dad and Mindy all comforted me, and I did my best to assure them that I would fight this thing. I would make it through with their help. The more I learned about Hodgkin’s, and the support system I had in place to help me beat the disease, the more my fears turned to hope and resolve.

“But time threw a prayer, to me and all around me became still.”

Everywhere I turned, from the gang at work, to prayers offered up in my name by those in my home town of Laconia, N.H., to the supportive and loving words of Mindy’s family, I knew I wasn’t alone in this fight. Mindy’s mom, Ann, had battled against a far worse form of ovarian cancer and won. My own mother had won her fight against breast cancer, as had my Aunt Lucile. I was turning out to be just the latest member of our family to come up against this disease and damned if I was going to be the one to kick it in. Any lingering fears and doubts vanished after I met my oncologist. From the moment I met Dr. Kahn, I knew I was blessed. She explained to Min and I what Hodgkin’s was, how she was going to treat me, and what I could expect from chemo and radiation. From my PET and CT scans, Kahn was able to diagnose me with stage 2A Hodgkin’s. While serious, it was still a highly treatable form of lymphoma. When she told me that she was going to “cure me” of the cancer, I could hardly believe it. Over the course of the next year, I learned Dr. Kahn was a woman of her word.

“Through the rainstorm came sanctuary and I felt my spirit fly. I had found all of my reality. I realized what it takes.”

Mindy and I drew strength from each other, as husbands and wives often do. She made me laugh, helped me take care of myself and led me to her mom & dad. Through their unwavering support and experience I was prepared for what lay ahead. Everyone at the Iconfactory did their part too. As I worked at home on the re-design of the company’s website, they took on my client projects so I could focus on getting better. As chemo progressed, and I watched the tumors melt from my body, the support from those I loved raised me up to a place I had never known before. Friends, family, neighbors and community had all come together for the benefit of me. It was a humbling and remarkable experience that I will never forget, nor be able to fully repay.

“Oh I, don’t bend, don’t break. Show me how to live and promise me you won’t forsake. ‘Cause love can help me know my name.”

I have been free of cancer now for two years. As I head for my semi-annual PET and CT scans this Thursday, I am proud to be counted as just one of the millions of people who have fought and survived their battle with cancer. I beat Hodgkin’s thanks to the love of my friends and family, the remarkable staff at the Wesley Long Cancer Center and good old fashion faith. Initially, I had never wanted to be defined by my illness. I resisted telling casual acquaintances about it for a long time. I knew that someday I would be able to help others through what had happened to me, but I wasn’t sure if that time was now. Today, I write this to tell you I am a loving husband and son, loyal friend, artist, geek, and now proudly, cancer survivor. Let me help.

UPDATE: I received word from my doctor today that my scan results are still negative. A clean bill of health for another six months. Thanks to all those who wrote or tweeted with words of encouragement. It means a great deal to me.

You really have to hand it to Al Gore. First he wins an Academy Award for his groundbreaking work on An Inconvenient Truth with Davis Guggenheim. Next he stages the largest entertainment event in the history of the planet, and now he wins the Nobel Peace Prize along side the IPCC. All of this was done in the name of raising awareness to the growing problem of man-made climate change, and his efforts seem to be paying off. People everywhere are starting to list climate change as one of the most important problems facing our nation and the world. With record temperatures being set, hurricanes that strengthen in record times and ever shrinking glaciers, the general public is starting to feel global warming’s effects directly.

Of course, this doesn’t stop the climate deniers from insisting that there really isn’t a problem. It seems that even when faced with overwhelming scientific evidence, from thousands of leading scientists across the planet, it’s just not enough. Well, today we learned that one man’s hard work and perseverance, along with the dedicated research of thousands of climate professionals, may just help to save us all. Bravo Al, from all of us who happen to think our pale blue dot matters.

God or Mini Golf?

October 11, 2007

CBS’s Kid Nation is fast becoming my new favorite TV show. This surprising and delightful reality series challenges a group of 40 kids to carve out a functioning society in the New Mexico desert. The latest episode dealt with the contentious subject of religion. Like many of the issues the children deal with on Kid Nation, the subject of “going to service” was imposed upon them by the show’s producers in the form of the town journal. Each week a new chapter is read by the ruling council and they must decide if they will take the journal’s entry to heart and effect change in Bonanza City, or ignore the lessons it attempts to teach.

