Monday, October 31, 2005

Synchronize iTunes with some phones

Most notably the Mass Storage Synchronizer works with the Treo 650, but also works with some other phone models.  It is not real clear that you can actually play purchased music (M4A), but you will need either RealPlayer for Palm or Pocket Tunes in order to play the music you sync across.  This solution is Windows only.

It would be so much easier if Apple just released their own venison of iTunes for various mobile phone operating systems.

Friday, October 28, 2005

An interesting alternative to Outlook

Check out Zimbra, an Ajax-based e-mail, contact, and calendar suite.  We’re going to see a lot more stuff like this in the next 6–18 months.

I just wish they were hosting free e-mail accounts on their server; I’d sign up in a heartbeat just to play around with the software.

Google Flight Search

The tutorial is here and there is no special URL — just follow the instructions of entering the city followed by “airport” or enter the carrier and flight number into the regular Google search.  While Google does not return the exact information you are looking for, it does provide useful links at the top of the results.

For a full list of what you can search for and how to do it on Google, look here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Off Boradway Shoes

If you have an Off Broadway Shoes near you, I highly recommend stopping there the next time you need footwear.  While the name seems (at least to me) like more of a female store, they have a surprisingly good collection of name brand men’s shoes.  Today I picked up a (well, actually 2 pairs — 1 in each color) pair of Born shoes for $59 as opposed to the $90 price a Nordstrom.


The open-source Mac media center software name iTheatre will be released on December 23, 2005.  Here’s a list of features from the wiki:

  • Music Playback
    • Integration with iTunes Music Library
    • Playback of all QuickTime supported audio files
    • Select and play music by artists, album, genre
    • Simple playlists
  • Video Playback
    • Playback of all QuickTime supported video files
  • DVD Playback
    • Playback of DVD media and VIDEO_TS folders
  • Photo Browsing
    • Integration with iPhoto Library
    • Select and view photos by album
    • Simple slideshows

All of the above should stream over a network — sweet!

Reverse engineer custom engine parts

I’ve been to some car races and talked with the guys that build the engines.  While not a total gearhead myself, I do understand that these guys are artists and hand-tool engine parts with as much minute precision as any other type of art.  The problem with hand-made custom parts is that they are hard to duplicate exactly.  According to this post on Autoblog, this is now not a problem thanks to Geomagic, who uses scanning and custom CNC machining to exactly duplicate hand-made parts.

This is a cool feature for race cars, but the implications for the after-market parts industry and/or the car industry overall is profound.  Imagine if there was a database of standard parts from which you could select the part you were looking for and have it custom CNC machined; this would be especially useful on cars 10+ years old where you many times have to go through a junk yard or parts supply house to find what you are looking for.

What's happening with Blackberry (RIM)?

If you haven’t been following, RIM has had a reversal in a decision that, if upheld in lower courts may cause an injunction against RIM that will prevent them from selling or servicing Blackberry devices in the US.  Full details at this story on Forbes.

I’m sure Microsoft is praying the injunction is put in place and I’m sure that Good Technology is feeling the same way; the difference is that Good software works on Blackberry devices while there is currently not yet a Microsoft ActiveSync client for Blackberries.  Imagine if your company had to replace all of their Blackberry devices — damn expensive in most cases.

What's going to happen to Sprint's Nextel iDen Network?

Slated for phase-out in 2010, there were questions about what was going to happen to the Nextel iDen network that provides rapid push-to-talk functionality.  According to this post on Engadget, the US Department of Defense is going to buy the iDen infrastructure to provide a secure push-to-talk service for DOD employees.  Sprint is currently working on enhancing its push-to-talk over CDMA technology.

Do you want to play with Front Row yourself?

Download it here (it was still working this morning).

Apple's Front Row hacked to work on a Mini

This post on Engadget links through to this post on TUAW, which shows this video and this Flickr set of Front Row running on a Mini.  There were instructions on how to do this yourself, but they’ve been taken down.

