Wednesday, September 29, 2004



I dig Froggy. Froggy makes the kitchen with his delightfully kitchy ways. After all, a kitchen without kitch is just an "en". And we all remember what our friend Everlast (the white-guy rapper, not the company that makes boxing gear) says about ens. You don't? Well, be glad that song has not become part of your consciousness and make sure you have a froggy in your en.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Bully Backs Down

Well, it's been a while since this one was announced, but nobody relies on me for important news anyway (or at least they shouldn't.) I actually tried to post on this one the night I heard about it but there were errors and the message didn't get posted. Can you say conspiracy *gasp!* (kidding)

Anyway, you may remember back in my "Fun with Formats" post that a company referred to as Big "S" makes MP3 players (digital audio players) that don't play MP3's but instead use a proprietary encoding format. So basically if you bought one of their players and already had an MP3 collection you'd have to re-format everything. On the other side of the equation, if you didn't have an MP3 collection, but decided to buy a Big "S" product, you'd soon amass a collection of songs in their own format. Saying that this would leverage future purchases in Big "S"'s favor would be a bit of an understatement.

Apparently, Big "S" realized that we (when I say "we" I mean "I and other geeky types") think they make cool gadgets but want no part of this proprietary carp. Bottom line- it's costing them sales. So recently, they announced that they would be adding MP3 support to their line of MP3 players. Neato.

21st Century Digital Sanford

21st Century Digital Sanford

Some of the spam messages I get have the title "Free Computer. Find Out How." Why would I bother? All but one of my computers were free anyway.

Several days ago, I got a phone call from my sister-in-law. Someone was giving her an old computer and all she needed was a monitor. Apparently I have a reputation as a trash picker, though deservedly so since I did indeed have a spare (and functional) monitor. So for the price of $0 she has a computer to browse the web, keep her resume updated and play a few games of solitaire on. Those tasks don't take much computing power. Most discarded computers can do that with a fresh OS install. Some even without.

Monday, September 27, 2004


It's been a while since I checked my Yahoo! Email address. It's been quite some time since I stopped using it on a regular basis for personal mail. I've just become too lazy for web mail, and too cheap to upgrade to POP3 access. Instead, it's the one that gets passed out to online retailers and anyone who should be able to reach me, but also might like to make an easy buck by selling my address to someone else who wants to sell me *V!@GR4* or something similar. Well, today I checked it. There were 1290 unread messeges. The first 100 were spam. I didn't look through any more. Yeesh.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Badge Engineering

Badge Engineering

A co-worker of mine seems to share my taste in cars which are a bit quirky. We currently both own Subarus and both have Colt Vistas in our deep, dark pasts. Since I've known him, he has owned only cars from two different auto makers. Saab, which certainly does things its own way and has stuck to its hatchback ideals even in larger cars, or Subaru, a company that has held firmly to the horizontally opposed engine layout similar to classic Volkswagens or most Porsches but no other popular auto makers that I know of, and which continues to be a foul weather alternative to a driving a 4wd truck.Apparently GM, which I understand has come to own controlling interest in both of these companies, also sees these two companies as being alike in their uniqueness since they have recently been cross bred to spawn the Saab 9-2, or "Saabaru" as it is often called.

My fear, however, is that they are taking a page from Ford/Mercury's book of tricks. I came to work yesterday and saw a brand new "Saabaru" in the parking lot. It was Jack's loaner car for the day. I had noticed on the 9-2 commercials I had seen that the car really did look like an Impreza wagon. It was even more apparent to see it in person. It looked like someone had taken a sawzall and MIG welder to a Saab and a Subaru and grafted the Nordic nose onto the Japanese body (making me wonder if somewhere a Saab is running around with a Subaru Snout).

It couldn't be more appropriate, though that I arrived right behind a Silver Subaru 2.5RS wagon plastered stem to stern with stickers identifying it as a loaner car. Jack had a different loaner today. By his account, it was basically identical to the previous day's Saab, from the engine, to the ride to the handling and the dimensions. The Saab had some extra amenities, but they were definitely different trim levels of the same car.

