Toys 2007

And many more...

Dice33
Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday, dear Kappy!
Happy birthday to me!

Okay, so I already kinda sorta wished myself a happy birthday a day in advance. At the time, I didn't think I'd actually post today. But here I am.

Actually, I just wanted to point out that I can finally listen to my iPod(s) in style! Katie bought me a pair of Bose in-ear headphones. While they take a little getting used to, once you do, they sound fantastic! Wow. You never realize just how bad cheap earbuds are until you hear good stuff. And these definitely constitute "good stuff." Thanks, hon!

Does the use of the die to convey the 33 kinda imply that I'm gambling with my life? Hmmm... maybe that wasn't the best choice, eh?

Oh, and on the dice theme... while I was searching for good dice images, I came across a real beauty. Since I've already solved the Rubik's Cube (now several dozen times - I've memorized it), I think I might try to follow the step by step and make the Magnetic Dice Rubik's Cube I found over at Instructables. It's pretty sweet!

Hey, got a meme for you in the extended post. Hope you're up for some holiday spirit!

Continue reading "And many more..." »


When the lights go down in the city...

How about some snippets for my first second day in a row of blogging in quite some time?

NBC-Ya-Later
NBC has now officially removed all their TV shows from iTunes. Well, you know what I have to say about that? Screw ya, NBC. I'll watch your shows on TV and if I miss them, I miss them. I will no longer make an effort to watch any of your shows if you're not going to allow me TO PAY YOU so I can put it on my iPod! You're saying no to my money... the one thing, aside from ratings (which should result in money anyway) that you like most. I was about to purchase an episode of Law & Order from last season to watch on my iPod, but since you don't want my money, I won't give it to you. Eat my shorts, NBC.

Protection
I have to thank Yet Another Girl for this one. The township of Manalapan, NJ, is demanding that Google hand over the identity, e-mail address, associated e-mails, blog drafts, and and other information they have regarding a blogger who uses the name "daTruthSquad." Apparently this person has written some critical comments about a township lawsuit and the town thinks it was actually written by the defendant in the case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is stepping in to defend the First Amendment rights of the blogger and of Google in their protection of this information.

Favre
I know I'm a Chicago Bears fan and our natural adversary is anybody donning the green and yellow of the Green Bay Packers. However, Packer rifleman Brett Favre was just named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year and I am having trouble thinking of a more deserving guy. After a couple seasons of subpar play from him and his team, the man has come back in a big way this season at 38 years old, an age when most NFLers have hung up their spikes. Plus he has consistently been the top scorer on one of my fantasy teams and I drafted him as my backup. He was bumped to starter very early on. Maybe I'm supposed to hate the guy, yet I cannot help but respect him. He's amazing. Damn him for being a Packer.

Frosty
I was given an early birthday present from a friend in the form of a six pack of special winter brew by my buddies over at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO. It is the Fat Tire 2° Below winter ale and I am so jacked about trying it. From what I'm told, it can be a very hard beer to find as it sells out rather quickly upon arrival in stores.

Birthday
Nice segue, eh? Yep, tomorrow I turn a pair o' threes... 33 years old. I admit I'm old. But I'm still younger than you, Hilly! Hah! Yeah, that was mean. But she's constantly teasing me or expressing her disbelief that I'm not older than her. So she deserves the poke... um... yeah. I only wish ThinkGeek had a gift registry. Oh the fun I could have! Or maybe they do and I'm just too lazy to look. Oh well.

Power
The area I live in here in the Midwest is expecting one heckuva winter storm today and tonight. If you live in the area, please be safe. Stay home, put on pajamas, find emergency candles, and hunker down with someone you love. Best advice I can think to impart unto you.


It's a nice day for a white wedding...

Hold on a sec! I think I may be on to something here...

The other day, I was talking to an old friend on the phone and she mentioned something strange that happened to her.

"So The Man (her husband) and I received a wedding invitation today and I'll be damned if either of us know who these people are. We've been sitting here for an hour running through lists of friends, family, colleagues, and their kids and we can't figure it out. We even tried Googling them in hopes of finding a picture and we've got nothing."