Apple's Front Row hacked to work on a Mini

This post on Engadget links through to this post on TUAW, which shows this video and this Flickr set of Front Row running on a Mini.  There were instructions on how to do this yourself, but they’ve been taken down.

Monday, October 24, 2005

What if your SIM card carried your network?

That’s where it’s going — check out this post on Engadget about the W-SIM, which contains not only your subscriber information, but also the radio and antenna for your network.  Think about the possibilities not only as they relate to phones, but what could be network-enabled if there was a W-SIM slot on any kind of device (i.e., iPod, digital camera, toaster, etc.)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Heineken abandons TV advertising on British TV for 2006

This post on Adjab links through to this article on, which reports that:

Heineken has scrapped its entire TV advertising budget for 2006 as it no longer feels the medium is an effective way of reaching its target audience.


Imagine how Heineken will be able to use the money it’s saving.  I have to imagine that Heineken is a very large advertiser in Britain — is this the beginning of the swan song for TV advertising?

Remarkable glass design

I saw this post on Luxist about Think Glass, a manufacturer of glass tiles, countertops, shower doors, sculptures, etc..  Take a look at this sculpture:

New blogs linking to Strategize

 Somewhat Frank ~ Blog

 Creative Minds

 >>> the brand builder...

 Geek Stuff

 Eclectique -

 Just Charlie

 Resourcing Strategies


 Jack Yoest at



 all about site meters


 Alexis Amore takes fisting les..

 Vineeth's Blog

 TinyApps.Org : Blog

 tony morgan | one of the simpl...

 A is for Advertising

Evolving Excellence


Thanks to everyone for linking to me.

Baby stuff of interest

I’m trying to clean up saved posts on Bloglines, so I am dumping the links here:

Then We Set His Hair on Fire

This was posted as a “must-read” on Tom Peters Wire Service, so really this post is just to remind me to buy it — I HAVE NOT READ IT YET.

What's your personal contingency plan?

This post on Engadget about how to construct a fireproof data back-up made me start to think about personal contingency planning.  Big corporations have contingency plans, they have plans that allow even the lowest level employee a complete understanding of how a company will continue to operate if upper management ceases to exist.

I thought that I had a good contingency plan for my data by using a RAID, but that does nothing if my house burns down, which I realized from the post above.  Then I started thinking about other personal contingency items:

  • Living trust or will
  • Mortgage protection (I’m probably not calling this the right thing, but it’s the coverage you can buy to pay off your mortgage if you die)
  • Pictures or videos of everything claimable in my house stored in a fireproof safe
  • Trust funds
  • Retirement funds
  • Data security

There’s probably a lot more that can be added to the list, but the above items are a good place to start.

So what exactly is your personal contingency plan?

The Big Moo

I received my copy of The Big Moo yesterday afternoon and promptly read it last night while on my TreadClimber — yes, it can be read in as little as an hour.

The first page immediately grabs your attention:

You are not a cog.
You are not ordinary.
In fact, you are remarkable.

The Big Moo is a collection of stories and essays by 33 great businesspeople all focused around the general idea of being remarkable.  You will find pieces by Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters, Seth Godin, and Mark Cuban to name a few.  However, you will not necessarily know who wrote each piece because there is no indication in order to make the book flow:

You’ll notice that the individual contributions aren’t credited.  Pretty unusual, perhaps even remarkable.  We did it because it makes it easier to read the book as a whole, to avoid being interrupted by the noise your brain makes as it shifts gears from one voice to another.  That and it lets you guess who wrote what.

Quite frankly, if you frequently read the books, magazine article, and/or blogs of any of the authors, you can probably figure out who wrote what — certain pieces will jump out at you, while certain pieces you can guess at when you read it for the second time (yes, it’s that good and you should read it a second time; I did and I’m about to read it for a 3rd time).

