Apr 27, 2007

RIAA Wunderkind

So much is written and said on both sides of the whole RIAA and DRM thing, I tend to just stay away from the conversations. My personal opinion is simple: they're a bunch of desperate, old-media, bullying, non-innovative, lawyer-driven neo-luddites that have no clue in today's technological reality. Simple.
I really believe that if they didn't have the extreme bank accounts that they have, they would already be struggling for survival. Instead of embracing the positives of the new generation of music listeners, they've repeatedly alienated them through threats and lawsuits, and treat all listeners as morons by spewing statements about how what they're doing is for the consumers.

Gizmodo wrote a great little response to some of Bainwol's latest paranoid Jesus-complex statements...

RIAA: DRM is Pro-Consumer; Gizmodo: Shut Up, Idiots.

Nice and short and funny.

So now do you know why I try to stay out of these conversations?

Apr 23, 2007

Rockin' the Tut

What a great weekend this was! The weather was priceless... 70's both days, with clear skies. Maureen and I went to see the King Tut exhibit in Philly on Saturday. My parents came down to our house to watch the kids, and were going to stay overnight. The exhibit was amazing... crowded, but amazing.
I've always been interested in ancient Egypt, but not to the point of decorating my bedroom with mummies and golden sarcophagi, mind you. The items shown in the rooms, with a combination of Egyptian burial artifact history as well as Tutankhamen's (assumed) lineage, amazed us with their preservation. We were both blown away that a wood sculpture we were looking at was over 3200 years old, with original paint and inscriptions. I was definitely more struck with the items that were used by Tut and others more so than those that were made for his burial.
The child's game board, alabaster jewelry box (with a written description of the contents, almost as we label things today), his chair and footstool (with wear marks on it), and his flail and crook definitely impressed me more than the items that were crafted upon his death.
Regardless, we both learned a lot of new things, and are going to be doing some research of our own to learn more... it's worth going to see.
Afterward, we hit a restaurant in the city that had some gluten-free items on the menu, and could accommodate Maureen's celiac needs. Our staple restaurant has been Buddakan in Philly, but Maureen believes she was "glutened" the last time she was there because of a bonehead waiter that wasn't paying attention. So we went to Buca di Beppo, a family-style Italian restaurant. We ate in the "Cardinale" room. Each room had a different "theme", such as the "Pope" room, which had a bust of John Paul II on a lazy susan in the middle of a round table that probably seats ten - kinda freaky. The food was great, although limited for Maureen since almost all of the few gluten-free items had meat, and she's (unfortunately for me) a vegetarian. They were nice there, and were able to substitute shrimp for salmon in her meal. I had the tortelloni and a meatball... a half-pound meatball! WOW. It was damn good. I ate the meatball and half the tortelloni meal (the "small" is for two, mind you... remember the family-style part?) So I went off the diet, but had control, which is a good thing.

Sunday was busy, but stay-at-home busy. Dad helped me build a pseudo-retaining wall around the air conditioning units on the side of our house. The ground on the sides of our house slopes a lot, and the two A/C units are on this slope. Trouble is, the water pump outflow from the summer dehumidifier on the inside blower (and the winter's humidifier unit) lands next to the one A/C unit. Because of the flow almost year-round, the soil's been slowly eroding. So, because we had a lot of slate rock left over from the rock wall Maureen built around the shed, Dad and I used them to build the rock wall around the A/C units. It turned out really nice. All that was still to do was to fill it up with something to level it out... later.
We grilled up some burgers for lunch... the inaugural 2007 barbecue. Nice.
Then Emma and I tried to fly the kite we bought for her at the Franklin Institute on Saturday (where the Tut exhibition was). Wasn't much of a breeze, but she ran her heart out back and forth across the yard. To her it was a success, and we all had a lot of fun.
After my parents left, I decided to move as much of the river rock (see Freakin' Rocks!) from the back of the house to inside the rock wall around the A/C units. That was a lot of rock, again.
By the time we sat down to watch The Soprano's, my back and legs were aching.
The kids passed out with no hassles. I found out my parents passed out shortly after getting home. We passed out shortly after the show was over.