After I was done laughing, an idea popped up in my head. How brilliant a scam would it be, if you're about to get married, to just drive around the ritzier neighborhoods in your city and surrounding towns and find the addresses of those people who look very well-to-do. Then you Google their addresses or use some other method to get their name. Next step is to send them a wedding invitation, but you must personalize it as well. For example, handwrite a note at the bottom of the invite saying something like, "I really can't wait to see you again, it's been far too long!"

Odds are they won't show up, but maybe they'll send a gift out of some twisted sense of obligation. And even if they do show up, it's no burden on the bride and groom who don't even know half the people at their wedding anyway because their parents invite a bunch of old friends and lost family members. Regardless of who it is, and I know this from experience, you smile, hug, shake hands, and pretend like you know who they are anyway. It's part of the wedding routine. That's just how it goes.

But don't you think this is a great idea? I know it's too late for me or Alissa or Kilax to try, but how about Suze or Kazaa? You're both soon to be married, right? I think you should give this a try.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie received a catalog in the mail the other day from Urban Outfitters. I think it's the result of having purchased some T-shirts from them a couple years ago for her brothers. I'll be honest, the catalog actually has some pretty cool stuff in it like a replica of Linus' blanket and Chuck's sad little Christmas tree from Peanuts. But I'm afraid to order from it simply because I fear that, packaged within the shipping container will be a packet of suicide-inducing sorrow.

Holy crap, have you ever seen a more morose bunch of models in your life? You can even see some examples on their Web site if you click above. I think I saw one picture in the entire catalog in which one of the models even slightly upturns the corners of her lips.

I know people claim to possess "cans of whoop ass" they are willing to open on a moment's notice, but do you believe in the existence of "sachets of self despair" or "lockets of loathing"? If so, I'm sure Urban Outfitters carries it.

Smile, people!

Continue reading "It's a nice day for a white wedding..." »


Baby, well, you can bleed on me...

Katie and I were given the opportunity to try something yesterday that we've never been able to try before... a wondrous little affair known to many as "brunch."

Up to this point, I'd only known brunch as being a meal that we eat when we're too late for breakfast but can't wait for lunch. Just an interim sort of thing.

But one of my old grad school professors invited Katie and me to go out with him and his wife to The Mill Race Inn in Geneva. It was here that the Education of Kevin Apgar began.

For example, did you know that there are some places where people still get dressed up to go out for a meal other than dinner?

Or, did you realize that brunch is actually a three-course meal?

I'm sure RW is rolling his eyes that I am only now coming to this realization. Sorry, RW, some people are just more cultured than others. But I'm trying to catch up.

My awe waned a bit after an hour when I looked down and saw that I had a drop of blood on my right forearm. What the hell?!?! I suddenly realized that the weather shifts had made my allergies go nuts on me and caused a nosebleed.

So what would proper decorum dictate would be an appropriate way to deal with this situation? Well, I have no idea what is proper... never have, never will. Instead I grabbed a tissue from my pocket, blamed the nosebleed on a fledgling cocaine addiction, and excused myself to go to the bathroom to "tidy up" a bit.

Seriously, on the spur of the moment like that, could you have come up with anything better? Thankfully my old professor and his wife have a good sense of humor so I was pretty sure I could get away with that. I think I did. But only time will tell if we get another brunch invitation from them.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Can someone tell me how it slipped through the system that a toy was made with chemicals that metabolize into GHB? Wow. I'm just having a tough time figuring this one out. I wonder if this will be spoofed on Robot Chicken sometime soon. I can see it.


Bye bye, Miss American Pie...

They say that, sometimes, pictures speak louder than words. I'd like to take a moment to measure the decibel level of a few I took yesterday. If you're interested in more, click on over to Flickr.

Carillon

Reflection

Americana

Okay, so the last photo doesn't exactly fit in the theme I had started. But it's pie! Everyone loves pie! Why question it?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): A happy belated sixth birthday to my friend, lover, and slavemaster.


