Saturday, February 23, 2008

No Mas!

That's it. I've had it with winter.

Although yesterday's snow was light and fluffy, 9 inches of light and fluffy snow is still a pain in my lower back to rearrange.

I think this one bothered me more because I've been in Florida since Christmas and I've lost my winter mindset completely. Plus it was a two day cleanup. We had about 6 inches when I did it last night, but the plows and another 3 inches of fluff insured a repeat performance today.

There are two things that I do enjoy about snow storms though, and I use them both in tandem to help me slog through to the finish.

When I first get started I derive great pleasure in the throaty growl of my trusty Toro two stage. Hearing it start, rough at first, and then smoothing out nicely, fills me with delight. I get that "I ain't gonna have to shovel all this crap" euphoria, and I dive right in with a maniacal grin.

After a little while that feeling starts to fade as I tire of bulling it through the bankings and the blowback freezing on my face and beard thickens. That's when I know it's time for my second small pleasure.

Gatorade slush.

Before I start I take a large plastic cup of orange Gatorade out with me and jam it into a snow bank. Between the cold of the snow bank and the falling snow landing in the cup it reaches the perfect viscosity in no time. Oh, baby... that's good stuff.

But not that good. I'm going back to Florida.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Adding New Tunes To Your iPod When You're On The Road.

The other day my wife and I were in one of the big box stores and we overheard a conversation between a customer and a salesman about the customer's iPod.

It seems that the gentleman was in town for an extended stay, had access to a computer, and wanted to add a few new tunes to his iPod. The salesman proceeded to tell this poor guy that if he tried it on a computer that didn't have his personal iTunes library on it he would wipe all but the new songs off of his iPod. He suggested that the only way to do it would be to either go home and copy his library onto a thumb drive, which he could then bring back and load onto another machine, or have somebody do it for him and mail it to him.

It took every fiber of my being to keep my mouth shut. The evil look from my wife helped also. She hates it when I stick my nose in where it doesn't belong.

What I hate is misinformation.

Now it's true that if you autosync your iPod with an empty library, you end up with an empty iPod. And it's also true that having someone go to your house and copy your library and then mail it to you is a valid solution, but there are some safe and much less painlful ways to accomplish the same thing.

First and foremost, when you connect your iPod to a new computer iTunes always asks if you want to sync it. Just say no (or more accurately, just hit cancel). Once you tell it not to autosync, you can open up the iPod control panel and set it for manual sync. At this point your iPod's onboard library is safe and you then have a number of options.

You can proceed to purchase or rip music into iTunes and manually add it to the iPod. Remember to leave it in manual mode when you're done, otherwise you'll loose your new music the next time you autosync back home. You could then use the thumb drive trick or burn a CD to transport the new music back home.

You can also use either iTunes or a number of third party solutions to copy your songs from the iPod onto the new computer to recreate your library. Starting in one of the early versions of iTunes 7 there is a command under the File tab "Transfer purchases from iPod" that will allow you to move iTunes purchased music only to the new library. This is a fine option if all you have is iTunes purchased music, stick with the third party solutions if you don't.

Here's a great article on iPod to computer transfer from iLounge. There's a really nice comparison chart of third party solutions and some tips and warnings. Be sure to read it before you try anything.

Note: Not all third party transfer software will work with the new iPod touch and iPhone as they have a different synching protocol than the standard iPods. Some that do are: CopyTrans, iPod Access, and TouchCopy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

In Search Of - A GPS Unit

On my last trip I was really pressed for time and I wasted a lot of it trying to find my way around a strange city. Very stressful. On the plane ride home I vowed to get myself a GPS unit. Shortly after getting home I got lost going to a meeting in South Boston and was subsequently late. That sealed the deal.

I went in search of a unit that was small enough to carry around, got good reception, had audible turn by turn directions, a good points of interest database and was cheap. Tall order.

There are tons of GPS units out there with all kinds of bells and whistles, but I don't need bluetooth connectivity with my cell phone or a music player. I just wanted a dependable little device that would get me where I needed to go.

The Garmin nuvi 200 is that device. Small, bright and easily readable screen that auto adjusts to lighting conditions, SD card slot and USB port for updating maps, audible directions and a very deep list of points of interest. Banks, restaurants, gas stations, you name it, there's a listing or 50. You can even search restaurants by cuisine or ethnicity.

Another nice feature is that you can toggle it between street and pedestrian mode, the former takes things like one way streets into consideration, the latter throws caution to the wind.

It comes with a car charger but you'll probably want to get a wall charger and the leather sleeve, both optional, if you plan on traveling with it.

