I woke up this morning at 1:30 with my mind racing with all the things I have to do before Teri and I set out on our European vacation on Sunday. One thing we needed to do was to book our B&B's in Blarney and Galway for next Tuesday and Wednesday. So I got up and got on the phone. It was after all, 9:30 AM in Ireland.
So when we arrive in Dublin on the third, we're staying at the Airport Hilton, a nice place to just rest our weary bones after a full day of travel . . . 13+ hours of it in fact. The nice thing is that they have a shuttle to and from the airport, so we'll be able to get up the next morning and get our rental car at the airport without too much hassle. Plus according to reviews online, they also have a grocery store across the street so Teri and I can stock up for our road trip around Southern Ireland.
On the morning of the 4th, we'll pick up the rental car and make for Blarney and Cork by way of Waterford. We'll be staying at the Ashcroft B&B
in Blarney that supposedly overlooks the Blarney castle. Our friend Mark, an Irishman, says the best Guiness in Ireland is to be found at Blarney castle, so we'll find out if that's true. We'll also visit the Wollen Mills and perhaps the Jameson Irish Whiskey factory.
On the 5th, we'll head to Galway, where we'll be staying at St. Jude's B&B
. No clue what we'll be doing in Galway, but I'm sure we can find something of interest!
On the 6th, we'll head back to Dublin and visit the Guiness factory and see the sights around Dublin. Not sure where we'll be staying. If the Hilton works out for the 3rd, we may just book another night for the 6th.
Then on the 7th, we're off to Scotland! On the 10th we'll be off to Germany and on the 14th, we'll be coming home. A whirlwind tour no doubt, but should be fun!
Oh and funny thing about calling Ireland . . . they all have Irish accents. Who knew?
My Kevin Smith Fluff Piece . . .
OK, earlier this week I talked about what a fan I am of Kevin Smith movies. Since his new movie, Zach and Miri Make a Porno, is coming out next week, I've pretty much had Kevin Smith on the brain this week. So I downloaded the latest 6 episodes of SModcast to the iPod and have been listening to them in the car. Sidenote: If you EVER want to know what guys talk about when it's guys night out, download and listen to SModcast. I will warn you though, there are lots of swear words, so if you're easily offended, I wouldn't recommend it.
Today, being a tad bit bored, I searched YouTube for "Kevin Smith" and came across these two videos. It's much funnier if you watch them in order. Kevin is a demented genius. WARNING, the second video will have swear words in it . . . so if you're at work, you'll want to turn down the speakers or save it for home. Enjoy:
Kevin Smith Protests Dogma:
Kevin Smith Talks About Kevin Smith Protesting Dogma:
Starbucks and iPod Touch
So last night I had to meet Teri and a friend of ours at a Starbucks. While we were waiting for Teri to arrive, I wanted to play with my iPod. I had heard there were some cool things with the Apple and Starbucks partnership. So I jumped on to the "attwifi" network when I was there. Now unfortunately you can't simply surf the internet for free. But you can make it to certain sites for free. Like of course, http://apple.com/
. But I knew there was something that you could do with iTunes too. So I jumped onto iTunes. Pretty sweet. Now there was a new icon at the bottom of the screen that looks just like the logo you see to the left. When you touch that logo, a screen pops up that shows you the song that is currently playing in the store. How cool is that? And of course, if you like the song, you can purchase it using your iTunes account right there at the store and take it with you. In addition, there is a recently played list showing you the last 10 or so songs that have played in the store. Really cool partnership. Now, if Starbucks would only offer free wi-fi, I'd probably learn how to like coffee.
We've Gone Insane . . . Cue the Apocolypse
I'm a big fan of Kevin Smith
movies (Even Jersey Girl
). So it's understandable that I'd be excited about his upcoming release, Zach and Miri Make a Porno
. I understand that people may have issues with pornography. I get that. And I also get that as thinking sentient human beings, we should be able to make up our own minds about what kind of entertainment we enjoy. I also know that people will always disagree as to what is appropriate. Case in point, have a look at the poster to the left. Take a good look US citizens, because you won't be seeing it on our soil. Nope. To see this particular poster, you'll need to take a trip as far north as . . . Canada. Or probably any other country in the world that happens to be screening Zach and Miri Make a Porno
. But here in the United States, you won't be seeing this particular version of this poster.