There are some benefits beyond just the content in the book that should make you want to race out the door right and buy it:

  1. All royalties from every author will go to 3 charities — The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The Acumen Fund, and Room to Read.
  2. The book is an open license.  What’s that mean?  You can photocopy out as many pages as you want and hand them to anyone you want.  Found one story that’s particular meaningful to your company?  Send copies to everyone, royalty free.

Most of all you should read the book because you want to be remarkable.  There is no magic bullet in the book.  You will not finish the book and tear out worksheets at the end that allow you to checklist your way to becoming remarkable.  You will understand what remarkable is and through the stories you will find your own way to get there.  Additionally, you will feel a great sense of urgency to be remarkable that is conveyed by every author; you will want to get out and be remarkable RIGHT NOW.

Remember, that you are not a cog.  It’s no longer ok to wait until that guy retires so that you can get his job and do something cool; you need to be remarkable right this second.  As Seth Godin says in the book:

Musical chairs takes a long time to win if you have a lot of chairs.

You’re not playing musical chairs are you?

Posting up -- lots of posts in the next few minutes

Because I have a small amount of free time.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Blogging will be light

In case you have noticed light blogging in the past few days, I regret to inform you that the light blogging will continue through next Friday as I have a large group of people that I am hosting this weekend through next Friday.  Posts will be sporadic at best.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Make iTunes 6 accept non-supported video formats

MacOSX Hints has an article about how to do this on your Mac.  One of the people commenting on the story actually wrote an AppleScript Droplet to automate the process, which you can download here.

Get TiVo content on to your Video iPod

Full instructions at this post on Engadget (Windows instructions only).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Google Purchases screenshot

This post on Real Tech News has a screenshot of Google Purchases.  Look out PayPal.

Blackberry Connect for Treo . . . finally

Ok, it’s not going to be out tomorrow, but this press release promises it in early CY 2006.  The Connect client apparently will interface directly with the VersaMail client that is pre-installed on the Treos.  Is the Treo going to be only device that supports Blackberry and MS ActiveSymc?  Not likely.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, is blogging

Why aren’t you?

John Mackey’s blog

Squidoo sample lenses are live

You can find them right here.

I can’t wait to create my own!

Important life lessons from potty training

As a new father, I thought this post on The Occupational Adventure was pretty cool.  From the post, here are the life lessons learned through potty training:

  • when you want to do something, it's easier
  • if you don't want to do something, figure out why
  • internal motivation is the best motivation
  • identify what it is that stands between you and completing your goal
  • sometimes pull-ups slow down your progress
  • often others see when you are shifting from foot to foot, before you do
  • continuing to do what you are comfortable with can keep you from growing
  • poop happens, accidents are part of learning to do it right
  • don't beat yourself up over mistakes
  • overcoming a challenge is a process
  • sometimes you just need to do it
  • celebrate successes
  • Yup, there’s more to it than just learning not to crap your diaper.

    Format videos to work on your Video iPod

    Full instructions with pictures on how to do it with Windows at this post on Engadget.

    OSX as a webpage

    The title of this post speaks for itself — check it out here.

    Unbelievably cool.

    Mark Cuban addresses splog on Blogspot

    From his post entitled “Get your Blogspot Shit Together Google”:

    The blogosphere was hit by a splogbomb. Someone did the inevitable and wrote a script that created blog after blog and post after post.

    I'm not talking 100 blogs with a 100 posts each. I'm talking what could easily turn into 10s of THOUSANDS of blogs pinging out millions of posts !

    So please Google. Add a challenge system. Dump the flag you tried. It was a nice try, but doesn't get the job done.  Its not an imposition to ask a blog poster to confirm their post with a link inside an  email, or a word confirmation. It may not eradicate the problem, but it will improve the quality of information available in the blogosphere considerably.



    Microsoft payouts

    Pretty interesting post on Dan Gillmor’s blog about Microsoft payouts.  From the post:

    $1.95 billion to Sun Microsystems
    $850 million to IBM
    $750 million to AOL Time Warner
    $536 million to Novell
    $460 million to RealNetworks
    $440 million to InterTrust Technologies
    $150 million to Gateway
    $23 million to Be

    The total to date is more than $5 billion and counting.

