Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Quick PB update

I called Thursday for an update, and was told that I was right in believing that the HD was pooched in my PB, and that it booted, (and ran) just fine off of the firewire drive, and that they were doing a few more tests, just to ensure that everything else is just fine, then will be ordering the new HD from Apple.

That was Thursday, and now it's the wee hours of Tuesday morning with nothing yet. Yeah, for Christmas holidays!

Oh well, hopefully tomorrow, that Applecare that I just bought better be worth the near 600 bucks.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Powerbook's a causin' powerful nightmares

Yeah!!! Its acquisition time for me once again. The time of year when I spend butt-loads of money on friends and family. Hopefully, in order to offset my ridiculous personal spending karma.

I decided that this year, after spending much to add some techie goodness to the lives of those around me, I would treat myself to a brand new shiny 15.2" Apple Powerbook, something that I have wanted since getting my Mac mini earlier this year. And those of you who know me, know that I really can't live without my laptop, which just so happens to be a behemoth of a P4 from HP, the same one that I have previously posted about. Having poked around with OSX, and even getting it to work on my P4 tower, (just to see if it really could be done); I felt pretty confident in the OS's capabilities. To this end I'm still fairly correct, at least for my needs. Heck I may just begin to put my WoW subscription to use and not have it waste away unused.

Now that being said, it's the hardware that I have been having the issue with. Firstly there was the moment of unveiling, something that I absolutely love doing with pretty much anything, and apple makes it so that it's almost an event in your own home. The package, (that I had to fight for 2 hours just to let me pick it up at the FedEx depot... another story, sorry), came in a non-descript brown cardstock exterior, this masked a slick black box showing off the different views of the Powerbook a 'la the iPod boxes these days.

When opening the top flap of the box, I had my first hint of foreboding, there were crumple marks in the styrofoam, and a roughly torn circular hole in the top covering under which the accessories/software/documentation were housed. Thankfully nothing appeared to be damaged, and I didn't bother calling Apple about a little cosmetic issue, I'm usually quite patient about such things.
Cosmetics aside, all of the packaging around the Powerbook itself was intact, and unblemished, the problems however began just before TRYING to turn the thing on. One great little touch that I loved about the Powerbook that my co-worker demonstrated was the little button on the battery that shows the amount of charge left in the battery. Mine was showing no charge whatsoever, something that I chalked up to it being new. Apparently this isn't the case at all, and mine was completely dead the OSX "System Profiler" saw the battery as connected, but had absolutely no charge.

I called apple about this right away as it's not much use as a laptop if I can't have it be portable, AND, usable. Not willing to wait I went to the local Apple Authorized dealer, (Westworld Computers, incase you are looking for Mac stuff, they are fantastic there), and bought a new "2nd" one on the spot. The replacement battery came in 3 days, by Purolator of all couriers, and if Purolator... A company that I absolutely loath after the dual-wan router debacle, doesn't get off its collective buttocks, and pick up my dead battery ASAP, I'll be paying 175 bucks for the privilege of keeping it as a testimony of why I still have Windows and Linux boxes all over my place... Maybe I will keep it...

ANYWAYS, if it was only a lousy battery then I would be nothing more than a whiny bastard; Admittedly I am one, but I’m just saying that I’m more than that. Later the same night that I had purchased the new battery, and installed it, the charging was fine. All seemed to be great, for about 2 hours with only poking around with the apple apps, and setting up all my configurations. All of a sudden I look away from it to do my job, and wouldn’t you know it, BAM, frozen! I thought to myself, that there must be a heat issue, and that I was blocking a vent port or something. But no, it was all clear and the bottom of the notebook was a little warm to the touch, but still far cooler than my HP, which made it all the more odd.

I brought my install disks with me that night, as I do with just about all brand name computers, incase anything that I uninstall to remove bloat happens to be critical. Apple just so happens to have a great little hardware diagnostic utility on the OSX install disk, and I decided to run it. Everything seemed to be just fine. I ran the test 3 times with no errors detected. So I figured that there must be a problem with the OS, and tried reinstalling to a fresh state. The first time I tried reinstalling it froze in the middle of the install, which is run off the CD, and it was at the French localization portion, so of course I immediately blamed the French, ( I am Canadian after all), and tried again… Wouldn’t you know it, this time it finished, I still blame the French, but who doesn’t.

OSX back on I figured that all was good, and that it was only a bad sector on the DVD that was causing the lockups, and the hung installation, but I figured wrong… sure enough 20 minutes later, WHACK!!! Frozen again!! This time I thought it had to be the RAM, sure it’s a new computer, but sometimes bad RAM happens to good people, or in this case, me. The following morning I drove over to the McD’s for a bacon and egg bagel meal, with a medium O.J., and poked around the Office Depot until the Memory Express opened @ 10AM. A grabbed the two 1GB sticks of Kingston PC2-4200 SODIMM 4-4-4 RAM, (go big or go home right), to match the timing of the 512MB *rolling eyes* Hynix RAM. Disappointingly the DDR2 RAM only runs @ 333MHz in these, instead of the native 533MHz.

Swapping out the RAM in the PB was a breeze, since Apple thought ahead and put a nice little access plate on the bottom of the unit, with 4 #0 Phillips head screws holding it securely in place, rather than in some convoluted under-the-keyboard deal like on other models.

Unfortunately, this was not the solution either. Just as randomly it would lock up on me. I called AppleCare again about the new trouble, and was told to run the Apple Hardware Test in looping mode (Command-L, for those who want to know), and let it run overnight so that if there was an error it would stop and generate an alert, after being told to put the original RAM back in, because as I was advised, it would be likely that the 3rd party RAM causing my issue, (Even though I explained that the new RAM was bought as a result of the problem). Failing that; a low-level format, done from the install disk with the option to zero-out all the data selected, should solve the issue I was having.

Fast-forward one RAM swap, 6 hours, and 10 loops later, no errors.

Time to LLF+0 out.

I boot up to the install disk, choose disk utility, and select zero out from the security options, no biggie, since I wasn’t able to use it long enough to really set anything up that I would miss. Click, and away it goes. I decide that it’s time to go and have a little cake with my sister for her 13th birthday; it should be done by the time I get back. It got about half way and sat there frozen until I got back. This time I sat and watched the damn thing, while I caught up on my long distance virtual-stalking of Sarah Lane via my PVR. Another lock up halfway through the format; and once more again, before calling it a night.

The following morning, (1:30 in the afternoon) I call apple again to advise of the abysmal results. Finally I’m directed to bring it in to an apple repair dealer, only 6 days in my frustrated hands and I’m already taking it to a repair shop, there is something horribly wrong with this situation. Back to Westworld, as they are also a repair center, this time to drop off rather than pick up, even though I did a bit of that too. After giving all of my particulars, and some more of my money to the good people there, I stopped off for some Christmas Blend @ Starbucks, and traveled the return hour home to the glow of my fully functional HP laptop, and mini that will be shunned until my PB is finally all well.

And now only eleven days after getting it, I’m likely going to be waiting another five before I know if it’s going to stay a brick or not.

All I can say is that they better not blame the RAM. I’m pissed enough as it is that they want to charge well over $300 for a bloody 1GB stick of RAM. I’m fine with the fact that they are a boutique computer manufacturer, but they don’t make the RAM, they only buy and install it. Apple… If you don’t want people to be able to upgrade anything themselves, and force them into paying ridiculous prices for your memory, then seal up the box like the mini. Some will be adventurous, but most will pay, and then the cost is justified by having a “Trained Technician” install it.

My faith in Apple was based on the outstanding performance by my mini, and the stellar iPod, (even with the issues on my 5G). By the end of this week I should know if my faith was misplaced, or if it was an isolated incident. At this point I wish I went with the ASUS MCE laptop that I nearly got. Oh well, what’s another week… right…

Here’s hoping Apple doesn’t screw me over,


Friday, December 16, 2005

Flock off...

I just heard about this new project based on Mozilla's Firefox browser called "Flock", while listening to an interview with one of the founders of Flock, on Amber MacArthur,and Leo Lapporte's new podcast "Inside the Net".

I've been trying it out for about a week on both my Mac's, and my PC's. So far it looks pretty good, especially considering the fact that it is ony a developer preview. But the fact that it is based on a full release of Firefox, gave these guys a pretty big headstart on building a "new" browser.