Apr 20, 2007

24 (not the show)

Lost 24 pounds since the end of January. It's getting harder to stick to it... it's almost as if I'm getting bored with it. I was surprised that I've gotten this far, but I'm not done yet. I want to get healthy in general.
My aunt (Mom's sister) passed away from cancer in January. She was essentially the matriarch of the family, one of the sweetest people you'd want to meet, too. The family (she had three children) took it very rough. I realized at that point, more than ever, that my family's life expectancy really isn't that high. (How scary is this... the now-oldest person in my blood family isn't even 60 yet). I'm approaching 40, and my kids are 5 and (almost) 2 years old. I want to be around for them forever, and my life of eating Wendy's, cheesesteaks and candy galore will have definitely caught up fast. So I made a decision to lose weight, then start exercising.
Baby steps though... I'd diet and eat healthier (what ARE these vegetable things you speak of??), drop some weight, THEN start exercising. Been dropping weight steadily, and bought some weights and equipment. Cleared out some of the chaos in the basement to move the bike, bench and exercise equipment from hell to a usable area.
It's working so far. I still have weight to lose, and starting to work out. I lifted weights for the first time in decades, and it felt great. Some things are definitely important.

My chest hurts.

Apr 19, 2007

CompUSA Brick & Mortar - Good Riddance!

A few weeks ago, CompUSA announced they were closing over half of their retail stores because of some lame excuse which deflects their true mis-managed reasons. The one closest to me at work is closing. Granted, I haven't stepped foot in one of these stores in a few years, but I had mixed emotions about it. One, walking into a place like that is nothing short of geek porn. The other end of it is that never once has going in there been a good experience.
Being in tech for the years I have, seeing stores open dedicated only to the things in my hobby was awesome back in the day. It's like an avid golfer walking into the pro shop, a comic book collector going into a comic store, or a vegetarian walking... into a field, or something.
There was a CompUSA near me where I worked at the time, and it was a good place. There was a Computer City in Princeton, close enough to where I lived. The prices were high and their employees were idiotic and arrogant, and the two times I was in there, the line for returns was twice as long as the checkout line... I'm not kidding, PLUS it wasn't a holiday season. Then I was psyched when CompUSA bought Computer City... a changeover near home! Nope, same crap.
I started to trust online purchasing, then discovered great prices, and have since built my last two computers, and bought countless gadgets, from online retailers.

Back to present day... they started with 5-15% off. Not great, but hey, a discount is a discount, right? I went in on lunch to find the place fully stocked, and plenty of people walking around... allright, bargain time!!

Holy shit!

They marked up their prices so much (or maybe they were that high to begin with), but who really sells items for the MSRP nowadays? Seriously. I walked the whole damn store, just hoping to find something worthwhile. Nothing. The prices were ridiculously high. I was irritated, but hey, it was the first few days, what did I expect? Plus the store was fully stocked.
OK, I did buy a PC game, Supreme Commander. It was brand new, I wanted it anyway, there was one left on the shelf, and it was $35, with the 10% off. I found it $5 cheaper with free shipping online that night. Oh well, no biggie.

A couple weeks later I went back, and noticed the signs proclaiming "15%-30% OFF Storewide". Nice.
So with renewed vigor I went in. Some of the shelves actually looked lighter. I walked the store again. The expensive stuff? Five percent off. OK, that's not what the sign says out front, bastards! What's 30% off? Well, things like cables or power strips. Irritated, I start heading out.
But what I see along the way are guys (not a woman in sight) with smiles on their faces standing in the checkout line, and walking out with bags of items. HUH??? I spied what these guys were buying and walked back to see what the prices were myself. Hey, there must be bargains here after all. Generally I know prices, and when I found the items, they were all seriously high. I just kind of laughed and left the store, again. These guys are all buying items that are still marked up, yet at a "20% off price!" UGH! It's so easy nowadays to look up comparative prices online... come ON people!!
Case in point... a coworker wanted to see if he could find something over there, and saw the prices were now "20%-40% OFF" blah blah blah. So I went for the ride. This was another two weekends after I had last been there, and the store's shelves were now half empty (or half full in CompUSA's misguided eyes). There was something I had my eye on before, one of the Logitech Harmony remote controls. Now 30% off, but I can STILL get it online for almost $60 less. Laughable... but they'll probably sell them all. Actually, it's brilliant for their bottom line... because it's been so long since anyone's bought anything from their stores, no one knows the prices, so they jack them up to MSRP, then "discount" them... people go ape!! Then they'll sell the shelving systems themselves and walk away from the leases. Huge profits this quarter!

