Toys 2006

Whoo, black diamond...

Okay, several of you asked, either in comments or e-mails, what it was that I got for Katie for Christmas, so I figured I'd do a bit of a gift round-up.

Diamondpendant For her from me:

  • A collector's copy of Marley & Me by John Grogan
  • A ladybug necklace from Red Envelope
  • A floppy-eared dog stuffed animal
  • And the piece-de-resistance, a diamond loop necklace

I would've taken a picture of the actual necklace itself either on Katie or off, but she's asleep and I don't want to wake her up right now. So you'll have to settle with a representative image of it from Jared.com.

For me from her:

  • A Chicago Bears Tradition "B" hat
  • A Chicago Bears NFC North champion long-sleeve T-shirt
  • A Chicago Bears Devin "Windy City Flyer" Hester jersey
  • A copy of the Chicago Bears edition of Monopoly (don't see a theme yet, do you?)
  • A Hallmark chihuahua Christmas tree ornament (not that I'm a big fan of chi-hoo-a-hoo-a's, but it's part of the series of Puppy Love ornaments that I had been buying for her over the years; she just beat me to the punch on this one; so it has sentimental value to us as a couple)
  • And, of course, the Palm TX that I detailed a bit yesterday

I love everything she gave me and, thankfully, she liked all that I gave her, which made for a great season of gift giving.

Phew!

So how the hell do I top it next year?


Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - It's been a while, but we're back with a few new reviews. I stop by with a review of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys while Claire chimes in with both Richard Avedon's Evidence 1944-1994 and Augusten Burroughs' Running With Scissors. I will, hopefully, return soon with a review of Daniel Clowes' Ghost World, which I read yesterday.


Pilot through time...

This is likely to be a short post as I'm trying something completely new. I'm  posting using my new Palm TX PDA.

This was my big Christmas gift from Katie and I love it. I've been using Palm Pilots for several years now but this is the first one I've owned that wasn't a hand-me-down.

Yep, brand spankin' new and it comes with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity (I'm on our home Wi-Fi network right now posting this and it's pretty damn cool).

But I'm going to cut this short as I do need to troubleshoot why I can't seem to override the preferences settings from my old Palm, which seem to be wrecking havoc with this new one something fierce.

Oh, and for anyone wondering, Katie did love her gift. Pics and description coming soon.

Note: this was reposted because, for some reason, Typepad didn't want to display the paragraph breaks I typed in despite the fact that the HTML version of this post showed them. Weird.


Wii are the champions, my friends...

They told me I was foolish.

They laughed at me.

They mocked me.

I was #25 in a line of 24. Thirty people had come between #24 and myself but had been scared off. They were told stories of the futility of their efforts. They were convinced that their's was not the noblest of causes.

But I was not the only one to refuse to listen. Another thirty people came after me and stood in defiance of the inevitable.

When sympathetic friends and family members arrived with deliveries of food and hot beverages, they taunted me by saying that it was only for those who stood in the "real" line. I was the headmaster of the loser queue.

Even the Man in the Yellow Jacket (make all the Curious George references that you want right now) told me it was pointless. That the man in front of me was the last one with any hope whatsoever.

Then came the announcement...

"All of you must clean up all your garbage and break down all tents, chairs, and other apparatus you have with you. It cannot remain on the sidewalk. It must be in your cars and you will have to stand in line for the next hour. Anyone who leaves the line will not be allowed back in regardless of the reason why. You have 10 minutes to pack it in!"

We raced to our vehicles to put away our equipment and then continued to stand shivering in the cold for what turned out to be an additional hour and a half.

The Man in the Yellow Jacket gave us no hope of ever achieving our goal. We were still just second-rate citizens.

Then it happened...

Four people jumped out of line ahead of me. Suddenly there was a glint of hope. Were they actually in line waiting or were they just friends of people officially waiting in line? Nobody knew for sure. They weren't telling. The Man in the Yellow Jacket wasn't changing his tune either.

The doors opened and we began to slowly file in to our own personal Mecca in pairs. Only two at a time like animals herded in Noah's ark. It was an attempt to control the forecasted madness. It was an arduous process. We all still stood shivering in line wishing we could just get a taste of the heat. But we stood strong nonetheless.

As the man ahead of me approached the entryway, the Man in the Yellow Jacket flashed the final ticket. It read a machine-stamped "24." He made sure I could see it and then gave me a pathetic head shake. Then he handed the ticket to the guy ahead of me.

I looked the Man in the Yellow Jacket in the eyes. Defiantly I proclaimed, "but you have another in your pocket."

"Do I?"

"You do."

He stared at me through squinted eyes as though judging just how much I believed my own ridiculous statement. Then he pulled his hand out of his pocket with another ticket. Like Charlie, I beamed knowing I held what amounted to a modern-day admission pass to Willie Wonka's vaunted chocolate factory. The Man in the Yellow Jacket gave me a proud smirk knowing the hassling I had endured for the previous three-and-a-half hours. He was impressed by my tenacity, my unwillingness to budge.

And I wasn't even the last. The man behind me, also suffering from the snipes of those ahead of us, wound up a winner. He was the real #24. I was #23. I was Jordan. Sandberg. Hester.

My prize?

Wii are the champions

Sooooo worth the wait. Got Excite Truck in addition to the Wii Sports that came bundled with the system and ordered an extra controller that should be in sometime today or tomorrow. I think our next purchase will likely be Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz as Katie said it sounds like fun. If it's a game she can get behind, then we'll get it.

A big "thank you" to Katie for putting up with my childish geekiness the last several weeks and also waiting in line with me the last hour. And another big "thank you" to my parents who decided to buy this for me as my birthday present. When they couldn't find it themselves, they just gave me the cash, instead, to buy it on my own.


Wii can work it out...

First, a quick "happy anniversary" to my parents who are celebrating their 36th  year together today.

Wiimote Yesterday, after I finished my lunch, I happened to walk by an EB Games. I figured I’d pop in to see if they had a display model of the new Nintendo Wii. They did.

A customer was there trying to figure out how to play Excite Truck with the new one-handed remote control thingamajig that has been lovingly dubbed the Wiimote (“Remote.” Get it?). He was having a bit of trouble figuring it out. Then one of the employees told him to turn the controller sideways and hold it two handed like the ends of a steering wheel.

This is when the fun began.

If you don’t know, the Nintendo Wii uses a sort of IR/Bluetooth detection “field” to control games. Remember, back in the day, when you would sit there with your video game remote and lean into games hoping to make a tighter turn or swing the remote down as though it would actually affect how you swing a sword? Now it does. Every little motion matters. Prepare to become physically invested in your gaming.

There was no steering wheel or control stick to make my truck move through its desert race course. There was only me… standing there turning the controller as though the middle part was on a central axis point. It is about the coolest damn thing I’ve ever tried in my life.

When I got my hands on the Wiimote, I was flying through the course. Every little motion that I made had ramifications on what happened on the screen. Just to test it, as I launched over a big jump and was hanging in midair, I turned the controller and, sure enough, the wheels turned on the front axle.

I have only played this thing for ten minutes now and I’m already declaring it the coolest damn next-gen video game system out there. Forget PS3 and the 360. I don’t want ‘em. Just gimme a Wii.

Oh, and make sure you take your allergy meds beforehand. You sneeze… you may die. Only virtually, but still and all the same.

Sorry about the pun in the title. Too good to pass up.

And here's a screen cap from Excite Truck courtesy of Gamespot...

Excitetruck

And we'll have fun, fun, fun 'til your daddy takes the Wiimote a-wa-a-ay!


'Cause I'm easy...

I’m a marketing genius!

A bold claim, I know. But allow me to justify this statement.

