Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – USA – Day 33/34/35 – SF to LAX and onwards to New York

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on April 17, 2010

WT2010 – USA
Day 33/34/35 SF to LAX and onwards to New York
[On the iPOD] Cut Copy / Yeah Yeah Yeahs / Sonic Youth

Okay time-schedule showdown time. How long’s it take to drive from San Francisco to L.A (according to my GPS 5hours 40minutes) the plan was; set alarm to 5:40am, leave at 6am, arrive at LAX to return rental car and hop a plane to New York which left at 1:35pm. Basically left myself 1hour for messups. I woke up at 3:50am for some reason so went back to bed and then the next time I’d look at my clock; 6:49am! OH SHIT! (alarm failed) I then ran down stairs to find that the valet would take 20minutes to get my car. Eventually left at 7:15am, front-wheel drive rental car drift on the streets of SF. I ended up tale-gating a honda civic over bumpy roads and in my half-woken daze could have sworn it was NFS: Underground for a few minutes. Anyway onto the freeway in no time at all and then calculating in my head if I’d be able to make it with fuel stops and such.

Long story short; I made it and I was checking in for the flight as it was boarding (returning the car took some time also) All good though. I was flying Virgin for the first time and was utterly blown away. The planes basically looked brand new interior wise (obviously recently refitted) You have an LCD touchscreen where you order anything you want (and swipe a credit card to pay for it) so you get custom food, movies and… Internet! WIFI on a plane and it was pretty damn quick, they also had charging sockets under every seat. My friends were in a spin when I was chatting to them live whilst flying across the USA. Radness.

It’s funny how quick a 6hour flight goes when you’ve got access to your own laptop and the net. I think I’m over my fear of flying too, well it never was a fear of flying it’s more fear of crashing into a mountain at 860km/h but that stems from not being in control of the plane I think. What’s this? JFK airport, New York!

I was off the plane in no time and had a cabbie come up to me asking me where I’m headed. I was a bit weary, in alert mode even when he lead me to his ‘taxi’ which was a 4WD with no taxi logos on it and New Mexico license plates. So right away I asked for ID. I was put at ease though when he conversed with the ticket-booth guy about a slow-night of work (they knew eachother) As it turns out he uses a 4WD because he aims to pickup families and such but was having a really slow day. I was still weary about being ripped off so I fired off questions; how much will the fare be, how long will it take to get there. He did mention “plus tolls” and there were no tolls on the way aside from the $18 cabbies pay to park at the airport. Should I be paying this? It didn’t seem right. But we got to talking and it turns out his family had moved from India and we discussed Cricket, America, Australia and the Melbourne racist attacks. In the end he was really knowledgeable and was weaving in and out of traffic like a madman (which is good when your in a rush) And he waved the $18 toll with whatever I had. Still felt the fare was steep (NOTE: I’ve talked to some locals and basically always go for yellow cabs as other ones such as the one I took charge a lot more) I checked into my hotel at 11pm! (you lose 3hours flying LAX to JFK because of the time difference so It’s a 9hour flight) So quickly showered and was keen for the following day.

The last two days involved 15hours of driving, a 6hour plane trip and dealing with a 3hour time difference which is probably why I woke up at 1pm! I’m using the internet and google maps a lot to plan out my day, this is bad because my current hotel has the worst Internet I’ve come across in years. It’s like 28.8k speed and drops out every 3minutes for long periods. It’s utterly frustrating when your trying to look at maps and get a scope of where to go. It took me over an hour to get moving. But oh well I decided to just leg it, roam around and follow my nose as usual.

I’ve got my eye (or ear) set on some albums I’m after that I know you can buy in America, ones which I couldn’t be bothered ordering back home. I went to three different music stores in Lower-Manhattan to no avail! On first impressions Midtown to Lower-Manhattan is a little bit like (for all you Australians) Newtown in Sydney, Fitzroy in Melbourne and The Valley in Brisbane but it’s also so much more. It does vary as you move through certain areas (it’s broken up into several sub-areas such as East Village / Greenwich Village / Tribeca and so on) which vary from the trendy to the arty to bluecollar and that’s just below the Midtown line (which is determined by the L-train that goes over the river into Brooklyn) Oh and of course it’s so much bigger than any of those places in Australia.

Instead of being one ‘main strip’ of cool shops and restaurants it’s basically all over, the shops and restaurants only broken up by blocks (off the ‘main’ roads) by blocks of old-style brownstone rowhouse villas (would you call them Victorian? I’m not sure) Before I knew it it was dinner time and I was utterly done in by the walking (and perhaps still getting over the past few days) Planning a big day tomorrow I called it a day.

11am, dusty road. I’m gonna walk ’til it burns my bones. But before that my first encounter with New York’s subway on my way to the American National History Museum. You can buy a Metro card (the cheapest of which is $27 for 7days unlimited use, perfect) It’s so easy to navigate New York in general because of America’s love of ‘numbered streets’ that is in Manhattan you’ll find 1st st run parallel with 2nd, 3rd and so on all the way into the 100’s and they generally run East/West and are denoted by E on the East side and W on the… and then they have 1st Ave etc run North/South. So basically if someone gives you an address like 42nd / 5th Ave you know exactly where it is, how to get there and how far away it is. Likewise the subway stops are named after the streets they stop at. Simple.

