It’s only in its sixth day of life, but I gotta say that Matt Haughey’s PVRblog, a weblog devoted to TiVo, ReplayTV, and other digital video recorders, is already a damn fine daily read. Matt has already published a few longer pieces that are aimed at helping people through the harder parts of more advanced setups (like putting a TiVo on a network, rather than using a phone line), all interspersed with news and updates from the PVR world. If you’ve got a PVR, or are thinking about adding one to your life, I’d recommend a visit to the site.
According to today’s New York Times, the White House has enacted a new e-mail system that makes it significantly harder for people to jot off notes to the President (and, one would imagine, many other top elected officials). Instead of simply addressing an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, now people have to negotiate nearly a dozen web pages, choosing from restrictive pre-selected subjects and indicating whether or not they agree with the present stance of the White House on whatever issue concerns them. (Note that I’ve been trying to verify the claims of the Times article all morning, but the new website and the site it redirects to have been down pretty much since I got to work.)
On the good side, the process apparetly does include a verification step — once an e-mail is sent to the President, a confirmation is mailed to the original sender which includes a mechanism for proving that that person was the author of the e-mail. That’s the sort of thing that is probably important, given that the from line of e-mail is too easy to forge, and there are plenty of reasons it’s important to know whether or not letters to the Chief Executive are legitimate.
And on the funny side, as seems to be the case lately, the Times could stand to do a little digging before choosing who to use as an article’s prime source. Tom Matzzie, the AFL-CIO organizer mentioned in the third paragraph as one of the first people to discover (and be affected by) the new e-mail system, is described towards the end of the article as “a professional Web site designer.” Elsewhere on the web, Matzzie’s involvement with the AFL-CIO is described as its Online Mobilization Manager, its Internet communications manager, and the organization’s webmaster. Given that the article’s entire purpose is to complain about the new, restrictive forms-based approach to communicating with the White House, wouldn’t it be relevant that Matzzie’s own website has an incredibly similar, and similarly cumbersome, forms-based “Contact Us” page?
It’s decently obvious that the United States has now hit its saturation point of mobile phone dealers. Walking around the Arsenal Mall last night, I was struck with how many dealers were crammed into a small space. In one particularly hilarious fifty-foot stretch, there were two T-Mobile vendors as well as an actual T-Mobile store, and likewise, there were three or four AT&T dealers, a Nextel booth, and two Cingular shops. Not a single one of the booths had a customer at them, and of the stores, only the T-Mobile one had anyone other than employees in it. It was a bit of a joke, and it made me wonder when one of the cellphone providers will get wise to this and decide to cut out the third-party dealers, as well as the markup that their presence adds to the cost of cellphone service.
Shannon and I have returned to New York City for the weekend, and getting out of the new Boston apartment for a few days has provided enough perspective on the past week to allow for an update.
First and foremost, this past week has been a lot tougher than I ever would have thought, mostly because of the amount of work that Shannon and I have had to do in the new apartment. When I signed my new lease, my landlord and I figured out that there wouldn’t be a lot of time between residents. I agreed to take on a lot of the normal between-rentals work myself, after I moved in, if my landlord would handle one huge task: ripping out all of the electric blue shag carpet and decades of layered and dulled linoleum and refinishing the wood floors that lived underneath. What that meant was that I would arrive to some of the most amazing floors that I could ever have imagined, but I would also arrive to an apartment with walls that hadn’t been painted in almost a decade. I knew to expect this (and my landlord had already agreed to reimburse me for all painting supplies and expenses), but I didn’t really process how much work it would take to get it all done, nor did I predict the emotional toll it would take on Shannon and I. And despite a 24-hour trip to Boston two weeks ago to get some of the painting started and a 36-hour headstart for Shannon and her mother, my family and I arrived last Saturday to an apartment that still needed paint in almost every room, not to mention cleaning and other small maintenance projects all over the place.
Another huge fact that hadn’t even crossed my mind in the days and weeks planning for the move was that the need for painting would mean that there was no chance of me being able to unpack when I got to Boston. Needing to repaint and resurface the kitchen cabinets meant that we wouldn’t be able to unpack any of our food, dishes, or even appliances; needing to repaint the entire study (goddamn built-in shelves!) meant that all the one million book boxes would need to stay stacked up in half of the guest room. Add to it a bathroom in need of paint and minor work, a paneled hallway in need of a lot of detail work, and a few pieces of furniture that didn’t survive the move, and you’ve got a general picture of the tasks that have dominated every available minute of our past week.
The one last thing that I didn’t anticipate was the massive hit in clothing space that I took in the move. I had built quite a bit of shelf space in my huge New York bedroom closet, none of which I have in my smaller Boston closets. Similarly, Shannon’s clothes were in temporary storage in anticipation of the move, and we didn’t have any real answer for where they’d end up once they got to Boston. What this all means is that we’ve been living out of our bags for the past week, something that’s driven both of us nearly to tears at various points of tiredness.
Finally, though, it feels like we’re getting over a major hump. On Tuesday, I bought an awesome new desk, to replace the one that was decimated in the moving truck. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, we set up the major living room furniture and got cable and phones installed. On Wednesday, Shannon finished painting the kitchen cabinets and doors, and on Thursday she was able to unpack most of the kitchen and I got five of the twelve doors hung. Thursday night, the new T1 was finally brought up by my ISP. And today, we bought two big dressers that will totally solve the clothing problem.
Tomorrow, I’ll shut down all the computers that still live in my old apartment in New York (including the one running this site and the MetaFilter server), drive them up to Boston, and set them all up on the new T1. Shannon and I will then immediately set to unpacking our clothes into the new dressers and unpacking some books onto the finally-finished shelves, and I think that we’ll finally feel like we’re living in a home. I cannot wait.
I’m in Boston, and have even started work; the apartment is coming along, but it’s still in the phase of requring a lot of effort getting things into a livable state. (Lucky for me, Shannon is doing a lot of painting when I’m at the hospital, and then we get to tool around together in the evenings, setting up rooms, painting, hanging cabinet doors, and other domestic stuff.)
I promise more updates, including before and after pictures, when things settle down a little bit. Next up: the T1 provisioning, the installation of our cable TV and phone lines, the delivery of a new desk (to replace the one that got pretty hosed in the move), and the possiblity of a fully functioning kitchen in the next 24-48 hours.
P.S. Happy 30th birthday to me!