For the last couple days at work, I’ve been fiddling as a free moment arises with a piece of software I found in my computer’s program menu. It’s a little doozy called Adobe LiveCycle Designer (or Adobe Designer, for short) and is intended to assist in the process of creating interactive PDF forms using XML as a base.

Since I have a few forms I needed to develop and had been curious about how best to create an interactive PDF, I decided to give it a whirl.

And whirl I did… my head, that is.

After two days of intermittent messing around with Designer, I finally got one of these forms done. My eyes are bleeding, my head is throbbing, and my right hand is spasming from all the subtle nudges and shifts I made to the layout.

This experience has led me to coin what I feel should be the company’s new slogan…

Adobelogo


But I haven't felt that way lately at all...

The one thing that's a bit different about my new cellphone (oh yeah, I wound up getting a Motorola Razr) is having all these multimedia capabilities.

For example, this is the first time I have owned a camera phone and that's pretty fun. Not a particularly useable resolution, by any stretch of the imagination, but still. I am also now back to owning a color screen phone that can play java-based games. God how I missed that.

The big thing, though, is that I can now download some of the most complex ringtones I've ever heard in my life. For God's sake, you can use a real song as your ringer. How trippy is that? One second you're just sitting there. The next, Depeche Mode is coming through in pseudo-stereophonic glory from your pocket. That's nuts.

The other day, Katie and I sat in front of the computer listening to tone after tone from the Cingular site. They all sounded pretty good in terms of audio quality. I was amazed at how far it has all progressed in the two years since we last owned phones that could accept anything other than monophonic tones.

But as I listened more, I realized just how weird it would be to have a song suddenly blurt out from my cellphone. While I hate the standard rings that come on phones, I still tend to lean towards simplistic sounds that I can use as a ringer.

I like how well midi and polyphonic ringtones can be looped. I prefer how they can be cut off at an appropriate time so as not to abruptly end in the middle of Pink belting out the chorus to "Stupid Girl."

In all honesty, I miss the ringtones from my old Cingular phones. That was when I could flip back and forth between John Carpenter's "Theme from Halloween" and Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" (the theme from The Exorcist). They are both simple songs, but they make a statement. And, most importantly, they looped perfectly so I got continuous ringtones that I never wound up getting sick of.

I left the song page at Cingular and went to the polyphonic tone page and that's when I found the perfect ringtone (aside from Carpenter and Oldfield's contributions to the "genre"). One that appealed to my need for simplicity, my desire for no sung lyrics, and my inner geekiness.

I found this (well, a polyphonic variation of this)...

On a quick aside, what's the first thing that goes through your mind when you read about a potential new show that is "a one-hour action-comedy described as Sex and the City meets Batman." Color me morbidly curious. Hot women with utility belts? I wonder if the Batpole is used for more than just Batcave access.


Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - We have another new reviewer at FWDT in *lynne* who premieres with a review of Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. Plus, I return from a month-long review hiatus with my spin on Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes and Claire contributes her take on Maria C. Betro's Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt.


For what is ailing me...

First of all, I was wrong in my earlier post about iTunes 7.0’s album art update feature being automatic. Seems as though it looks at your stuff, but doesn’t necessarily autoupdate it all.

I found that I had to go into the Advanced menu and select “Get Album Artwork” to make the system start to actually analyze my albums and add the appropriate album art.

Here are a couple quick suggestions if you decide to take advantage of this function…

  1. Do not use your computer or, especially, iTunes for anything else at this time. If you can, let iTunes run this feature overnight or over some extended period of time during which you will not need your computer. Maybe that’s more a testament to the sheer number of albums I have on my computer and yours will take less time, but I can’t really be sure. Took a few hours for iTunes to finish this process on my computer.
  2. Make sure your iPod is NOT connected to your computer at this time for any reason whatsoever. I had mine plugged in for charging and iTunes decided to still recognize it as a mounted volume and it started to autotransfer songs back and forth while the very same files were being updated by the computer. It wasn't pretty and I’m not entirely sure my iPod has fully recovered. I’ve had to reinstall the firmware once and restore all my music and videos twice... so far.

Don’t let your iPod suffer a similar fate.


Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - I'm adding We Were Writers for Disastrous Love Affairs Magazine by Adam Thomlison and Claire is adding Dry by Augusten Burroughs.


Well, it's Christmas time again...

Apple just held another one of their major product announcement press conferences. Lately, these have been disappointing me in some way or another.

This one, however, just made up for it all. Almost everything was iPod related and there are some very pretty things happening with the line. Allow me a moment to detail some of the highlights...

Continue reading "Well, it's Christmas time again..." »


The gift you gave is gonna last forever...

Sunday football
Can I just say I have the coolest wife in the world? We were trying to figure out what we were going to do today and I suggested some things that would probably keep us out of the house like going to a movie or going to dinner, typical stuff like that. That's when she came back with, "But we'll miss the Bears game. And they're playing the Packers."

Score.

Then I was contemplating watching one of our Netflix rentals a bit later on after the Bears game is over (which they are winning quite handily at the moment). That's when she said, "Aren't the Colts playing the Giants? We can't miss the Manning Game."

Hand's off, guys. She's mine.

Christmas gift ideas
I need some advice from all of you. For a few months now, we've been talking about the possibility of buying a good digital SLR camera for me as an anniversary/birthday/Christmas gift. I've got one chosen out and I really want it (Sony Alpha DSLR-A100K because it works with all the lenses I already own for my Minolta Maxxum 400si). And Katie knows that I want it.

Today, though, she came up with the idea of buying a Mac Mini for our home that would be used both as a media center (by hooking it up to the TV) and as file backup for our iMac. For some time now, I've been debating buying an external harddrive that can be used to clone our entire iMac in case of some computing catastrophe. But, by making it a real computer instead of a harddrive, we are able to use it for something else as well; in this case, a media center.

It's not as though I don't have a digital camera already even if it is not a DSLR and I have my good ol' standard 35mm SLR to use for the high-quality photo ops. And backing up all our digital photos (five years worth) and MP3s (50 GB worth) would definitely be a good thing.

Have I already made the decision here? What do you all think?


There are things that I don't want to learn...

This is so strange for me.

My work Mac has been having some issues lately, so, after a few weeks of working things out with IT, it is finally being shipped out to have repairs performed.

No, I'm not badmouthing Mac despite all the problems I've been enduring the last several months. I taxed my work Mac to the nth degree and I'm really not at all surprised it decided to crap out on me. The problems had been building for a while, but I just did not want to send it back and have to deal with using my Windows box all the time. Despite the problems I've had with my Mac, I still opted to use it over the PC anytime I possibly could. However, the three-year AppleCare plan was coming dangerously close to expiring, so it was time to bite the bullet and send it out.

What does surprise me is how difficult it is for me to adapt back to using my Windows box. Instead of just using it for Web design, I'm now using it for all the things I once did on my Mac such as Office work, Web browsing, Webmail, et al. When it comes to the bulk of my graphic design work, I will now have to use an alternate Mac in the office thus killing my tendency to just wheel back and forth between computers and working on multiple projects simultaneously (I'm the ultimate computer multitasker).

I realize that many things, such as Office and Firefox should function at least close to similarly on both Mac and Windows. I am here to tell you that this is NOT the case. On the surface, they seem the same, but, after using it on one platform as opposed to another for as long as I have, it can be very difficult to reacclimate to the other. Something as simple as a keyboard shortcut needs to be relearned. And it's shocking how long it's taking me to figure things out.

And, of course, I will only have to go back and reteach myself when the Mac comes back from the shop. Thankfully, I won't forget it all entirely as I still have my beauty of a Mac at home. At least I have that going for me right now.

So who will be first to name the song that this post title comes from?


I would also like to inform you of a couple minor changes I've implemented over the course of the last week or so.

