Gear Legacy

This is not the list of a materialist, but of a technophile. The tools we elect to use paint a picture of ourselves, and tell a story of the evolution of popular technology.

Digital Camera (Compact) - Early on I fell in love with the Canon PowerShot 'Elph' type cameras, and their performance and consistently good critical reviews have kept me coming back. I've tried other point-and-shoot digitals over the years, particularly Sony models, and have always returned them for the latest Canon. In my opinion, nobody beats Canon for image quality in this product type.
2002: Canon PowerShot S200 (2.0 MP)
2005: Canon PowerShot SD300 (4.0 MP)
2008: Canon PowerShot SD870 IS (8.0 MP)
2011: Canon PowerShot S95 (10.0 MP images, 720p video)

SLR Camera - A black-and-white photography course and my first no-frills Nikon SLR sparked my original passion for photography. In 2007 I decided that digital SLR technology had finally evolved to a state where it was worth purchasing.
1992: Nikon FG (35mm) - I still use this occasionally, though film is becoming a rare commodity.
2007: Nikon D80 (10.2 MP)
2013: Nikon D7100 (24.1 MP)

Video Camera - I never saw the need for a video camera until we were expecting our first child...
2003: Sony DCR-TRV38 (480i Mini-DV)
2011: Canon Vixia HF M41 (1080i, 32GB built-in flash memory)

Mobile Phone - These things have come a long way from my first lame Verizon CDMA phone. The converged smartphone is one of my favorite pieces of gadgetry.
2001: Kyocera 2235, Verizon, CDMA Trimode
2003: Sony Ericsson T610, AT&T, 2.5G GSM/GPRS, HSCSD, Bluetooth
2005: My first smartphone - HTC Blue Angel (Siemens SX66), Cingular, GSM/GPRS, IrDA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
2006: HTC Wizard (Cingular 8125), quad-band GSM/GPRS, EDGE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
2008: HTC Kaiser (AT&T Tilt), GSM/GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
2009: iPhone 3G
2011: iPhone 4
2013: iPhone 5
2015: iPhone 6

PDA - I was an early adopter of the PDA and actually used mine pretty effectively. My favorite was the Sony Clie, in my opinion one of the spiritual predecessors to the iPhone. Converged mobile phones have made this product category obsolete.
1998: Philips Nino 320
2001: Sony Clie T615C
2003: HP iPAQ 3970
2005: Converged with mobile phone - HTC Blue Angel

Digital Music Player
2002: iPod (2nd Generation)
2007: iPod (5th Generation)

Digital Book - For the longest time, I read e-books on my PDA or mobile phone. With the advent of electronic ink/digital paper, digital books started making a lot more sense. These new displays are large, extremely crisp (they reflect light like regular paper), and they consume very little power.
2009: Sony PRS-505/RC (unfortunately, I lost this one)
2010: Amazon Kindle 3rd Generation, 3G+WiFi
2014: Replaced by iPad Mini 2

Video Game System - Best Christmas ever was getting the Atari 2600. Considering how much I love video games, it is notable that I missed the NES and PS1 eras. I waited until the PS2 was dirt cheap before I bought one, but boy has it been fun.
1979: Atari 2600
2006: Sony Playstation 2
2009: Sony Playststion 3 (CECHL01); Nintendo Wii
2010: Nintendo DSi
2012: Nintendo 3DS
2014: Nintendo WiiU
2015: Sony Playstation 4

Tablet Computer
2011: iPad2 - 32GB WiFi + 3G
2014: iPad Mini 2
2015: iPad Air

Laptop Computer
1997: Winboox XL Laptop, Win98, Pentium MMX, <1GB HDD
2002: VPR Matrix 180B5 P4 Laptop, WinXP, 512MB RAM, 30GB HDD, DVD/CDRW, WiFi
2008: Acer Aspire One AOA150-1570 Netbook, Intel Atom Processor N270 (1.60GHz), WinXP Windows 7, 120GB HDD, 1GB RAM, 3-cell battery, 0.3 MP Webcam, 802.11b/g WLAN, 8.9" LCD
2010: Acer E527-2537 Laptop, Intel Celeron 900 Processor, Windows 7, 15.6" LCD, 160GB HDD, 2GB RAM
2011: Toshiba Portege R835-P50XB, Intel Core i3 2310M (2.10GHz), Windows 7, 13.3" LCD, 4GB Memory DDR3 1333, 640GB HDD 5400rpm, DVD Super Multi, Intel HD Graphics, Wi-Max
2015: Dell New-XPS13 Touch

Desktop Computer
1984: Commodore 64, 64K RAM, 5.25" FDD)
1988: Amiga 2000, 1024K RAM, 2x 3.5" FDD, 1x 5.25" FDD)
1994: Locally-built Pentium 90, Win3.1/95, first CD-ROM & HDD
2000: Locally-built Pentium III Win98/XP, 256MB RAM, +/-7GB HDD, DVD/CDRW
2007: AVA-Direct Desktop, Intel Core 2 Duo Intel Core 2 Quad AMD FX 8350, Windows Vista Windows 7 Windows 8 Windows 10, 2 4 8 16 24GB RAM, 2x500GB 2TB+1.5TB HDD, 64GB 128GB Boot SSD, Radeon X1950XT Radeon HD 4830 Radeon HD 7870, DVD+/-RW BD-RE/DVD+/-RW

Monitor
2007: (2) Sony SDM-S73 17" SXGA (1280x1024) 16 ms TN panel LCD
2010: (2) HP LP2465 24" WUXGA (1920x1200) 6 ms S-PVA panel LCD

