Sunday, December 30, 2007


Wow... that game was unbelievable.

Even though the Giants were on their game, I knew in my heart of hearts that the Pats were going to come back. I did have my moments of doubt though and I still feel drained this morning.

The best part of the win for me was the fact that I got to watch it with my Dad. Even though the location left something to be desired, the fact that I got to see the greatest moment (to date) in Pats history with him was priceless. My Dad had season tickets from day one through the mid 80's and we have a lot of great memories of seasons long gone by, so it was only proper that I shared this moment with him. I know he needed a boost.

Anyways, I've got to run, but one last thing before I go. Christmas decorations do not look right on palm trees. That is all.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thank You Roger Goodell!

Thank goodness the NFL has decided to simulcast the Pats-Giants game on CBS and NBC as well as the NFL Network.

I was kind of disinterested in the whole issue as we get the NFL Network on our cable system, but something has come up that’s made me extremely glad the game will be widely available. It turns out I’ll be continuing with my campaign of watching this year’s Pats games in weird places.

I saw the first half of the Pats-Steelers game in the Winchester Hospital emergency room and the second half in my own semi-private room. This time I’m going to be watching the Pats-Giants game in my Dad’s room at the Cape Coral Hospital in sunny Florida. Hey, at least it’s a private room this time. I just hope I don’t get booted at a critical juncture…

I’m traveling fast and light so I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to post again this weekend. If not, I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year. Check out the Video page on my website,, there’s a great old video of Aretha Franklin and Billy Preston doing Auld Lang Syne at a house party. It’s a little grainy but definitely worth a listen.

And speaking of Auld Lang Syne, have you ever wondered what the heck it means? Here’s a little info from Wikipedia:

auld lang syne literally means "old long since"—but a more idiomatic English translation would be something like "long long ago", "days of long ago", "in olden days", or even "once upon a time".

Usage of the phrase appears to have begun in the late 1600's. It became a popular Scottish folk tune (attributed to Robert Burns) in the early 1700's.

So there you go, now you can wow everyone at your New Year's Eve party.

Go Pats!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

15 and 0 With One More To Go!

The Pats beat Miami 28 to 7 today improving to 15 and 0 on the season and in the process broke all kinds of personal, team and NFL records. There’s just too many of them to mention. Click here at for the complete list.

Of note, Tom Brady had 3 TD passes in the first half, tying Dan Marino’s old record of 48 and inching closer to Manning’s current record of 49 in a season. Laurence Maroney also had an incredible day with 132 yards on 7 carries and 1 rushing TD. Two of the carries were for more than 50 yards (one was for 51 yards and the other was for 59 yards and a TD). It’s good to see him coming on down the stretch.

The Pats led 28-0 at the end of the first half, but seemed to come out a little flat offensively for the second half. Brady threw his 7th and 8th interceptions on the year and it seemed at times that he was trying to force the ball into coverage. He may have been a little too eager to get the TD record out of the way. Who could blame him if he was? You don’t get many chances like this during an NFL career and personally I’d love to see it. Perhaps next week, against Baby Manning and the G men? That would be pretty sweet.

Another bright spot was the Pats Defense, who not only did a pretty good job of stopping the run but also doled out some serious punishment in the defensive backfield. The Pats Safeties were like heat seeking missiles out there. The D line and Linebackers also did a great job of keeping the Dolphins out of the end zone. When Lemon rolled out and scrambled for the goal line on 4th down he missed the pylon and I think it was because he didn’t want to lay out for the big lick that he knew was coming. Turnover on downs. That’s what smash mouth play does for you.

So, the ride continues through Giants Stadium next week and who knows what records will fall. All and all I’d have to say I’m a pretty happy fan.

P.S. How cool was it to see Troy Brown out there today? Even with the muffed punt it did my heart good to see him back in action. You've gotta love the Patriots organization, they always do the right thing.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Get "Lost" for the Holidays.

The Lost Season 3 DVD is out and is the perfect gift for the Lost-aholics in your life. The box set was released earlier this month just in time to get fans pumped up for the start of season 4, which has been moved up to January 31st (new night and time, Thursdays @ 9pm).

There's also a great season 4 trailer on the Official Lost Site, as well as the Missing Pieces videos. Both will help whet your appetite.

Watch the trailer closely and you'll see some interesting stills buried in it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Best Value in an MP3 Player This Holiday Season

The iPod Nano (3rd generation) with video. There’s a ton of MP3 players out there in all shapes and sizes and just about every price range, but I think this year’s pick of the litter is the 3rd gen. Nano with video. I’ve had the Nano with video for a little over a month and I’ve been completely won over by the little fatty.

I’ve always favored the flash based iPods and MP3 players for their reliability and portability, but I’ve had to make sacrifices in functionality for those benefits. Small storage capacity, small or nonexistent screens and no video capabilities are a few notable examples.

The Nano with video has doubled its storage capacity and screen size and is now capable of playing video, all the while sticking to its original price points of $149 and $199 and actually getting smaller. Yes, I said smaller. The new square shape of the Nano gives it the illusion of being larger than the previous versions, but simply gave the designers the right shaped casing for the new larger screen. Check out the side by side pics of my 1st and 3rd gen Nanos below.

The larger, sharper screen really enhances the cover flow experience as well as the quality of the pictures I keep stored on it. The Nano has always been more than a music device for me; it’s also become my “electronic wallet”. I store pictures and contacts on it and the new screen has made viewing them a much more pleasurable experience. I think the true promise of iPod multi-functionality lies in the integration of music, storage and web apps, and should exclude the cell phone portion. When I need a cell phone, I usually really need it, and I don’t want the battery blinking on its last tick because I’ve been goofing on the web or listening to music.