First, I've disabled TrackBacks. They were getting pretty pointless. I always told myself that when TrackBack spam exceeded the number of legitimate TrackBacks I received, I would kill it. Well, that time came. I think TrackBacks are still enabled for older posts, but you won't be able to on any newer ones. Sorry. Just no meaningful purpose.

Second, I've enabled e-mail authentication on comments. This only means that if you want to leave a comment, you will have to enter an e-mail address in the comment form. No big deal for most of you. You already do it anyway. But I want to know that all comments from people I don't immediately recognize are legit as well. If you don't want to leave your real e-mail for fear of webspiders collecting them, e-mail me and let me know and we'll figure something out so you can still comment.


Latest Fun With Dead Trees review - I need to welcome new guest reviewer Claire of Taller Than Average Tales who chimes in with her review of My Life So Far by Jane Fonda.


You got persuasion, I can't help myself...

On Friday night, Katie and I met up with her brother to have dinner at P.F. Chang's in Schaumburg. One spectacular meal later, I cracked open my fortune cookie and got this.

Fortunecookie2

Oh how true... oh how true. I'm good like that.

I guess perhaps I should give you some backstory.

A couple months ago, my brother Scott, whom some of you may have read commenting on a few of my posts, told me that he is giving his computer to his and Katie's youngest brother who is leaving for college in the fall. He wanted to upgrade himself to a new computer that he could use as a media center. He was considering a Dell, but I could hear in his voice that he wasn't sold on it.

Hmmm... time to work my magic.

This was right around the time that Dave was talking about how he had hooked up his new Mac Mini as a media center, so I suggested this very same idea to Scott. Honestly, it was just a shot in the dark sort of suggestion, but why not?

He wanted some more information, so I got it for him. Well, what I could anyway. For me, computing is just that... computing. I use my computer to do computer-like things. I've never even considered going the whole computer-based media center route. After some research, though, I'm really digging on the idea.

I think I had Scott pretty convinced early on that Mac was the way to go. But he still wanted to go in and check one out at the closest Apple Store in Woodfield Mall to be sure and he wanted Katie and me to go with. After a few weeks of begging on Scott's part, we finally found a day we could go and it was this past Friday.

maclogo We met at the mall a couple hours after we all got off our respective jobs and headed into the light... the glowing white light of the giant Mac logo on the sides of the entrance to the Woodfield Mall Apple Store. I'm sorry, I don't care what anyone says, these are some of the most beautiful stores in the world. I could be a Windows fanatic and still be in awe of how these places are laid out. The stores are works of art. Not to take anything away from the artistry of the machines themselves.

What I find funny is that, despite his protestations that he was only conducting comparison shopping, Scott walked out with a top-of-the-line Mac Mini, a 20" Cinema Display, bluetooth keyboard and mouse, a new printer, and an AppleCare protection plan.

I was like a proud papa. And then, when Scott announced, "if I never see Windows again, I'd be happy," I think a tear formed in the corner of my eye. It was more than any man can handle in a single day.

After beholding the might packaged in such a small unit, even Katie is interested in getting one. Not just yet, though.

Now if only I could use my "powers of persuasion" to convince those behind Powerball to rig their machines in my favor.

I do have one question, though... have any of you ever applied for Apple credit before? Scott did this while I was playing with one of the new Mac Books and taking self portraits in Photo Booth (which you may see me using sometime soon as I was able to e-mail them to myself from the store). They asked him three identity verification questions and you'd expect that they would be about him. Ironically, only one actually was ("what kind of car did you recently obtain financing for?").

The other two were about Katie. "What age group best represents your sister, Katie?" and "what city does your sister, Katie, live closest to?" That freaked us out a little bit. Katie moreso since she was right there as the computer asked Scott these questions.

Is this standard fare when obtaining store credit anywhere? As Scott asked, what would happen if you were estranged from your sister?


More than meets the eye...

Note: TypePad had a pretty significant downtime yesterday during which almost all functionality, save for actual post display, was down. No commenting, no trackbacking, no stat taking. If any of you tried to leave a comment yesterday and were unable, I apologize. But that functionality has returned and you can still go back and comment, bitch, gripe, etc., should you still remember what you wanted to say in the first place.

Okay, moving on...


Both of these notes should take you back a bit.

Yabba dabba doo...
I get occasional e-mail updates from McFarlane Toys' news. Once in a great while, there is an interesting tidbit, but not all that often.

Yesterday's update had a big gem. Well, more like a gemstone. Or, more specifically, a Flintstone. And friends.

Yep, McFarlane, creator of some of the most well-sculpted action figures ever, has obtained the license to develop figures  based on Hanna Barbera characters. The first wave of figures includes two different Fred Flintstones (one on a chopper and one in a hot rod), two different Tom & Jerrys ("Rock 'n' Roll" and "No trespassing!"), Hong Kong Phooey, and Quick Draw McGraw.

Cartoon characters are notoriously difficult to capture in a three-dimensional sculpt simply because they are always only two dimensional. We've never seen them in full 3-D glory before. The resulting sculpts are typically very lackluster. I need simply defer to a majority of The Simpsons figures that came out a few years back to make my point.

These, however, look spectacular. McFarlane and company really did a great job of capturing the feel of these classic characters and bringing them to life in plastic.

Check out a couple of them...

Hannabarberatoys

The Autobots wage the battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons...
Is anyone else out there as thoroughly terrified of this as I am? And, yes, I am still scared despite learning that Dane Cook will have a cameo in the film (he's an avowed Transformers nut).

Transformerslogo_1

If you do visit the site, make sure you click on the "Watch the Exclusive Announcement Now" link. That little bit is actually kinda cool. As for how the movie will turn out... well, it's being directed by Michael Bay. Take that however you choose.

Wow, I've managed to both instill fond memories of years past and rape those very same years in one post. I'm so proud.


I am, I am, I am Superman...

I know I may have promised a few of you a post on a certain topic. However, something came up that trumped that particular post in terms of sensitivity to timeliness. So the promised post will go up tomorrow... promise. I really mean it this time.

Anywho, Katie had to pick me up from work yesterday because I had driven her car to the shop to take care of a recall notice that she received in the mail. No, nothing bad, and nothing we had to pay for, unlike last time. So I was actually happy to take it in.

She stopped at home on her way from work to pick up a change of clothes for both her and me because we were planning on hanging out with the future SiL, Jen. She also picked up the mail and immediately called me.

Katie: "You got a couple packages in the mail that you're going to love."

Kevin: "Really? What are they?"

Katie: "Well, one's from Italy."

Kevin: "Kim?"

Katie: "Yep. That girl really digs you. And I'm not touching this stuff."

Kevin: "Black licorice?!?!"

Katie: "Yep."

EXCELLENT!! I know Kim has sent me some black licorice'd goodies before, but that package was expected. This one, I had no idea was coming. So it was an incredible surprise. And a yummy one, at that.

To Kim... thank you so much! You are awesome!

Supermantags The other package was an order I placed last week with the WB Store. In anticipation of the release of the new movie, I ordered myself a pair of the Superman dogtags that support the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

I had been wanting to order a pair of these for well over a year now, but always forgot. Now, it's a bit hard to not remember Superman as his image is all over the place. So I finally ordered a deuce.

And they arrived just in time as we went to see Superman Returns with Jen last night!

So how was it? Oh they're great! Really high-quality metal, nice imprinting on both sides of the tags, and your $10 buys you two of them... one on a classic dogtag metal bead necklace and the other on a keyring.

Oh wait, you wanted to hear about the movie, didn't you?

Continue reading "I am, I am, I am Superman..." »


I'd like to buy the world a Coke...

How many years has the iTunes Music Store been in existence now? Four or more? Yeah, that sounds about right.

