Asus eee 900 laptop

As being able to stay functionally connected while traveling is an important part of my work1 and having drooled over one of these for nearly a year, I finally took the ultra-portable plunge and picked up an Asus eee pc laptop (900 series) off ebay. Boy is it small:

I got the 900 eee with Linux (Xandros), quickly activated the “advanced desktop”, and by the next morning had already determined to install Linux Ubuntu 8.042 (Note: Ubuntu on the eee marked my first Linux OS install) so I could run compiz fusion3 and have greater program flexibility.

There are ample reviews on the 900 eee (as well as the 700 series), so I won’t get into all of that here. However, I’d just like to share a couple of first impressions:

  1. Size. It is difficult to appreciate the size of the eee from pictureas on the internet. I don’t have particularly big hands. The phone in the picture is a Blackberry Curve. The nearest everday-object comparison would be to take two DVD cases in your hands. The eee is only a smidge bigger. It is awesomely tiny. The 8.9 inch screen is solid, packing in 1024×600 pixels, which makes web browsing easy, with little (none so far) side-to-side scrolling
  2. Typing. Review upon review critiqued the keyboard as small and difficult to type on. I was a bit concerned that the keyboard would be difficult to touch-type on. I was happy to discover that concerns were entirely misplaced. There is certainly a learning curve on the eee’s diminutive keyboard; however, rather than let words convince you, here is some hard data:
    • I completed the “Enchanted Typewriter” at typingtest.com on my full-sized laptop keyboard at 99 net words per minute.
    • Within 30 minutes of starting up the eee 900 in Xandros, I got 65 net wpm on the “Zebra” test.
    • A couple days later, I’ve managed 78 net wpm on the eee 900 with mixed use (flipping between the full-sized laptop and the eee laptop.

    My only difficulty on the eee’s keyboard has been the apostrophe key, which I frequently miss for enter. With a little practice, I figure that won’t be too “small” a problem to overcome!

  3. Linux » Ubuntu: A complete Ubuntu noob, I’ve been pretty solidly impressed with the ease of installing Ubuntu on the eee. I’m eager to try sticking Ubuntu on my Asus G1S-B2, and thanks to pendrivelinux.com, it seems I can do this without having to reformat the harddrive! More and more I believe that Microsoft and Windows are going the way of the dinosaur. Innovation is in the open source community!4

It will take a bit more use to form a conclusive opinion of the eee 900, but so far, I’ve been nothing but impressed. Ultra-affordaable5 ultra-portability? Done. And if the emergence of competition is any indicator (it is), this market is only going to keep growing. Yay for technology!

Footnotes

1 Though I regularly work on a full desktop-replacement lappy (Asus G1S-B2, quite a powerful system for graphics processing), it weighs in at over six pounds and as its over twice the dimensional size of the eee, it requires its own backpack. As such, its hardly conducive to traveling. As it’s a fairly powerful machine, it’s also not cheap — almost 4X the cost of the eee. This simply makes me even more wary of traveling with the G1S in fear that I might lose it or have it stolen.
2 Here is a list of sites that I ended up using to get Ubuntu Hardy working smoothly:

3 This is a lot cooler than it sounds — “compiz” is a GUI that does a number of things, one of the coolest being that it allows you to rotate amongst the four desktops on a cube-like interface. To see what I’m talking about, check out this video. It puts Vista and Apple O/S to shame.

4 What does that tell you about the “benefits” of intellectual property law? Microsoft was built on IP law — meanwhile, Linux is thriving entirely without IP law and the rent-seeking behavior it induces.

5 The eee 900 can be had for $550 or less. Mine was purchased off of ebay and is the 20 gb version.

Get some sun

Following up a bit on my post regarding hormesis, is an article I read regarding the importance of getting sun exposure for creating Vitamin D from U.S. News. Points of note from the article:

  • There may be a connection between reduced risk of heart disease and Vitamin D, which can only be created by our bodies if they are exposed to UV-B rays from the sun.
  • You don’t get enough sun exposure in the winter to create Vit D if you live north of Atlanta. This brings to mind the correlation between skin color and proximity to the equator.
  • Fair-skinned folk like me only need a paltry 10 minutes in the midday sun to generated more than enough Vitamin D. Yeah! At last a benefit to being so susceptible to sunburn!
  • Glass stops UV rays, which is why you don’t get a tan from riding with that moon roof open or having your arm on the car door window sill.

