2008 Albums of the Year

  • Girl Talk - Feed the Animals [Amazon]

  • Sasha - Invol2ver Sasha - Invol2ver

  • Sia - Some People Have Real Problems Sia - Some People Have Real Problems

  • FM Belfast - How to Make Friends FM Belfast - How to Make Friends

I was especially struck with the fact that I didn't buy the physical disc of any of these. 3 of them came from the iTunes store and one came direct from the artist.

Also of note are the albums that didn't make my list. Evil Nine, Bloc Party, and Milosh all had new albums that I bought in 2008. I enjoy all of them, but none of them managed to crack my yearly favorites. Robyn's album is also great, but I have a hard time calling it a 2008 album. Much of the album has been available for years.

Past albums of the year:


MagSafe on a Desktop?

When the Apple LED Cinema Display was launched, I was immediately drawn to the multi-headed cord that supplied video, USB, and power. This was no iMac, but it was again attacking the number of cables you need to snake around your desk. A single power drop to the floor is fantastic...but only if you're using a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

I won't admit that the Mac mini is dead, and the number of rumors surrounding it suggest it is ready for an update (but we've heard that many times before). I'm wondering if Apple would release a new Mac mini with a MagSafe connector. Certainly the desktop computer is a different beast than a notebook. People shout "I wouldn't want my computer to shut off when I trip over the cable!". To those folks I say, why in the world are you tripping over your computer's power cable? Do you trip often? Do you drink a fair amount? Do you like to host double dutch tournaments with your power cords in the living room?

Personally, I'd me more than happy with a MagSafe connector on my desktop. I can't say I've ever tripped over the cord of my desktop, so I'll take the risk that it'll get yanked out at an inopportune time in exchange for fewer cables.

That leaves the cost argument. Folks in the market for a Mac mini aren't the target market of an LED Cinema Display. However, since that's the only display Apple makes, that would be a nice little carrot to get them to spend the cash.

Here's hoping for a new Mac mini in '09. Let's see what it brings. My mockup including the Mac nano is included here. If Apple really does this, I'd expect the cables out the back.


Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Just a fun idea for your kids or those with a kid's heart. Cookie cutter for the shape. Peanut butter works as glue for the ornaments.

Make one and post a link to the picture. You know you want to!


You Already Have That Information

Let's start the rant.

Earlier this week, we had the misfortune of a dead battery in our Toyota van. How it got that way is a whole other rant. For whatever reason, we were unable to jump it (I still don't know what I did wrong). Roadside assistance to the rescue! We had such a service as part of purchasing the vehicle. Here's where the mess started.

Getting someone on the phone was no problem. It was the conversation topics that were the problem. 95% of the conversation was spent gathering information they already have. They wanted our name and address. Sure, no problem, you need to identify me. I can handle that. We then spent over 5 minutes convincing them that our address really does exist, and has for nearly 4 years. You can blame the map companies for this one, but we'll get to that.

Here are some other things they needed to know:

  • What kind of vehicle we had

  • The type of drivetrain the vehicle has

  • The color of the vehicle

This irritates me, because this is all information they already have, and by asking me, and re-entering it, they can only make mistakes. They can't get any better data than they already should have. We bought the vehicle from Toyota. They know the make, model, drivetrain, and color of the vehicle they sold us. It was on the paperwork we signed. They know where we live, it was on the paperwork we signed, generated from data we gave them at the time of purchase. The service plan was purchased from Toyota and applied to the vehicle that we purchased so the plan is linked to the vehicle that is linked to us and our address.

I don't care if you farm out the service contract to another company. Give them the information you already have. I don't care if map services don't think our street exists. How about you trigger an "are you sure" to their databases when you process a customer that seems to live on a street that doesn't exist. Perhaps the map guys would even pay you for the heads up!

All I want to hear is "Sir, we show you have a '33 Foobar AWD with purple poka-dots". I'll, say yes, and let them know that I added lime green racing stripes which they'll add to their information store.

Computers are good at this stuff folks. It isn't hard. Companies can save themselves money and time getting their ducks in a row, and the side effect is they wow me with their great service.

Maybe GM and Chrysler can apply some of my tax dollars towards service. One way of making a desirable car is making one with exceptional service behind it and you don't have to be a luxury brand to accomplish that.


CRbus Update

Public transit in Cedar Rapids had a bit of a shakeup this year. With all-time record flooding in the city, our Ground Transportation center was damaged, as well as many of the neighborhoods that the buses blaze through (and some of the buses themselves).

The city has made the best of what they have. This includes a new hub at Parking Lot 44, south of the regular GTC. It also includes some new stops, less frequent buses, but also later running buses.

My iPhone optimized Cedar Rapids bus schedule, CRbus, is now up to date with the schedules posted on August 22nd. Sorry for the delay. I wasn't riding the bus much in the last few months, so it wasn't a priority for me. [CRbus was launched here]

Let me know if you find any errors in the data. The city doesn't provide the data in an easily consumable format, so there's a lot of hand editing involved.


Simple Lists

Keeping a list of things to do is something most everyone does. I certainly do. Crossing something off those lists is one of the most satisfying things I encounter in a day. Traditionally, I keep these lists on scraps of paper and consolidate to a larger, heavy (to signify importance), piece of paper every so often. This works, but it certainly has disadvantages.

  • Tough to share it with others or between home and work

  • Tough to save large archives, unless you want a box of scrap paper

  • Can't search it

  • Easy to lose

I've tried to take my todo list digital many, many times. Microsoft Outlook tasks, Microsoft Project, Google Notebook, _todo.txt in the root. These are all as capable as paper, but they all had drawbacks that never let them stick. I always went back to paper and pen.

Over Thanksgiving, I took some vacation. I've found that I enjoy my vacation far more when I have a nice list of things to do, (and get them done). Otherwise I find myself watching the Today show until mid-morning, doing nothing of real value all day, and next thing I know, the family is walking in the front door.

So one of my todos for my last vacation was to check out the software that I got in the last MacHeist bundle (listing here) that I never got around to trying. One of those apps happened to be TaskPaper.

I went in pessimistic, expecting to be deleting the app after a day or so. After a few minutes of checking it out, I decided to give it a go for the week with my vacation todo list. By day 2 I was hooked. The digital todo list was finally a reality for me.

I love the simplicity of the app. I love the tagging and tag based filtering. I love that it still feels satisfying to cross off a task. I love the amazingly simple data format rules that let the app style the data appropriately.

TaskPaper seems to have a good buddy in TodoPaper. TodoPaper has essentially the same design, but for Windows systems. I'm now using TodoPaper at work and TaskPaper at home. I'd love to see them add a way to sync them.

TaskPaper recently bumped to 2.0 and got even better. The interface got even cleaner and they added a great query language (not @done is a favorite).

The only real holdback on these apps is the price. $30 for each seems a touch much to me but I'd still buy it at that price. I'm very happy to have gotten my TaskPaper license in MacHeist and work bought the TodoPaper license. Free trials are available, as well as discount codes every now and then. Be sure to check the site blogs and the TaskPaper screencast for a discount.