I’m not a huge video nut but the new Nano also allows me to download Vodcasts, TV and movies. My current favorite is the NFL weekly highlights videos. I’ve also started experimenting with converting personal digital video to the iPod via software such as Handbrake. This will make it a great tool for sharing family videos.

So, the 3rd generation Nano with video gets the berryjooks “best music player to give or get this holiday season” award based on the following criteria:

Bang For The Buck Factor: 9 out of 10

Increased disk capacity, larger screen and video capable at a slightly lower cost than previous models.

Performance: 8 out of 10

The jury is still out on battery life and durability, but I’ve been pleased with both so far.

Interoperability: 7 out of 10

Most of you’re old devices will work with the addition of a new size insert. The exception is third party video docks.

Coolness Factor: 8 out of 10

Very slick little device. I’d give it a higher grade here, but I’m saving that for the next gen Touch!

Speaking of coolness, there are some very nice clear acrylic cases by several manufacturers that snap in place over the Fatty, protecting it but also allowing it to be seen in its entire electronic splendor. iLounge is a good place to get a look at them. As with all iPods, you’ll want to protect its finish right from the start. The picture below shows it in an Agent 18 case.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The nurses at Winchester Hospital are the best!

Same goes for my wife, who has been carrying the load on the home front. Working, running back and forth to the hospital, shoveling, shopping and shipping packages, she's truly tireless and amazing. Thank you!

Thanks also need to go out to all our friends and relatives who've pitched in with their help and support.

Not a week after I did a blog entry on my adventures at Snake River Canyon, some of that old baling wire that was holding me together snapped. How spooky is that?

The good thing is that it's really helped me to put the holidays into perspective. What's really important is the health and well-being of our friends and family, and how we cultivate it.

My favorite line from my favorite album sums it up best:

"And, in the end, the love you take/ Is equal to the love you make."

Truer words have never been spoken.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

berry's been off the grid...

due to an emergency last week.

The good news is that he's getting out of the hospital soon and he'll have lots of idle time in the coming weeks to bore you to tears.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Eat Bleep ESPN, The Pats are 12 and 0!

Oh my God, what a game!

Can you believe it? They come from behind again! No matter what, these guys come up big when the game’s on the line. Brady is undoubtedly the most clutch QB I’ve ever seen. Of course he had a little help from that nimrod Billick and his ill timed time out call. It was a big break, but it’s what you do when you get those big breaks that matters, and what Brady does is win.

At this point in the season the pressure on the Pats to go unbeaten has to be a major distraction. It doesn't matter that they say all the right things; you know it’s got to be weighing heavily on their minds. Add to that the fact that every team they play not only wants to be the one to knock them off, but also gets disrespected by the press the whole week leading up to the game. I doubt that there will be many more blowouts as long as they’re unbeaten.

It was an exciting game to watch but unfortunately we had to listen to those clowns in the booth. Three announcers and a guest all whooping it up and rooting against the Pats. It was disgusting. I guess ESPN doesn’t care about alienating all of New England. Tell you what; unless the Pats are playing I’ll never watch those monkeys again.

This is a pretty large market and we can only hope that the sponsors have a few words with ESPN. At the very least, everyone in New England should send them an email expressing their displeasure. Don’t forget to cc. WCVB while you’re at it. Oh yeah, crash those mail servers baby!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Kim Simmonds Still Has It!

We saw Savoy Brown Saturday night and they were fantastic.

The band has gone through many incarnations since the 60's but the one constant has been über guitarist Kim Simmonds, and he hasn't lost a step.

The band has a new album out (Steel) so the night was a mix of old and new, and both were great. They started with the new stuff and finished up with the classics, touching on both the Street Corner Talking and Hellbound Train albums. I wore both of those albums out when I was in high school so it really made my night complete.

Drivin' Blind was the opening act and they really got the crowd fired up. They're a local band so check them out. If you like the blues served up with a side of scorching guitar you can't go wrong.

It was a hike and a half to get there (you know you're in the boonies when the emcee announces "Whoever owns the silver SUV that's parked on the covered bridge has to move it, you're blocking through traffic.) but The Bull Run is a pretty good place to see a show. It was our first time there and we were surprised by the size of the function room and the quality of the acoustics. It's a "supper club", which worked out well for us.

All in all a fine night of entertainment.

Alas, poor Evel, I knew him Horatio...

Evel Knieval passed away on Friday and although we never met, he changed my life forever.

I spent the summer of 1974 hitchhiking across the country with my buddy Joe. We had been in Yellowstone for about 2 weeks and we were starting to get restless when we began hearing news reports about the wild scene at Snake River Canyon. It wasn't that far away so we decided to head for Twin Falls and join the fray.

It was a strange trip. Shortly after entering Montana a pair of pickup trucks stopped for us, one held a young couple with a dog in the back, the other contained 3 tough as nails high plains grannies. Turned out they were all heading to Idaho so we climbed into the back of the pickup with the dog and off we went.


There we were in the open bed of a pickup, hunched down for relief from the whipping wind, truck doing about 80, and those old gals would pull up next to us and wave and laugh. Surreal. The two trucks raced all the way to Idaho Falls, sometimes abreast of each other for miles at a time with either the grannies or us cruising in the oncoming lane.

We lived through that ride and caught a couple more. When we were within about 10 miles of the jump site a van pulled over and as the side door slid open we heard someone call our names. It turned out to be a van load of people we knew from Boston and they were headed to the party. We thought "Wow, how lucky are we?".

It was my last piece of good fortune for quite a while.

The jump site was out of control. Thousands of bikers had descended on the area and local law enforcement decided to herd everyone to the bottom of the canyon and then set up a checkpoint on the main access road. They stayed at the top and took the stance that what happened in the canyon stayed in the canyon.