It's hip to be square...

Snip, snip...

Cube'dCube
For the first time in, I believe, five years, my Rubik's Cube is finally solved! Yay me!

Do you find the timing odd considering Dave's post a couple days ago? Well, yeah, I do have him to thank as the solution he linked to is what ultimately helped me solve it.

I had tried just about everything short of peeling the stickers off and putting them back on (the way I did it when I was a kid). Heck, I even tried to pry it apart (see below), but to no avail. I also tried online solutions and none of them, until Dave's link, worked worth a lick.

Claw'd Cube

But it's done. And now that I know it's possible to solve it and how to do it, I may shuffle it back up and try it again. But not yet. I'd like some time to revel in my accomplishment.

WMPy WMPy WMPy
On that rare occasion that I listen to a CD at work instead of my iPod, I have to use Windows Media Player and, sorry kilax and Diane, but it sucks. I have the worst time trying to figure out the functionality of this piece of software. Everything is so scatterbrained that you can tell a committee worked to set it up.

However, I did get a little laugh from it yesterday. I put in a compilation CD that was not registered with the CDDb and, as expected, none of the CD's information registered in the player. But I still got this in the identifier box...

Unknownbuy

I love it! They don't know who it is, what album it is, or what genre it is... but I can still buy it!

Stupid Microsoft.

Daisies
I owe Dave an apology. I challenged him a bit on the new show Pushing Daisies which premiered last night. He said it was great and that we would all love it. I left a comment saying it better be as good as he keeps hyping it to be.

Well, he was right (yeah, yeah, stroke his ego some more, right?). It was quirky and fun and it had heart and it was beautifully rendered and wonderfully cast and... I just hope they can keep it up. Think the good ol' days of Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands era) meets Dr. Seuss and you'll have some idea of the feel for the show. Then realize it's about a guy who can touch dead things and bring them back to life. But if he touches them again, they die forever and if he doesn't re-kill them within a minute, there will be drastic consequences on another living being around him.

Very cool.


Toys in the attic...

Oh goodie. Now I'm sick. Dave must be worse than we thought and passing more than just his posts through his RSS feed. Damn technology.

Katie thinks it might be my allergies kicking into overdrive. Whatever it is, though, I got up this morning and started coughing like there was no tomorrow. Apparently, I was fine overnight. No coughing whatsoever. I slept straight through until 15 minutes before my alarm. I tried to kick some of it out of me in the shower, but to no avail.

So, as I was scouring our medication closet (not just a cabinet, but a closet; no, we're not hypochondriacs, Katie just works in a pharmacy), Katie woke up and came in to help. Now I feel really bad not just because I'm sick, but because I woke her up. She didn't even need to get out of bed for another hour and a half.

"Oh great. Now I have guilt!"

Thank you, though, for all your help. I love you.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): But, leave it to Apple to make me feel somewhat better. Check out these beauties that were announced yesterday...

Ipods2007

The first is the new iPod Nano. Engadget referred to it as "iPod Fatty," a name I love. It now has video playback on a two inch screen and just looks bad ass in a nearly square size with rounded edges all encased in anodized aluminum. It comes in 4 and 8 GB models. Me likey.

Second is the iPod Touch, which, effectively, is the iPhone without the phone. Everything else works just like the iPhone. You also have WiFi capability with this thing so if you find a hotspot, you can surf the Web or sync up to the iTunes Store and buy music wirelessly, which rocks. Plus, Apple struck a deal with Starbucks so that if you hear a song in a Starbucks you like, you can buy it automatically on your iPod Touch. That's pretty cool since Starbucks tends to play some pretty swank tunes and you have 8 and 16 GB models that will need some filling.

Finally, we have the iPod Classic as they're now calling it. The old video iPod is now encased in anodized aluminum and is smaller than ever while also bigger than ever. Yeah, it's thinner than it was (well, the 80GB is at least), but comes in 80 and 160 GB models as opposed to the old 30 and 80 GB versions.