In thinking about sun exposure, I think about cancer and sunburns. Furthermore, I’m reminded of the commonly held tenet that its your worst sunburn that gives you cancer. Somewhere between sunlight causing cancer and lack of sunlight being unhealthy must be a happy middle ground — perhaps one met with as little as ten minutes a day.

In other sunlight-and-health news, one health editorial wonders if its lack of sunlight on certain areas of the body leads to the worst, most untreatable types of cancer (link). [H/T PF]

George Carlin, R.I.P.

George Carlin died at age 71. He was a damn hilarious comedian, philosopher and human observer. That is redundant.

Here are a couple of interviews with Carlin:

The A.V. Club circa 1999:

GC: Well, they say, “If you scratch a cynic, underneath you’ll find a disappointed idealist.” So I would imagine there’s some little flame, however weak, that still burns, but I know time is against my seeing that. I think this world would need a long time, maybe a thousand years, to evolve to what may be a golden age, and in the meantime, there are all these very small, parochial struggles between peoples of different language and color and arbitrary political and national boundaries. And my understanding of it is that there is no hope, because I think we’re locked in by commerce. The whole idea of the pursuit of goods and possessions has completely corrupted the human experience, along with religion, which I think limits the intellect. So with those two things in place as firmly as they are, I don’t see any hope for getting around them short of some sort of interesting cataclysm. So I root for a cataclysm, for its own sake, just as entertainment. I don’t even care if it has a good result. We’re circling the drain, and I just like seeing the circles get faster and shorter all the time.

Mother Jones circa 1997 (Carlin was actually married for at least 30 years prior to his wife’s death):

Q: Are you lonely?

A: There is a core of loneliness. It’s partly existential. Secondly, I was raised a loner. My parents were not there. My father was asked to leave because he couldn’t metabolize ethanol. Actually, my mother ran away with us when I was 2 months old and my brother was 5. Real dramatic stuff: down the fire escape, through backyards.

So, I sort of raised myself. I was alone a lot and I invented myself — I lived through the radio and through my imagination.

One of the interesting things about “outsidership” is that underneath it there’s a longing to belong. I just wish the thing I refused to belong to — the species, Western capital culture — was a little more respectable.

The full interviews are worth reading if you have the time.

A couple of must-see videos after the jump.

Continue reading “George Carlin, R.I.P.”

Lenox Mall Blogging

I’m presently “mallrooned”.

My better half and her female accomplices are perusing Lenox Mall. Like others who have grown weary of the Mall, I have found sanctuary in a pleather chair outside of Macy’s.

Armed with my blackberry and a grande-ly overpriced Cafe Americana from Starbucks, I observe:

  • Mall security guards appear considerably less menacing whilst riding Segway scooters. It doesn’t help any that they have to wear goofy bike helmets. Regardless, I’m jealous as said Segways look like a ton of nerdy fun.
  • I still fail to understand the style of certain teenagers and urbanites. I’m specifically referring to clothing that is 2-3 sizes too big, flashy, and/or hats with unshaped bills, still sporting their mirror-finish marketing stickers. Is this an attempt to imply that said hat is “new”? Isn’t the overly baggy clothing cumbersome to move around in? Is this merely a difference in aesthetic taste or something indicative of some greater difference in fundamental philosophy? Am I getting old?
  • Consumers in Buckhead Atlanta are still shopping in droves. Or at least acting the part.
  • Banana Republic is hurting – big, big sales going on (additionally, I am getting sales announcement emails from them on a weekly basis now).
  • Cargo shorts and flipflops: still stylish for men. So thinks this blogger, anyway. Yes, I am wearing cargo shorts and flipflops.
  • Is it sunny in here? Nothing says “poser” louder than wearing sunglasses indoors. Doubly so in a mall. Multiply by five if said sunglasses have a mirror finish with a chrome or gold frame.
  • I’m gonna go out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that the backpacked, brochure carrying, camera toting Asian family is not from around here. Particlarly the guy carrying the white leather purse (?) with the perma-smile on his face.
  • It’s cool for southern boys to wear pastels. Even cooler still when you double up and go for the “twin pink polo shirt” look. With your dad. With your pastel yellow Masters baseball cap. Whispy blonde bangs and pastel blue-polo-wearing-brother, optional.
  • Better still, go to the mall with your girlfriend. Wear matching teal tshirts – one saying “Fitch” and the other saying “Abercrombie”. Then, round out the look with matching rhinestone belt buckles. Complete the look by wearing your sunglasses indoors.
  • And that’s as much as I can handle.