After reading the entry about Sunday service, the council decides to create a “catch-all” gathering for the entire town in which everyone’s religion will be represented. But when the council rings the meeting bell, no one comes running. It seems on the outset, these kids don’t love God. They are both lawless AND Godless! Oh ye of little faith. Later that evening, Morgan decides to get an impromptu prayer group together, and low and behold, many of the kids attend. As the children huddle around a burning oil barrel, prayers from various religions are shared. Some of the kids are even moved to tears by the words of their friends. Instead of religion being enforced, God is shared spontaneously, and that’s what I love most about Kid Nation – it’s never what you expect.

Given a choice between an 18 hole mini golf course, or a collection of holy books, the kids choose the books. When tensions run high in a town meeting, it’s the voice of 9 year old Alex that makes the most sense. Sophia calmly states in an interview that religion is one of the leading reasons people kill each other around the world. And some kids disturbingly emulate their parents by “drowning their sorrows” with shots of root beer in the town Saloon. No matter what pops up from week to week on this contrived, sometimes awkward TV series, through it all, the kids shine through. They constantly rise above the fake settings and the Survivor-like challenges to single-handedly put the “reality” back in reality TV, and I’m loving every minute of it.

When the hero of last week’s sheep herding challenge, Cody, decided to leave, his heartfelt goodbye really got me. Who among us hasn’t had to say goodbye to a close friend or lend moral support when a buddy is down? Kid Nation lets us re-connect with our childhood while giving us glimpses into how today’s parents are raising their kids. Michael, Zach and Anjay’s parents are doing something right because they all deserve a gold star.

The preview for next week’s episode looks great too, as the kids will have to hold an election for a new ruling council. Politics and kids usually don’t mix well, but something tells me this will be different. It’s a shame that Kid Nation got such a bad rap in the weeks leading up to its premiere. While some aspects of the show are less than perfect, on the whole, it enlightens and satisfies. Just the right blend of humor – “I got a bogey!” and insight – “Yuck stuff.” to make Kid Nation one great hour of television. Check it out.

Baseball fans seem to be getting their money’s worth this post season. This goes double for devotees of the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. All four teams are so far undefeated in post season play, much to the disappointment of Cubs, Phillies, Angels and Yankee fans everywhere. Of all the division playoffs so far, the most surprising has been the Yanks and Indians. I think it is safe to say that few expected the Indians to shut out the Yankees so effectively, but now the series heads back to New York for today’s 6:30pm game. If there is any team in Major League Baseball that won’t go quietly into the night, it’s those damn Yankees. I think Jeeter and company would have actually won game 2 if it hadn’t been for the spectacularly bad catching of Posada along with all those wonderful bugs. I fully expect tonight’s game to be an old fashion brawl with the Yankees emerging as victors. Back in 2001, the Yankees were down 2-0 vs. the Angles and came back to win. Of course I could be wrong. The Yankees, after all, have been known to choke before.

The Red Sox have had a relatively easy go of their division series thus far, but now they head to California. The Angels won the most home games of any team in 2007 and as such are hoping for the momentum they need to beat back Ortiz, Manny and Shilling. After Dice K’s weak performance in game 2, I was actually surprised that the Sox pulled it off, so I’m less confident about a Boston sweep than I should be. I predict the Sox will lose today, then come back in game 4 to take the division. Similarly, I think the Yanks will crush the Indians tonight, but will ultimately lose, probably in game 5 back in Cleveland.

Any way you cut it, this is a great time to be a baseball fan. We’ve seen some fantastic moments so far, and I’m sure there will be much more to come. It was sad to see Chicago get clobbered so badly, I have an understandable affinity for those cursed Cubbies. However, as we said in Boston for over 8 decades, “There’s always next year”. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get going, my floor needs sweeping.

UPDATE: Seems that the Angel’s record at home during the regular season didn’t amount to squat. The Sox sweep the Angels and head to the ALCS thanks to a ball-busting 9-1 slugfest. God, I love being wrong. Now it falls to the Indians to see if they can sweep A-Rod and Jeeter out of the post season. My gut says the Yanks will still win big tonight.