    Gillmor notes that MS throws off about $1 billion in cash per month, so the cost to MS for everything above is essentially nothing.

    Pretty amazing.

    The eras of media

    Shawn Conahan over at Intercasting has posted a graphic of what he defines as “Media Eras.”  Check out his post and the graphic; it’s a very concise look at the progression of media devices, delivery, etc. from someone entrenched in the mobile business.

    Does it feel strange buying videos from the iTunes Music Store

    Maybe, maybe not.  Personally, I don’t really care what the name is; I associate iTMS with digital content that I want, regardless of whether it is of the audio or video flavor.

    We have proven that we can be trained to do things that don’t make a whole lot of sense.  Don’t believe it?  Here’s a simple example: Every Windows user still has to hit the Start button on their machine to turn it off.

    Has Steve Jobs killed TV advertising as we know it?

    According to this post on AdFreak, he has.  From the post, speaking about the announcement of the Video iPod:

    . . . we came away much more convinced than we had been earlier that not only is the video iPod a watershed, but, sorry advertisers and agencies, that commercial TV may just be f*cked, and it’s going to hurt advertisers much more than it will hurt the networks. Jobs, with a little help from his relatives at Disney, has just applied a price-point to commercial-free network content and the price, even for Desperate Housewives, is so low—at $1.99—that it makes the decision to purchase pretty damn easy. Layer on the fact you don’t need to even own a video iPod to own the content—you can just download it onto your PC—and, well, we said it already. Buckle your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen.

    Even if Apple were to sell content with commercials, I guarantee that someone would come up with a program that would automagically remove them.

    How to connect to your company's Exchange server if they use Outlook Web Access

    This post on Working Smart details how the author was able to connect to his company’s Exchange server without using VPN.  From the post:

    I connect directly to my Exchange Server by inserting the address for my Outlook Web Access Web site into the server field of my Account settings. The only change I had to make was to change the “https:\\” reference to “http:\\” (note deleted “s”).

    As noted in the post, this works well for accessing your company’s e-mail with Entourage on a Mac, but really there seems to be no reason why this wouldn’t work on other e-mail clients, including those found on mobile phones.

    I’m a little surprised to see that the author drops the “s” out of the address, meaning that the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) call has been dropped, but if it works, then that’s great.

    Bloglines hotkeys

    Another very useful Bloglines feature is the addition of hotkeys.  See below:

    Hotkeys: j - next article k - previous article s - next sub f - next folder A - read all r - refresh left pane

    Just makes it all that much easier to navigate around.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Nice little change in Bloglines

    Bloglines now displays saved posts in a different format as new posts.  For example, in my “General Technology” folder, instead of seeing 88 posts displayed in bold as 88 new posts, I now see 87:1 posts displayed in bold, denoting 87 new posts and 1 saved post.

    It’s a small change, but useful to me.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    Front Row

    Front Row is a new feature currently only available on the new iMac G5.  Essentially Front Row is a combination of wireless remote and front-end GUI that allows you wirelessly control all the media on your computer in a very simplistic fashion.

    I hope they release this for other Mac models, but really I hope they build this functionality into a new Airport Express.  Ideally the Airport would have HDMI, DVI, or composite video out along with an IR receiver for the Front Row remote.  All I would then have to do is plug in the video feed from the Express to the back of my TV and access all my media files wirelessly.  Hey, if it doesn’t happen, it’s not like it would be hard to move my Mini into the living room.

    New iPod Video and iTunes 6.0

    Not surprisingly, Apple has announced the new video iPod.  Quick specs:

    • 30GB for $299
    • 60GB for $399
    • 320x240 screen
    • 20 hours battery life

    The new iTunes 6.0 has been released to support the new iPod — currently you can purchase music videos and select TV shows from ABC and the Disney Channel.  Additionally you can now give music and videos to anyone with an e-mail address.

