27 April 2007

New Networked Printer, Scanner, Fax: Epson AcuLaser

This is an initial blurb on the new Epson AcuLaser CX11NF all-in-one laser I recently hooked up. The short story so far is, there are a few setup tricks, but the thing is awesome in general. I am only using this machine from a Mac, but it works with at least Windows machines as well (and has a few more features when using Windows - like being able to do scans from the unit and send them to your machine).

The CX11NF is a color laser printer, color fax, color copier, and both flat bed and sheet fed scanner. That's a mouth-full. So far I've used the printer, copier, and flat bed scanner. Setup was easy - they provide very good clear instructions on unpackaging it and getting the toner carts installed, etc. Also, the box it came in is designed really well. The unit weights in at 75 pounds, so you dread having to "dump" it out of the usual cardboard box, but no. With this setup, there are plugs at the bottom of the box that you pull out, and then the top and sides of the box pull right off, leaving the bottom of the box and printer there. REALLY NICE.

Software setup is my only gripe so far, and it wasn't too bad. I'm using it as a network printer. When I first ran their software, it just seemed to sit there forever trying to launch the first sub-installer. I had to go manually launch that, and then things worked fine. I also found that in order for Bonjour printing (the "easy" way use it as a network printer) to actually work, I needed to download the latest drivers. I also got the latest scanner drivers while I was there.

Also, for network scans, you need to run their Epson Scan Settings app that they silently put into your Applications/Utilities folder. This app launches and finds the printer (or you can type in the IP address, if say you're using it from a different subnet/VPN). Then it works great.

I am using the printer from both PowerPC and MacTel Macs, all over network, and on different subnets (one is also behind VPN, but which tunnels into my main subnet for access to things like printers). For the Mac on VPN, I needed to setup the printer using IPP, but once I typed in the IP address, it found it and detected the model and the right driver, etc.

The printer is very fast (at least for B&W, I haven't tried color yet). I don't recall the exact speed, but it spits out pages nearly instantly for B&W, and the quality is excellent.

The scanner works well too. I've only used it from Photoshop so far, using their TWAIN import, but it has all the usual stuff (seems like the scan interface is very similar to the one for our higher end Epson Perfection V700 Photo scanner (which rocks - I highly recommend for photo).

So far so good. Having a real network printer, etc. is great in my situation since we have a lot of machines in the house. It's also nice to get rid of the few separate devices I had before, and to pick up a sheet fed scanner in the process. Also, having a color printer that isn't a photo printer is handy at times. We'll see how continued use goes, but I would recommend this unit so far.

Tip of the hat to Macworld for the useful review on this device.

24 April 2007

Cool Akamai Network Comparison Web App

Akamai has a cool data visualization application that compares network routes. It is done in Flash, and is pretty slick.

23 April 2007

Ordered New Bike: Niner

Today I ordered a new bike, a Niner MCR9. It will not replace any of my existing bikes, but will become both a "town" bike, and an alternate mountain bike (to my Reign). It'll be very alternate, or rather alternative to the Reign, given that it's a 29er and fully rigid! I haven't ridden a rigid mtb since probably 1994, although that rigid bike's frame is still in my garage.

I was interested in going S.S., but with the super steep hills near my house, and the multi-purpose nature of the bike, I really needed some gears. I'm going with their X9 build kit, but will swap the tires out for some Schwalbe Big Apple 2.3's for town riding. I plan to eventually get a set of tubeless 29er wheels for dedicated mtb riding.

To compliment the wild "Tang" orange color I went with, I ordered up the Crank Bros Mallet pedals in orange. With nearly everything else on the bike being black, it should be pretty cool. Should vaguely look like this, except I'll have the rigid orange fork.

20 April 2007

Ultimate Espresso

The other day I talked with Michael at Wandering Goat in Eugene for a while. We'd had some discussions in email, and I headed down to buy some Chupacabra beans from them, and say hi. I did that, but we also talked quite a while about espresso, machines, and grinders. He gave me some great tips.

