Tuesday, May 27, 2003
I just may have been more accurate to headline this entry as Sucky Week. I dunno.
I’m fighting a huge temptation to explain what I’m pissed about, but doing so would violate my own “separation of work and blog” rule (see bottom of About Me page).
Let’s just put it this way. This time of year is the most hellish for me. If anyone were to believe I could come close to having a nervous breakdown, this would be the time. I’m fed up with having so many things to be responsible for piled on me during this “event” that happens every year, while always hearing about the other employees and the one or two tasks they are assigned.
Every year, this one likely to be included, I come out the back side of the event more exhausted and sleep deprived than anyone should have to be. Plus, I cannot remember the last time I wasn’t ill after this event.
I consider this entry a pledge to myself that I will either be assigned fewer tasks next year, or my office will have to figure out how to deal with my sudden and unexpected need to tend to urgent personal matters that require out of town travel. That may be what it’ll take for people to realize how much has been dumped on me.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Saturday, May 24, 2003“[Kissimmee, Florida] Police went undercover as homeless people in tattered clothes to catch drivers running red lights.”
This was just plain hilarious and it’s a damned good idea. The full story is on this CNN.com site.“The undercover officers held signs reading, ‘Sheriff’s traffic sting in progress. Buckle up.’”
I suppose those who are running red lights are too busy trying to gun through the intersection to pay attention to those cardboard signs.
Naturally, a story like this wouldn’t be complete without someone being quoted as saying that the whole thing is appalling—that the officers are disrespecting those who actually are homeless. I guess no one told Ms. Gordon that probably half the people who collect your change at intersections aren’t only not homeless, they probably also have very nice homes and could very well be earning more money in change each week than she is!
I’m reminded of the story I read a long time back about a school crossing guard who was well-known for his annoyance at drivers who don’t slow down through school zones. Some students decided to take an old hair dryer, paint it to look a little more technological, and gave it to him to use as if it were a radar gun … and it worked!
Thanks, Andy.Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
I would truly like to be clued in on how this could possibly work. Apparently, a service is going to enable you to download an unlimited amount of music in a finite period of time—i.e. $3.99 for eight hours on up to $24.99 for one month.
Exqueeze me. Something stinks here. Never mind the fact that, even with slow connections, you can download a hell of a lot of MP3s in eight hours for the price of just four iTunes tracks. Does anyone else think this sounds an awful lot like America’s taxation system? Think for a moment—the perception (I could be wrong, I don’t fully understand how taxes work) is that the rich pay less taxes than the poor. Or, more accurately, the rich pay a lower percentage of taxes than the poor. If we apply this to the intended pricing of digital downloads, this means that those who have access to high bandwidth get more for their dollar than those with low bandwidth. Why are the modem users being penalized just because they can’t afford (or, in some areas, can’t even obtain) high speed access?
If I’m completely off whack with this theory, then I’d be right if I flip-flopped it. In other words, the service would throttle the outgoing bandwidth to be more nominal for everyone. If that’s true, then it’s doomed to fail. Those with high speed access would be the service’s bread and butter, and most would likely not bother patronizing them if they knew the downloads would only peak out around 56kbps.
Monday, May 19, 2003
All right, so I drove the rented Pontiac Vibe to Tampa for the weekend. This vehicle rocks! I think I’m hooked. We’re pretty close to seeing the 2004 models come out, so I’ll see whether I’d want new features of the ’04s or if the clearance prices of the ’03s are too enticing to pass up.
Yes, it is just slightly narrower than my Stratus and a bit shorter in length, but it feels like lots more space. Indeed, the cargo area behind the back seats is about the same area as my trunk, but can be filled higher. Or, the back seats fold down flat for more than twice as much cargo space.
The thing rides very smoothly and has a turning radius that has to be seen to be believed. It’s got the best design for A/C vents I have ever seen. The flaps in the round vents only cover a 90° arc between fully shut and fully open, but the entire vent rotates 360°. In other words, you can direct air in absolutely any line-of-sight direction from the vent.
The center of the dash has controls that are up high where you can see them. Even the transmission handle is high and easy to reach. My dad, who isn’t exactly a tiny person, felt very comfortable in the back seat.