Long story short, we had enough of camping in Crazy Canyon so we hooked one last ride that didn't end well. I was sitting shotgun in a U.S. Army jeep. No roof, no roll bar. People and vehicles were everywhere and we hit a traffic jam on the way up and out. The driver of our vehicle decided to go around it. "This F-er can go anywhere!" said PFC Harvey. He was a bit panicked at this point as he and his friend would soon be considered AWOL if they didn't make tracks fast.

The passenger side of the jeep slid right off the edge of the canyon road and I got flung out and down. As I slid to a stop on an outcropping I could hear the jeep thud and jangle as it started it's own descent.

Ever watch those Wiley Coyote cartoons where he falls and then looks back up to see part of the cliff screaming down at him?

Yup, it really sucks.

I'll spare you the gory details. I learned later, much later, that our bouncing jeep took out rows of motorcycles that were lined up in one of the campgrounds. It was like Candlepins for Cash. There were some angry bikers in that canyon. In a brief moment of consciousness I remember hearing a woman screaming at someone to stay away from us.

Fade to black.

So I said at the beginning that Evel changed my life forever, but that's really not true. I changed my life forever, and probably for the better. The path I had been on was not a good one. After I recovered I decided to go back to school. Smartest thing I ever did. Plus I'm lighter 'cause I got rid of all the unnecessary organs, and scars are a wonderfull conversation starter.

Funny though, you could never convince Joe's little old Italian grandmother that it wasn't Evel's fault. Until her dying day whenever she heard his name spoken she would fork the evil eye and curse him visciously in a mix of English and Italian. I smile whenever I think of her and my first thought when I heard he had passed was that she was probably laying in wait for him, just inside the Pearly Gates.

Good luck to you, Evel.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Looking For a Digital Camera?

A coworker was asking me about digital cameras today. He's looking to buy one as a gift and really wasn't sure what to look for. I sent him a link to a nice primer I found on, Nine questions to ask when purchasing a digital camera.

If you're new to digital photography this article will give you a leg up before you hit the stores. It covers the main points well, megapixels, optical vs. digital zoom, batteries and storage media. As with most things today different users have different needs and the article is quick to point that out and give you a good basic foundation to build on.

Once you're ready to get started you should check out another great source, Steve's Digicams. This site does very comprehensive reviews of digital cameras with sample photos from each and "Steve's Conclusion" which cuts right to the chase. There's a ton of info on this site.

My wife and I happen to favor lens quality over megapixels and we prefer SD cards for storage to keep to a standard, plus they're pretty reasonable. We're not real big on teeny-weeny either. They just don't seem to fit right in the hand. For a small, carry around, I won't croak if I lose it kind of camera we have a Canon PowerShot A540 . It's small enough to tote but has a knurled edge that aids in one hand shooting. It's also got a lot of features and functionality for the price. There are newer models out in the PowerShot line, be sure to check them out.

Of course there's a lot of options out there and there's a camera that's right for you. Take your time and do your homework. Then get out there and start snapping!

Drivin' Blind and Savoy Brown

Just a reminder, Drivin’ Blind opens for Savoy Brown (yes, that Savoy Brown, the one you listened to in high school) at The Bull Run in Shirley this Saturday night. Should be a night of scorching guitar.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stay Connected With Chumby.

Looking for something different for your favorite geek? Check out Chumby.

I recently saw a Globe review of cool gifts that mentioned Liveboard’s blue tooth enabled baseball scoreboard and Ambient Devices’ datacast driven stock and weather displays. They both make cool gifts for the connected set, but Chumby takes the idea to a whole new level.

It’s a small wifi enabled device with a color touch screen that gives you an interactive window on the internet anywhere in the house. You set it up with your pc, downloading widgets for the tasks you desire it to perform. Track something on eBay or Craig’s List, get updated news and scores, receive incoming email, make and send ecards, use it as a digital picture frame linked to your Flickr account. It's even a clock radio and iPod player and charger.

You can set it up anywhere, all you need is power and wifi. Stand it on a counter or stick it to the fridge with the provided magnets. This thing is the Swiss Army Knife of networked gadgets. And get this, the company even encourages you to hack it. They’ll give you all the hardware and software specs and even show you how to change it physically by customizing its enclosure. You can have your own little Franken-Chumby!

A little pricey at $179.95, but it gets decent reviews and is a perfect gift for that friend or loved one that never wants to be off the grid.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Learned Something New Today

I learned something new today and it turned a bad day around. It was a rough morning to begin with, when the Pats play at night the next morning is never pretty, but this morning I had the added bonus of cold rain and an outdoor project that's had it's ups and downs.

One of the things on my to do list this month is to upgrade a fiber optic link between a couple of buildings. Time is of the essence on this project as the cold New England winter fast approacheth. The conduit for this particular run has been in place for twenty-something years and had been damaged in the past so I have been sort of expecting trouble on this job.

Last week just before the holiday we hit a blockage in the vicinity of the original damage, but the job foreman probed the area and found a pull box just below the surface, cleverly hidden by a few inches of lawn and dirt, and cleared the blockage. We all went home for the Thanksgiving weekend with high hopes of finishing the job easily on our return.

This morning my Nextel gave it's familiar bleep moments after I arrived in my office. It was the job foreman and he wanted to know if there might be another pull box that I hadn't told him about, as they'd once again come to a screeching halt. They were on the home stretch, the last 500 feet before entering the next building, and there was no record of any more pull boxes or manholes in this section. This was going to be a long day.

