Monday, September 24, 2012

iOS 6

I'm going to sum up my iOS 6 review very quickly: It's great. Except the new Maps, which are pretty good, not as good as Google's, but will improve fast and are necessary to hold off Android.

Why, do you ask? Simple. When iOS first came to pass in 2007, Google was a key partner. They provided the default search engine, the mapping data, and a YouTube app right on the home screen. Wow stuff. They were a key Apple partner, and then-CEO Eric Schmidt sat on Apple's board.

Then things changed. Google decided that they needed their own mobile platform, and begat Android - which due to Google's licensing terms (free) has become the most popular mobile operating system out there. It's not the highest-value for a lot of reasons (mainly because a lot of the installed base consists of budget users and cheap phones, where basic smartphones replaced the old-school featurephones), but they have a huge presence, and Android users get one big advantage over iOS users (who have to access Google Maps via the API instead of directly): Google Maps natively supports turn-by-turn directions, but not through the API.

And as smartphones become the standard navigation device, relying on Google became a key competitive disadvantage for Apple - as long as Google is their map vendor Apple can't offer turn-by-turn.

So this had to change. Rather than partner with Microsoft/Bing or one of the other map companies, Apple opted to do it themselves (with the help of mapping tech companies they bought), and Apple Maps will soon be on approximate par with Google after a couple of months' worth of correction and crowdsourcing.

Until then (remember, iOS 6 is less than a week old in public release), it'll be a little bumpy. But also remember Google took years to get good at mapping. And they still have errors sometimes. Apple's gotten much of the way there in one release. They'll get better fast.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lance Armstrong banned: Big Whoop.

So Lance Armstrong dropped his battle with the USADA last night, and as a result they intend to strip him of his Tour titles. All I can say to it at this point is: Big Freaking Deal. Maybe I'm a Lance apologist, but here's my take on it.

Armstrong was never caught during his career, despite years of testing. He won his last title in 2005. He competed in one of the dirtiest eras of the dirtiest professional sport, yet was never caught during his those years. He wound up retiring on his own terms, and after an investigation, the US Department of Justice dropped their case they were trying to build against him. On top of that, the USCF (cycling's governing body in the US), and the ICF all don't recognize the USADA's jurisdiction. Which pretty much invalidates their case, in my opinion.

Does that mean I think Lance Armstrong was clean? Hell no! He was probably just as dirty as virtually every other cyclist of that era. And most of today's pro cyclists are dirty, too - they just have better ways to hide it. That's the nature of what is an incredibly extreme sport. To survive a grueling 3-week race, they do what they have to do. Cyclists have been dirty forever. In my mildly competitive days (through my late teens up until I was about 20), I rode some races at the club level, and had a USCF Cat. 4 license. I was decent for my level, and it was incredibly hard work just to be competitive at that level.

I never did drugs (it wouldn't have helped me at that low level), but the guys ahead of me at the high amateur/low pro level? Most of them were on something or another. That's just what they did.

So the point I make here is pretty much this: There's no (as far as I know) direct, in-competition testing results that establish Armstrong's guilt. There is a bunch of testimony (that we now will not hear), from racers who were themselves dirty as well. There's no physical evidence. We all know he did it, but his last win was 8 years ago. The time to challenge it is over. He got away with it.

And regardless of whether the USADA states that Lance Armstrong is to be stripped of his titles or not (so the doper in 2nd would get the yellow jersey instead?), he won. Period. And that's what people will remember of his career. The only thing that he loses out of this in reality is the ability to compete in sanctioned mountain bike races and in masters' triathlons. Big deal.

Monday, June 11, 2012

WWDC Aftermath

So how did I do?

Well, of course I got iOS 6. That was a bunny. I was right on July for Mac OS 10.8, too. And on dictation support.

Maps, Siri, and multiple signatures in iOS 6? Nailed 'em all.

Resolution independence? To be seen as iOS 6 matures and as the sessions go this week. Still expecting it.

New Macs? Yep, the whole laptop line was replaced. The new "super retina MacBook Pro" is sweet. Update to the Mac Pro? They did it, but it's meh. Slightly faster RAM and improved processors. No USB3, no Thunderbolt. And they did away with the RAID card option, it appears. Not pleased.