There are some pretty nice little tricks that this little thing does that good 'ol FF doesn't, such as using your del.ico.us account as your bookmarks instead of having them locally, something that may seem like a detriment, but if you aren't connected to the net, then how are you going to be getting to the bookmarked sites. This functionality also means that you will be able to search your bookmarks based on tags, (everything just has to have "tags" these days).

The other nice thing is that there is the ability to blog directly from your browser. In the past I liked not having to go to my blog's publishing webiste, log in, and create a blog post, then wait for it to republish my blog... and so on... Now it's not quite as convenient as the OSX blogging dashboard widget, but then again this is cross platform, and I don't have to stop whatever else I'm doing until I finish my post. In fact I'm writing up this entry using it right now. Here's hoping it all works out.

The down side of this project, is the same as any WIP project. It's not yet done, and that means that even though it is pretty much Firefox with a whole collection of extentions, and themes bundled all together into a slick install package, there are some underlying differences in the two, making the new "little cousin" a different beast to deal with. This also means that not all FF extentions are going to translate well, since they are looking for certain hooks, that just wont be where they are expected to be.

This is a pretty early release as they freely admit, but it looks to have some amazing potential, even at this early stage. I can't wait to see what they come up with for the next release.


Monday, December 05, 2005

5G iPod followup.

First off. I love my 5G, but have come to discover some, more than slight, annoyances.

Most complaints that I've been heard stem from scratches on the sleek little things. The scratching on my screen is not as bad as I thought it would be. In fact it's much better than expected, same as the shiny backside, and I've only been using the slip case that was included in the box; (Mainly because the few cases available for the 30GB 5G are impossible to get ahold of). Now this may be that I really baby my electronics, but that notwithstanding it is far better than that of the nano, which now resides with my Mom. I do have a Belkin Tunedock II in my car, and one on my desk at work which helps keep everything all safe from most things. I just wish that I had of known that they were coming out with them in black.

My first real complaint is with the click wheel. Sometimes it can require the heavyhandedness of a linesman, while at othertimes you practically need to be an expert safecracker to select the particular podcast that you want to listen to. Normally fiddling around with such an issue is something that I've just learned to live with, and with any other device, and control mechanism I probably wouldn't care. But, with this Ipod it is quite annoying; especially since it is the ONLY means of navigation. Plus I've used the click wheels on previous versions, and even the nano's clickwheel seemed to be consistantly responsive in comparison.

The second, is the downright sluggish performance when scrolling beyond one screen's length of listings. I find it extremely frustrating to find that there is a severe harddrive/buffer lag when scrolling through my artists/podcasts/pictures that I have on my iPod. At first I thought that I just had filled it to within about a few dozen megs of being full, then I unchecked half of my library and found the same problem. This problem also translates to a slow load of the videos. I know Steve-O said that this is a music player that just happens to be able to play videos as well... but, with such a stellar history with these things why comprimise at all? I just hope the next version that comes out has better performance on the video side, and that it will be a little more like the sonos players remote in form factor, i.e. 16x9 with a landscape mode but with less bulk.

Third. A pain-in-the-ass conversion method for videos. Why couldn't they just do the same thing as when importing music into iTunes. Sure it would take a while... but have you ever tried to do it in Quicktime. If you have than you know what I'm talking about. And all of the 3rd party programs that I've tried are not worth the price just to get some QVGA videos to be viewable on a 2.5" screen; or have the problem of not having any audio after conversion. I had the same problem with Quicktime's conversion of my vid's

Other than those few points, and the lack of new accessories (not Apple's fault), it's still a pretty great player.

Oh yeah, you can't view the menu on the TV when using the video out feature.



Sunday, October 30, 2005

iPod Video (But don't let Steve hear you call it that)

I know that it's been more than a month since I last posted. But with the new job and all I've been more than a little preoccupied lately.

But, in the last few weeks, I've made a few acquisitions, not the least of which is my new 30GB BLACK, iPod w/ video. It's about time that black has appeared in the main line of an apple product, (although the headphones are still the same white, and so are the rest of accessories).

The first things that I noticed were that the new iPod had 50% more capacity, and was 30 bucks cheaper. Very nice, of apple, not to mention that they are smart in that it would make it more appealing to those, (like myself) who JUST bought a nano, a month ago. I'm just glad that I didn't personalize my ipod when I bought it, same as with my nano.

I did decide to personalize this one however, as I feel that I'll be hanging on to it for a while, and this should FORCE me to keep it; But I should have learned from the mistake that my friend Danny had made when it came to this "feature", and that's it will take nearly a full week more to get it.

The first thing I noticed when I received the package @ the FedEx depot was that the box was tiny compared to my 20GB 4G ipod. The box the 5G was shipped in was only marginally larger that the retail box for the 4G, and when I tore that open I found a box, only about an eighth of an inch thicker than that of my nano.

Sitting in my car still parked in the lot of the FedEx depot, I peeled off the shrink wrap, and opened it up, there was this beautiful black monolith only marred by the plastic wrap telling me not to steal music, (kind of funny since I just spent nearly 400 buck on this thing). I only see that request from apple as a thinly veiled way of saying "Please buy from the iTunes music store", something that I will not do until the Canadian store doesn't suck, and we have access to the full library, for now I'll just stick to ripping all of my CD's.

The next thing that I found in that box, really surprised me, and in a pleasant way; There was a little sleeve. Not really a huge deal, but now several days later, there is still not a scratch on the screen. Again the whole black/white issue appears again, in that the sleeve is white, but I'll overlook this since the sleeve is so nice and thin. Even with the sleeve it's thinner than my 4G without a case.

The problem with the 5G's is that since they are the same height, and width, but, only slightly more than half the thickness of the 4G's, none of the cases out there fit them. Not to mention the fact that the headphone slot and the hold slider are in different positions making my old incase folio case useless, same with my aluminum case. Oh well, I guess Jen's getting a free iPod case.

I never got around to buying any of the accessories that used the remote power plug on the top of the 4G, and I'm now very glad that I didn't, since just like the cases they are no longer supported by the 5G's.

The face of the new iPod has the same basic layout as the last, but with a few distinct alterations. The screen is now 2.5", and finally has a decent screen resolution of 320x240, not the greatest, but it's where the 4G should have been, plus, any bigger would have been harder to keep the size of downloads down; Not to mention that I would have "Needed" to get the 60GB version, and spent the extra money.

I first thought that I would only ever watch vidcasts on this, and so far that is the main thing that I watch. My favorite right now is Tiki Bar TV, I highly recommend it to anyone that likes quirky entertainment, and likes to try new cocktail recipes. The screen is clear and crisp enough that the couple of feature movies that I have converted to iPod compatible vids look great. I pulled "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" off of my HD PVR, and it looks great even though it's letterboxed, being 16:9, and the iPod is 4:3. More important to me than the quality of the image is that there were no hiccups in the audio or the video.

Speaking of vidcasts that is a bit of an issue for me. The main menu can have podcasts added to it, but if you are in the podcast menu and select a video podcast you will only get the audio, unless you select Video Podcasts from the Video menu; There isn't even an option to add Video Podcasts to the main menu. The only reason that I could see for this oversight, would be the comments made by Steve Jobs stating that the new iPod is a music player that can also play video, not the other way around, and this is his little way of enforcing that edict.

As far as media-based subscription services... a.k.a. "Podcasts", are concerned why haven't those fantastically "forward-thinking" people down in appleland added an rss based image capability to iTunes, and the iPod, the same way they have for audio, and video. I mean all iPods that have screens now have photo capacity, so why not.

iTunes 6, is nearly identical to iTunes 5 released mere weeks before, with the exception that there is now a video section. This video section has a nice reflection effect, and a sleek looking black backdrop. But just because it shows up in the video section of iTunes, doesn't mean that it will show up on your iPod. Video needs to be the right format, h.264, and even then it's not a guarantee. When I try exporting a video file, using quicktime, on my Mac, it will only export the video and no audio. I need to look into this.

The Good:
- Sexy black
- Big Screen, (The new Archos player puts everything else out there to shame with a 7" 16:9 screen, but costs $700 CDN)
- Almost half the thickness of the last iPod
- Costs less than the last iPod
- Plays video, audio, and images

The Bad:
- Scratches easily... Like any other version didn't.
- Still no image RSS capability
- Smaller click wheel. (For big handed people)
- I have to unplug, and replug in my iPod every time I want to sync. (What's that all about???)
- I still can't sync my Outlook w/ my iPod. (It's supposed to work, but never has)
- Battery life, It's fine using audio, but the video life sucks.
- None of the accessories that I have, (except for my iriver FM transmitter that works with any headphone out device), work with my new ipod, cases included.
- Strict file format requirements for video. Kind of OK considering the execution.
- Touting video capability, but not following through on features, or ease of conversion to proper format.
- Hard drive based player that's more than $10/GB is still more expensive than most people that I've talked to are willing to pay.
- Included accessories are still white, with the black version... AAAaaaarggghhh!!!

