Vinyl

As I write this I’m listening to Squeeze’s Argybargy which I ripped from vinyl to MP3 a while ago. After doing this with a couple of albums, Argybargy, The Pretenders Learning to Crawl, I’m really happy with the results. Vinyl ripped to MP3 sounds very good. In some cases better than CD. It’s been a good experiment but wonder if I couldn’t make things even better by upgrading my equipment. I’m using an old technics direct drive turntable with a grado cartridge and a reasonably good Denon integrated amp. I wonder how much better it would be if I upgraded to a low end Music Hall Turntable like an MMF 2.1 or a Rega RP-1 and exchanged the Denon for the Adcom Pre-Amp that’s filling in for my broken A/V amp downstairs. On the other hand I wonder how much I would use a new turntable.

Apple/Batteries

My biggest problem with the latest MacBooks is Apples insistence on selling them without user serviceable batteries. To me that means that the battery life is what it is and you can’t do anything about it. I own an older MacBook Pro with the replaceable battery. And I have a pair of batteries for the machine. What a pain in the neck it is to have two batteries. The webs advice on battery storage is to keep Li-Ion batteries in a cool place at about 40% charge. Also, under no circumstances let your battery discharge to nothing. I have two batteries because I don’t want to be stuck on a trans-continental flight with no laptop but more and more airplanes have empower and a trans-continental length flight is only 5 hours of laptop time when you add it up. The new Apples advertise a 7 hour battery life. Mine does slightly better than 5 on each battery depending on the workload. So in the past few trips I’ve never gone on to the second battery. Given all these things the Empower to Magsafe charger is probably a better investment than a second battery.

Soviet Toys

When I was younger I read an essay that told how the leaders of Soviet Russia enforced a standard of low quality in the creation of their toys. The reason for doing this was to instill  low quality expectations from future Russian Citizens. While this was obviously a propaganda piece designed to make me think less of communist Russia, it resonates with me because I’m forced to do tech support on my son’s toys. The toy provoking this blog entry is the EA Sports Voice Command Pitching Machine. I’m going to put a new set of batteries in the thing and give it one more chance but given that it started out with new batteries in the first place I’m not holding out much hope. Now, this is in contrast to the Nintendo Wii and the Easton Junior Pitchback Elite. The problem with the Wii is that it’s made so well that he cannot unplug the Nunchuk attachment. The pitchback is a solid toy  that does one thing but does it extremely well.

Jay’s growing up in a Mac/Linux/TiVo world so when toys disappoint like this it really bugs him. When I look at his face I have to ask if we are doing our children any good when we provide them with poor quality toys. In consumer goods I believe that your choice is: cost, feature set, quality: pick two. It’s hard watching my son learn  this.

— Chris

Deceptionocracy

If you’re expecting something about the latest Transformer movie, I’m sorry to disappoint. This venting of my spleen concerns or societies move towards a deception-ocracy. I’m coining a new word o describe a system where the market protects those producers who do the best job of deceiving their customers. The credit card companies have been doing this ever since they discovered that they make more money from customers who cannot pay of their bills. There entire business model now is to deceive people into getting in so deep that they can’t pay off their balances. They live fat and happy on the finance charges. It used to be that credit card companies were happy to make money from yearly fees they charged consumers and the convenience fee that they charged merchants. But that changed when they started offering consumers cards with no annual fee as a means of boostin customer retention. It wasn’t long before Jack Welch famously called the people who paid off their GE platinum cards in full each month “Dead Beats” because they didn’t make any money for the GE. The financial analysis is spot on but I can’t help but think that Jack’s got something wrong there.

I’m currently dealing with a PC from eMachines. If you know me you know that as far as windows recovery goes I’m with Ripley, Hudson, and Cpl Hicks on the recovery of Windows machines that have been hit with viruses: “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.” In a normal world when you spend $400.00 on a PC the manufacturer includes recovery media at a cost to him of about $2.00. Apparently, eMachines is so starved for cash that the extra $2.00 is the difference between staying in business and not. It’s too bad considering that the overwhelming majority of Windows boxes would benefit from a periodic re-install even if there were no viruses. And that re-install process changes the recovery media from a luxury item into a must have. Or, perhaps Acer/eMachines has found a way to turn the $2.00 recovery media into a profit center generating $18.00 in “handling fees”.

Pantone Huey/MacBook success

A while ago I found the Pantone Huey on closeout at my local Circuit City. At $80.00+ I didn’t consider it much of a bargain but at $25.00 it didn’t look like such a bad deal. I fired up the device on my MacBook and began the disappointment. It turned my display Green. On my Mac Mini with my Samsung Display it was pretty good. If you don’t know it the point of this device is to tune your display’s color so that when you process a photo and then print it you don’t get surprised by the difference between what your monitor and printer consider to be fully saturated blue. At $25.00 I figured that it would be ok with the Mini. I was on vacation for a while and would have good access to the Apple Store and Genius bar so I packed the Huey along. But that was still no news. Then I ran into this link.    a At the bottom they discuss the Huey and it looks like it doesn’t like the polarization of the MacBook Screen. On calibration it wants to be oriented vertically but I found that it gave me a good calibration oriented horizontally.

Trackback Spam

Someone is attempting to spam my blog pretty heavily through trackbacks. This is stupid. It’s never going to work since I have so few comments here anyhow that I moderate all of them. It only serves to annoy me by generating an email saying that I have comments to moderate. My original thought was to block inbound packets from the offenders. It would be pretty simple. Add a table to my firewall config and then use a little shell script magic (grep, awk etc) to pull the addresses from the log an load them into the table. But a quick pass through sort confirmed that these attacks were coming from mostly different addresses. For now I’ve disabled trackbacks by disabling the php file that supports them. Next up change my mail filter to quarantine the emails appropriately. Sigh.

Why math is important.

While I was sleeping we seemed to forget how to do math. This guy was quoted a rate of 0.002 cents per KB to use his Verizon Wireless Data Card while roaming in Canada. When he got the bill they charged him 0.002 dollars/KB. His story is here. What makes it sad is that the verizon customer service people don’t understand the difference and continue to quote him the lower rate while insisting that the charge on the bill is correct. All of this would be a non-issue if the marketing weasels at Verizon would just fess up to the fact that their price for roaming data is $2.05 / MB.

Exercise

I rode my bike today. It was the first time in a while which is bad. I went from Home to the yacht club to the beach and then back home. Maybe it was 10 miles. I’m gonna check with Google Earth later. I’m a little tired right now. Once I got to the yacht club I tried to figure out if I had spent 1/3 or 1/2 of my energy. I guess I was between 1/2 and 1/3 and figured that the extra three miles to Silver Sands Beach would probably fit in. I was barely right. Still you have sto stretch yourself once and again.