As for other things, we got a new Airport Express with dual-band support and 2 Ethernet ports, and a few new accessories. One of my better picking sessions. Expect Ivy Bridge iMacs and minis quietly in the next week or so.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

WWDC 2012 predictions (early)

So I'm not going to pay attention to the last-minute rumors this year because of my vacation plans (do I really want to do Apple tea-leaf reading while I'm on vacation? I don't think so...). And next week is a holiday week. So here, about two weeks early, is my series of predictions for WWDC 2012, with percentages and explanations:

iOS 6: 100%. Apple now unveils developer editions of the newest iThing OS at WWDC. Period (with rare exceptions if needed for a new category of device). iOS 6 is due in the annual upgrades, and will be released to developers that week, with shipping due in September-October mainly dependent on any new device announcements. If there is no fall iPhone, they'll just release it when it's ready.

Mountain Lion (Mac OS 10.8) release plans: 95%. I'm pretty sure that Mountain Lion will be released in late July, and they'll announce it that day. Also dropping will be a few new "one more thing" features, most likely dictation support.

Newer Macs: 75%. Apple is due to release newer iMacs and laptops any day now. Also likely to introduce at least one more "Mac Pro"-series machine. The timing would be right, but Apple's mainly stayed away from WWDC hardware announcements in recent years. My only hope is that they don't wait for Mountain Lion to release first - most users want new computers with the tried-and-tested version of the OS, and we already got screwed last year when Thunderbolt-based minis were released with Lion Server instead of good old Snow Leopard.

Features of iOS 6:

More resolution independence: 95%. I think Apple will put the tools in place with iOS 6 so that they won't have developers too off guard if they go with the taller form factor iPhone that is rumored. Will they make a big deal of it? Nope. They'll be cryptic.

Google Maps replaced as default mapping engine: 100%. Adios, Google. It was nice having you so integrated into iOS, but Apple doesn't like you anymore. Heck, I use Bing as my default engine now (yes, I know Google owns Blogspot).

Partial opening of Siri APIs: 75%. I think they will create a mechanism to integrate with Siri, but approve connections. It won't open up entirely.

Multiple signature support in Mail: 90%. One of the few gaps in iOS Mail today.

Support for different default system apps (like Mail, Calendar, Contacts): 10% (at best). Apple may allow you to use your own product, but you aren't getting the keys to the kingdom.

I may tweak this post a little in the next couple of days, but basically that's it: WWDC is for developers - it's not a product expo. This is inside baseball-type stuff.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Greenpeace - looks like stupid works?

First of all, I'm not writing this because I make much of my living from supporting Apple products. Let that be clear!

Now, on to the main event... Greenpeace is staging protests in North Carolina targeted at Duke Energy - and using Apple as the focal point of their protests. Their theme is "Apple, clean the cloud". This refers to the fact that Apple's main iCloud data center is located in Maiden, NC (they've started building a second one in Prineville, OR, right next to Facebook's data center there). They've even succeeded in muddying the waters a little, based on the coverage of their latest protest when they blocked a coal train and had several people arrested.

But it's basically BS. Apple doesn't take deliveries of coal (unlike what the story said). Apple (and for that matter, anyone who operates a large data center) builds their data centers based on a few easy criteria. Available cheap land, local governments that will let you build, proximity to carrier fiber backbones (usually run down rail lines and interstate highways), and availability of labor. They don't build power plants, and they don't have any say in who does.

Not to mention in the case of Apple, they've been investing in solar arrays and Bloom Box fuel cells to provide much of their power. Is it Apple's fault that Duke Energy operates a lot of coal plants? Hell no! Would Apple be happy if Duke used some wind turbines? Hell yeah!

But to muddy the waters by using the customer who has no choice in the matter as to where to buy their power and equating them with the power company? I support the efforts of environmental groups to help us fix what we've done to our climate. I want to see emissions reduced. I'm even OK with a wind turbine here in Salem (as I said when I was running for office). But Greenpeace likes to use strategies and stunts that detract from the good work they do perform - and that kind of grandstanding I can't support. Apple's not the first company they've targeted this way, and it annoys me when they do. Greenpeace, sorry - but you're off our donations list for the foreseeable future. Get real, and you'l get us back.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why I will (probably) be a movie pirate

OK, here's the scoop. I'm really looking forward to The Avengers. I mean, highlight of the summer movie season, willing to go to a theater for it-level. Which I don't normally do. I watched the two Iron Man movies, and they were a blast. But I hadn't been big on the Marvel franchise in general. But now that Avengers looks so butt-kicking, I decided I need to watch the other three films in the canon over the next few weeks.

