Posts tagged “Family”.

A sad summer…

Not that I think anyone reads this, but if there is a person out there that does, or if years from now when I’m suffering from Alzheimer’s I need an overt reminder, last year I had a really bad week. My Dad went into ICU and was eventually diagnosed with MDS, a form of Leukemia. So, from that week in September, till July 4th, my Dad fought his disease. On July 4th, 2010, he succumbed to pneumonia.

I saw my dad just weeks before when I took a few extra days off to visit him on my way to Michigan for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. It was only 600 miles out of my way and only an extra day of vacation from work to visit for three days. At work we were (and sadly still are) navigating a huge merger and unfortunately the pressure there on top of everything else prohibited me from spending more time with my father during his last days on Earth. It saddens me, but I take comfort in the simple phrases, “That’s life,” and “You have to do what you have to do.” They were phrases I heard from him often. He missed a lot of my childhood too. Not that I blame him. He was doing what he had to do to keep a family afloat, although, sometimes against his will, but all that is water under a very old, very distant bridge. I was doing what I had to do. I keep telling myself that. And I know that he understood.

I’m the kind of adult to make myself a big bowl of ice cream before dinner and when my kids complain I reply, “It’s good to be an adult!” Now I feel quite the opposite. Being a responsible adult, I was compelled by cynical, rational, dependable, logical thought to do what I had to do instead of doing what I wanted to do. Although, maybe to be fair I cowardly hid behind my responsibilities to avoid mental anguish and heartbreak? It was so difficult being with my father the last two or three times I visited him. Each time it tore a hole in my heart. I can honestly reflect and see that I did take comfort in my responsibilities and felt a little like they were excuses to avoid my obligations to my father. If I were to grade myself, I’d give myself a B+, I did a good job, but I could have done so much better.

And since my last post, I’ve been in a really bad place all summer long… last spring… last winter, and all of last fall. Life is just starting to feel like it’s beginning to return to normal. I know I’m still grieving. I also know that I won’t know when I stop. It’s not like you can put a date and a time stamp on the end of the process.

If someone sees this writing, far in the future when technology allows time travel into the past, please do me a favor, visit Mike Esposito at the Barry Tepp Company in Metuchen, NJ, USA at 11 Lenard Street, (Latitude 40.547102, Longitude -74.372678) some time between 1973 and 1974 and give this message to him, “Your son Andrew has sent a message through time. He loved you with all his heart and missed you terribly. He knew everything you’ve done in your life, all your secrets were revealed, and he forgave you and loved you unconditionally until the end.” That would be nice and shouldn’t mess up the time line any, he came to know that. It would just be nice if he knew it sooner.

Dad at the NJ Aquarium, Aug 2008

Gmail and Apple Mail with Parental Control

Santa Clause brought a new 13″ macbook for my eldest daughter this year.  He was kind enough to set up most of the laptop for her, but left a few tasks for me to tackle after the holiday.  One of which was email.

Apple Mail has some wonderful Parental Controls allowing the parental units to define a white list of who the child can exchange email with.  Fantastic Stuff!  But my problem was my daughter has an email address from one of my google apps domains.  I needed to figure out a way for her to ONLY use Apple Mail and not login to Google via the web to circumvent those Apple parental protections.

I decided just on a monster password that she doesn’t know.  One that she will not be able to remember or type in.  We’re talking 35 characters long, upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters.  It’s not a perfect solution.  The password is saved in the Keychain, and she can get it out of there, when she figures it out, but it seemed like a good compromise for now.

I could blacklist the URL for gmail so she can’t access her email via the web on her computer.  But, that won’t stop her from accessing her email  from another computer if she can figure out how to get the password off her macbook.

I’ll do some more investigation around this later.  It would be nice if Google allowed an account to ONLY be accessed via IMAP.  I’ll look into if that’s an option today, and if not, I’ll ask Google for the feature.  I think it would be a nice option to have.

Yesterday we also set up iChat, so now we have a video intercom in our house.  It’s funny to video chat when your kids just down the hall.  She is completely enamored with the Alpha Channel options in Snow Leopard’s iChat.  We need to get a green screen now.

All Day Installs and Upgrades

The chair, desk and apple macbook are all new for Christmas.

My eldest Daughter got a MacBook from Santa this year.  A little 13″ solid plastic uni-body MacBook with a clear protective cover.  Yes, she’s only 9 years old.  Yes, she really does need it for school.  She attends a magnet school and is currently making straight A’s in one of the toughest/best public schools in the state. Santa did right by her this year.

In comparison, I was 12 years old when I purchased my very first computer, a Commodore Vic 20, back in 1981.  I got it from K-Mart for $125.  Money I had earned working paper routes with the Atom Tabloid and Star Ledger — my mother lied for me so I could get the Atom Tabloid job a year early.  In NJ the child labor laws mandated a kid be 12 before they could earn an official taxable wage.  Meh!

So, I got a computer at 12 years old and taught myself to program.  By 13 I was an old hack.  By 14 I was soldering external sensors to my Vic 20’s RS232 serial port.  I think having that computer experience got me where I am today — from the Vic 20 to Facebook.  I had to poke fun at Facebook, I just had to.  ;-)

I didn’t grow up with a computer, like both of my kids did.  I didn’t figure out how a mouse worked at the age of two just from sitting on my father’s lap and watching him work like my kids both did.  It’s intuitive to them.  It’s second nature.  Plus they’ve been hogging my wife’s PC and my Mac far too much for far too long.  I think Santa did my wife and me right.