Wireless Router
2002: Netgear 802.11b Wireless 4 Port Router
2005: Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router
2010: D-Link DIR-655 N Router

Printer
1994: Canon BJ 200
2000: HP 970 Cxi
2007: Canon PIXMA MP610
2012: Canon PIXMA MG6320

Car
1989: 1986 Chevy Camaro V-6
1996: 1992 Toyota Celica GT (DOHC inline-4, 5-speed manual)
2002: 2001 Volvo S40 (turbocharged 1.9L inline 4-cyl, ABS, traction control)
2005: 2005 Honda Accord EX (2.4L inline 4-cyl, ABS)
2010: 2006 Infiniti G35 Coupe (DOHC 24-valve V6, 6-speed manual transmission)

GPS
2008: Garmin Nuvi 250W

Television
1998: Sony KV-20S42 20" Trinitron CRT TV (480i, 4/3)
2006: Norcent LT-3222 32" LCD HDTV (720p, 16/9)
2010: Samsung LN40B500 40" LCD HDTV (1080p, 16/9)
2011: In February we cancelled cable and switched to internet-only and over-the-air HDTV. We use Netflix, Hulu, PlayOn, Vudu, and the Playstation Video Store to get content via the Playstation 3.

Video Player
1997: Sony Betamax VCR
1998: Sanyo Stereo VHS VCR
2001: Panasonic DVD-RV32K DVD Player
2006: Sony Playstation 2 replaced Panasonic for DVD playback
2007: Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8000 HD-DVR (120GB, 1080i)
2009: Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player
2015: Sony Playstation 4 Blu-Ray player
2017: 1999 Sony SLV-679HF VHS VCR

Amp/Tuner 
2006: Onkyo TX-SR502 (75 W/Ch); audio input via TOSLINK optical cable (PS3) and RCA analog cable (DVR); HD-video input/output via component cable (DVR) and HDMI cable (PS3)
2017: 1976 Akai AM-2800 (80 W/Ch) with 1976 Akai AT-2200 Tuner

Turntable
2016: Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB
2017: 1979 Luxman PD264

Cassette Deck
2016: Akai GX-M30 (1979)
2017: Yamaha K-600 (1984)

Reel-To-Reel Tape Deck
2017: Akai 1720W (1971?)

8-Track Tape Deck
2017: Pioneer Craig 3302 8-Track (1971)

Compact Disc Player
2016: Sony CDP-CE275 (2001)

Equalizer
2016: AudioSource EQ Eight/Series II (1999)
2017: Technics SH-8046 (1986)

Speakers
1993: JVC SP-MX55BK (50W 2-way bookshelf, 1 - 5.5" woofer, 1 tweeter)
2010: Polk Audio Monitor 40 (125W 2-way bookshelf, 2 - 5-1/4" woofers, 1 - 1" tweeter) + Sony SAW2500 Subwoofer (100W, 10" woofer)
2017: Yamaha NS-6490 (3-way bookshelf, 8" woofer, 4" midrange, 7/8" tweeter)

Universal Remote
2007: One For All URC-8910 (8-Device, Learning, Macro, LCD)
2010: SMK-Link PS3 Blu-Link Universal Remote Control  (6-Device, Bluetooth, Learning)
2015: Sony Playstation 4 Universal Remote

Piano
2015: Yamaha U1 (upright)

Digital Keyboard - When our son showed interest in taking piano lessons in preschool, we had a choice: Commit the space (and money) required to purchase a real piano, or buy an excellent full-size digital piano.
2007: Yamaha YPG-625

Espresso Machine - Our house is passionate about coffee, so in 2006 we invested in a 'prosumer' espresso machine.
2006: Quickmill Anita (heat exchanger, E-61 commercial group head, 52 watt vibratory pump, 1,400 watt heating element, 1.6L boiler)

Watch - I lost my first decent watch back in 2001 (a simple Victorinox stainless steel analog)--left it on a bar in Balitomore. Just before this, I had started carrying a mobile phone full-time. After losing my watch, I saw no need to replace it, since I always had the correct time on my phone. Recently, over the past few years, two features have evolved in watches that have added serious value and made me think that owning a watch actually makes sense again: atomic clock synchronization and solar power. With atomic clock sync, a watch supplements its already-accurate quartz movement with daily correction provided by atomic clocks around the world. So the watch never needs to be set, and is nearly always accurate to the second. Solar power means the watch never needs a battery replacement. Amazing.
1984: Casio Calculator Watch (link)
1995: Victorinox Swiss Army Officer's (link)
2010: Citizen Chrono-Time AT Eco-Drive BY0000-56L (radio controlled world time, solar power, chronograph, alarm, slide rule, 20 bar water resist)
2011: Seiko SKX781 Orange Monster
2014: Casio G-Shock GW9400-1 Rangeman
2015: King Seiko Vanac 5626-7210 KS79 (1973)
2016: Alpiner Automatic AL-525S4E6; Sinn 556i Automatic

Just for fun, I keep track of the books I have read, lest I forget them (starting June 2002). Most books (printed and electronic) are borrowed from the library. I love the library...don't buy books before you read them! If a book is intellectually valuable enough to me, I'll (usually) purchase it for my personal library (PL).

