Refocusing energies

April 23rd, 2012 12:00 AM
by
Filed under Musings;
Comments Off on Refocusing energies

Last month, I expressed concern about my ability to maintain my level of output in the Apple II community. As Brian Picchi commented to me on Open Apple: "Wow, Ken — you have basically no work/life balance!"

I sought advice from the readers of Apple II Bits, asking them to rank eleven activities in terms of their value to the community. The rest of this lengthy post offers the results of that poll, which received 28 votes before the one-week deadline (and one vote after, due to a security hole on my part). I could offer a more granular breakdown of how many votes each item received at each rank, complete with pie charts and line graphs — but more practical is the final ranking of each item from most to least valuable. I'll present them in that order, with a brief analysis of each.

Read the rest of this entry »

Staving off burnout

March 26th, 2012 1:36 PM
by
Filed under Musings;
18 comments.

I lead a fairly healthy life: I exercise in the summer by bicycling and in the winter by dancing; I follow a vegetarian diet; I'm not a couch potato save for the occasional DVD; I read a few dozen books a year; and I maintain an active social network. All things in moderation.

Lately, I've had difficulty keeping that balance. The past few months have warranted that I spend more time on some aspects of my personal life than previously budgeted for. I've tried to do this while remaining committed to all my previous activities and obligations, but it isn't working. I don't have as much time for cooking new dishes, walking to work, or getting a good night's sleep; instead, I get home from the office and focus on my next deadline, my next podcast, my next blog post. It's not that watching the next season of Red vs. Blue or going for a horseback ride are priorities, but play is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle, and I'm not giving my mind enough of it. It's gotten to the point where I'm instead looking forward to intersections with red lights, because it's the only time I'm not moving.

Over the years, I've learned to say "no" to new opportunities. Not as easy is stepping away from existing ones. Right now, I find that's what I have to do — and, in the name of balance, the area that I need to cut from is the Apple II, where I'm currently dedicating a disproportionate amount of time and energy.

In case someone misunderstands that statement or fears the worse, let me state in no uncertain terms:

I LOVE THE APPLE II AND ITS COMMUNITY, AND I AM HERE TO STAY.

But for me to better fulfill each role I've gladly adopted over the years, there need to be fewer of them. That's where you come in. I'd like readers of Apple II Bits to vote on what are the most and least important projects I focus on. To that end, I have identified ten unique Apple II projects I work on and am asking you to rank them from most to least important. No two items can have the same value. Each of them usually results on a product or goal, and I need to know which ones you find valuable and which ones don't amount to much to many.

It's impossible for you to know what projects I enjoy, or the ripple effect each task has on the others (for example, the synergy between this blog, Juiced.GS, and Open Apple is impressive, even though they're theoretically independent operations). That's why this poll will not directly determine what to abandon, reduce commitment to, or delegate. The ultimate decision is mine, and this poll is one more piece of data I will use to inform that decision.

(Just for fun, I threw in one non-Apple II commitment, as I suspect its ultimate ranking, whatever it may be, will prove highly amusing.)

The poll runs through noon EDT on Monday, April 2, 2012. Thanks to all who will help determine the course of my life! (Just kidding.)

Apple II license plate poll results

December 12th, 2011 1:18 PM
by
Filed under Musings;
1 comment.

Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll to help me choose a Massachusetts license plate that best invokes the Apple II! The path toward the most popular choice has now concluded.

In the first round, I proposed eight candidates, and from reader comments added 36 more. I put those 44 up for vote, allowing each person to choose their favorite five. Eighty votes were cast, narrowing the pool from 44 to nine that had received five votes or more each:

  • AAPL2
  • APLIIE
  • APLTWO
  • ATEBIT
  • IIGS
  • JUCDGS
  • KFEST
  • ONEMHZ
  • PRODOS

ATEBIT was actually too late a submission to make it into this final round, but I included it for what I saw as its broad appeal. I grew up playing games more on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) than on the Apple II, and I still consider myself something of a retrogamer, with frequent visits to the American Classic Arcade Museum. ATEBIT can apply as much to that interest as it does to the Apple II, making it more of a proud label and less of an inside joke.

