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Palm Pre review Mon, Jun 22, 2009
I got a Palm Pre a week and a half ago.  I'm not usually an early adopter of technology, so this purchase was a bit unusual for me.  But to be fair, my contract with Sprint was up so I was looking for a new phone anyway.  Here are my initial thoughts: 

  1. Google Sync is awesome.  I'm really glad to be done with Outlook syncing.
  2. The operating system seems to block a lot of the options and preferences that were available in Windows Mobile, but I'm seeing this as a positive thing because, like Apple and the iPhone, this device seems to be more about the interface than the hardware or software.
  3. The default ringtones were composed by UCLA music professor Roger Bourland, and they were recorded live with human musicians.
  4. There's no stupid little startup sound when you turn on/off the phone.
  1. The Notes application, which I used to jot down a few ideas for this review, is quite ugly and stupid.  It's growing on me, and the whole "post-it notes on corkboard" idea is cute.  But I like order, not cuteness.
  2. The keyboard is good, but not great.  The top row of keys is almost unusable because they're so close to the rest of the phone.
  3. The speakerphone isn't loud enough.
  4. Battery life is abysmal.  I have to charge it every day, maybe every other day if I hardly use it.  Coming from a Treo 700, which I charged maybe once every five days, this is quite a change.
  5. I often have trouble determining which end of the device is the top.  This makes me sound stupid, but my old phone had an antenna and an always-present keyboard, so there was no question.
  6. The sliding mechanism is a little loose and makes the phone feel kinda cheap.
  7. There's no way to turn off the data connection, which might have something to do with the abysmal battery life.
  8. The screen has a slight yellow mark on the lower left corner, and it seems to appear either after extended use or while charging, which makes me think it has something to do with heat and might just be a problem with my particular phone.  I might try to get a replacement.
All in all it's a cool phone, and I'm sure it'll get better with software updates and I'll get more used to it over time. #technology

Square Root Day (2) Mon, Jun 22, 2009
Similar to Odd Day is Square Root Day, where the month and day are the square roots of the year.  This happens nine times each century:  01/01/01, 02/02/04, 03/03/09, 04/04/16, 05/05/25, 06/06/36, 07/07/49, 08/08/64, and 09/09/81.  No, today isn't a Square Root Day, but today was the first I heard of it.  Being the nerd that I am, I had to post this. #math

Blame for the financial collapse Mon, Jun 22, 2009
A recent episode of This American Life attempted to assign blame for the recent financial collapse.  The different financial institutions who were cheating at their own game are somewhat to blame, as are the government regulators who didn't want to lose income from the companies they were supposed to be regulating.  Perhaps the biggest amount of blame was placed on the credit rating agencies who also didn't want to lose income from the companies whose assets they were rating.  This conversation with Tom Warrick from Standard and Poor's stood out to me: 
This American Life:  There are people who would say, you know, these were loans being [lent] out to people who didn't even have to prove they had jobs.  We had no data on how these loans were gonna perform.  How could you rate these things? 
Tom Warrick:  It's important to understand the riskier we believed the loan was, the more loss reserves needed to be incorporated into the transaction for us to rate a transaction triple-A. 
This American Life:  But there are people who would say you had no data to know what the real risk of those people defaulting was.  How could you go and rate something when you didn't have any data on how these loans were gonna perform. 
Tom Warrick:  Well we had lots of data.  We had years worth of data as to how borrowers perform over time. 
This American Life:  For these loans?  For people who didn't have to prove they had a job?  You had lots of data for that? 
Tom Warrick:  We are able to, through our analytical process, develop assumptions around what we believe the future will be like for these particular borrowers.
So there you have it.  Extremely powerful people who deal with more money than you can fathom tried to predict the future with their silly little equations.  And they were wrong.  I can't help but think it's kind of like a nuclear scientist accidentally creating and detonating an atomic bomb.  Whoops.  These guys lost at their own game.  It would be one thing if they were playing with Monopoly money or even the money belonging to high-stakes investors who could afford to lose it.  But no, they were using everyone's money.  And they f---ed up.  That's the end of it. 

The thing is, I'm not even really affected by this whole financial mess.  I still have a job (thank God), I still pay my mortgage, I still buy things.  Nothing has really changed.  But the whole thing kind of gets to me, and I think it's largely because (1) nobody wants to (or is able to) take the blame, and (2) it looks like the exact same thing will happen again sometime in the future unless we completely overhaul our entire financial system, which likely won't happen, which means we'll continue pushing it off so the next generation has to deal with it. #money

Marriage name rules (4) Mon, Jun 22, 2009
I've witnessed and been the victim of several naming fiascoes brought on by dating and marriage, and I think the world should agree upon the following set of rules: 
  1. Women, don't marry a guy whose last name is the same as your first name.  This would've prevented the marriage of my friend Kelly Callahan to her boyfriend Joe Kelly, thus creating Kelly Kelly.
  2. Women, don't marry a guy whose last name rhymes with your first name, such as Julia Gulia from the Wedding Singer, which didn't end up happening because Adam Sandler saved the day.
  3. Men and women, don't marry a person whose first name is the same as that of one of your family members, such as my sister marrying a guy named Dave.  Otherwise, prepare yourself for an unwelcome nickname, such as "Number 2" or ""Dingus".
I call these rules for marriage, but really they should be considered the moment you meet any new person.  Before you even consider being attracted to them, you should think, "What would happen if we got married?"  If caught early enough, these naming issues could be eradicated completely. #lifestyle