The symbol "(e)" means that I read the book electronically (on a Sony PRS-505 Reader). The symbol "(r)" means the work is a re-read for me. The symbol "(a)" means I'm "reading" the book in audio format (unabridged versions only, thank-you), most likely borrowed on CD from the library and ripped to my iPod. (8.6/12)

Currently:

Catch-22 (e), Joseph Heller, 11/19/09-
Dune Messiah (r), Frank Herbert, 1/27/10- (PL)

Finished:

Dune (r), Frank Herbert, 3/17/09-1/27/10 (PL)
The Grapes of Wrath (e), John Steinbeck, 10/5/09-11/18/09
Slaughterhouse Five (e), Kurt Vonnegut, 9/22/09-10/5/09
  --- Esmé Starts Preschool 9/14/09 ---
Breakfast of Champions (e), Kurt Vonnegut, 8/5/09-9/21/09; PL
The Brothers Karamazov , Fyodor Dostoevsky, 2/12/09-9/1/09; PL
Mostly Harmless (r), Douglas Adams, 1/11/09-3/16/09; PL
The Stranger , Albert Camus, 1/21/09-2/11/09; PL
The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut, 12/22/08-1/20/09
So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish (r), Douglas Adams, 11/24/08-1/11/09; PL
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater , Kurt Vonnegut, 12/8/08-12/22/08; PL
Catcher in the Rye (r), J.D. Salinger, 11/3/08-12/4/08; PL
Life, The Universe and Everything (r), Douglas Adams, 10/25/08-11/23/08; PL
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (r), Douglas Adams, 9/4/08-10/24/08; PL
  --- Japan-Korea Trip 10/1/08-10/17/08 ---
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (r), Douglas Adams, 7/30/08-9/3/08; PL
  --- Max Starts Kindergarten 8/28/08 (Jason Starts Teaching at KSU) ---
For Esmé - with Love and Squalor (r), J. D. Salinger; 7/29/08; PL
The Art of War, Sun Tzu; 7/25/08-7/29/08
Bonfire of the Vanities , Tom Wolfe; 6/20/08-7/24/08
Mr. Palomar, Italo Calvino (translated by William Weaver); 5/28/08-6/19/08; PL
Constantine's Sword, James Carroll; 10/5/07-5/27/08
The Varieties of Scientific Experience, Carl Sagan, edited by Ann Druyan; 1/22/08-2/21/08
Parenting Beyond Belief, edited by Dale McGowan; 12/10/07-1/21/08; PL
The Sun Also Rises , Ernest Hemingway; 9/28/07-10/4/07; PL
Neuromancer (r), William Gibson; 9/10/07-9/27/07; PL
Siddhartha (r), Herman Hesse; 9/3/07-9/7/07; PL
Spook Country , William Gibson; 8/8/07-8/31/07; PL
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card; 7/21/07-8/7/07
A World Lit Only by Fire , William Manchester; 6/27/07-7/20/07; PL
The God Delusion , Richard Dawkins; 5/30/07-6/26/07; PL
The New History of the World, J. M. Roberts; 7/1/06-1/2/07; PL
  --- Max Starts Preschool 9/5/06 ---
A Random Walk Down Wall Street , Burton G. Malkiel; 2/27/06-7/14/06; PL
  --- Esmé Born 6/21/06 ---
Flow , Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi; 3/15/06-5/2/06; PL
The Hero With A Thousand Faces , Joseph Campbell; 5/31/05-2/24/06; PL
Getting Things Done, David Allen; 12/1/05-1/1/06; PL
The Intelligent Investor (1949 Edition), Benjamin Graham; 12/1/05-1/1/06; PL
Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom, Van Tharp; 10/24/05-11/11/05
The New Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz, updated by Dan S. Kennedy; 3/26/05-5/25/05
A Man In Full , Tom Wolfe; 3/11/05-4/17/05; PL
  --- Italy Trip 3/7/05-3/17/05 (Jason & Rose 5-Year Anniversary 2/18/05)---
  --- Jason Starts at Mid-America 1/1/05 ---
The Power of Myth , Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers; 11/3/04-12/27/04
Tao Te Ching , Lao Tzu (Translation by Jonathan Star); 12/9/04-12/15/04; PL
S, M, L, XL, Rem Koolhaas & Bruce Mau; 12/26/03-indefinite; PL
The Not So Big House, Sarah Susanka; 11/30/03-indefinite; PL
The Greatest Salesman In The World, Og Mandino; 10/22/04-10/27/04
As A Man Thinketh, James Allen; 10/21/04-10/21/04
The Richest Man in Babylon , George S. Clayson; 10/4/04-10/8/04
The Millionaire Next Door , Thomas Stanley & William Danko; 9/23/04-9/27/04; PL
Rich Dad, Poor Dad (e), Robert Kiyosaki; 9/20/04-9/23/04
Doctor Zhivago (a), Boris Pasternak; 10/17/03-8/13/04, PL
Invisible Cities (r), Italo Calvino; 3/29/04-4/1/04; PL
Pattern Recognition , William Gibson; 3/1/04-3/29/04; PL
The Web of Life, Fritjof Capra; 9/14/03-2/3/04; PL
  --- Bought House 10/29/03 ---
Tom Sawyer (e), Mark Twain; 10/9/02-11/5/03; PL
The Tipping Point (a), Malcolm Gladwell; 9/24/03-10/12/03
God's Debris (e), Scott Adams; 9/4/03-9/23/03; PL (ebook)
  --- Max Born 6/25/03 ---
Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough & Michael Braungart; 5/3/03-6/9/03; PL
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (e), Steven Covey; 12/15/02-4/1/03; PL (ebook)
  --- Jason Starts at Forest City Enterprises 1/1/03 ---
David Copperfield (e), Charles Dickens; 10/27/02-5/3/03
Flatland (e), Edwin A. Abbott; 9/1/02-10/24/02; PL (ebook)
The Hidden Dimension, Edward T. Hall; 8/30/02-10/10/02; PL
The Third Wave , Alvin Toffler; 7/1/02-9/27/02; PL
On The Road (r), Jack Kerouac; 7/15/02-8/28/02; PL
Megatrends, John Naisbitt; 6/14/02-6/28/02, PL
A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway; PL
For Shame, James B. Twitchell; PL
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (e, r), Lewis Carroll, PL
  --- Jason Graduates from Cornell May-02 ---

Prior to June 2002...

