I <3 Snow

You know it is a snowy winter when I inadvertently create two picasa albums called More Snow. Needless to say we got more snow and I took a few photos. The snow has gotten somewhat out of hand as you can see from the photos. At this point Boston has 70 inches officially at the airport, so I imagine we have to have somewhere above that maybe 80 inches if I had to guess. We have been lucky enough to not have the storms change over to a mix or rain. In non-weather related news, Camden is finally feeling better after his respiratory virus, he was really good about using the nebulizer. Somehow magically after he was feeling better he was able to crawl and even pull himself up. So now he is Mr. Mobile and doesn’t just nicely sit in one place. I am currently happy about this and think it is a dramatic improvement over the uselessness of just sitting in place even if it means we need to be a little more aware of him. Kaleb is finally sleeping through the night again and actually slept past 6AM today. We were also able to bribe him into being potty trained again by purchasing a toy helicopter and only letting him have it after 7 successful days of not having an “accident”. I wanted to move it back a day every time he did have an accident, but we decided that might be too harsh. Okay so here are the photos.

More Snow

Another year another Christmas

Well we made it through another Christmas. The house is nearly settled in with all of the new goods. We didn’t get to do our tradition of taking the tree and decorations down today, but will probably have a chance to do it tomorrow.

Now we are snowed in with the Boxing Day blizzard sitting next to the fire with full bellies from eating the last of our Crumbs cupcakes. The office is closed tomorrow so if we have power I will be working from home. Nice. Here are the photos.

Christmas 2010

Christmas is Almost Here

Christmas is almost here and we are thick in the middle of holiday spirit. An Elf on the Shelf, advent calendars galore, Christmas cards, a little tree with a VW topper, pine needles shedding all over the floor, enough cookies to quickly erase the last four months of dieting and a never ending supply of clementines.

All is in order for Camden’s first Christmas and what appears to be the first Christmas where Kaleb will actually get fired up as we come downstairs in the morning. We finally got our first snow today even if it is barely covering the grass it still covers the grass.

Kaleb had his holiday performance at preschool and as per usual didn’t really participate, maybe they should have made him the Christmas tree in the Nutcracker rather than a soldier and Russian dancer. It is not like he is a shy kid. Who knows, maybe it is because he wakes up every morning at 4am and get sick every other week. He was quite a little firecracker last night when we were driving home, I was given a taste of the sarcasm and harassment to come. “Daddy what did you say?” “Daddy why did we go this way?” “Daddy why is that guy beeping at you did you get in his way?” “Why are you driving the car Georgie? (in a ridiculous accent that Gilbert Gottfried uses in an impersonation of Vaudeville star George Jessel. Here is Gilberts Impression) This kid is too friggin much.

Well here are some photos from the past few weeks leading up to Christmas.

December Photos

Santa Parades Photos

Sorry there are a lot of photos in this album, but I didn’t split it into separate events yet. We went to a couple Santa parades this weekend and also got our Christmas tree. One of my favorite pictures is when Kaleb sees Santa in the parade and has such joy on his face. Its kind of bittersweet knowing that the joy is based on fiction, but I guess that is what growing up is all about.

Santa Parades

Whirlwind Tour of Vermont

Last weekend we made a quick overnight trip to Vermont to visit Jen’s family’s cabin. We stayed in a little hotel in Ludlow for the night, upon arriving we unpacked our stuff and then figured out the heat wasn’t working. So we moved to a different room. In the middle of the night Kaleb woke up and had to throw up, so we were up for about an hour at 1:30AM and then again at 5:30 when he woke up with a fever and still feeling sick. Kaleb was well enough to point out the snow on the car, Jennifer and I thought he was only seeing frost, but it was indeed snow (just a dusting).

We packed up the crew and headed over to the cabin for an enjoyable and brisk day outside. We had a great walk down to the stream with lots of tree clean up. We made the trip home and it was eventful, Kaleb needed to stop to possibly throw up and Cam cried the last half hour.

Here are pictures


Some More Photos

September is finally here and I am thinking things may slow down a little bit, of course this probably isn’t true, but I can dream can’t I. We just had Camden’s six month appointment and he is a beast at over 18 lbs. Can’t wait to see how long it takes him to weigh as much as Kaleb.