And as cool a concept as I always thought it was, I never got into buying things from the store until the right price was thrust in my face (no sex-related puns, please; that means you, Chase). And that price was "free."

Yep, not until that first promotion with Pepsi -- in which "1 in 3 people will win a free song from the iTunes Music Store" -- started did I start picking out songs. I'm a cheap bastard, what can I say? I also participated in the promotion the year after that, as well.

The only thing that ever bugged me about it was that I was always a Coke fan. Yet, here I was whoring myself to the Pepsi machine in order to get free music.

Well, not anymore!

Ipodlime It looks as though a "substantial" iTunes/Coke cross promotion is in the works. Considering the previous allegiance with Pepsi, this potential deal may seem a bit odd.

Apple, apparently, does not play favorites.

So I guess there was a little more to Coke's announcement that they were shutting down their online music store than initially reported.

This is a very good thing for many of us in my little nook of the Blogosphere.

Elaine, I'm sure, will be all over it.

Dave's gonna drink himself into lime-laced oblivion.

Perhaps, even Eve will ditch her Dr. Pepper'd ways in favor of free music. (Come to the dark side, Eve!)

Me? Well, I've become addicted to Diet Coke with Lime as of late. To quote the great Depeche Mode, "I just can't get enough." Actually, this applies to Katie as well. That stuff's just damn good.

And, now, my problem will be exponentially worsened as I try to find that special golden wrapper... er... cap with the free song code.

I guess that would depend on what the actual promotion winds up being, of course.

One can hope, though, can't he?

(iPod image stolen from Amazon.com and they probably stole it from someone else; "Everything's Better With LIME" used with permission from Blogography as it's much cooler than the Coca-Cola logo screen that TUAW used.)


All I've got is this touch-tone phone...

All kinds of cool little things to discuss today. So I shall give them headers for your ease of reading.

Sinjin Smith I am not...
While sand volleyball through my park district actually started up last Monday, I didn't get to join in with my team until this week because I was working the gym during the first set of games. This week, however, I was there and I was lovin' it.

This is my third year playing sand volleyball but my first on this new team. The captain of the team I normally play with never showed up back home from college this year. Honestly, I have no idea where the hell he went. So I joined up with someone else I know from the gym and we got rocked.

Yeah, you read that right. We got our asses handed to us. Let's see... 15-5, 15-5, and 15-13. At least we did much better in the third game, but that was only after we blew a seven point lead. We were actually winning pretty handily and just stunk the rest of it up. Not good.

But we had fun and it feels really good to play volleyball again.

Let me tell you about an idea I had for an episode...
Apparently my Kappy Awards post has struck a chord with some television forums whom have posted data about a few of the individual awards.

The NUMB3RS subforum on televisionwithoutpity.com was pretty happy about my awarding of the One-Two Punch in a Drama and the Best Actor Who Should Be Given Some Respect By Finally Being Made A Full-Time Cast Member awards to Rob Morrow/David Krumholtz and Dylan Bruno, respectively.

Well, one poster was wondering whether or not the awards could be taken at all seriously, but, even if not, that it was pretty cool all the same. I was so touched by both the mention and the links (hits are a good thing, right?) that I joined up just to say thanks and poke a little fun at myself. So I said, "Nah, you can't take the Kappys all that seriously. Just fanboy ranting and raving about TV. I say this because I am that fanboy. Thanks for coming on by and checking them out." No, that wasn't all I said, but this is the pertinent stuff.

Then a user by the name of Cheuton chimed in with, "The Kappy Awards are cool. Fanboys and Fangirls make the world go 'round."

I thought this was really nice of Cheuton to say so I started reading through the forum a bit more. Soon, I realized that Cheuton was chock full of information about the show that the normal viewer or fan would never have access to such as the number of sets that were built, info about full-time vs. guest-starring status, etc. So I visited the page for NUMB3RS on IMDb. It was there I discovered that one of the creators of the show was a woman named Cheryl Heuton.

Nah. Couldn't be. Could it?

So I checked on the forum. Sure enough, both Cheryl Heuton and her co-creator Nicolas Falacci were confirmed as regular contributors to the boards.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not that big a deal, true. But it certainly made my day.

I also got a nod at the talkcsifiles forum for my award to Anna Belknap of CSI: NY as Best Rookie Actress in a Drama. I didn't join up over there just because I didn't have anything to say. Maybe down the line I might join. Who knows?

Two cans and a string are better than Nextel...
Sonyericssonw600i_1 I think I may have decided on a new cellphone for that October 1 jump from Nextel.

For one, we are going to go with Cingular. We know more people on Cingular than we do on Verizon so we'd save even more money with the free user-to-user calling. Money saved is always a good thing.

So, despite the fact that Cingular will be introducing a new RAZR with iTunes built in sometime soon, I think I will be going with a Sony Ericsson w600i (sorry Karl). It's a nifty little phone that does most of what I need it to do, is really sturdy, and has some strong reviews both by Amazon users and C-Net users and their editor. Plus, I talked to a couple people I know personally who own it and they love it with a passion.

Even if it doesn't have absolutely everything I wanted, it has a vast majority of my preferred features and has some nice trade offs on the rest.

Of course, this is pending its availability come October. Knowing my luck, it will be outmoded by then for another phone. We'll see, right?

Thanks to all of you for your input on the matter. A lot of what you said really did help with the decision-making process. I appreciate it.

Some high falootin' computer lurnin'...
Most of us bloggers and professional Web developers know what a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) is. If you don't, I'll let you click over to Wikipedia and discover for yourself.

Anyway, my job is allowing me to enroll in a CSS class at a local community college.

This is a very good thing because, put simply, a stronger knowledge of CSS would greatly benefit me at my job. No question about it.

But, a nice little side bennie (sp?) is the fact that it will help with my Web design skills in general. I will be very able, for example, to make tweaks that will allow this little rat trap to look quite a bit nicer.

I'm pretty stoked about it.

To do this class, I am going to have to take a hiatus from the M.B.A. program as I really want to put forth all my effort in this one area and not spread myself too thin. Yes, this will push me back by two classes in my program. However, since I was really only taking the M.B.A. stuff for kicks (sick, eh?), there is no deadline by which I have to graduate. So a minor delay is no big deal.

If I like the class enough, I may go ahead and follow it up with one on XHTML. It can't hurt, right? The job may not cover that one, though.

Prettifying things...
And, on the topic of design, be on the lookout for some visual changes here at Kapgar. I've got a new design that's almost completely done that will be launched for my one-year blogiversary here at Typepad.

I'm really happy with it and have gotten some great feedback from my wife as well as Karl at 2HT and a professional graphic designer I know. I hope the rest of you like it, too.

I know that many of you have commented on how you like the simplicity of my site. And I appreciate the positive feedback from all of you. But, to be honest, I'm sick to death of all the white on this page. So I'm giving it some color and a bit more personality overall.

I'll detail the rest of the changes upon launch. This will probably happen on Friday, so remember to click through from your RSS readers and give me your honest opinion. When it happens, that is.


Call me...

As of this coming October 1, Katie and I will have served our sentence in hell and will be jumping ship from Nextel/Sprint to either Cingular or Verizon.

We enjoyed Nextel in the early months. However, there remains very little justification to stay with them. Too many things happened that have soured us on the whole experience. For example:

  • We thought we might save some cash by using the walkie-talkie feature ("Direct Connect") to talk to some of our Nextel-enabled family and friends and, to be honest, we've only ever really used it with each other.
  • We get very few minutes during prime hours and run out of them quite quickly requiring Katie and I to talk to each other on Direct Connect, which is annoying as hell. I've become one of those people that sits there talking out loud on his phone holding it like a child holds a tin-can phone.
  • That chirp. Damn that horrifically ear-shattering chirp that lets you know a DC call is coming in.
  • The battery life is practically non-existent. We've needed to charge these things on a daily basis since the starting gate. And replacement batteries are expensive as hell. One Nextel rep I spoke with said that it takes a lot of battery power to connect and stay connected to their network. My ass.
  • The selection of phones is minimal and the only one or two decent ones cost upwards of $300. And those couple phones pale in comparison to the features and useability of well over half of the phones that are offered by just about any other service out there.