I can't remember all those books!

Jump to: Hardware, Software, Websites

Mobile Computing Page: HTC Kaiser / AT&T Tilt

I have decided to devote this little section of my website to mobile technology because of the importance I place on "extensions" of the human persona. Just as the home, moving beyond its role as shelter, is an extension of the body and soul, and the automobile is an extension of our mobility, the computer (or the sketchbook, or the blank canvas, etc.) is an extension of the mind. The telephone is an extension of our ability to communicate. The hand-held computer and the mobile phone, because of their small form and portability, are extraordinarily appropriate human-scaled manifestations of these two "extensions". (Here are some more thoughts on mobile devices as human extensions.)

Before getting into how I use my mobile device, it's important to step back and look at the big picture for a moment: I've found that PDAs, mobile phones and other organizational tools don't substantively help you accomplish long-term goals. These tools are better for short-term organization and tasks. No system/device/etc. can make you stop putting things off and get to the substance of any matter. No device will help you do the "important, but not urgent" things, if you don't have the desire within you to do those things already. In fact, these "organizational tools" can actually impede a person's effectiveness, by encouraging a focus on putting out fires or conveying a sense of urgency, rather than concentrating on the quieter, step by step approach to accomplishing great things.

Mobile Device Hot Fighting History:

PDA --- Mobile Phone
Philips Nino 320 (12/98-3/01) --- No Mobile Phone
Sony Clie T615C (3/01-1/03) --- Kyocera 2235, Verizon (2001)
HP iPAQ 3970 (1/03-1/05) --- Sony Ericsson T610, AT&T (2003)

Converged: HTC Blue Angel (Siemens SX66), Cingular (1/05-5/06)
HTC Wizard (Cingular 8125) (5/06-1/08)
HTC Kaiser (AT&T Tilt) (1/08-current)


Pictured above is my current mobile device, an HTC Kaiser / AT&T Tilt. As is currently typical in the smartphone product category, HTC of Taiwan manufactures a few flavors of the device and then it is rebranded for various cellular carriers around the world. AT&T's version of the Kaiser is notably missing the front face camera used for video calling.

I've been using a PDA to keep track of my life since 1998--even before I started using a mobile phone. It is interesting to think about just how badly I wanted a 'converged' device back when I was using my Sony Clie in 2001-2002. I couldn't wait to have an excellent PDA with phone functionality. After a few weak starts (the early PPC phones and Treos were not that impressive), the industry has finally started getting it right. The HTC Wizard was the first smartphone I've owned that *just did what it's supposed to*, without a lot of hacking and tweaking. The HTC Blue Angel was almost there, but it had too many bugs to be a truly excellent device (bad bluetooth, no keylock, slow internet, etc.). The Kaiser improves on the Wizard significantly: 3G data speeds, *phenomenal* signal reception (I can make calls from elevator shafts and underground levels of buildings), world-phone (works in U.S., Europe, Japan, etc.), a tilt-screen for viewing the device when resting on a table, the highest-quality build from HTC yet and, holy $#@%!...GPS built-in! Oh, and my beloved scoll-wheel is back--something I haven't had since my Sony 615. Frankly, I can't think of anything to add to this phone; in my book it's an iPhone killer.

HTC Kaiser...the good: Excellent phone signal reception & voice quality, good ergonomics (large slide-out keyboard, tilt screen, jog-dial, plenty of programmable hard-buttons), solid hardware build, feature-rich, multitude of connectivity options (plus it's a world phone), fast internet, GPS works well in both pedestrian & auto contexts, fast processor, ample memory

HTC Kaiser...the bad: Screen is not trans-reflective (visibility in sunlight is not as good as it should be); battery life could be better (I get no more than 12-14 hours between charges); why doesn't it have a dedicated headphone jack?

***


I use this device to organize my life, keep track of nearly everything, browse the internet, check email, read ebooks and other documents, write, edit spreadsheets, read the news, keep reference materials handy, view photographs and video clips, play games, play music, audiobooks, podcasts and more. Usage breakdown:

Phone: 15%
Email: 25%
Web: 20%
PIM: 15%
Multimedia (video, audio, photo): 12%
Reading Ebooks: 8%
Word processing, spreadsheeting: 5%

On this page I describe some of the applications, system extensions, configurations and hardware that I find useful, with the hope that this information can be of some help to others. I love to optimize (i.e., tweak) the tools I use heavily in my life. So I figure that as long as I've put that effort into it, I might as well share my experiences.

***


Hardware

HTC Kaiser (TTyN II) / AT&T Tilt - See description above. I remapped the Push-to-Talk button to run AE Button Plus, a wonderful, light-touch task switching hack that works very well with the side scroll-wheel and OK button. (Also see this thread if you like the older version of the voice recorder, like I do.) Other than that, no button remapping--this is a very well designed device. My only complaints are that I wish the battery life was better, and the screen is not reflective enough in bright sunlight.

