LoriB.me

Rambling On…

Excellent Asperger’s Article — 07/23/2007

Excellent Asperger’s Article

My friend d has written an excellent article about living with asperger’s. I can relate to much of what she said in the post and I am guessing that a lot of people who visit LBnuke will too.

The article is called about asperger’s syndrome, in plain english. Definitely worth the click 🙂

very random thoughts from the lake — 07/16/2007

very random thoughts from the lake

I am at Lake Merrit, about half way around. Online. This is cool. I am trying to type with 2 thumbs. Better than last time I tried. Still appreciating David Pogue’s punctuation shortcut every time I use it.

It is so nice to be able to leave the house again. The water helps my brain. Easier to think now. Stopped to look at birds that are right here in front of this bench. This rocks! There is no wifi here but I am on the internet. Magic.

Too hard to sit still anymore. Gotta go.

geese

At the bus stop now on MacArthur Blvd. It is still loud in my head but better than before. It is time to go home now. It is very hard to think. Someone who lives near this bus stop has unprotected wifi. Thank you stranger.

Back home now. The bus was crowded. No seats. Standing in front of the yellow line and the driver kept letting more people on at every stop. I don’t think that is legal. Usually the driver tells people to get behind the yellow line. Didn’t have to get off before my stop. That is a rare and beautiful thing.

I wish I could think. Or work. Or play. Or read. At least I got lots of work done this morning. Another reason why it is so much better to work for myself than for someone else. If I worked somewhere else, the morning hours would be lost and commuting would have zapped all the energy that I would have had for working.

I find myself wishing there was a copy of BBedit on the iphone that would sync w/my computer. I notice that I compare it to a computer more than to another phone. What would it be like to code on the iphone? Hard to imagine. I would have to get way faster at typing and it is hard to even imagine what having the numbers and symbols and letters on different keyboards would be like. I didn’t even notice if there were curly braces on any of them. You never really appreciate curly braces until they are gone. It is a cool phone, but definitely not a laptop replacement.

I was thinking about strange things on my way home from the bus stop. At one point, I rolled up my sweatshirt sleeve and somehow ended up holding a bee in the opposite hand. I flicked it off of me. I am allergic to bees. Not very bad, but it seems to get worse every time. When I was younger, just a little sting and maybe swelling. The last couple of times huge swelling and the very last time I got a fever too. I haven’t been stung by a bee in a long time.

I like to watch bees and to think about bees, but not to hold them. I like the way they fly around flowers. Up and down, back and forth, fly away and then come back again. It looks random, but I don’t think it is. It is their way of doing things and it works. They get the job done. Very different than ants. Ants like straight lines. When they are doing their job, they don’t look random. They look very organized. I don’t like watching ants. It stresses me out. Part of it is that I hate killing them and sometimes have to when they are crawling up my kitchen wall in a line. It is not an ant friendly world. There is no way I can feel right about wiping out an entire community in less than a minute but I do it anyway. What a strange world.

Humans as a species sometimes remind me of green belts in karate. It is a transitional period of having knowledge and power, but not necessarily knowing how to use it. Sparring with a green belt is much scarier than sparring a black belt. I know I am safe sparring with a black belt. I have been hurt more than once sparring a green belt. With the exception of the occasional teenaged boy who has something to prove, they usually don’t mean to hurt anyone but they can strike hard and are still learning to control their techniques in an amped up situation.

Humans have enough knowledge to make theories based on things that they don’t have complete information about. How do I know I am better than an ant? What gives me the right to decide that they have to die because I don’t like having them in my house? Why do we think we are the most intelligent species? If you check the facts, we are obviously not. Without humans, there is balance and an ecosystem that works very well. We kill each other and we kill our planet and it has gone on for so long that it is hard to see another way to live. We don’t know how to live in a different kind of world. I am sure there are human societies in the world that know how, but if we find them we will steal their land and try to make them be like us. Welcome to PMS week.

The other reason that I don’t like watching ants is because I can’t do it without thinking. It is like trying to read in the same room where there is an interesting tv show on. When I watch a bee, it is just part of everything. Something to anchor my attention in the background. Keeps me connected to the world while still being able to leave it. I like that.

Random Geekery — 07/14/2007

Random Geekery

I'm going to WordCampFirst, an iphone update. It still rocks! Most of the annoyances do not bug me anymore except for safari not remembering my zoom (Edit: I forgot that a double tap zooms in the safari window, so I rescind that last annoyance), lack of basic text select, copy, and paste features, and poor navigation. Some breadcrumb links would be nice. The one tip that has changed my iphone life the most is David Pogue’s keyboard tip. Genius.