I watched Thor in late March and really liked it. So now that leaves me with the second Hulk film (the first one was pre-modern Marvel canon), and Captain America. After I watched Thor, I flipped through iTunes and thought about renting Captain America right then and there. But not having any idea when I could watch it, I decided to hold off on the rental until I knew I'd be able to watch it. This was going to be the weekend.

So yesterday I check the rental, and it's now out of rental window and only available for purchase. Sorry, not going to happen. Here's the problem to me. I don't want to own a digital copy of Captain America forever and ever. I'd really like to watch it, and I have no problem paying $4-$5 for the privilege of doing so. $20 for a forever copy, though, not gonna happen. So the oddities of the studio licensing systems (it's not iTunes' fault) are trying to push me to find an illegal source for the movie so I can watch it before I go to a theater to see the next film in the series. How does this help the movie studios?

Look, it should just be simple. You open a movie in the theater. It runs however long it runs. It then goes into a short window when you can buy it on disk or digital - about a month or so at most - and that way you can monetize the folks who either want to own it or can't wait to rent it. Then you go rental (digital and disc), and then a month or so after that you let Netflix and the other "free" streaming services have it. Plus then the TV channels can get it. Simple, effective, maximizes revenue, and as a result should cut down piracy.

Hollywood, I'd like to pay you to see Captain America this weekend. You don't seem to want my money, though.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

iPad (3)

So I have a Nuevo iPad in my home. Nice device. Here, after about 2 weeks, is my initial take on it:

  • The feel is essentially identical. Even though it weighs a little bit more, I haven't really noticed.
  • The new Retina screen? Amazing. Today, I worked on an iPad 3 and a original iPad side-by-side while doing a customer upgrade. I started on the new one. When I then went to the old one, it seemed blurry and fuzzy by comparison. Two weeks ago, that display looked state-of-the-art. That says it all in that area.
  • I haven't been on LTE that much. The signal is kinda weak anywhere in Salem but the downtown. I was using it Monday night at a School Committee meeting, though, and it is just as fast as advertised. A few days prior I was at another school for a meeting with it, in a pocket of known bad reception. All I could get there, a half-mile away from where I had great LTE, was a weak 3G signal at best. YMMV.
  • Yep, it runs a wee bit warmer in the back. You can feel it, though barely - it hasn't been warm enough to cause any discomfort. I've played games for at most about a half-hour at a stretch so far. Might warm up more if I played longer, but indications are not so much.
  • Battery life is about the same. But charging time is longer. I'm kind of a battery anxiety kind of guy, so I worry about that. Charging time is longer. As a result, I leave it plugged in whenever I'm not using it, pretty much.
  • Related - you could leave your iPad connected to a regular iPhone power brick before and it would charge OK so long as the screen was off. Not so much now with the new model.
  • The extra 512MB of RAM really helps, especially when swapping apps or tabbing web pages. Way less reloading/relaunching.
In all, a great device. If you have an iPad 1, you likely want one of these. If you have a 2, it's iffy (if you read a lot on it, that's the tiebreaker). If you don't have a tablet and want one, getting anything other than a Nuevo iPad is just trying to make a political point.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Now that I've had a look-see

So "The New iPad"is upon us. Last night's blog post talked about what I got right - an essential part of punditry! Today, I'll talk a little bit about What It All Means (the other ingredient). This will be brief, since nobody pays me directly for this stuff and I have work to do today. But I think it'll get the point across.

First of all - there are already a host of stories out there about how this is an "underwhelming" upgrade. Ignore them. It's mostly page view trolling. Realistically, Apple isn't going to go crazy with spec upgrades in a single year. Why? They don't have to. What Apple is doing as the dominant player is setting the bar. In order to get any traction, competing makers have to meet or exceed the specs of the iPad while undercutting the costs.

Virtually none of them can do that. The Nook and Kindle Fire are competitive, but in a market that Apple is choosing not to play in directly. Apple's way of attacking that market is by keeping the iPad 2 and slashing the price - the iPad 2 is very competitive with the older generation hardware that the 7-inch tablets are mainly built with. So the new iPad model is mainly targeted at tablets that don't exist yet. Just like the iPad 2 was a year ago.