Ehh, have at it. They're late to the party at this point, and they had the opportunity to ingratiate themselves to the market and make some real fans. They blew it, and now after I've seen what they are doing now, you'll never see me shop at their website. I'll just happily shop at Newegg, ZipZoomfly or even Amazon. Their prices are all good, they're trustworthy, and they respect their customers.

I think there's still a display model Pentium III laptop there for $2295 if anyone's interested. Hey, it's 5% off folks!

Apr 14, 2007

Freakin' Rocks!

So we're working outside today, trying to get some things done before the Nor'easter comes barreling up the coast (WTF, in mid-APRIL!!??) and drops cats and dogs on us. It's creating new beds, piling up new mulch, planting bulbs and a few little other flowery type of things... not in that order. I'm mowing the lawn in the back and Ryan's napping (slacker). Maureen takes Emma and goes to get more bags of mulch to finish up with what we have to do.
She finishes the mulching of the beds in the back around the shed, I'm almost finished mowing, Ryan's still napping, and Emma's digging holes for bird seed (don't ask, it makes sense to her). So Maureen realizes she needs more river rock to line the new bed she just created, and grabs Emma to run out and get two bags of the rock.
She comes back with no rocks, because the place didn't have any bags left, but the good news is that they'll deliver the river rock for us because they're quiet right now. So we have a quarter-ton of river rock to come soon, which really isn't that much. Ryan wakes up and I go up to get him and dress him so he can come out with us. The truck shows up, and he dumps the rock in the driveway like Maureen had instructed.
So, I'm upstairs (I do know the truck is out there delivering it) changing and dressing Ryan, and I hear him start dumping the rock. And the sound continues...

... and continues.

I finish, and the boy and I go outside. The truck's gone, and Maureen kind of has this sheepish look on her face and says, "They gave us extra rock."

Uh oh.

Well, now it seems our driveway is blocked, and there's no WAY we're getting our cars out of the garage and down that driveway with a ridiculous pile of rocks on it. OK, the Jeep yes, but the majority of the rocks are on her side of the driveway.
Now I can't do it tomorrow, remember the damn nor'easter? Yup.

Moved however much tonnage of rocks into the carrier, down the hill, and dumped them along the back of the house. Maureen helped, granted, because the kids were occupied inside.

She thinks I hate her.

My back hurts.

Apr 11, 2007


A couple days ago I just turned over 100k miles on my Jeep. Have to admit, that was pretty cool to see. When I was a kid, the cars' odometers just kicked back to '000000'. It's only a 2002, but despite the mileage that thing rides as good as the day I first got it. Although I'm a tech-head, and it's always great to try out a new gadget (and hell, what new car ISN'T like a new gadget), I really don't want anything else right now. An SUV isn't too "green" nowadays, and I'm definitely getting hit with the rising gas prices (AGAIN!!!), but boy do we use that thing a lot to lug shtuff around. Especially now that it's Spring and there's more things (read: work) to do outside, we couldn't be without it. Now if I could only figure out some way to keep the kids out of it, it would be SWEEEEEET! Maybe I'll treat her to new speakers.

You wouldn't understand... it's a Jeep thing.

Apr 9, 2007

And away we go...

So. Hi there. Glad you could make it. What, uhhhhh, are we going to talk about? You ever get the feeling you're being watched? Well I don't... after all, no one knows about this thing yet. So...
Bored yet?
OK, I know, this is where it starts. Here's a quick stream for ya, maybe details will follow.
My kids are awesome, but insane... I'm trying to get healthy and am losing weight... the Phillies are sucking and as a result the Eagles season is so damn far away... I am absolutely tired of commercial radio, especially in this town where there's only one station worth listening to, and I now despise commercials... TV is quickly approaching the same status, but luckily the Sopranos and Entourage started back up and I'm still reluctantly into Lost... but nothing keeps me from Family Guy... music listening is rare, but I get my podcast on daily... my iPod is all that, as well as my PC (just built last October), and even my xbox360, despite being a PC Gamer through and through.
Well I've started, let's see where this takes me. Some say I talk too much. Let's see what happens here.