Even though the list looks a bit skewed to the side of suck, it's still a recommended device. The biggest reasons are the simple "with-time-even-a-retarded-monkey-could-figure-it-out" interface, and the integration with iTunes, (still the best media management program, free or not), And now video support, why wouldn't I.

A few minor tweaks, and it would be nearly perfect. I hope apple picks up on these things, and fixes them up.

Until next time.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

iPods... I can't believed I caved.

iPods you know what they are. If you don't, then you must have been living with the Yanomami in South America, and even then...

I got the 20GB 4G color... Nice. I'm not going to say much since the iPod is now ingrained into our collective consciousness. It's white, shiny, sexy, and most importantly easily scratched.

I use this as my co-primary player. The interface is the reason why it moved up to player number 1. The battery life is good, about 10-12 hours the way I use it. I like that I can take my pic's with me, and that the sound is still fantastic. I just wish that I could delete things on the go.

Now I said that this is CO-primary player, and that would normally be something I would frown upon stating, but when the other one is an iPod Nano, I'm OK with it. The Nano is just a small version of the 20GB, but in Black... Sweeeeet!!!

I love the black, and I'm again amazed that Steve-O thought that people would rather have the white than the black. I mean look at the auto industry, which sells better white cars, or black ones?

If they made a sexy, shiny, black iBook, or even better a PowerBook, I think I would pick one up too.

The battery is around 12-13 hours, and I think it sounds better than the full size iPod, the screen looks good, a little small but clear enough to take pictures around with me. It's better than an album in my wallet. My only real complaint is that they came with the same white headphones. Apple is supposed to be the "Sexy" boutique manufacturer, and they couldn't provide black with black, I mean for the cash I forked out that shouldn't have been too much to ask. The NanoTubes should have been available at rollout of the Nano, since I'm not going to be buying one if the iSkin comes out first.

The Nano has way too much press these days, but I love mine, and i love my iPod 20GB. Now I can't believe I held out this long.


P.S. No MuVo TX FM review. I gave it to my little brother. He seems to like it though.

Google's Free WiFi

On my way home from work tonight I was listening to the latest episode of TWiT (This Week in Tech) definitely amongst my favorite podcasts, when I heard the same questions being speculated on that I've been hearing a few hundred times in the last week...

How can Google's free WiFi make money? And; How can they possibly know exactly where users are?

These are quite simple questions, that really answer each other.

Google will make their money from selling Google adspace to local businesses around the Free Google WiFi hotspot, and using locational advertising, and ads inside the social apps, i.e. dating/chat/map/blog services that they have or are developing. Once local retailers realize that the people that are using these hotspots are those that can afford laptops with WiFi, why wouldn't they want a Google hotspot near them? This could be another lucrative marketing tool in Google's arsenal.

And as far as how Google can know where users are... They can't know EXACTLY where they are. Google really doesn't care where you are, and they have no need to know where you are. They do however know precisely where their access point is, and Google knows that you have to be within a certain radius of the router to connect to it... Therefore they know where you are,
and that means they know what businesses are around you that have paid for the adspace.

Remember that lovely beta app that Google promptly shutdown on everyone, because really didn't help at all called, and cached your personal info: Google Web Accelerator. Guess what... I found that it is back featured on the Google front page. This (I'm really speculating here) will be the mechanism that will allow Google to know what you are surfing for, and it will be part of the mandatory program that you have to run if you want to use the free WiFi. It will be reporting back to the Google server, (over the secure VPN connection - to protect user privacy) That's how they will provide the ads based on what you are interested in, or at least that's how I'd do it.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Toshiba Gigabeat MEG-F20K

Toshiba Gigabeat MEG-F20K


Capacity: 20Gb (18.7GB usable) - 332hrs@128kbps MP3
Battery Life: Built In; 16 hours (as stated)
Formats: MP3, MPEG1 audio, WMA, WAV, Plays-for-Sure downloads
SNR: >95db
Screen: QVGA 240x320 pixel color TFT LCD
Size: 4.2” by 2.5” by 0.6”/63cm x .106cm x .16cm
Weight: 5.7oz/160g
Price: $399 CDN (MSRP)

What it comes with:
The Player
USB Cradle
USB 2.0 cable
Install CD
Player Manual
Software Manual
Quick Install Guide
AC Adapter
AC Cable

The Looks:

The most striking thing about this player is the “mini 2001 monolith” look to it. The front is all black, with a black brushed aluminum center panel, inset with the gorgeous 2.2 inch QVGA screen. Turn on the screen, and you get a bright colorful display, better than pretty much every other MP3 player, and most of the portable media players. Also is the unique “Plus Point” control. The back is sleek and black, with a lanyard connection loop at the top, a la cameras, something that I like very much, especially at the price of these players.

The sides are a dark “champagne” color. The right side includes extra controls: Power, Menu, Volume rocker, and the assignable “A” button. The side buttons glow a nice cool blue. The top has the headphone jack, hold switch, and the power connector, (I wish this was on the bottom). The bottom has the Battery on/off switch (for resets), the dock connector, and the USB port.

The Controls:

The main control is the cross-pad is front and center, and seems like it would be pretty simple. I figured that it would be quite easy to use, I was somewhat disappointed. The controls are not as responsive as one would expect. After using several interfaces using control pads rather than buttons, I tried to slide around on the cross. I thought the unit was broken until I looked in the manual and found out the cross is actually 5 buttons, not 2 sliders. It would have been better to just separate them, 4 on the points, and 1 in the middle, and put the side buttons up front.

The side buttons are nice and pretty but they are not exactly useful where they are, in particular the redundant volume controls. Since the screen can be rotated to fit the viewing format you like best, the cross-pad remaps to keep the control orientation the same. Unfortunately for this fabulous feature, the side buttons can’t move as well. Those same pretty buttons are in such a place that you won’t be able to use any standard cases, since you would only have access to the cross-pad. Keeping with the side buttons, the use of them is a little confusing; the menu button should be VERY self explanatory, and generally is, but when in the play/view functions it brings up a basic interface/settings menu, and oddly enough the Power button brings up the menu that you would expect from the Menu button.

This is an interface only geeks/analysts could love. To play a song, you have to select Folders, then artist/album/genre/playlist, and then pick the next seemingly random selection sorted by artist, or a list of all such classified tracks. Simple right… Let’s just say the iPod is huge for a reason.

The screen is large, and high resolution enough to be readable in any conditions and the TFT display is readable in bright daylight. I like that the layout of the screen is well thought out, especially that the time is displayed on all of the screens other than the picture viewer. There are several visualizations during playback. My biggest display peeve is that you can’t turn off the album art, which would allow viewing of the wallpaper that you assign, (Setup1-Setup5, or the creative User1-User3).

The Dock:

Two last important buttons are on the included dock. The left button initiates syncing with your PC, and the one on the right is to rip a CD directly to the device. Great features for sure, but not really needed. You can backup your USB drives, and compatible digital cameras, directly to the drive, a really handy feature mainly for vacations when you are taking more pictures than can fit on your card. Unfortunately, you can’t view the pictures unless they are imported through the Gigabeat Room software.

The connections on the back of the dock are the USB2.0 port, the power port, and a line out port (nice). There is a USB1.0-in port for your backups. The dock is the only way to connect to the PC for importing of music/pictures, the USB port on the device itself will only allow for disk mode access.

The Software:

You can use the included Gigabeat Room software, (I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s the only way to import pictures), or Windows Media Player 10 for transfers. The Gigabeat Room software includes a manual, just as thick, but separate from the Player Manual… Not a good sign. Not too much to say about WMP, since it’s on all pretty well all Windows machines, other than it is the only way to import Napster-to-Go tunes.

The Sound:

The sound is great. There are tons of presets for a portable player, 32 is more than the other players that I have used. You have a decent custom equalizer, and the SRS function work quite well. Even without any modifications, the audio is exemplary.

The Battery:

I got about 15 hours from this device, using the photo function quite a bit, about an hour, and listening to music at a decent volume. I was impressed, as it uses about twice the battery life to view images, than just listening to music. Pretty good, considering the rated life is 16 hours for listening only.

