Sunday, January 29, 2006

Why My Lost Days Aren't Lost Anymore

Most people that know me pretty well know that I am pretty displaced when it comes to time. I get wrapped up in many of life's little moments that I don't pay attention to the bigger numerical picture. Heck, I loathe numbers in general. But I found an interesting little program that makes it pretty hard for me to forget important dates.

Rainlendar is an interesting and free little program that sits on your desktop (put it where you want) with an active calendar as well as a To Do list and Event list. I see when I have appointments a week ahead of time (even further if I look at all the little highlighted numbers and wave my mouse over them.) So I'm a little more organized instead of needing what has become the 2 day Martin notice for particular events. Maybe putting bills on there might be a good idea to consider.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Is That Where They Got The Idea?

I'm not saying that everyone needs a new bra like the one seen above but it got me thinking that I've seen that somewhere before.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Defensive Parking

I don't think that I'll ever understand why they focus on parallel parking in driving school when in most cities people have enough problems with parking between parallel lines. You see, I discovered something on a trip to Best Buy (when I bought my iPod.) And now I'm very wary of who I park near and who drives the cars around me.

I picked up lunch on the way over to the store and figured that I'd finish eating it before I went in. A few minutes later, a little car with 3 people in it pull up in the spot to my right. The man driving the car weighed in at a good 375 lbs. (not tall and not exaggerating here, possibly more.) He opened his car door and started getting out. You probably know right now what happened. Wiggling his car between two cars didn't give him that much room to get out. A push of is body extended his car door out that extra distance to slap my passenger door like some punk. Hearing this, I turned my head to look the driver in the eyes and he wouldn't look at me, didn't apologize and hurried (waddled) into the store. Smartly, he left one of his friends waiting in the car fearing retribution. I hopped out and surveyed the damage and surprisingly there wasn't any to my door. I was still pissed. I pulled my car out of the spot and pulled into some spaces on the other side of the car. I wasn't going to wait to see how gentle he was trying to get back in.

Anyhow, I was thinking about the situation here. Sure, I could have beat him to the ground for being inconsiderate but it would have been 3 to 1. But, I now know why my friend Daniel parks his car in the most open area of the parking lot. Safety! If you have trouble getting in and out of your car, wouldn't you park in a spot where you don't have to deal with a situation like this? But then again, if you are that big, you wouldn't want to have to walk farther to get into the store. All I know is that I'm watching who I'm parking near for now on.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hunting Elusive Discs

We've all done it before. You know you loaned out a CD to someone and you never got it back. It happens all the time except... I rarely loan out CDs. While filling up the iPod (I left 2GB for podcasts), I noticed several CDs were missing. Julian Cope's My Nation Underground, The Cure's Fascination Street, Die Warzau's Disco Rigido, Depeche Mode's Catching Up With Depeche Mode, Midnight Oil's Diesel And Dust, The Lightning Seeds' Sense and many others aren't where they should be. It's driving me batty. I am such a control freak with my music that I keep them all in their cases (except the CD changer and folder used for DJing.) Now, I have to play detective and figure out where they went. I know there are probably a few more boxes somewhere that I'm not noticing or someone did a good job of swiping them under my watch.

I've also discovered one more shocking thing when putting all my music into a little hard drive... I have 3 duplicates. I guess I missed the albums so much I re-bought them even though I had them the whole time in my CD changer. What albums? The Goo Goo Dolls' A Boy Named Goo, Hatful Of Rain: The Best Of Del Amitri and Aerosmith's Pump. Very odd batch.

Meanwhile, some holes in my collection are being filled with a great Valentine's Day sale currently going on at Super Pawn. Essentially, a majority of the albums are selling for as little at 89 cents (10% more off if you buy 5 or more.) So, I've been visiting quite a few stores and added some that I'd been missing by Guy, MC Hammer, LeVert, Jody Watley and a few others. I figure that the whole album is worth more to me as a collector while a single song download is 99 cents. I figure I'm saving some cash this way.

Oh, one last note. UB40 release their new album, What You Fighting For?, next week. I put a "listening party" up at for anyone interested in what their newest music sounds like. I see it as a free way to try out a CD before it comes out.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Two Great Things, May They Work Great Together

I've mentioned how much Tivo has affected my life in the past. I'm a media junkie. Some people believe there are too many channels and not enough to watch, I say there is a lot to watch but just not enough time to watch it. I've also mentioned my new friend the video iPod. Well, now just like someone dipping their chocolate in someone else's peanut butter, the two great products now will be working together. Tivo has announced that their Tivo to Go program (which allowed you to take a program that you recorded on your Tivo Series 2 machine and send it to your computer) will now allow a new as-yet-unnamed program to compress that into a video that is playable on your iPod. Why pay $1.99 to download a program if you have already recorded it on your Tivo? That's CD and DVD money they are taking from me.

