Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth

July 19, 2005

Cat Photos Make Me Homesick

Filed under: Our Cats — Andy Carvin @ 10:45 am

In case you can’t tell from my recent posts, I’m having a blast in Ghana – a marvelous, friendly country. Having said that, with all the travel I’m doing, there’s nothing like a photo emailed from home to make you homesick. To wit, this just came from Susanne:
dizzy sits on a book
As you can see, our cat Dizzy is making it rather difficult for Susanne to do some research. Wish I could be there to distract him for her. Oh well; next week, I guess. -andy

June 11, 2005

Our Cats Are Now Wikipedians

Filed under: Our Cats — Andy Carvin @ 10:06 am
dizzy

Okay, I admit that the title of this blog entry is a bit misleading, since it suggests that our cats Winston and Dizzy are now contributors to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. (That’s not to say they’re not smart enough to contribute – they are – but like most cats they simply choose not to participate in such activities.) Nonetheless, Winston and Dizzy are now Wikipedians in the sense that they’re contributing to the knowledge of the universe by contributing photos of themselves to the site.
I’d been browsing around Wikipedia and somehow found my way to the bicolor cat page. They showed a picture of Bill Clinton’s former cat, Socks, but I was surprised by the general lack of comparison shots of other tuxedo cats, since tuxedoes are the best known bicolor cats. So I looked around on my laptop and found a good picture of Dizzy and added him to the page.

winston

Meanwhile, over at the tabby cat page, I was surprised that they talked about the classic “M” pattern on some tabby foreheads yet they didn’t show a good example of it. As it turns out, our tabby Winston has a wonderful M on his forehead. So after another quick search I found a cool picture of him in which the M shows up quite well.
Is this parental pride? Perhaps. Okay, sure it is. Nonetheless, it just so happens that our two cats are classics for their particular varieties. So what they heck? Might as well show them off in Wikipedia — at least until some other proud parent puts their cats’ pics in and tries to swap out our boys. That could get really ugly really fast…. -andy

June 5, 2005

Cats Love Air Conditioning

Filed under: Our Cats — Andy Carvin @ 4:13 pm

Today the temperature in Boston reached towards 90 degrees, after weeks of weather in which it rarely climbed higher than 55 degrees. Susanne and I spent part of the afternoon re-installing our air conditioner, which was much appreciated by our cat Winston. Winnie’s spent the entire afternoon napping on a table five feet from the AC, getting the best seat in the house for a blast of cold air.
winston naps

May 5, 2005

Testing My New Digital Camera

Filed under: Our Cats,Personal News — Andy Carvin @ 2:15 pm

Yesterday, I received my new digital camera in the mail. It’s a Minolta DiMage A-200, an 8.0 megapixel camera with an optical zoom of 28-200mm and a digital zoom that goes to 800mm. I’m planning to use it on my upcoming trip to Hungary, as well as on trips to Dubai and elsewhere in the coming months.
It’s strange handling a camera again that’s shaped like a traditional 35mm SLR camera; for the last couple of years I’ve been using a small Canon digital camera after having used a 35mm Canon EOS Rebel for many years. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to hold a large camera. On the whole I like the feel of it but it will take some getting used to.
In terms of features, the camera has a cool anti-shake mechanism: the CCD chip that captures the digital image floats on gimbles that automatically adjust to movement. While it’s not exactly like having a SteadiCam for your camera, it does reduce image shake and lets you take pics at slower speeds. Last night I took some pics indoors at 1/20th of a second and was amazed they weren’t really blurry. The camera has two digital screens: a large one in the back that pops out and rotates 180 degrees so you can take self-portraits easily, and a digital viewfinder that you can see by placing you eye directly up to it.
It also captures video, which is a feature that will be great for video blogging. I love that I can manually zoom in and out while shooting a clip. My last digital camera wouldn’t let you zoom while videotaping, so I’m pretty pleased about this new feature.
I’ve put together a photo gallery of some of my first pictures with the A-200, taken yesterday evening and early this morning. There are a lot of pictures of my two cats, Dizzy and Winston, as well as some shots in my neighborhood, from the tulips and old piano that sit outside my apartment to the shop windows along Beacon Street. For those of you disinclined to click the link to the photo gallery, here are a few examples. I’ve scaled all the photos from their original 8 megapixel size to 800×600, to keep the bandwidth manageable… -andy