I have to wonder, are a Saab badge and a few extra amenities worth the extra $10,000?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Jackals Championship- Games 4 and 5

OK, so I admit that I got lazy. As Exciting as Sunday's game was (game 4) I didn't get around to posting on it. In case you're wondering how things played out, it was another come-from-behind 4-2 victory for the New Jersey Jackals In extra innings (this time only 11.) I'd like to thank Nokia and my cell provider for enabling me to listen to the webcast while cooking on the grill in the back yard. That phone may be getting old and ratty, but it still never ceases to amaze me. By the end of the game I had run out of nails to bite.

Game 5 started with the Jackals coming out to an early lead, widening that lead to 4-1 as the game progressed, then nearly letting the lead slip as the North Shore Spirit narrowed the score to 4-3. Late in the game, the Jackals scored another run for extra insurance then held North Shore off for a final score of 5-3. The Jackals are the 2004 Northeast League Champions after losing the first two games in a best of three series.

It was quite a series. Every one of the five games was extremely close and could easily have gone to either team. The widest margin was the 7-4 Jackals victory in game three, and even that game was tied 4-4 until the 13th inning. It's been one exciting time.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Sunday Barbecue

Sunday Barbecue

Some of my fond memories of growing up were of cooking out on Sunday afternoons. One common barbecue meal for us was chicken. We would grill a couple of birds and have leftovers for the week.

Today, I prepared my first whole chicken. I wasn't really sure what I was in for before I started, but as usual, I did a Google search and quickly had the answers.

Remove the backbone, by cutting from the tail to the neck on both sides of the backbone. When it's open, remove the keel bone, and it will lay open on the grill nicely. 1/2 hour per side and you're in business. Your results may vary.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Jackals Championship- Game 3

Jackals Championship- Game 3

Spirits have been pretty low where baseball is concerned after losing two hard-fought games at home. We really expected to be swept in three games. The Jackals, however, are not quite done yet. I spoke with a friend on the phone earlier in the evening (he gets the radio broadcast at home) and found that at the time the score was 4-3 in the 7th inning. We were losing again. He said he would let us know what happened so my wife and I relaxed at her parents' house where we were this evening and spent a little quality time with them and the cat and dog.

A while later, after the parents had gone up to bed, it seemed like a good time to leave. Still no word on the game's outcome, but we'd check the website in the morning. About halfway home in the car, I decided to see if the game really was over. I turned on the radio and to our surprise, the station came in. Also surprising, the game was tied at 4 runs in the top of the 10th inning. We were still in it. We pulled over on the main street in town and got comfortable. It's a good thing too, because the 11th and 12th innings also passed with no runs scored. Then in the 13th, North Shore seemed to be tiring (and why not, it was almost midnight). They let one run by, then two more. It was the break the Jackals had been waiting for. We finished the time at bat then wrapped it up with 3 outs for a score of 7-4. The Jackals will play again tomorrow.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Jackals Championship- Game 2 (For Real This Time)

Jackals Championship- Game 2 (For Real This Time)

Well, we had the game tonight after last night's rain out. It started out with both teams scoring 1 run in either of the first 2 innings. After that it was a pretty uneventful 1-1 game until North Shore scored one more run late in the game. In the end the score was 2-1 with another win for North Shore. In order to stay in the contest, the Jackals must now win all three remaining games in North Shore.

Unfortunately, the game also had a disappointing incident at the end in addition to the loss. Our Designated Hitter struck out for the third out of the 9th inning. However, the final call was quite questionable as the ball was clearly low and the batter had not swung enough to make it a strike (at least in the totally impartial opinions of the Jackals fans in my section.) He then had some words with the home plate umpire while brandishing the bat in a very threatening manner. I seriously thought the two would be leaving in an ambulance and a squad car. Then, just for good measure, he threw his helmet and narrowly missed another umpire who was making his way from the field as fast as he could. Our batter apparently forgot that while this game may be over, there are still three more games to play. I hope he will be in them, but considering his behavior, it would not surprise me if he would be sitting one or more out. That is something that the Jackals can't afford right now.