So, the one thing we know for sure is that we are leaving Nextel come October. They keep sending us promos for free minutes if we resign. I just throw them away immediately. Nothing is changing our minds about this decision.

Motorolarazr Oh wait, actually there is one other thing we do know for sure... Katie is getting a RAZR phone. She has loved them since they were first released on the public about a month or two after we first signed up for Nextel. She always said that if we had known that phone would soon be released, we may have stuck with Cingular -- which is where we were before -- just so she could get one.

I, on the other hand, am unsure of what phone I want to get. In all honesty, I hate cellphones (I hate phones in general). They are a nuisance that I'd just as well live without. However, since I've had one for so many years and it's become the primary source of communication between Katie and I when we're not physically together, I kinda have to have one. So I want one that's going to make me enjoy the experience. Is such a demand possible to meet?

As nifty as Cingular/Verizon phones are in comparison to Nextel handsets, I still find myself doubting what is out there and not knowing if I, too, want a RAZR. Plus, now that we're moving out of the Nextel zone, I've discovered just what it's like to actually have a real selection of phones at my disposal. So, as would be expected, I'm confused as hell because there's so damn many to choose from.

Here are some of my demands from my future cellphone:

  • durable - able to be dropped and not die
  • long battery life with a low price for replacement batteries
  • color screen
  • game enabled - both pre-installed and downloadable games at a low price; they're great when you need something quick to pass the time
  • downloadable ringtones - nothing fancy, just ones that are better than the pre-installed fare; perhaps one that would allow me to use my MP3s?
  • ease of use - can you imagine how nice it would be if cellphones were as easy to use as iPods? Ha!
  • cameraphone - I realize that, being the photography nut I am, any cellphone camera is going to pale in comparison; but it's a nice thing to have around all the same
  • Mac compatible - but only if I'm going to need to sync it up for whatever reason (datebooks, photo downloads, music uploads, etc.)
  • small size - my current phone is junior-sized brick

What phones have each of you used? Am I missing something on my demands list? Is such a combination reality or fantasy?

What about service? Verizon or Cingular?

I'm so lost as to what I should do.

Being the geek I am, you'd think I'd love this sort of thing.

I don't.


That's why she fell for the leader of the pack...

I found this on both The Unofficial Apple Weblog and ArsTechnica's Infinite Loop.

Miscisheep

iDont (you can key it in yourself if you so desire; I won't be bumping their hit count with a built-in link) is a viral marketing campaign against iPod owners the world over.

The campaign -- perpetrated by SanDisk in support of their line of MP3 players that they hope (emphasis on "hope") can actually compete with Apple's iPod -- wants to make people believe that, if you own an iPod, you are just one of a herd not expressing individuality in any way, shape, or form.

I'm sorry, but this bugs the hell out of me.

Back in my marketing classes during my undergrad and now in my M.B.A. program, we have learned that when you are in first place, you advertise to the strengths of your product. You just do a bunch of self promotion in your ad campaigns. When you're in second place, you play on the weaknesses of the company in the #1 slot.

Is it a testament to how good the iPod is that SanDisk could not find a flaw to exploit and, instead, opted to attack the users of the gadget? Or is it just marketing suicide and their marketing department are a bunch of imbeciles? Probably a bit of both. One tip, guys...

YOU DO NOT ATTACK YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMER BASE!

Are you guys flippin' idiots? Right now, if anything, you've pissed off the people that you are hoping to woo. Why would a customer want to show allegiance to a company that just insulted them? You've automatically limited your market to the 10% of users who opt for MP3 players aside from the iPod and its family of products. That is a percentile that big boys like Microsoft are trying to appeal to as well. So, by stealing shares from them, you've pissed off the bull and you're going to get the horns. Microsoft won't sit back and take it. And I hope they put you out of your misery.

And Apple is likely just going to sit back and watch as it all plays out.

iPod owners are happy with their players, for the most part. They are easy to use, reliable, and damn nice looking. Are we sheeps because we use them? Hell no. We're sheep if we buy into your bullshit manifesto and jump ship to your product.

Individuality lies not in the means you employ to play your music, but in the music you choose to play on it.

And it should also be noted that the site only has two product reviews that it links to in their "The Alternative" page. I'm not sure if this is because there haven't been enough reviews of the product overall, or just not enough good reviews for them to show. Also note that one of the reviews links to a site called anythingbutipod.com. Gee, wonder if they'll be objective.

SanDisk, it was fun knowing you. You've lost my business entirely. And I'm sure I won't be the only one.

Don't ever call me a sheep because I opt for quality.


Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak...

Now this is just cruel!

Fox, FX, and Apple have announced that the iTunes Music Store has now started carrying several current shows from each network as well as some more classics.

Included in the list of culprits are, from Fox, 24, Prison Break, Unan1mous, and Stacked along with classics like Buffy and Firefly. FX is offering up The Shield, Black/White, 30 Days, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia to the store. They're even going to offer up Lost in Space.

Miscitmsshows

This isn't fair! There are so many on there I would watch. Okay, I'm safe on 24 since Katie and I already own the DVDs. But I've been wanting to watch Firefly, The Shield, and 30 Days for some time now. Karl has just recently talked me into giving Prison Break a shot and Sandra has convinced me to give Buffy a try on DVD this summer, as well. This is either a sign that these shows are worth my time, or someone is really out to screw my wallet!

The good thing is that Firefly, for the entire run of the show, only costs about $25 at iTMS whereas the DVDs come closer to $50. So that's a pretty good thing, right?

So what's next, Apple?


Too much information...

I've got a ton of randomness for you today. Sorry if these tangents shoot you all over the place. Just sit back, return your seatbacks and traytables to their upright and locked positions, and prepare for a ride...

Network Neutrality
Talk about the topic du jour, I've been seeing this everywhere lately.

For those not in the know, basically, Network Neutrality is a campaign to save the Internet from a proposal in which telecommunications companies that serve as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be able to "control" Web traffic flow by making some sites load faster or slower than others.

Effectively, this means that ISPs will be showing preference to some sites over others. And what will likely determine who gets this preferential treatment? Money. Yeah, that's right. If a site wants to see their stuff load faster, they may be forced to pay the ISPs so their site will work better.

What a load of crap.

Here are a couple examples from a list I found of how this could affect us as Web users:

Ipod listeners—A company like Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a higher-priced music service that it owned.

Bloggers—Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips—silencing citizen journalists and putting more power in the hands of a few corporate-owned media outlets.

Google users—Another search engine could pay dominant Internet providers like AT&T to guarantee the competing search engine opens faster than Google on your computer.

I don't really know everything about this topic. I don't even really know just how much of a speed difference there might be. It may be negligible, especially in this broadband era that we now live in. I'm reading what I can on the topic and the prospects do scare the bejeebus out of me, should they be valid.

Either way, this is definitely something you should keep your eyes on over the next several months. If you'd like a relatively easy-to-understand overview, check Wil's site.

MySpace
Sorry Neilochka, but I did it. I bit the bullet and signed up for a MySpace account. I really don't know why (well, I've received two invites lately both from my brother and from Johnny C) and I have no idea what benefits it may have, if any. Time will tell.

Miscmyspace_1But, you can check me out on MySpace here or by clicking on "MySpace" in the left menubar under "Kapgarize Me: Personal."

Actually, now that I think about it, should this be listed under "Personal" or "Communities" in the left menubar?

