Catch a Cast

I'm making my way though the new features of iLife '06. iPhoto is definitely faster, but I'm still pissed that it will crash on me when I'm simply browsing photos and applying star ratings. I don't think it likes that I've never gone beyond the default 512MB in my Mac mini.

The built-in photocasting was a breeze. I simply made an album, dropped in some photos and told it to make a photocast out of it. The rest was automagic. My machine already knows how to get to .mac because I use it for daily backups and other good stuff. I selected the photo size (high quality, but not full size) and iPhoto just did its thing. The photos were uploaded and then it asked me if I wanted to announce my new photocast. I selected yes and it opened Mail.app, created a new message and populated it with the necessary text and links to explain the photocast. That's beautiful integration. It's so integrated that I had to go to another machine to verify that it worked. If I enter the photocast RSS link in to Safari, it launches iPhoto and asks me if I want to subscribe :) I didn't have any doubt that would work. I wanted to make sure people that don't have iPhoto 6 could get to it. I have confirmed it works on another machine running an RSS reader, so now's your chance to give it a look.

A photocast of 10 of my favorite photos that I have taken.


Warming Up to Podcasts

Podcasts have never been very interesting to me. The problem with most podcasts is that they involve speaking or video and require concentration to get anything out of them. You can't enjoy these podcasts while working, and you can't enjoy the video while driving. That's not to say I have avoided podcasts. I've been known to let the Engadget one play while cleaning the house, but that was back when Phillip Torrone was doing them, before he left to run the MAKE: Blog.

Lately I've warmed up to podcasts. I now have the ability to view video podcasts on my iPod and I've recently started riding the public bus to work. That's a great combination. I now have 20 minutes, twice a day, that are perfect for enjoying podcasts.

It is quite enjoyable to subscribe to podcasts in iTunes and let the autosync magic happen. I'm especially enjoying the ABC news World News Now video podcast and the Progressive Sounds __SpinCast. I have enjoyed progsounds for years, so it is nice to see a proper podcast from the crew. As for the news, we don't watch the news at our house. I used to watch the news daily, world and local, but I just don't anymore. Having a 15 minute dose of world news in the morning should be good for me.

Podcasts still have a few problems. For one, you have to sync them, daily if you are wanting that daily content. That sucks. I don't want to take my iPod in to the computer room every night and I hate having to eject it before taking it out of the dock. Give me wireless docking already! Bluetooth, WiFi, Wireless USB, whatever. Make it happen Apple. Second, the podcasters need to stop trying so hard to be cool. The ABC news one is especially bad. They have flashy graphics touting that you are watching a super duper podcast. They talk about it during the content. We get it already! I had to make the decision to subscribe to your podcast. I was awake during the procedure. I'm aware that I'm getting an ABC news podcast. You've got me. Stop selling me something I already "bought".

So, I like podcasts. They are by no means the greatest tech idea to come along lately, but I have found use for them, so I'm glad they exist.


Hot Winter - A continuous DJ mix

I finally finished another mix! Here's the setlist.

James Zabiela - Robophobia
John Kelley - Force Ten
Adam Freeland - Heel N Toe (Album Version)
BT - Knowledge of Self
The Crystal Method - Badass
The Nextmen - High Score (Stanton Warriors Remix)
Plump DJs - In Stereo
James Zabiela - Skanksuary
Linus Loves - Stand Back (Young Punx Remix)
The Chemical Brothers - Spring

It feels like this one took forever. I started a few months ago with an idea for a mix that is absolutely nothing like this one. I played around with that one for a few nights when I had time, but one track kept sticking in my mind, begging me to make a mix around it.

I gave in to the robot powers (robot wants to kill me) and started gathering tracks for this mix. Other than Robophobia, I only knew of one other track that absolutely had to be in the mix, and that was Heel n Toe. With those two tracks as my anchors, I spent a few nights playing with various tracks, trying to find something I liked. Iteration after iteration and I'd end up throwing out 2 or 3 tracks and trying some others. During this time, I heard the Stanton Warriors mix of High Score, and of course I had to have that in there! Luckily I found a copy on Amazon, but it took a couple of weeks to arrive, further delaying completion.

Finally, all of the pieces were ready and I had some time this weekend to record the mix, and make that spiffy album art. For your listening pleasure, I present sadida - Hot Winter.