title

Winston takes a nap

winnie eyes

Close-up of Winnie’s eyes

old piano

Old Piano

Tulip

Tulip

water valve

Water Valve

March 14, 2005

Telecommuting Challenges

Filed under: Our Cats — Andy Carvin @ 2:37 pm

I’m very lucky in the sense that I get to telecommute on a regular basis. Having said that, there are times where working at home becomes difficult because of various obstacles to accessing my laptop. A case in point:
winston sits on my laptop winston sits on my laptop, closeup
Nothing like having a 20-pound feline deciding that your keyboard is more comfortable than that nice wicker bed we bought just for him. He must have really liked the vibrations from the Chemical Brothers playing in iTunes. -andy

February 20, 2005

How to Pack for Geneva and Mumbai in the Same Suitcase

Filed under: Our Cats,Personal News,Switzerland,Travel — Andy Carvin @ 2:55 pm
dizzy sleeps

Dizzy sleeps on my suit bag

It’s just before 3pm Boston time, and I’m off to the airport in less than two hours. My suit bag is sprawled across the bed right now, with layers of clothes on one side of it, and our cat Dizzy fast asleep on the other side of it. Meanwhile, our other cat Winston has decided to sleep on top of my winter coat, which I had folded up in anticipation of seeing if I could fit it into the bag as well. Both of the cats will soon have a rude awakening if I’m ever going to figure it out.
Packing for this trip has been more stressful than other business trips, since I will experience two temperature extremes on this trip: cold, occasionally wet Geneva and Paris, and hot, steamy India. Additionally, the dress code for India is somewhat more casual than the dress code for Geneva, leaving me with another layer of fashion algorithms to compute while packing. So unless I want to pack two separate suitcase for this trip (which I refuse on principal), I’m compromising and packing a lot of dress shirts and ties, leaving behind the suits I’d typically bring to a United Nations meeting and the lightest clothes I’d usually bring to an India meeting. The result, of course, may run counter to the fashion sense of everyone I meet on this trip, but at least I can still fit it all in one giant suit bag.
So if all goes well, I’ll get everything packed (except the cats, who will have to find other places to sleep), catch my flights to Paris and Geneva, and check into the Hotel Bernina before 12pm tomorrow. This should allow me to arrive at the WSIS Prepcom meeting just in time for tomorrow’s afternoon sessions. I just hope I manage to get some sleep on the plane; otherwise I will be a zombie tomorrow… -andy

December 2, 2004

Winnie the Pooh: Or, Getting Your Cats into the Holiday Spirit

Filed under: Our Cats,Personal News — Andy Carvin @ 8:45 am

Last weekend while Susanne and I were at Disney World in Florida, we purchased a medium-sized Winnie the Pooh doll. Unlike the vast majority of people who’ve bought the same doll, we didn’t buy it just for its cute looks or charm. We bought it for its orange sweater, misguided by the hope that it might actually fit our cat Winston. The results, to say the least, were mixed.

The temptation of getting Winston a Winnie the Pooh sweater had been intolerable. I mean, he’s a fat orange tabby nicknamed Winnie. If there’s any other creature, fictitious or otherwise, besides Winnie the Pooh that deserves to wear an orange sweater with the word “Pooh” emblazoned across the front, it’s our boy Winnie.

After we got home from Florida, we waited a couple of days before trying to put it on our chubby orange tabby. Though Winnie is always glad to see us when we return from a trip, sometimes he holds our travels against us; on more than one occasion I’ve been scratched by him during a surprise attack from behind. He’s probably just trying to remind us that he’s the boss in our apartment — either that, or he simply doesn’t like us being away from him for extended periods.