Motorola H700 Bluetooth Headset (link) - See picture above. A later evolution of the original HS 810 I used with my Sony Ericsson T610. Still does the job better than any headset out there, in my opinion.

1 GB Micro SD Card - They just keep getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller, and cheaper...

Brando Screen Protector (link) - This is the best screen protector ever made. It's a thick, sturdy, non-disposable screen protector that reduces glare and has a nice, semi-rough writing surface. I've been using the same screen protector (literally the same physical piece of plastic) for over three four years now. I just pull it from my old phone and apply it to my new phone. That's how durable the Brandos are.

***


Software

These are the programs that make my device work well for me:

KaiserTweak (link) - A must-install for this phone. Allows you to enable HSDPA (3.5G) data speeds on the Tilt (significantly faster than 3G), as well as turn off 'sleep' mode when you're on a phone call. Many other settings as well.

AE Button Plus (link) - See comments above. A wonderful, light-touch pop-up task switching hack that works very well with the side scroll-wheel and OK button on the Tilt. Also includes battery life, 'uptime', and memory usage stats. Free version is slightly crippled, but not in any way that affects how I use it.

S2U2 (link) - A brilliant little program that mimics the iPhone's 'slide to unlock' feature. This is especially useful on the Kaiser because of the fact the the screen is not transreflective, and using the built-in WM6 unlock feature can be difficult in bright sunlight. Highly customizable.

HTC Home Plugin (link) - HTC-designed plug-in for the Today screen. Has tabs for time/alarms, favorite people, weather, launcher, ringer settings, and media player. A nice, free addition to the Tilt's today screen.

VistaHide Battery Guage (link) - A simple color-coded battery guage that remains visible at all times at the top of your screen.

Google Maps Mobile (link) - Google Maps for Windows Mobile; finds your position both by GPS and triangulation; better interface than Windows Live.

Windows Live Search Mobile (link) - A robust mapping and business/people search app. Works well with the built-in GPS. Clunkier that Google Maps Mobile, but still good.

Opera Mini (link) - Ultra-fast mobile browser with good page rendering. Free. To make launching Opera Mini easier, follow the instructions in this thread to install the "StartOperaMini" script. See this thread to make Opera Mini stop asking for permission to access the internet.

Skyfire (link) - Although I prefer Opera Mini for its speed, the Skyfire browser is unmatched in features, including flash video and sound support.

Google Reader Mobile - This is a web driven newsreader that formats RSS feeds for mobile browsing.

FlexWallet (link) - Secure digital wallet. Keep all your personal information *securely* in one place. Syncs with a desktop computer interface. I used "SplashID" on the PalmOS.

Wei's SoftReset (link) - A very small-footprint soft reset utility, so you can avoid pulling out the stylus when you need to soft-reset the device.

Pocket 12C (link) - Everyone's favorite Reverse Polish Notation financial calculator. I use this one a lot--love the horizontal format!

Total Commander (link) - An oldie but a goodie, and a must on any Windows Mobile device. Much, much better than the built-in file explorer. Also has a registry editor.

µBook (link) - Pronounced "MICRO-book". I use this program for my free Project Gutenberg downloads. Works with HTML, TXT, RTF, PDB and PRC ebook files. Image support. Very intelligent and light-touch program. Auto-creates a table of contents and re-paginates based on font size/style. In my opinion, this is the best e-book reader out there. I use the 'Vanilla' skin for a clean, clear reading interface. Unfortunately, it is no longer free, although if you're willing to put up with an intermittent nag screen you don't need to purchase a license.

GSPlayer (link) - A small-footprint media player than can, among other things, be used to stream free ShoutCast internet radio stations over your phone (make sure you have an unlimited data plan)!

Veveo Vtap (link) - Search and view YouTube and other streaming videos on your mobile device.

***


Useful Websites

XDA-Developers.com - Dedicated entirely to HTC phones. Answers to most HTC questions can be found here.

Tilt Site - All about the AT&T tilt. Get started with Ten Tips for your AT&T Tilt.

Howard Forums - The grand-daddy of all mobile phone forum sites.

Pocket PC Thoughts - A good PPC news site.

Keen PDA - David Keener has put together a concise and excellent site that discusses effective time-management using PDAs. His comments were very useful to me--I encourage you to read the whole thing.

The Brando Workshop, Hong Kong - Their screen protectors are the best, and they offer a number of other great accessories for several PDA models.

***

Links to old mobile computing pages at JCarroll.net: HTC Wizard, HTC Blue Angel, HP iPaq 3970, Sony Clie T615C, Philips Nino 320.

Feel free to email me with corrections, or to let me know that I'm full of hot air...
Best Of ...