Best of all, in spite of the fact that you feel like you’re sitting up as high as many SUVs, the top of the vehicle only comes up to my chin. As Raena put it, it is “low-slung.” I will never own a vehicle that appears taller than it is wide, and the Vibe fits the bill.
Very few things could be classified as negatives. The lighters won’t give charge when the vehicle is off. I realize this is a safety thing, but sometimes I like to leave my cell phone charging while I’m in a shop or something. The instrument panel is cool, but awfully recessed. In the daytime with my sunglasses on, it was slightly difficult to read. Also, the top of the steering wheel obscured the upper part of the instruments. If I raised the wheel to see through well to the instruments, the wheel was too high to be comfortable.
Speaking of the steering column, the controls are sort of oddly placed. A zillion controls for not just the front windshield wipers, but the rear wiper as well, are all on one single stick coming off of the steering column, and this stick is almost completely obscured by one arm of the steering wheel when the main wipers are off or in the high speed position, and totally obscured if the stick is in the delay or low speed positions. The cruise control is a box-like device attached to the wheel (not the column), so if the wheel isn’t oriented upright, it’s tricky to use the controls. Admittedly, if you’re going fast enough to use the cruise control, the wheel probably damn well better be upright! But the cruise control’s real groaner is that the speed you had set is not remembered if you hit the cancel position. Doing so is equivalent to turning the cruise control off and back on. The former speed is only remembered if you halted the cruise control by tapping the brakes. On all my prior cars (and the current one), I’ve been accustomed to being able to slow down a tad by hitting cancel without having to make the person behind me think I’m slamming on my brakes, then hitting the resume button to, well, resume.
So I spent a lot of typing on what was supposed to be only a few annoyances, but I’ll state firmly that, overall, I truly enjoyed driving it and definitely hope to own one soon.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Saturday, May 17, 2003
Literally. I am “feeling” a Vibe—the Pontiac variety.
I rented one for the weekend to try out. I’ve been really thinking I wanted one as my next vehicle—after my lease on a 2001 Dodge Stratus is up. Or, maybe sooner. I dunno.
So far, I’m loving it. It’s very comfortable. Pretty roomy. Plenty of headroom. Wonderful turning radius. That’s about all I can say at the moment because I’ve only had it a couple hours. I’m going to Tampa this evening, so it’ll make a great test drive. I’ll say more about it Sunday night, after I’ve gotten a better sense of it.
Oh yeah … it’s dark blue.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Since other people do much better at reviewing stuff than me, here’s an excellent rundown of the new iPod. It completely packages my own thoughts…except there was no mention of the frequent need to reset the thing that is starting to be widely documented. I anticipate a version 2.1 software update before long. [MyAppleMenu]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Friday, May 16, 2003
A LEGO Mac goes up for auction on eBay U.K. [MacInTouch]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
“While many commercial websites struggle to be noticed, some bloggers are unintentionally attracting lots of hits. Their daily utterances, even on topics they know nothing about, are generating high traffic from search engine queries. By Joanna Glasner.” [Wired News]
The full article has one line that is all you really have to read. “‘The Web is absolutely the great equalizer,’ [Fredrick Marckini, CEO of iProspect] said. ‘Good content rises to the top on the Internet. It doesn’t matter if the medium is a blog or a corporate Web page.’”Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
So when do we start seeing this available at the more popular convention centers (specifically Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center)?“A Spokane, Washington, entrepreneur is renting Segways to people seeking cheap, easy transportation. Renters shell out $5 for a test drive and up to $20 for each 30-minute increment, for up to 90 minutes.” [Wired News]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
This, I think, is going to prove to be a great little tip.“If you, like me, don’t relish the task of re-ripping your entire CD collection after a hard disk failure, then you’ve probably enjoyed iTunes 4’s CD/DVD playlist backup facility. However, keeping track of what you’ve backed up can be a pain. Here’s a simple solution.” [Mac OS X Hints]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
I’m not going to bore anyone with whiney details. Suffice to say I’ve been a victim today of severe irony as well as idiotic, bureaucratic mentalities of “those in charge” within a nonprofit office.