    Cool stuff.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    If you are using Google Reader . . .

    . . . you may want to grab the Google Reader bookmarklet that will allow you to autosubscribe to feeds.

    25 words you should change on your resume

    Check it out on this post by Alan.

    Oh wait, Alan’s post is copied directly from the original article on MSN.  So on second thought, don’t visit Alan’s site, just read the original article to get exactly the same information that Alan copied word-for-word in its entirety (and did not give any credit to MSN for originally producing).

    Hey Alan — it’s this kind of bullshit that is going to start getting bloggers sued.  You probably missed the copyright notice at the bottom of the MSN page.

    If you want to publish your Outlook calendar . . .

    . . . follow these simple instructions via this post on Liefhacker on how to turn your Outlook 2003 calendar into a HTML page.

    A step in the right direction for tags

    Try out Tagyu, which will provide tags for you based on the text and links you paste into the box.  Note that Tagyu generate Tagyu tags and not tags for Technorati.

    I’m still waiting for integration with Blogger so that I can automagically get tags onto my posts, but this is a cool tool.

    EVDO's magic price

    Sprint and Verizon currently sell EVDO (high speed wireless data service) for $60–$70 per month, which is a pretty high price for high speed service.  I think that the price needs to get to around $30 before there is widespread adoption.

    Here’s my personal reasoning:

    Blackberry service on my Nextel costs around $50 per month.  If I could save $20 per month and have full-blown high-speed data access on a smart device that was Exchange-capable in some way and had Bluetooth so that I could tether my laptop, I would be very excited.

    Om Malik agrees with me and adds this in his post:

    “The buzz is the same we saw in China seven or eight years ago in the early part of the market cycle, the same we saw a couple of years ago in Latin America,’ he said. Ollila’s designated successor as CEO, Chief Operating Officer Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, told the FT: “It is not a question of one iconic product; it is a question of many iconic products and that relates to the segmentation of the marketplace.”

    Gabriel Brown, Chief Analyst of Unstrung Insider estimates that a “subscription price of $30 (€25) per month will be the point at which mobile broadband over cellular networks will become attractive to the mass market.”

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Backscatter X-Ray

    Gadling posted this story about the TSA testing backscatter X-Ray devices that links through to this information on EPIC about the devices.  The ACLU opposes the use of backscatter devices and likens them to a “virtual strip search,” but I will tell you that I have seen this devices in action and they are amazingly effective.  If you remember the scene in the beginning of Total Recall where Arnold walks behind a device and you can see right through his clothes, then you know almost exactly what these devices can do.  In an age where we are immensely concerned about security and traditional walk-through x-ray machines do not provide the kind of detection that is required to prevent terrorist acts, this is the best technology available for screening.

    Many of you will not agree with my position, but I ask this: Is the price of your privacy worth the loss of the potential safety benefits?

    My car was stolen this weekend (an OnStar story)

    At 2AM on Saturday morning my dogs started barking.  As the dogs bark at any little noise outside, we told them to be quiet.  The next thing we knew, we heard a loud exhaust noise, saw headlights through our bedroom window, and then heard some tires squeal.  My wife got up and immediately saw that my truck was no longer in the driveway.

    I immediately called 911 and reported the theft.  Then I remembered that not only does my vehicle have OnStar, but I pay for the monthly “Safe and Sound” package, so I picked up the phone and reported the theft to OnStar.  OnStar told me they would begin tracking the vehicle and would call me back.

    About 2 minutes after I hung up with OnStar the police department called me and told me they were on the phone with OnStar and wanted to conference me in.  The office conferenced me in and we waited on the phone with the OnStar person for 5 minutes while they tried to pull location data on my vehicle.  Finally the office told me he would call me when he had an update and terminated the conference.

    Thirty minutes later after hearing from neither OnStar or the police, I called OnStar back for a status update — they are the private company I pay for the service, so I figured I would pester them instead of the police.  OnStar told me that the police had recovered the vehicle, so I then phoned the police.

