Apple Gear Society

The Mother of Invention

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This evening, my wife, daughter and I drove over to Bethesda, Md., for an open house at Imagination Stage; my daughter decided to take an acting class there. Afterwards, we took a stroll through downtown and stopped at the tiny little Apple Store on Bethesda Ave. There we saw Apple’s new iPod nano music player.

To say the device is small really doesn’t describe the size. Best is to say that everything else is huge by comparison. I’m headed to Los Angeles next week for business and had planned on bringing along a Samsung Portable Media Center. The PMC is a cinder block compared to the iPod nano.

I had been thinking that Apple redefined a category. My mistake, Apple has invented a new one.

Photo Credit: Yuichi Kosio


What’s Up with all These Planes going Down?

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File this under scary. Today, Reuters cited sources giving an eerie explanation for the crash of a Helios airliner last month in Greece: Confused pilots. The tragedy had been confusing from the start, because the flight crew and most of the passengers appeared to be unconscious when the Boeing 737 ran out of fuel and crashed. De-pressurization was a leading suspected cause of the crash.

Reuters, citing a story in International Herald Tribune, claims that a maintenance crew left a pressurization control knob undone. The pilots missed this and misunderstood a pressurization warning alarm. Apparently, the cabin never pressurized at all.  Read More


Cut the Cheese

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When I do eat burgers, I’m a pretty much a hold everything kind of guy. I like the bun, slab of meat, and catsup; no veggies, please. But no matter what fast-food place I eat, cheese comes with the bun, meat, and catsup. I got nothing against cheese but do wonder why every fast foodery puts it on. I never ask for and often specifically request there to be no cheese.

Tonight, I ate at Burger King, and the patty came with cheese, after I asked for none. Three weeks earlier at Wendy’s and a year before that incident at McDonald’s (I’ve stopped eating there): Cheese on the burger. Is there some fast food conspiracy?

Photo Credit: Steven Feather

Living Money Society

And the Gasoline Price Is?

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Gas price has settled down to about $3.69 a gallon for premium grade in Montgomery County, Md. That’s about $1 a gallon more than the price paid before Katrina’s devastating blow to the Gulf Coast. In case anyone wants to know.

I’ve got a bad attitude about SUVs; smug satisfaction is my reaction to higher gas prices for the people driving these big vehicles. But the price is too high, given the loss of life and property along the Gulf Coast and hardship undeserving others, like Midwest farmers, will have to bear.

Culture Music Society

The Green is Now About the Money

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In a Saturday New York Times review, Jon Pareles writes about the parody Green Day has become. I totally agree with the headline, “Now a Band That It Once Parodied.” Green Day has gone mainstream, along with punk culture.

When I was a teenager, disco choked culture and music to near the point of death. Then along came New Wave and Punk—real Punk—bands pushing a harder sound and lifestyle. Spiked, died hair, black leather, tattoos, and piercings were as much statements as attire, as teens sought to throw of the yolk of their older, self-obsessive Baby Boomer siblingsRead More


Not Exactly a Carnival, But Still a Good Idea

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Looks like FEMA has charted Carnival cruise ships, three of them, to house New Orleans refugees. Damn, what a smashing idea. As many as 7,000 people will stay on the ships, which, according to Associated Press, FEMA has charted for six months.

Of course, the refugee charter will displace thousands of vacationers. Better they save their money anyway. Economy is going to sour for awhile, with one of the country’s busiest ports shut down. As for the cruise ships, I hope the accommodations are comfortable. These poor people have suffered enough.

Some advice to FEMA: Please be wise about who gets on the boats. Proximity, lottery, whatever reasonably fair method. Don’t favor the white folks here. Race already is too much an issue right now in New Orleans.

Photo Credit: Timothy Wildey

Events Responsibility

A People Scattered

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Troops and supplies arriving in New Orleans is a relieving development. I’m sorry the response took so long, but that’s not the point of this post. Great concern now are the refugees, their finding some new start and their impact on neighboring areas.

New Orleans may only be the first disaster area, as the swelling population taxes resources elsewhere. A story in today’s Washington Post quotes Mike Walker of East Baton Rouge’s City Council as saying, “Instead of water flooding in, we’ve got people flooding in. The levee of people broke”.

Looks like 400 or so people are headed this way for makeshift residence in JFK Stadium.

Photo Credit: Washington National Guard

Ethics Events Politics Responsibility

The Wrong Gulf

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On Sunday, I gassed up my 1989 Volvo 740 for $2.69 a gallon–the good stuff–and moaned about high prices. Yesterday a friend IMed and told me to gas up before prices jumped 40 cents a gallon. Too late, $3.19 when my wife got the pumps. She paid more today, $3.49 a gallon, or a delightful 80-cent increase in just two days.

I predict the situation will get a lot worse. New Orleans is now the equivalent of a Biblical epic—disaster that will keep on going. The death, the destruction, the economic impact will be like another 9-11, except as an Act of God (Why should he get the blame, anyway?) rather than act of terrorism. Few weeks back, I blogged about the housing bubble. Katrina, that vicious bitch, put a hole in the bubble, I think.  Read More

Music News Media

The Times’ Sweeping Generalization

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Okay, I think the Times Online is going a wee bit too far. The UK news operation kicks off a story about the MTV Video Music Awards with the very leading, “Green Day, the anti-war punk rockers, swept the MTV Video Music Awards in a sign that American popular culture is turning against US presence in Iraq”.

I’m a big Green Day fan, but I wouldn’t call their seven awards some sign anti-war sentiments are sweeping America or American popular culture. “Swept” and “turning against” are such, well, sweeping descriptions. Where are all the anti-war TV shows, movies, songs, clothes, jewlery, or (forbid) protests?

Throw a stone down Connecticut Ave. and I’m in Washington, but I haven’t seen anti-war protestors roaring down Pennsylvania Ave. The war may not sit right with a lot people, particularly as gas prices rise. But, I’m figuring Green Day’s success has more to do with good music than the war.

Photo Credit: Jackie “Sister 72”

advice Gear

Buy Refurbished and Save

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I often recommend that people buying new PCs should consider refurbished. In my experience, used is typically better than new. I want to say always, because I’ve never had a bad refurb.

Refurbished is a computer sold secondhand by the original seller, which could be the manufacturer or a retailer. Hypothetical: Jack Consumer buys a new Mac from Apple, but after getting the computer home he sees the new Dell TV commercial with Sheryl Crow. He returns the Mac and buys a Dell. Apple still has to sell that computer, but now potentially at a loss and discounted to future buyers. Maybe Jack liked his Mac but it had a bum hard drive, so he exchanges it for another. Apple still has to sell that computer, albeit with the hard drive replaced, again discounted.  Read More