These are the little bits that are probably a tad more interesting than the rest. Whose definition of interesting? Well, mine—so you may not find them interesting at all. But some of these excerpts may actually rise above day-to-day trivia and approach something called "writing" and/or "thinking". For your convenience and time-efficient browsing, I have gone through the effort of listing them chronologically, descending from newest to oldest:

End of warm days.
Friday, October 19, 2007

If you don’t play the lottery, you are going to hell.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Max's Abstract Color Photos
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Esmé Walks!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Patterns & Dissapointment
Thursday, July 19, 2007

Esmé Turns One (and Max Turns Four)
Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Alphabet Hundred: Image, Description.
Saturday, April 28 & 25, 2007

Good Equals Zero Pieces of Naughty
Saturday, March 24, 2007

Marbles & Other Things Round
Monday, February 05, 2007

Time-affluent or money-affluent?
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Microplaces
Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Dragon-Riding Boy
Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Stronger Guilt Defeats My Strong Intent
Friday, August 11, 2006

What's Easier When You're Young?
Saturday, August 05, 2006

Esmé Rose
Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fully in the Moment
Friday, June 02, 2006

Flow
Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pushing Books
Sunday, April 16, 2006

Truth And/Or Consquences
Friday, February 17, 2006

Life-Altering Experiences
Friday, January 06, 2006

Brave Boy
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Max is Two!
Monday, June 27, 2005

Robert Woodyard: August 31, 1928-May 18, 2005
Friday, June 10, 2005

The Value of a Moment
Friday, April 29, 2005

Life and Warcraft
Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Mud
Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Last One Percent
Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hard Work, No Work, Smart Work
Sunday, September 19, 2004

Max is One!
Friday, June 25, 2004

We Are Helped by What Is Not
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Equilibrium
Monday, December 29, 2003

Commuting History
Monday, November 03, 2003

Sketch
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

So Much for Networking
Tuesday, September 16, 2003

People Like Myself
Sunday, August 31, 2003

MAX!
Monday, June 30, 2003

Connection By Choice Vs. Connection By Propinquity Thursday, March 27, 2003

Aggression, Baby Boomers, and SUVs Monday, October 21, 2002

Forget It, Jake Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Undying Patriotism Thursday, September 5, 2002

Scale Problems Thursday, August 22, 2002

David Lynch Moments Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Our Weird Neighbor Update Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Limbo Monday, June 3, 2002

The End - Cornell Real Estate Thesis Project Tuesday, May 14, 2002

One of The Funniest Photographs Ever Wednesday, April 24, 2002

From Invisible Cities Sunday, March 17, 2002

Housing Affordability Saturday, February 16, 2002

A Fair Share of World Resources Friday, February 08, 2002

Amerika Sunday, January 27, 2002

Biases Monday, October 15, 2001

The Right Place at The Right Time Monday, August 27, 2001

My Childhood Stomping Grounds Thursday, August 23, 2001

Here Is The Correct Answer Monday, July 09, 2001

Prepare Yourself for Run-On Sentences Monday, July 02, 2001

The Suburbs Friday, June 29, 2001

One Year of Graduate School Tuesday, June 26, 2001

A Bit More on The Point of Nostalgia Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Sunday, January 28, 2001

Thinking about Cars Saturday, January 13, 2001

Our Weird Neighbor Friday, January 5, 2001

Home for the Holidaze Thursday, January 4, 2001

Salvation Army Strategies Thursday, December 21, 2000

The Truth about Crossword Puzzles Wednesday, December 20, 2000

On Being a Generalist Tuesday, November 21, 2000

On Becoming an Architect Monday, November 06, 2000

Architecture Is A Way of Seeing The World Sunday, October 15, 2000

Secrets of Brewing Coffee Using A Drip-Type Coffee Maker Sunday, October 08, 2000

Plink Plink Thursday, August 31, 2000

The Leader Friday, August 04, 2000

A Coffee Filter When You're Desperate Thursday, August 03, 2000

The Center of The Universe for One Shining Evening Monday, July 31, 2000

The Man Shower Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Sketch of Piazza S. Firenze Monday, July 24, 2000

The Presence of The Dead in Chloride Saturday, July 22, 2000

In The Margins Thursday, July 06, 2000

Fear Surrounds And Traps You Thursday, June 29, 2000

You Go, Boy! Wednesday, June 28, 2000

About

Hi, I'm Jason. My full name is Jason Robert Carroll. "Robert" is after my grandfather, who I'm proud to have as part of my name.

JCarroll.net is my hiding place in plain sight. This site is primarily a way to remember myself--to always remain cognizant of selected events and ideas I hold dear. It is by no means comprehensive; in fact I would say that about 90% of my life goes undocumented. Nonetheless, there is much more information about me here than will likely interest you, so please, feel free to ignore. If you see some common threads, it's because the things in which I am generally interested lie somewhere inside this mess:
  • The beauty of the world and the analogues between natural systems and human behavior;
  • Social justice;
  • Simplicity;
  • Meaningful discourse, critical thought;
  • An appreciation of randomness, a desire to avoid finding patterns where there are none;
  • Constant exploration--of the world, of myself, of others, of everything;
  • Creative process, visual thinking, design (and a particular love for geometry);
  • Stewardship of the natural and built environments, place-making;
  • A love/hate (I love to observe it/generally hate the substance of it) relationship with pop culture;
  • Playing;
  • Balanced frugality;
  • Most importantly...enjoying life with the ones I love, making the most of our 'one time around'.
Equal? No. Certainly not in order. Enough to make me perpetually unable to rest.

A snapshot of my current state of affairs might go like this: Madly in love with my wife Rose and our two little offspring, Max (6) & Esmé (3), who refer to themselves as "kitty cat" and "bunny" respectively. Wow, four of us now, only used to be two--but now the four feels the same as the two--what a thought that is! I feel like I'm swimming in the deep water that is being together as a family, playing, discovering, hanging out, growing, laughing, getting angry sometimes. Max is beautifully intense. Esmé is a delicious sweetheart. I'm still dumbfounded by them both every day--the things they do, their emerging personalities, their little (rapidly) growing bodies. The world is new to them…there could be no better way to exist. The lack of social context, bias and prejudice, the ability to see things without preconceived notions of what they are--what a wonderful gift young humans are given! The struggle to hold on to this purity of thought should be a lifelong goal.