Fun With Formats

Technology is something that both excites me and infuriates me. If you had told me 5-10 years ago that I would have a device that would browse the web, take pictures, send those pictures along with messages almost instantly anywhere in the world, post text and photos to a 'blog, keep track of appointments, make phone calls and fit in the pocket of my pants I would have said you were crazy. As technology races forward and shrinks faster than we can update, however, I continue to look at the steady stream of gadgets with childlike amazement.

There is a flip side, though: the business. The people making these gadgets and gizmos need to make a living. They would like to make a really good living. Who wouldn't? Often, however, making good products is not enough. Sometimes companies take the tactic of making their product incompatible with devices from other manufacturers. In this way, if the consumer wants to benefit from their multiple devices' interoperability they must buy devices exclusively from that company.

A good example is the company which I'll refer to as The Big "S". In a world which already had MMC, Smart Media, Compact Flash and possibly others, The Big "S" decided that the best course of action would be to make their own proprietary memory format. This would keep others from using that format in their devices and, at least initially, force consumers to buy from them at prices a good deal higher than other media formats. Whats worse, they followed up with at least a couple of other proprietary formats before they lost my attention. Now even their previous customers need to update to their current format.

What's worse, the fun isn't even limited to flash media. Recently, to a chorus of raspberries from reviewers and consumers alike, they announced their newest digital audio player. Instead of using the fairly universally accepted MP3 format it uses,
you guessed it, a proprietary audio format. I think I smell an online music store in the works. Smells like... Big "S".

Quit it, Big "S". I'm not buying into these proprietary formats no matter how cool your products are.

And another thing... Yes, I still remember that VCR thing from the '80s. What was it called? Alpha? Gamma? Lambda?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Jackals Championship- Game 2

Jackals Championship- Game 2

Well, technically, game 2 is not here yet. Why? There's a rain delay, which at this point seems terminal. The official word hasn't been given yet, but as far as we're concerned, there will be no game. Not tonight.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Jackals Championship- Game 1

Jackals Championship- Game 1

Well, the New Jersey Jackals made it through to the playoffs to the championship round for the Northeast League. Tonight was game one. The best 3 of 5 games wins the championship. The Jackals, after narrowly losing the championship last year to Brockton and winning the previous two years' championships back to back are attempting to reclaim their title.

It was a close game, but in the end, North Shore had a good inning, and the Jackals lost 5-4. Better luck tomorrow.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Gadget Sales

Gadget Sales

What is it about people who work in stores that sell electronics? Years ago I noticed that every salesperson I've ever encountered in the major electronics chain I went to for parts came across as a irritating, arrogant twit. It didn't seem to matter which branch or even what area of the country I was in. The salespeople were all equally as hard to take. It even seems that the big electronics stores are similar in the level of disdain they show toward their customers- the people who ultimately pay their wages.

Today I left work at the usual time and decided it would be a good time to replace the memory card in my cell phone with one that had a bit more elbow room. The current 16 MB card was fine for a while, but after adding several programs and a healthy supply of pictures, things are getting a bit cramped. 32 MB or 64 MB would be much less confining. At any rate, I trekked out to the big electronics store under the big red sign and began to look for a Multimedia Card in the right size. I stopped by the cell phone display and began to look at what's new these days, partially because You never can tell when yours will go bad and partially because the best (and often the only) way to get someone's help is to touch something expensive. I picked up the Most expensive "Palm Powered" device I could find and began looking for the stylus. When the drone behind the counter saw me, he came over, cordless phone still pressed against one ear, and offered his services. He was obviously annoyed when I told him I wouldn't be buying a phone but I did need a MMC. He scurried to a glass display case while explaining to me that the MMC format is pretty old and they probably didn't have any, as if to imply that I should replace whatever old piece of carp I was using it in for a new, shiny, commission-giving one. He then acted surprised to find just what I was looking for. He went back to his telephone conversation (to give me tome to decide, I suppose) I had already decided to order one online where they don't have a chance to be rude to you. I guess rudeness is worth the extra 30%-50% you would pay at the store to some people.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

