Saturday, February 28, 2009

Matt Cassel Traded

Multiple sources are reporting that Matt Cassel has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Wow, it's been a busy couple of days for the Pats, and for teams now run by ex-Pats...

They traded both Mike Vrabel and Matt Cassel to the Chiefs, and released Jabar Gaffney and Lonie Paxton, who both signed with the Broncos.

On the plus side, they picked up running back Fred Taylor from the Jaguars, and tight end Chris Baker from the Jets.

While by themselves, these pickups don't seem like much (although I must admit, I've always been a Fred Taylor fan...), it would appear that Bill has a plan here. My guess is that he's clearing cap room for a bigger acquisition (Julius Peppers maybe?), and helping out his prodigies get their new houses in order.

It will be fun to watch and see just how large of an iceberg is about to pop into view...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sony XDR-S10HDiP HD Radio With Dock

This is a great HD table radio with a built in iPod dock, and perhaps the best iPod accessory I’ve come across yet.

I was looking for a replacement for the iHome iH5 that’s been our kitchen radio for the last couple of years. It still worked fine, but since it didn’t support charging on my 2nd gen Touch, and didn’t have a proper insert for supporting it (I hate it when your iPod is all wimbley-wombley in the dock, I always get a vision of snapping the dock connector off while pressing the iPod’s buttons.), I decided to replace it with a nice table radio.

I had made up my mind to go with a radio sans dock, because I was sick of getting accessories that became obsolete every time I upgraded my iPod. I have a universal dock, and I figured I’d just plug it in when I needed it. Then I saw the Sony XDR-S10HDiP HD Radio with dock, and fell in love.

It’s a great sounding AM, FM, HD radio with an integrated iPod dock that supports the new iPhone 3g, Touch 2nd gen and Nano 4th gen charging requirements (as well as all previous models), and it supports Apple’s universal dock adapters, so it will stick with you through all of them changes.

HD radio is fantastic, and free, and most of the Boston area stations are now streaming multicasts, giving you a plethora of crisp, clean, CD quality listening choices. Check out what’s currently available here. My favorite so far is WZLX’s Radio Mojo Blues Channel, but there are so many choices that for the first time ever I filled all 20 presets, and longed for more. Thank goodness it’s also got a scan feature!

Because digital radio can carry information as well as music, the radio gives you station, artist and song information in the display, and allows you to do iTunes tagging. Tagging is a cool feature that lets you “tag” a song you’re listening to by hitting the tag button on the top of the radio while it’s lit. The next time you dock your iPod, the radio transfers all the stored tags to it. When you sync, iTunes uses the information in the digital tags to retrieve the songs for you. How cool is that? It even comes with a full sized remote, so you can tag from the comfort of your chair.

Besides having all the bells and whistles you could ever want, this radio has excellent sound quality, and the clarity of the HD signal makes it all the better. Plus it’s a real looker, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Bring your iPod into an Apple retailer and plug it in for a test drive.

Note: You’ll probably need to use the supplied FM dipole and AM loop antennas for best reception, but it’s worth it. Although you don’t get static on digital radio, it will drop the link intermittently if you’re below 2 bars on the signal strength meter. Get creative; I have the dipole cleverly woven up the back of the baker’s rack it sits on.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Faithful Cat

We lost our oldest and dearest pet last week, Zoë the cat. She was a loving and faithful old cat, and we started and ended just about every day with her for the past 15 years.

When she was young and spry, she would follow me everywhere, even getting mad if I closed her out of the bathroom. What a fuss she’d make, clawing and scratching at the door. She would not be denied, and it didn’t take her long to figure out how to jump up and flick the light switch off. The minute I’d open the door, she would scuttle in and sit on my feet, or jump into my pants, if the situation allowed. She was one smart cat.

She was also the self appointed mother to all of our pets, and when there was no one around to mother, or scold, she would drag various stuffed animals long distances just to place them by her bed and bowls. It took us the longest time to figure out what was going on with this one.

We’d see the stuffed animals in the kitchen, and scratch our heads. We asked the kids if they were bringing her the toys, and they said no, but we didn’t completely believe them. We even started to suspect each other. Then one day I came home early and caught her dragging a teddy bear down the stairs by the scruff of its neck. She had gone up to the bedroom and grabbed it off of the bed.

After that, we always made sure she had a few by her bed, and it soon became a family thing. My mother-in-law liked to bring her little stuffed kittens, and Zoë would move them from her bed to her food bowls and back again, clucking at them and cleaning them. Good old Mama Zo.

We recently had to travel, and Zoë went to our Vet for boarding and tests. She had developed diabetes in her old age, and it was the perfect time for a blood curve. While there, our Vet discovered that she had an infection. She and her staff treated and pampered the old girl until we got back, and she actually seemed to be getting better by the time we took her home.

She was incredibly active for the last week of her life, visiting with everyone and checking out every corner of the house, and in retrospect, I see it as her farewell tour. As the weekend came and went, she started to slow down, and by that Sunday night it was obvious that she really wasn’t getting better. I can’t believe that she fooled us so completely, but I think she was running on pure love.

