Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some time last night DesignerBlog logged its 50,000th visitor. This isn't for the full three years and two months that the blog's been up, but for the roughly eighteen months since I installed the site meter. The lucky 50,000th was from the town of Porow, Western Cape in South Africa, and he or she came to me via the link on Cooper Lowenthal's blog--thank you, Cooper! I realize that hugely popular blogs like Joe.My.God or Zeitzeuge probably log 50,000 hits in three months or less, but I'll take my milestones as they come and be very happy for them.

Yesterday afternoon I drove up to Fritz's and, after picking three quarts of raspberries, we had a little supper and headed out to a birthday party for A, the Ceramicist given by B, the Chef. A and B had known each other for years, meeting regularly at our Sweat Lodges and other gay events when, a little less than a year ago, it became obvious that a little romance had started. It's grown steadily. The party was really sweet--several gay couples, a straight couple, and a stunning lesbian--chic, smart and funny. The birthday boy had specified no gifts, which of course everyone totally ignored, and B had made one of his patented cakes, trimmed beautifully. Lovely evening.

At work, I have a fair amount of money to spend on myself and the lovely thing about it is that it's not my money. A couple of years ago, MIT decided to go with the Open Courseware movement that was becoming popular with colleges across the country. Professors were to put detailed presentations of their classes on the college's site, everything from a syllabus to examples of students'isual or written work, a bibliography, a statement concerning the goals and philosophy of the course, and a lot of other supportive material. The idea, as in a lot of contemporary architecture, was to make the institution transparent to the outside world, giving to
prospective students, and to the world in general, a detailed look at MIT and what it offers (including the fact that many of the great professors at MIT teach introductory courses rather than leaving them to their teaching assistants).

The Open Courseware team rightly anticipated that the whole concept would be seen as a threat by lot of the teaching community. They launched a big informational campaign and announced that to get the program rolling, they had funds to distribute to each teacher who did the work necessary to get his or her courses onto the site. I downloaded the guidelines and wrote up one of our two team-taught design courses, shot examples of student work, got it all in under the deadline to get the first and largest of the pay-outs. I did the same thing for my own personal scenic design course, getting a second, slightly smaller grant. After that I was finally able to interest one of my colleagues in the program and we did the next two together, splitting the proceeds. I prodded the other two into getting their courses submitted, by which time there wasn't a great deal of money left, but they got something.

When the results were tallied up, I had a credit of just under $4000. The funds are available for any legitimate academic use. For example, one language teacher put four courses onto the site during the earliest days of the program. When her sabbatical came up, she got herself an apartment in Paris and supported herself there for a term, airfare included, while she researched and wrote a book which then got published and insured her tenure. So, now I've got this money and I need to spend it before I leave MIT in June.

As I'm writing my own book, I'm going to fund a couple of research trips with the money, but I've decided to get myself a lap top with the bulk of it. It will make taking notes and working while traveling much easier and easily fits into the "legitimate academic" requirement. Of course, if a movie gets played or a blog entry written along the way somewhere, they're not going to send the campus police after me.

So the question is, what to buy? I'll be looking for something reliable, fast, compact and easy to use. I've never had or even used a lap top before, so any suggestions from those of you with experience of them will be greatly appreciated.

Steve and I will bring ours to the QBB, if you want to try out two different brands and styles.

Using it (not just poking keys in a store) is very important, to be sure you can COMFORTABLY type on it, and that the useful keys (home, delete, etc) are in places your hands will go.

Also, figure out if you are comfortable with a touch pad (like the ones in your pictures), or if a pointer (like IBM - the little "eraser" thing in the middle of the keyboard) work better for you.
congratulations on the 50K
May there be 50K more.
Congrats on the 50,000 bench mark. I was excited this past week when I discovered 1,000 had been to my sight.

As for the laptop, I'm probably not much help. I switched to a Mac about a year ago and I am a die hard fan now. But if you need advice in that direction I'll help as much as I can.
Yeah, what Chris said. A couple of months ago, I bought a Toshiba Satellite, and I love it. I'll let you touch my... umm, my laptop when we get together.
I bought a laptop with a 17" screen. I LOVE the machine (Toshiba) but I wouldn't do the 17" screen again because
you're too limited in cases and backpacks which can hold the computer. (Most cases, backpacks, etc are for the 15.4" screens. Like out of everything at Best Buy and Circuit City, you might have 2 cases and 1 backpack for a 17" screen.)

If it's really a work thing, best see what your IT department supports and get that!! :)

Alan B
Chattanooga, TN
Congrats on your 50,000th visitor!
Congrats Will on the big 50G!

I just posted today that I'm looking for a laptop, although my meagher budget is surely going to limit my choices. I need to keep it below 800$ after taxes/incidentals etc. Any suggestions?

Have a great weekend, the 15th is looking pretty good for me, just have to iron out one more detail at work.

Ditto Congratulations and Big Hairy Muscle Hugs celebrating the big 50,000th visitor status. That is quite an accomplishment.

And thanks as always, for taking time out to post to my blog. What you wrote is so true. Gay progress without protests from the religious right or other such nonsense, just praise of a milestone. Wish all the world would celebrate gay accomplishments like that.

Wishing you all the success on getting your dream home built. I definitely know something about that.
Re laptop - you might want to get a docking station. This will allow you to use a full-sized screen and keyboard when you're not on the road

cheers - Joan R
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