Now how do I hijack that Segway?

i can has lizard? Weekend in Atlanta

About to head “home” to Atlanta for the weekend. Will be hanging out with friends and family and celebrating a birthday, among other plans yet to be made.

In other mundane news today, I caught our favorite 19 lb. cat Eli being tormented by a lizard. Said lizard was toying with Eli, walking back and forth on the window sill, occasionally pausing to peer in (With a touch of spite?). This went on for at least an hour. Poor Eli!

A la lolcatz:

Have a good weekend!

Summer tunes

During the summer of 2007 there were a few albums that got more than their fair share of playing time. These albums ended up being theme music for last summer, and I have no doubt that listening to them going forward will evoke strong memories of the summer of 2007. Here they are in no particular order:

Coldplay — X&Y: An uncle, of all people, turned me onto this album. I have mixed feelings about Coldplay. They’ve put out some enjoyable songs like Clocks and maybe Yellow, but all-in-all, most of their previous efforts have left me disappointed. That is, until X&Y. There is a veritable quadruplet of songs on this album that are fantastic. Start at Fix You, then Talk, skip X&Y to get to the radio-hit Speed of Sound only to round it out with A Message.

I have no idea why the crammed the mediocre song X&Y in the midst of this fantastic quadruplet of songs, but they did. Oh well. And don’t get me wrong, there are a couple other songs on the album that are “classic Coldplay” in the sense that they are less-than-stellar music. But the awesomeness of the aforemetioned four songs makes up for it. Unfortunately, I fully expect Coldplay to never repeat this confluence of solid music-making.

The Postal Service — Give Up: This album came out awhile ago (Early 2003 to be specific). And I was first introduced to it by my friend Larry after he did a solo cover of “Such Great Heights” and sent me his recording. That was in 2004. It took me three years to follow-up and listen to the album. Give Up is incredible music from the beats and lyrics of Such Great Heights to the provactive imagery of Clark Gable or We will become silhouettes or Recycled air. Even if you don’t care for Ben Gibbard‘s other band (Death Cab for Cutie), there’s a great chance you’ll still like The Postal Service. My only gripe with Give Up is that its too short. Alas, some damn fine music. I’m keeping my ears open for a repeat album.

Foo Fighters — In Your Honor: I only list In Your Honor while admitting that I caught up on the entire Foo Fighters discography last summer. Perhaps not unlike The Postal Service, it just took me awhile to be “ready” for Foo Fighters. Alas, the two-disc set of In Your Honor is fantastic music, and I particularly enjoyed Dave Grohl’s more-or-less solo, acoustic album (i.e. Miracle or On the mend). It’s akin to Beck‘s departure from his normal motif in Sea Change (Another one worth checking out whether you like Beck’s other stuff or not).

Peter, Bjorn & John — Writer’s Block: I picked up this album after hearing Young Folks on some internet radio station. Writer’s Block is just a fun, indie rock album. It’s not genius, but if you’re looking for something slightly different than the mainstream and want an enjoyable album, its worth checking out.