I do have 11 friends already, including Jesus H. Christ himself. So that's pretty cool. But I've also already had friends requests from three complete strangers. All of them are bands. Two from Chicago and one from L.A. Guess some of them have robots that scour the lists of MySpace users for newbies and locals, eh? Does this happen to each of you a lot?

I'm not really sure who out there is on MySpace that I know, but if you are and want to be my friend, contact me via my account.

"Be my friend, Appleby!"

iTunes/iPod
Thankfully, iTunes won the war with the major labels and the 99 cents/song pricing structure will remain intact. The music labels wanted to have a tiered structure so they could force iTunes to sell more popular songs at a higher price. Those greedy prick bastards. But Apple held strong. And they won. Thank you, Steve Jobs!

In other interesting music news, some miners who are trapped in a coal mine in Australia have been receiving survival necessities via a giant PVC pipe that rescuers managed to drop down to them. They have been given such things as food, water, dry clothing, blankets, vitamins, glow sticks, iPods, digital cameras... woah! iPods? Yeah, iPods have been passed down to the two miners loaded with music of their choosing just to make the time more bearable. Why not? If it makes their time trapped a bit more tolerable, it can't be all bad. Just goes to show that iPods really do make the world go round. Heh.

A New Snack
On a lighter note, both literally and figuratively, Katie and I have, just this week, become utterly obsessed with a new snack food. We found it at The Fresh Market and neither of us had ever seen it before, so it may be new... or we may just both be blind as bats.

Miscgoldfish_1Whole Grain Goldfish Crackers (you will have to enable popups for this site, sorry). And they rock! So far as we can tell, they only come in the original cheese flavor.

How do they compare to the original fishies? We both think they are actually not that much different. Maybe a little less cheese flavor, which translates to less powdery mess. But they are also a bit crunchier.

All in all, damn good! We highly recommend them.

If I had a cool "Kapgar Approved" logo like Dave's little seal of approval, that thing would be pasted all over these little babies. Alas, I do not. And Dave would probably sue my ass from here to Timbuktu for taking his idea anyway. So I'm much better off without it.

At least I've got my fishies.

Veronica Mars, season 2
For all you VM fans out there, here's a bit of good news... the season 2 DVD set for Veronica Mars will be coming out on August 15. This should be just in time for the start of season 3.

Yeah, you heard me CW execs, "season 3"! You'd damn well better re-up the show!


Sorry to throw so much at you. But I'm sure if one thing didn't appeal to you, then, hopefully, one of the other snippets will.


Keep on rockin' in the free world...

It's time to welcome a new addition to the family (no, Katie and I did not have a baby).

Miscipodvideo After all our nagging and bargaining and taking advantage of the system, we finally convinced Best Buy to swap out that crappy old iPod with a spiffy new iPod with video playback. You gotta love playing the system. Heck, every service tech in the place kept telling me that I just need to make sure I take advantage of the "No Lemon Policy" on the service plans... so I did.

It's a wonderful little toy. The picture is crisp, despite being small. But it's still entirely watchable. I've already checked out a couple of music videos and an episode of The Office on it and it's not nearly as bad as you might think.

Katie coined the name for this new Pod. It shall, henceforth, be known as Black iP (as in Black Eyed Peas). It was a great name for it and she came up with it completely on the fly with very little effort. How can you say no to that name?

I do feel guilty, though. Sort of like I'm abandoning doPi. He still works perfectly well and I have loved our time together, but we're talking about me and toys.

I think I'll still be using doPi, though. Maybe at home attached to the stereo or out in the workshop in the garage or leave it at the office. He will still see service. He will still be loved.

Now I just need a new case. This is one iPod that you can't afford to scratch the screen on.

Oh, and MrJerz will be proud to know that the first song played on it was Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." I wasn't about to let you down, Jerz!


It's time to ramble on...

I think today's post will just be an amalgam of all the little tidbits of information I've collected throughout the last week that, by themselves, don't really constitute a whole post, but, together, make for one heckuvan entry.

Credit Card Application
Anyone ever heard of Upfront Rewards Visa card? Like I'm sure all of you do, Katie and I receive nearly a dozen credit card applications in a given week. It's pretty ridiculous to see how many trees are killed by these companies. Typically, I just open the envelope, shred the portion that has our name and address on it, and throw the rest in a recycle bin.

This one, however, caught my eye because it had a picture of a Dell Inspiron B120 laptop computer on it.

I was curious as it's not the typical travel clock or mug that most credit card companies offer.

The offer is this, you sign up with them and transfer a minimum balance of $5,000 to this card and you will get the computer. The catch, of course, is that they require you to maintain at least $3,500 of the balance for a minimum of 18 months. If you go under $3,500, you will be assessed a $600 fee. If you maintain the $3,500 for 18 months at their 9.99% APR, you wind up paying $2,269 and change in interest fees (is my math correct on that one?). We see where they get their money from.

I guess if you already maintain one heckuva revolving balance on your credit card and pay the interest as it is, you may as well get the free computer out of it. But don't expect to be getting out of debt anytime soon.

My Name Is Earl and The Daily Show
Did anyone watch last week's episode of My Name Is Earl? Was that Patrick Swayze in the role of the head bounty hunter at the office where Juliette Lewis' character is working? I can't find reference to any of the guest stars in that episode on IMDb, epguides.com, or even NBC.com. Was it him?

The Daily Show had a pretty funny special entitled "Race: The AfroSpanicIndioAsianization of America" on the other night. And, if you watched carefully during the scene with the racist correspondent, it shows that he got his start on the Channel 4 news in Detroit. Well, the news team photo that they Photoshoppped his head into was actually Chicago's very own NBC 5 late night news team. Yep, Warner Saunders, Allison Rosati, and, well, I don't remember the other guy.

Sorry, "other guy."

BlogShares
So I'm looking at my blogstats on Friday morning and I see an entry in to my site from a place called BlogShares, which, so far as I can tell, is like a virtual stock market that banks on the up-and-down value of blogs over time.

And kapgar.com was listed.

However, 80% of the shares of my site are owned by Gary at GarySaid.com.

Wait a minute!! Hold the phone!! Gary is the primary stakeholder in my site?!?! How's that fair? Do I have to call him "boss"? I'm not his blog bitch, am I?

And, apparently, I've made some pretty good money for him, too. As early back as I can view, which is only mid-December, a share of stock in kapgar.com was a mere $1,651.80. And, as of March 14 of this year, it was up to $2,836.29. God only knows how much lower it was when Gary purchased his 4,000 shares during their bargain-basement IPO back in August.

I get a cut, Gary. 'nuff said.

Miscmundane Carnival of the Mundane
Have any of you ever taken part in a blog carnival yet? Well, now's as good a time as any.

The upcoming Carnival of the Mundane VIII is coming to a blog near you. Well, more specifically, it's coming to Daisy Mae's blog on Friday, April 14.

C'mon! Jump on board! Be a carnie! You know you want to.

This will be my fourth foray into this most devilish display of our mundane existences. Now to pick a post, or two.

Cover Songs
How soon is too soon to cover a song?

I'm asking because I was listening to PodQuiz 59 this morning on the way to work and James' musical segment revolved around cover songs. He played the cover version and asked you to identify the song and the original artist.

One song was a cover of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from the movie Armageddon (actually it was apparently written by Diane Warren). This song came out with the movie back 1998 making it only eight years old. And it's already been covered by country artist Mark Chesnutt and the first version listed on AllMusicGuide came out back in 1999.

How is that right? I think a song needs to be at least 10 years old before it should be eligible for cover status. I would honestly prefer it even be longer. 15 or 20 years would be ideal.

