Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Blog!

Due to several major life changes that are in the works, I've decided to start up an entirely new blog to document adventures in uncharted territory: Freestyle Home & Life. The main topics there will be pregnancy, homeownership, and eventually parenthood, as told from a learn-as-you-go newbie perspective.

Due to this blogging change, I don't expect to post very much here at My Way or the Pie Way anymore. (I may eventually attempt to export the content built up here to the new blog, although since the themes are somewhat different, it may not be as sensible or organized a solution as simply leaving this here as an archive.)

Anyway, that's the big announcement -- click here to check out the new blog in all its glory!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Google Chrome's New Icon

When I started up Google Chrome today, I was a little surprised to see that the icon had changed. Apparently Google has decided that it was in need of a redesign, but I'm honestly a little puzzled by this move. Have a look at this "before and after" image:

After a quick search of the internet, it seems that opinions vary on the redesign, but personally this strikes me as a step backward. The old icon looked polished and professional, while the new one just looks flat and faded. Overall, it looks to me a bit like something a middle school student might throw together.

But here's what Google has to say about this redesign:

Since Chrome is all about making your web experience as easy and clutter-free as possible, we refreshed the Chrome icon to better represent these sentiments. A simpler icon embodies the Chrome spirit — to make the web quicker, lighter, and easier for all.

A lovely sentiment, to be sure, but I just don't think they hit the nail on the head with this redesign -- simplification and clutter reduction doesn't need to look this bland. In the future, I hope they end up tweaking the icon in a way that sticks to their stated principles while also providing something a bit more aesthetically appealing.

How likely is this to happen? I'm not sure, but it brings to mind another example of how Google hasn't always gotten its redesign right on the first shot. Google's favicon took a few attempts to get right, as the following image demonstrates:

(Image credit: Search Engine Land.) If I'm not mistaken, the favicon on the far left was around for quite a while before 2007; in 2008, they replaced it with a bland and over-simplified blue g. Less than a year later, they came out with the current favicon, which kept the g while also beautifully capturing Google's iconic colors, and which they've kept around ever since.

Even though Google is generally known for its barebones aesthetic, I appreciate the effort they put into these little design-y things, and hopefully they'll eventually get it right with the Chrome icon.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Experiences with the Amazon Kindle

Back in February, my husband and I decided to get Kindles -- specifically the "all new" Amazon Kindle 3. It wasn't exactly an easy decision. Both of us have always enjoyed browsing in the book stores, and both of us cherish the collection of titles lovingly organized on our bookshelves. But over time, the allure of the e-reader slowly drew us in.

It's been a few months now, and I've had a chance to read a few books on the Kindle. I feel like I've had enough time to get comfortably acquainted with the device, and so I figured I would write up a review -- what I consider to be the good and bad aspects of the Amazon Kindle based on my experiences with it so far.

I'll start by saying that, from the beginning, I've found the Kindle to be incredibly comfortable to use. By this, I don't just mean that it's comfortable visually, although to me the fancy "e-ink" technology is all but indistinguishable from text printed on paper.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wuthering Heights

I first read this book in a high school English class, and I remember having mixed feelings about it then: the story and the characters intrigued me, but I found the reading to be difficult and tedious. Still, the book persisted in my memory for a long time.

So when I was looking for something to read on my new Kindle -- more on that shiny device coming soon in a future blog post -- I realized that a lot of the classics were freely available for download through Project Gutenberg, and Wuthering Heights naturally caught my eye. So I downloaded it and began reading.

The first thing I noticed, to my surprise and delight, was that the text didn't seem difficult or tedious at all. I guess that's what an extra ten years of education and life experience will do for you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To Rent Or To Own?

Keep renting that apartment, or buy your own place? It's a question that seems to have many conflicting answers, and a question that I suspect is particularly common among newlywed couples first starting to build a life together.

My husband and I are at that stage in our married life. We're gearing up to start expanding our family soon, and our one-bedroom basement apartment just isn't going to be enough. Not too long ago, I blogged about how we briefly considered renting another place, and even went around looking at some apartments, before deciding that we'd rather save up for a place of our own.

But what exactly was the logic behind our decision? In this post, I'm going to look at the arguments for owning vs. renting, and the things we took into account when considering this important question about our future.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Biased Fox News Coverage of the Madison Wisconsin Protests

Yesterday, I traveled the 150 miles from Chicago to Madison Wisconsin to participate the rally to support the unions. This was for two general reasons: (1) I'm married to a union man, and (2) I strongly believe that Governor Walker's anti-union bill is a load of despicable nonsense that deserves to be slapped down, publicly and repeatedly.

But since I haven't blogged very much about my political views so far, I figured that any soapboxing about unions and the role they should play in a healthy democracy would be best saved for a future post. In this one, I'm going to recount my own experiences at the rally, and its subsequent coverage by the media.

Several things struck me upon my arrival in Madison: it was cold, it was snowing, and there were a lot of people.

It was really an incredible sight: thousands of people waving handmade signs as they swarmed through the streets and surrounded the capitol building, some passionate, some angry, but all completely civil and completely nonviolent. They marched, they chanted, they sang. As one of the oft-repeated lines went, "This is what democracy looks like."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

As suggested by some of my previous posts on this blog (and particularly this book review), evolution is a topic that I find to be very interesting. By extension, I'm also very interested by the similarities between humans and other species on this planet, and articles about dolphin communication and chimpanzee tool use fascinate me to no end. And so when I heard about this book, I was very much intrigued.

The premise: this novel is narrated in the first person by a chimpanzee named Bruno who learns human language, and it purports to tell the story of how he went from living in a zoo, to living in human society, to living in captivity again. That premise alone was enough to persuade me to pick this book up, and I fully expected to enjoy it.