Saturday, May 29, 2010

Slowing Down and Big Choices

Things are just starting to settle down after a ridiculously hectic couple weeks. In the last ten days I have:
  • Finished college
  • Left a job
  • Started a new job
  • Moved out of a house
  • Moved "into" an apartment (sortof... my stuff is there except for my bed and clothes, and I'm staying at home until my family gets back from Maine)
  • Helped some others move
  • Ordered a new computer
  • Fixed a computer
  • Helped take the roof off a house
  • Moved my senior design project to the fieldhouse
  • Attended an open house
  • The list goes on.
It's been busy, but I spent today sleeping, mowing the lawn (until I ran out of gas... I'll have to fill up in the next couple days and finish off the other side of the front yard), washing my car, watching TV, and sleeping a little more. It feels good.

As I mentioned above, I also ordered a new computer. I'm always excited for this kind of thing, but I'm especially excited this time. It's been about three and a half years since I got my laptop, and since my second battery is already kaput (lasts no longer than 5 minutes unplugged) I'm looking forward to being able to use my computer without being tethered to the wall.

I may have gone off the deep end a little bit, but I decided to go with a MacBook Pro. I will admit, part of the reason is that they're just so undeniably gorgeous, but I have a few of what I consider to be legitimate reasons for spending so much money on a computer.

The first is that I want to have the option of using Mac OS X. I'll be working towards my masters degree in Computer Science & Engineering this fall, and I'd like to be able to test out my skills on iPhone/iPod (and iPad now I guess...) apps. Unfortunately that's impossible to do in Windows, so it was a choice of either not having that option at all, or spending the money on something like a Mac Mini later on, which I would see as a complete waste.

The second reason is the battery life. According to Apple.com, the 15" MacBook Pro gets approximately 8-9 hours of battery life. While I'm sure that's not the case under normal usage, even at six hours it's still two or three times that of any comparable notebook. I want to be able to take it to classes, meetings, etc. without having to worry constantly about whether there will be a place to plug in near my seat.

Also, the screen was a huge factor for me. While I'm sure there are other laptops out there with comparable (or better) screens, I've heard nothing but good things about the upgraded high-definition matte screen I opted for. If I'm going to be staring at something for a few hours every day for the next few years, I'm going to make sure that it's not going to act like a mirror.

Finally, the build quality and the feel of the MacBook Pro is superb. The touchpad is a dream, and the keyboard is fantastic, although it may take some time to get used to.

I do have a few gripes already about it even though I haven't received it in the mail yet. (I should get it next Thursday...) The first is the hard drive speed. If I'm spending this much money on a laptop, the least Apple could do is throw in a 7200 rpm drive. It wouldn't add that much to the cost, and it would speed things up quite a bit, albeit probably at the expense of some of that precious battery life. The second is the surprising lack of ports. I could use more than 2 USB ports, thank you very much. I know some people have complained about the lack of Blu-Ray support, and I guess it would be nice, but I don't watch many rented movies on my laptop now, so I don't see it being all that big of an issue. My biggest complaint though, is the lack of a VGA or DVI port. I understand that Steve Jobs thinks the MiniDisplay Port is the be-all and end-all of display ports, but almost nothing uses it currently, and it's ridiculous that I should have to buy a $30 adapter just to be able to connect my laptop to a monitor.

Any thoughts you might have of me turning into some sort of Apple fanboy can be put aside, as I'll be installing Windows 7 on it as quickly as possible. I'm just not ready to give that up yet, and I probably never will be. Anyway, I'll probably end up writing my own review or something once I've used it a bit, but we'll see.

It's almost dinner time and then I'm off to a movie. If you've got any comments on my laptop of choice, please share!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Data.

Just a few things I want to get down on this beautiful Sunday morning.

The first thing relates my graduation yesterday to the sermon we had in Church this morning. Our pastor preached on Godly leadership and how important that is in our lives. As a new college graduate, even though I'll be continuing my education, I have been put in a position that will someday allow me to lead others. That realization has been weighing on me more than most as I make a transition in my life, and I really don't feel like I'm quite ready for it yet. I have a lot to learn about discernment, asking for advice, making wise decisions, and taking on the responsibility of people that I might be leading, and I need to make a very conscious effort to develop and grow those abilities within the next few years especially.