And, while I'm on the topic, can musicians out there stop doing tribute albums to artists that are still relatively new? I thought it was bad enough, three or four years ago, when I saw a tribute to Sheryl Crow who, at the time, had been in the limelight for about seven years. But now I'm seeing tribute albums to the likes of Avril Lavigne and other artists who have no more than one or two albums to their name. Sick.

Lost Blogs
Just a final reminder that tomorrow marks the first day of the Lost Blogs Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign. So you will be seeing some interesting posts on this blog as well as all those linked up in the sidebar over there under the image of Abe Lincoln's head.

I will be breaking with my song lyric post title system and be titling all these entries with "Lost Blogs: Day 1" or whatnot. I may still be posting normal entries. But I will use my normal titling method for those. That will be one way that you will tell the difference.


Steamy windows, zero visibility...

An ode to Microsoft Windows...

Together we work, day in and day out
This situation makes me want to shout.

You freeze, you crash, you enrage me daily,
Yet your makers sing your praises gaily.

Some IT departments, stubborn they are,
Are their choices made while drunk in a bar?

They prefer the low-priced licensing rates,
Don't they realize they're tempting the fates?

Price equals quality, this much rings true,
I've declared this fact til my face turns blue.

Invest in quality, shoot for long term,
Make a wise choice and stand by it quite firm.

There's another choice, a better O.S.,
One that makes you scream aloud, "OH HELL YES."

The name's OSX and it's made by Mac,
And once you've gone Mac, there's no going back.

© 2006 Kevin Apgar

I'm done with you Windows. You and all the errors and crashes that you so readily propagate. My fury is at its peak. I want out... but I can't. Work dictates I deal with this hell on a daily basis.

I wish I knew how to quit you.


Oh, I have double vision...

I just found an article via Digg.com that I think is going to make the Nintendo DS the de facto portable gaming system in its quest to defeat the Sony PSP.

Miscdsopera According to GoNintendo.com, a web browser application is being developed for launch in December. Many DS users know that the system already comes with built-in wireless connectivity so that you can play online with friends or others via a wireless network. Well, now you'll be able to browse the Web using it.

I don't own a DS yet and I wasn't sure if I wanted one or not. For months, I had been weighing the pros and cons of both that and the PSP. My brother got a PSP for Christmas from his future in laws and, while it's nice, I just don't see anything that justifies the $250 price tag. And, even though the DS looks kinda cool, I wasn't sure it would really offer me much that I wanted. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I would be happy enough to just get a Gameboy Advanced SP.

Yeah. Not anymore.

First, I read in my Nintendo e-mails (I started getting them when I registered my GameCube) that a bundle pack of the DS with Mario Kart DS was being released around Christmas and I wanted one something fierce. I decided to hold off. Then I read Dave's take on the pack and realized how bad I wanted one. Of course, by the time I got to the store, it was gone. I did not realize that it was a limited-time offer.

Damn.

Recently, I read about how they were going to release a juiced-up version of the original Super Mario Bros. for the DS closer to this summer. I told Katie that I'm not missing out again. SMB is probably my all-time favorite video game and if they are putting out a new one, I gotta play it. And, if they release a combo pack of the DS and SMB-DS together, it's mine.

Okay, it was more like I asked her very nicely, being the budget overseer that she is, to let me buy one should it come out. She knows I've been jonesing for this thing and she's cool with it.

So, yeah, I'm a full-on DS supporter even without being an owner just yet. And this Opera-based browser only makes me that much more a fan. To be able to blog from my DS would just be cool. A bit inconvenient, perhaps. But I've seen and read about people blogging from Blackberries and cellphones so how much worse can it really be?

Better not tell Katie that last bit about blogging from it. She may change her mind. ;-)

Let's just tell her I want to school Dave in Mario Kart.


Oh, I'm kickin' television...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have been taking my sweet ol' time about jumping on the TV-on-iPod bandwagon.

While, admittedly, I have downloaded several shows and music videos to my computer and watched them, I am hampered by the fact that I do not yet own a video-enabled iPod. They say that can cause problems.

But I have watched the shows on my computer and enjoy doing that. I purchased an episode of Lost that I missed when it originally aired and I always take advantage of the free shows that have been occasionally offered up as marketing gimmicks on iTMS including the new show Conviction as well as Monk. I've also got a bunch of music videos on there as well. And I'm sure I'd enjoy watching them on my iPod when the time comes that I do invest in one.

Have any of you tried this functionality out yet? Have you purchased shows from the iTunes Music Store and watched them either on your computer or your iPod? Do you think you will?

If yes, what did you think?

If no, why not?

I know that the $1.99 per show price tag can be a big sticking point for some people. So maybe this little bit of news will help soften the blow a bit.

ABC, who already offers up shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost on iTMS at the $1.99 price point, has announced that they will not only be expanding their iTMS offerings, but will also be offering two versions of their shows.

No, not like a director's cut or anything. But still pretty cool, all the same.

They will continue to offer up the $1.99 episodes. In addition, however, they will provide the same shows for free download.

Miscgreysanatomy_1 The catch? They will have commercials in them.

Their test of this process will be, for the time being, limited to Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy. The list may expand as time passes, but this is a pretty good start.

I don't know about you, but I can handle having ads in my shows if it means that I can download them for free. How cool is that?

Not that I care about D.H. and Lost so much. I've nearly lost all hope that either show can recover although I am still watching them.

G.A. is another matter altogether. I am stoked about the fact that, once I get a new iPod, I will be able to look at Iz... er... enjoy the daily exploits of young interns in a major metropolitan hospital whenever I want (phew).

Does this knowledge affect your decision to invest in a video iPod? Do you think it'll change any of your current TV viewing habits?

I know I'm screwed. I'm going to become a full-on PodTV whore.


The best things in life are the simple things...

I don't usually link to stuff like this when I receive RSS updates, but, for some reason, I clicked on this one from TUAW and am so happy I did.

This is a video of how iPod packaging would look if redesigned by marketers from Microsoft. Damn, is it funny. And oh-so-true.

YouTube - Microsoft iPod Packaging Parody

That is one of the great things about Apple, they realize that simplicity is a virtue.

I only wish this could be resaved as a stand-alone movie file so people with video iPods could watch it on the go and share with non-believers.


Some say I've got a bad attitude...

Two corporations are currently the target of my wrath right now... Best Buy and UPS.

Just before Christmas, Katie and I took in an iPod that belonged to her brother, Steven, to Best Buy for warranty repair work. We took it in because we had purchased the iPod for him and the receipt and, therefore, the warranty were in our names. 

A few weeks ago, we got a call saying that the iPod was back in the store and fixed. However, since we took it up to the Best Buy in Crystal Lake, a good 45 minutes to an hour from here, getting there to pick it up has been a problem. Katie's family hasn't had the time to go in and we haven't had the time to trek it up there. And, since Steven got a new iPod for Christmas, there hasn't been a rush to get it.

So, Best Buy's been calling constantly about picking it up and leaving all kinds of messages. On Wednesday, they left a particularly nasty one on our answering machine in which they said, "I would've thought your iPod would be more important to you and you would've picked it up by now."

That was the last straw for Katie who called that Best Buy, found the CSR that left the message, and tore him a new asshole. Actually, she explained our situation calmly and rationally, yet of firm tone and wrought with comments that had him apologizing profusely and proceeded to ask if there was any way they could either ship it to us directly or transfer it to our local store. They said no, that it was against their policy and they could not guarantee that it would ship okay, yadda, yadda, yadda.

On Thursday, I came home and saw a UPS shipping notice stuck to our front door. It stated that a driver had attempted to deliver a package from Best Buy shipped Next Day Air (not that Crystal Lake to Geneva requires "air" treatment, per se) and we were not around to sign for it. And this was serious as it was a "signature required in person" sort of deal.