After joining the crew for a wonderful game of probing the path with steel rods in the pouring rain, hoping to strike the lid of another splice/pull box, I decided we needed to take a different approach. I called the Facilities Engineer and he arrived like the cavalry with an underground cable locator that not only traced the conduit but it also gave depth readings. We found a spot where it was closer to the surface than normal and with the assistance of a great construction crew and a Bobcat, uncovered an unmapped splice box. Why it was buried (rather deeply, I might add) and never recorded, will remain one of life's little mysteries. You can bet the farm that it's on the map now.

So, we're back on track and I learned all about underground cable locators. We have a variation for tracking cables in house, but I'd never seen one like this. That baby was a Godsend, as were the crew and the Facilities Engineer. And there's something to be said about playing in the rain, as long as I don't have to do it too often.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It Wasn't Pretty But They're 11 and 0.

The Patriots became AFC Eastern Division Champs for the 5th year in a row by virtue of a Bills loss today, but things didn't go quite so smoothly on the field.
The Pats pulled off a squeaker against the Eagles, beating them 31 to 28 in a back and forth game that came right down to the wire. The Eagles played inspired football and A.J. Feeley had the game of his career, but the Pats persevered. Brady led them on a 69 yard scoring drive in the 4th to retake the lead and the defense sealed the deal with a pair of interceptions on the last 2 Eagle possessions.

It was a tight game but I don't for a minute believe the post game comments from the NBC porks that the Eagles have shown the rest of the league a blueprint to beat the Pats. The defense was flat tonight, although they came through when it counted, and Moss was not himself. The Eagles secondary had a lot to do with his performance but you could see that his timing was off. He was jumping to soon on the high throws and he seemed to be looking over the wrong shoulder on a couple of plays. Hey, the guy is an amazing receiver, tonight just wasn't his night.

The double coverage on Moss did open up Welker, who had a big night and really pulled our nards out of the fire. That guy is a mean motor scooter. Game balls have to go to both Welker and Samuel.

On to Baltimore to face the Ravens on Monday Night Football. This should be good. There was some jawing earlier in the season between Adalius Thomas and Ray Lewis. I just don't like that guy and would love to see him get shut down.


this is actually a game, I'm not used to this. I had to spend half time talking my dad down off the roof.

Holy Snikies, Gostkowski just missed from the 32!

An iTunes Mystery - The Case Of The Disappearing Cover Art.

I’m running iTunes on XP and I’ve got a problem with disappearing cover art. Songs I rip from CD’s and add cover art too mysteriously lose it. I’ll go to sync my iPod and notice track names flash by in the info box (i.e. syncing Boomtown) that I know have been in my library for months and I’ll know right away that it’s happening again.

It’s usually only a handful of songs and it only happens once a month or so, but it’s frustrating because I spend a fair amount of time copying cover art from Amazon or elsewhere and adding it to the tracks.

For a while I thought it was related to a particular version of iTunes and that the next rev I downloaded would clear it up, but it’s dogged me through every upgrade (I’m at now). I haven’t been able to rule out the platform I’m running it on (XP Pro/Media Center 2005) but I think I’ve finally found a pattern and may have figured out what’s going on.

It seems to only happen to ripped songs that aren’t available through the iTunes store, never to ripped tunes that are part of the iTunes catalog and never to iTunes purchased songs.

I noticed that on the General tab of the Preferences box I had “Automatically download missing album artwork” checked. I think iTunes looks at the non purchased songs in my library and says “Hmm, I’ll get you some cover art for that.” then looks through its catalog and doesn’t find any. Somehow in the process it displaces what you’ve put there. I’ve unchecked the box, so we’ll see if I’m right within a couple of weeks.

In the meantime let me know if you’ve experienced anything similar, and if so, how you’ve gotten around it.

Check out the latest update to this post: An iTunes Mystery - Solved for more info.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.

A great quote from Mark Twain. It popped into my head tonight as I was blog crawling. What is up with all the f bombs? At least half the blogs I’ve looked at recently have been liberally laced with swears. Do people think they are being edgy? Avant garde? I don’t get it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude. There are times I swear like a trooper and it serves me well. But that’s the point, it serves me well because when I do it people know I’m pissed off. When I release a string of invective, volume and speed rising as I warm to the task, people physically cringe and things get done. It has a dramatic effect because it’s so out of the norm.

My problem with the current trend of turning swears into mundane adjectives is that it’s taking away their power. Stealing their mojo, if you will. There needs to be ugly words. Society has cultivated these words for a purpose, and it isn’t to describe your shoes, or your neighbor, in a conversational manner.

That is all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Can Singing Sweet Caroline Save Your Soul?

Check out this article on about Neil Diamond's inspiration for the song Sweet Caroline. He says that he wrote the tune after seeing a picture of a young Caroline Kennedy and that he had never told anyone until last week when he sang it for her via satellite at her 50Th birthday party. The song has recently reappeared on the charts and Diamond attributes the Red Sox with it's resurgence, which brings me to my point.

I had read an article earlier this year in the Globe sports section. It was one of those "I was just thinking..." type of pieces, and the writer was "just thinking" that the playing and singing of the song as a ritual at Fenway made the fans look like yahoos.

Here's the thing. I've been a Sox fan since before I went to my first game with my dad in 1961. The photo above is of me, Circa 1959, decked out in the fan gear of the day. I know that the Sweet Caroline phenomenon is a relatively new thing and is embraced by the dreaded pink hats and band wagoners, but I like it. Not only do I like it, but I think it's a really great thing.

Before I go any further, I have to tell you a secret. You can't let anyone know what I'm about to tell you because it will ruin my reputation as a hardcore rock, blues and jazz fan. OK, here goes:

I have a lot of Neil Diamond on my iPod.

