Born With Talent

Are you born with talent or do you learn it?

I’ve been watching the progress of my girlfriend’s son.  We got him a guitar for Christmas 2 years ago.  Up until that point he hadn’t really played a musical instrument, but he showed the desire and always had a creative side to him.  He seemed to take naturally to it and each time I see him he has made tremendous progress.  He just has the knack to hear the music and reproduce it.  He got a drum-set this year (we celebrated last night) and the beats he’s putting down already show an amazing sense of timing.

I think computer programming is an art form as well, just as an artist with a brush, or a musician with his instrument.  I’ve met programmers who just have the ability to think logically.  As I TA’d in college I watched students who clearly did not have the knack, forcing themselves to take computer classes, not ever really getting “it”.  Perhaps they should have found their “born” talent and pursued that.

I believe we are each born with a “gift”, maybe multiple gifts.  Having parents and friends who help us recognize those gifts and cultivating them is a godsend.  My parents encouraged me to take things apart and see how they worked.  They bought me electronic kits, chemistry kits, etc.  I made “things” out of everyday “trash”. Thanks Mom and Dad!  My Dad is still a “tinkerer”.

I suppose talents can be learned, but I think those born with it excel at it.

To HP Or Not To HP

I’m writing this on my new HP laptop!

It’s been about 6 years since I had my last PC upgrade.  I’m going to be doing some development work on the side and needed a more powerful machine.  I serious debated getting a Mac Pro, but it would have cost double what I got this for (and this is a more powerful machine).  This still leaves me with the option of getting an iMac with the difference if I decide I want to do some iPhone development.

Now the LONG task of getting all my applications transferred over and finding serial numbers, etc.  64-bit Vista seems pretty nice so far.

Strand Dead Revisited

This last weekend I wrote a blog about our pre-lit Christmas tree. 2 sections of the lights refused to work, after going through EVERY bulb and checking it. My Mom told me about this product she had heard of, Light Keeper Pro.

So I bought one off the internet, somewhat skeptically.  It arrived today and was waiting on the door-step when I got home.  I hurriedly scarfed down my subway sandwich, took the trash out, fed the dog and then settled down to open the package.  Within minutes I was at the tree plugging the unit into one of the burned out strands.  3 clicks of the button later and the strand lit.  Wow!  So I tested it on the next strand, and same result.  It worked!  This is truly one of the most amazing devices I’ve seen.  One of those few products I’ve bought that exceeded expectations!  THANKS MOM!

Strand Dead

UPDATE: My Mom sent me the following.  Any tried one before?

Ah, it’s that time of year… men cursing to themselves, fighting with globs of xmas lights, and nearly falling off ladders. Today I spent nearly 4 hours going through every bulb on a pre-lit Christmas tree trying to find why one section wasn’t lit. I pulled out every bulb and swap it with a good bulb, and worked my way down the tree. My fingers are sore. I have blisters. And I still never found the problem. The solution? I drove over to Big Lots, bought 2 new strands, and ran them in the bare spots.

The question is, how do you diagnose a problem like this? I’m sure I made it worse by removing each bulb and putting it back in. What’s the chances only 1 bulb was the culprit by the time I got done? There’s got to be a better way? Thoughts?  I set my non-pre-lit tree up in less than an hour.  I’m thinking having the lights separate is a good thing.  Kinda like buying one of those TVs with the DVD player built in.  You’re just asking for trouble.


I had to rebuild my webserver.  It’s all on new hardware (well, an old Compaq Celeron).  During the transition I lost most of my images on the blog posts.  I thought they were being backed up, but they weren’t.  Oh well… now that this machine seems more stable, things should stay up a little more consistently.  I thought it was Ubuntu causing me problems, but turns out my other old machine was flakey.