Next, I just wanted to mention a little "aha" moment I had while singing in Church this morning. In a conversation last night I spent a lot of time discussing how I need my faith to be based in logic and strong conviction rather than a whole lot of emotion. I have a hard time getting extremely emotional in Church because often I see that as something that clouds my judgment (which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the situation). I never want to be in a situation where my faith is so based on the good feelings I get from worship that when things get rough it falls apart. God took me aback this morning with a little revelation on this very subject. We were singing the song "The Solid Rock," which includes the following line: "When darkness seems to hide his face, I rest on his unchanging grace." That's awesome.

Emotion is great, and when things are going well, or even when they're going poorly, feeling close to God is one of the greatest ways that our faith can be strengthened. However, when God seems to be far away, we can still have comfort in the fact that our faith is firmly grounded in God's grace.

My final subject is something that I've discovered about myself just in the last few weeks or so. I suppose I knew all along that it was true, but was never able to really nail it down specifically. I've come to realize that I am fantastic at finding data, processing it, and producing a tangible result, but I'm awful at preserving that data mentally for use at a later time. For instance: if a professor gives me a test, I can usually do a good job of taking the information provided in the question, apply the processes and techniques I've been taught, and come up with a solution. If you came back to me later on and asked me what the numbers were or what exactly I did to get to my solution, I'd probably have a relatively difficult time recalling.

I'm still not quite sure to make of this, but I think it's at least something good to know as I start to think about what kinds of jobs I might be good at in the future.

That's all for now. If you're from around here, enjoy the fantastic Michigan weather this week. Low eighties without a cloud in sight.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Almost.

I am currently unable to sleep. It's 4am. What does that mean? You guessed it: incessant rambling, disjointed prose, worthless words.

I am two exams away from finishing up my time at Calvin College. I'm not so much shocked or terrified or anxious as I am stunned that four years goes by so fast. I've got a lot of memories (One sec... somehow Avril Lavigne is on my iPod... must... change... song. Wilco. Much better.) built up, but I don't feel like it's four years' worth. Guess I'll have to make a lot of memories in the next couple days to compensate. We'll see how that goes.

Lately I've been putting more thought into my musical preferences. I'm not attempting to become more selective, but more conscious of why I like what I do. It's tough to discern that sometimes, but it's an interesting exercise. Why do I find one band or genre to be repulsive but others click? I'll probably never know, but I think baby steps are in order. Someday maybe it'll just make sense.

I haven't taken my contacts out for something like 6 weeks now. I think I'm only supposed to leave them in a month, but they seem to be working alright yet. Takes a little longer to de-gunk in the morning, but that's alright. Blinking a few extra times never hurt anyone.

Sometimes I wish I were a little more opinionated. The only arguments that get me worked up are those about Michigan sports. That might say something about my priorities and their jumbled order, but it's one of the things I feel like I know enough about to have an opinion on. I hate the thought of taking a position on an important issue and getting all up in someone's face about it without knowing all the facts.

iPod is on shuffle right now. Quickly, the next 10 songs to come up are:
Gavin DeGraw - Nice to Meet You Anyway
Jay-Z - Challenger
Hootie & The Blowfish - I Only Wanna Be With You
Frank Sinatra - Summer Wind
Bryan Adams - I'll Be Right Here Waiting
Jason Mraz - A Beautiful Mess
Flight of the Conchords - Intro
My Morning Jacket - I'm Amazed
GooGoo Dolls - Black Balloon
Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars

Interesting(?)

Strangely enough, I'm still not even close to being tired. At this point I'd probably be better served staying up for the remainder of the night as far as my 9o'clock exam is concerned. I'm going to regret the decision once I hit PHLB, de-roofing a house, and enjoying the final Celebratory Stogie Smoke, but that's a situation I'll just have to deal with I think.

That's all I've got.