I called the 800 number and spoke with a CSR about how we would be able to sign for it. I explained that we are never home during the day and only a couple nights per week during reasonable hours. Then I asked if it would be possible for them to deliver it after 5:00 p.m. or on Saturday.

Nope. They never deliver past 5:00 or on weekends at all.

So I asked if they would allow me to sign the slip they left for me and they could just leave the package. Again, nope.

My patience was running thin about now.

Finally, they offered me the option of delivering to an alternate address. Despite the fact that all our mail at work is funneled through a mailroom, I thought maybe they would still deliver it directly to the house in which I work. They said fine and that it would be delivered to my work address on Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Care to guess what happened next? If you were thinking that it was never delivered, you'd be correct.

I called them again from work just a few minutes before 5:00 p.m. and, since I didn't have the slip with delivery number on it, I had to wait while they searched for it on the computer. Hey, I figured I could rely on them to deliver it, so why have the slip?

They finally found the computer entry and discovered, much to my chagrin but coming as no surprise, that they attempted to deliver it to my house again. So, despite the fact that the CSR told me it would be transferred the next day to the new address, it never was. There just wasn't enough time to make the transfer (all 12 miles of it).

And I now have to wait until Monday to receive the package. Or I could drive what I would assume to be over an hour away to Addison (wherever the hell that is) and pick it up from the "nearby" UPS delivery center.

I am not happy for two reasons:

  1. Why the hell would Best Buy tell Katie it was against their policy to ship it out and then go ahead and do so the next day without informing us one way or the other? If we had known they were actually going to ship it using a signature required method, we would have told them to hold on to it.
  2. Why in God's name doesn't UPS make special allowances for these signature-required deliveries? Don't they realize people work? Why can't you sign the delivery notice? Or why can't they deliver after 5:00 p.m. or on Saturdays? This is just ridiculous considering the percentage of households in America these days that have dual incomes with both people working during "normal business hours."

I hate them both right about now. And this despite the fact that my uncle has worked for UPS for roundabouts 20 years now. But he's a jet mechanic and not a delivery guy, so it's okay.

Sorry, UB. Just stating my mind.

Today's post brought to you by The AP Style Guide...
As per the comment on yesterday's post by WG, I am attempting to phase out my use of double spacing after periods and colons. It's something that I've done for so long that it's hard to just stop. I'm not mad at him for pointing it out as it is something that I need to work on especially since we switched this part of our style guide at work as well. His comment just reminded me that maybe I should try it in all aspects of my life so it will come easier when it's necessary.

So I'm going to make a conscious effort to phase that out. Hope I caught them all here.

God, it's weird trying to stop my thumb from hitting the spacebar in quick succession.


If you can't do the math, then nothing adds up...

Wanna hear something funny about me?

I can design Web sites using HTML coding or any number of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors such as Dreamweaver, Frontpage, etc.

I can do graphic design using Illustrator, Photoshop, and QuarkXPress (Dave, you'll be happy to learn that my office is ordering InDesign for us).

I troubleshoot myriad types of problems on both Mac OS and Windows.

I've even taken part in computer networking.

I've done things with computers that many lay users can't even fathom.

But I have never set up a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. 

MiscmacexcelOne of the most basic things that can be done with one of the pieces of the Microsoft Office puzzle, and I've never done it.  Never had to do it for classes.  Never had to do it for work.  Never even had to do it for personal finances.

Simply put, I've just never had cause to use Excel for anything other than setting up a pseudo-database of names and addresses for the purpose of mail merging address labels in MS Word.

Yet, now I have to learn it. 

For the Managing Information Technology course in my MBA program, we are supposed to set up a Web page as a term project.  Well, since that's what I do for a living and I made the damn-fool mistake of telling my prof this, I am exempt from it.  Typically, that might be a good thing.  But, he decided to find a new project for me to do to make up for this grading deficiency.  And, since working with a pivot table (don't ask) was the one class lab exercise I had trouble with... setting up an Excel spreadsheet became that replacement.

And I'm not liking it one bit.

I've had all my classmates tell me that it's easy.  My best friend laughed at me when he heard I'd never worked with Excel before.  Even my wife had taken a class in it way back when (unfortunately, she hasn't used it since so the knowledge has escaped her).

Despite all my extensive computer experience, I feel like a complete moron.

What's wrong with me?


Yoshimi, they don't believe me, but you won't let those robots defeat me...

Last night, I witnessed the beginning of the end.  It's horrible!  It's a travesty!

Actors on television are being replaced with cyborgs!

Katie and I were watching this week's episode of Love Monkey which was to guest star Nicky Katt of Boston Public fame playing a movie director tapped to create Wayne's (Teddy Geiger) debut music video.  However, it was not Nicky Katt!  It was some freakish robot that just looked like Nicky Katt.  Or maybe it was Nicky Katt with some kind of alien probe attached to him.

How can I tell you may be asking?

Well, it's a minor detail, but if you watch the episode and look on the right side of his head, some of his wiring is exposed in the form of a small cybernetic protrusion that starts at his ear and sticks out slightly in a line from his ear to his mouth.

And this problem is getting even more serious as I'm seeing normal people walking around the streets with similar protusions/implants.  They scare me!  How long until some alien entity tries to replace me with a cyborg me or they try to give me a cranial implant.  NO!!!

MiscbluetoothOkay, all funnin' aside.  I am, of course, talking about those ridiculous looking Bluetooth handsfree cellphone headsets.  Aren't they the most absurd thing you've ever seen in your life?

Every time I see somebody wearing one, I want to walk up to them and rip it out to see if sparks start flying from their heads.  In my less violent moods, I want to flash them a Vulcan "V" handsign just to see how they respond, if at all.

What makes these things worse than normal handsfree units that people use with cellphones is that the users of these things leave them sitting in their ears regardless of if they are on the phone or not.

If the thing was piping in some kind of entertainment, maybe I could understand it.  Does a Bluetooth play MP3s?  I somehow doubt it.  So why leave it in 24/7?

As it stands, the morons who use these things as though they are a fashion accessory look like a suited-up Colonial Marine from Aliens.  Actually, the Marines wore their headgear on their helmets, as I recall.  But it's the closest comparison I can come up with.

Honestly, I think that this is the first step in a mind-control takeover of the human race.  I'm waiting to discover that the U.S. government is pumping subliminal pro-Bush propaganda through Bluetooth devices in an attempt to make us all unconscious believers.

It's the start of the apocalypse, I tell ya!

Yeah, it's been a weird day.


Got their wires pulled out...

MisctivowirelessOh, if only my cell phone were this flippin' small.

What is this, you might ask?

It's the new TiVo wireless adapter.  This allows me to disconnect my TiVo from my phone line as well as share programs between the two TiVos that Katie and I have at home.  Even if we record a show on the TiVo in the living room, we can now watch it in the bedroom as well or load it to a wireless enabled laptop (which is something I still haven't quite figured out... I've tried a Linksys wireless adapter and an Apple Airport card and neither worked).

It connects via USB cable to the back of a TiVo and the grey faceplate flips open for signal pickup purposes (or so I would think).  It supports both 802.11b and g wireless networks (geek talk; if you don't understand it, don't ask).

Cooler still is that now that we have our TiVos connected to broadband as opposed to our phone lines, we have access to a photo library and networked games through our TVs.  I haven't played with this yet, but it sounds pretty cool.

And, finally, the other cool thing is that, apparently, TiVo has some sort of working agreement with Yahoo so that people who use Yahoo television listings can simply click a TiVo icon in the listings and a signal will be sent from the computer you're using to your TiVo and set it to record the show.  No longer will I need to race home after work to set the TiVo for a show I forgot about.  Just *click* and watch.  And I've done this whole race-home-and-set thing more times than I care to admit.

Ahhhh... A boy and his toys.