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Saturday, November 19, 2005

My Christmas Wish List

Santa's gone high-tech. Here's my Christmas list with corresponding hyperlinks to specific stores for easy shipping. I also accept cash, money orders and personal checks with two forms of I.D. Check back regularly for updates.

(Note: I certainly don't expect to get most of the things on this list. However, I feel I should cover my bases in case any wealthy philanthropists happen to stumble upon this site.)

• iPod Video 30 gig (www.apple.com/store)
• 15" Powerbook (www.apple.com/store)
• The Office, Season One on DVD (www.target.com)
• BMW M5 (http://www.bmwusa.com/vehicles/m/m5sedan/default)
• A Dilbert or Far Side desk calendar
• One of these (http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000997068678/)
• Some iTunes downloads might be cool
• A digital camcorder
• Gasoline for a year
• A Mediterranean Cruise
• Some Sheepskin Slippers (http://stores.ebay.com/Arctic-Sheepskin)
• Call of Duty 2 for Xbox
• Star Wars Battlefront II for Xbox

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Scare-o-nator™

The Scare-o-nator™ made an early appearance today. We'd Scare-o-nated two people before 11:00 (and, as it turns out, Paul's peripheral vision isn't nearly as good as we thought it was). We have also discovered that a whisper, in some cases such as Rachel's, works better that the shout.

For those of you who may not know, The Scare-o-nator™ is a +7 foot long tube used for greeting people whose desks are placed quite a distance from their office door. The Scare-o-nator Mini™, cousin to the original Scare-o-nator™, is a short, sub-three foot tube used when forced to work in confined spaces.

Caryn, however, is the ultimate goal. Ryan's experiences in the past teach us that Caryn is the most dramatic when she's Scare-o-nated. However, since the reintroduction of The Scare-o-nator™, Scare-o-nation has yet to occur. Don't worry, I'll let you know when it happens, because it WILL happen. Also, I'll keep a log of who has been scared, what time it happened and what their reaction was for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Blender Basics

We got a hand blender for a wedding gift. It was a nice one, with a digital timer built right in, a number of different beaters and a nice carrying case (perfect for holiday traveling).

As we were blending our chocolate chip cookie dough we started smelling weird things. It reminded us of a dentists office for some reason. After a few seconds our fancy-shmancy hand blender started smoking. Little whisps of smoke started streaming out of it. Of course, we turned it off and put it outside on top of our pumpkin. After a while I went out to fetch the smoking culprit and tried it and... it didn't work. It's busted.

Not much else to the story except that really sucks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Earning vs. spending

I think I may have just had a small insight into myself when it comes to money management, and it is this: I like earning money more than I like spending it. I much prefer the feeling that comes from seeing a check with my name on it than going shopping. I may theorize on this later, but in reality I'll probably forget I even had the thought.

Friday, September 23, 2005

They've been workin' on the railroad

The building I work in is shared by the offices of a major railroad company. After working here for about a month, I have ALMOST become used to hearing the gentlemen who work there talking on there cell phones as I walk in the bathroom.

This is no subtle thing, no two-second, "Yeah I'll pick up milk on the way home," conversation with their spouse. They take and make business calls while stall-bound. Their very loud phone rings, gas is passed and deals are done all apon the porcelain throne.

Now, I'll admit I've had a conversation or two while dropping the kids off at the pool. But those calls were mainly to annoy friends and the calls always originated prior to the door being shut and the fan turned on. These guys are sitting there, doing their thing and must think, "Oh yeah. I need to call Jim over at the plant." Pulls out phone, dials.

"Hi, Earl? It's Jim." At this point a loud, gastrointestinal noise ricochets off the walls and causes the stall walls to vibrate. I hold my breath as I feel it rush past my face. Surely this warrants some kind of explanation or apology.

"Do you have those widgets Earl? We need them delivered ASAP." Jim must be about done, because I can hear toilet paper being yanked off the roll, in only what I can imagine must be huge handfuls. The sound of the roll spinning against the plastic holder is evident.

"OK. Well we're going to need to double the order and," Jim pauses here, grunts, and then starts pulling more TP off the roll, "get a half a case of sprokets too. Can you do that?"

Earl must be explaining some kind of trouble he's having getting the sprokets, because Jim doesn't say anything for a bit and continues to unroll toilet paper furiously.

"Could you call the other guy?" asks Jim, standing and pulling up his pants. "But what if the sprokets don't match the widgets? Then we'll be up a creek."