Now, I was listening to Opie and Anthony's
replay of this morning's show on XM satellite radio
and they had Kevin Smith on. Kevin was of course on to promote his new movie and he talked about the MPAA's insanity over ratings of films. Originally Zach and Miri Make a Porno
received an NC-17 rating. NC-17 is pretty much the death knell for a movie. It virtually assures that no one will see it. So if a director has a racy movie, they do whatever they can to get that NC-17 rating cut down to an R. Kevin Smith is no exception. But he has his limits. After cutting and cutting and cutting and still receiving the dreaded NC-17 rating, Kevin invoked the MPAA's apeals process. And won. He's now 3 for 3 in getting his movies re-rated from NC-17 to R. But while the MPAA would allow the movie to now be rated R after his successful appeal, they fired one last shot across the bow. This poster was not to be released in the United States.
Can you tell why? I couldn't either until Kevin pointed it out on Opie and Anthony. Seriously what about this poster would prompt the MPAA to ban it in the US?
Give up? Notice the tufts of hair at the bottom of the poster? That's it. The mere suggestion that Seth Rogen
and Elizabeth Banks
are doing something inappropriate. You can't even tell if they're facing forward or backwards. This is insanity. All I gotta say is that I can't wait for the Director's cut of the movie on DVD. Crazy.
For another rant on the MPAA and their ratings structure, see Jimmy's blog
All geeked out on bluetooth again . . .
This weekend I was at Best Buy. The scroll wheel on my laptop mouse has been dead for awhile now and I've been looking for a replacement. As I was looking at mice, I came across a couple of Bluetooth mice that seemed interesting. The problem is that they're fairly expensive. Like $45 and up expensive. For a mouse! So I was going to hold off. BUT I noticed that BB had a Targus Laptop bluetooth mouse that had been opened. And apparently in the past 30 days, they had been on sale for $24.99. They marked down the Open Item one to $17.99. THAT was a deal I couldn't pass up. And if it didn't work, I could always take it back. Well it works perfectly and I couldn't be happier (again) with my decision to get the BT module for my laptop when I ordered it. I just love bluetooth. I think I've maybe mentioned that once or twice?
I Voted Today!
As Teri and I will be watching election results pour in from a pub in Ireland, it won't be convenient to get out to my local polling place (Dang!) so I voted by absentee this year. It was kind of cool to sit there on the couch last night with my ballot in one hand and my voters pamphlet in the other. I dropped it in the mail this morning, so away it goes . . . the fate of our country was in my hands momentarily. :-) Are you scared yet? I just want to encourage everyone to get out and exercise your right to vote on Tuesday November 4th. Or if you're voting by absentee, get those ballots in the mail before the 4th. Let's make a difference people. AND if you haven't registered to vote, it IS too late to vote in this years election, but not too late to register for upcoming elections. If you're a Washington resident, head on over to: http://vote.wa.gov/
and register yourself. Only takes a couple minutes. You'll feel better, I promise.
DVD's to iPod
So is anyone really sick of my talking about the awesomeness of my iPod Touch yet? Yeah? Too bad, here's another awesomeness article!
So in preparation for Teri and I's upcoming vacation to Europe, I wanted some video content to watch on the plane. So on the iTunes store, I bought the Battlestar Galactica miniseries and Season 1 of the show. So far I'm 3/4 of the way through the mini-series and it's pretty cool. I'm going to hold off on watching the season until we get on the plane however.