I need a new job.Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Thursday, May 15, 2003
So it was apparently true, for a time, after all.“After claiming that the iLoo, a portable Internet-connected toilet, was a hoax, Microsoft has changed its tune. The company now admits that the iLoo, as silly as it sounds, was a real project after all.” [Wired News]Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
If you’re dredging up cognitive dissonance about the 2:30am entries, direct your recollection back to the times I’ve recently mentioned that April and May is the most slammed part of the year for me. I refuse to give up my “out of the house” enjoyments during this time, even if I’m not leaving the office ’til much later. I spent tonight with friends watching the Survivor finale that they missed, but I had taped. Got home around 2am.
There’s a bit of good news about these long hours, though—bragging rights that all nine (as opposed to just several) of the videos that will be shown as part of a week-long event to be uplinked via satellite will be edited by yours truly…using Final Cut Pro…on a Mac…specifically, on a G4 PowerBook…more specifically, on a PowerBook with no real special enhancements other than a full gigabyte of RAM.
Those of you who understand this know me, know what I do, and probably know where I work and why this fact is significant. Anyone who is thinking, “yeah, so?” just move along. There’s nothing more to see here.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Sunday, May 11, 2003
If you’ve been looking for something comparing AAC to MP3 and uncompressed audio that is a little more substantial than some faceless authority who “says so,” try this Other World Computing page. It contains illustrations of waveforms showing a section of the same song in all three formats.“The AAC format sounds quite good, certainly better than the 128 kbps MP3 format and yields small file sizes that are very comparable. We noted that the AAC format sounded very much like the MP3 at 320 kbps, but the AAC file was substantially smaller. We also felt that the difference in sound quality was more pronounced on the orchestral track due to its wide dynamic range. We felt that the individual instruments such as trumpet and cymbals sounded more natural in the AAC format as opposed to the MP3 128 version. We were excited to see that the AAC audio format being touted by Apple did indeed sound like music to our ears while retaining very small file sizes.”
The person who performed this test is four-time Emmy-nominated composer/producer/performer Roger Adler.
Thanks, Andy.Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
So yes, as the prior entry indicated, I made the decision to pick up a 30gb iPod on Friday afternoon. Before I’m accused of impulse purchasing decisions, I’ll go ahead with some comments in my own defense.
First, I’ve considered one of these things for quite a while. From my perspective, that, alone, takes me out of the “impulse decision” category. If that’s not enough, however, there’s more.
I’ve been scouting around for updates to my cell phone and PDA. Until this weekend, my desire/plan has been to purchase a combination PDA/phone. Never mind the fact that I cannot (yet) find one that has exactly all the specs I would want—it finally hit home that my current phone is somewhat bulky and I decided I would really prefer to have a smaller phone. A combo PDA/phone would probably be rather bulky if it were to be truly useful as a PDA.
Then, I sort of started realizing that I don’t really use the calendar/planner that often. The phone I’m very likely to get, I believe, has a basic planner in it which will probably suit me just fine.
As for the contacts, I found out earlier Friday afternoon that it is an extremely simple matter to dupe my Entourage contacts to my iPod. I had been concerned about finding a device I could sync to with Entourage. It turns out, dragging contacts from the Entourage address book to a folder (including the Contacts folder on mounted iPod) exports those contacts as vCards—exactly the format the iPod wants. Voila. Instant portable address book.
Then, there’s the need to get phone numbers into the phone without having to manually key them all in. I’m quite certain I’m going to pick up a Sony Ericsson T68i. It’s only $50 after rebates. Many people are raving about it. It’s Bluetooth ready, so syncing it is going to be fun. I thought I might could use it as a basic PDA. As I just mentioned, I think it might have a basic planner in it, but the contact list is very limited. Not many fields.
So, I got to thinking; instead of putting $200-300 (or even more) into a really decent PDA/phone—assuming I could even find one that had all the features I wanted—and end up with another bulky phone, why not in just a little more for what look like will be a better scenario. Yes, I’m carrying two devices again, but both are much smaller than either my current phone and my current PDA. The T68i and the iPod together will do all the things I need and want, and a helluva lot more. I’m loving the portable music much more than I guessed I would. But beyond that, this thing is going to make a great way to take computer files to and from work—something I generally have had to accomplish by packing up my laptop and bringing it to work.