There are some skeptics to this idea. They believe that the people that own the Tivo Series 2 to be a very small market and that this only devalues Tivo. I believe this shows that Tivo is trying to expand its connectivity and make it easier for you to see and or take your entertainment where you need it. One of the biggest sales markets of Tivo was the deal they had with DirecTV, which is still ongoing but DirecTV did come up with their own DVR that they want to get out there. So, the best way to counteract copycats in the marketplace is to create a better product and hope to make it profitable is expand upon what it can do. You allow it to enter areas of the market that others aren't touching and can't touch without getting more expensive.

Previously, Tivo used their Tivo to Go manager to allow someone using DVD burning software to allow you to take DVDs of your television programs with you. I had issues with it as it had codec issues (video and audio formatting.) If you have other codecs installed on your system, it fails. There are tons of codecs out there: DIVX, FFDShow, MPEG-4 video, QuickTime, Matroska, OGG, AVI... too many to really continue listing. One has to be installed to play each of these. I'm not willing to disable my computer to enable my DVD burner let alone my iPod. It just isn't going to happen. So it should be interesting. Here's hoping that they found a way around this issue because I'll be taking my shows with me to work to watch during my lunch hour.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Over-analyzing The Interview

Remember when I told you that I changed my hours at work and days off (7am-3pm Mon/Tues for 5pm-1am Fri/Sat) to ready myself for the possibility of moving on to another career? Well, I got a call on Friday from my prospective employer. My interview is scheduled for today (yes, I'll get enough sleep) at noon.

I'm purposely only applying to work for this particular company before investigating any other for the following reasons:

  1. They are busy people and have lots of clients which means possibly more income
  2. I have a very good friend and his twin brother that already are working for this company
  3. The employees work from home which gives me a lot of leeway on time management
  4. I believe that if I want to stay with this company beyond my 2 years of apprenticeship that I'll want to like the people I work with and have a support network

The positives that might get me the job:

  1. Have friends that have already infiltrated the premises
  2. Have a brother in the business that employs companies like the one I'm applying for
  3. Have computer and typing skills that are necessary to perform the job
  4. I deal well with people and situations. I've even been called affable before (newspaper article.)

The negatives that might leave him laughing as I walk out of the office:

  1. There are tons of people with a higher education calling people like him about a position because they are limited and lucrative
  2. I'm possibly too easy going and may not come across as what he wants for that position
  3. Might not want to hire friends beyond the twin brothers he already has
  4. May already have someone in mind for the job (who maybe he owes a favor or paid him cash under the table)

We'll see what happens. I'm off to sleep and then I'll figure out what I'll wear (which is a whole other issue... what happened to my sports coat?)

Friday, January 13, 2006

90's Albums You May Not Know

Since I've been delving into my CD collection as I fill my iPod, I've been stumbling across several of my favorites of the early 1990s. Yes, you probably haven't heard of many of them but oddly enough each of these albums are amazing with few throwaway tracks. Only one released a second album but if you stumble across oneof these, it's worth the money.

There was a girl that took tennis lessons from my father before I moved to Reno. My collection wasn't as extensive as it would be later (I didn't start collecting CDs until after 1991.) I wound up showing her a lot of different music but one day she brought in Blue Train's The Business Of Dreams and I didn't know what to think of it (I mean, look at the cover.) But after a few listens, I knew it for what it was: a well crafted and polished Pop/Rock effort. Their first single, "All I Need Is You," did land in the U.S. singles chart but the second single, "The Hardest Thing," was their final release.

After I moved to Reno, I spent a lot of time listening to the radio. There was a new "Alternative" station just starting that would play a lot of classic 80's songs mixed with a few newer artists and newer songs by Morrissey, Depeche Mode, etc... They filled my CD collection pretty quickly as they gave away CDs as the DJs made live appearances and during a weird type of bingo where you mark the time a song was played during the week and first one in would win (I think the main prize was $250 or so) but runners up (who had a life and couldn't listen all day) would win CDs. One of those winnings was The Sighs' What Goes On. The big single from the album was, "Think About Soul," and received decent airplay... but more when they came to perform in town. I went and had a great time (a few female friends of mine went ga ga over the band members.) Strong vocal harmonies, clean production with little sparks of empathetic lyrical brilliance (ok, there's some cliche' moments but you get sucked in well before you notice it.) I recently noticed they released a follow-up album, Different, in 1996 before breaking up. I might have to look for it.