First-mover advantage for Apple lets them skate to where the puck is going, and then already be heading elsewhere by the time the other players arrive. (I know that's a little tortured, but it's early and I haven't had coffee yet - bear with me)

Besides this, is it a compelling upgrade? Well, I think so. If you are a new buyer Apple has the best screen anywhere, 4G capability, and the best ecosystem. They also have the best prices in the 9-inch category. If you have an original iPad this is enormously faster and has a great screen, at lighter weight. If you have an iPad 2 the new model is faster and brings the new screen to the party. Is it evolutionary? Of course it is. But when you get it mostly right the first time you don't have to do a ton from year to year. Just keep it out in front.

In terms of features, we have the added horsepower, the drastically improved screen, more RAM, and Nuance dictation built-in. I'd say that gets us by for now.

One other thing worth noting - Each iPad is basically good for 2 media events per year. One for the hardware, and one for the next version of the software. And the media event for the software won't be until June. This iPad ships with iOS 5.1, an incremental upgrade to last years' iOS 5. And a host of new/improved apps. That's enough for now on the topic. More after I have one in my hands a week from now!

(lastly, for those following my other career - I'm not worried about iPads for the city, because I've already got my own... I'm just worried about the software suite.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

How did I do?

Time to check my predictions from the iPad into today...

- Retina Display: Yep. Nailed it. That was easy.

- More RAM: Not sure until they get into users' hands. But I say 1GB still.

- Form factor: No change. Minor thickened increase, less than 1mm. I'm pretty sure all the old cases will fit.

- A6: I give myself a 50%. The A5X does have 4 cores for graphics, but 2 for processing. Probably up clocked a little, too.

- LTE: I thought they'd hold off when I published this, but a week later I decided I was wrong and they would. Glad that worked out, but I still count it as a miss.

- Better cameras: Nailed it on the rear camera. May have been wrong on the front, we'll see when they ship.

- Storage: Right again. No 128GB model.

- Siri: No Siri (nailed that), but we get dictation. That's a nice feature add.

- Pricing: Got that one right. Got the iPad 2 staying behind with a price cut, too.

That's 6.5 right, 1.5 wrong, and 1 TBD. Could lose another half-point if the front camera is identical. I'd say that was pretty good - punditry, here I come!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The future of journalism?

There have been a few stories recently about AOL's Patch "hyperlocal" news websites. Well, I've browsed a few (well, more than a few) Patch sites, and read the coverage of them. I've also been an active poster in the past on our own Salem Patch, and in both my public life and private life I interact with most of the Salem Patch employees and contributors. So I'm a little biased. But here's my take:
Patch, in general, is a neat concept and long-term I think it's the future of mainstream media. There will always be room for regional and national newspapers. But most people have online access nowadays, and mostly they care about what's happening in their town - and their neighborhood. Patch is their USA Today, a site that uses the same basic formula to handle all but the edge cases of information that neighborhood people want to know. What were the police doing across the street yesterday? Who is moving into that store with the paper on the windows? Why did the restaurant close all of a sudden? What's going on in town this weekend?

Those are the questions that most people want answered, and Patch is for them. Are there exceptions? Yes - of course! Salem's Patch mixes that sort of coverage with very good feature writing, good political coverage, and most importantly an editor who has been on the job for a couple of years and has developed local connections and become part of the city's fabric. She has managed to assemble a good team of contributors and as a result Salem Patch has kind of stepped into a middle ground between your typical event calendar and a local newspaper. Sure the Salem News has more resources overall and they can work a more traditional story. They have influence because of that, and they are a pretty good local paper. Where Salem Patch differentiates themselves is speed and versatility.

I'll sum this up with an anecdote from a local event last night (because I was there). Cafe Polonia and Coffee Time Bake Shop teamed up to host a paczki-eating contest to benefit the Boys & Girls Club. Great event, great cause, and everyone had fun. The Salem News sent a photographer, who arrived just as the last contestant was finishing. He got some pictures, took down names, and was gone after a few minutes. It'll make a nice photo feature in the paper, and he did a good job - but he missed the spirit of the event.