For what it’s worth, this entry’s title is what I named my iPod. My computer and its hard drive is PADD, so PADD Pod just sorta happened on its own.
Guess I have to stop now. I forgot to bring my power adapter, and the battery is showing 7% … make that 6% charge.Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Friday, May 09, 2003
I couldn’t stand the behind-the-times feeling any longer. I just bucked up, bit the bullet, and bought one.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Everyone knows that the community that sprung up in-between Seattle and Tacoma is actually named Sea-Tac, right? How often does this sort of thing happen? Whatever that number is, add another to the list.
While driving from Orlando to Tampa this afternoon, a bit west of Highway 27, I noticed a sign that said “Future site of downtown Orlampa.”
Orlampa!?Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
This entry might look like crap at first. I don’t know yet. I’m experimenting using the full version of NetNewsWire to compose this text and post it to the blog. Hopefully, it’ll work well and help me skirt around what I think is a Movable Type bug. I’ll apologize in advance if trying this out causes undue oddness. If you see problems, let me know and I’ll get right on it.
By the way, apparently I truly do have a reasonably speedy PowerBook! NNW’s warning says that Live Preview may slow down typing a little, but it’s working great for me now.
Oh yeah, I also want to see if these paragraph breaks and a…Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
…line break code are automatically inserted for me. Tee-hee.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
I guess I better lay down the facts now. Late March through early June is the most crunched time of the year for me at work. I feel like I’m guilty of a crime or something for not living up to the “Daily” part of this blog’s title. So, to set my mind at ease, I’m going to establish that some days’ punditry might be that I’m just choosing to keep my mouth shut! (smirk)
I know I keep posting stuff about the iTunes Music Store. Before you think I’m sounding like a broken record, know that using it truly is what’s on the entertainment side of my mind lately. I’ve purchased 35 tracks—two complete albums among them—and have started encoding some of my more favorite CDs. Getting the Now That’s What I Call Music! albums (yes, I own copies of all 12 volumes) in there seemed pretty logical since it would give me a great smattering of variety pretty quickly.
Let’s see, what else is in my master play list? I bought Alanis Morissette’s MTV Unplugged album from the store and encoded the other albums I already owned—Jagged Little Pill, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Under Rug Swept, and Feast On Scraps, which I just bought last night. By the way, those of you who are Alanis fans, did you know there’s a hidden track on Jagged Little Pill? Following the alternate version of You Oughta Know, there’s a full minute of silence, then an a capella performance of Your House. Of course, in an effort to be geeky, I ripped the track to AIFF, opened it in QuickTime Player Pro, removed the dead space and split the songs in two new tracks, exported back to new AIFFs, imported them into iTunes, and encoded with AAC. Mua ha ha.
Hmm, there’s some Sheryl Crow I snagged, an iTunes Music Store exclusive of the Todd Terry Radio Mix of Jewel’s Intuition, a couple of Toya tracks, Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful and Fighter, Natalie Imbruglia’s While Lillies Island album, Picture by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, Save Me by Remy Zero (yes, I love Smallville and really love the theme track), and, just for good measure, Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega with D.N.A. It’s a strange trip, but very addictive.
No, I don’t plan to start reporting all the music I buy from now on. This has just been my statement that I’m definitely enjoying and making use of the service. I’d thought about starting to rip my own tracks, but wasn’t so sure when I got my MP3 CD player for my car. The Music Store renewed my interest, and I will probably start considering an iPod if a version comes out that can record, as has been rumored.
Well, time to start sifting through the news links for today. Maybe I’ll find something else interesting to blog about.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
You’ve undoubtedly seen the news—Apple has sold a million tracks in its first week of operating the iTunes Music Store.
I started wondering what that much activity translated to. Someone is sure to have figured this out by now, but I’ve not seen it yet, so here goes:
1 week = 1,000,000 tracks
1 day = 142,857.1 tracks
1 hour = 5,952.4 tracks
1 minute = 99.2 tracks
1 second = 1.65 tracks
Yes, that’s a bit faster than one song sold every second, 24 hours a day in a seven-day period of time!