The Shuffle, not pictured here, now comes in a wider variety of colors. Still the same cool clip, which I'm not sure they can really improve upon. But leave it to Apple to find a way.

Battery life on all models have improved greatly. The prices are still pretty damn good. Oh, and the high-end iPhone has dropped in price by $200. Sorry, Dave and BA.

Let's see, if I were given the choice today, I'd probably run with the Fatty. I love the size of it and the fact it now has video playback. My playlist has been pared down to half of what it was and could go even smaller if I work at it some more. Shouldn't be too difficult. It's just too sweet to pass up.

This is as close to porn as this blog gets without receiving an NC17 rating.


Ring Around the Rosie, Hopscotch, Monopoly...

I was reading Bre's guest lament about boys liking video games over on Hilly's blog just now. She was wondering, after viewing a friend's Amazon wishlist, which seemingly contained nothing but DVDs and video games, why buying gifts for guys is so boring.

While I did argue the point that shopping for music, movies, and video games is to many of us guys what shoe shopping is to her, I feel I must point out that this is not some gender-based stereotype; Bre really does love shoes. If you've read her blog, you know it to be true. How she can afford to fan the flames of her passion is beyond me. Shoes are damned expensive.

But there was something she said that really struck a chord with me. Let me see if I can find it...

I suppose it could be me who is lacking - after all, I reached the height of my video gaming skillz with Super Mario Brothers ... the original.  No, I take that back, I did have a brief "Crash Bandicoot" streak for a while there.

If there were games like Mario and Crash available I'd be all about supplying him with video games twice a year.  Instead they're all about killing ninjas or throwing touchdowns.  Or throwing ninjas while killing touchdowns.  All the creativity has gone kaput!

And I have to agree with this statement very strongly. I don't know that I would necessarily say that the creativity has gone from all games, but things have most certainly changed since the days of the original Nintendo and Super Nintendo. The focus has shifted to gaming that requires long-term commitment from the player or players. Gone are games that you can just sit down, play, and "throw away."

Sure, there were games like The Legend of Zelda in the past that required a lot of time spent; but I never liked those games. I tried Zelda, I really did, but I could never get into it. It bored me to tears. Zelda was the exception to the norm. Most games at the time could be thrown into your console and just played.

Now, however, commitment-phobes like me seem to be left out on the street with many games. It seems the majority of them require an investment of time that I just don't have to give. Now, every game developer wants to come up with the next Warcraft. With those games, a single game can last however long you can keep going. THEY NEVER END! I had a friend who was supplementing his income by creating characters in one of those games, building him up to mammoth skill levels, and selling the rights to it on eBay. While I applaud the ingenuity, I think it's nutso.

As I get older, my time for games is waning, and I don't even have kids yet. So I have a need for, and will possibly need even more, the so-called "quickie" games... one-off adventures into race tracks or Bejeweled-style puzzle worlds. The last time I committed to a game was Donkey Kong Country and I still haven't solved it. How many years ago was that?

So why can't we see more games like the old days? Forget all these MMORPGABCDXYZ games. Give me more Wii Sports. More Excite Truck. Mario Kart. Brain Age (okay, if I were to listen to "The Professor," I should be spending more time on this; he's always very disappointed with me). And, although I haven't played it yet, it seems like Guitar Hero is along this vein. (A Wii version of GH is due out in October. YAY!)

This is why arcades are dying. They can't capture the long-term "thrill" that Warcraft players find by sitting at home. They've tried, on a very small scale, with games like Houses of the Dead, but it's not the same thing.

I seriously miss the old Friday night trips to the arcade with friends when we would play Pole Position, Spy Hunter, and Galaga, among others, with our pockets full of tokens jangling as we'd march back and forth among the stand-up consoles.

I love video games, but I don't like where the world of gaming has been heading.


I'm all shook up...

EPA
So how much palm greasing do you reckon is going on with the EPA these days?

