“Side By Side” Art Book and Video

Posted February 21, 2011 by Bill Oakey
Categories: Artwork

I am pleased to introduce my first softcover art book, in collaboration with my good friend, Debbi Smith Rourke.  “Side By Side” is a collection of my photographic artwork, presented along with fabulous oil and pastel renderings of those photos painted by Debbi.  These images are collected from my travels to Canada, Alaska, and other locations, as well as here at home in Austin and the Texas coast.

To commemorate the launch of this book, Maria and Roy Gatling with the website, Austin-Artists.com, have posted a video interview of Debbi and me.  You can view the video here: http://www.austin-artists.com/

Or, you can watch it here from YouTube:

If you would like to purchase the book, priced at $30.00, please contact me at boakey39@gmail.com

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Art and Splendor in Dallas

Posted April 15, 2010 by Bill Oakey
Categories: Artwork

On Saturday April 10th, I went on a fabulous art field trip, the Dallas Art Trek, sponsored by the Austin Museum of Art.  This event was a photographer’s dream, as we were invited to tour three private homes of prominent art collectors.  We visited the estates of Nona & Richard Barrett, Jennifer & John Eagle, and Eric & Debbie Green.

Where Will Apple Be in Five Years?

Posted April 2, 2010 by Bill Oakey
Categories: Tech World

It was spring 2005, just five years ago, and I found myself standing in front of the Apple Store at Barton Creek Mall.  The big signs advertised the arrival of the new iPod Mini.  I was able to look at one, but they were all sold out.

As a long time Windows user, I had no interest in Mac computers.  I used to make fun of them in fact, because everybody knew that Windows computers ran all of the most popular software.

Well, I went back and bought the iPod Mini, later to be renamed the Nano.  Then, within a couple of short months, I was back in the store.  This time I walked out with a dual processor Mac G5.  Gradually, I became converted.  Every night I started listening to podcasts about the latest Mac rumors.  And I bought Apple stock –  for $43.00 a share.

In that summer of 2005, one of the rumors was that Apple might come out with a video iPod.  Most of the media people doubted it would happen.  Steve Jobs didn’t think anybody would watch video on an iPod.

Fast forward to 2010.  Microsoft, Dell, Sony, Google, and lots of other companies have tried to outdo Apple, or at least catch up with them in innovative product design.  A recent survey found that 22% of Blackberry users want an iPhone.

After the Kindle came out, people began asking if Apple would  develop an electronic book reader.  Most of the media said it would never happen.  Steve Jobs allegedly said that people don’t read enough books.  Now, this weekend the iPad will be released.  It’s a heck of a lot more than a book reader.  It’s a whole new category of touch screen portable device.  Its most popular use probably hasn’t even been discovered yet.  Who ever heard of Facebook five years ago?

So, where will Apple be five years from now?  It’s hard to know for sure, but this week they passed Walmart in total market capitalization.  Some of the things that are coming are pretty interesting.  The Internet may be 100 times faster.  Computers and other devices will zap data back and forth wirelessly.  In the  spring of 2015, people will be lined up around the block at Apple stores all over the world, wanting to be among the first to get “it.”  Whatever “it” turns out to be.

I still remember the panic that I felt that first May afternoon in 2005 when I opened up that big Mac G5 computer.  I couldn’t find my installation disk with all the instructions and software drivers to get my Internet connection set up.  So, I called my nephew who is from an entire Mac family.

He just laughed. “Uncle Bill!”  he insisted.  “You don’t need a software installation disk.  With a Mac you just turn it on and everything works.”  I still use windows every day, but only to look out at the trees, the flowers, and the clouds.

Delicious Homemade Bread

Posted February 6, 2010 by Bill Oakey
Categories: General Fun

If anybody likes homemade bread as much as I do, you should check this out.  I’ve been enjoying it a lot lately, and you won’t believe how easy it is.  I am using a Panasonic bread maker that I got from Amazon.com.  All you have to do is buy Krusteaz bread mixes at the grocery store.  They come in several flavors, including sourdough and cracked wheat.  I’ve tried both of those and they’re fantastic!

