Sunday, August 14, 2005

iPod -- pro or con?

I just read an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Sunday, August 14, 2005 edition, Resisting the Temptation regarding iPods. There seldom seems to be a middle ground reported in the various "technology wars" these days. Granted, reporters have limited column space available to them and editors may even shorten articles, further eliminating pertinent information. However, there just doesn't seem to be time or space for thorough examination and balanced reporting. This isn't just true for articles about iPods -- look at the ridiculous articles that happen on a regular basis about operating systems. Some of it is just plain silly, mostly prompting flame wars among people who seem to have nothing better to do than sit at their computer waiting for one of these to surface so they can immediately log in to the discussions to say "I hate Windows/Mac" or "You Mac/Windows users don't know what a real OS is..."

I happen to own an iPod. I own and work on Macs and also work on Windows from time to time. My personal preference is to work on my Macs. No particular piece of technolgy is right for everyone. I'm certain that, in the academic setting where I work, I could canvass a hall or two and find an equal number of people who will or will not use the iPod, for various reasons. Price is certainly an issue. And, believe it or not, everyone who buys an iPod is NOT buying it to be hip or trendy.

Some of the things that opponents, vehement non-iPod users, or even general non-MP3 player users, may not get are:

(1) The iPod doesn't just hold music... ever heard of books on tape? Well, they produce quite a few titles on CD. There's also Oh, and depending upon the length of the book (6 Harry Potter books, an Isaac Asimov collection, Hitchhiker's Guide, Salmon of Doubt, etc.) it can gobble quite a chunk of drive! It can provide hours of listening -- especially nice when driving a distance, in rush hour or not. There are myriad adapters available to make the iPod playable on your car stereo. You may even be a lucky person and have gotten a vehicle that has a direct hook-up!

(2) The iPod doesn't just hold music... ever heard of backup files? Hopefully, if you use your computer(s) much you have a good backup strategy. The iPod I use could just hold tons of music in addition to the books on tape. However, it is a wonderful external drive for my Macs. I can do backups on the fly or at set times. I can use it to take work files home to work on when I don't have my laptop and don't want to futz with logging in over the network. It's extremely versatile.

(3) The iPod doesn't just hold music... I'm becoming a broken record, eh? So, I don't have this capability because my iPod isn't the newer color version. I'd like to get the 60 Gig photo version because I have a 4 year old. The logic here is, I'm constantly around people who ask me if I have photos of my son with me. We had Gordon late in life (when I was 38) and a lot of people are just as thrilled as we are that he came into our lives. I could show many more photos to folks, not just of my son, if I had the iPod Photo. It's a pain to pull out the laptop even though the photos would be viewable in a larger screen. I tend to keep my iPod with me almost all the time. Ready access to the photos would be great.

(4) While I'm on the "not just music" kick... Don't forget about PodCasts. Some of them are indeed music or music related but there are so many other types with more popping up every day.

Still, even with all of these capabilities the iPod certainly isn't for everyone. My husband thought he'd like to try out a competitor so, as a gift, I bought him a 20Gig Rio Karma (does Rio make a large capacity player anymore? They show the Karma but no "buy it" button for it). I should have known better. In our family at least, I'm more of a gadget user than he is. He aquired my old TiBook and it's languishing a bit from lack of use (wish he'd just get into the habit of checking iCal on it regularly so he'd have the family calendar I have posted ;-). He had a Palm for a while and it too found a corner to live in (he recently rediscovered it and put in new batteries but it's not functioning at the moment). I'm still regularly using my Handspring Visor that I've had for quite a few years now.

The article ends with the suggestion that rather than buying an iPod you might buy Apple's stock instead. I can agree with that. I have purchased stock in Apple, have had it for a number of years. The kicker here is, if you are buying the stock you REALLY, REALLY want people to be buying the products that the company is producing!

I'm sure that I could have come up with another product that would be useable. The final component for me regarding a lot of Apple products is that I really do appreciate the quailty engineering and the fine industrial design they produce. Though, I'm reserving judgement on their latest iteration of the mouse. That will be a separate blog once I get my hands on one to check out thoroughly.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Music finds on the net

After reading a few "news" articles online about audio blogs I went to one referenced site that I'd highly recommend. There is a wonderful guitarist out there who is recording early music. Visit Jon Sayles website for a hefty dose of excellent FREE recordings of 2, 3, 4 and 5-part songs and instrumental selections from the 14th - 17th Centuries.

I'm glad to see he put a link up on his site to the higher quality 2-CD set he has recorded as a fundraiser for a charity for seizure disorders in the U.K. You can get the higher quality recordings from The price is ridiculously cheap for the quality and quantity of recordings that Jon has provided.

I for one hope that Jon keeps playing AND keeps recording early music for those of us who thoroughly enjoy the guitar (having made meager attempts at playing it myself years ago).

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Preparing for Tiger

Just took a 4 day trip to the San Francisco area to visit family & friends. Had a great time at Pescadero beach and up in Sonoma and Napa. While we were away my Family Pack finally arrived from Amazon. It was a deal I couldn't pass up. I had a gift certificate and Amazon is running a $50 rebate for Tiger purchases made by 05/31/05. If you don't need the Family Pack there's a $30 rebate on a single license.

So, I'm cloning drives, repairing permissions and preparing to install Tiger this evening. My storage situation is worse than we first thought! I have multiple machines and a total of 310 GB in the machines themselves!!! Sheesh. Now I'm pricing even larger hard drives to get my back-up capacity in line with the machines. It is truly amazing how quickly drive space is gobbled up by video. I thought mp3's, photos, Illustrator and Photoshop files were bad. (-;

The plan is to upgrade my AlBook then my husband's TiBook and then finally our iMac. Might be finished in the wee hours after all are completed. Once I'm sure everything is in working order I'll have to post a couple of the best photos from our trip.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

EyeTV 200 -- rocks!