Wordcamp 2007 – I can’t wait! 2 days long this year. D will be there too. I am happy about that.

No more sponsored themes on WP themes site. Makes me happy.

PHP4 will be no more. Finally!

Warcrack
I can finally play again! I am taking a break from Tsayad my main hunter because I wanted to start at a lower level so I could remember how to play and was not in a guild so that I didn’t feel like I should be grouping with people.

I started a night elf druid named Shikibee who is now level 16, alchemy/herbalism. I might end up making her my new main. Tsayad is only 41 and I am liking this character better. I thought hunter was my favorite because it is possibly the easiest class to solo with. I liked having a pet and it was pretty cool to send my pet (Fuzz) in and shoot things with arrows from a distance.

My favorite way to play is to run up to things and fight them, but that is hard to do as a hunter. I tried to be a warrior for a while, but that sucked worst of all. Not a good solo class because of no healing abilities. Have to stop and eat or bandage and make sure to have lots of healing potion, which is not so easy if you are a blacksmith/miner. Tsayad is skinning/leatherworking, so could supply shikibee with some nice armor.

I am leveling shikibee as a feral druid with this build but I might move some of the points around before I am done. If anyone has any idea what I am talking about and has any suggestions on a good solo pve feral druid build, I would be happy to hear them.

/* end random geekery */

Review: iPhone 1.0 — 07/09/2007

Review: iPhone 1.0

I cracked. Didn’t even last a week. I tried to resist, but every day I went to the apple store to play with an iPhone. The 8GB models were continuously out of stock. Usually the 4G models were too. It compelled me. Like the iMac did nearly 2 years ago, and like another mac most likely will at macworld 2008.
iPhone 1.0
I checked the apple store iphone availability link every morning. Finally, on saturday, the dot was green. it was still only 8am and apple store opened at 9. We got there around 8:30 and there was already a line outside. I got on line while k parked the car.

About 5 minutes after we got there, an apple store employee walked down the line handing iphone shaped tickets to everyone. The ticket was a guarantee of 8GB iphone availability if purchased by 10am. We didn’t even have to stay on line, but stayed anyway. Less than half an hour later, me and K walked out of the store with a pretty iphone bag containing a beautiful well designed iphone box. I was kind of in shock.

We went across the street to the cingular store to add the iphone data plan ($20/month for unlimited data and visual voicemail). They let me log in to my itunes account from there and activate the phone so they could make sure the att account end of things went correctly. It did. Before we left the store, my iphone was working and my motorola was dead.

When I opened the box, there was a beautiful shiny iphone packaged in a very neat and elegant way like most apple products are. On the way home, I took photos, called my folks, and surfed the web. Don’t worry, Karen was driving 😉

The screen is beautiful. The video quality is amazing. The sound is clear. The screen gets lots of fingerprints on it, but you can’t notice them unless the phone is off or sleeping. A small cloth was included to wipe it. The cloth did an okay job, but the one that came with my case was much better and wiped off every smudge.

I could open a Word doc in email with no problem. The wifi speed is relatively fast. The edge network connection is more like dialup, but definitely usable. It is amazing to be able to look stuff up from anywhere that a cell phone signal can be had. This is something I think will come in very handy. I can look up directions from google maps when I get lost. I get lost a lot.

The touchscreen is fun, especially the pinchy thing where you can zoom in or out. I started out slow on the keyboard, but can type much faster now. Still using one finger, but I have read that typing with 2 thumbs can be much faster. There is a good video on the apple site about the keyboard.

One very cool thing that the video mentions is that the iphone will dynamically resize the letter tap zones for the most likely letter, and make the adjacent letter’s tap zones smaller.

Something that is essential to know is that you can zoom in on the text and cursor on the screen by holding your finger down in the area you want to magnify and moving the cursor. This makes it MUCH easier to move the cursor to where you want it to be.

Word prediction is much better than it seems at first. The trick is not to doubt it and refrain from backspacing to fix your own errors. Sometimes that is necessary, but most often, the keyboard will guess what the misspelled word was supposed to be, even though the guesses it makes while you are typing are not even close.

Word auto-complete sucks. While the late guessing of correct words works okay for typos and spelling errors, it is terrible for completing words. Sometimes it doesn’t guess the word until the last letter, making it useless, or even worse, guesses the wrong word on the last letter. In that case, you have to cancel the suggested word or it will replace your correct word. Easy to miss this if you are looking at the keyboard instead of the message. To auto-complete a guessed word, tap the spacebar on the keyboard. To get rid of it, tap the word on the screen.