UPDATE II: The Yanks manage to hold the brooms at bay and come away with a win tonight. Despite the victory, New York was far from perfect. Clemens put in a dismal performance and was taken out in just 3 innings. Was he really worth that $15.6 million dollars? And while we’re at it, what’s up with Steinbrenner threatening Joe Torre with dismissal? Yanks get to the playoffs, but evidently that isn’t good enough. At any rate, another game tomorrow. Should be fun!

UPDATE III: Well, the Yankees avoided the sweep, but they’re still out. Nothing like beating a team in their own park. The best part about the Indians going to the ALCS is that now I don’t have to hear the phrase “Joba Rules” anymore. Thank GOD. Bring on the Tribe!

There seems to be a growing backlash against the popular notion that Apple royally screwed up the iPhone 1.1.1 update. Sure lots of developers are berating Apple for locking them out of the platform, and even more people seem to want to sue Apple for the smallest little thing, but in the grand scheme of things, these attitudes don’t amount to much. Apple will conduct business how it sees fit and no amount of whining, throwing fits or hiring lawyers will change that. All the while these pouty, scorned users are planning on ditching their iPhones for the latest non-wonders from Verizon, Apple is selling a ton of iPhones and the stock continues to climb.

Just nine days ago AAPL hit an all time high of $150, and now it has done it once again by passing the $160 mark. Does this sound like a company that has jumped the shark to you? The simple fact that most iPhone crybabies forget is that 99% of the gadget using public doesn’t even know how to set their VCR’s clock let alone hack their iPhone. They are content to let the iPhone be the masterful gadget it is, free from the burdens of 3rd party patches, font hacks and even awesome touch-sensitive games. Sure I’d love to be able for people to play Frenzic on the iPhone, I’ve said as much in the past. But I fully understand why Apple has had to lock down the iPhone and I actually agree with it. When they are ready for 3rd party developers to produce software for the platform, they’ll come knocking. Until then, we’re all just living in a “wouldn’t it be great!” fantasy land. Apple never promised us a developer’s rose garden, and no amount of wishful thinking or revisionist history will change that. Does it suck? Sure, but as someone from one of my favorite TV shows says, “Deal with it!”

Disclosure: Yep, you guess it, I own stock in Apple Computer.

UPDATE: In what is perhaps the worst case of iBaby whining so far, a man in California has filed suit against Apple because he cannot use the iPhone with a competing carrier. Once the 1.1.1 update was applied, his unlocked, hacked iPhone was bricked and became unusable. Forget for a second that he agreed to the terms when he activated his phone and unlocking it voided his warranty. Forget that he knew full well that he had to sign an exclusive contract with AT&T for two years. And most of all forget that he can get his iPhone working again by restoring back to the 1.0.2 firmware. Forget all of these things and what you are left with is the biggest, most disgusting pile of litigious crap I’ve ever seen. This is why the rest of us can’t have nice things.

If you listened to Brad & Britt’s “interview” this morning of Ann Coulter, then what you heard wasn’t so much of an interview, so much as a 15 minute joke published over public airwaves. Brad & Britt evidently tried to take the “high road” and not go toe to toe with this disgusting excuse for a pundit and what we got was the usual hate spewing rhetoric that went unanswered and unchallenged while she shopped her latest book.

I called into the station to give my thoughts on the entire matter, but when I asked the producer who’s idea it was to put her on, he told me that they try to showcase both sides of the “argument” to try and be fair. I laughed so hard at the notion Ann Coulter and “fairness” used in the same sentence that I simply hung up. I’d love to know when 101.1 FM Talk has ever had anyone on Brad & Britt’s show from the left who is as extreme as Coulter. Because for the 2 years I’ve been listening, I can’t remember them interviewing anyone who called for the murder of public officials on the right, or who issues unilateral statements of hate against all Republicans. If I’m wrong, please let me know.

The worst part is that after she was off the air, the duo spent the next half our segment berating her and claiming that they needed a shower. So they’ll talk smack about her when the segment is done, but not while everyone is actually listening. Brilliant. I love Brad & Britt in the morning, but not when they do crap like this. Very disappointing.