internet withdrawal and productivity

I don’t mean to sound too entitled by this post, but my apartment’s internet is still not working and it is annoying.  While it is nice that I now have an excuse to go to Chick-Fil-A or Starbucks to get WiFi, with the amount of study abroad logistics I have to take care of via the internet, my wallet is already feeling the pain of needing to travel for internet access.

I have had to prioritize my time at hotspots.  In times of plentiful internet, I waste so much time every day reading random blogs and refreshing my email inbox.  In contrast, over the past few days, I’ve been making to-do lists specifically for those precious few hours during which I have internet access. I’m not going to spend all day at Starbucks just to play flash games.  I have other things to do and places to go.  Git ‘er done.  And I may still end up with a million tabs open on my browser, but they are for productive websites.

me being productive with internet connectivityPictured:  simulation of productivity on the internet.  (Tip: Softwareaktualisierung means Software Update.  I switched my computer back to German a few weeks ago and love it.)

This situation reminds me of the days when my family had one wired internet connection, and I would wait all evening after school for my dad to finish doing such boring things as checking his email so I could make puzzles on Puzzlemaker or feed my Neopet.  (Remember Neopets?)  But now that I actually have adult responsibilities to take care of and connections to maintain and college logistics to sort out, internet access is actually something vital and waiting for it is more urgent.

My internetting strategy has changed over the past few days.  When going somewhere for WiFi, I get online, go through my emails in triage mode, look up any information I’ll need offline, wish people happy birthday on Facebook, open iTunes and download any important iOS app updates, sync my Wunderlist and Evernote and Dropbox and BibleReader and ReadItLater, check for computer software updates.  One last look at my email to tie up whatever loose ends I can, and I head out a couple of hours after I got my coffee and got online.  This process, of course, varies somewhat, but I’ve been far more productive with each hour of my internet access over the past few days than I am when I have access to reliable WiFi at home.

Being the dork that I am, I can see this as being a useful productivity tool.  During the academic year, it is far too easy to get online to check something on WolframAlpha for my homework and end up reading Apple rumor blogs or opening twenty tabs clicking on inline links on Wikipedia or TVTropes. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this before, but blocking my internet for all but a few hours per day could be helpful on particularly bad homework days or during finals.

Looking back at the content of this post, I can be thankful that I don’t have a smartphone with 3G yet.  Always connected to the internet. All the time.  When can you actually be productive?

one more month

In one month, I will be frantically packing last-minute items into the few bags that will contain my life for the next year or so.  On August 26th, I will board a plane to Iceland.  From there, I connect to a plane headed to Germany.

 

And then the whirlwind adventure begins.  wheeee!

sunrise at topsail

To continue with the Laura-doing-things-really-early-in-the-morning theme, I watched a beautiful sunrise at Topsail Island in Surf City, NC yesterday.  Makes me wish I had been to Topsail Island’s beach sooner.  So pretty!

jimmy with the sunrise in the background being dramaticJimmy liked Topsail too.

my red scion xb parked at topsail island. i love that car.

The parking at Topsail is free. Which is an excuse to post a picture of my car.  🙂

But you’re reading this with the intent of looking at beach pictures.  I have plenty of those. 186 of them.  (I’m not posting all of them, though.)

picture of beach taken a few minutes before the sun roseAnyone familiar with Topsail Island beach enough to know why those two poles are there?  Never did figure that out.

sun reflecting off the water, partially obscured by cloudsWilmington has had thunderstorms recently, so there were a few clouds.  Which made it prettier, IMO.  Love the colors!

waves coming in after sun has risenMore pretty colors.

sun reflecting off of water and seafoamThis is possibly my favorite picture out of the ones I took.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them!

list: nine fun things to do while waiting for lion to finish downloading

Lion.  King of the OSes.  Rawr.Those of you who know me well know I like Macs.  I’ve been pretty pumped about Mac OS X Lion for the last few weeks, and since it was finally released on the App Store today, it is currently downloading on my computer.

Yep, downloading.  No DVD’s this time.  The installer is around 4GB, and I only started the download around an hour ago. So, for the next six hours and three minutes–no, make that five hours, forty-two minutes–no, actually six hours and 38 minutes–whatever–I wait.  And make lists, such as

nine fun things to do while waiting for lion to finish downloading 

  1. Blog.
  2. Go to Wal-Mart and see how many of the 101 Fun Things to Do at Wal-Mart you can accomplish. (http://chainletters.net/chainletters/101-fun-things-to-do-at-walmart/)
  3. Organize the icons on your desktop and in your downloads folder. Marvel at all of the strange things you downloaded over the past few months/years. (Strangest downloaded file I have found so far: Fingerpinger (http://www.anyma.ch/2009/research/multitouch-external-for-maxmsp/), a fun little app that tracks your fingers on your Mac’s trackpad and makes noise.)
  4. Walk around the neighborhood practicing your roar.  This is Lion, after all.
  5. Dig through old logs in the Console app (Applications>Utilities>Console.app).  Did you know that software updates use a utility called “shove”?  Well now you do.
  6. Sync those fancy cloud apps one last time.  Gotta make sure that your Wunderlist and Dropbox and Evernote data is actually on those big servers in the sky.
  7. Public Service Announcement Bonus Item: BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE.  Like going to the dentist, it may not be as fun as organizing your desktop icons, but it is good for you.  Apple makes great operating systems, but things can still go wrong.
  8. Make cookies (the edible kind, not the internet kind), then go up to your roommates and do your best Cookie Monster impression.  OM NOM NOM.
  9. Make lists.

Comment to add your suggestions to this list!