I am loving the Notes app. For the non-mac people, an app is the same thing as a program. Usually, I have about 10 random scraps of paper in my back pocket, and another 100 or so on my desk, all containing information that I want to remember, but will most likely never see again. The iphone offers a very easy way to keep notes in one place.

This past week, I have been taking notes about things I have been noticing and learning about the iphone. For the most part, I think this is the coolest phone I have ever had or ever seen. I am very lucky and happy to have it. Even still, there is definitely room for improvement.

I knew going in that this is a version 1.0 product, so was expecting things to be missing or broken. I don’t think anything is broken. Some of the things that are missing surprise me very much and I am guessing (and hoping) that at least some of them will be added in a software update.

Some things that are glaringly missing:

  • Text select – This is so basic. It is hard to believe it is not possible. I have checked, and it really is not.
  • Cut/Copy/Paste – See text select.
  • MMS (multimedia messaging – text messages with pictures) – Basic mobile phone feature.
  • Notes do not sync with anything on the computer. Very strange. I should note — haha, note. that’s funny 🙂 — that you can email a note easily, so it is not that hard to get it on your computer, but syncing seems pretty basic.
  • You can not add attachments to email. I think it would be better to include the ability to email pictures, notes, and other attachments directly from the mail app, while still keeping the option to email them from the pix and notes apps.
  • No Select All option for email messages (or anything else). There is no way to delete a bunch of mail at a time. Why?

Not glaring, but still missing:

  • Voice memo – probably glaring to anyone who was used to using it on their old phone. It is kind of weird since there is an included recorder for setting voicemail greeting.
  • There is no video recorder.
  • No included games.

Other random gripes:

  • Some things take too many clicks. Navigating through different email accounts really needs to be streamlined. It would also be nice to have a period and comma key available on the same keyboard as the letters for text apps.

    Keyboards for some apps are specialized and smart. For example, the safari keyboard includes period, slash, and ‘.com’ keys.

  • No way to choose which widgets appear on the main screen.
  • Safari does not remember the zoomed screen size so I have to rezoom on every page.
  • The screen does not always rotate from portrait to landscape view on the first try.

3rd party apps!

The way Apple has set up the iPhone to work with 3rd party apps is to run them in safari. To use an app, just go to the app’s url. If you like it, you can bookmark it for easy access.

There are also a few launcher type apps that act as a main bookmark page that is only for your third party apps and prettier to look at than regular bookmarks.

There is a big list of iphone apps here: iPhone Application List and another here: appleopolis.com. You can skip the login on the second one. No login for first one.

I am currently trying out mojits.com, which is a launcher type thing for iphone apps that you access through safari. Hard to tell if I like it because I only tried using it for 5 minutes.

I was pretty impressed with a shopping list app called OneTrip. OneTrip makes it easy to make a shopping list by offering prewritten selections that are organized by category. There is an option to add your own things to each category.

I also added a bejeweled type game, a movie time finder, and an app called iActu that brings the content of 6 popular newspapers in a cool looking newsstand style. When you click on a paper, the newsstand goes away and the news is displayed in an easy to read way.

WordPress iPhone Theme and Plugin by Content.Robot – automatically reformats your site’s content for optimized viewing on an iPhone. Thank you content.robot! I am using it on LBnuke, with the only modification being changing the blue to red to match the site.

Other interesting tips and factoids gathered from around the web:

From iPhone Central at Macworld.com:

“When browsing a web page in Safari on an iPhone, one tap of the top status bar (signal strength, time, etc.) brings you back to the top of the page, complete with the URL field visible.”
–Dan Moren

Airplane Mode … disables all wireless functionality (phone, EDGE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) but lets you use the iPhone’s non-Internet applications.
–Dan Frakes

If your iPhone freezes…
Reset: Apple’s first reset tip, which is pressing and holding the Home button for about six seconds. This quits any application that may have locked up the iPhone.
Reboot: Press and hold the Home and On/Off for about 10 seconds until the Apple logo appears.
–Christopher Breen (edited by LB for length)

In Safari on the iPhone, holding your finger down on a link pops up a balloon displaying the underlying URL. Also works on HTML messages in Mail. Holding your finger on a link shows you where the URL is really going to take you.
–Dan Frakes

There is a great tip from David Pogue on the The Missing Manual website about how to type punctuation without having to switch back and forth between the letters and the number/symbols keyboard. Basically, you hold down the “.?123” key when you are switching to the numbers keyboard and rather than letting it go, you slide your finger to the punctuation that you want to type and then release it. After release, the letters keyboard returns. Click here to read the full keyboard punctuation tip at the Missing Manual site.