I give most of my mental and emotional energy to my family, as it should be. This leads to my next thought: the struggle of pushing forward with personal and professional goals and interests while keeping family first priority. It's difficult, perhaps doubly so for Rose, who stays at home with the kids. For me, the only part of the personal-family-professional balancing act that is not difficult is the act of being a provider. Something instinctual drives a person to work hard, protect and provide for a family. Doing this while still living a self-actualized life (i.e., pursuing and achieving personal goals) is the true challenge. Of course now many of my personal goals now specifically relate to my children and my wife--all of us as a family. This convergence and overlapping simplifies things a bit.

Professionally, I was trained as an architect, and practiced for a bit over four years before returning to business school. After an intense two years of study, I began managing projects for a national real estate developer. The next thing I knew I was recruited by a private real estate firm to run their acquisitions business. So I've evolved from a designer to a capital transactions professional--quite different from the path I would have expected had you discussed the matter with me in 1996.

Through it all, I still consider myself an architect-at-heart, particularly when considering the way I solve problems (a synthesis approach involving visual thinking--though final decision-making remains rooted in the realities of economics). My personal definition of what it means to be an architect constantly evolves; the term has a much broader meaning for me, perhaps, than for some.

***

A part of me, and a part of Rose, our souls together, will always walk along Via del Corso in Florence.

As of 2008, a little piece of all of us--me, Rose, Max and Esmé--stayed behind in Japan, and in South Korea.

I am an espresso fanatic; I can pull a good shot and make a near-perfect latte. Other diversions I enjoy include photography, roadtrippin' (a very important part of my life with Rose), collecting and appreciating fine art by lesser-known artists, computers and technology (gadgets!), reading, sculpture (though not for years now), and filling my sketchbook with seemingly random images and words. (Later, I go back and try to comprehend what, if anything, those images and words mean.)

I was born four years prior to the official introduction of the Atari 2600. I spend a lot of time remembering my glory days in the video arcades of the early Eighties. I still play a lot of video games (if I can keep myself awake after reading the kids to sleep).

I am a tweaker.

I believe very strongly in Living Below Your Means, and I tend to have a 'Millionaire Next Door' attitude toward wealth-building.

I have a strong tendency to take the long way home. The shortest distance between two points is usually of little interest to me.

If I see you staring up at skyscrapers in a city, I'll think well of you. If you still stare at them after living in that city for five years, then I'll know you are a person whose eyes are not closed.

Psychological Type, based on the theories of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers; My type: iNTj; Rose's Type: eNFp. Max & Esmé...?

***

The following is a list of some formative events in my life:

Year 0: Born (March 1, 1973).

Years 1-5: When I think about the incredible joy and richness of experience my children give me at these ages, I find it amazing that I don't remember more about my own life in these formative years. I guess that's what photographs are for. I remember trying to help my dad dig a big hole in our muddy front yard at our new house. I remember a good bit about Kindergarten, like the feeling of the 'goal'--the wooden bus-garage door that served as the safe-zone during freeze tag. I remember wending in and out of shrubbery next to buildings. I remember the color (red) and feel of the shag carpet in the living room of our house. I remember cubby-holes under stairs.

When I was 6, I cut a large hole in a wall in my house because I wanted to understand what was inside. (For some reason, I also thought that the switch-track piece to my HO-scale model railroad set was lost in there.) I was so proud of this hole that my father could not bring himself to punish me for the property damage. This set within me the mindset that "it's okay to cut large holes in things," a theory that I still hold to today.

Year 7: I didn't win the remote-controlled car race in my second grade class. The race was dominated by Bobby S., who had a Formula 1-looking car (except with 6 wheels) that was fully maneuverable in every direction and could literally run over all of the other cars. I had a Pontiac Firebird that could go straight and reverse-right, weakly.

Years 7-8: Discovery of video games. Future World arcade; Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Galaxian. I was hypnotized by the noise and light...it was magic.

Year 9: Christmas 1982--Atari 2600--with Pitfall! Bliss!

When I was 11, it was 1984. This was a particularly good year for me. I was in fifth grade. I wrote my first computer program on an Apple IIe. Epiphany! My teacher was Ms. McKleveen. She was an airplane pilot, knew a lot about computers and read "A Wrinkle in Time" to us. Mighty Orbots, the best cartoon ever, was on ABC Saturday mornings. I made every effort to spend as much time as possible in the arcades. That year, I had two very good friends: Patrick Hancy and David Butler.

Between the ages of 12 and 14, my parents cut my hair, rather than letting a barber or "stylist" do it (seemed like a good idea at the time) and I didn't pay any attention to the clothes I wore. This did not bode well for my popularity ranking in junior high school. I didn't realize that being popular was something to which I should pay attention--I was too busy having fun with my Commodre 64, graph paper, and my geek-a-nerd friends.

When I was 15, my parents left a Baptist church that was full of hypocrisy and gossip. This permanently rooted my respect for my parents, and encouraged me to continue down the path toward free thought.

When I was 16, I got a real haircut and started paying attention to the clothes I wore. It was my sophomore year, and I started to think about being popular. I ditched the friends with whom I used to play video games, manufacture homebrew D&D, write computer programs, and enter math competitions, and concentrated on being part of the desirable social crowd. Oops.