The Conclusion:

Generally I like this player, I like the all black look; Very sleek, very not-iPod, (There are other colors available). The screen is AMAZING!!! You need to see it in person to believe it. The audio is fantastic, and the SRS is nice on the flatter songs. The control layout is counter-intuitive, and the side buttons essentially remove any hope of finding a decent case to protect this player.

The transfer software is just as cumbersome as the player controls. The dock is far too flimsy feeling, it should have a bit of weight to it, it seems like the player would fall over just sitting there. I hope that there is a version 2.0 of this player, which fixes some of the software, and layout issues.

All this being said; I would recommend the player to someone who has not gotten use to the iPod interface, or just vehemently opposes purchasing an iPod. It is an amazing player and picture viewer; it just takes some getting used to the interface, and controls.

It’s a good alternative to the iPod, but as I said before there’s a reason the iPod is king.

Until next time,


Friday, August 12, 2005

Creative Zen Micro - 5GB

Let's start with the specs:

Capacity: 5GB (4.7GB usable) - 166hrs@64kbps WMA; 83hrs@128kbps MP3
Battery Life: Lithium Ion; 12 hours (as stated)
Formats: MP3, WMA, WAV
SNR: ~98db
Screen: 104x106 pixel LCD, Blue EL backlight

Size: 2" x 3.3" x 0.7/.51cm x .84cm x .19cm
Weight: 3.8oz (With Battery)
Price: $250 CDN

What it comes with:
The Player (of course)
Battery (rechargable)
USB 2.0 cable
Install CD
Creative Media Source
Quick Install Guide
+ Only with the 5GB model
- Belt Clip, and Stand
- Zen Micro pouch
- Power adapter

The Look:
One nice thing about this player it that it comes in many colors, so pretty well anyone can find one that suits their style. I got the silver model, (since it was the only one in stock); but the ten colors that it comes in are Black, Silver, White, Dark Blue, Light Blue, Citrus Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, and Lime Green. Behind that nice little resistive touch facade, is the fancy Blue light, when it's charging it does it's "breathing" thing, where the light slowly brightens and dims as if breathing.

The size of the player is pretty good, I have fairly big hands, and don't have any problem with the controls feeling crowded. But at the same time the player is small enough that people with smaller hands should not have any trouble navigating the controls.

The Controls:
The controls themselves, are made up of electro-resistive panels, similar to the touchpads on most laptops. There are Back/Rewind, Play/Pause, Next/FFwd, Menu Back, the Scroll Slider/Select, and Context Menu. Normally I like the tactile feel of mechanical controls, but in this case it is nice to not have to worry about dirt and pocket lint getting behind any buttons. Another plus you can easily lock the controls by sliding the power button towards the center of the player. When the "buttons" are used there is an audible clicking sound letting you know that something is happening, and if you really don't want that, you can turn it off.

The Interface:
Just about everything these days has a variation of the iPod interface, and the Zen Micro is not really that different, I mean how much innovation can be made in displaying mode, battery, status, and other info. This is not a bad thing mind you, and I find that I like the font a bit more, (a geek thing... Sure, but when you will be looking at something a lot, the little things are important). You can also customize the menu to allow for quick access to your favorite functions.

The Player Extras:
The Zen micro gives you a few nice little extras that the average MP3 player doesn't do, (at least not natively).
- FM tuner: It's acceptable in a pinch, but I don't think that I will be replacing my car stereo anytime soon. You can record from the radio, which is a plus.
- Voice recorder: Good for some quick notes, but It would have been nice to be able to use an external microphone.
- Calendar: A nice extra, This syncs with your Outlook calendar.
- Contacts: Like the calendar, it pulls from Outlook.
- To Do: Guess where this comes from...
- Alarm/Sleep Timer: Pretty self explanatory.
- Shuffle: Not just for iPods. But this unit also adds a sort of smart-shuffle "DJ" mode, this allows you to listen to just your most popular songs, or the ones you never hear, or even a random album-of-the-day.
- Support for online music: MSN music is probably the only real one you'll use though. I haven't invested in these services yet, so I can't say which is the best yet.
- Removable Disk: Probably the most useful feature is the ability to use a portion of the space as a mass storage device, for PC/Mac/Linux. Essentially it's like having an MP3 player, and a USB thumb drive in one. One of the few times I like "convergence" as a feature of one of my devices.

The Included-in Box Extras:
- Belt Clip and Stand: These are both used with the protective case. The stand is cool, but feels a little too unstable to use very much. The belt clip already snapped... 'nuf said.
- Headphones: Creative knows it's audio, and these earbud style headphones show it. The sound is clear, although like all other 'buds the bass leaves something to be desired, just the nature of the beast. The connector is much like the iPod, with the 180 degree (straight) connector they are great for having in your pocket while listening. Unfortunately like the belt clip, the plastic sheathing cracked, rendering the right headphone useless from the static generated.

The Battery:
The battery is great that it is rechargable, as the rated 12 hours is a bit longer than the average "real" usage time. With the player sitting in clock mode, Backlight set to the minimum shut off, and the Idle shut off set to Off, it lasted about 11.5 hours. Respectable, if I was using it for a clock. The actual time that I have come across for mid-volume play using 64kbps WMA, was more like 9 hours, and about 7.5 for 128kbps MP3, at high (but not full) volume. Decent for a drive to work, listening most of the day, and the drive home. Mind you I do live an hour from work.

After 6 weeks with the Creative Zen Micro, I really enjoy this player. The screen is prone to scratches, but that's the price you pay for having a screen. The battery life could be a bit longer, but it's acceptable. The only real complaint comes from the belt clip, and the headphones breaking, especially since the headphones are really quite outstanding for a bundled pair. I would suggest using the belt clip only when really needed, get a good pair of comfortable headphones, and if you are planning on taking it on any long trips, I would suggest investing in an in-car USB charger like the ones Belkin sells for their USB cables for PDA's.

If you want a great hard drive player, with some nice extras, at a decent price. The Creative Zen Micro is a great choice.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Absence makes for a quick burst of reviews

First off, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for the long time off. I've been reviewing the new LG-535, two MP3 players from Creative, the MuVo TX FM, and the Zen Micro (5GB), and World of Warcraft. All of which take time to test out.

This will be short, but within the next week there will be several reviews cropping up.

Thanks for waiting.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

BF2 on an HP laptop... I think not!

Over the past week it’s been pretty much all about Battlefield 2 around here, and I’m loving it. An FPS that isn’t set in WWII… What a novel idea.

For me, I have one big problem, and it really has nothing to do with the game itself. Although, it does crash every time I try to load it up on my laptop. That is the problem I have, (with HP that is).

My notebook is not exactly ancient, its nine months old, and I forked over two grand for the thing, with the idea in my head to be able to do a lot with video, and play some games on this behemoth. I mean a “notebook” that weighs in at nearly 9lbs; you’d expect that there’s going to be something to it. It has the horses under the hood, a 3GHz P4 HT, and 128MB mobility Radeon (9000IGP), and 768MB of DDR RAM. This should be enough, and my nearly identical desktop can run it, even when I slap in a Radeon 9000 AGP card with only 32MB on it.

And here lies the rub. I had to update the 9000AGP drivers before I could get BF2 to work, normal for most brand new games on the market. I can download the generic catalyst drivers from ATI for the desktop, but need to rely on HP for the drivers for my laptop’s IGP. The absurdity is in the fact that the driver that HP has available was released in 03/2004 well over a year ago, and the latest ATI drivers are only 2 weeks old.

I get that the drivers need to be optimized to work with the onboard hardware, especially the display, but come on. I realize that manufacturers of PC aren’t really caring when it comes to a product that is more that 3 months old. But the IGP driver was released several months before my line was even available. I really wish I had gone to some company that cares about supporting the models that they sell. The only updates that HP releases are ones that “accidentally” apply to previous machines, like when they decide to use a 2 year old WiFi chipset in a new machine, and need to have a new driver written to work.

HP, if you’re listening, (which from my experience, you’re not)… If you are going to tout the graphical abilities of your giant, hefty, widescreen notebooks, then PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, I beg of you, feel some type of obligation to keep the drivers current. Or at least, within the realm of reason, say 3-6 months. Heck, just turn it all over to ATI, they’re excellent.