Patch's editor, though, was there the whole time. She captured it on video, did interviews (full disclosure: I was one of the interviewees), wrote a story, and had it posted online with a well-edited video by 6AM this morning. And when it was over, she tried her first paczki with everyone there and pronounced it delicious.

That, folks, is hyperlocal journalism at its best. And if that turns out to be where Patch goes, they'll do just fine as a business.

Monday, February 20, 2012

iPad prediction time

It's that time of year again - the iPad 3 is on the way, probably being assembled by workers all over China as I type this. Many details have leaked, though Apple's been known to do misdirection more than a few times (anybody remember the teardrop iPhone 5 cases from last summer?). But as of right now, here's what I can tell you is certain about the iPad 3, what I think is likely, and what I think is bogus:

- Retina Display (2048*1536): Done. Book it. I think they hoped to get it in for the iPad 2 but couldn't get sufficient yields in time to ramp up production. We've seen enough samples in the wild of the screen that it's a done deal.

- More RAM: Yep, also certain. The iPad 3 will have 1GB of RAM, double what the iPad 2 has. Why am I sure? Higher resolution needs bigger framebuffers. To support that with 512GB would cost too much from a performance standpoint.

- Form factor: It'll be basically the same. Why mess with a good thing? If Apple ever goes into a smaller form factor, I think it would be likelier that they'd introduce a 5" iPod Touch than a 7" iPad. Don't dilute the iPad brand in small cheap devices.

- A6 (quad-core) processor: Good chance. Either that or a faster version of the current A5. Not sure which we'll see, though. Prototype logic boards were recently spotted marked "A5X" (indicating a souped-up A5), but I think that may be misdirection.

- LTE (4G) support: I don't think so. Could be surprised. I'm pretty sure that if it were fall right now you'd see it, but 3G is widespread enough and proven enough that Apple has no problem letting the market continue to develop for 4G. Right now, there's not enough of a 4G footprint to make it truly compelling.

- Better cameras: Yep, coming for sure. I think a 720P HD camera in front for FaceTime, and maybe a 5MP camera in back. They don't need the photo capabilities of the iPhone, but there will be improvement.

- Storage: Probably the same capacities as before (16, 32, 64). Maybe a 128GB model that blurs the lines with laptops.

- Siri: I'm not sure about that one. I think they won't, if only because Siri is really a feature for an always-on connection - and on the iPad your Internet connection is optional, unlike with a cellphone.

- Pricing: No changes. They may keep the 16GB iPad 2 around for 6 months or so at a cheaper price ($349?) to suck most of the oxygen out of the cheap 7" tablet market. If they can afford to do that and still make money, they likely will.

The only pricing wildcard is if they do a 128GB version at the top end. Then we might see them go like this:

$349 (or maybe $399); iPad 2 Wifi, 16GB

$499: iPad 3 32GB (add $100 or the traditional $130 for 3G on each iPad 3 model)

$599: iPad 3 64GB

$699: iPad 3 128GB

Follow that up with a 5" iPod Touch 32GB for $299 in the fall, and you've effectively bracketed the whole market.

As for iOS 5.1, I'm restricted from prognosticating on that one because I am running it and remain under NDA. The Mac rumor sites are doing a good enough job of that for me, anyways. But I can say that I'm looking forward to the GM being posted, based on what I've seen from it so far.

To sum up, I think on March 7th a lot of people will be grabbing their credit cards. iPad 2 sales numbers were just a warmup for this one.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stepping into the political minefield for fun

Random politically charged comment of the day: Reasonable people can disagree as to whether President Obama has done a good job or not. I happen to think that he's done a decent job, not a great one - but he did far better in my view than his opponent in 2008 would have and will do better than any of the remaining candidates to replace him.

That all said, I read far too many comments on the Salem News and other sites that aren't doing it strictly for the lulz (like Fark does). And my point is this: If you call Obama a Marxist (or a Socialist), you've demonstrated two things conclusively to me - one is that you've got virtually no understanding of either politics or economics, and two is that you've already lost the argument at that point. It's pretty much like the Godwin's Law of modern political debate. Sure, I disagree with the Republicans. I can call them right-wing and be accurate. And I even make fun of them. But I don't try and tar them with an extreme rhetorical brush, because I actually understand what those remarks entail.

And yes, some people on the Democratic side use similar rhetoric to the Tea Partier types on the message boards. By the way, they're wrong too. More of them seem to understand basic economics, though.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

I know what's different now.