And then he flushes the industrial-strength, 586 psi, guaranteed never to get clogged toilet. The sound is deafening.

"Right, Earl. Thanks." And Jim hangs up the phone.

If Jim had only waited four more seconds to flush, poor Earl wouldn't have had to live with the memory that he'd listened to the whole process.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What you blog is who you are?

I just realized the majority of my few postings are about weird technology that doesn't exist. This lead me to think, "If someone were to read this, and not know me, how would they invision me?" Here's the picture I've painted of myself, based on my postings:

A small, pale man. Balding. A weak beard is starting to grow, but amounts to nothing more than a few wiry hairs low on his cheeks. Wears socks with sandals and believes florescent twisty bracelets are gonna come back in style any day now. He blogs from his mother's basement. Whenever he emerges to forage for food he has to squint as he scurries around the kitchen, trying to avoid being hit by direct sunlight.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Not far from accurate either. I'm a man. I'm sure I'll go bald. I only have to shave once a week and I'm kinda pale. But I only lived in my in-law's basement for a couple months, so HA!

Monday, September 12, 2005

O, ROKR, you are so cruel

Now, I am quite the Apple fan. I love my Powermac, own an iPod or two and have been religious in upgrading my OS. So, when an iTunes phone is rumored to be coming out, naturally I wet myself with excitement.

Then I learned it was going to be a Motorola phone.

And it would only be carried by Cingular.

And then I felt stupid for wetting myself.

Motorola and Cingular are the last two companies I would have wanted touching my precious iTunes phone. Motorola has the worst UI on their phones that I've ever had the displeasure of using. It's completely confusing and difficult to navigate. Very un-Apple. Why could it not have been Samsung? Or, if the heavens aligned perfectly, Sony Ericsson?

Cingular. Ah, Cingular. You have done such an amazing job of marketing yourself. You sponsor everything under the sun and hit that 20-something crowd oh so well. In reality: your service blows. At least around here. And your customer service isn't much better based on what I've heard. Your plan prices are on the high-end and you need to be some kind of royalty to be able to afford your data features. I would have been thrilled for Apple to choose ANY other cell carrier to launch their debut into the wireless world. Nevertheless, my beloved Apple had come out with a new product and I must try it out.

I went into my friendly, neighborhood Cingular store and fiddled with the ROKR for a bit. The phone is much smaller than I thought it would be. The buttons big and feel sturdy. The UI sucked, as was expected. The iTunes bit seemed, well, like iTunes, except for a very noticable drag while sliding back and forth between menu items.

The 100 song cap seems absurd. Why would you lay down $250 hard-earned dollars (or, in the case of Ryan "sat on my lazy arse and did nothing" dollars) for a phone that can only play 100 songs? There are any number of phones out there that have memory card slots large enough to hold at LEAST 100 songs, and for much less.

The only reason I can see buying the ROKR is if you're somehow obsessed with the iTunes interface. Other than that, this is just another ugly Motorola on an expensive service plan. Save your money for the Sony Ericsson W800.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A truly universal remote?

This article from Engadget (http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000197049688/) sparked the idea: instead of the remote having buttons which tell the device what to do (which can be combersome when you have complicated devices which all use the same remote), have each individual device tell the remote what buttons to display.

The remote itself would be similar to a PDA screen in size, and the OS similar to Palm's where you can view applications by category, or all at once. The screen defaults to a simple screen with the names of the devices it can pick up using Bluetooth (or IR if you're old school): VCR, DVD, receiver, TV, etc. When you want to turn on the TV, you select TV and the rest of the components disappear (or at least minimize) and your basic options for TV come up: power, volume, channel, mute, etc. If you want advanced features, select "advanced" from a drop-down menu and your current list expands to include picture in picture, color/brightness controls, and any other fancy things remotes and TVs can do nowadays.

Each component sends the remote the information it should display to the user. If your new DVD player burns DVDs, it would tell the remote to display a "burn DVD" button under its "advanced" tab. No need for a new remote.

Also, it keeps the controls that many people don't use out of the way offering a very clean-looking, simple remote which still operates all your equipment.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

An 80 gig hard drive on your cell phone?

So here's a brilliant idea (which has probably been thought of by at least a dozen really smart engineers in Asia): instead of packing a phone with a hard drive for media storage (making the phone bigger, using more battery life and having to pay for the hardware), use 3G downloading speeds to browse the music collection on your computer. Stream songs and playlists to your handset.