First, Wandering Goat is my favorite choice of coffee beans right now. They are also simply an awesome company that is well comitted to organic, fair trade coffee, as well as super environmental preparation (their roaster is the only one of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, producing I think they said 80% less biproduct/polutants, etc.). The shop is also cool. It's a little off the beaten path, but in downtown (on Madison between 2nd and 4th). And, I had a truly, truly, superb macchiato there yesterday (and yes, the real kind, not that abomination Starbucks makes).

I've been wanting to get a serious espresso machine, that is not a super-auto like I have now. I have the best super auto at the moment, but you just can't tweak it further, and they don't generate the same pressure levels as a semi-auto. I had been eyeing an Rancilio Silvia, but Michael turned me on to the Expobar Brewtus II, which in checking appears to be the absolute finest home machine on the planet (and the only one with a double boiler). As he mentioned, your abilities will not exceed this machine. It ain't cheap, although it's less than my super auto! But then you factor in a grinder.

I have an ok grinder, but was eyeing a Mazzer Mini. He suggested getting a Mazzer Super Jolly instead of the mini, and said to check eBay (or eBay Tagex). It's awesome, because you can pick up a Super Jolly, normally a $1000 grinder, for like $250, and then buy new burr heads for it for $50. So, that's a $1000 grinder for $300. I just checked and there are two Super Jolly's up there right now. Also, you can put the Mini's bean holder on a Super Jolly to cut down on size, but still have the larger burr heads of the Super Jolly.

17 April 2007

Enter Escrow... Have a Flood

Wow, this really sucks. Got a call this morning to tell us that the first floor of our house was flooded, due to a burst pipe. It appears to be one of the flex hoses under the sink in our kitchen island. These are hoses that the builder is at fault for, because other people in the neighborhood have had this problem, and the builder hasn't come through and fixed them all. It was on my list of things to have them come out and do, so uh, it just went up in priority (and they'll have to pay for all the damage). The carpet & restoration folks are already there drying things out.

An odd coincidence is that the buyer's home inspector was there this morning. I guess he stopped the leak, but there was a lot of water, so likely they'll get all new wood floors and carpet (I expect the limestone floor is fine).

We're in better shape than the folks across the street who had one burst upstairs and are in their fourth month of work to fix all the damage. Ugh. Luckily also, our buyers love our house, and this is not stopping the sale/escrow. They already said they want to put the same carpet in as they loved the carpet we had.

I'll be spending a good chunk of the rest of my day talking to my attorney, the builder, real estate agents, and so on. Oh, and I will be checking my new house for these problem hoses as well.

16 April 2007

Adobe CS3 (Creative Suite 3) Ships!

And the crowd goes wild! Yep, Adobe CS3 started shipping today. Check out the site. I'm proud to have contributed to Photoshop ("Ps") CS3. Specifically I worked on Photoshop Extended, on the measurement bits, and some small scripting bits.

14 April 2007

Eugene (Oregon) People are So Nice!

It's really interesting to see how different people are here in Eugene/Oregon. Everyone is so nice and friendly. It's quite different than California. After my flight home from the Bay area on Thursday, I talked to three people at some length, while getting off the plane, walking over to baggage, waiting for bags, etc.

Rich was also a CA transplant, and had in fact come from the same place as we had. We talked for quite some time about kids, his grandkids, golf (and the crazy Bandon, OR golf scene and real estate situation), etc.

After talking to Rich, I talked to Karen who is the director of emergency services for the Red Cross (for 7 counties here). She mentioned the kids ID event that was happening this weekend, which is great, as we'll go do that.

Prior to Rich and Karen, at the end of my flight I talked to the man sitting next to me (he slept during the flight, and I worked). He has a crazy job, where he works on construction projects in Vegas (currently on the Venetian plaza). He is in Vegas for 6 weeks, then home for 5 days, then back - all the time. He's been doing this for 15 years! He loves Oregon, and has grown very tired of Vegas (where I believe he said there is now a shooting every 8 hours!).