Well here are some photos from Fort Foster park in Maine, the Casenet BBQ we hosted and also swimming at my mom’s.

Fort Foster

Casenet BBQ

Swimming at Gagas

Long Time No Pics

I finally got around to rating photos and sorting them. So here they are
First is Canobie Lake Park

Canobie Lake Park

Now a bunch of random photos from the past month
Late July Early August

I took Kaleb to his first movie last week at the AMC Movie Theater in Methuen at the Loop. I picked Despicable Me, because it appeared to be less troubling for little ones. He was really excited to go and really enjoyed getting popcorn and was completely focused on the trailers and the movie. Unfortunately it was a bit over his head and a little too scary for him so we had to leave early. It seems that as long as I pick the right movie it should work out better next time.

One more from National Night Out
National Night Out

Another Vacation is Upon Us

In preparation for vacations I always try to make sure and sync/backup all of our iOS devices and also get all the photos off of the camera. It is a bit tedious, but once complete I back up our MacBook just in case something should happen to it while we are on vacation. I am a bit paranoid when it comes to backing up now that I have the family archives of 20,000+ photos and movies stored on our MacBook.

Without further discussion here are some photos I imported this morning:

Maudsley with Camden

Fourth of July 2010

Merrimac Fire Department Visit

Cape Cod Part Five, The Final Chapter

We had a fun filled and packed Friday with trips to the ocean beach, the yummy Corner Store burrito place, pond swimming, pizza and finally s’mores. Coming home yesterday was bittersweet, the obvious ‘bitter’ part being the leaving the vacation house and all of its fun, but sweet is being back at our own house and bed. The whole week was pretty amazing with the exception of Kaleb’s sleeping patterns and occasional bad behavior. I definitely ate food like I was loading up prior to going on the Biggest Loser, ice cream, pizza, beer, two helpings of everything at dinner and big old sandwiches everyday. I probably spent a little too much time on the iPad, MacBook and iPhone, but that is relaxing to me. Unfortunately due mostly to the increased number of children in our family I was unable to work on iPhone-iPad apps, but I think I have some good ideas and hope to schedule a couple nights a week to them. As always it was great vacationing with Cara, Jeff and Maddox, many thanks to them for putting up with the chaos that comes along with our family and also Kaleb’s nearly disconcerting obsession with “Cawa”.

Now it is time to go back to work for a couple weeks before we once again head out for a week long vacation on the Jersey Shore with the extended Riebe family. The Cape trip was the perfect dry run leading up to the expected craziness that is bound to ensue down near home turf of Snookie and ‘The Situation’. I hope Jersey can handle “Parkles”, Kaleb’s new nickname after trying pop rocks and announcing his mouth was ‘parkling’.

Here is the last round of photos:

Cape Cod Part Five

Cape Cod Three & Four

I am a bit late with Cape Code Part Three because of the internet problems at the house. Today we went to Nickerson State Park twice, we initially went to do a little beaching, but it was kind of cool with the wind so we went home and then came back later to do a little hiking. Kaleb was a champ and must have walked over a mile before requiring a lift up on my shoulders. We then went swimming for about a half an hour. Here are the photos.

Cape Cod Part Three

Cape Cod Part Four

Beach Day, Again ;-)

After another horrid night of sleeping by Kaleb, we gathered up the toys, blankets, bags, umbrellas, diapers, etc… and went to Head of the Meadow Beach We were one of like 6 cars there, which goes to show it pays to go in the offseason. Good times were had by all including the construction of a stone road for Kaleb’s tractors and some very successful skipping of stones.

On the way home we stopped at this great Pizza/Ice Cream/Espresso shop and had lunch. The pizza was “fire kissed” and tasted delicious. The ice cream selection was amazing with flavors like, Maple Bacon, Mocha Fudge Brownie, and Celebration cake. We had our own individual ice creams and also bought some pints for the road. It was called Savory and the Sweet Escape, the web site seems to be down, but it is right on Route 6 in Truro.

I spent the rest of the day in a state of complete exhaustion, so now I am ready to hit the hay.