    The police told me the location of my vehicle and that I needed to come and take possession of it.  In the mean time my wife had gone out to her car and realized that the thief had Initially broken into her car and found the spare set of keys for my truck in her center console and that’s how he had started my truck.  I told the police that I did not want to drive her vehicle because there were probably fingerprints on it and they basically told me that I would have to call someone to take me to my truck.

    I hung up with the police, went on Google Maps, entered the address the police had given me, and realized that the thiefs had only made it about 2 blocks with my truck, so I simply walked over to retrieve it.

    When I arrived at my truck and identified myself the officer told me to start my truck and he would follow me back to my house to do the report.  At that point I asked if he wanted to dust for prints and he told me that the thief had spit on the side of my truck and he had taken a swab.  I still remain unconvinced that a DNA test will yield any results.

    We arrived back at my house and the officer had my wife and I fill out reports about the items that had been stolen from our vehicles.  The officer declined to dust my wife’s car for prints, but did take her iPod holder that the thief had, for some reason, thrown in the bushes as evidence.  Due to the fact that the thief had a set of my keys, the officer advised me to park my truck in the garage or to park it somewhere off site in case they came back to try and steal it again.

    As the officer went to leave, he found that he had dropped his keys, so we spent 15 minutes looking in the bushes and finally retrieved them.  His parting instructions were for me to call with the serial number of my stolen iPod so that it could be inputted into the NCIC database in case the thief tried to pawn it.  Once again, I remain unconvinced that a pawn shop would really run the serial number of an iPod if someone came in to pawn it, but I guess you never know.

    It turns out that OnStar did shut down my truck at some point in time during the sequence of events.  What is unclear is whether the thief left the vehicle because it was shut down or if he decided just to loot my truck and leave.

    I took my truck in the this morning to the dealership to have the ignition and door locks re-keyed and to have the spare key fob deactivated.  My wife called our insurance carrier who told us that all of the stolen items were not covered by auto insurance, but rather by our homeowner's insurance, which has a higher deductible than the value of the stolen items.  Additionally, he told her that the cost of the re-keying was not covered, but if we elected not to do it and the thief came back with the spare set of stolen keys and stole the truck, that would be covered — doesn’t really seem to make much sense.

    So OnStar seems to work to some degree.  Unfortunately the cops weren’t able to catch the thief, but I did get my truck back unharmed with really very few items missing.  I pay for the OnStar service that yields a pretty insignificant discount in my auto insurance and saved the insurance company somewhere around $30K had my truck no been recovered — go figure.

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    One last Google Reader thought for today

    None of the auto-discoverable RSS feeds seem to be showing up for sites, only the ATOM feeds are showing up.  Maybe I’m just checking the wrong sites, but without RSS support, Reader will die a very quick death.

    Note: for those that don’t know, Google-owned Blogger only provides feeds in ATOM, not RSS>

    Aonther note about Google Reader

    None of my AdSense for Feeds advertising seems to show up in the Google Reader.  Is that part of the benefit of using the Google Reader?  I can see the pitch:

    “Use Google Reader and stay free of the annoying AdSense for Feeds and contextual advertising that you may find on other readers.”

    Yes, I understand that like all things Google, Reader is in beta and this will surely be corrected.  I am actually surprised that there is no contextual advertising in Reader (for now I’m sure).

    Google Reader

    Yes, Google has released Google Reader, which is a RSS aggregator.  I’ve got to tell you that I’m pretty happy with Bloglines and am not necessarily looking for a change — although if there was a way to import all of my Bloglines subscriptions AND retain the folders I have the subscriptions organized in, I might be willing to switch.

    Here’s an interesting tidbit from my first 30 seconds of playing around with Google Reader:

    I entered in as a new feed address and was told that the URL had no results.  Thinking that I may have misspelled, I tried it again with the same result.  Finally I entered and the feed for my site popped right up.