I grew up with his music. You couldn't turn on the AM radio in your parents car in the 60's without hearing something by him. So, although I quickly moved on to the Beatles and the Stones, Neil will always remind me of cruising shotgun with my dad in his '65 Impala.

That being said, the reason I think it's a great tradition is that it's the ONE AND ONLY piece of music that unites all of my friends and family, regardless of generation, whenever it comes on. Whether I'm flipping burgers at a summer cookout or hosting a Christmas party, when Sweet Caroline starts to pulse out of the speakers every man, woman and child present starts to sing, and that's a really good feeling. A feeling of warmth and brotherhood, a feeling of being a part of something.

Now amplify that feeling to the Nth degree by adding 33,000 total strangers voices to your own little group. If you can't feel the electricity and power of the moment, I say you have no soul.

So, hate it if you must. Despise the fans that participate. Just don't grouse about it and harsh my mellow.

I plan to go right on singing.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Both Mike Lowell and my computer are back. I'm doing the happy dance!

The 60 Minute Men are now 10 and 0

That was like a scrimmage. Brady looked sharp, as did Moss. The two of them looked like they were practicing in an empty parking lot. Hell, the whole team was like a well oiled machine. 6 straight drives of 60+ yards. 7 possessions, 7 scores with Tom in the game. Final score 56-10.

Both Brady and Moss set career and season franchise records tonight. Brady passed Steve Grogan as the Patriots career touchdown pass leader with 185 and also passed Babe Parilli for the single season touchdown pass record with 38.

Moss became the first Patriot to break 1000 yards receiving in a single season since Troy Brown in '01. He also broke Stanely Morgan's single season record of 12 touchdown receptions with 16 and Ben Coates' single game record of 3 touchdown receptions with 4.

I don't want to hear any pouring it on comments this week. As John Madden said tonight, "This is pro football and you just don't stop playing. It's up to the defense to stop them". They're just off the bye and they needed to work it. The 2 minute drill at the end of the 1st half was something Brady had trouble with at practice this week, so they worked it. Going for it on 4Th and 1 in the 3rd allowed Buffalo the chance to stop them when a field goal would have been automatic, so they worked it. Faulk and Maroney get hurt so they swap off with Evans and Eckel and still punch it in. Fourth and fifth string running backs!

Other than the Colts there isn't anyone who can give these guys a game, and after watching them the last couple of weeks I don't think they're up to it anymore either. Both Peyton and Adam are definitely in a slump, and the rest of the team has been decimated. It's like they left it all on the field when they lost to the Pats.

Oh yeah, I'm enjoying this.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Safe Tech Toys For The Holidays

OK, unless you've been in a cave you know that there's been some serious issues with toys lately. A couple of weeks ago my grandson was showing me the cool bee he had made with his new Aqua Dots play set. A few days later I saw the news piece on how toxic this crap was and almost choked on my morning coffee.

I called my son even though it was 5:30 in the morning. Scared the daylights out of him, of course, everyone answers late night/early morning phone calls with a touch of dread, but I was freaked out enough about the story that I just didn't care. It turned out that he had seen the story also and had already scooped it and hidden it. Smart man, my son.

We were lucky this time, but I for one am not taking any chances this holiday season, and you shouldn't either. I'm going to give you some safe and really cool high tech alternatives today that are guaranteed to be a hit.

First up is the VTech V.SMILE game console. It's actually called a learning console and I have to say that it's a pretty apt description. We bought this for my grandson last Christmas and he loved it. It's geared for ages 3 to 7 so it grows with the child. The games/learning modules actually feature popular characters like Bob the Builder, Scooby Doo, Sponge Bob and Spiderman and do a great job of disguising learning as an arcade game.

The games are broken up by age group, 3-4, 4-5 and 5-7 and each group works on a variety of skill sets. The controllers are intuitive and easy to use and the console and games are quite reasonable. The console goes for about $49 and the games are about $19 each.

This has stood the test of time for us. It's still being used on a regular basis after almost a year, and I don't need to tell you parents out there that holding the interest of a 4 year old for a year is quite a feat.

Vtech also makes a system for children 6 and up, the VTech V.FLASH. Same deal, $49 for the console and $19 for the games.

There are some great add ons for both systems and plenty of games, so you can make buying them a family affair. Someone gets the console, others can pick up games or accessories. You also get the added bonus of knowing your not giving them some mindless piece of crap. Bonus!

Got a tween or teen? How about a reasonable but fully functional laptop? The Asus Eee PC is a close cousin to the Laptop for Every Child device but is a very slick computer that can be used by all. It's small and light and comes with a web cam, WiFi, Open Office and either a Linux or Windows operating system. It's flash based so there's no hard drive, boots up and shuts down really quickly, and according to all the reviews on the tech sites and, more importantly, the user reviews on Amazon, everything works right out of the box with no configuration necessary. Does it get any better than that? Why yes it does, the price is just $399!

I'm thinking this would be a great device for someone like my 83 year old dad. Easy to use, hard to hose.

There's not a lot of free disk space, only about 1.5 gb, but for mail and word processing apps it doesn't need much. Plus it has 3 USB 2.0 ports, so thumb drives and portable disks can solve that problem. Check it out.

That's it for now. Next time we'll talk about some cool toys for grown up geeks. I can't wait!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My PC is Gone, Baby, Gone.

I’m a pretty careful guy when it comes to caring for my systems and preserving my data. I’ve seen enough “data disasters” to last a lifetime.

You know the drill. You get the call from a relative or friend who has been dumping digital pictures onto their PC for the last 2 years and has never backed it up. Their hard drive is clanking, the PC won’t boot, and they’re frantic. “Oh my God, little Nell’s first communion pictures are on there!” they wail.