George Carlin

George Carlin

I'm curious. I keep getting these forwarded emails every once in a while. They sound like they were lifted straight from "Life's Little Instruction Book." They claim to be written by George Carlin. Do you think he's taken to writing chain letters? I'm not sure if being quoted in a gazillion chain letters which people send on, forget about then send on again the next time some forgetful chain of people re-circulates the same old message is a good fate for one's work, regardless of how true or amusing the message is. I doubt he started this.

I hate chain letters.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004



Things can really get hairy around here when it rains enough to flood. The traffic is almost as bad as when it snows. I often wonder if the people who plow right through the deep puddles with the waves splashing up onto the hood know how destructive a little water in the engine can be. I'd reather turn around and take a different route than risk getting stranded in the deepest part of a puddle and wade through the cold water and pouring rain to find someone to tow my poor car to a shop which will charge my credit card company lots and lots of money to rebuild my hydrolocked engine. That's assuming the water isn't deep enough to sweep my little car away.

I guess we aren't going to an NJ Jackals game tonight regardless of whether the tarp is on the field. I just hope the flooding doesn't strand me at work tonight. Now THAT would be tragic.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004



There are few things as relaxing as barbecuing. Sitting outside in the fresh air next to a wood fire brings out something kind of primal. And as Dad told me, grilling works better while drinking beer. How true that is.

I learned something today. The grill works best with the lid positioned so that the vent is on the downwind side. Also, while Dad always has good advice when things aren't quite right, a handheld with a web connection can be a wonderful thing when he can't be reached.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Snack Size?

Snack Size?

Yeah, right. Snack size.

You might not have room in one of these for a decent cookie, but they do make darn good cell phone rain coats. There's nothing quite like browsing the web and writing email from the comfort of a warm bath.

Other People's 'Blogs

Other People's 'Blogs

Yesterday, mostly out of curiousity, I decided to hit the "Next Blog" button a few times to see what others are posting. A few things stuck out.

First, there are a lot of non-English speakers on this site (Portugese especially, for some reason.) Nothing is wrong with that, just an observation.
Second, a lot of people are blogging as a form of therapy. I hope it helps them.
Third, and possibly most important to me as a blogger, long posts can be a pain to get through. I'll try to be more concise. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Responsibility and the Art of Watercooler Maintenance

Sorry if this is a bit of a rant, but it bothers me how it seems that most people will do whatever they can to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. I'm not necessarily talking about big things here like commiting a hit and run on the road, but I think the little things are in indication of people's attitude when it comes to the bigger things.

Specifically, I'm talking about the office kitchen. I don't remember it being clean for more than a couple of hours. Ever. The sink almost always contains dirty dishes, there is always something spilled on the counter and the table is usually strewn with empty bags, food wrappers and occasionally leftovers from someone's lunch. A good example of the attitude many people in the office have, though, is with the water cooler. I recall a time when I poured myself a cup. Realizing I had used the last of the water, I threw a new bottle on top. As I was replacing the bottle, a co-worker came in to get water. When I finished changing the bottle and picked up my already-full cup to leave she was baffled. Why would I change the bottle if I was able to get water without changing it? She practically made fun of me for not slipping away to let the next person do it.

On a different occasion, I entered the kitchen in the morning as a co-worker was filling a large plastic bottle. As the water dribbled dry a couple inches from the top of his bottle, he said "just enough" or "that's all" or something similarly assinine, grinned smugly and left as I stood waiting with my cup. In my office, as well as in the general public, we do as little as we can get away with as a matter of policy.