Skip to main content

A Christmas party

I went to a Christmas party hosted by a long-time friend of mine, Jim Smith. Jim and I go back to 1985, when I first met him at a Central Florida Computer Club meeting. This was 'back in the days' when only the 'serious' attended, and by serious, I'm talking folks running MPM on S100-based systems, Unix on the nearly-new IBM AT. Not too many people even bothered to mention Microsoft and DOS because it was just too primitive and immature.

Jim and I worked together through those years on various projects for his company, specifically during that first decade. And because of that working relationship I got invited to Jim's Christmas parties pretty regularly. Jim threw them for the regular members of his Friday night bunch. The Friday night bunch was composed of the more hard-core of the CFCC attendees. We talked computers and politics and humor and politics and more computers, until it hit early Saturday morning and we went back home. My last regular Christmas party at Jim's was in 1996. After that my life got extremely hectic.

Then early last week I got an email from Jim inviting me to his 2006 Christmas party. It had been so long (10 years) since the last, that I made the decision to go to this one, if for no other reason than guilt. So I showed up at his place at 6:30 pm and stepped back in time nearly 10 years. That's not to say that Jim hasn't advanced (he has), but all the memories from the earlier get togethers came crowding back. One important factor hadn't changed after all those years. Jim's wife Dot prepared an excellent meal, and I enjoyed wonderful food and companionship with everyone, including Jim.

There were some changes. The crowd's gotten a little thinner, and a 'little' older. But the enthusiasm for getting together and talking tech hasn't changed. There was one older gentleman, in his late 90's, who sat in with the group and interacted in such a way that you'd never know he was 98. He commented on the emails he'd sent and gotten that day, and one of the emails he sent out to Jim had a video attachment.

What's so special about a 98-year-old man using email? I keep read articles about usage gaps and skill gaps between generations, and then one evening I meet an individual who was born in 1908 (nearly a century ago) who is quite capable of reasonably living in a digital world. Not because he simply reads email, but because of all the ancillary skills he's also picked up along the way. Skills that I because aware of during conversation. No, he doesn't run around with an iPod and ear bud headphones, or manage his own blog (although I think he certainly could). It's just that using services such as email is no big deal to him. Computers and the services that now come with them have become so polished that they're just another appliance-like tool. And frankly, that's the way it should be. That man now has a richer way to communicate with his friends and associates, to remain engaged and relevant. I just hope I can live that long and remain that with-it along the way.

And here's hoping I don't wait another 10 years before the next Christmas party at Jim's.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…

vm networking problem fixed

Over the weekend I upgraded to Windows 8.1, then discovered that networking for the virtual machines wouldn't work. Then I tried something incredibly simple and fixed the problem.

Checking the system I noticed that three VMware Windows services weren't running; VMnetDHCP, VMUSBArbService, and VMwareNatService. VMware Player allows you to install, remove, or fix an existing installation. I chose to try fixing the installation, and that fixed the problem. The services were re-installed/restarted, and the virtual machines had networking again.

Once network connectivity was established there was exactly one updated file for Ubuntu 13.10, a data file. This underscores how solid and finished the release was this time. Every other version of every other Linux installation I've ever dealt with has always been succeeded by boatloads of updates after the initial installation. But not this time.

Everything is working properly on my notebook. All's right with the world.

sony's pivotal mirrorless move

I'm a died-in-the-wool technologist, even when it comes to photography. I have always been fascinated with the technology that goes into manufacturing any camera, from the lenses (optics) through the mechanical construction, the electronics involved, and especially the chemistry of the film and the sophistication of the digital sensor. It's amazing that the camera can do all it's asked of it, regardless of manufacturer.

Of all the types of cameras that I've really taken an interest in, contemporary mirrorless (again, regardless of manufacturer) are the most interesting because of the challenging problems the scientists and engineers have had to solve in order to build a compact but highly functional camera. In particular I've followed the sensor advances over the years and watched image quality climb (especially with μ4:3rds) to exceed film and rival one another such that there's very little difference any more as you move from the smaller sensors such as 4:3r…