Just dump the bread mix into the bread maker’s pan and put in a cup of water.  Close the lid and then pour the package of yeast into the cup on top of the lid.  That’s all there is to it.  Just press the Start button, and within about an hour, you’ll be treated to the wonderful smell of homemade bread.  It takes 4 hours for it to finish.  If you want it hot and ready for breakfast, you can set the timer to have it done first thing in the morning

Of course the bread maker comes with several recipes for making it from scratch. There again, you don’t have to do anything manually.  Just measure the ingredients and dump then into the pan. One little tip.  Place the bread maker on a solid surface, like directly on your kitchen counter.  If you put it on a thin cutting board (like I did once) it might vibrate and shift, and could fall off the counter.

Here’s a link to the bread maker I got on Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-SD-YD250-Automatic-Bread-Maker/dp/B00005QFL0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1265502907&sr=8-1

And here’s a link to the types of bread mixes from Krusteze:

http://www.continentalmills.com/brands/krusteaz/bread_machine_mixes/

Who’s Driving Your Car?

Posted February 5, 2010 by Bill Oakey
Categories: Tech World

Until all the recent news stories about Toyotas with acceleration problems and brake problems, I never realized how overpowering computer software  is in making a car go these days.  No wonder the guys who grew up with cars as a hobby can no longer look under the hood and fix anything.

Just try to imagine as you are barreling down the highway at 70 miles per hour that Microsoft Internet Explorer is about as reliable as the innards of your hifalutin’ jalopy.  You turn onto a neighborhood street after exiting the highway.  It’s been raining just long enough to make the roads perilously slick.  You start to skid and suddenly you slam on the brakes.  Well guess what?  Those brakes do not engage or fail to engage because some guy with grease on his hands put in a mechanical device and tested it to make sure it worked.  No, what determines your ability to stop is a few million – yes I said million – lines of software code.  According to the New York Times, it’s up to 100 million!

Each computer in a car is called an electronic control unit, and there are about 30 of them in a modern car, more than in some jet fighters.  The recent Toyota problems which have led to serious injury and death worldwide are probably just symptoms of a much bigger problem waiting to happen.  Not only do all of the millions of lines of computer code have to be written correctly, each of the 30 separate computers in your car has to communicate with each other precisely and accurately.

So, from now on just remember.  Whenever you get behind the wheel of a car, drunk or sober, it isn’t really you who’s doing the driving.  Every turn of the wheel, tap of the foot, or finger on a button triggers a whole mess of interwoven lines of software code.  If any of it gets fouled up, sort of like the tangled heap of twisted lines on a fishing reel if your cast is off, then all the computers under the hood and in the trunk will have a quick little chat to decide what happens to you and your car.

And once you back the car out of your garage, you don’t get a chance to plug it into the Internet when Microsoft issues the latest round of updates for Patch Tuesday. That only happens if enough people complain after they leave the hospital, and the car company agrees to do a recall.  In the meantime, happy commuting in your computers on wheels.  (I don’t even own one of the things)!

Here are two interesting New York Times articles on this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/technology/05electronics.html

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/02/04/business/AP-US-TEC-Toyota-Car-Electronics.html

Are You Ready for the iPad?

Posted February 5, 2010 by Bill Oakey
Categories: Tech World

The world of tech is about to change again next month when Apple releases the new iPad tablet.  From the reviews so far, it looks like a giant iPhone with a super fast processor.  The demos make it appear pretty snazzy at delivering books, videos, and all of the apps available for the iPhone.

But there are a couple of interesting questions to ask about it.  What will it be used for?  Put even better, what would you use it for?  That is my question for all of you blog readers.   If an iPad dropped into your lap today, what wold you use it for?

For portability, we use laptops and smartphones to check email and surf the web.  So, does the iPad fill a real need, or is it a solution waiting for somebody to tell us what the problem is.  People don’t watch a lot of videos on the go, although short clips might be nice and even a TV show or movie in the back seat of the car might be handy on a road trip.

It may turn out that the iPad is evolutionary as much as it is revolutionary.  What sets it apart from other so-called netbooks is the touch screen interface.  If you are used to tapping on an iPhone, then using the iPad would not require any new training.  In fact a larger keyboard would be quite pleasant since it would be so much easier to type and there would be fewer mistakes.