All they typically do is bitch and moan and whine and gripe about the travesties committed by man against the earth; more specifically, big business. It can be the smallest thing that sets them off, too. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. Someone needs to stand up for our planet. But at least be consistent about it. Don't go citing some factories for releasing too much soot into the air a mere couple days after signing off on BP Amoco's plan to release more sludge and ammonia into Lake Michigan... Chicagoland's primary source of drinking water. Which, by the way, is connected to the other Great Lakes as well as, via a two river connector, to the Mississippi River and, thus, the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. So, if BP Amoco's refinery were to have an accident -- which isn't completely out of the realm of possibility -- a vast majority of the planet's water supply would be screwed, even if only to a minor degree.

Complete and utter bullshit. That's what I've got to say about it.

Please, if you have a choice between BP and another gas station, go with the other choice. I'm not asking to start one of those "Don't Fuel Your Car" days or anything because we all know they're crap. But just slowly whittle away at the giant that is BP Amoco to make them pay for wanting to pollute our water supply. A Chicago Alderman seems willing to do what he can (this may require a username and password; if so, e-mail me and I'll hook you up).

ElvispezKing
Usually you celebrate the big birthdays of deceased celebrities. For example, if this were the year that Frank Sinatra would turn 90, you celebrate. Elvis fans, however, seem to be having a lot of fun with the fact that this year marks the 30th anniversary of his "death."

ElvisbubbahotepCorporations are jumping in on the fun as well. Reese's has released a "King Size" peanut butter and banana cup as well as Beanie Baby styled bears in orange and brown. Pez put out a special tin box of three Elvis dispensers (at right) from three different stages of his life (young and stylin', militarized and stylin', and old and bloaty). The set also comes with a special edition greatest hits CD, but, sadly, no jumbo-sized candy for the old and bloaty dispenser.

But the best, so far, is one that I saw yesterday afternoon at Best Buy while buying my copy of Flash Gordon (yes, I bought it, what did you expect?). It was a special edition of Don Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-Tep starring Bruce Campbell (Ash from Evil Dead and Sam from Burn Notice). Amazon calls it the "Hail to the King" edition, although I never recall seeing that name on the outer package and that's a line from Army of Darkness. The packaging is one of Elvis' white jumpsuit jackets. Too cool.

Flash
Speaking of Flash Gordon, the DVD I picked up yesterday had a cool little insert with it... an Alex Ross designed "recruitment poster" of sorts with Ming the Merciless looking back at you and the words "Ming Wants You" like the old Uncle Sam posters. I think I'm framing it and hanging it at work.

Foo
It's always a good day when an e-mail arrives from the iTunes Store to let me know of the pending release of a new album from an artist I like. Check that... an artist I love! In a totally hetero way, of course.

It's the Foo Fighters with their new album Echos, Silence, Patience & Grace and it comes out September 25. But, if you pre-order now, you get the single "The Pretender" right now. If this first song is any indication, the album will be fantastic.

Zodiac
I hate when this happens. I totally get into a movie, like I was with Zodiac last night, and it starts to crap out on me. Normally this can be solved by simply ejecting the DVD, wiping it clean, and then starting it back up again. Alas, not this time. This disc had a deep gouge near the outer edge keeping it from playing at all.

Dammit! I hate this. And now I'm going to have to start from the beginning just to remind myself of what happened up to this point by the time the replacement arrives from Netflix. This is not some short movie, either. I was a little more than an hour into what amounts to a two hour, 45 minute film. Gah!


Fuel is pumping engines...

More snippets...

Bend Over:
My chase yesterday morning to find that one last gas station in the suburbs that is charging south of $3.20 per gallon in light of a major recent spike made me recall this conversation I had with Katie on Tuesday. Sadly, all such related conversations tend to end this same way.

Katie: Damn! I wish I filled up my gas tank this morning!

Me: Why? Really good price? Like $3.05?

Katie: $3.00 on the money.

Me: Really? That's awesome!

Katie: Yeah, well now it's $3.29.