Muse — Black Holes and Revelations: Muse is a bit different, but I found this album to be great workout/biking music. It’s loud, rocking, and some of the lyrics are thought-provoking, if not typically and predictably anti-Bush (yawn). Nonetheless, the album’s namesake song Starlight, which includes the lyric “black holes and revelations”, is fun, weird and enjoyable. Supermassive Black Hole is another different, funkily enjoyable tune. This album is completely associated with biking around Ansley and Piedmont Park.

A request

Now that summer 2008 is fully-on, I’m looking for some new music — good tunes that ultimately end up as my 2008 theme music, forever associated with whatever this summer brings. So if you have any albums you think I might enjoy, please comment below.

Follow-up on Oils

I first got keen on learning more about oils thanks to Scott Kustes of Modern Forager (See All about oils, Coconut milk and Whiskey) and then wrote More on Coconut Oil. As a result of learning a bit more on oils, I’ve replaced olive oil with coconut oil whenever I use my cast iron skillet, which is quite often. The results have been fantastic: less smoking, better flavor and an easier to clean skillet (no idea why).

So I was happy to find Scott had expanded on his first post with Ten Oils And How To Use Them. It’s worth a read, so go check it out.

Armed with this additional data, I’ve got to figure out where to get lard, tallow and palm oil — I looked briefly for palm oil while at Publix the other day and came up empty-handed. And I have no idea if Augusta even has a farmer’s market.

Crossfit Augusta

I am seeing some folks hit my site looking for CrossFit Augusta. As the official CrossFit Augusta website (crossfitofaugusta.com) is under construction and missing a few key details, below you’ll find some unofficial information that would-be Augusta Crossfitters might find useful:

  • Location: 766 Industrial Park Drive / Evans, GA 30809 (Google Maps).

    For Augusta veterans, this is across the street from the ruins of Krystal River Water Park. Otherwise, you can get there from Fury’s Ferry north of the Fury’s Ferry Jones Creek entrance or from where Evans to Lock Rd hits Washington Rd near the new Lowe’s/Home Depot/Omni (Use those points of reference and then look at the map link).

    The sign is a little small, but if you see the “Krystal River” sign, you’re close!

  • Phone: 706.877.3279
  • Contacts: Charlie and John
  • Hours of operation: Monday — Friday from 4:30 to 8:30pm; Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm; Sunday — CLOSED

I’m in week two of CrossFit. It’s kicking my butt, but it a good, painful way. Check it out!

INTJ

I first took the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (or maybe it was Myers-Briggs — I can’t keep them straight) when I was sixteen. If I recall, I registered an ENTP. Since then, I’ve taken the test a couple other times and registered an INTJ. I am a borderline introvert (or borderline extrovert depending on how you look at it). Though I typically say I’m introverted, I can distinctly recall getting an extrovert’s high while leading meetings and rallying a large group of people.

As for the P-to-J switch, I’ve just gotten more certain about things as I’ve grown older — for better or worse.

From time to time, I return to reading the description of an INTJ. And though doing so triggers a dull alarm of skepticism, I find the description of an INTJ damn close to sounding like me, even having read the alternatives (for the other fifteen combinations generally, and the other NT combos specifically).

Here’s a clip from the description of an INTJ:

Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion “Does it work?” to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake.

INTJs are known as the “Systems Builders” of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait combination of imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INTJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority may come into play …

Another descriptor associated with INTJ? Single-mindedness. I have a sometimes-maddening tendency to dive deep into a subject for a substantial period of time — a trait my wife will swear by.

I mostly enjoy how I can passionately pursue a subject of study for a period of time; however, I can also be a generalist. This combo leads me to bounce around, intensely learning new subjects but eventually losing interest as I bounce again.

Amidst all the bouncing, I’m always working to fit the varying bits of knowledge I accumulate together to better understand the world around me.

One interesting thing about INTJs (And NTs generally) is that some sources say only 2% of the population are INTJs. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. What I have noticed anecdotally, however, is that a large number of libertarians and anarchists are NTs. And via the internet, a lot of us NTs have found each other (via things I ca”free hand” mechanisms) and communed!

