Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Orient Point

After an exhausting spring, I am having something odd called "vacation". You know, when you're not making excuses for all the things you haven't gotten around to doing yet, and you only need to do the things you feel like doing.

Anyway, what I felt like doing today was to go for a bike ride from Greenport, where I am currently staying at a motel which feels overpriced in this crappy weather, but which I guess would feel cheap if I was lazing in the sun instead of uploading pictures to Flickr on a weak wireless signal

(lovely beach site, fantastic view of the water, big room and immensely comfortable porch). The goal was Orient Point, the easternmost point of the north fork of Long Island.

At the point of the fork, there's a ferry going to New London,

and that's where I went on this rather exhausting ride. The bike I had rented had seemed fine the day before, but what is OK for a 3 km ride from Greenport to the motel, becomes exhausting when we're talking 30 kilometers. Oh well, I got my exercize in today, that's for sure!

On the way, I passed some wonderful spots, a couple of nature preserves with a fishing egret and an osprey's nest,

a public beach which was closed at the time (I find "closing" a beach slightly absurd, but Americans obviously don't),

and several very american buildings. Not American in an overblown, overexclusive, "everything is bigger and better" way, but lovely pieces of Americana - intricate patterns on railings and beneath roofs, comfortable, wide porches with chairs and decorations, beautiful windows. There's a love of decoration and a surplus of time and skill which comes out in these incredible details to small and big houses alike, and definitely in their churches.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pointing to the side

What am I talking about at State of Play? Peek into my blog on the Gamers' space project.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

4.49 am

It's early morning in New York. I am jet-lagged as usual on the first morning in NYC, even after a serious lie-in. I was, after all, wide awake at 1.30, already feeling like I had overslept.

For the next few days I'll be busy at the New York Law school, first with a Graduate Student Symposium, and then with State of Play, the conference, not the movie.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Touch me, la la la

I find myself sighing with pleasure, as I settle down with my new computer. I knew it would be nice looking, because if it was just half as elegant as on the pictures it would be a great upgrade, look wise. Inside it has twice as much of everything as the last machine, my much loved and much used 12" XPS, also from Dell.

I thought I would be reluctant to give the other machine away. After all, I had it set up just as I wanted, it could handle everything I threw at it, it was small and light and I had found the perfect sticker for it.

Can a machine be better, I thought, particularly after they quickly and efficiently exchanged the keyboard and mouse when the first one broke down from frequent use. "Do you mostly play with the left hand?" one technician asked, after they had seen how used up the machine was. I had to admit that yes, I play with the left hand on the keys, the right on the touchpad (yes, I play with the pad, no mouse for me unless I want RSI).

For a lot of different reasons, I invested in a monster machine for the home - a private computer for the first time in years. Here's a review of it, in Norwegian though. It's a totally oversized 17,1" lap-top which I would never have spent money on if I didn't have such a problem with my back and shoulders, to the point where I need to be able to have the machine on my lap when I work. As things are, that machine is just amazing!

I thought I was pretty much set by then. How could machines give me a new experience? High portability from the little Dell machine, extreme performance from the big Asus, and a hard working, decent desk-top in the office.

That was until I touched this one. First, yes that really is leather at the bottom there. It's smooth and begs to be touched - particularly contrasted by the steel. I find my fingers caressing the leather and wandering over the steel stripe to daringly approach the shiny black laquer finish of the upper part of the back of the screen. It feels like walking the edge, as I touch the place where brushed steel meets black laquer, in terror of leaving fingerprints, evidence of my dirty pawing.

But the tactile pleasures don't end on the outside. Last night, as I was busy raiding on the big machine, my husband, the "as long as it works" functionalist, picked up my new machine and settled down to see what all the fuss was about. He was tracing the details, exclaiming over the responsive touch pad, playing around with the control panel for sound and video where a mere touch to the back-lit signal is enough. And as his hands touched the keyboard he sighed, deeply content. I knew then that it wasn't just me. This machine is seductive, plain and simple.

I haven't REALLY tested it yet. No raids, no 12 hours of constant typing, no running of games, presentation programs and video projectors simultaneously. I may start hating it when it starts failing me at vitals moments like those. But at the moment, I find myself humming along with a-ha:
Touch me
How can it be
Believe me
The sun always shines on T.V

And I don't even like a-ha that much. Should I be worried?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Why we don't like cell-phones in class

Thanks to Pattie Belle Hastings for posting this link, to a study about cellphones, ringtones and recall by Jill Shelton.

"Many of us consider a cell phone ringing in a public place to be an annoying disruption, but this study confirms that these nuisance noises also have real-life impacts," Shelton said. "These seemingly innocuous events are not only a distraction, but they have a real influence on learning."

Titled "The distracting effects of a ringing cell phone: An investigation of the laboratory and the classroom setting," the study was conducted at Louisiana State University, where Shelton received her doctoral degree. Her co-authors in the LSU psychology department include Emily Elliott, Sharon Eaves and Amanda Exner.

Apart from being annoying, distracting and rude, ringing cellphones makes students forget what they learned before and during the ringing of the phone. If the ring tone is a popular, well-known piece of music, this is even worse.

So: That mute button? Use it!