Basically, your phone would work as iTunes does... it has the locations of the files, not the files themselves, in the phone. Your phone will have your computer's IP address and neccessary access info (an encrypted username and password) to listen to the music on your home computer, from your phone. Voila: each phone has access to 60, 80, 100 (etc.) gigs of music.

If you had a .Mac account, or something similar, you could backup your music to a server, so you wouldn't have to leave your computer on all the time. Perhaps sync all of this with your iTunes music store account. Your phone logs into the iTunes music store under your account, and can have streaming access to the songs you've already paid for. An iPod killer? I don't know about that, but Apple could be in a pretty good position to make some money off this in a world-wide market where iTunes music stores are popping up left and right in other countries that have much faster download speeds than the U.S.

With your friends' IP address (or as a guest on ther .Mac account/iTunes store account) you could listen to their music, assuming they'd give you access. Imagine having a list of friends on your phone and being able to access all their music all the time. To keep this under control, limit the number of people who can access any given library.

Multiple family members could listen to the same library from different phones. You would be able to access your entire library, or if 14 year-old Timmy doesn't want to bother hearing Dad's seven Luciano Pavoratti albums, he can filter them from being played. Essentially, user-specific, layered playlists.

Let me illustrate. You have an entire family's music on a computer. Timmy CAN access all the songs, but he doesn't want to. So he has "Timmy's Songs" which is essentially a filtered playlist of all his music. Within Timmy's Songs are his playlists, as you would normally have in iTunes. This enables access to all songs if desired, but keeps the stuff you know you don't want to hear out while still being able to create and use playlists. It's also a nice feature for the parents who can listen to what Timmy's been rocking out to when his earbuds are in.

Expanding that idea, is there a way to do exactly what iTunes now does in showing nearby strangers' playlists and listening to their music? Obviously, this can be done using Wi-Fi... how about by wireless carrier? If so, you could turn this into a social thing. You'd have access to others' lists around you and you could chat with/text the person whose list you are listening to and meet up to discuss music or whatever. Of course, people would have the option of not making messaging/their music available because of the cost involved, or if they're feeling anti-social.

In summary, you could have access to your music, and friends' music all the time on a cell phone with no hard drive. Access to strangers' music would be based on a) whether or not they're sharing it and b) the proximity of the person (the same thing iTunes does now, but using a wireless signal instead).

One possible money maker (aside from promoting text messaging) would be being able to purchase other people's playlists. So, if you're loving someone's smooth jazz playlist you could buy all those songs from iTunes. The songs would automatically download to your computer at home, as a playlist, making them instantly accessable to your device.

So a carrier sponsors a night at some local club (or perhaps somewhere more mellow... local coffee shop or park, or perhaps an entire area of a city where there are lots of little shops/cafes). Everyone with this service shows up and can listen to each other's music, send text messages, buy beverages containing legal stimulants and people's playlists.

People who are under Indie labels can go to areas where the target market for their album would hang out. Ta-da. You've instantly made your music accessable to everyone you think would be interested in buying it.

Word of mouth is probably one of the best ways to promote music. This is, I dunno... passive word of mouth? You're promoting music without saying anything... unless you want to.


POTENTIAL PROBLEMS (and sometimes solutions)

• What is the best way for this to be integrated in a car? Would there be a physical cable (USB/firewire) you would plug your phone into to have access to your music while driving? Bluetooth?

• What happens when you want to get to your music in an area where you don't get a signal for your phone? Keep some flash memory on there for your ring tones and favorite songs? With coverage areas being what they are nowadays, I don't think that would be much of a problem. (However, things like subways...)

SOLUTION: People with cell phones sometimes can't get signals when they're in buildings. Plug your phone into your computer and have the same access to music through iTunes/internet connection as you do when you have a wireless signal. (Plus this recharges the battery.)

• Constantly streaming music will require mammoth battery life. But, they're streaming video to phones now, and if you don't have to carry around your iPod, will people be willing to have bigger phones (due to the need for a larger battery)?

What would you name such a device?

What think ye?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Wendy's Diwemma

Hear ye. I have serious beef (where's the beef??) with Wendy's. Now, Frosties are a choice food (or is it a beverage?) and I have no qualms with the Frosty itself. It's the spoon that sucks.

It's a sturdy spoon, which reflects the thick goodness of the Frosty. But it is entirely too deep. You can't get all the Frosty out of the friggin' spoon!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Something important to keep in mind:

There is no third gender.

And you would do well to remember that.