Cape Cod Part Two

First Full Day of Vacation

We completed the first full day of vacation and so far it has been wonderful. The only bad part so far has been Kaleb’s sleeping habits. He was up this morning at 2AM and then 5AM. This isn’t really new for him and I think it is related to how damn bright it is at 5AM. We went to the beach today and set up our little tent in the 30MPH wind. Kaleb was really brave and went in the water and even got his hair wet which is a huge leap forward for him.

Jeff and Jennifer are getting dinner ready, tonight dinner consists of Bonanaza Steak tips(don’t know what flavor that is, but it looked good in the store.) and Basil, parmesan, sun dried tomato chicken. Tonight I hope to do a little iPhone app development, my goal for the week is to improve the MoonLite app and to get started with a graphical app for the iPad. We’ll see how far I get given my current level of exhaustion.

Here are some pictures:

Cape Cod Part One

More Photos

I took a little vacation and haven’t been to work since last Thursday. Of course as of today I am now feeling sick and I don’t know what symptoms are related to allergies and which are related to having a cold. Arghh! I have been doing a ton of family historian stuff which includes importing all the photos from the last few weeks and uploading to Picasa. So here they are.

Discovery Day at Joppa Flats

Day Trip to Portland

Annual Canoe Trip

Gagas Birthday

Parker River Visit

Beautiful May Weekend

Just a quick post to sum up a beautiful weekend. We didn’t leave the house on Saturday and spent most of the day in the yard. Today was a different story and we went all over the place. We started at the Farmers market in Newburyport and then hurried back to Merrimac with a brief stop on Deer Island to check out some machine that is residing off shore. We met Cara and Jeff at the house and then went out for lunch with them at Hodgies. We came back so Kaleb could take his nap. After his nap we went to the beach for a great early evening adventure. Kaleb got a new velcro baseball glove so we actually played catch for the first time. We also spent quite a long amount of time climbing on the jetty and shooting water at each other by squeezing sea weed. We had beach pizza for dinner and ended the weekend on the back deck watching as the Space Shuttle and Space Station flew overhead. It is the last flight for Atlantis and I was glad Kaleb was able to see it although he was disappointed that he couldn’t see the wings or the spacemen.

iPad Review

Well I have had my iPad for almost a month and decided it was time to give a review. Before i start I will admit i am an Apple fanboy, but I am always quick to point out any flaws I see in Apple’s products I.e flickering MacBook screen, cracked case on MacBook, slowness in iPhone. so rest assured you should get a relatively honest review out of me.

Now the biggest comment i typically get from laptop owners is “my laptop does that too, big deal.” This is important, because Steve Jobs mentioned the key to the iPad succeeding is it being able to do a bunch of things a laptop or mobile phone can do, just doing them better. i will come back to this throughout the review, but first impressions are really more important.

After taking it out of the box I laughed at the one page mini instruction manual and fired it up. Right away it was better than expected, the size of the screen was great and it was very quick especially comprared to my iPhone 3G. I was tempted to just play around, but knew it would be best if I synced some stuff from iTunes. Synching was a breeze and I was even asked if I wanted to load from an iPhone backup. While syncing I did notice that the iPad wasn’t charging and as I later found out this was true, it can only charge from the included adapter (allegedly if the iPad is sleeping while plugged into a laptop it will charge but i haven’t tested this). The synch was about as fast as a usual iPhone sync. I only bought a 16GB model because i figured i would have my iPhone at all times and wouldn’t need all of my music.

Once I was ready to go I quickly played around with the apps that came with it. First the updates to Mail and Calendar are great. They are both much more robust than the iPhone versions, but are so much more usable. The Photos app is also improved with some more multitouch functionality and also support for some of the native iPhoto concepts like faces, and places. The only other app that comes out of the box I really cared about was the iTunes app. It is a little easier to navigate and also supports creation and editing of playlists. Besides that it is a music player so i don’t that one would expect more.

The most common app people want to see when I give a demo is the iBook app and usually they are pretty impressed. The readability on the backlit screen is great and the added features of a dictionary, font type and size control and bookmarks are really great additions. I will admit i haven’t spent several hours in a row reading, so I don’t know how it will effect eyes, but I did do some reading and really enjoyed being able to read hands free. I also went through the process of buying a book, the best part is the ability to preview a book. The sample I downloaded for a 350 page book was about 70 pages, which seemed very generous.