What’s the point of boning up on a personality test? I enjoy applying the framework of typed-personalities to my understanding of myself and those around me. Though I believe I am good at understanding systems quickly, understanding myself is a never-ending work in progress. Specifically, as I search for my ideal career, I seek guidance both externally and via introspection. I’m always disappointed to find all the guides telling me that careers in sciences and engineering are common in INTJs.

I’m doing neither. D’oh!

Insulin Control: The Common Denominator of the Low-Carb / Fasting / Caloric Restriction Diets.

Over the past four months, I’ve turned into a staunch advocate of Paleo / low-carb / intermittent fasting (See IF/low-carb, caloric restriction, ketosis, hormesis). I proselytize because this diet lifestyle has had a significant impact on my physical health and my understanding of nutrition. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before my advocacy spurred the comment that there is “No zealot like the converted.” Oof!

The retort stuck with me. I am a passionate about spreading good ideas. And this idea concerning the health of my friends and family was not only a good idea in theory, but also one in practice. The last thing I wanted was for my zeal to turn individuals away. I needed a better in than “low-carb” or “fasting”.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of pre-conceived notions and pent-up negative biases towards “low-carb” in specific and diets in general. Most people have experienced nothing but disappointment from dieting and/or strict exercise regiments. When the low-carb meme went mainstream a few years ago, non-believers and skeptics rightfully vocalized their doubt. My own curiosity brought me to read a good portion of Atkins New Diet Revolution; however, I was unconvinced. Atkins’ rhetoric was all pathos and little ethos: I needed the science. Not surprisingly, I never even tried the diet, more or less writing it off as just another fad.

Fast-forward to today. There is an ever-growing number of branded low-carbohydrate diets, and additionally, there are a growing number of diets that incorporate caloric restriction or fasting (Popular examples of low-carb and/or fasting include Paleo / DeVany, Protein Power, Atkins, South Beach, Warrior Diet, The Zone, Eat Stop Eat, Fast-5, UpDayDownDay, Bantingism, etc.). Such a plethora of similar yet nuanced regiments is confusing. Who wants to wade through them all to explain their own method? Who wants to lay caveat upon caveat on a diet to tailor fit it to your own experience just to explain it to an inquisitor? My eyes glaze over just thinking about it!

There is a better way. All of these diets have a clear, underlying purpose: to control insulin. Why not just call it Insulin control?

By starting with this core tenet, I can transcend the diet denominational mess.

Insulin control gets to the heart of the matter, which is that excess or chronic insulin in the blood leads to fat storage, loss of insulin sensitivity / increased insulin resistance, downregulation of fat mobilizing hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, glucagon and human growth hormone), and can ultimately lead to symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. How do you control insulin? Insulin control can be accomplished via reduction in carbohydrate intake or via controlling feeding times (via fasting) so that insulin levels sufficiently drop, which allows fat mobilization to resume.

Calling what we do “insulin control” focuses on the problem and implies the solution. It also grounds the diet/lifestyle to its fundamental science while avoiding the pitfalls of bias-loaded words. Starting an argument from “insulin control” gets me to low-carb, to fasting, to evolution, to metabolic syndrome, to higher-fat consumption, to more natural/less process foods. Why bother with the varying brands when it’s all about insulin control!

Further reading:

  • Go here to get started on some fantastic quotes on insulin, sugar, glucose, etc. If you’re not already practicing a low-carbohydrate lifestyle, read up.
  • Art De Vany wrote a reasoned response to the contention that the Paleo / “EF Way of eating” (See how muddled that is!?) was a fad diet. His most excellent point was that the current American diet is much more a fad having been around for merely decades relative to the stacked millennia of two million years (Tyranny of Present fallacy).
  • In mentioning Johnson’s UpDayDownDay diet, Patri Friedman notes how excellent it is that such a variation of research is occurring surrounding caloric restriction. What I wonder: is caloric restriction / fasting an emerging diet trend? I plan on doing a tiny blog on this later. Stay tuned.
  • While I was writing this entry, the IF life published a diagram that lays out how to stay on track for weight loss. It’s a useful, informative and simple diagram. And what will you note in the middlemost bubble? Control insulin!