ANYWAY, we didn’t want to raise his ire by returning from a week-long trip and immediately decorating him with clothing, so we let 48 hours pass before giving it a shot. The first step was waiting for a moment when Winnie was really, really groggy. Winston is a 21-pound (nine kilo) cat, and he’s strong as all get-out, so it’s best not to put clothes on him when he’s very alert. Fortunately, being a cat, he sleeps 18 hours a day, so it didn’t take long before we found an opportune moment and stretched the sweater over his head.

Winnie the Pooh

As you can see from this picture, the sweater didn’t fit. Back in Florida we’d even taken the sweater off the doll to guess whether it would fit him or not, but we misjudged his unusual girth. Of course, the sweater was designed to fit a doll and not a cat, so we shouldn’t have been shocked when we discovered the sweater’s arm holes weren’t in the right place for his front paws. And when he wore the sweater without his paws fitting through, he kinda looked like he’d been in an industrial accident. Not the look we were going for.

Fortunately, our other cat, Dizzy, is much smaller than Winnie, and it was much easier to get the sweater on him. Unlike Winston, he hates wearing anything — collars, hats, vests, sweaters, you name it. So even though he looked adorable in the sweater, we had to take it off after a few seconds before it’d drive him crazy… -andy

Dizzy and Andy

October 13, 2004

Winston’s Revenge

Filed under: Our Cats,Video — Andy Carvin @ 9:47 am

An important lesson learned when it comes to cat ownership: shower your cats with affection, but for the love of God, don’t smother them with it.

A case in point. Be sure to watch the video until the very end – otherwise you’ll miss the punchline…. -andy

September 17, 2004

Our New Friend, The Roomba

Filed under: Our Cats,Personal News — Andy Carvin @ 10:35 am

roomba and winnie
Yesterday afternoon, it finally arrived: our first robot. Having grown up watching the Jetsons, I wondered how old I would be before I’d have my own Rosie the Robot, doing the dishes, cleaning the floors and dusting the china cabinet. For now, of course, I’ll have to keep waiting for that particular image of mechanical bliss to enter my life, but my new friend Roomba will tie me over quite well until that time comes.

For those of you who haven’t heard about the Roomba, it’s a stout, flying saucer-like robot vacuum. Created by a group of Cambridge whiz kids who’d previously contracted with the U.S. military to make mine sweeping robots, the Roomba is the mine sweeper’s peaceful, chore-loving cousin. The Roomba first came out at least a year ago, and the reviews were mixed: great idea, but it didn’t vacuum very well and had a habit of breaking. But now, several generations later, the latest addition to the Roomba dynasty has gotten hardier for the task, with a bigger dustbin and a stronger vacuum.

Our Roomba arrived yesterday, so we put it to the test. After a few hours’ charging, I put it in the center of the room and activated it. The little Roomba came alive, sweeping in a clockwise spiral motion. Our cats, Winston and Dizzy, immediately took notice; Susanne and I poured ourselves a glass of wine and waited to see what would happen next.

The Roomba soon banged into our coffee table — not a problem. Like a pinball hitting an electric wall, it careened off the table at an angle, heading in another direction. It managed to bang into every piece of furniture in our living room, but all the while it computed the size of the space. Soon, it began sweeping in long strokes across the floor, hugging the walls and the furniture, weaving its way through each room. All the while, our cats stalked our little motorized friend, Winston apparently more suspicious of its intentions than Dizzy. Winnie would maintain a reasonable distance, watching it alertly, while dizzy would occasionally forget it was coming right at him, leading to a couple of humorous, but harmless robot-feline collisions.

Considering the amount of cat hair we seem to have lying around because of the boys, the Roomba did a fine job vacuuming it up. Occasionally it would stumble upon a dust bunny in a corner, then would either drag it until it stuck on the carpet or blow it up in the air, but otherwise it managed to vacuum up what is was supposed to. It even picked up the bits of kibble that the cats had flicked across the kitchen floor. I was most impressed by its ability to go where no man had gone before — under our sofa and entertainment center, sucking up huge gobs of dust that had accumulated over months on end.

All and all, I think we’re going to get along with our Roomba just fine. I just wonder when our cats will get brave enough to pounce it…. -andy

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