I knew, I should have gone with the Toshiba.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Creative I-Trigue 2200

Let's start this off with the specs on this pair of desktop speakers:
Power: 13 Watts total (6.5W each), with a max of 30W (brief peak only)
Freq. Response: 120Hz-20kHz
SNR: 80dB
Size: 7.7x5x21.5 (in cm)
Price: ~$80 CAD
Now for the subjective bits.

The Look:
I liked the style of these speakers, they're sleek black and silver units, (a resounding theme in my electronic collection), slightly reminiscent of floor standing tower speakers... Only they are little. As usual the right speaker is where it's all going on in this pair, in the back we have the I/O ports including the Speaker In, Sub out (thankfully, more on that later), left speaker RCA jack, and Power In, and finally the BassXPort. On the front again standard fare, the headphone jack, power LED (blue), tone control knob, volume/power knob, and finally the 2 drivers, also mirrored on the forgotten twin, a.k.a. left speaker.

The look is great; I'm glad Creative likes to keep it simple. The silver NeoTitanium drivers are exposed, and are used to enhance the look. The blue LED is simply genius, I know that this may seem pretty trivial, but nearly everything uses a green LED for power, except for my mac mini, and my HP laptop, and my Starbuck coffee maker. It was a bit serendipitous that the look matches my laptop nearly perfectly, but that's beside the point. The faces of the cabinets are black, with silver back and sides.

The Sound:
Here's the real important part of any speakers, What-U-Hear as Creative likes to call it. This is where a bit of tarnish shows up. These speakers are admittedly entry level, especially since they are only a 2.0 setup, meaning no sub included. And there lies the rub, the sound is better than most laptops, and an amazing improvement over the little internal speaker in my mini. But, and there's always a “but”; the sound quality is not what I've come to expect from a company known for sound quality. The volume is decent, but the tone just isn't there. The tone control knob, will take the tone from flat lifeless cotton on the left, to harsh tinny brass on the right. Pretty much the only way to fine tune the audio is in whatever program that you choose to use. Although this is sort of like asking a Ford Focus to be a Mustang, having the BassXPort as a selling point, with the promise of enhancing low bass, ensuring a richer sound should be a must.

The good thing is that the set has two drivers to make better use of the tall cabinets. These do make for a nice sound in nearly any application where bass is not a major factor, and when it is there is always the subwoofer out on the back, you still need to buy one, but it's still there. In my trial with a sub, I was happier, not completely satisfied, but happier. The drivers are quick and responsive, without the sound getting garbled by complex music. The mid and high end sound reproduction was quite good, with the tone knob set to just left of center.

These speakers are truly only to be a replacement to the tiny speakers in laptops, of to hook into an mp3/cd player. And that brings up the issue of power. The power adapter is big, about a third of the size of a speaker, nearly as heavy as both of them combined; not to mention one of the horrid hanging-off-the-wall, takes-up-three-spaces-in-a-power-bar blocks. I know why it's done, (money), but it's an inconvenience. Especially when taking them along with the laptop, plus the extra plug required at the wall.

I like these speakers for what they are... Basic. For the price, I just can't say that they are worth it. I've purchased better speakers for less, and they came with a sub. If you can find them on sale, or as a free gift with purchase, get them. Otherwise look around for a better deal. They're good, just not 80 bucks good.

Until next time,


Monday, June 20, 2005

Pay as You Go - Follow up

Well here I am again. No Cell for another day, and not any closer to getting my trouble resolved. After my shift is done. I will be calling again, and requesting to speak to a manager/supervisor, since I have not been able to get anywhere up until now, with the front-line staff.

Here's hopin'



I finally got my money that was promised put back on my account, and topped up just to be sure. I'm back to liking TM again. the woman that I had dealt with was fantastic, and showed great customer service.

I think I'll send her a Kudos, or at least an e.Card, that is if I can find her in the PDL.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Microsoft Streets and Trips 2005 with GPS

I was first introduced to this great program in 2000 when I was working in Seattle, for AT&T|Broadband. I was a cable internet installer at the time, and after about a week or so driving around with a coil map book,I realized that being the geek that I am, there must be a better way. And there was MS Streets and Trips.

I tossed this new fangled map thingy on my trusty laptop. To my surprise, it worked great. I'm sure that having Bill Gates in his office just across Lake Washington helped with the accuracy of the maps in Seattle. But for whatever reason it was just what I had been looking for, and saved me about an hour every day in my hunting for homes. My only problem was that I had no way of knowing just where I was at any given time. At that time even GPS wasn't all that fantastic, with the US military only allowing us civilians to have a few meters accuracy.

Things have changed.

With the opening up of accurate GPS, and affordable receivers, Microsoft has answered my only problem with a fantastic update to a great program. For me the biggest improvement is most certainly the GPS. I had no trouble setting it up at the initial installation MSaT, a definite plus, as I've had trouble with GPS device installs in the past. The actual unit is a Pharos iGPS-350 receiver, and can be interchanged to hookup with several other device adapters such as those for PocketPC.

This brings me to my next favorite feature. The PocketPC version of MSaT'05 is included so you can export maps to your PPC, and walk around with a little handheld device rather than a full out laptop. Not everyone will find this a really useful tool, as many people don't have PPC's and the program is not PalmOS compatible, but if you are lucky enough to have yourself a PPC, and need to get around new places, or just want to use it to track addresses of contacts, and maybe your favorite restaurants/coffee shops; then this is the program for you.

The interface has changed little in 4 revisions, and this is not a bad thing in any way. All of the different panes are set up logically; with the legend and overview to the left, and the main map on the right, much like you would see on a print map. With the exception that this map dynamically updates. The toolbars are pretty standard fare for a Microsoft program, making it feel much like an MS Office program. This is good if you like the toolbars in Word, but they are pretty plain, which for me is good, as I like minimalist interfaces that don't get in the way of the function. Really the only visible difference in the interface is the addition of the GPS button, which opens the GPS pane, otherwise I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference from my 4 year old version.

The GPS tracking matches up quite well with the street maps, although on a few off-ramps it looks like I took my sebring off-road. These little things were quite few and far between. I live outside of a major center, (although I work in one), and the streets in my little town are up to date, to a few months ago at least. This is better than I expected, as with most programs I've tried, their maps are about a year old. MSaT automatically updates construction information from the internet, this is probably my biggest problem with the program. Major highway construction was going on between where I live, and where I work and not once did MSaT find out about it from the internet. It was a disruption for about 25 miles, on the TransCanada Highway, not a minor affair.

The only real problem that I have is with my favorite feature, the GPS. The usefulness of this is lessened by the fact that if you are using it as a driving aid, it gets to be a bit distracting. Especially when you turn on the GPS pane, which displays your speed, (it shows a couple kph slow). But if you are using it as a tracking device it is great, or if you just need to know where you are in relation to your preplanned route. Just remember to pull over to flip open the screen to stare at it.

Overall I like it, and for the $149.99CAD that I paid it was not too expensive, considering the cost also includes the compatible GPS receiver. I hate buying things, and not being able to find compatible accessories.

Next time, I'll be reviewing the Creative I-TRIGUE 2200 speakers.


Friday, June 10, 2005

TELUS Mobility Pay as you Go

Yesterday I found myself on payday once again, and ready to "top-up" my Pay as you Go phone from TELUS Mobility. Seems pretty normal.

I am more than happy with the cell phone that I use, (LG's 5450), nice camera, solid feel, good sound quality, all around good phone. I have been happy with the service that TM provides; that is until yesterday.

I did the usual calling up the account management number like I always do, and got the whole, 'We're changing things on you to milk you for more cash' message that comes up every couple of months, then went into the IVR prompts. I chose the account balance option, and was told that I had $23 and change, and that my balance expired that day. Naturally not wanting to lose my good rate, and carry over money by letting it expire, I went back to add more. First I was told that it could not go through. I checked my bank account, and my credit card balance, as expected all good there, so I tried again. This time I was told that my transaction was being processed, and to check back later in the day to ensure it went through OK. All was good again... Or so I thought.

Later that morning, as I got off from work I went to get breakfast before running my payday errands, when I decided to do as instructed by the IVR, (the only female voice I truly hate), and check my balance. Much to my dismay, it told me I had $0. Now I hated that lifeless voice even more. I figure that it may just be an error, and went for breakfast at Smitty's, to give the system time to recover from the glitch. Well, as I'm sure you have surmised, it didn't.

At this point I was getting quite frustrated, and called up to speak to an actual person this time. I got a woman that seemed to be completely devoid of any ability to care for anything. Not a good start. I advised her of my situation, leaving gaps in the story, in order to allow her to pop into the conversation. Only after the whole spiel, did she advise me that they are having a problem with the billing system, (only for the low-profit-margin pay as you go people of course), and that troubles of this nature can take a long time, possibly 24-48 hours.