I was thinking last night, you know . . . I have a pretty large DVD collection and it would be nice to have a couple of those to watch on the plane too. However, I DON'T want to bring my laptop and the iPod Touch being a perfectly capable video device, it would be nice to play DVD's on my iPod. So I Googled "Rip DVD to iPod". Most articles dealt with Macs (Don't think I won't have a new MacBook someday) but a couple gave advice for PC's. (It's a much easier, one step process on a Mac BTW)
So keep in mind, this is still pretty much a grey area . . . ripping DVD's. You ARE allowed a backup copy of your DVD, however how that's to be stored or even if it's to be used is another story.
So the article I found
recommended two products, both free. (Free is good) The first, DVD Decrypter
, rips your DVD to a .VOB file. The second, Videora iPod Converter
, converts your file to an MPEG 4 file (.mp4 the format used for iPod). So yesterday before I left for work, I dropped in "The Shawshank Redemption
", my favorite movie of all time, and let DVD Decrypter do it's thing. When I got home later that evening, I converted it using Videora. I'm not sure how long the process took, but it would have been WAY faster to just watch the movie. I would guess overall it took nearly 5 hours for the whole process. So you really have to want that DVD on the iPod.
After the file was converted, I imported it into iTunes, copied the cover art from Amazon and voila! Shawshank Redemption on my iPod!
If I do two or three between now and the time we go to Europe, I'll be all set for my in-flight movies!
iPod to iTunes Copying
Yes, I know I'm droning on and on about my new iPod. But damn, I really am enjoying the heck out of it! So far I only have one complaint, and it may be a software issue, it may be a hardware issue, I won't know for sure until I can duplicate the results in an Apple store . . . more on that later, but if anyone knows anything about managing WiFi connections on the iPod Touch/iPhone, e-mail me.
Today, I connected my new Touch to my home PC where ALL of my music is stored, some 500 CD's worth (AND YES DRM police, I have all the CD's to prove it!). I wanted to make sure that all the purchases through iTunes I made on my laptop were copied to my home PC and any music I may have ripped on my laptop was also copied. When I connected the iPod, it asked if I wanted to transfer purchases, to which I said "Yes" and those came over beautifully. Then I had one album that I had ripped on my laptop (Eminem Encore) that was not on my home PC. No problem I thought, I'll just drag the files from the iPod into iTunes and we'll be all good to go.
But wait, they wouldn't copy over. After doing some research, I learned that due to worries about piracy, etc., Apple had disabled this functionality. WTF? So I can see their point, they don't want you handing me your iPod with your music collection and having me drag and drop your thousands of music files on my PC (mac) and vice versa. I get it. But what happens if I've got my entire music collection on my iPod and the hard drive on my PC decides to take a s***? How do I get my music back? (As a note, all my personal and important files are stored on a RAID 5 array in my home so should I lose a drive, I can still re-build the data. I guess you can take the guy outta the sys admin position, but you can't take the sys admin position out of the guy, but I digress) So I found a number of utilities to do just that.
The one I ended up using is called "CopyTrans
" and it worked beautifully! It gave me the ability to browse the iPod's directory structure and choose files that I wanted to either copy to a folder, or directly into iTunes. I copied the files into a folder and then let iTunes import them. Perfect! If you've been looking for a utility to get files FROM your iPod TO your PC, check it out. It's very easy and intuitive to use. There is a 14 day free trial, beyond that it's $20.00 to purchase it. Great little utility. You can find them here:
So Tell Me Why? (or another iPod fawning post)So tell me why my iPod touch does so much better a job at managing contacts than my Windows mobile phone? I mean seriously. My WM phone has "Pocket Outlook" for crying out loud! The iPhone is a Mac for all intents and purposes and it does a FAR better job managing my contacts than even my phone does. They both sync to my Outlook. But here's the key difference. My iPod syncs ALL the contact fields while my "Pocket Outlook" only syncs a select few.
For example, when I meet a new client, I put the husband's cell phone in the Cell Phone field and the Wife's cell phone in the "Other" field. Pocket Outlook won't sync the "Other" field and there is no way to force it to. But the iPod syncs it by default. I haven't even been successful finding a 3rd party application for a WM device that will sync all fields into my phone. And if I do, I'll have to pay for it, probably upwards of $60.00. Rediculous. That should be a no-brainer, it should do that by default. Why should some dork at Microsoft get to decide which fields are important to me to sync to my phone? I REALLY want an iPhone now. [Sigh] Apple, for the love of god, please sign deals with other major carriers (please start with Verizon) to carry the iPhone. PLEASE?!