By age 17, my junior year of high school, I realized what a mistake I had made by wanting to be popular. As it happens, I was somewhat popular (it was that easy?), but I had little patience for the typical high-school shallowness of the mainline crowd. I hated the fact that they weren't passionate about anything. However, the friends I had abandoned the previous year were no longer accessible to me. I couldn't go back, and I didn't want to stay where I was. So I started over, and let my friends, interests and passions grow again--this time organically, naturally, from scratch. Since then, to this day, I have generally maintained a constant state of happiness in my social relationships.

Between the ages of late 15 and early 18, I spent a lot of time in the Art Room at my high school. This was my salvation, in so many ways. You see, my high school had quite a fundamentalist, strict, religious atmosphere--needless to say it didn't have a natural tendency to foster creativity and free thought. The Art Room was a sanctuary, guarded by the wise Mrs. Olsen, where the misunderstood could find solace and feel free to create and think. During this time I augmented my interest in physics with an interest in art.

At 19, I entered architecture school with a cocky attitude and a sense that I could do anything. I was quickly put in my place, both by peers who were much more naturally talented than I, as well as my professors. Once I calmed down and saw myself accurately within my context, I realized that I was indeed in the right place, but that a lot of hard work was called for. Thankfully, I delivered, and didn't let myself down. This set me on a path to emerge from college humble, with expertise in my field, and not afraid to work hard.

When I was 21 I went to Europe. I lived in Florence, Italy for half a year in a little apartment on Borgo Degli Albizi--right next to the Jolly Cafe and just one minute's walk from the Duomo. It gave me a sense of perspective that was frightening to me at the time. Infection of wanderlust acquired.

Year 22: I spent the bulk of the summer before my fourth year in college devouring personal observations about the United States with my newfound perspective gained traveling throughout Europe. Living abroad, for the first time, and for an extended period of time, codified in me the notion that there are many correct ways of living in the world--not just the way we do it here in the U.S.

My fourth year of architecture school was rewarding--I felt like I’d hit my stride. In an interesting contrast, I produced one of the most meaningful projects of my academic career that year, a Catholic chapel, at a time when I was questioning religion more than ever. (On a side note, I authored my first website in 1995).

My 23rd year was the last year of the five-year architecture program at Kent State University. I had truly amazing teachers that year: Michael Robinson from Harvard, Jeanine Centuori from Cranbrook, and Russell Rock, who defies association. This was the year we rebelled against the graduate school (writing manifestos and all), took an emotional trip to Chicago, trekked through the “worst” neighborhoods of Cleveland, and truly learned what community was. I learned from these people, especially Michael, that you can accomplish anything if you are willing to work until you bring down the gates of hell.

Also in year 23, my buddy (later my best man) and I road-tripped around the U.S. for about 1.5 months, sleeping in hostels, the car, and camping a lot. We hit most major cities and national parks, wandered aimlessly a fair amount, didn't get into too much trouble, had a lot of fun. Spent about $35 a day. Wouldn't trade that experience for anything. Lots of stories.

When I was 24, I met Rose. My life changed again. Two weeks after meeting, as we stood in the middle of the oval at the abandoned reservoir, we both knew that our souls had become permanently connected.

At age 25, with the help and encouragement of Rose, I started Opensewer. During this time I was working for the best architecture firm in Cleveland, Ohio: van Dijk Pace Westlake (now Westlake Reed Leskosky).

At 26, Rose and I eloped and went home to Italy. It was like being born again. We came back to America...but sometimes I think in our heads and hearts we're still there, wandering the streets of Florence and Lucca together.

At 27, I quit my job (as did Rose) and we moved to Ithaca so that I could pursue graduate studies at Cornell University. Revised annual salary: $0. Lifestyle: completely submerged in school. It was more work than I bargained for, but wonderful in so many ways.

Age 28: This year, while at Cornell, there was a fair amount of reconciliation between my past and what I perceived to be my future. This had a lot to do with a clash between artistry and economics, and it was quite messy. This year, my relationship with my wife was challenged by the workload of graduate school, but also deepened in wonderful ways.

Age 29: One of the most exciting yet...a little one on the way...we made it through graduate school, emerging as a stronger couple...I got a great job...hmmm, and we moved back to Cleveland. We'll have to see how this turns out.

Age 30: The move back to Cleveland from New York, the new job, being close to family again (for better and for worse), MAX!, the new house...

Age 31 (2004): I love my boy, I love my wife, I love my job. Full speed ahead.

Age 32 (2005): Recruited to a new job...that one came out of nowhere! A beautiful trip to Firenze with Max and Rose. A Christmas in New York to remember. The Opensewer closes.

Age 33 (2006): Esmé is born! Two years and counting at a job without moving on to a new opportunity...a first for me! This new place shows some promise...

Age 34 (2007): Amazed by how beautiful children make life. Can I stay awake past 9:00 PM after reading to the kids? Learning what it means to be a principal investor. Difficult negotiations lead to "flow". Closing deals. A good ending.

Age 35 (2008): A rough start...I no longer feel invincible. Does that mean I'm getting older? A bloodbath in transactions at work...three deals become two dead and one alive. Financial markets meltdown. Volatility. Putting 'real' amounts of money into commercial real estate investments. Teaching a course at my alma mater. Max starts Kindergarten...a big boy is starting to emerge! Esmé's gregarious, fun, loving personality bursts onto the scene. An almost indescribably wonderful trip to Japan and South Korea...reminding us of why we love each other, why we love life, why we love the friends we do. Let's just say it was a full year.

2009: Should prove interesting.

I wish I could destroy greed, heartlessness, hate, and ignorance in the world.