The mix was recorded live, so I'll use that as my excuse for my sucky mixing. I did add 2 samples from a certain movie later on. They are both pretty obvious. First comment to identify them correctly gets a cookie.


5 of the Now & Then

Welcome to another installment of 5 tracks I'm enjoying at the moment. Along with these fresh 5, I've put up a page with my past cinco supremes.

If you are getting lulled into thinking I only post links to dance and electronic music, keep sharp. I have R&B and Jazz in this set.

Lewis Taylor - Lovelight Lovelight

Ramsey Lewis - Dear Prudence Dear Prudence

Latyrx - Say That Say That

Petter - These Days These Days

The Freestylers - Don't Stop Don't Stop


Vote With Your Dollars

Mark Cuban is fun to listen to. I don't always agree with what he is saying, but when he gets going on movies, tv, dvd, high def, and the like, you better listen up. He gets what's happening in today's digital media world. He understands the forces at play and he is doing something about it. His recent post calling out movie theaters was especially enjoyable to me.

Now to the title of this post. By no means am I against try before you buy when it comes to music and movies. Most of my music purchases are spurred by tracks that I hear in DJ mixes that I download from the net. Many of these mixes are put out by the guys making the music, but many are not. Technically, they are illegal, but if it weren't for these mixes, these record companies would have a few thousand dollars less in their revenues. If I hear something I like, I make an effort to purchase it. I vote with my dollars because I want more of things that I like.

This works the same way with movies. It's cool to see friends borrow a movie and then like it enough to go buy their own copy. They are supporting the products they enjoy. Along with the success shown by direct delivery media stores, it would be nice to see expanded try before you buy opportunities because this is already happening every day and I'm not talking about file trading networks.

To bring this back around, there is a movie called Bubble that is releasing at the end of the month. It's worth noting because the movie is releasing in theaters, on DVD, and on TV, all on the same day. You can't get much more try before you buy than being able to watch it on TV and then go buy the DVD that same day. I plan to cast my vote for day and date and will buy the DVD. Will I like the movie? I sure hope so, but even if I don't, that's fine. This is a statement buy. A good movie will just be a bonus.


One Less Car

The new year calls for a new goal. That's the way it works, right? To help achive my goal, I'm going to put it in writing here and track it through the year. That will be a reminder to myself and allow you guys to harass me if I fall behind.

The goal is to ride my bike 100 days this year, with a large portion of those days to include commuting to work by bike instead of car. Now 100 days may sound like a lot to those that don't ride, and not very much to those that do. It's going to be a busy year, so I think 100 is enough to keep me pushing, but still achievable. I hear that's the best kind of goal.

I started off pretty good. I have 5 days of riding in so far, including 3 days of riding to work. I fell off a little this past week, but having the opportunity to ride at all in January is appreciated.

Winter riding is tough, not just because it is cold, but because of all of the gunk on the roads. The gunk likes to eat bicycles (and cars), just ask my crap-ass bike from college. To save wear and tear on my road bike, and just because I wanted to, I picked up a single speed bike in Chicago last September. I'm having a great time on my Langster. It's easy to clean, fun to ride, and mean looking. There are a few hills in CR that I can't get up on this bike, but I'm working on it.

So help me out guys. Ride your bike with me. If you live and work anywhere within 30 miles of Cedar Rapids, I'll even ride to your house and ride in to work with you. Great days start with bike rides.



Core Duo Dance

Between CES and Macworld, we've seen quite a few Core Duo notebook computers released over the last week and a half. I'm leaning, okay toppling, towards the Apple one, but I figured I would gather some juicy details and do some comparison.

First let's see who everyone brought to the party.

Acer Travelmate 8200
Apple MacBook Pro
Dell Inspiron 9400
Gateway NX560XL
Lenovo T2600
Sony FE11S

And now, the fun.

AcerTravelMate 82002GHz/RAM/120GB 540015.4" 1680x105014.3x10.7x1.5?WiFi, BluetoothCamera, Modem, 5 in 1 Card Reader?
AppleMacBook Pro1.83GHz/1GB/100GB 540015.4" 1440x90014.1x9.6x15.6lbsWiFi, BluetoothCamera, MagSafe$2499
DellInspiron 94001.83GHz/1GB/100GB 540017" 1440x90015.5x11.3x1.67.94lbsWiFi, Bluetooth(+$50)Express Card, 5 in 1 Card Reader$2690
GatewayNX560XL1.83GHz/1GB/100GB 540015.4" 1400x105014x10.4x1.36.32lbsWiFi, Bluetooth(+$50)$1715
LenovoT26002.33GHz/?GB/100GB 540015" 1400x105013x10.6x1.44.8lbsWiFi, Bluetooth(opt)EV-DO opt?
SonyFE11S1.83GHz/1GB/160GB 540015.4" ?x??x?x??WiFi, BluetoothCamera, ExpressCard$2069


  • Lenovo wins with the fastest processor

  • Apple wins the smallest package (at least with the data I have). This is a big deal to me.