Well, it rocks but it also is contributing to a phenomenal amount of storage need in our household now. However, now I can actually WATCH the shows I'd like to see without worrying about content for the 3 year old's eyes/ears -- after he goes to bed, of course. I absolutely love the fact that I can strip the commercials and advertising out before we watch his favorite kids shows (over and over and over).

While I still think that PBS has some of the best content for kids, what is with the "commercials" for Fruit Loops, Kellogg's, and other stuff?? Thankfully, Mister Roger's Neighborhood must have some sort of agreement in place that only permits the traditional "This program is funded in part by..." spoken sponsors list. Our two-working-parent household doesn't allow for much regular TV watching so it's nice to have even more fine grain control over the viewing by getting rid of commercials from PBS as well as the regular Saturday morning fare.

I can't recommend EyeTV 200 highly enough if you are a Mac addict like me (Sorry Windoze folks, you'll need to look for other comparable products because Elgato only makes this for us Mac faithful). (-;

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What a great platform - Apple's Mac OS X

I'm having a great time capturing video, editing and burning DVD's for my son these days. I'm looking forward to my "Family Pack" of Tiger arriving so I can explore the new features they've added.

I try not to be a total Mac snob but, what can I say, they keep coming out with more amazing hardware and developers (including Apple's own) keep giving us software that just works! I was able to grab a wonderful audio snippet to keep with a couple of PDF's I created from web content about an artist whose work I admire (and actually own a piece of!). There are times when the information age simply rocks!

I'm currently enjoying software (and hardware) from:
Zapptek -- way cool iPod apps
Elgato -- EyeTV
Readerware -- great database tools for book lovers, DVD and CD collectors
Porchdog Software -- a great app called Spike. I work cross platform a lot at work and this is just "the" easiest way to get a document from the Mac to the Win box.

And looking into getting software from:
Cepstral -- much better sounding voices for speaking things like text from the Gutenberg Project converted to spoken word for "iPodding". Imagine my surprise when I realized this little company is close to home (Pittsburgh PA ;-).

Gord-ism of the day - April 26th '05

"I'm a bigger kid now, mommy. I know some everything!"

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Do you know what you actually have?

I frequent a certain popular (most of the time) online auction site that provides no end of amusement to me. Why is it that some folk are so certain about what they are listing -- regardless of whether they are remotely close to identifying an item correctly or not? Have you noticed how many "hard to find" or "super rare" things come up when you do a search? I was looking for some odd, small item and the search for it brought up 60-70 of them ranging from $3 to $50 (those $50 ones were the "super rare" ones). Apparently some folk can't take 2 minutes to search the auction site to see if anyone else has actually listed the same item and see what it's selling for. Marketing 101 anyone? Then again, maybe there are enough people who believe the descriptions and just buy the stuff without verifying it themselves. d-;

Sometimes it feels to me like we're in such a hurry we can't be bothered with accuracy anymore. I collect lace of various types and vintages. There is a fair amount of information available online for identifying lace. The lack of two minutes worth of search to attempt to verify what kind of lace they will be trying to sell is obvious when you see the picture. There are instances when there are no bidders because the listing is so obviously off. I sometimes manage to find real bargains. I do periodically find myself sending a seller information about their item. I figure there are people who probably charge for that service but folks don't seem to be making a killing on their online auctions for the most part (at least those I know who are doing it part-time or trying to rid their houses of overload). (Google that item before listing it!)

Of course, there are also wonderful books to help identify myriad items one might want to sell. Many of them available at your local library. (-- hmmm, do people go to the library anymore with book prices ridiculously low in some cases from online used book sellers?)

Speaking of used book sellers...

My husband and I sell used books from time to time in online auctions and also have our own meager website. Sometimes it's hard to sell a book when it might push us below our cost to acquire the title. This happens periodically when someone online at auction or listing with a used book consolidator has the darned title listed for 0.99. We still enjoy doing it. We pick up loads of books to read first then resell. Luckily, if you watch your inventory closely and don't spend too much on it, one or two good titles can pay for a batch of boxes that will have 50 titles not worth more than 0.25-0.99 each. Then there are the titles you pick up for next to nothing only to find out they are listing for $50 or more -- but, that's only good if there are actual buyers for it at the price everyone seems to be listing it for.

(We have a title like that around right now. It's an inocuous fiction novel that was published in the 1970's. There it was in a box of 40 books we paid $10 for. The listed price from the usual online used book sellers ranges from $185 - $721... get real!! I've seen it listed by the same sellers every time I do the search. I have a copy but, what is someone really willing to pay for it? In fact, I think more copies of this book have come onto the used sellers market recently-- almost all listed at $185-198. So, doesn't that indicate it is less scarce than people thought? I'd like to get $200 for it too but I seriously doubt someone is going to pay me that much. Maybe I'll list mine at $125 and skew the market. They'll be getting a better copy than some listed at $185 -- ours isn't Ex-Library -- and I'll be able to buy a couple more $10 boxes of books. ;-)

Okay, off the soap box for tonight.

Finally bit the bullet

Well, since my husband has been blogging for a while and I was actually bugged about it by some friends, I've finally gone and set up a blog for myself. Welcome.

Heaven only knows how frequently I'll manage to add to the eclectic musings here. With a 3 1/2 year old, full-time job and way too many projects going at the same time we'll just have to see how frequently I manage to post. Of course, it also helps to have something you feel is actually worth putting out there for folks to happen upon and read, eh?