Google Chrome is a remarkably powerful web browser. When running on Mac OS it’s also an incredible power and memory hog. At least once a week it bloats so badly that it makes my desktop unusable. Starting today I’m going to take a trial run of living life without Chrome.

Since it’s Mac native, I’ve given Safari the honor of being the first test platform. Although today’s tests have been limited, it’s held up admirably – and more importantly hasn’t slowed the machine down to an infuriating place. As it turns out the threshold for victory in these real life tests isn’t going to be all that high. Anything that lets me get through a week without crashing the computer will likely get a pass as a better option than continuing on with Chrome.

There was a time I’d want to go out and try all the obscure browsers hoping to turn up something with wow factor to spare. These days, I’m mostly about simplicity in use rather than wow. I don’t care so much how the machine runs just so long as it does. I’m not going to spend a lot of time wanting to tinker around under the hood until it behaves “just so.”

I’d love to place all the blame squarely on Google here, but if I’m fair, I’m currently running a slightly more than 4 year old machine that was a touch under powered when it came out of the box. The ever increasing demand for raw processing power in a computer hasn’t been kind to my Mini. Truth is, switching browsers is probably the last ditch effort to coax a bit more life out of the machine before bringing a replacement online. If I were smart, I’d go ahead and make that purchase now instead of when something finally fails on me… but then needing to buy a computer right-the-hell-now after the old one has crapped out is pretty much one of my oldest continuously observed traditions.

Ditching Chrome won’t solve all that ails computing here, but it could well alleviate the most obnoxious symptom of aging equipment. For today, that would be more than good enough.

Pepperidge Farms remembers…

I’ve used carbon paper, but it had its last gasp as an office staple while I earning a diploma. I caught the tail end of using overhead projectors to show written documents to large audiences. I can even vaguely remember using a typewriter to fill in some formsPepFarm carrying the dreaded “must be typed” instructions.

Looking back on those items, they weren’t particularly convenient. Using them was time consuming and far from automated. Even so, I have to grudgingly admit that they worked and were all successful at conveying some quantity of information from here to there. What they lacked in convenience and time saving, they more than made up for in reliability. Unless the bulb burnt out, that old heat throwing overhead projector would keep trucking along essentially forever. That’s one of the many beauties of systems with so few moving parts.

By contrast, most of my morning today was taken up by what felt like an endless do-loop of software updates and enforced restarts that made my computer at the office effectively unusable. It made me briefly long for a return to dry erase markers and acetate sheets and when ideas were communicated at the speed of fax. I’m sure that kind of throwback would make me miserable in its own unique way, but in the moment, anything seemed better than spending another moment staring blankly at the startup screen while the machine drug itself through the motions.

By lunchtime whatever gremlins were afflicting my laptop seem to have satisfied themselves with the damage done. I gave getting on with the day the old college try. I really did, but the damage was indeed done. Oh sure, I spent a few hours after that mashing away at the keyboard, but as for how much really got accomplished, well, I won’t be the one to incriminate myself on that front.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Atrophy. I’ll admit it, I’m not as good a driver as I use to be. I spent five years mastering the art of running nose-to-tail at 90 miles an hour on I-95 between DC and Baltimore. There’s not an every day call for that kind of driving in most other places. There wasn’t in West Tennessee and there certainly isn’t here in Ceciltucky. Every now and then, though, the situation presents itself where those long unused skills would prove useful. It’s only when you reach in to that old bag of tricks that you find out you’re not quite as quick at the wheel as you use to be. That’s disheartening… particularly when it leads to the inevitable question of whether it’s just a lack of practice time or if it’s a truly diminishing skill set.

2. Just Don’t Do It. Years ago I worked (indirectly) for a boss who’s philosophy was summed up by a Just Do It card that he passed around to employees at every opportunity. It read something like “If it’s ethical, legal, and you’re willing to be held accountable for it, don’t wait for permission, just do it.” It’s a pretty good rule to live by if you’re the kind of person who has any kind of reasonable judgement. I’m never going to argue that all decisions should be made at the lowest level, but I known damned well that all of them don’t need to be deferred to the highest levels, either. There’s a middle ground. More people should find it instead of deferring every decision for days and weeks in hopes that someone else will take responsibility for it.

3. The Cycle of Mediocrity. A wise old Warrant Officer once told me that “nobody does what the boss don’t check.” He was mostly right about that. In most offices the boss down’t check much – and the results are predictable. We all claim to want excellence – but in reality the objectives are usually targeted at achieving mediocrity. The rules are set up to achieve a minimum acceptable standard and performance tends towards achieving that standard. It’s what the bosses check so it’s what the people produce… and the cycle of mediocrity rolls on and on and on.

Taking a test drive…

I promised an unboxing, but was a little too quick getting things unwrapped to keep much of a record. For the moment you’ll have to be satisfied with riding along as I take the new toy out for a test drive. The first thing you notice out of the box is just how good it feels in the hand. The tapered edges are much more comfortable than the vertical edges on version one. It’s definitely a slimmer form factor. I didn’t expect it to be as noticeable as it is, but it makes quite a difference.

After the mandatory registration with iTunes and really getting a chance to put iPad 2 through it’s paces, I’ve got to say that it handles remarkably well. Web browsing is very, very quick and switching apps doesn’t lag at all. I haven’t thrown too much stress at it yet, but I’m expecting great things based on first impressions.

For an afternoon launch, the line wasn’t bad – assuming you got there early enough. I ended up waiting just over three hours from getting in line to walking out of the store… Which brings up the only negative experience of the day. Stockage of the 18 different versions was a bit of an issue. By the time I made it into the store, the AT&T 16 and 32 GB models in black and white were sold out, leaving the only AT&T option as the 64GB version. Since the card I got while in line guaranteed only an AT&T enabled version, it was either hand over an extra $200 and take delivery of four times more storage than I planned on or walk out empty handed. Since I had an AT&T card, I couldn’t just switch off to one of the Verizon versions that were still in stock. This is an issue Apple could have prevented if they would have taken online reservations as they have for previous product launches. Of course it’s not necessarily in Apple’s interest to do that. I forked over an extra $200. I wonder how many others did too. I can’t image many who sat in line for hours were going to be thwarted by another two bills. Now if I were one of the people who was still several hundred people deep in the line when I left, I might be feeling a little different about how things turned out.

All things being equal, I’m well pleased. There are still plenty of things I need to put through their paces, but I’m pretty sure our friends from Cupertino hit another home run.

From Hell’s Heart, I Stab at Thee; or A Letter to the Field

We built you a sports car. A machine with beautiful lines built for high speed and low drag, taking the best aspects of the past and melding them carefully with the best of the modern. We built you a Ferrari and then made the unpardonable mistake of handing you the keys.

You’ve stripped the gears with your towering incompetence. You’ve run at full speed into every pothole and ditch even close to the road. You’ve taken a thing of beauty and carved it into so many ill-fitting pieces it’s nearly impossible to tell there was any design at all.

My God, how I hate you. How I loathe you in your unerring stupidity. You’ve defined everything that is wrong about what we do. If there is any justice in this world or the next, you’ll have a special reservation in the 9th level of hell.


Does someone want to tell me how the hell it’s the 30th of September already? I’m serious, goddamnit. Who the hell authorized this? I’m feeling a little bit like somewhere between moving and playing road warrior, I’ve somehow managed to miss most of 2007. I have vague recollections of doing things, but the actual coherent memories are few and far between. That’s probably not a good thing.