Stunning.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Monday, May 05, 2003
Whew. Sort of a whirlwind of a weekend. It started Thursday night with the usual Survivor gathering at some friends’ house. Friday afternoon saw an hour or two helping out with some more computer setup for a guy I’ve mentioned here in the past.
Later that evening, I did some shots for Ádamas—a band that’s currently getting started—for promotion and their demo album. The lead singer is the same friend whom I generally visit, along with his wife, each Thursday night for Survivor. We found various spots in an unfinished house that yet another friend is building. The metaphor of the house under construction is superb and we got some fantastic shots. The amazing and ironic thing is that two of the shots that I thought, at the time, were poorly exposed—mess-ups, so to speak—were actually some our favorites. One, in particular, was probably one of the best people photo I have ever taken in my life. The guys were sitting staggered on this ratty couch we found inside the house. We have no idea why it was in there. We put it in front of this large opening that, I assume, will be a nice big picture window when the house is done. The scene was basically dark. We’d been using bright quartz industrial worklamps both for additional illumination and as props. For this shot, I set it out of the camera’s view, lighting the guys from the side. I intended to use a slight fill flash but with a slow shutter so as to also let the lighted water fountain in the lake outside the window be seen. However, I didn’t have the flash turned on for the first shot I took. The result was what, at the time, I called a Blair Witch shot. It was kind of creepy looking at it in the tiny digital camera viewer and I chalked it up as a junk shot. I took some more with the flash in addition to the work lamps plus more in some other parts of the house.
When we got back to my friend’s house to look at the photos on the computer, the dark one was…well…see for yourself.
The guys started dinking around with their music and trying stuff out. I listened in for a while and finally went home. The next afternoon, I and my two Survivor-watching friends spent a couple hours at Sea World (we’ve got passes) to see the Pets Ahoy show and take in a little bit of the music during the Viva La Musica festival that was going on. Then, today, several of us took a beach trip to New Smyrna and had a great little picnic.
*Groan* I don’t want to back to work tomorrow! Hehe.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Saturday, May 03, 2003
I say, let it come. I’m not such a huge advocate of SMS, so I’d just disable the feature on my phone. But let it come. Perhaps as soon as some high ranking government officials start getting “Enlarge your penis” messages during the middle of a top security briefing, we’ll finally see the whole spam problem go away.
Friday, May 02, 2003
This is the one feature that I thought iPods needed back when they first came out. I’m now officially not itching to get one of the current line of iPods as I tough it out several more months to see if the next batch includes the ability to record. Just a line in would be nice enough, but a tiny built-in mic to use it like a minicassette recorder as well would be icing.
The May 2003 issue of About This Particular Macintosh has been published.
I was a bit busy for this issue. It includes my NAB 2003 report and an interview with MobileTracker’s Jonathan Gales. There was also going to be a review of HTML Character Converter but it got held for the June issue. Don’t worry—the reasons were honorable. I’m not pissed! ;-)Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
File this in the “okay, that’s cool, but relatively useless info” category. Did you see Bush giving his speech from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln yesterday? Did you also catch that he got there riding in an S-3B Viking Navy jet? Well, turns out I have a very indirect connection to that. I’ve been doing some computer assistance with a photographer who’s moving to digital and is working with his new iMac, photo printer, etc. Anyway, his wife’s brother was the pilot who flew Bush for the short trip to the carrier.Comments: 3 (Comments are now closed.)
Did Apple Computer perhaps not think anyone would notice that Alanis Morissette—a popular singer/songwriter who gave the new Music Store high praise in the promo video—is conspicuously absent from the list of musicians currently available?
What’s wrong with this picture?
Update—5-6-03: A week after the Music Store debuted, Alanis’ music can now be purchased. Some of it, anyway. The only albums there are Feast on Scraps, Jagged Little Pill, and MTV Unplugged: Alanis Morissette (Live). Her two other more recent albums—Under Rug Swept and Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie—aren’t there. Neither is some of her early work.Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)
Thursday, May 01, 2003“The service, which went live Monday, sold an estimated 275,000 tracks at 99 cents apiece in its first 18 hours, according to major-label sources. The feat is especially remarkable when considering that the offering is available only to the limited universe of users of Apple computers.”
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