This wouldn't be a problem, IF I was able to use my phone during the billing outage, and just running off of my existing balance. But no, I have to be without my cell phone for two or more days, with the possibility of never getting the carried over balance back. I mean I work for TELUS, and know that we are not the most understanding of companies, but I do remain hopeful.

If it doesn't work out, I'm most certainly switching cellular companies. And to think I was going to upgrade to the LG-535 yesterday too. Oh well, that's $400 that they more than likely won't be getting from me.

P.S. I just got a bunch of new toys, like MS Streets and Trips GPS, a bunch of new internal PC, and laptop components, and more. I'll be reviewing them once I have a chance to play with them some more. I tried the GPS on the way into work tonight, and it works pretty darn well so far, but I'll get into more detail later.

Until next time,


Tuesday, May 31, 2005

iRiver FM AFT-100 Transmitter

I've had a lot of FM transmitters over the years; some that plug in, most using batteries, but none have been very good. So needless to say I've been reluctant to purchase a new one for my car, to go along with my newly mounted PDA, especially with the big-little external drive filled with MP3’s, and TV shows. (For when I’m stopped, of course)

I took some time too look at a few of them, and decided that a must have feature was digital tuning. The one that I had previously was a good old analog one that I think I got from WAL-MART a number of years ago, and now I won’t set foot into that place, albeit for reasons other than the suck factor of the FM transmitter. Now when I got the old one it was fine, but in the time since, it has developed a symptom typical to many analog transmitters. It has a dial and coil setup, that doesn’t hold the tuning very well, or for very long. Since the digital tuners use a crystal, and circuitry to set the frequency they are far more reliable.

Then it came down to the choice of battery, or plug in. This was probably the easiest decision to make. At first, I figured that a battery powered device was superior because of greater flexibility, and I could use it anywhere; but then I realized that the car was the ONLY place that I would use the thing. I mean, who doesn’t have some other, arguably better, way of playing music in every other place we go? Problem solved; plug-in it is.

And now for the brand, I immediately thought of Belkin as I’ve had many products from them in the past, and they do have a plug-in FM-T, that also can work on batteries, so I could have the best of both worlds. But, then I thought back to my last point, why go half way, and do I really want to spend 85 bucks on a way to listen to my tunes on my car stereo? I’ve heard good things about it but, $$ is always a factor, especially since I saw on the site over at the Best Buy, a plug in one for $50, and it’s from the company that made my great little MP3 player. So great I thought save some cash, and get one more what I need. On my way to get this after a graveyard shift, I got there before the place opened, so I hopped on their open hotspot, and virtually shopped around. They haven’t blocked out the new site address for what was RadioShack here in Canada, now owned by Circuit City. That’s when I stumbled upon this little gem, the iRiver AFT-100, a slick little black unit, with a blue backlit LCD screen, big enough to be read easily, but still not bulky. I’ve also had products from iRiver, and figured I’d give the sexier of the two plug-in units a go.

I’m glad I did, the audio quality is fantastic, and it sounds as good as when I use headphones. The front of the unit is silver and blue, with three preset memory buttons, and two tuning buttons. The tuning range is from 88.1MHz to 107.9MHZ, and with three presets interference is all but a thing of the past. I’ve lived with this for a couple of weeks, and have had no problems, with the obvious exception of losing my power point in my car, but that was remedied by getting a splitter that allows me to also plug in my PDA, for non-stop play.

Now I'm off to grab a “podcast” or two for the way home.

Until next time,


Saturday, May 28, 2005

And to think I was going to get an iPod

Today, by courier, I got my brand new USB host cable for my Toshiba e750.


I love this thing. I was going to upgrade to the e833 a while back, but then I found out that I can overclock this aluminum bad-boy to a stable 708MHz, I can go even higher but it REALLY sucks back the juice.

Last week I again got the urge to upgrade, sure the speed is great, but I want the sexy, sexy VGA screen, with landscape. But, then I thought let's give the silver surfer one more kick at the can with the host cable, and if it doesn't work right, THEN I'll stop talking myself out of getting the new one.

At first I thought to my self... Why the hell do the always ship these things in giant boxes, and then after the Purolator guy skedaddled, I turned the box around, and found one severely crushed corner, and sides. Thanks, for the giant box Toshiba, since the box for the cable was about 1/15th the size of the shipping box, all was cool.

First thing I did was pry open the box, and pull out the cable its black, about 9" long, and looks just like the USB sync cable, except the end connector is female.

By now you're probably wondering why I would be so excited about a USB host cable. Well, last week I found an old, 2.5" laptop HD, (it pooched in the laptop it once was in), and took a long shot by getting an external drive enclosure for it (
WELLAND ME-930U2), and it worked. Igor really earned his pay that day. Since the drive is 12 gigs that meant that I could have a 12 gig drive that looks like it was meant for my PDA, same style, and same color LED's too.

Now, I've got these two sweet devices next to one another all the cables are plugged in, and then... nothing happens... beep, beep... What's this could it be working... NOOOoooo... What driver are they talking about?!? That'll teach me to not do me research BEFORE ordering things. I have no idea what the driver is called, so naturally I turn to the box the cable came in... Nothing but a statement of compliance for the EU of all places, and I live in Canada!

At this point I'm thinking I should have gone with the e833... crap...

But, after a moment of combined buyer's remorse, and self loathing, I turned to the trusty Pr0n filled inter-weeb, if I can't find the drivers out there, at least I can be amused for a bit. Now keep in mind that I've just got off of a graveyard shift, did some banking, and drove for an hour to get home, then sat around veging out while watching the previous night's AotS, and X-Play that I had on my PVR from while I was sleeping before work, all this before the cable arrived. I'm tired.

I thought, I’m sure that this is a pretty obscure thing out there, and I was pretty much right. I found one site with some alpha stage drivers for PPC2002, and some REALLY alpha ones for PPC2003 (the one I have), which it warns that it WILL stop working after 15 minutes, with no warning. No luck getting them to work. Then I tried some 3rd party drivers from an external drive site, still no luck. Finally I found the ones that I needed at http://www.ratocsystems.com/ (incase you're looking for them too).

Praise the inter-weeb, for it has saved the reputation of this tiny little cable! But then I found out that it needs me to connect to my PC, and I just set my laptop to hibernate... crap... after the disappointment of the first 2 attempts, I thought lets just get some sleep, and try later.

6 hours later I'm off to work, 6 hours later, I decide to give it a go. It worked. 13.5 gigs’ for my little PDA and it looks great to boot, what could be better? Well, Bluetooth, but whatever, I don't have anything else BT enabled. So really, what do I care?

Now that I've got my modded cell phone holder to hold my e750 in my car, along with it's brother the actual cell phone holder, and iRiver FM transmitter (I'll write up a review for that later), I figured that I needed to geek out the whole way, and I setup my ASUS 333g mini router/WiFi Ethernet adapter in my car as an open network, so I can sync everything wirelessly... With my car!!!

So if you're in the Calgary-Strathmore area, and you see a red Sebring driving around turn on your WiFi, and you just might catch some streaming audio/video, or a wireless LAN-party going on between the passengers.

See you around town.


Thursday, May 12, 2005


I'm normally an evening/night person, but these graveyard shift, plus all the things that I need to get done outside of work everyday, are really starting to get to me.

I'm going to see if more work will keep me busy enough to stay awake. 'Cause the coffee isn't cutting it anymore.

Any suggestions? PLEASE, feel free to provide them.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Widgets, Widgets, everywhere

I've really started to play with Dashboard in Tiger. And this little entry is being written, and published with the Dash Blog widget.

I like OSX. It's sexy. But I'm not finding this upgrade to be really that big a deal. i'm glad that we went in for the "FAMILY PACK" and it only costs us a measly $50CAD each, not too shabby for a leagally obtained OS upgrade. (Microsoft I hope you're listening)

Some of the additions to OSX are cool, like Spotlight. Everyone is really touting Spotlight as the biggest new feature, (and not the infamous Microsoft kind), but I got the same results with QuickSilver, and I liked it much better. For an OS that's really all about the eye candy Spotlight is pretty bland. BTW I still use QuickSilver over Spotlight.

And the other one is Dashboard. I'm already using this one everyday. Now this is kind of like having a "virtual desktop" that you can have all of your little common programs running that are a little fun or just generally helpful, like the weather widget, (although I still can't get this one to work).