So, here we are, adjusting to life without our old friend holding court in the kitchen. I find myself constantly glancing over at her “spot”, expecting to see her laying there contentedly in the sun. Her little food bowl and favorite rug are still there, we just haven’t had it in us to put them away yet, but she’s not. It takes a beat or two for the realization to sink in, but it does, and I’m left feeling both happy and sad.

Animals can be unquestionably faithful, giving you so much for so little. Zoë lived to be with us. That’s all she wanted, to be with us. Well, that, and a little kibble, of course. Ecstasy for her was being brushed while she ate. Ecstasy for me was having her snuggled up next to me, purring like a little motorboat.

I take comfort in the fact that she had a long and happy life, and in all the joy she gave us, and I smile when I remember one of the last conversations I had with my Dad before he passed.

He had grown up on a farm and loved animals, and he would cater to our pets when he was with us in the summers. “Can’t be bored here,” he’d say, “The cats won’t leave me alone.”

Anyway, he had just made the move from the hospital to the hospice, and once he was comfortable and settled in for the night, I asked him if there was anything else that he needed or wanted. He was on the cusp of sleep, and I wasn’t sure if he was even going to answer me, but after a pause he looked up at me and said “Get me a cat.”

I guess we know whose lap she’s on now.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Update On iPod, iPhone Syncing Problems

I haven’t seen much in the forums on the syncing problems that seemed to abound last week. Since users across multiple platforms were experiencing the problem, and Apple released a notice that users should deautorize and reauthorize their systems to clear the problem, I’m assuming that the root cause was related to changes in the libraries associated with DRM removal, not the 2.2.1 firmware, and that Apple has since cleared it up.

Although I didn’t experience the iTunes freeze ups, I had noticed an oddity in my syncs last week. iTunes showed a 1 on the app folder, indicating that there was 1 new app available for syncing, and after I synced by USB it was still there. When I disconnected, there was a corresponding 1 on the Touch’s app icon. I tapped it and the iPod told me that I had a version upgrade for Labyrinth to download. I did, and the app updated wirelessly and worked fine afterwards.

iTunes still showed 1 new app to download, so I synced it again via USB, just to see if it would go away. Nope. I did see a copy of Labyrinth in the trash though, indicating that iTunes had replaced it with the upgraded version.

Through subsequent syncs, the 1 stayed on the app folder in iTunes, but didn’t reappear on the iPod. This morning, I synced again, and once again there was no change to iTunes, but the iPod had now gotten its “1 app download” indicator back. I went through the steps to upgrade the app again, and viola, the “1 app download” indicator finally went away on both iTunes and the iPod. There was also another copy of Labyrinth in the trash.

Perhaps Apple has reissued certain downloads that weren’t playing well with the libraries. Who knows, I’m just happy that everything is working.

I’m still holding off on upgrading to 2.2.1 though, just in case…

Monday, February 9, 2009

Problems With The iPhone 2.2.1 Firmware Upgrade?

Whenever I get a notice that there’s a new version of iPod firmware or iTunes software, I postpone downloading until I’ve Googled for issues. Such was the case today, when Apple offered me the newest firmware for my 2nd gen Touch.

After seeing this posting on, I was glad I did. It seems that some people are unable to sync their iPhone or Touch after the upgrade. iTunes freezes when the sync fails, and the system needs to be rebooted.

There’s a fix, which includes deauthorizing and reauthorizing your computer, and then downloading and running a free app, but as I prodded deeper in the forums, it appears that the problem may not be limited to the iPhone and Touch. Some users are reporting the same symptoms are plaguing standard iPods also, which would mean that the root cause may not be the 2.2.1 firmware. There’s conjecture out there that the problem may be due to changes in some of the tracks available in iTunes that have been upgraded to iTunes Plus.

Whatever the case may be, I’m definitely not downloading 2.2.1 yet. I’m also going to refrain from any track downloads until there’s more info available, and I suggest you do the same.

If you’ve been bitten by this bug, it would be greatly appreciated if you would post the symptoms, corrective actions taken, and whether or not you had success. Thanks!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Finish

Pretty exciting finish to a game I expected to be a snoozer. Man, I thought the Cardinals just might pull off an upset there.

Even though I'm not a fan of either team, I found myself pulling for Warner to make a comeback. It would have been a great storyline, and it would have been kind of nice to see the air go out of the Steelers balloon. But in the end, you have to give them credit. Roethlisberger stepped up, and Holmes' catch and tap-down was amazing.

Anyways, the game was great, even though the Steelers won. The commercials, on the other hand, were only so-so. My two favorites were the "Doritos crystal ball" ad, and the Leno "move to prime time" spot.

The Doritos ad was priceless. There's nothing like physical comedy when it's done right. "Free Doritos at the office today?". Beautiful.

The Leno ad was brilliant for it's simplicity. The car, the music and the camera work all fit together perfectly to convey an image and message without a word being uttered. Very smart.

I also liked the "SoBe Lizard Lake" spot at halftime. The 3D (did you have your glasses?) was very good, and Matt Light was a riot. He was really getting his groove on. It'll make great Jumbotron fodder for next season. We may even have seen the birth of the new Gino...

At the very least, it will probably earn him a berth on the next Dancing With The Stars.