Amidst many things, including yet another short-notice trip to Asia, I am going to try making some changes in the next few days to how email & DNS are handled for

I have a Gmail account that I like because of many of the features it provides (better web interface, large amount of storage online, etc.), but I like having a unique domain name in my email address, and I would prefer having just one email address and just one place to check it. I think there’s a solution in there involving MX records, Google Apps (formerly Google Apps for Domains), and some judicious forwarding (thanks, Drew for the tips). I’ll post my solution if it actually works.

So if you notice something isn’t working quite right, feel free to drop me a line, or just hang on for a day or two and try again.

posted January 27, 2010 – 6:10 pm

I am in Taipei, and thinking hard about why, exactly, I’m here.

It’s 2010. I can pick up a phone and talk to someone on the other side of the world with crystal clear sound. I can do it for zero or almost zero cost. I can share my computer screen with them, or use a webcam (hell, even one I designed) so we can see each other while we talk.

I’m trying to convince myself that in spite of technological options and conveniences, sometimes the best way to communicate really is face-to-face. Today went a long way towards proving that true. I don’t actually think we could have accomplished in a week remotely what we did in just one day here, and we have four more days of just as intense work. Though it’s somewhat overwhelming in nature, the prospect of trying to accomplish this work from 6,000 miles and 8 timezones away is even more daunting.

I am in Taipei, but for the first 12 hours of my visit, I heard almost no Chinese being spoken. We were met at the airport and taken by car service into the city. I woke up in a room in a hotel that could have been anywhere in the world. I went to breakfast with my coworkers at the cafe in the lobby where we were greeted in English, were served perfectly reasonable coffee, and could have had waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, croissants, or smoked salmon. We got picked up by another driver and whisked off to our supplier’s office, where we were again greeted in English and served coffee. We got on wifi, logged in to our email, and looked at presentations and spreadsheets all morning long.

I opted not to join my coworkers at the restaurant in the hotel for dinner. Instead I checked out dinner spots on the Internet and walked the 20 minutes to a surprisingly good pizza joint. Along the way, I found, among other things, this awesome coffee paraphenalia store (I don’t think they even sold coffee, just equipment), got some exercise, and feel much better about the whole trip.

I’m in Taipei, but I’m totally going to make the best of it.

posted January 13, 2010 – 8:10 am

After a week-long trip to the East Coast, I’m happily (if only briefly) home in Seattle.

From Boston, where I spent some time with family & friends, I flew down to Maryland for a second shot at New Year’s with Drew and friends. Last year, I spent my 3 days in Lexington Park shuffling between the bathroom and bed, sick as a dog; hardly a lively time. This year, it was a great celebration filled with food and words, along with fantastic people.

On the food front, we did a ton of cooking. For New Year’s Eve, we made venison carpaccio, bacon-wrapped dates, artichoke dip, poached pears over blue cheese on toast, garlic shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, oysters, homemade deep-fried paneer with curry and chutneys, beer-braised venison ribs, and homegrown-lemon mousse napoleons for dessert. And there was more on other days: homemade pizza, cheesy eggs, and more bacon than you can shake a stick at. Phew!

The astute among you might notice that the lemon mousse is actually a repeat from New Years 2007/2008, including the homegrown fruit from Maine, courtesy of Sarah. A little investigating revealed that her mom’s lemon trees are actually Persian limes. The ones we used were definitely yellow, but, as this page explains, limes get yellow when fully ripe. In spite of the duplicitous fruit, everyone enjoyed dessert.

In the word games category, we filled not one but two spots on my all-time top hardest/most-complicated/most-awesome word game list.

First, we played a giant game of anagrams (similar to Banagrams) with a huge container of remainder Scrabble tiles off eBay, and imposed the extra rule that the crossword-like entity you built up needed to have crossword symmetry. I think that’s pretty much all a few of us did the day before New Year’s.

The second feat we accomplished was completing a crossword puzzle via charades. Each clue was painstakingly acted out (those guessing had to get the whole clue right, word for word) and eventually the grid filled out. This one took about 6 or 8 hours, all told, but spread over a whole day and night. I think we finished around 3:30 AM, when a few of us turned in. The rest apparently stayed up playing secret games (?) ’til all hours.

All in all, a very enjoyable time.

posted January 3, 2010 – 5:45 pm
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