Me: WHAT THE FUCK DID BUSH DO NOW????

Yeah, it's true. One of my favorite stations spiked from $3.05 on Tuesday morning to $3.45 on Wednesday morning. This is just sick and wrong.

Can you tell I'm also trying to bump my site's rating a little bit? Don't hate me. I put my seventh of a gallon worth of change in the swear jar.

Slurpee80_2 80 Years:
Happy birthday to the 7-Eleven chain that turned 80 years old yesterday. How did they celebrate? By giving away 7.11 ounce Slurpees (well, "Squishees" now since they are still in the midst of The Simpsons' marketing juggernaut) on 7/11.

Yes, I got my freebie when I went in to pick up my fantasy football guide (you starting another blogger league, Brandon?) I never quite realized just how small 7.11 ounces was until I saw the cup. For your own reference, I've provided a picture of the cup next to a standard-sized wine cork.

Just a bit small. But still free. And I got The Simpsons' Blue Vanilla special flavor and, just like old times, I got a brain freeze. Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven!

CTU:
A big thank you to my girl, Hilly, who, a week ago, provided me with a copy of the wav file containing the CTU office phone ringtone from the show 24. Although I couldn't figure out how at first, I finally managed to transfer it to my phone and set it up as my ringtone. Woo hoo! It's the coolest damn thing in the world!

If you'd like the CTU ringer as your own ringtone, send an e-mail to your cellphone (you'll have to figure that out on your own) and put the following code (between the brackets) in the body of the e-mail... [http://kapgar.typepad.com/CTU.mp3].

It should work. No guarantees, though. It worked on AT&T/Cingular for me, though, and when we uploaded Low Stars' "Calling All Friends" to Katie's phone.

Vote:
If you haven't voted yet, please go back to the Lyrical Challenge page and pick your top two lyrics to serve as a theme for my blogging in the future. Voting will close tomorrow.


All this time you put up a fear for 100,000 years...

I hope you don't mind some bullets today...

Shopping
Skecherurbantread As much as I loathe shopping, I must say that it has panned out a bit in my favor the last couple of days. The other night, Katie and I went to Kohl's and I got a really cool pair of Skechers shoes. I really like Skechers and don't mind getting a little girlie about shopping for them. They're the last vestige of cool I've got going for me so I've gotta enjoy it while I can. And these are pretty darned cool.

Also, last night, Katie asked if I would stop out at a mall nearer to where I work to pick up a skirt they were holding for her (another store called in the hold). I hadn't been in this mall in years and, let me tell you, it was really nice inside. Not nearly as cluttered as all the other malls I've ever visited in my life. There were no abandoned storefronts like the mall near where I live (which, I think, is sitting at about 60% capacity... sad). But, most importantly, it wasn't littered with people. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact that I was there on a Wednesday night during weather that would drive most to want to visit the more trendy outdoor malls. Whatever. I liked it. And the skirt that Katie had me pick up is very awesome. She's gonna rock that skirt. And I picked up a copy of a card game called Guillotine from Gamer's Paradise (a store I'll never stop enjoying) that a friend introduced me to a couple weeks ago.

Wait, I did shop a little at the one place where I do like shopping... the iTunes Store. I bought Ozzy Osbourne's new album, Black Rain, and it rocks. The good Ozzy -- circa No More Tears and prior -- is back. Most importantly, so is Zakk Wylde. That man can shred like no other.

Children
Finally, after having them in our possession for more than a month and a half, Katie and I finished the three Netflix DVDs we've been meaning to watch. On Sunday, we seemingly pulled an Africa Day watching both Blood Diamond and The Last King of Scotland. Both were amazing with the edge going to Diamond.