Usually you can recover some or all of their stuff but it’s always a pain in the butt and your friend or relative always stands behind you the whole time, wringing their hands and asking “How’s it lookin’?” every 5 minutes. Such a fun time! Once I even had to resort to a trick I learned from one of my coworkers to rescue data, freezing the hard drive. If you pop a bad drive in the freezer overnight sometimes it will work for about an hour after you take it out. It worked, but just barely. The drive started clanking again about halfway through the copy and died for good right after I finished.

I actually think there was divine intervention on that one. The drive belonged to a loved one who was particularly distraught and close to tears as I left for the evening with the dead drive in hand. I was flying home the next morning and although her computer was working, she had no hope of ever seeing her pictures again. Man, would I have loved to have seen her face when the FedEx guy delivered the DVD’s I created a few days later. That would have been priceless.

Anyway, we all say “I’ll never be that guy!” but it’s almost impossible not to be that guy.

I have a laptop, an iMac and a honkin’ Media Center PC at home. Any digital pictures and videos we take get loaded onto both the PC and the iMac, and they all get copied to a portable hard drive also. In addition, once every couple of weeks I burn a copy of the My Pictures folder onto a DVD. Same with the My Videos and the My Music folders and just because I’m totally anal, I also run the iTunes backup routine once a month and rip all purchased tracks to CD.

So, you would think that with all this preparation a machine meltdown wouldn’t be such a big deal for me. Well guess what? Even when you’re prepared it still sucks.

The other night, right after I finished the previous post, my PC went into a coma from which it still hasn’t recovered. It froze and that was it. I couldn’t even get it to POST, let alone reboot. Fried motherboard. Gone, Baby, Gone.

Luckily it’s still under warranty so we made a copy of the hard drive (told you I was anal) and off I went to Buy More. The store was great. They popped the hood, confirmed my original diagnosis, then packed it up and shipped it off on its long trip home to the manufacturer.

Beautiful, right?

Not exactly.

Now I’ve got to wait for its return, which could take up to a month, and when I do get it back there’s a good chance I’ll have to reload everything. A small price to pay, especially if I end up with a brand new system, but a time consuming hassle nonetheless.

In the meantime although I’ve still got my laptop and iMac, I’m out of business on a lot of fronts. My laptop isn’t powerful enough to process video and doesn’t have a video capture card and PVR software like my desktop. The iMac can process the video, but the video projects that I had already started on the PC will need to be restarted from the raw video files on the Mac, or they’ll just have to wait. Also a lot of the software I use regularly on the PC isn’t on the laptop or iMac, which means I’ve been busy loading software.

The coup de grace is that my iTunes library is on the PC and my wife’s is on the iMac. Both are radically different and if you’re familiar with iTunes you know the hassle of transferring to another computer.

On the plus side, this will force me to do some things I’ve been putting off. I’ll probably run all my music through a leveling program and then re-import it into iTunes with sound check off. As you may know, the iTunes sound check software really sucks. My levels are all over the place.

And then there’s…


Ah nuts, there is no plus side. A PC meltdown is just no fun at all.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Note to CBS Sports:

Replace Shannon Sharpe. Half the time you can't understand what he's saying, and to make it worse, half the time you can.

Was that a killer game yesterday or what? We haven't seen "The Comeback" in quite a while as Tom and the boys have been dispatching opponents with alacrity of late, but you could feel it coming.

There was only 9 minutes and change left in the 4th quarter and the Pats were down by 10 when Brady strode confidently onto the field and lead the team to score not once, but twice, to take a 24-20 lead. Then the New England defense clamped down, stopping the Colts after the first score, then sealing the deal with a forced fumble on the Colts last possession.

Is there any greater reward for the Patriots faithful then seeing Goober on his belly making the Peyton face at the end of a game?

And speaking of rewards, how about Randy Moss? Spectacular one handed catch. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Caught, pulled down and tucked away, all with his left hand as he stiff armed with his right and never missed a step. Fan-farging-tastic!

Moss would open the game up for Welker and company. After his big catch on the 3, Brady had no problem finding Wes Welker and Kevin Faulk for the scores and the final clock killing first down.

Can it get any better than this, and if it does, can my heart take it?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Things to keep you busy this weekend.

If you’re into the blues and you live in the New England area you should check out berry’s friends the Drivin’ Blind Band. They’re a high energy blues band that will have you hoppin’ and boppin’ the night away. Lead guitarist Steve Dineen is phenomenal and reminds me of a young Alvin Lee. Very fast hands. They have a CD out, Mount Blue Live, and have been featured on both the WZLX and WBOS Sunday blues shows.

We saw them at Palmers in Andover on Friday night, but you can catch them throughout the area. On Dec. 1st you can see them at the Bull Run in Shirley, Ma. where they’ll be opening for blues/rock legends Savoy Brown.

Also this weekend is the GBSCC Sports Card and Memorabilia Show at the Shriners Auditorium. We saw Clay Buchholz, Bobby Kielty and all 3 Papelbon brothers today as well as Juan Beniquez, Duke Snider and Don Schwall. We also picked up some great stuff while we were there. The show runs through 4pm on Sunday, November 3rd (You can still be home in time for the Pats game!) and is a great family activity. My sons and I have been going for years and now my grandson has joined the crew. $5 for adults, children under 12 free.

Past, present and future Sox.

Be a smart geek.

I saw a reader poll on a tech website the other day: HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray, which one will win over consumers and why? My answer is... hopefully neither.

I know it's great to have the newest cutting edge technology, but we as consumers have the power to shape the direction the industry goes in, albeit only to a small extent, by not buying either Blu-Ray or HD DVD. If sales lag, it WILL force a compromise, or even the quicker emergence of a newer technology.

