Friday, December 28, 2007

Feeling the power of the Dark Side of the Force

At this point, I'm not sure who is actually the dark empire: Microsoft or Apple. Neither seems to be in the role of the "Rebel Forces" and neither seems to be as vast of an empire to warrant being called the Empire. I'd give the Rebels designation to the Linux camp.

Anyway, I've never been an Apple fan boy and I didn't like how proprietary their hardware used to be. Despite how their UI was touted from the get-go, I've always thought all the ones pre-OSX were pretty crappy in how they "dumbed down" the interface for the users. It wasn't until OSX was released that I even had a vague interest in a Mac and that interest was the result of Apple switching to a FreeBSD kernel as the underlying OS. To have a full UNIX system with all the tools AND a nice UI is nothing to sneeze at. Still, it wasn't enough to get me to want a Mac.

When Apple announced that they were going to switch to an Intel processor, that's when I started to take greater notice. Sure enough, not long afterwards, the ability to run Windows on Mac hardware became reality. Having the ability to run Windows on top of OSX with a UNIX base is the best of all three worlds and made the Mac an compelling development environment. To have this all on a notebook... well, that's enough to turn the heads of even the toughest critics of Apple.

So, was this enough to get me to give up my familiar tool set that I've accumulated over the years on Linux and Windows and to learn a new environment? Not really. The cost of switching is still too high for me from both hardware and software perspectives. However, if work gives me the opportunity to work with this platform then I have no objects.

Yep, you guessed it. I got a Macbook Pro from work which I'm now working to get my data transfered over from my Windows notebook. I'm learning the "Mac" way which is different experience from either Windows or Linux. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Back in the Java again

One of the things I did when I joined Yahoo was that I put all my Java books into boxes and took them out to the garage. Java wasn't my favorite language, but I didn't dislike it either. I can appreciate some of the advantages that it brought to the table and how it simplified some of the grunt work that is required when using another language.

Thus, it's been a few years since I really did anything serious with Java and I decided it's about time to refresh myself as well as finding out what all has been changed. The newer things I've been hearing are Spring and Hibernate while a lot of the things I was using before like Tomcat are still around.

I picked up the book, "Beginning Pojos" by Brian Sam-Bodden to give me an introduction on some of these topics. It's been a decent read so far. I think the next thing I study more on is GWT.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 IS

My last trip taught me that what I'm missing in collection of lenses is a more general traveling lens. Carrying all those different lenses around was just too bulky and I ended up pretty much keeping the EF 28-105mm on all the time. However, because of the type of shots I was taking, the 105mm didn't have the range that I really wanted. This X-mas I finally decided to go for my first L-series lens to address the short coming of my collection.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

I decided to go with the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens for a number of reasons. The reviews (and here) on the quality of this lens is superb and even though it doesn't have the f/2.8 of its renowned older sibling this is a much less bulky lens and 1/3 the price. I think the trade-off is worth it for amateur photographer like myself especially since I want to be able to carry this lens around when I'm on vacation.

I decided to go with the IS version even though it's a hefty premium over the non-IS version but I'd much rather invest in a lens then get photos that causes me to kick myself later. With this lens, I figure that my travel collection would be 1 prime (either the 28mm or the 50mm) and/or the 28-105mm and this one. Most likely I will try to stay with just 2 lens to keep the weight down.

I haven't had a chance to put it through its paces, but maybe the upcoming holiday will give me that chance!

Bears at Raiders


I went to my first NFL game when the Chicago Bears came to play against the Oakland Raiders. I've seen the Bulls, Cubs, White Sox and even the Chicago Fire play but the one team I never saw live was the Bears, so I was pretty excited. Hearing the stories about Raider Nation and Raider fans, I wasn't sure if I should wear my Bears gear, but once at the stadium there was a surprising number of Bears jerseys. I guess because there isn't much of a rivalry between the Raiders and the Bears there aren't as much animosity for the visiting team.

It was a fun experience. The weather was great, the seats were much better then I expected (I could make out all the players on the field) and with only a few minutes remaining, the Bears staged a come-from-behind victory.


If the Bears play the Raiders again, I'd definitely want to try to see them play again.

Goodbye, 2007

The year is coming to a close and like every year at this time, it is good to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year. 2006 was a significant year for me both professionally and personally that concluded with me becoming a father, an event that was like winning the Super Bowl (Chicago, you tease me so...). I didn't expect 2007 to be like 2006 and as I look back I would say that this past year was an year of adjustments to all the changes that happened in 2006. As the year is ending, I feel that things are falling in place and that makes me excited for 2008.