I wasn't quite as crushed this time after seeing a Super Bowl loss. Can't stand the Giants nowadays - even though I grew up with them - but I think I understand what happened to the Patriots this year, and the last couple of trips as well.

The Patriots became a great team when everyone was a role player. Linebackers played tight end, linemen were fullbacks, and Tom Brady was a great game manager QB, who never made mistakes and never tried to do too much.

Around 2006, that started to change. Indy took the lead in the horse race with a superstar QB, and the Patriots responded by putting all their eggs in the offensive basket. Sometime around then, Tom Brady became TB12 - the best QB on the planet. He started trying to do it all, and to be the guy who ran the team. And it works to a point - but when you get to the biggest games it's hard to win that way.

Two weeks ago, TB12 played a horrible game. The Patriots were able to overcome it and win anyway. Tonight, TB12 was better - but he still made the mistakes that killed them in the end. Tom Brady didn't throw home run balls for interceptions. He didn't take safeties on his first dropback. TB12 does that sometimes, and always at the worst time when he does.

The Patriots are still an excellent team that have kept a high standard for over a decade. Amazing in this era. But if they are going to win another Super Bowl, they need more Tom Brady and less TB12.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

MBTA service cuts - the dance begins

So the MBTA, crippled by the additional debt assigned to it from the Big Dig, is now proposing significant service cuts as a partial solution to their chronic deficits. Public transit serves a public good, yet it is almost never profitable on its own. Should a public service be run like a business? Thousands of people depend on the MBTA for access to jobs and shopping, many more use it for tourism. What would be the impact to Boston if day trippers couldn't take the train into the city?

This is an ancient kabuki in government services. Drastic cuts are proposed, something happens to prevent it. The MBTA has made some strides over the last few years in curbing expenses. They still have capital costs that are high, given all the obligations the state has placed on them. Here in Salem they're obligated to build a garage facility (and there's another one going up in Beverly), but due to their financial issues the Salem garage is being chopped from 800-900 spaces to around 500 - barely more than the parking lot it replaces. Hingham got a $50 million tunnel because residents were so opposed to a grade crossing - that money would have built the entire garage here.

There's also a legal agreement to expand the Green Line into Somerville, and plenty of other obligations. The money's not there to fund it. So what's the solution?

My take is this (and I proposed something similar back in my pre-politician days): Currently we have a portion of sales tax revenue dedicated to the MBTA. It's obviously not enough. We also have a decaying road system, and only small sections of roadway that are tolled (the Tobin Bridge and Mass. Pike/harbor tunnels are the only tolled roads in Massachusetts - Route 93 isn't tolled at all). We have increasing road usage, so to me the obvious choice is to freeze tolls where they are (I think tolls are discriminatory - why should some roads be tolled and others not at all?), and increase gas taxes by an appropriate amount to compensate. Compared to some of the other states in the area (CT, NY, ME), we have one of the lower gas taxes around. They've been at current levels for a long time. I'd support raising gas taxes in Massachusetts by at least 15-20 cents per gallon, with the revenue split between the highway system and the MBTA. Gas taxes are a far more fair revenue raiser than tolls - the more you use the roads the more gas you consume.

This also gives you a further incentive to drive more economical cars as well - the less gas you use the lower your costs are. And a 20 cent raise would generate (based on numbers I looked up from last year) approximately $50 million per month - or $600 million dollars per year. That goes a long way towards solving the MBTA's woes and helping to repair our crumbling highway infrastructure. If we can also begin the process of eliminating tolls, so much the better.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Two weeks down

Swearing-in was in January 2nd. Pretty cool, and well-documented online via my Facebook account, Salem Patch, and all sorts of other sources. Won't go much further with that. We've had a couple of meetings and votes, mainly routing things. I've got a few constituent issues I'm working on now as well (and had one issue out of my ward that I got called about by an out-of-town landlord who didn't know what ward her building was in).

Business-wise, we're pretty busy right now, though things are now quieting down a little bit. From early December through now has been insane, so the respite is nice for a couple of days. We are also signing up new accounts at a decent clip. All good.

Mainly right now I'm just taking advantage of a quiet weekend to try and clean out my home office better - there's a lot of excess stuff in there right now and I'd really like to get it tidied up. Got an old computer to get moved as well. The effort remains ongoing.