But here is Apple’s dilemma as I see it.  They are hoping that the newspaper and magazine industry will jump at the chance to sell subscriptions for the iPad.  But if readership is falling for the print versions, and they’ve been available free online for about 15 years, why would people want to pay for a half dozen or more subscriptions?  Sure the layout would be snazzy, but people who read online are comfortable with their bookmarked news sites.  If those are suddenly taken away, how many people would pay a monthly rate for any newspaper?  I doubt if I would.

The Kindle has proven that people will read books on a portable device.  So, there is a market there, but hiking the price to $15 for new books sounds a little steep.  My guess is that there is a lot of dreaming out there about cashing in on online media sales.

My final thought is that the iPad by itself would be a fun thing to play with.  But its ongoing usefulness will depend on the applications that become popular.  That and the question of whether people would rather run those applications, be they games or browsers or social networking apps, on an iPad badly enough to want to buy one.

Let me know your thoughts.  This will be interesting to watch as it unfolds.

A Music Lover’s Dream

Posted January 26, 2010 by Bill Oakey
Categories: Music

Some of you may have thought about digitizing your music collection.  You can do that quite easily by importing CD’s to your iTunes library.  And even digitizing old LP’s and 45 RPM records is a lot easier than you think.

I have done all of that and I recently discovered a fabulous tool that makes listening to music a dream come true.  It’s a gadget called the Squeezebox Duet.  This is a device that lets you play your music wirelessly from your computer.  It comes with a small receiver that plugs into your stereo system with standard audio cables.  The other piece is a handheld controller that works like an iPod.  Only it’s a whole lot better!

First of all, let me tell you that the Squeezebox Duet is on sale at Amazon.com for only $299, which is almost one-third off the list price, plus no sales tax and free shipping.   I got mine about a week ago, and I’m still marveling over all the things it can do.

Imagine you are sitting on the couch, reading a magazine or the newspaper.  You want to put on some music.  In the old days, you would have walked over to a shelf full of CD’s and rummaged through them to try to find something.  Or, before that you would have picked out a stack of LP’s, dusted them off, and put them on the record player.

With the Squeezebox, here’s how cool it gets.  You grab the controller and scroll through the Artist list.  Pick out and album and hit the Play button.  It starts instantly.  Then, you decide what you want to play next.  Pick out another album and hit the Plus button.  Boom, you’ve just added a second album to your Now Playing List.  It’s that simple.  Now just relax and enjoy the music.  The sound quality is superb, much better than you get from an iPod dock.

Let’s say you are planning a party and you want some good music to entertain your friends.  Before they arrive, you can quickly pick out a few hours worth of fun music, to be played in whatever order you want.  Let’s say you want a mixture of Jazz and Pop.  And you want the songs to be shuffled at random.  Just go to the Genres menu and check off Jazz and Pop.  Then hit Random Mix, Songs, and Play.  That’s all there is to it.

The device offers just about every flexible option you can think of.  It’s like having an electronic jukebox at your fingertips.  All of your iTunes playlists are available.  And you can create your own playlists from the controller.  If you pick out a group of songs, albums, or a combination of both, and you decide to save that set as a new playlist, you can do that with just a few clicks.  And of course you can play every song by a single artist if you wish, right from the Artist menu.

And if that isn’t cool enough, you get free access to dozens of Internet radio stations.  You can punch them up just as easily and control the music in amazing ways.  All of your local radio stations are there, plus every style you can think of over Internet radio.  Last night I was listening to Slacker Radio.  I had already saved it to my Favorites menu, so it was easy to find.  But after a couple of good songs, they played one I didn’t like.  So, just for the heck of it, I tried hitting the Skip button.  Believe it or not, it jumped to another song instantly!

Yes, there are even apps for the Squeezebox.  On their website, you can select from a number of free apps that give you radio stations that you can customize to suit your style.   And there are apps that give you an interesting array of daily and weekly podcasts.

So, you need not be stuck in front of a computer or music player to control your music.  Nor do you have to get up and go to the iPod dock and change selections.  It’s all right there at your fingertips.  And, if you hear a song that you don’t recognize, just grab the controller and read the title and artist name, even from a local radio station.  And did I forget to mention?  If you like a song, the Amazon.com MP3 store is only a couple of clicks away.  Like I said, the Squeezebox is a music lover’s dream.