DISCLAIMER: I did not do all of these, and I don’t condone doing offensive/bad things at Wal-Mart. Or anywhere else, really.  Do those at your own risk.  Or just go bake cookies instead.  Everyone likes cookies. 

natural fireworks, sort of

I did something fun on my day off of work for July 4th. Though it was a day off from work, I decided to not sleep in. Instead, I drove to the beach in the dark to watch the sun rise. It wasn’t quite the National Geographic-esque show I expected, but it was pretty. Here are some pictures I took (no, I’m not posting all 160 of them. Yes, I took that many pictures. The beach was pretty photogenic.)

Guy with a metal detector looking for tin cans and metal stuff at the beach at sunrise

A dude looking for buried treasure or tin cans. The sun had only just become visible; before this, it was hidden behind ocean haze.

Overturned beach chair at beach with pier in the background

Sad-looking abandoned beach chair.  Aww.

Seagull being pretty and looking at the camera so I could take a picture of it in front of the sunrise

Silhouetted seagull standing in the sunrise.  Say that five times fast.

Seagull flying away from the camera, with seafoam in the background

I took a lot of seagull pictures.  This gull was tired of my one-woman Paparazzi act.

Sun rising behind pier at Wrightsville Beach

This pier is actually attached to a building housing a swanky restaurant. I haven’t eaten there, though.  Not yet.

Sun rising over the water at the beach

Picture of the sun rising, with someone boating in the background.

I hope to do this at another beach or two before I leave Wilmington.  With my sleep schedule, I’m not sure that will happen, but we’ll see.  This beach trip, at least, was definitely worth waking up at 5.

photoblogging is fun

I have an Instagram account. The Instagram app lets me take pictures with my iPod and then apply pretty filters to them. So I have decided to start posting some of those pictures here.

20110716-111106.jpgThis is a picture of my dad photographing a chameleon at the Cotton Exchange ice cream shop in Wilmington, NC. My parents had come to visit me for a weekend, so we went to the Cotton Exchange, which is essentially a shopping mall of local businesses. We bought a few souvenirs at a pottery shop and then decided it was time for ice cream. This chameleon apparently also thought it was time for ice cream. My dad had a lot of fun sneaking up on the little guy to get pictures.

On a different topic, I need ideas for a name for my little travel buddy here. He is a teensy pocket-sized garden gnome.

20110716-111731.jpgAny ideas? He’ll give you a cute little flower if you give him a name. Or rather, he would if the flower were not permanently attached to his hand. Aww. Poor little guy.

 

UPDATE: The gnome’s name is now Jimmy.  In an earlier version of the post, I tried to write the word “him,” and spell-check corrected whatever typo I made into “Jim” instead.  But I think he’s more of a Jimmy.  Thanks, spell check!

learning about long-term life in germany

In late August I will be flying to Germany for a year-long study abroad.  I’m getting pretty excited–and pretty nervous.  Nervous enough that I’m looking at culture-adjustment websites in an attempt to avoid most faux-pas.  Here are some of the interesting/fun things I am discovering:

(Disclaimer:  No offense meant to anyone with my list here; I just think these are interesting, not necessarily bad.  Also, if I am incorrect in any of the items on this list, please let me know.  I am learning most of these from german-way.com, which seems reliable from what I already know about Germany.)

  • In Germany, drinking tap water is apparently considered weird, even though the tap water is perfectly potable.  Instead, if they drink water, they generally drink carbonated water (Mineralwasser).  I have been trying to learn over the past few weeks how to drink carbonated water without getting disgusted by the taste and have made some meager amount of progress, but that’s another post.
  • In Germany (and probably other parts of the world, I guess?), Gmail is called Google Mail.  So instead of yourusername@gmail.com, your email would be yourusername@googlemail.com.  But guess what?  I just emailed my Gmail username @googlemail.com and it went to my Gmail inbox.  So it appears that if you have a Gmail username, you can use that username with either @gmail.com or @GoogleMail.com.
  • There are about three bagillion versions of Santa Claus in German-speaking countries, or so says http://german-way.com/christmas-nikolaus_2.html.  I’m pretty sure I will get them all mixed up if I have to remember more than just Der Weihnachtsmann, but I’m sure Santa is nice enough to not mind too much.  Most of the Weihnachtsmänner seem to be regional variations on the same Christmas-related symbolic person.
  • This website (http://www.stil.de/) is apparently the German equivalent of Ms. Manners.  I wish I had discovered this earlier, since now I’m not sure I have time to learn all of it, but better late than never, right?
  • The electrical outlets in Germany not only have different-shaped prongs than in the USA–they often are recessed into the wall.  (So I actually learned this the hard way while visiting some friends in Germany a few years ago.  Tried to use a voltage adaptor that was way too wide to fit into the recessed outlet, so the prongs couldn’t reach the holes, even though they were the right shape.  No electronics or people were harmed, thankfully.)
  • Frankfurt’s airport lists flight regulations for the randomest items (http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/content/frankfurt_airport/en/checkin_luggage/hand_luggage/overview_of_items0.html).  Some items of interest:  Face Water and Pudding.
  • This page (http://www.frankfurt-airport.com/content/frankfurt_airport/en/directions_parking/bicycles.html) links to a site that has a route planner if you want to bike to the Frankfurt airport and watch planes take off and land. Sounds fun to me.  Now I just need to make sure I remember how to ride a bike…
  • McDonald’s coffee options, called McCafé, appear to have a larger selection in Germany and may even be standalone shops in some cases (can anyone confirm this?).  Yay coffee!  (http://german-way.com/photos-berlin-germany-06.html)  Also, Starbucks is apparently pretty common.  Again, yay coffee!
  • There is a castle near the university at which I will be studying.  Castles are not uncommon in Germany.  Both of those facts are awesome.

It’s hard for me to believe that I will be getting on a plane to Germany in less than two months.  To stay for a year.  I’m excited.  🙂