I put those nine options up and asked you to choose just one. I didn't vote, but I would've been quite comfortable ruling out options like AAPL2 (where's the extra 'A' come from, other than Apple's stock ticker?), APLIIE (I'm more of a GS man myself), and ONEMHZ (better for Carrington's show than my own.

I didn't vote in this round, leaving it to you, the readers, to decide. Thirty-eight votes later, here are the results…

Read the rest of this entry »

Retro license plate poll, round 3

December 1st, 2011 11:00 AM
by
Filed under Musings;
Comments Off on Retro license plate poll, round 3

The third stage of choosing an Massachusetts license plate what befits an Apple II user begins. In the first round, I asked for your ideas. Many were provided; not all were were eligible or available. In the second round, I presented all 44 remaining candidates. Each person was allowed up to five votes, with 80 total votes cast (and yes, I voted!).

This third, and potentially final, round narrows down the choices to those eight candidates that received five or more votes, as well as one "Other" that was a late submission. This time, you are allowed only one (1) vote! You have until the first moment (EST) of Monday, December 12, 2011, to choose:

License to vote

November 21st, 2011 9:18 AM
by
Filed under Musings;
6 comments.

I asked for your help, and you provided! This Apple II Bits blogger, Juiced.GS editor, Open Apple podcast co-host, and KansasFest organizer is interested in wearing his heart on his sleeve — or, more accurately, his car, a gray 2007 Toyota Prius. Massachusetts allows vanity plates under stringent guidelines that, when combined with those plates that are already in circulation, significantly limit the remaining options. Or so I thought: with your help, my original list of eight Apple II-themes plates has grown to 44!

You've submitted your suggestions to me; now I submit them to you. Choose your five favorite license plates from the below choices. The poll closes at 12:00 AM on December 1st, 2011, after which I'll present the results here. If there are ties, a semifinalist round of voting may be necessary. Note that I am not beholden to public opinion and may elect a different custom plate or none at all. But your guidance in coming to one of many possible decisions is much appreciated. Vote early and often using the below poll!

Read the rest of this entry »

Steve Jobs, engineering hero?

June 16th, 2011 4:33 PM
by
Filed under Mainstream coverage, Steve Jobs;
6 comments.

Last month, Steve Jobs was declared in a survey of 900 engineering undergraduates in the UK as one of the third greatest engineers of all time, taking credit for the Apple II and iPod.

Not to undermine the unbelievable heights to which Mr. Jobs has brought his fruit company, but is his engineering prowess really the quality that brought about those successes?

Steve Jobs is a salesman, for sure. But has been examined and debated on this blog, his role in the creation of many popular Apple products is questionable. Steve Wozniak (who was not on the list) invented the Apple II, and many other concepts that Apple Inc. has since popularized were first proven by other companies. It was Jobs who came up with the packaging and pitch that made these concepts into products, but he's no hands-on inventor.

But let's step back and see if this complaint is warranted. By definition, an engineer is "a person trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines" I think it's fair to say that Jobs is familiar and perhaps responsible with both the design and use of Apple's runaway hits. As for the construction, could he disassemble an iPhone, identify its parts, and then put it back together? I sincerely doubt it. Is two out of three qualities enough to label Jobs an engineer? Did the UK students in the survey even care, or was this more a popularity contest?

I cannot find an official publication of the survey or its methodology, but the validity of the students' results must surely be questioned, regardless of Jobs' presence or absence. The Apple co-founder ranked higher on the list than Nikola Tesla, Bill Gates, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison. Those pioneers were working with truly revolutionary ideas; Steve Jobs, they were not.

(Hat tips to Ben Camm-Jones and John Brownlee)