Oh I almost forgot about Safari. It was made a lot more usable in the new iPad version with support for a bookmarks bar and also more controls in general available at the top of the screen. Surfing the internet is a great experience and feels so much more natural than on a laptop. There is something to be said about tapping and pinching web pages on a 9 inch screen. When i bought the iPad I mostly intended to use it from the couch at night while watching tv. Basically whenever i was at home and looking things up on the Internet with my iPhone would be a time i would use the iPad. It turns out I did use it for those occasions and much more, it seems the only time i use my MacBook now is when i need to import photos or do some iPhone app development.

Okay I think that takes care of the basic set of apps. Now as with the iPhone you can download apps from the App Store (that is actually where I got iBooks). Going into this I heard about support for iPhone apps on the iPad and thought I would just use those apps on the iPad. Initially I loaded several apps I had come to love on my iPhone on the iPad, but once loading them you can either see them in a 1X size which is exactly the size of an iPhone or you can tap the 2X and see them in double the original size. Unfortunately, most apps just look distorted and the graphics get very 8-bit block like. A couple apps are okay, but I ended up removing most of the iPhone apps and went to the App Store in search of new apps. It is actually cool to see some of the apps that have been created so far and how they take advantage of the big screen. One of my favorites so far was Solitaire, which is great to play on the big screen.

So far it has all been rosy, but there are indeed some frustrations/annoyances/problems. First and foremost I think is the on screen keyboard. When held in the landscape orientation the keyboard is a really decent size with keys almost as large as on a standard apple keyboard. Unfortunately for the “touch typist” it takes a lot of practice to get good with the keyboard and typing anything longer than a couple paragraphs (like this review) isn’t worth the trouble. Yes, the keyboard does inline corrections, but I find I am constantly deleting or moving the cursor back to a spelling error for correction. Also the keyboard in portrait mode is virtually unusable, it is too wide to type like on the iPhone, and the buttons are two narrow for a regular typing stance.

The screen is another annoyance for me, mostly because it gets messy very quickly. Unlike the iPhone though you can’t just rub it on your pant leg and instead need to find a towel or sleeve to wipe off any oils you lathered the screen with. The other problem with the screen is that it is glossy, so it is almost unusable in direct sunlight, well unless you want to use it as a mirror. If you are able to sit in the shade and can sit with darkness around you then it is okay, but the reflection is still there.

One other important thing to mention is how important the Apple iPad case may be for the iPad. I had the good sense to buy the case when I got it so I can’t say not having it is bad, but if you ever intend on typing on a table or other flat surface I think it would a pain without the case. Now I am not a huge fan of cases on Apple products, but I planned on using it at work in meetings and knew I would be putting it on a flat surface. I have also found it provides a few more options even when sitting on the couch.

So the big question: Does it do things better than a laptop?
Internet - Yes, great experience.
Book Reading - Yes, it is slightly wider than a book, but the brightness, availability of titles and hands free reading is great.
TV/Movies - Yes, I downloaded the ABC app and really enjoyed sitting on the couch watching Lost. There is less concern about battery life and it isn’t hot on your lap like a laptop.
Music - The jury’s out. Its not really practical for listening to music, but neither is a laptop.
Calendar - Yes, flipping through the calendar with the tap of a finger is great.
Mail - Yes, if you are just reading and not typing out super long emails.
Word Processing/ Note Taking - No, typing a ton of stuff isn’t reasonable.

In general as long as the way you use an app isn’t keyboard intensive, the smaller size and touch navigation of the iPad give it a leg up. Oh yeah and the lack of Flash Player is rubbish. Despite claims that the internet is full of Flash content, I only come across Flash content every once in a while and while somewhat annoying isn’t a deal breaker.

Overall, I love the iPad. There is certainly room for improvement: front facing camera, multi-tasking for third party apps (coming this Fall). I only got the WiFi version because I already pay enough for internet and also plan on using it primarily at home and at work where I always have Wi-Fi.