  • Acer wins with pixel count

  • Lenovo wins on weight

  • The Gateway has decent dimensions, but man is it heavy.

  • Sony packs in the biggest hard drive

It's interesting that even when comparing like stats, you don't get the whole picture. Things like Apple's 1GB of RAM being 1 DIMM where others are using 2 DIMMs, leaving no free slots. I also left out the video card stats. I haven't followed those closely and they are harder to compare manufacturer to manufacturer, so if you are a gamer, go do some more searching.

One final thought. It took forever to gather this info. Wouldn't it be nice to have consistent "window stickers" for computers like they have for cars?

Apple + Intel + Moby = Bliss

What kind of Moby collector would I be if I didn't point out that the music in the new Apple commercial is Moby's God Moving Over The Face of the Waters? One of my favorites for sure, the easiest place to find it is Moby's I Like To Score compilation from 1997.

Moby is regularly featured on Apple's iTMS, but strangely, that compilation, and the track in the new commercial are no where to be found there.

For the record, I have close to 90 unique Moby releases on CD and Vinyl. Yes, I have a problem.


My ReplayTV is Worth Thousands

If you watch TV and have a computer, it is an exciting time indeed. Between the shows sold through the iTMS and the recent announcement of a video marketplace by Google, many of your favorite shows should be available for purchase from the Internet, and I'm not even talking about the DVD sales.

Many of the shows are available for $1.99, which isn't too bad, but that's far more than people pay per show for cable or even when they buy the DVD season set. Along with primetime favorites such as CSI and Survivor, Google will be selling NBA games. Fantastic I thought, I'm lucky enough to catch the Lakers on TNT, ESPN, and whenever they play the Bulls, but I'd like to watch a few more games. That is until I found out I would have to pay out $4 for the privilege! No thanks guys. I'm a fan, but I'm not that much of a fan.

All that thinking about show pricing got me wondering how much I do spend for the TV we watch. I've tried a few times to calculate the per show cost, but I usually quit when I start to realize how much TV we watch. Ugg.

What I will try to calculate is how much money our treasured ReplayTV is worth. Of the shows available for purchase from iTMS and Google (soon), we watch Lost, Law & Order, Desperate Housewives, Survivor, CSI, The Amazing Race, and NBA games. Other than the NBA, I'd guess each and every episode from every season of those other shows has been recorded at some point on our Replay (syndication). The ReplayTV is now 3 years old. So, I'm going to note a rough calculation of the number of episodes we are talking about here.

(25+9 + 20*15 + 23+10 + 70 + 100 + 70 + 25*3)

Figuring out the NBA games was fun. First, I found a NBA TV schedule that was plain text. Then, I just paste that to a file, run it through grep a couple of times and count it with wc. Thank you OS X.

ryans-mac-mini:~/Music ryan$ grep Lakers lakers.txt | wc -l
ryans-mac-mini:~/Music ryan$ grep Lakers lakers.txt | grep NBATV | wc -l

The Lakers aren't on as much as they used to be when Shaq + Kobe = ratings so I upped the number a bit to compensate. I didn't watch all of those games (recording conflicts), so I'll leave them in the calculation and ignore the fact that they cost twice as much.

I calculate 682 * $1.99 = $1357.18

The ReplayTV itself was about $550, but that includes the lifetime subscription and I expect it to live a continued good life.

But you don't get to keep the episodes you say! Well, I could if I wanted to and don't forget about the thousands of other shows we have recorded and watched that aren't available for download (purchase). That's got to be worth some large sum of money. I know the time I saved by skipping commercials is close to priceless (the price is watching the TV in the first place).

I think the most shocking number to me was what 3 years of cable cost me. $45 a month for the 3 years used in these calculations is $1620! If it weren't for the throw away shows that we watch (not you Judy) and the spectacular viewing of HD (vs the crap resolutions they are selling), paying per show doesn't look all that bad.