Personally, I'm happy with my upconverting DVD player for now. Things change too quickly to choose sides in an ongoing technology war unless you have money to burn. 1080p won't be embraced by broadcasters for a myriad of reasons, and when and if they do embrace it, it will be in an mpeg-4 format or something new that has yet to be decided, rendering the current crop of 1080p TV's and HD DVD players obsolete. You can read more about the reasons why in this article on Wikipedia and also on in the article "Everything you need to know about HDTV".

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You've gotta check out...

the latest Bill Simmons piece: Sox win Most Valuable Team award. It sums up the 2007 Sox very nicely and I love his description of Papelbon at the end.

Simmons can be a very polarizing figure, people either love him or hate him. I enjoy his humor and his love of Boston sports, but what really strikes a chord with me is his relationship with his dad. My own dad is a rabid and lifelong Sox, Pats and BC fan and is enjoying his golden years in sunny Florida. I go down and visit him during spring training and he spends his summers up here with us, so we get to enjoy the Sox together for most of the season. The rest of the time we watch together over the phone and this post season has been no exception.

We had a very similar conversation on Sunday night and came to the same conclusion as the Simmons' men, the whole team could get the MVP. It was almost impossible to single anyone out of the team effort. We also would never have discussed the subject pre-final out back in '04. This one was waaaaay different.

The Sox seem to have turned that same corner that the Pats turned a few years back. You don't worry because you know they'll find a way to pull it out. That's because like the Pats, the current Red Sox are a team, first and foremost, and that's the key to success.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox are World Champions!

Once again the Rockies made a late inning surge but the Sox held on, beating Colorado 4-3 in game 4 to become World Champions again.

Lester was great in his first post season start, throwing 5 and 2/3 innings of shutout baseball. Delcarmen, Timlin and Okajima came in in relief with Manny and Oki giving up 1 and 2 runs respectively, but Papelbon shut the door on the series and the Rockies season.

Mike Lowell had a double in the 5th, scoring on a head first slide at the plate and a solo home run in the 7th and was named series MVP. SIGN HIM, THEO!

How great is this team? Everyone came up big at one time or another during this championship run. Everyone.

The best thing is that so many of these guys are just starting out. I think we're gonna see some great baseball in this town for quite a while.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sox up 3-0!

Dice-K went 5 and 1/3 and singled to drive in 2 of the Sox 6 runs in the third. Can you believe it? But the Rockies would not go gentle into that good night. They came roaring back in the 7th as Holliday stroked an Oki-Doke pitch for a 3 run homer making it 6 to 5.

We didn't have to sweat it for long as the rookies Ellsbury and Pedroia came through again, and the Sox scored 4 more times in the 8th and 9th and Pap closed it out. 10-5 final.

This team always responds.

I'm going out on a limb here because everyone on this team fits the MVP mold in one way or another and there's still at least one more game, but I'm going with Ellsbury for now. Talk about bringing it, this kid is fearless.

Tomorrow night I think I'm going to have to set the clicker up so that I can flip from the TV audio to the AM tuner with a minimum of effort. If the Sox were to close the series out it would be tantamount to sacrilege to hear the final call come from those idiots Buck and McCarver. I'd do it for the whole game but unfortunately the 2 feeds are not even close to being synced. Bummer.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Weekend Mashup

Check out the Buzz Report on CNET. Molly Wood is very good. I especially like the out takes from her tech reviews.

To effect the quality of the day is no small achievement. I got this in a fortune cookie recently and it made such an impression on me that I googled it. Seems like its a very common fortune as I found quite a few blogs and websites where people were referring to finding it. I also found that it's a subtle variation of a Henry David Thoreau quote: "It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. To affect the quality of the day--that is the highest of arts." Here's the thing. I like the quote because I've found that there is hardly anything more rewarding than changing the quality of someones day. For the better, that is.

Brady and Manning have a shot at the same record this week. Being the first QB to beat all 31 opponents. Brett Favre has a shot at it next week. Also, both the Pats and Colts will be trying to remain undefeated.

Daisuke Matsuzaka ( 松坂 大輔 ) is on the mound for the Sox tonight in Colorado and I think he's going to give us another good outing. I saw a press conference with him today and he said that after holding a replica of the World Series trophy he's anxious to hoist the real thing. Could be just the motivation he needs. We'll see...

Go Sox, Go Pats!

That is all.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Sox win 2-1. God that was a white knuckler, but Pap closed it out with the high heat and the Sox go up 2-0 in the series.

Schilling lasted through 5 and 1/3 in what could be his final Fenway appearance. Okajima came in with 2 men on and shut the Rockies down for the next 2 and 1/3 innings (How the hell does he throw so accurately with his head down?). Crazy Legs Papelbon got the last 4 outs.

So it's off to Mile High, and although I'd love to see them sweep, it would be sweet if they could win the big one at home.

I went to my first game in '61 so I've seen quite a few incarnations of this team and I've gotta tell ya, this is one special team. The pitching, the hitting, coming up big when the pressure is on, these guys are phenomenal.

And speaking of first games, I really love to see kids at the park. I've heard some people comment lately that it's a waste of an expensive seat to bring young kids to a game. It's not. I was only 6 and I remember every moment as if it were yesterday. The sounds and smells of Fenway are burned into my soul. That's how you become an official member of Red Sox Nation. Sending in 20 bucks and getting a cheesy card in the mail has nothing to do with it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Sox win game 1 in rout!

Josh Beckett was masterful through 7 tonight as the Sox beat the Rockies 13 to 1 with Timlin and Gagne taking care of the 8th and 9th, finishing it off in fine style.

Gagne..? Fine style..? Who would've thought we'd be puting those words together to describe a Monsuier Gagne post season performance? Then again, there was nothing ordinary or predictable about this game.