That is all I have for now. Maybe I will write again if I notice more things, find some cool apps, or if Apple releases software updates that adds new features.

Queer Jews and Karate — 06/26/2007

Queer Jews and Karate

2007 SF Gay Pride Parade

A couple of weeks ago, I was wondering when my life would be back to normal. This past weekend, it bulldozed past normal and entered into surreality. Friday night I was still my regular self. Karen went to the dyke march and then out dancing at Mango with Lorena and Tess, and I stayed home because I didn’t want to be around so many people.

On Sunday, the day of the pride parade, I decided that I wanted to go. Not just go. I wanted to MARCH IN THE PARADE with our temple (or at least what might be our temple if we ever get around to checking it out more). I had a good time. It is actually less crowded in the parade than watching it from the sidelines. There was this Jewish youth group in front of us that were all wearing bright orange shirts. Fresh squeezed orange jews. Sorry, I tried not to write that, but I couldn’t resist. Every time the parade stopped, they would perform a same sex jewish wedding under a rainbow flag chuppah, smash a plastic cup wrapped in a napkin, and then run around in circles singing. Made me happy.
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Back In Business — 06/22/2007

Back In Business

I have finally updated my business site! I last updated it in 2004 and it was so out of date that I had to unpublish half of the pages because the information was no longer accurate.

BeeDragon Web Services

The focus of my business has changed over the years. When I first started out, I made mostly static table-based HTML sites. I started using CSS for presentation soon after that, and eventually started using CSS for layout as well.

When I first created LBnuke, it was made with a content management system (CMS) called PostNuke. It was my first experience with PHP, MySQL, and a CMS in general. I had never seen anything like it and quickly started investigating just about every open source PHP/MySQL CMS that I could find. Once I learned how they worked, I started specializing in customizing the design and function of open source CMS’s. After years of experimenting, I finally decided that my favorite CMS of them all is WordPress.

All this month I have been working on my new business site. I ditched a custom design that I was working on and then an XHTML/CSS template site that I was contemplating before finally deciding to convert BeeDragon to wordpress using a really nice wordpress theme that I found. I added some images (including a bee and a dragon of course), some rounded CSS boxes, updated my site content and pricing, came up with a few special offers, and put it up live last night.

I am very thankful to Karen for helping me with the site content! My goal was to keep it simple and easy to understand. I am still tinkering some with the content, but even in its first version, it is far more up to date and easy to understand than my old site. I am not sure if this design will be temporary or permanent, but it is nice to have it finally done 🙂

A Short History of BeeDragon.com:*

  • 1995 – version 1.0 – No layout at all, not even a table. All text is centered. Animated GIF of a dragon flying across the screen repeatedly.
  • 1997 – v2 – Table based version of the same site. Graphic page title images. Presentational CSS added. <FONT> tags removed.
  • 1999 – v3 – Template Monster template with Flash header. Need I say more?
  • 2004 – v4 – Mambo/Joomla CMS. Nice for 2004, but too boxy and modular for 2007. Very web 1.0. Hardly anyone has ever heard of a blog, so long detailed explanations were necessary but confusing.
  • 2007 – v5.0 – Customized WordPress site. Reflects what I do. Updated prices. Simple. Pretty. Tables for data only.

* Fine Print: Technically, this is not really a history of BeeDragon.com. BeeDragon.com was registered in 2002. Before that, my “web design business” sites lived on aol, compuserve, and home.attbi.com.

Back To Normal? — 06/11/2007

Back To Normal?

For the past couple of weeks, I have been feeling much better than I have in at least a year. My new meds are finally working pretty good, even great in comparison to the last 2 horribly failed experiments. I can breathe. My body is not completely taken over in every way possible. I can work. I can leave the house.

Still, things do not feel completely normal yet. This weekend, me and K went to a party to celebrate one of my Sensei’s promotion from Godan (5th degree black belt) to Rokudan (6th degree black belt, Master) and a bunch of other promotions too. Rokudan is a pretty huge deal in Cuong Nhu. There are only 5 in total and only one woman (my Sensei). I wasn’t sure I would make it, but I really wanted to go. It was a great reason to celebrate and I miss my dojo very much.