So, it’s now the day after Christmas 2009 and I’m looking through my employee benefits sites at work trying to find the “$10 Office 2008 for Mac” deal that a co-worker told me about this past summer.  All of my daughter’s school work is done in Word, Excel or Power Point.  She knows Power Point so well, she’s been tutoring her fourth grade teacher on how to use it.  I got her hooked on the Mac with iLife.  I knew I wasn’t going to win any awards forcing her to learn iWork.  So I just got her the Microsoft Programs for the Mac.  She even agreed to split the $10 licensing fee I had to pay.  What a good kid.

But it took me ALL DAY!  The house was a mess.  Leslie and I are both sleep deprived.  I’m fighting a cold.  Holidays are getting rougher in our old age.  The kids were acting bratty.  There were 100+ interruptions — to a computer geek interruptions are like ice picks in the eyes; nothing is more annoying than an interruption when you are trying to get something complex done right.  Ugh!

Finally though, I finished installing all of the work on her computer.  I’m pretty proud of myself too.  Aside from the programs for school she also has the iLife suite, Voice Candy, and two Luxor games to play with.  It’s under complete Parental Control.  I’m using the Mac Parental Controls in conjunction with Open DNS which will also filters out nasty domains (phishing and maleware as well as sites that are not child friendly).  With a little Remote Desktop magic I can also view her screen in a window on my iMac’s 2nd monitor to make sure she’s doing her homework when she should be doing her homework.  Time limits keep her from spending more than 4 hours a day on the machine and will force her to logout at bed time, and she can’t login again till morning.  So there will be no late night net parties in her room any time soon.

My next plan is to show her the address book on the machine.  I’ll have her convert our old paper address book to the Mac format, then I’ll be able to port it into my machine with ease.  It’s a win-win.  She’ll love typing in all the information and using the Address Book program.  She’ll love having all that contact information at her fingertips.  And I’ll get to benefit from her labors.

Tomorrow we have to work on integrating Google email with Snow Leopard’s Mail and resolving the Parental Permission issues around that.  Tomorrow should be both fun and interesting.

I joined Facebook ?!?

The world has officially come to an end.  The seas have turned blood red, the sky is on fire, and I hear the hoofs of the four horsemen approaching.  I joined Facebook today.

I have always felt that Facebook has it’s place for those who are not gifted with mad-uber-tech and zen-computer-fu skillz.  I never felt a need to join Facebook because I figured that if you knew me, you knew this is my web site (it’s on the bottom of all of my personal emails — just a click away) and you had all my contact information… if  you wanted to talk you just had to send me an email, video chat with me (skype, AOL or Yahoo!), or just use the phone — I’m in the book.  And here, on my own personal domain, in my own little electronic kingdom, I control my privacy completely.  If you don’t know me, my personal information on this site is pretty sparse and I feel confident that you’re not using this site as a resource to stalk me or my family.

Over the years I’ve gotten many friend requests for Facebook and for one reason or another I didn’t join.  Reasons included requests sent to my work email address, personal privacy issues, my impression that Facebook was just another re-branded version of MySpace, and Facebooks own EULA.  My content, whether you find it to be inane drivel or not, is mine and I will not grant license to any company or organization to use it as their own.  Ever!  The only thing left that we can honestly claim as our own is what we think, feel and say.  There’s no way I’m giving that up to a corporation.  Then again, I’m jaded.  I’ve seen people lose their reputations on-line.  I’ve seen people lose their jobs on-line.  I’ve seen people lose their identities on-line.  I’ve seen people lose their life savings on-line.  I’ve seen people lose their children on-line.  The Internet is a lot like New Jersey, it’s got it’s really nice parts, and it’s got drawbacks, and it’s got it’s really bad parts… except the bad parts of the Internet are way worse than Newark ever was.

So, now that you know my true, honest feelings about Facebook, I’m sure you are wondering, “Why the hell did you sign up?” Well, my brother came over for Christmas and, as a Facebook addict, he had to get on my iMac to tag someone’s wall.  I gave him the bah-humbug-facebook-shpil and he said, “Naw! You gatta look here… check this out.” So he gave me the tour.  Everything I’ve seen before except one thing.  One thing made me say, “Crap!  I have to join Facebook now!”

My 89 year old Aunt was on Facebook!

So, I read the EULA again, and three sections of it turned my stomach.  But, my 89 year old Aunt Edna on Facebook outweighed the drawbacks enough to make me join.  So I’ve joined, but there is no way I’m uploading any content of any considerable value to their site.  If you desire anything of substance from me, if you want to read anything other than a “LOL! you goof!” or a “Yeah, we need to grab a beer this weekend.” you’ll have to read it here.  Where, for whatever it’s worth, I own it.  It’s mine, all mine.

With that said, Facebook gets a minimum amount of personal information about me.  If you know me and friend me on Facebook, you’ll always have a quick, easy link to this website and you’ll always have a link to my photo gallery.

Well, that all happened.  It’s all true.  But there was something else.  Aunt Edna was the #1 reason I joined Facebook.  But there was one more thing that tipped the scales in favor of signing up at Facebook — Google Wave.  Google Wave integrates with Facebook.  So I don’t actually have to login to Facebook to participate in the conversations there.  I can do it all remotely, from Google Wave.  That to me is just cool.  I’ve grown to be a google fanboy of sorts, and anything that makes me use Google Wave more, can’t be a bad thing.

Google Wave might actually get me to sign up for Twitter too…