With Beckett striking out the side in the top of the first and Pedroia homering to lead off, you just knew it was the Sox night, and boy was it ever. Up 6 to 1, the Sox drove a stake through the Rockies heart by scoring 7 runs in the 5th and just cruised from there. This team is marching in lockstep to the beat of the bullpen drum corps, and I'm lovin' it.

It's too soon to be licking each other's popsicles just yet, but this post season seems to be following the '04 script pretty closely. It's a little spooky...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Safe Computing

I'm going to give you some information today that may save you a lot of time and aggravation. First thing I want to talk about is targeted ads. Have you ever noticed that sometimes websites seem to be able to read your mind? You go to Autofinder or the Ford website and for the next couple of weeks every site you go to is showing you ads for cars and trucks. Thats because sites put tracking cookies on your hard drive.

Targeted ads cue on your cookies and from the sites you redirect from, among other things. Most websites use tools to collect your info. All you need is to be on them for a second and they have a ton of info about you. They map your location and system info to the stories and the ads you click on so they can use it to adjust what they present. It also tells them how the user found the site, whether searching Google or redirecting from another page's link.

Not all of them collect personal info like IP address, computer names, etc. but some sites do. It's a good reason not to use your name when you are configuring your computer i.e. "Frothington family computer". You should also make it a practice to clean your cache. Get rid of the cookies, offline internet pages and mru lists.

The quickest way is to open Internet Explorer, go to Tools (Top left of the IE window next to Favorites), scroll down to Internet Options at the bottom of the drop down list. This will bring up a window of IE options and on the first tab or page (General) you will see Delete Cookies, Delete files, and Settings. Click on both Cookies and Files. When you hit the delete files button, be sure to select the offline content checkbox. Piece of cake, but it can be even easier...

If we're talking about your home machine, you should install Lavasoft's Ad-Aware. The personal version is free and it's the best tool out there. It not only roots out spyware but also blows away all your cookies. There are some upgraded versions that have more functionality like real time (constant) scans and a version for buisness computers, but the free one is fine for home use. Update it and run it weekly. Please note that Ad-Aware is not a replacement for Norton/Symantec anti virus. You need them both.

Second thing I'm going to talk about is music downloading and P2P (peer to peer) file sharing in general. Don't do it. There is no such thing as a free lunch, or free music. What you are doing is opening up your hard drive so that any unscrupulous person can put anything they want on it. Think spyware or malware. I see a steady stream of people whos PC's are virtually unusable because they are so polluted. The crap comes from music downloading, surfing porn, or both. You need to stick to trusted sites like iTunes or Amazon. If you're concerned about DRM's and cost, you should read my article on DRM free downloads on You'll find it on the berry's shuffle page.

OK, I've rambled enough for tonight. The Sox start back up tomorrow night and I need my beauty rest.

Before summer fades from our memory...

we wanted to share this:

Summer in New England

Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Sox are AL Champs!

The Sox beat the Indians 11-2 in game 7 of the ALCS and are on their way to the World Series.

Dice K, Oke Doke and Papelbon combined to hold the Tribe to 2 runs and Pedroia and Youkilis had the hot bats tonight.

Josh Beckett was presented with the ALCS MVP trophy but I've gotta tell ya, everyone contributed in this series. How about Coco crashing into the wall to make the last out? Nice.

The boys are dancin' on the diamond again and I want to see it one more time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Is it just me...

or does Joe Buck and Tim McCarver remind anyone else of David Hyde Pierce (Niles Crane) and Alan Thicke (Growing Pains).

Someone must be able to out bid Fox for these games. I would be willing to start a fundraiser.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sox club Tribe 12-2 and it's down to game 7

Schilling was good for 7, Drew came through, Youk used his head, Ellsbury was inspiring and Gagne was lights out. How can you not love these guys?

The game 6 win sets up a Sunday to remember in Boston. The undefeated Pats in the afternoon and then a winner takes all nightcap at Fenway. The new millenium has been very, very good to us.

Go Pats! Go Sox!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sox win 7-1 and it's back to Boston!

How about those Red Sox, is Josh Beckett the man or what?

Youk and Pedroia are hitting again and we even saw a brief glimpse of Jacoby Ellsbury filling in for Manny in left. That gives me hope that he may play for Coco Crispy on Saturday.

I still think Manny got robbed on the wall ball, the yellow line shouldn't extend over the wall, but that being said he should have been running regardless.

Well, it's back to Fenway for a Schilling Carmona matchup and my Dad can come down off the roof for a couple more days. Thank God the next 2 are weekend games, I've gotta get some sleep!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

berry's new blog

Hi, you've found berry's new blog. I've got a website @ with technology reviews and how-to's along with music and sports news but I thought it would be fun to ramble a bit on here.

This space is where I'm going to vent and pontificate and perhaps even entice you over to my site for a closer look at what I'm up to. My real passion is for building large scale voice and data networks but I love all things electronic. I'm also a real nut job for the Patriots, the Red Sox and ABC's Lost. Quite the strange brew... and speaking of strange brew, Clapton has a new autobiography and a new compilation CD out. The book is getting great reviews and the CD is on my gottagetit list as most of my Cream collection is still on vinyl (yup, I'm that old).

As you can see I'm already all over the place, but that's exactly why I wanted to start this blog. I try to keep to the subject on my website, this place I can be a little more free form.

Well, that's it for now, but I'll leave you with these thoughts:

The Sox can win 3 playoff games in a row and have done it as recently as 2004. You've just gotta believe.

The Pats will continue to crush all opponents and finish every game with, as Bill Simmons so succinctly put it in his
last column, the eff you touchdown.

Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest. Mark Twain