It occurred to me that the thing that would make my life feel “normal” again would be going back to class. Besides from loving martial arts, going to class was the only regular contact I had with other people. A dojo is a special place and I have been very lucky to find such a great school with the most amazing teachers I could ever imagine and a bunch of nice people in general. I have been a student there for 10 years.
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Pod People — 06/05/2007

Pod People

iPod nanoI am now one of them. I have resisted getting an ipod for years, mostly because I find it kind of crazy that there is no way to input data without transferring files from a computer.

I have been tempted repeatedly, mostly by the shiny black video ipods and nanos. The screen size of the video ipods seem a little small for watching videos. Better to wait for the iPhone. 🙂 The nanos are harder to resist. I don’t need one. I have a palm pilot that does everything a nano can do and more. Still, I see them in the store and want one every time. Marketing genius.

It is likely that I will eventually get an iPhone. I will try to wait for version 2.0 when the initial bugs and annoyances have been worked out. The iPhone screen is a better size for video, not to mention the million other things it does. But it is crazy expensive, not even including whatever monthly fee there will be to use all of its features.
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Crazy Cat Ladies — 05/30/2007

Crazy Cat Ladies

Me and K are now officially crazy cat ladies. It happened just like last time. The neighbors came over with a stray kitten that was living in the yard next door. They know who the suckers are! The mother cat is Nikkyo’s grandma. We almost resisted this time. We told them we couldn’t do it, but the little fuzzy seed had been planted. K had already fallen in love and could not stop thinking about it. A couple of days later, we had 4 cats. It is almost a year since Shiki died. Nikkyo’s first birthday is in 2 days. Wasn’t it time for a new kitten? Apparently so. This is the last one! Really. Welcome Buster 🙂

Buster

Buster
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Aspie Dinner — 05/27/2007

Aspie Dinner

Friday night I went out to dinner with the people from the asperger’s meetup group that I’ve been to a few times. It was lots of fun. Really nice people. I liked it way better than meeting at someone’s house. Less pressure somehow and I didn’t feel trapped like I sometimes do.

The dinner was to celebrate someone’s birthday. A lot of people came. We talked about random things, which is pretty fun with a group of people who each seem to have an unusually large number of random facts stored in their heads.

The best thing about it was that I felt normal. I know that going out to dinner with a bunch of people is normal, but usually it is very uncomfortable for me. I can hardly ever keep up with conversations and half the time do not understand what I am supposed to do. If I have something to say, when is the right time to say it? I don’t want to interrupt someone who is talking and I am usually not organized enough to talk right when the little gaps in conversation occur. There isn’t enough time to process the last thing that someone said in that small amount of time and by the time I do, the conversation has moved on.

It was different in this group. It is different every time I am with a group of autistic people. The rules are different, or at least they have more leeway. There is way less fluff (words with no real purpose being constantly chattered to avoid silence). There is more patience. It is easier to keep up. I don’t think it is because people were talking any slower than in any other conversation. Sometimes that is the case in groups of autistic people, but not on Friday night. I am not exactly sure why it is easier. Maybe because there is less fluff to filter out? Does anyone have any idea what makes it easier?

I think part of it is that there is no pressure to be “normal” about things like response times, and having trouble speaking is not such a big deal. It is such a nice change from feeling completely uncomfortable and wanting to leave! My head didn’t get loud like it often does in groups of people. Usually, all voices start blending into a mishsmash of sound like if you were changing radio stations very quickly. Being confused from the mishmash makes it hard to focus and then other distractions like light, colors, people, and a million other things get mixed in too.

I don’t know why none of that happened on Friday night. It almost always happens, especially when I am with people that I don’t know very well. I wonder if it is because I was less stressed because of not having to try so hard to keep up and fit in. Whatever it is, I liked it a whole lot. I feel like I got a taste of how the other half lives. The half that can just do things easily. I like my life a whole lot and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I do get tired of so many things things that are supposed to be easy being so hard.

On the other hand, some things that are very hard for other people are easy for me. I guess it is a tradeoff. I hate when things are not logical. It drives me crazy. For real, not like the figure of speech. People are not always logical. On the flipside of that, I love to work inside of a logical framework. It brings me a kind of peace and gives me a break from all of the things that don’t make sense.

I spend a good part of every day coding; looking at hundreds of lines of words and symbols that make complete sense. There is no ‘reading between the lines’. It is what it is. When somethings goes wrong, it is usually because of an error in logic (or syntax) that can be found and fixed. In the words of the wordpress site, ‘Code is Poetry’. I think that is true.