The subway itself is grungy and dingy in areas and the entrances can sometimes be pretty hard to find, they’ll be the size of 2 food card stands around a corner with no signs directing you there. If you have a map your set though. Once in the subway it feels safe and the trains seem to run pretty on schedule (better than Sydney’s timing at least, but not as clean) I was at the Museum in minutes.

It was somehow already 12pm and I stood staring at the map of the museum kind of in disbelief, 4 levels and a few city blocks in area. It closed at 5:45pm and even then I knew it wouldn’t be enough time so I set off double-time. It has everything on show in such detail that I honestly don’t know where to begin, nearly 300 photos on my flickr page is only a fraction of what was on show. I was literally walking into areas and taking photos of 1/20th of the stuff on show and had to skip taking photos in other areas all together. I was determined to see it all and vowed not to stop and loiter but at times it’s just too hard you want to know all about the exhibits and you find yourself standing there reading explanatory captions.

I booked one of the ‘shows’ in the 3D dome which was ‘Journey to the Stars’ narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. It was rather awe-inspiring but too short! Entertaining though, Carl Sagan would have been proud. In the end I was being told it’s closing time but I’d ALMOST done it. I’d missed 2 areas of the Museum and my legs were dead tired but no time to whine it was time to try out an iPad!

I walked over to Apple’s newest store (not the famous cube which was too further a walk) but the store is just as stylish (basically a glass cube set in a building, check out the photo) I walked in to find many tables filled with iPads and literally a customer and every single one, there were one or two free and I quickly hopped in a spot to pick one up. Mini review/thoughts to follow;

From the photos I always thought the desktop looked empty, but I quickly realised this is just because I’m used to my Iphone with everything packed in tight. I first clicked on iTunes, the processor and memory is FAST. Displaying 4albums wide and scrolling down yields no lag at all. Next the iCalender, very easy to navigate and view, basically a dream for you organisational nuts like myself. Then photos and movies and a few games.

I couldn’t stop playing around with it, I noticed I was mostly using it in sideways (wide mode) but you need to put it down to type that way. When you’ve got it in Vertical mode the keyboard is perfectly spaced for thumb typing, just like you do on your iPhone but SO much quicker. I’ve heard a few reviews comment that the keyboard is retarded in those mode but it’s quite obvious, its meant to be held in this mode and perhaps put down to type in the other. The spacing is perfect and I found myself 2 thumb typing almost as quick as I qwerty typed in horizontal mode with no errors! Most of the people near me were older folks asking questions to the staff and then being awed with how simple the replies were in this machine doing what they want.

In the end when I walked out and took out my iPhone it felt completely wrong, like my world had shrunk and this miniature machine was unusable! To call the iPad ‘just a bigger iPod touch’ is utter utter lunacy. It’s like being a graphic designer and comparing work on playing card sized screen compared to a dual-display widescreen 24″ lcd. Size matters! It opens everything up and lets you do so much more. I think apple has built all these little apps into iPhones and Ipodtouch’s that we’ve become accustomed to organising our days on miniature devices. In reality you can’t get much done on them and the iPad is proof and parcel of it, everyone should wakeup and realise this. I was already thinking I’d chuck away my iPhone for one, but then realised hold on; it’s not actually a phone. So is it better than my newly acquired macbook pro? For what I’m doing right now (traveling the world and using a macbook mostly for Internet / Maps / Emails / Organisation / Blogging) I think it’d serve me just as well. The only place it’d fall down would be multitasking things. OS4.0 is apparently going to change this. The other reason I didn’t get one on the spot was lack of 3G thusfar, I’ve been in the heart of Tokyo, L.A, San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, New York and utterly struggled with WIFI on my phone. There are not enough reliable/fast and open! WIFI connections out there. It’s just that simple. The device with 3G capability will be killer though. Using the GoogleMaps App to direct me from the Apple store to the Empire State building was utterly ridiculous in how easy and great it is.

A short walk and I was standing at the bottom of the Empire State Building, something everyone in New York has to do apparently. An elevator takes you to the 80th floor and then another takes you to the 86th (good number) where I walked out to be gobsmacked at the site. People are right; everyone in New York should see this view once. It was getting right on dusk so the sun would be setting soon and I walked round ‘n round looking to all points of the great sprawling city. You can see both rivers either side of Manhattan and into New Jersey and North / South as far as the eye can see. It’s kind of a ‘Sim City’ feeling because your literally above everything around you. You hear a siren blaring in the distance and try and spot it down the traffic lanes that curve off into the horizon to be swallowed up by rows of skyscrapers. Yellow taxi cabs herd and graze at traffic lights. Several bridges cross the river either side of you and you wonder where they lead and who is on them.