2008 The Year of Being Green
In a previous post
, I talked about how I purchased a number of flourescent bulbs for the house and how many watts that was going to save. Well the other day, I bought more! I'm trying to strategically replace certain bulbs around the house. The issue is that if you need immediate light (say in a closet) the flourescents aren't the best choice. They do take awhile to warm up. So here's the tally for the moment:
- 5 Can lights in the kitchen @ 65W each = 325W
- 2 Can lights in the master bath @ 65W each = 130W
- 2 Can Lights Outside @ 65W each = 130W
- 1 Can light above fireplace @ 65W = 65W(duh!)
- 6 Can Lights Hallway/Stairway @ 65W each = 390W
- 2 Lamps @ 100W = 200W
- 1 Lamp, One Outdoor light @ 60W each = 120W
- Total Wattage Pre Green John = 1,360
Now, let's look at the same comparison with the flourescents:
That's a savings of 1,064 WATTS! OR 79%!
- 5 Can lights in the kitchen @ 15W each = 75W
- 2 Can lights in the master bath @ 15W each = 30W
- 2 Can Lights Outside @ 15W each = 30W
- 1 Can light above fireplace @ 15W = 15W
- 6 Can Lights Hallway/Stairway @ 15W each = 90W
- 2 Lamps @ 14W = 28W
- 1 Lamp, One Outdoor light @ 14W each = 28W
- Total Wattage With Green John = 296
Another thing I've done this year is switch to reusable grocery bags. After reading one report of what it costs to recycle the plastic bags and some of the harmful things they can do to the environment, I went out and bought 10 of the bags at Fred Meyer. To my amazement, they were only $0.89 cents each. AND they give you back $0.05 each time you use them. So eventually they will actually pay for themselves. I put 5 in my car and left 5 for Teri. Now, most times I forget to bring them into the store. When I do forget I tell the cashier to not bag my groceries, I'll just do it when I get to the car. But I'm getting better about remembering to bring them in. In fact, later this month, I plan to pop-by about 30 of my clients and drop off a bag for them too! So if you're on my mailing list, you may get a surprise little gift from me!
And finally in another post
over at my Hurlbuthomes.com blog
, I talked about changing the settings on my programmable thermostat. That made a huge difference last spring. So we'll see how it does this winter. No more $300.00 + electric and gas bills I hope!
I know these small contributions won't make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. But I feel better knowing they're helping a LITTLE.
My new iPod rocks!Yesterday I told you about my new iPod. Today I'm composing this post using it! While not the easisst thing in the world to type on (especially with my fat fingers) it does give me hope that while in Europe next month I'll be able to post an occasional note about what we're up to or respond to an occasional e-mail. I have configured wireless, e-mail, the world clock with all our destinations, and the weather with all our destinations. This really IS a remarkable device! More later! I've got to get back to my game of super monkey ball! :-)
Oktoberfest at the Puyallup Fair Grounds
Last night Teri and I attended for our first time ever, the Oktoberfest celebration at the Puyallup fair grounds
. Now before you go off on me . . . yes, I know Oktoberfest is supposed to be in September. My thought is they can't do it in September because the fair is there for most of the month. (Either that or they think that Americans are too dumb to know that Oktoberfest is in September). I had a great time. I'm not a beer drinker very often. I certainly don't drink the bud lights of the world, but I do occasionally like me a good German beer.
After we arrived, I told Teri before we started in on the beer, I'd need to have a bite to eat. So I grabbed a plate of schnitzel, Spatzle and some stroganoff to top it off. Satiated for the time being, Teri went and purchased our steins. Now if I drink beer, it's usually like a 12oz glass . . . this stein would have fit around my head I think! And filled up, it must have been easily 50oz of beer or more. My first stein was filled with Paulaner Hefeweizen, one of my favorites. We wandered around and watched people and played some games. We checked out the vendors and drank.
