MS150 – why I ride

Its that time of year again. I am beginning my fund raising for the MS-150. Its a ride that supports research into treatments and cures for MS, and helps to provide support for those living with the disease. I thought it might make sense to talk about why I am riding this year.

Last year was the first year that I rode for this cause. It started out as an invitation from my brother-in-law. He and his wife had started riding and had a group that they were riding with. They knew that I used to ride and it would be a good opportunity to do something together. When I first heard about them doing it, I wasn’t sure that I could make the time. We had two children and another due any time.

I decided, at the prompting of my lovely bride, to commit to it. I paid my money and set out to train for it. About ten years ago, I picked up riding and wanted to ride in the MS-150 but never got to the point where I could ride that distance. My training was haphazard and really more of a way to burn off stress from work. Last year was different. In the intervening years, I matured as a person and because of my time constraints, I realized that I needed to have a structured plan in order to be able to handle the rigors of the event. With less than 16 weeks to prepare, it was an effort, since I didn’t know what I was doing, had a new baby and limited time.

I managed to get it together and finish the event. With the generous support of my family and friends, we were able to raise over $1,300 dollars for the cause. At the event they had a couple of speakers that spoke about how all of the funds that were raised impacted the lives of people in a very real way. It started off as a way to get fit and do something with my family and became a way to help other people. What more can you ask for?

After spending a year riding, I also noticed that I felt better, my mood was improved and I had found a way to reduce stress. This year, I started much earlier in the year to train for the event. Now that I know that I can finish, my goal is to improve my performance: both in terms of the actual event and the fund raising for the cause.

I don’t have a story of how my life was impacted by MS. I am fortunate in that respect. As far as I know, there is only one person in all of my family, friends and co-workers that has the disease. I did find that when people donated, they shared with me how their lives have been impacted by loved ones with MS. This helped with the feeling that this is a concrete way that I can try to help to make the world a better place for a lot of people in this one area. From what I have read, there is a lot of promising research in this area and I really think that it my donation to this organization makes a real difference.

So, lets be honest, the primary reason that I ride is because I enjoy it. But in doing something that I enjoy, I can help others. There is no direct impact to me, but there is a real impact to others. I hope that you will help me with a donation this year. A link to my fund raising page is here. Anything you can donate would be appreciated.

iPad, the first week

Okay, I’ve had the iPad a little over a week now. Its been a lot of fun. I’ve been reading a book, watched some Netflix and videos, listened to music, etc. There are things that it is definitely good for, and things that it needs work in. I’m going to try to summarize my experience.

I love catching up on my RSS feeds with it. I’ve used Google Reader and my iPhone for this for a while. It worked well with those tools. With the iPad it is much better. The larger screen really works for it. I can get through hundreds of news items in a pretty short period of time and keep up on what is going on in the world. This is definitely an area where it works.

A related note is reading websites. I prefer to browse on this more than anything I’ve used before. Note, that is BROWSING, not doing research. If I need to have multiple pages open or do comparisons, that isn’t the sweet spot, but puttering around is great. Another area that is awesome.

You may know that we spent some time in the ER last week with one of the kids. Hanging out can be a pain, but having instant access to movies and videos was cool. Gina, Ripley and I were able to all watch the screen and keep occupied while we waited a couple of hours to resolve the situation. Without it, it would have been a painful evening.

Reading books, playing games, working with Evernote, are all great uses for this as well. The list goes on. There are however areas that it isn’t as great.

There are times that I struggle with not having always-on Internet access. I really don’t think it will be an issue once the “shiny” wears off and I don’t want to pick it up every 5 minutes to do something. I am in a stage of figuring out its place.

The Apple Work suite is also not quite baked yet. Its nice to be able to pull in Office documents and take them with you. Even the ability to modify them is nice. What isn’t nice is the stripping of functionality from the docs when you import them. That kind of sucks. Having access has been awesome, but I want more.

Also lacking is a really good note taking application. Evernote is good in some ways, but I’d love to see bullet lists and formatting options. I’ve seen a couple of alternatives, but none really speaks to me. It needs to have an easy way to get content on and off the device and rich formatting for meeting notes, etc.

I’d also like to see a drawing program that can read and write Visio docs. We use it heavily at work, and it is a pain not to have access to it. That is probably the biggest thing lacking. I have drawing programs and Visio-like programs, but nothing that is compatible.

Most of my issues will be resolved as apps mature. Overall I love it. I wouldn’t give it up. I am looking forward to a plane trip so I can try it out.

iPad impressions

So, I’ve had the iPad for one day, almost exactly. I haven’t had as much time to use it as I’d hoped because I’m a parent 🙂

FIrst impression is that the device is a great size. It is big enough to be useful and small enough to carry around. It will necessitate a bag if I am leaving the house with it, but it that generally isn’t a problem.

The screen is awesome with some minor annoyances. You’ve got a great viewing angle so more than one person can watch a movie at once. I played a couple of games with the kids and it was good because we could all see and participate. The biggest issue that I have with the screen is that it is VERY glossy. It shows every fingerprint and gets glare in the light. I think this would be easily fixed with a matte screen or a screen protector, which I planned on getting anyway.

The apps that are out for the device so far are good for the most part. I’m really looking forward to seeing how I can use it at work for taking notes, working on documents/presentations and possibly as a notebook replacement in many instances. The Citrix client is very exciting, provided that I can attach it to the network at work. That will be a conversation to have with the appropriate network and security people.

The biggest thing that I was looking forward to was the eReader. I have a Sony Reader that I’ve used for several years now. The ePaper is a great interface for reading a book, and was interested in how the iPad display compared. So far I’ve been impressed with iBooks and the interface. It is very pretty and easy to read content.

The biggest complaint that I have is with the lack of titles in the store. I am really disappointed that I couldn’t get “Diamond Age” for it, just because it seems appropriate to read that book on a computer 🙂 Sony had the same problem early on, and I hope that Apple will continue to get titles loaded. I tried the Kindle reader on the iPad and it is nice, but nowhere near as user friendly as the iBook reader.

I would love for the players to get together to have a standard for content, so I can buy content at multiple locations. Then pick the reader application that makes the most sense for how I read. This could be different for everyone, and the advantage to the iPad is you can have multiple readers, just for now each one in a ghetto for the sellers content.

Overall, I’m impressed. There are annoyances but most of them are minor or easily addressable. The bigger issues won’t be resolved for a while. To quote Ferris Bueller, “if you have the means, I highly recommend it”