So far, I'm happy with my little Mac Mini, and the subsequent Tiger upgrade, but I'm upset that I had to go back to using my analog monitor because the DVI output caused red or green "static" on the monitor when there was motion on screen. And the bloody "Home/End" keys just don't work the way they should, no matter what keyboard I use. Not deal breakers, but I'm not as pleased with Apple as I was hoping I would be.

I just wish my Windows machine would come with the ability to say the time, out-of-the-box. Very cool, and freaks out people the first time they hear it.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

I hate when people mess with my stuff.

I had written a decently long post here but Firefox decided to pooch on me, and the recover post "feature" didn't work. So, here's the short-ish version:

Last night a co-worker was messing with my stuff. Specifically my new "Dead Like Me" (fantastic show) box set. I nicely asked him twice to put it down ... He didn't. I then told him to put the damn thing down, and he got all offended and pissy, acting like it was all a joke. I told him to ask next time and I'd be cool with it, and he promised to. Problem solved.

Now I've got to deal with bigger fish trying to mess with me, (and every other person here). I work for TELUS a HUGE company, with a HUGE union (the TWU). Last week TELUS took a "lockout" action, which basically limited administration crap, but let us then see the proposed contract from them. The TWU got all pissy, and had a big meeting advising us members of the "Real" situation. Come on guys just by saying the exact opposite thing that the company is saying does not make it true, but I digress. I wasn't there because I was home getting some sleep after working my graveyard shift, and 2 hours of OT, to cover the inadequate scheduling, (done by union members I might add), but many of my fellow co-workers did attend.

What they brought back to us nocturnes, was quite dismaying. The big one was that during the press conference to be held on Monday @ 10AM PST, the president of the union, (technically a management position that still gets paid the same if we are on strike, or not) will outline the response of the union. During this clarification, it was mentioned that he is '99% sure' that a strike will be called at that press event. That is if he doesn't change his mind, but that would never happen; I mean elected people don't flip-flop. Do they?

Either way I really hope both TELUS and the TWU get their respective heads out of their respective asses, and work this out... Hopefully in an entirely civilized fashion. This will hurt both sides; us on strike for a max. $250/week, not able to make all of the bills each month, and the managers working 12-16 hour days to fill in, and not spending any time with their loved ones.

Despite what both sides are saying, they ARE both to blame. Both are showing themselves to be greedy, self-serving, and egotistical. At least I expected that from the company, it's what they're supposed to do, make money. And for this they are being accused of being "American-Style" when dealing with the employees, and that's just because they showed us their proposal. I thought all companies were trying to make money, not just American ones; or maybe I've just missed that I've been living in a Utopian communist state, where everything is perfect, and money doesn't matter.

Now to both of you I say: "Stop messing with my stuff!"

Friday, April 29, 2005

And the uncertainty continues...

Welcome back,
It's been a few days, and I'm still @ work, let the rejoicing begin. yeaaaah

I'm glad to be here, but there's this huge sword hanging over this place, and we can all feel it's presence. I got to have a bit of fun tonight, someone is going around installing TROJANs (a.k.a. browser toolbars) and I got to do a bit of IT work... Just don't tell our IT guys, they haven't been able to remove them so far. With the plethora of Anti-spyware/adware products out there you'd figure at least one would be on these machines. Personally I hope they don't, it means more fun for me.

If you're a member of the team up here on 15, then check out Brian's yahoo group for us. I'm hoping that we wont need it for during-strike communications, but it's cool that he took the time to set it up.
Thanks, Brian.

see you tomorrow

Saturday, April 23, 2005

No work until Monday... I hope.

This past Monday I, along with everyone else in the company, found out that we will be facing certain "lockout" measures that will be taken by the company. And, subsequently found out, that our union may be telling us it's strike time, as soon as this coming Monday.

I'm going to have to go in this weekend to get some things from my locker... Just in case.

Here's hoping that I still have work this week.

It's a girl

My little brother and his fiancee just had a new baby last night, and it's a beautiful little girl.

Unfortunately since I'm not a grandparent, I haven't been allowed into see the baby in person. I don't know when the hospitals started to do that, but it's pretty sad. First no waiting rooms, and now I can't even see my very first little neice. At least I get to see meet her this weekend.

I'll be posting her pic on my moblog once I get one.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Forget it Marge

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Forget it Marge its Chinatown Forget it Marge its
Chinatown [...]

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******UPDATE****** Ain't TELUS MOBILITY's picture phone mailer grand!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

What is that glowy thing in the sky???

Once again I'm at work on a Saturday (Fun), and the scheduling people have screwed up again (SUPER Fun), and have scheduled half of the people that we need for a weekend day (Eh, Whadda ya gonna do).


Those of you who know me know that I HATE working in the days, and not just because I get free parking at night. I live about an hours drive away from work, and have to leave about an hour and a half early, just incase I run into any accidents, or whatever other delays present themselves. But right now, that's ok, because today our network is down, and I really don't have to do any work. It is a shining moment in the telecom industry... At least for us here it is

Since I don't really trust any network that I haven't setup myself, and I really don't trust the one here, I'm probably the only one who uses a thumbdrive to backup everything that I use for work. and I REALLY don't trust the one here, (I know the company that I work for), but also because that's the kind of thing that I do. I backup all of my work stuff, but lord knows when the last time I backed up any of my computers at home. Thatg's probably becaause there are 6 at home, and only 1 at work.

As I've said before, I do like working, BUT... it is the weekend, and we deserve a break too; Who doesn't?

Man I really wish that I was back on evenings or graves. When you do it for a month or so, your body gets used to it, and then to go from getting up @ 930 at night, to getting up @ 430 in the morning, in 2 days. That's a bit rough, and then I get to go back to graves in a week.

Just biding my time... Just biding my time...

Friday, April 08, 2005

I love that movie.

Tonight at work I watched "Office Space", and am verry much saddened that the movie so closely mirrors my own work environment. The only thing is that the depressed workers at least get their own desks, and can bring in personal items to leave on said desks. But despite this it was still pretty spot on. escpecially when 'Peter' says "...Humans weren't meant to sit in cubicles and stare at computer screens all day...", I agree whole heartedly.

Now don't get me wrong here, I do like working. I like it alot. But when I come into work and I can't be sure that I'll ever have a place to sit and work, and if I do, then it's most likely not the place I like to sit at. Aaaaaand, If it is that desk, It will have been sat in by at least 1 other person, and they will have changed ALL of the settings for everything here.

But, I digress...
this is one of the most depressing places to work. I like to help people fix their problems, especially with tech stuff; But here I am not ALLOWED to help them, to the point of absurdity. Fun stuff all around...

I know that you probably don't care about my job, and how much I loathe it, but trust me, I care even less. And, that's the one little glimmer to my job... The fact that I don't care anymore. It's great. I gave up on the whole caring thing, as a new yea's resolution, and it's working out great. Since I'm not allowed to actually help anyone, or make logical common-sense decisions, (under penalty of reprimand, I might add); I just gave up. I now do my job with just enough fervor to not get fired. I'm looking elsewhere, but I'm not exactly giving up on the money until I'm safely elsewhere.

I'm hoping that some of my leads pan out, and I can get out of here, some are looking good. One is one that I really wan't. It's in L.A. but I've worked in the States before and had no problems. I hope it works out. Because I'm not doing the job I was hired for, and promised that I would only be a phone monkey for a MAX of 3 months, before doing I.T., and I just want to do that job. If not here than somewhere else.


Thursday, March 31, 2005

What has society come to

I've been reading/watching the news lately, and I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little tired of the exploitation of Terri Schiavo by both sides that are only trying to further their own agendas, at her expense.

I'm all for religion, and I am quite set in my beliefs, but after reading some of the comments, and threads on some of the so called "faith-based" sites out there, I have to question my affiliation with organized religion. I mean people calling others Nazi's because the question something that the pope said a year ago in a speech prepared for him, by a guy (a certain monsignor) who is now saying see, the Pope said it. I mean it's good to have a go-to guy when it comes to setting a direction for the faith and all, but when every word from his/her mouth instantly becomes gospel, and can never be questioned, there's a problem. I thought that was only reserved for God.

Christ himself sought council from those around him, and allowed them to question his words, but the Pope cannot be questioned in the same way. At least Christ would explain to the people what he meant, and why he came to a conclusion.