Last night, I finally watched Children of Men. I had to watch that one without Katie because she had no desire to see it whatsoever. It was good, but strange. I love scifi flicks that are not blatantly scifi in feel and this definitely qualified. It was about people living in Britain in 2026, 18 years after everybody in the world mysteriously became sterile. All of a sudden, a refugee woman is found to be pregnant and it's up to a guy named Theo (Clive Owen) to make sure she escapes the wartorn country to a mythical group called the Human Project who can guarantee her's and her child's safety. Really dark and depressing world created by Alfonso Cuaron, the director of the best of the bunch of Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Stats
I'm a bit upset. I just discovered that, according to my StatCounter site meter, I'm about to hit 100,000 page views. But I'm going to break this plateau while I'm in Vegas, so I'll never actually see it. No these are not all that have hit my site. This is actually just since last July when I signed up for this service.

At the time I signed up, my Typepad stats said I was at about 25,000 hits. So I just assumed I would be at 125,000 when StatCounter read 100K. However, as time has passed, the counts between the two services have inched ever closer. Now there's only a 5K difference between them. Either one is counting too fast or one is counting too slow or some combination therein. I'm not sure what to believe anymore.


When I was younger so much younger than today...

Do you remember when it was revealed that by inputting a certain formula in Microsoft Excel a flight simulator program would reveal itself? You could sit there using your computer to fly around on this cheap little program that ended when you found a giant 2001-ish monolith containing the names of all the Excel programming team?

It was stupid and pointless, but it was cool.

I always dug that because it made computer programming seem cool. These programmers could go out and put their stamp on the product they developed just to give a virtual wink to its users.

I love that. I enjoy when programmers have a little fun with their product and, thus, make it fun for the end users, too.

iSquint is one such program. It's a little tool I use to help convert digital video to iPod ready format. Very cool stuff even without their subtle little nudges. And, to be honest, I never really noticed all they had built into this thing until yesterday when I was trying to change the destination folder for my saves. So I started really playing around with it. And these are some of the cool things I found:

When you mouseover the iSquint logo in the UI, you get...

Isquint01

In the top right of the UI is the quality control slider. I love the max level...

Isquint02

There are a couple others in there that are pretty funny, but the best part happens when you click "Help" in the top menu...

Isquint05

Of course that song was stuck in my head all day yesterday and will likely be the case again today.

Hey, if you're interested, there's a meme in the extended post.

Continue reading "When I was younger so much younger than today..." »


Don't you worry 'bout a thing...

As you all know, I'm a Mac Whore (tm). Not quite Dave's level of whorishness, but I'd still make a good product spokesman all the same (hint, hint, clue, clue, knock you over the head, Steve Jobs). For this reason, I've been happy to see how Mac proliferation has been slowly on the rise. I don't want it to take over, mind you, but we are no longer a negligible minority. We are now a minority to be reckoned with.

As a result of this increasing fame, I've been seeing stores other than just the Apple Store carrying Mac computers and other Apple products.

This makes me equal parts happy and terrified. I'm happy to see that the products are becoming more readily available for people who are interested in buying them. Yet I'm terrified because sales of these products are being left to people who know little to nothing about them.

That's just not good in any way, shape, or form.

Seriously, go to your local Best Buy. When you stop in front of the Macs and look at them, the salespeople avoid you like you've got visible signs of small pox. Or, in some cases, they may try to sway customers away from their initial desire. However, the second you move over to the PCs, they're on you like white on rice.

This speaks volumes for both the ignorance of the employees who have been selling nothing but PCs their whole "careers" as well as the inability of corporate trainers to properly inform and motivate their employees.

And I seriously doubt their tech support would do anything to help. You really think the Geek Squad is going to lift a finger? Perhaps to thumb their noses at you.

Yet, when I took my father-in-law to the Apple Store in Woodfield Mall a couple months ago to buy his first Mac, the TWO salespeople who helped us weren't just attempting to make the sale. They actually spent nearly an hour talking to him to make sure that a Mac was the right choice based on his computing needs (he runs a small business) and explaining how to make it all work properly. He even went back in there a week later to buy Boot Camp so he could run Windows (some IE only browser issues with his vendors) on his computer and, even though many of us consider putting Windows on our lovely Macs to be a disgrace, the salesman helped him with that process as well. And quite willingly.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if you are considering buying a Mac, please make sure you do so from someone who knows what they're talking about... true Mac salespeople. I know you may not have an Apple Store locally, but if it's within driving distance, please make the trip. Otherwise, use their Web site or call them. They will help. More than you may realize.