    What’s ironic about the above is that Google owns Blogger, so at the very least the Blogger sites should be auto-discoverable.  Google Reader will be a pain in the ass if you have to actually find the XML address for the feed; I’m sure they’ll fix this quickly.

    My most popular post

    It’s interesting that a blog named “Strategize” that immediately would lead people to think about business strategy has such an odd popular post.  I Initially started this blog to provide information about businesses and technology and indeed most of the posts are about that.  However, I will sometimes post about things that are completely off topic.  Frequently I try to provide information that was difficult for me to find or I post solutions to problems that I found difficult to solve.

    I make the assumption that if you are visiting my blog you are relatively technologically savvy or you at the very least know how to use Google to find answers to your questions.  In many cases some of my obscure posts are the simple result of not being able to find answers on Google.  This leads to my most popular post: Porcher Toilet.  I receive more e-mails and more hits on Feedburner to this post than to any other post; this post is also the top result if you search “porcher toilet repair” on Google.

    Why is it that a post about repairing a toilet is my top post?  It’s simple really — Porcher does not communicate to its customers.  Furthermore, Porcher does not tell you how to replace the parts that are designed to wear out on their toilets.

    If I worked for Porcher I would be damn upset that my website was not the top result for the search term.  Porcher does not seem to care; I wrote this post more than 1 year ago and still have the top result.

    As I noted in my original post, the cost of a Porcher toilet is around $700.  I would think for $700 you would get world-class support.  The places that sell Porcher toilets do not tell you how to repair them, nor do they really even stock replacement parts.

    So the ironic thing is that many of the people that find my blog find it because their toilet is running not because they are looking for a blog on strategy.

    Good Fiction

    Here are some good fiction books that I have been reading if you are looking for something to read during winter vacations, on a plane, at home, or if you are just looking for some new authors that you haven’t heard of before.  I am a big reader of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series and started reading Tom Clancy when I was 10 year old, so that may give you a flavor of what kinds of books and authors are listed below.

    I’ll add some more as I get time.  Enjoy!

    The price of gas

    How much does gas have to cost per gallon before you actually change your driving habits?  Everyone seems to complain about how much gas prices are hurting them, but no one that I have asked has actually changed their driving habits because of higher prices.  Furthermore, in Colorado I continue to see brand-new SUVs (including H2s) driving around with temporary license plates, meaning that they were purchased in the last month or 2; I do not see nearly as many hybrid vehicles with new plates.

    This article on Fox News has this statement:

    "Every time gas prices go up another 20 cents, you know you see some people making a decision based on that," said Paul Taylor, chief economist for National Automobile Dealers Association.

    I would assume that Taylor gets his information based on some sort of data, but I’m just not seeing it with people that I know.

    There are some, like Mike Jackson, CEO of Autonation (largest single chain of car dealerships in the United States), that, according to this post on Autoblog, are lobbying for higher Federal taxes on gas to push gas prices toward the $6 per gallon mark.  Why would he want this?  According to the post:

    His objective is to fundamentally influence consumer behavior and market demand. He also proposes an energy-tax credit to soften the blow for lower-income groups.

    Is $6 where people fundamentally change their behavior?  Let’s consider the fact that gas costs around $6 per gallon in the UK yet there are tons and tons of Range Rovers on the road over there and tons of sports cars that guzzle gas as quickly as H2s.

    Currently it costs me about $65 to fill up the tank on my truck.  I get about 15MPG in city or stop & go driving, and about 21MPG in straight freeway driving.  If gas were $6 per gallon, it would cost me $130 to drive the same distances.  However, 80% of my driving is for work, so if gas were $6 per gallon, I would assume that the mileage reimbursement rate would rise commensurately with gas prices as it has done this year, meaning that $6 might not significantly affect my habits.