It kind of eerie how calm it was up there, I was expecting an unnerving wind that would push you towards the edge but it was completely calm no wind at all and I happily lent against the fence vying for a good vantage point for a photo opportunity of the sunset on the horizon. Crystal clear skies also, I’d fluked the perfect weather to head up! The perfect end to a day exploring NYC.

CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS AT FLICKR

CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS AT FLICKR

Reflections on the death of the Microsoft PC.

Posted in Random by jukeboxparables on December 19, 2009

So this is going to be a nerdier post than normal but bare with me it’ll only be short! Just last week I bought my first MAC. There’s nothing extraordinary about someone buying an Apple product of course except for the fact that I’ve long been the Microsoft/PC devotee. 21 years to be exact.

Here’s one of the first PCs I remember using It was a couple of years old at the time but it intrigued me never the less (I was only 5 though). The IBM 5150 released in 1981. I’m pretty sure it was running MS DOS 4.0 at the time.
IBM 5150

Between use of an Apple II at school and a hand full of other IBM’s along the way including an XT (8088) and then AT (80286) and onwards to a 386. All ran various versions of MS DOS up to 5.0 and then eventually 6.0 and the big leap to Windows 3.0 from various dos-based menu/manager apps like DOS’ XTree gold. Windows 3.0 was obviously a benchmark, later versions 3.1 and 3.11 building on it.
Windows 3.11

When Windows 95 came out I was on a 486 DX2 66 at the time. The whole while Apple had been doing their own thing arguably competing with Microsoft. Probably through selling their wares to Schools, but then again no one beats cramming a product down your throat like Microsoft. Between Windows 95, 95+, 98, 98se and probably up to Me if you were into gaming MACs just simply couldn’t keep up simply because the major gaming companies at the time were making their hits for the PC and that thing called the Internet and Online gaming had taken off.

By this time I’d owned a swathe of home-built Intel based PC’s. One thing you learned to do systematically just like waking up in the morning and going to the bathroom was to CLEAN-INSTALL Windows every few months and tweak every little thing to get it to run sweat. It was kind of like owning an old shitbox of a car that you loved because you knew all its creaks and faults and knew what had to be done to get her to get you home.

Sure I’d used other brands during this time, Apples OS and Unix/Linux ports but as a kid you go with the flow and don’t really think outside the box. So Windows stuck.

I remember having conversations with mates/gamers circa the early/mid 90’s about the future of PC’s and ‘how awesome’ it’ll be say… in the year 2000 when MS release their OS of the era and computers will take 5sec to boot and be stable and perfect and fast, at the time we literally had to wait 2-3min for bootups. What I didn’t realise is I kind of held onto this view post 2000. Windows Me came and went and then we got XP and Vista. I stuck by XP and built my last PC around it a few years back. Simply because Vista was a pile of crap.

It wasn’t all Microsoft’s fault, I’d also used an array of FUCKING TERRIBLE laptops over the years from major companies to smaller ones, most of these just weren’t put together that well. I’ve actually got a Toshiba laptop kicking around that’s about 5years old, I clean-installed XP on it (you’ll note that the specs of said laptop are 3+years advanced of XP being released so it should nail running XP right?) Boot time = 6minutes. I shit you not (and thats tweaked, nothing on startup!)

Fast forward to a few weeks back. It’s the year 2009, my PC is 3yrs old and was setup perfectly back when. No clean-install/formats this time round just various MS Service Pack updates. I’d been putting up with a bunch of strange errors for months, like the PS2 ports not recognising my mouse (you had to enter windows, reset and then they’d come online)

Boot time of my uberspec Windows PC in 2009? Well by the time you got rid of the waiting Icon it was bordering on 4minutes. I KNEW how to solve all this of course the patented clean-install that I’ve literally done 100’s of times over the last 2 decades (I’ve never been a fan of MS disk defrag)

And then it hit me, THIS IS NONSENSE. Instead of coding better, learning how to allocate memory properly to make a sleek world killing OS Microsoft have just gotten worse. Upgrades in hardware should have yielded speedier and more stable computers, instead they’ve yielded sloppy programming. Clean-install? FUCK THAT. I shouldn’t have to do it, NOT ANYMORE!

I of course was aware Apple made a stable OS, they’ve been the staple of design firms with photoshop/photo import employees (not to mention Video editing) for the last decade or more. I’d never liked the things but when Apple switched to an Intel based package awhile back I slowly started to take notice.

Purchasing an iPhone a few months back and being astounded at its native OS (running 1month without being switched off, no errors, no lag, not 1 error) really made me start to look at Apple differently.

Windows 7? I’m not falling for it Microsoft, not this time. It’s the same deal, you’ve had 20years to give me something solid and you’ve failed. According to a few sources Microsoft still has something like 85% of Market share. I suspect theres a lot of oldschool computer users out there exactly like me setting up their PC’s to run sweet and then dealing with ‘cute’ quirks you can iron out. But you shouldn’t have to, really. It’s basically 2010 damnit.

Sure my MACBOOK PRO still has it’s new computer feel, but after using friends MACs which are years old and still run like clockwork I’m sure this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

It’s a total class act of a machine. Brilliance.
Apple Store New York