It gets a pretty good review here on CNET. The only down side was that they thought it was over priced at $400, and they were right. But guess what? Less than a year after it's release it's down to around $200. Never be an early adopter.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Digital Music, CD's and the Grammys

I saw a puff piece on the news tonight about the Grammys and how the record industry is struggling due to the move to digital downloads by many consumers.

While it's true that downloads are changing the music landscape and cutting into the industry's profits, it's also true that it's an inevitable step in the ever evolving world of technology and the record companys have seen it coming for a long time. They should have been working on a game plan for themselves, instead of spending all their time and money trying to prevent it. They should have changed their market stratagy years ago.

Now I love digital music, and I spend a fair amount in the iTunes store, but I also buy CD's (and a record or two) on occasion. If I like an artist I buy the CD, even if I've already downloaded a few tracks.

There are two main reasons I buy the CD. Audio quality and storage.

While MP3's are fine as a portable medium, CD's are higher quality recordings. Think better than iTunes Plus quality, and you don't have to worry about filling up your hard drive to store them, or losing your hard drive and your music.

I know people will argue that the digital music encoded at the higher bit rates is close to CD quality and they would be right, but the files are also exponentially bigger and you still need to keep them somewhere.

If you've gone to the expense of putting together a killer sound system in your living room or man cave, you want to have the optimal listening experience, and that's what the CD gives you. Plus you can rip a copy at any bit rate/quality you choose for your portable devices. Lastly, unless you use them as frisbees, you can be pretty sure that your music is stored safely for a long time. You're actually getting much more bang for your buck with the CD.

So as long as there are audiophiles who spend big bucks on their sound systems, there will be a market for the physical mediums.

Here's a thought for the record companies:

Maybe it's time to lower the price of CD's and start hammering home the quality, storage and cost message.

By the way, the Grammys weren't too bad tonight. Some great performances by some great performers and some pleasant surprises, like album of the year to Herbie Hancock, who is only the second jazz artist to ever receive the award.

It was also great to see a couple of tonight's winners and presenters give Kanye West the buisness. Although he's a talented guy, he's also an incredible dick.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

This Week's New Lost Episode - Confirmed Dead

Tivo warning! This week's episode runs from 9pm to 10:03pm.

Lost schedule for Thursday, Feb. 7th:

8pm to 9pm - Repeat of season opener: The Beginning Of The End

9pm to 10:03pm - New episode: Confirmed Dead

Be sure to check out my thoughts and screen caps on both episodes at:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Son Of A...

Congratulations to the NY Giants. They brought it. They wanted it more.

Tonight has been a real downer, but I have to apply what I've learned recently and bear in mind that it was an unbelievable season and I experienced some beautiful moments.

Also, they're still the best Patriots team I've ever seen, and I've seen them all.

I was talking to my cousin yesterday and we were reminiscing about our early tailgating experiences with my Dad. Nickerson Field, Fenway Park, Alumni Stadium, Harvard Stadium and finally Foxboro's Schaefer Stadium, always with a bucket of Colonel Sanders. Man did we see some crappy football. Most of the players on those early teams had either been released from the NFL or the Charles St. Jail before getting picked up by the Pats, but we had some fun.

So, all things considered we had a sweet ride this season, and for me the last couple of games were not only victories in an undefeated season, they were bonding moments with my Dad that will last a lifetime.

I still feel like puking though. I'm going to bed, maybe it will pass.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Date With Destiny

The Patriots can make history tomorrow with a win in Super Bowl XLII, becoming the first team to go 19 and 0 in a single season. The 72 Dolphins current record is 17 and 0, quite a feat, but with the current expanded schedule the Pats can top that.

It will have been a great season regardless, 16 and 0 in the regular season with Brady and Moss shattering every record in the book, but to clinch it all with a Super Bowl win would be... perfect. As a matter of fact, it would be perfect on many levels.

First, it would be a fitting cap to a season that has been marred by "spygate". Although nothing can change the fact that it happened, a complete domination of the league while they're under intense scrutiny and critisizim would lay to rest any lingering doubts people might have about their ability to win without an extra edge.

Secondly, the Sox winning the World Series and the Pats winning the Super Bowl during overlapping seasons would be a treat for the New England sports fan that isn't tasted by many, and it would be the second time in 3 years for us. How unbelievably cool is that? After the heartbreaking seasons we've all grown up with, it would be wicked pissah.

And lastly, there's the Dad Factor. My Dad wanted to see this run through, and he almost made it. So now, for me, it's got to happen. That would be perfection.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lost - The Beginning Of The End

More info, more questions. That can only mean one thing, Lost is back. Check out the new season 4 screen caps and commentary over on