Papa A goes Mac!
Once you go Mac, there's no goin' back!


The thunder rolls...

There's nothing quite as dynamic as a thunderstorm in the winter.

They're typically so rare. I'm not sure what the scientific reasoning is, I just know I've heard that lightning isn't supposed to happen during the winter. Well, so long as the temperature stays below freezing, that is.

This year, though, we've had a couple such storms. And both of them just within the last week or so. I woke up this morning to flashing clocks and, when I got out of the shower, I heard a sound like someone dragging heavy furniture over slate tile. A few minutes later, I saw a blinding white flash. Remember how I said the snow amplifies the little natural light you have in the morning? Well, imagine that a few thousandfold with lightning. Just absolute cornea-popping brilliance.

It did do a number to our computer and wifi network. Had to fiddle around a bit to get it all back up and running. The iMac was not a happy computer.

You know what? On second thought, I might just take back that first statement. There is something quite as dynamic... we had the HD cable hooked up yesterday.

WOAH! I never wanted to buy into how much nicer HD is, but dang! Once I discovered what the new numbers were for HD channels, I started watching. The first show was the Matthew McConaughey starrer Sahara. No, not a great flick, but fun. And it looks STUNNING in HD. And, hey, did anyone realize that Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson from The Office) was in that film? I don't remember seeing him the first time we watched it and he's got a decent sized role in it.

Later last night, after working out at the gym, Katie and I watched CSI: NY in HD and I was marvelling over the detail. Katie's still a little weirded out by how clean it is. The only problem is that you can now pick apart everything and even, to some degree, tell how fake the staged crime scenes are.

Do you all remember the Super Bowl commercial where the cheerleaders were fixing their pompoms, the guy was painting fine detail into the team logo on the field, the mascot was brushing his fur, etc? The motivation behind the commercial was that they were all preparing to be presented in HD. There's quite a bit of truth to that commercial. We could see the pores on the faces of the characters on CSI: NY. As cute as I think Lindsay "Montana" Monroe (Anna Belknap) is, her makeup artist needs to be fired. That's how much detail I could make out.

It really does change everything, doesn't it?


Yeah rock me all night...

If told ahead of time that this post would fall in my "Toys 2007" category, you might assume that I'd be all over Apple's recent iPhone announcement, wouldn't you? Not a bad guess, but you'd be wrong. The thing, while cool, has far too many issues in my mind to make it a worthwhile investment.

But, yes, this post is about cool stuff, just not the iPhone. Now on to the real meat and potatoes.

Good things come to those who wait. And I waited.

I've been searching for a while for a good piece of software that would allow me to take ripped DVD content and decompress it so I could burn copies of DVDs for myself. My purpose here, of course, is to make legal back-up copies of my own DVD collection.

Plus, I've also been wanting to find a way to take shows that Katie and I have saved on our TiVo and get them on our computer to both burn DVDs that we can watch on our DVD player as well as pare them down to work on our iPods. The best way to do this would be TiVoToGo, which allows for transfers from a TiVo unit directly to a computer of your choosing. However, this little software gem is only available for Windows users. And you all know which way my operating system swings.

I've tried to uncover other ways to achieve both these goals of mine, but to no avail. Some of the software I've tried is either too complex or just doesn't work.

Now, however, comes my savior!

Roxio_logo Roxio Toast 8 Titanium!

Not only does it allow for DVD decompression and burning, but it also supports Blu-Ray discs. That's a good thing.

But the big news regarding the most recent version of Toast is that it has TiVoToGo for Mac built in!

This will be the first time in a long time I've willingly and readily dished out $80 for software. Soooo worth it!

(for the record, you'll pay $100 off the bat, but there's a $20 mail-in rebate)

Ahhhhhhhh!!! Roxio, you rock my world!!