After our first stein, I grabbed a bratwurst. Then a second stein. Yikes. This was easily more beer than I had drank in over a year combined. The second stein was a nice amber. Not sure of the name, but it was pretty tasty. Then we went and played some Hammerschlagen
. I came in a close second in my first ever game. I'll have to practice for next year!
Overall, I think we had a really good time and I'd recommend it to anyone. We'll likely go back next year.
Apple, why hath I foresaken thee?
OK, Ever since the iPhone came out, I've wanted one. I won't deny it. I've had phone envy. Unfortunately for me, my phone has to run my real estate applications AND it has to have an IR port, both of which the iPhone doesn't do or have. So I've sat on the sidelines watching everyone with their fancy iPhones talk away, dealing with the version 1 issues and now the 3G issues. But then Apple did something. They released the iPhone without the Phone. No, they didn't call it the i . . . they called it the iPod Touch. I wanted one desperately when the first version came out. But I waited. Now version two is out and it really is an iPhone without the Phone. So I lusted. For a few days anyway. Today I went to the Apple Store and picked up a 32Gb version of the new iPod Touch. I'm in love. There is no other way to describe what I feel about this device.
So let me tell you about the title of my post today. You see, I used to be a mac guy. I loathed anything with windows logo. If the letters PC came up even when they weren't talking about computers, I would say "Macs rule!". I had little rainbow apple stickers on everything. Then I got stuck on a helpline somewhere and you know what? No one called in with mac questions. They all called in with PC questions. So gradually the mac got pushed off my desk and I became an all PC guy. I got my MCSE and Bill Gates' f-ups provided a very good income for me for a lot of years. But I've always looked at Apple longingly. Like the one that got away somehow.
When I bought my most recent laptop, I struggled for months over the decision to continue on with my PC habit, or maybe walk on the wild side and purchase a MacBook Pro. In the end, familiarity and comfort led me to purchase another Dell laptop. (I'm quite happy with it, but it's not nearly as sexy as a MacBook Pro).
So today I went to the Apple Store at Southcenter mall. The store doesn't officially open until 10AM according to the website and I arrived at the mall at 9:15. My plan was to just wander the mall for 45 minutes until they opened, grab the iPod and go. When I walked up to the Apple Store, the store was OPEN and there were about 15 people already inside. I walked up to one of the sales people, Katie, and asked "Are you having a special event or something?" Katie went on to explain that frequently they'll open their doors at 7AM if they have customers that want to come in for training or other things. And if they're not busy, they're more than happy to sell things too.
Katie pulled out her little portable device that they use to ring you up and started to scan the iPod. As it was running really slowly, I asked "Is that thing running OSX?" she laughed and said "No actually, it runs Windows mobile" and showed me the windows logo on the back. (I'm sure Microsofties smile knowing that the POS devices in an Apple Store run Windows Mobile, they don't run well, but they do run) I thought that was pretty funny. I pulled out my phone, also running Windows Mobile, and said "I feel your pain".
So by 9:30, I had my iPod, a case for it, and was back on the road.
So tell me people of the internet . . . why is it that Apple seems to do EVERYTHING right, but lacks significant market share? There's not another store I know of (save maybe a mom & pop shop) where I could have shown up 45 minutes early, been invited in, treated with the utmost respect and kindness, and alllowed to purchase a product. Katie was AWESOME! Very friendly, kind and extremely helpful. The iPod Touch (along with my Shuffle and original Nano) runs flawlessly and works exactly as advertised. (Super Monkey Ball rocks!) Man, Apple . . . you're likely to get my next laptop purchase. I miss my ol' Mac IIci running OS 7 with 128Kb (yes, that's right, 128Kb) of RAM. I can only imagine what a new MacBook Pro would do for me. Even if I did have to dual boot it into Windoze. [Sigh]