Lastly but not less important are The Men. Their self-titled debut album was something I picked up in an independent record store's bargain bin. I had heard their single, "Church Of Logic, Sin & Love," several times and figured it'd be worth a less than $5 risk. I was quite right. Still a little weird for the band to be called The Men when half of them are women but maybe it's all about the dudes. It's say it is kind of Blues/Rock/Pop with a little spoken word (mainly in the single.) Several of the songs like the ballads, "I Built My House This Way," seem fresh to me every time I hear them. The closest I could come would be to say this was an American version of Crowded House with a tad more Blues. Really wish they recorded a follow-up but they disbanded after their debut.

The good thing about having all my music in my hand at any time is that I can now revisit these a bit easier. Instead of hoping someone had heard a song before when talking to someone, I can just remedy that then and there. Been planning to post something like this for awhile as proof that I'm may be fixated on the 80's but not stuck.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

This Is A Job For Enya

My own obsession with committing all my music to my iPod has created major lapses in my day to day regular schedule. Sure, I want to get it done as soon as possible. I also see it sitting there waiting for me to finish as I get home from work. At this moment, I have 12,572 songs on it filling 47.02GB of space. I know I have a lot more to go but just getting it done and out of the way to enjoy will help. I thought that I'd go straight to sleep last night and not continue my trek from the second bedroom's CD changer to my bedroom computer. I now look at the clock, I wound up sleeping for close to 11 hours. Don't know how or why but I did. I'm sure I'll get my sleep schedule under control at some point. It has to happen. We're adaptable creatures, right? I have discovered that as tired as I am at work, the drive home wakes me up. I might try listening to Enya on my way home tonight to keep it from happening. One way or another, normalcy will return.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Profitable Laziness

I remember someone telling me once that the best way to make money is to create or sell a marketable consumable item. It makes sense. If you like something and use it up, you'll buy more but everyone is trying to do that. It seems that there are easier ways for someone that doesn't want to put the work into it.

Free money in Las Vegas. Sounds like a great ad, huh. But, it's true if you are a casino with no risk involved. You start by becoming an intermediary for your customers money. One way this is done is by making your customers use chips instead of money. Sure, a majority of it will be spent, but as an observer of humans in this same city many people wind up taking chips home with them because they didn't have time to cash them. Some people don't even know that they can mail those in to get their money back. So that's free money for the casino.

Another way easy money is made in Las Vegas is by giving people their change back from playing slot machines in tickets. The guise of this is that you don't have to carry a bucket of coins or get your fingers dirty (dust from all the coins rubbing each other gathers on your hands as you continually put coins in.) As mentioned above, people forget these tickets as they rush off to go to dinner or head off to their plane. By being given a representation of money, they believe they have that money. These tickets usually are void after 30 days.

In a more minimal way are the use of those machines made by CoinStar (unless represented by another company in your area) which takes your change and gives you a printed out ticket for the funds deposited. Minus a fee for the service ranging from 7% to 8.5%. Sure, it's a lot easier just throwing the coins in there but to think you are giving up almost a dime for every dollar you put in. But then again, it may be worth it if you don't want to go through the trouble of rolling your coins.

In bigger cities, there are people that will stand in line for you at the Department Of Motor Vehicles for a price. These aren't just people, these are actual companies with employees doing this. But, if time is money and you can use that time better to make yourself more money, it might be worthwhile.

Of course, there is also the big money hole... stamp collecting. The United States Postal Service creates lines of stamps with value that get put in folders to go unused and held onto in hopes that its value increases. This also happens with coins minted from the U.S. Treasury.

So, I wonder, what will be the next way to profit from lazy folks and are there any other ways you can think of that they currently do?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Delayed Resolution

No, I'm not MIA. Things have just been a little crazy with my sleep schedule. Essentially, I've been getting home at 1:30am and having trouble calming down until... well, daylight. So then I wind up sleeping later than I like. The good thing is that I have many CDs here keeping me busy as I adjust. I have figured out my New Year's resolution. I'm going to have a better schedule which includes me going to sleep after I get back from work, waking up, going to the gym, having a light breakfast, running errands (computer work included) and then heading to work. I just need to implement it. I'm sure I'll figure it out. B) Did you set any achievable resolutions for this year?