Books of 2010

One of my goals for 2010 was to read more. As a kid, I'd be in the library all the time, taking home armloads of books. This faded as I got older. I missed the books and made an effort to get back to them.

Here's what I read this year. Clearly I enjoy non-fiction. See if you can spot the lonely fiction book. You might also notice a few themes that are important to me right now. Have you read any of these books? Do you have recommendations on ones I might like?


Back to the Classroom

Apple and schools have always gone together. Everyone in my generation has stories about a computer lab full of Macs when they were growing up. In recent history, Apple offered the eMac, but that died in 2006 and never got a satisfactory replacement. Is the time right to get back in the classroom?

While I don't consider Macs overpriced, the low end iMac is $1199 and the cheapest Mac mini runs $699 before adding a display. Add in the cable clutter, and I'm not sure Mac minis are the best options for a lab. I found myself looking at what Apple has done with their A4 platform and iOS and wondering how it could fit.

Apple is killing it with their platforming. The iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Apple TV are sharing most of their components, and even boards. Given that these are selling in quantities measured in hundreds of millions, their margins are great and give them some pricing freedom (Apple TV for $99). iOS is solid and only getting better. What if Apple built a new eMac based on the iPad?

Stands result in compromises, so all we need is a proper desktop case and a keyboard. The keyboard is easy. We already have it. For the case, let's look back to the sunflower iMac. That's the one with the articulating arm that was designed to easily move the screen and then have it stay put. Why do we need this? This is the answer to Gorilla Arm. Apps such as word processing, reading, video lessons, and anything with a light use of UI can be used in the vertical mode. If you are painting, drawing, or playing a touch based game, grab the edge of the display and pull it down. It will look just as Apple has patented it. When you are done, toss back to vertical. Can't you see Jony Ive holding back a joyous giggle as he shows you how this works?

Unibody aluminum will hold up well to kids knocking them around. The high degree of recyclability sets a good example as well. The minimal power draw of the A4 will lower utility bills.

Speaking of bills, I'll price this at 5 of them. $499 buys you the eMac + keyboard + iWork suite. Pages becomes the AppleWorks of today's generation. After unboxing, go crazy in the App Store. Apps like The Elements, Brushes, Google Earth -- the store is popping with great apps that kids will love. No need to be a switcher later in life. Kids will grow up with it.

I also think there is value in the inherit limitations of iOS. When I wrote papers on a IIc, I didn't have distractions. The computer and app were the same thing. The iPad brings this focus back. Sure, multi-tasking is on its way, but the OS is still designed with a singular app as the focus. This lowers the computer literacy bar, encouraging kids to get on with the creation, rather than get bogged down in the process. It can also aid in administration. For example, Grade 1 gets their own screen of apps. No unnecessary windows. No launchers present when apps are running. It just keeps things simple.

Will Apple actually build something like I envision? I feel like their are bigger fish to fry for them, but I think it would be amazing to see them take it back a little and return to the classroom in a big way.


Favorite Hauls

Here are some of my favorite hauls with our Xtracycle Radish.

Bikes in bikes. Always fun.

The grandparents don't have cargo bikes, so I needed to take them a car seat :)

The library is always a good destination.

Take back bottles and come home with some fresh groceries.

One of many loads going to Goodwill as we declutter. I love how the FreeLoader bags just take everything. I thread their straps through bag handles and it works great.

Taking all 3 kids solo to daycare.

Entertainment for the kids that are in the other bike.

If we're going to a ski show or fireworks display, we can still fit a stroller for the little one. It is amazing to just roll right into the main crowd and lock up instead of parking a mile and a half away and hiking it along roads.

Selling my extra smart home wiring to a friend at work. I was told I just needed a trench and could have dropped cable at speed!

Parks are the most common destination. Why load up in the van to go 1 or 2 miles?


5 of The Now

I've had this playlist labeled July 5otn for some time now, so I guess it is time to post it. I love that Amazon has albums that include these tracks for $5. Can't beat that.

  • LCD Soundsystem - Home
    This is definitely the album of the summer for me. The home theme throughout the record is heartwarming.

  • Robyn - Fembot
    Why isn't this blowing up the radio? Catchy track, good lyrics.

  • Chemical Brothers - Escape Velocity

    I have been lucky enough to see the Chemical Brothers live. The moment I heard this track, I felt like I was back at their live show. I dig the vibe.

  • LCD Soundsystem - All I Want
    Delightful and emotional.

  • Baje One - Computer Rock
    DefJux baby. Go download this for free. I love the freestyle at the end too.


5 of The Now

  • Deadmau5 - Ghost N Stuff
    I'd go to any haunted house playing this :) Deadmau5 and Evil Nine should put on the disco-graveyard-ball.

  • Booka Shade - Teenage Spaceman
    Dance music for when you're tired. I picture musical notes slipping under my outstretched body and carrying me away like cartoon ants at a picnic.

  • Broken Bells - The High Road
    The Start. Boys and girls, Broken Bells have made an album. An album! Picking it apart track by track should not be done, but I did. Album - go listen.

  • Broken Bells - The Mall & Misery
    The Finish. Album.

  • Gorillaz - Stylo
    Groovy and chill. I overheard a kid at the mall calling this a "Staying Alive" rip-off. Thoughts?


5 of the Now

  • Sinner DC - Digital Dust
    Sinner DC made my short list of albums of the year for 2009. I've been playing this so much, my kids now ask for it by name when they want to listen to music. I think this track is ripe for a slick commercial about external harddrives or cloud services. Ooooo, how sexy.

  • Jurrasic 5 - The Game
    It's basketball season, so this is appropriate. Found on their Quality Control album, but my favorite is the live performance in DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist's Product Placement mix.

  • Massive Attack - Pray for Rain
    I'm settling in to the new album. This is a standout. Plus there is a Tim Goldsworthy mix!

  • Massive Attack - Paradise Circus
    So chill. Love this. Gui Boratto mix doesn't disappoint either.

  • Evil Nine - Burn it to the Ground
    These boys are fun to follow on Twitter, and they'll dish out some good stuff every now and then. This is the old school Evil Nine that I still prefer.


2009 Albums of the Year

I figure I better get my albums of the year for 2009 in before February is over, sheesh.

There weren't many big albums for me in 2009, but the ones that made the list this year feel a little different than previous years.

Past albums of the year: [2008] [2007] [2006]