The people who are pontificating about why Terri should live, or die are most certainly not trying to help anyone but themselves. The Schindlers are getting money from just about every right-wing, pro-life group that has a fund to throw around. Not to mention the big right wing evangelist pro-lifer sitting in the oval office trying to step outside the bounds of his branch of government, and the same goes for the rest of the self-righteous members of the legislative, and administrative branches, spending countless dollars, and hours trying to help many political careers; I mean a woman in a hospice. There are reasons why these are seperated, not the least of which, is to keep emotion out of law.

I've spent many hours myself, trying to figure out why there are so many people who are giving millions of combined dollars trying to "save" this woman whom they don't even know, but are completely unwilling to give a few dollars to save people that they probably already know that are starving already, even if they don't know that it's the kid walking to school in front of their house is the one starving. These people are riding on the dying coat-tails of an unfortunate woman. The way that these special-interest groups are talking it seems that they would rather she keep on going in the state that she is in indefinitely, just so they can keep basking in the glow of the public eye, not to mention the glow of the studio lights.

A big thing that I have had a problem with is that people are making out the husband to be this great monster for making this decision now, when it has in fact been in the courts for a very long time now. And when they accuse him of abusing her, and thereby putting her in there, they should also ask themselves why he didn't just say that she was too far gone. I don't want to seem too much like I'm taking this guy's side. But, when I read tonight an article quoting that her "last" CT scan from 1996 showed enough cortex left to be possibly; with radical treatments that are on the cusp of discovery, become conscious. When later it was admitted they had only seen images of 1 slice of the scan, and had never actually examined Terri. Also left out was the fact that the last scan was in 2002, and the doctor that was mandated by the state of Florida to evaluate her condition spent 30 days, trying to find something that would show her as able to recover, which he could not, much to his great dismay.

I think, in my humble opinion that Terri Schiavo should be allowed to pass as her guardian has requested. His reasoning that he has provided time after time has not changed, and none of the formal inquiries into his motivations have proven sinister. This man did not move on the moment his wife was struck down by this condition, he persisted in an admittedly selfish manner in keeping her alive, and was at one point told a restraining order may be filed against him, just to allow the people taking care of her to do their job. And when he finally requested that the cessation of the assistance of which was keeping her in a permanent vegetative state, her family tried to stop it.

Though at this point it really sounds like I can't, but I can sympathize with Terri's family, and would want to keep my family around for as long as possible, and I may eventually grow numb, and maybe even grow to accept the site of my loved one in that condition; But, I would only be doing it for my own sake not theirs. The condition as it has been presented by professionals who have actually examined Terri to carry out a dispassionate evaluation of her, all agree that she will never be able to have any kind of relationship with another man, woman, child, or animal, other than that of one being observed, or patient to be cared for.

Do I think the reason is right? Yes, If Terri is in the most minimal way cognizant, let alone conscious, than she is in a prison of her own body. The only doctors that state that she may be able to become minimally conscious, have never actually examined Terri. I DO NOT want to see her die. I would love nothing more than this to end with Terri getting up, and walking home, healthy and safe. But, that is just not going to happen.

Do I think the method is right? No, I think that it is a horrible way to die. Starvation and dehydration. It's appalling. But, if doctors are allowed to intervene and end her life in a peaceful way using drugs, or other chemicals, a dangerous precedent would be set. Allowing doctor assisted suicide, not to mention the rampant victory celebrations from the right-to-die leftists, (who are just as guilty of using this poor woman as the pro-life).

Whether you agree with me, or think me a monster for thinking this way, is up to you. I have to say in what happens in this situation, I'm in the same position as you. In any way this will end, but not without more exploitation by all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Houston... The mini has landed.

After much time waiting for this occasion it has finally arrived.

- The Mini that people are truly excited about... (not the car)

I got this thing @ about 11AM today, and even though I should have been asleep until about 2, I decided that I could once again forego rest, in the name of my never-ending quest for technology. Plus it was just like Christmas as a kid. You know it's down there, but you're not allowed to look.

Once I got the box in my hands it was like one of those Russian dolls, layer upon layer... The size of the shipping box belies the true size of the mini. I knew the dimensions from the apple store but to unveil it, and hold it in my own hands truly was something. I compared it to my CD wallet and they were nearly the same size with the mini being a little wider, but a little thinner than the CD wallet.

I know I'm gushing about this little thing, but it's new, and I like the look of it. Plus, I'm using it right now to write this entry. This will by no means be my primary machine, but it will be a great supplement to my other computers, and will fit in much better with my home theater components.

The best thing about my new toy is that it is SILENT. No fan = No noise.

I haven't been completely seduced by this sexy little box. But I have yet to find better for the size, and sound. Now to find out if I can make more things work with it because that could change the tides of my allegiance, in this cold war of OS's.

Monday, March 28, 2005

They say it's the same, but it's not the same?

It's called Attack of the Show.

It is the replacement to one of my all time favorite shows on TV, The Screen Savers. This after a good long run, and many changes over the years, is now being put out to pasture. The name and the set are supposed to be the only things really to be changed, but I'll believe it when I see it.

I hope that the network keeps its word on this, and keeps the same format, and feel of the show. As many of the other people that have been posting on this same issue, I too saw TSS as not being the same show as it used to be. For me it was something that I have been much more accepting than most that I have read, but then again, the negative voice is always the loudest. And for that reason I'm good with the whole change thing, as it was a changed TSS.

I watch the show for what it had become, and not for the computer help segments that used to be a part of the old TSS. This may be since I'm one of the lucky canucks that still get Leo, and the gang on "Call for Help" which is pretty much what the old TSS was, cool for us. CFH is a show that I think would once again be welcomed south of the border on G4. They could put it on instead of Robot Wars. Robot Wars was cool years ago when it was still being made, let alone being first run (not seen over and over).

Oh well, I'll still be watching AotS, (which sounds like a dig at Lucas' title, so G4 will probably get sued for it).

And, my Mac Mini had better show up today. Or I'm going to be pissed @ Steve.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

They said that this was going to be easy.

Yet another Saturday night @ the office.

Normally I get paid to sit on my butt all night, counting the holes in the celing tiles... again. But tonight, I actually have to work.

As my little blurb in the header of my blog states, I'm a phone monkey. Which means that I answer the phone, in as pleasant a manner possible, and try to help them get their problem resolved. Despite the fact that I have extensive IT experience, and was hired for an IT position, I'm not allowed to help them with simple problems. (I'm not even able to ping a router. We're blocked internally). Just take the report, and thank them for calling.

Tonight, it's gets worse. There have been a huge jump in the number of calls, and everyone wants their service fixed "yesterday". Now I do understand that these clients pay the company I work for upwards of $300 Million/year. But when they report a trouble in the most remote part of a bloody mountain range at the end of the day on the Saturday, of the Easter long freakin weekend... 10...9...8... OK, all better now. These clients may have to wait a bit longer than usual, under the circumstances.

Most rational people understand this bit of simple logic. But then, there are our clients, from governments, to big business, they all believe that, imagine that, the rules don't apply to them. Tonight there are specifically 5 of them and collectively are calling in to me about every 6-10 minutes, almost enough time for me to actually get anything done for them. And, like me these are just people being paid just to be a pain in my ass, when there is nothing better for them to do on a saturday night. They don't have anything to do but bug me, I have to make things happen in every step, in every group along the way.

If there was one word that I could abolish from the lexicon of the english language; It would have to be "escalation", and it's root "escalate". Infact lets just get rid of the whole notion, all it means in my context is: I'm telling Mommy!!! And she's going to tell your Mommy, and you'll be in BIG trouble.

Trust me I would be a happier man indeed.

Oh well. At least I don't have to have certain "management" strutting around, (some with mug in hand, some without), trying to look busy, without actually doing anything.

This end of the week thing

I like to think that I don't just buy DVD's just for the sake of owning them but as I look at my many shelves of the m I realize that I have some that I still haven't watched them months after I bought them. Now many of them are because they are movies that I have seen before and got them just because I loved the movies the first time around. But still I need to make the time to watch them.

Oh well I'll have time when I'm working graves again.

On a sort of related note. I can't wait until Sin City comes to theaters. I loved the GN's and hope that the 2 or so hours that the movie will be, is going to be enough to be faithful to them.

Here's hopin'

Friday, March 25, 2005

Another day another dollar.

Once again there is nothing to do but to suck it up and go to work; Sick or not.
Luckily only 6 hours tonight, instead of eight.

Oh well, at least I have my PVR recording everything while I'm gone.