Yesterday I also talked to one of my neighbors, Dino, who I hadn't met yet. He's the owner/builder of one of the houses next to us. Good guy, and he took some time out to talk about some house stuff. For example, after I saw his outdoor fireplace (which I'd love!), he talked about how we could do that on our deck, costs, options, etc. It wasn't a sales pitch (wouldn't be something he, as the "builder", would do anyway), just nice neighborly chatter.

What struck me about these folks was simply has easy going, nice, friendly, etc. they were. The conversations simply flowed with no effort. Sure I've had talks like this with people in CA (you'd hope so given I grew up there, and have lived there all but 5 years of my life). But it's just different. You can "feel" the difference. At times it's also weird. I think we've grown used to being sometimes suspicious, guarded with our kids, etc. So we're learning the more pleasant openness of the Oregon culture.

13 April 2007

Forget irb, Use TextMate

I often play around with Ruby code to try things out. irb is of course a great Ruby interactive shell for this. However, what it's less good at is multi-line code, or more complicated code, and simply refining code that you execute over and over (in particular when it's multi-line). Solution: use TextMate instead. As TextMate users know, you can run arbitrary script (either a selection or a file's worth). I am finding now that I much prefer to simply pop open a new window in TextMate, and type my experiments there, and then hit Cmd-R to try things out. It even produces nicer output.

07 April 2007

Eugene After First Week

We've been living in Eugene for a week now. We're still in the midst of unpacking and getting back to every day life, but things are going well so far.

This morning, I woke up to see it was raining, and I was psyched! Yes, I'm weird like that :) It had begun to clear up some by about mid morning, and we headed to opening day of the farmer's market, where it didn't rain on us at all. We bought some veggies, salsa, bread, etc. The kids were restless, so we headed off to lunch.

Lunch was at a grill at the Oakway Center. Then we hung out in the courtyard for a while while the kids played, and Xander specifically enjoyed getting rained on. Then it was off to a park back in our neighborhood. We were at the park until 4pm, the whole time it was sunny. Finally, headed home to move a bit of furniture around and then make dinner. Had a tasty Mexican spread. After dinner it seemed hot, and I realized it had gotten up to 77 in the house, with all the sun streaming in. Opened some windows, which was a great bit of fresh air, and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Looking back on the week, a few other notes:

  • Market of Choice is my favorite market in town, but it sure seems expensive. We'll have to see. The place is gorgeous (doesn't hurt that the closest one to us is brand new and very nicely done). It's similar to say an Andronicos, or maybe an aspiring Whole Foods, etc. Great cheese selection (yea!), cool cafe with fresh pizzas, good meat selection and quality, big spread of produce, lots of organic, etc.
  • Bicycles are a VERY common way to travel around town here in Eugene, which is something I love. I'm now investigating a town bike. I'm likely going to go with a Niner, and use it both as a town bike, as well as an alternative mtb.
  • Our dryer is still not hooked up. When it was delivered, the house didn't have the special vent attachment for the house, so they couldn't finish it. Then, once we had that, on Sears second trip out, they couldn't seem to plug in this vent attachment (which I've since managed to get in, but it was tricky indeed), nor did they have the right power cord (which I've since purchased and wired up). Now the real trick is to figure out how to get the vent hose attached, and be able to climb out of the space without having to use a real excess of vent tubing. Sears comes again on Monday, so we'll see.

House for Sale

Our house in Rocklin is for sale now that we've moved to Eugene. We staged it, and had pictures taken, as well as the 360Spin folks do their thing. Pretty cool. Check it out.

01 April 2007

Arrival in Eugene

Originally uploaded by Christopher Bailey.
Here's the sunset as we arrived at our new house in Eugene, OR last night. It was a gorgeous drive (at least from about Medford to Eugene). Drive went well, kids did great. We're very excited to be at our new home. The WiFi is setup, espresso machine is rolling, and we're starting our day in our new home.