    I remember conversations in Economics classes about the price of milk when studying supply and demand curves.  Although generalized, the basic concept was something to the effect of people not really caring what the price of milk was because they simply had to buy milk.  It will be interesting to see where the price of gas needs to get to before people stop feeling like they have to buy gas.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    If you need a tax ID quick

    You can file online with the IRS and receive one.  There are certain restrictions as to the types of entities that can file online, but this is a really quick and easy way to get an EIN for a sole proprietorship if you don’t want to use your name and social on a W-9.

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Starbucks Tribal Knowledge

    Brand Autopsy is running a Starbucks Tribal Knowledge series.  This post today really caught my attention and makes me ask: What does your org chart look like?

    Go check out the whole STK series at Brand Autopsy; there’s some good stuff in there.

    Why is Harvey Danger giving away their new album for free online?

    Besides my obvious initial thought of “If you believe in your product, be willing to give it away,” there is a fairly lengthy explanation on Harvey Danger’s website as to why they are giving the album away.  Usually I would site a variety of quotes from the Harvey Danger explanation, but the whole thing is so good, I simply encourage you to link through and read it; it most certainly could be a mission statement for a record label.

    You can download from this page directly or via Bittorrent.

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    1 TB of e-mail free

    Yes, the “TB” stands for terabyte (you know, like 1000 gigabytes or 500 Gmail accounts) and you can get a free account at Mailnation.

    This just goes to show how cheap storage is.

    I hope someone figures out how to make this account into a virtual hard drive.

    The new set up at home

    I had been using my 15” Powerbook with an external 120GB drive to store all of my music and to serve music around the house via AirTunes.  Unfortunately, this tied my Powerbook to the desk, basically nullifying the portability of the Powerbook.  In addition, I started storing pictures and movies of my new daughter on the external drive and began to worry about redundancy of not only the pictures and movies, but also all of my music.

    In order to fix this “problem,” I now have the following set up at home:

    • Mac Mini'>Mac Mini.  I bought the highest end Mac Mini for more storage space, a faster processor, built-in AirPort, and most importantly the built-in DVD burner so that we can send movies to the family.
    • Cinema Display'>20” Apple Cinema Display.  I went for the bigger display, which cost significantly more than some of the 17” LCD options, but the 20” widescreen display is really cool.
    • WD Hard Drive'>Western Digital 250GB external firewire/USB 2.0 drives.  I chose the WD drives because they have not only built-in USB hubs, but also have 2 firewire ports for daisy chaining.  Instead of USB, I chose to use the drives over firewire for maximum speed.  I then used the Disk Utility built into OS X to stripe the drives as a Level 1 RAID (mirroring), which means that the drives will be exact duplicates of each other, offering the redundancy I am looking for.
    • SD Card Reader'>SD Card Reader.  All of my cameras (Panasonic Video Camera'>video and Elph'>still) now use SD cards, so it is easier to use a SD card reader than to jack the cameras in directly with USB.  iPhoto works just as well with a SD card.

    Now I am very interested in looking at this tutorial on MacMerc, which describes the use of the Plextor ConvertX'>Plextor ConvertX box for Macintosh to do the heavy lifting for video encoding without drawing too much processor power.  Elgato’s EyeTV software is included with the ConvertX box and can be used to manage TV recording.  Cost for the ConvertX is $209 at Amazon, which is not bad at all for a PVR solution that requires no monthly service charge.  As I mentioned above, I have the DVD burner built into the computer, so that’s nice.  I think if I go this direction I’ll need to add some more storage (luckily I already have a DirecTV receiver next to the Mini).

    Thanks for the help

    Thanks to the 2 folks that e-mailed me about the “Word Verification Feature” for Blogger comments.  Essentially Word Verification requires you to input a random word or combination of letters when prompted by the visual barrier before your comment will be posted.

    Comments are now active again.

    Monday, October 03, 2005


    232 spam comments since I posted earlier today.

    This blog spam is out of control and Blogger doesn't really offer effective tools to deal with it; apparently you can just create a Blogger account and go apeshit spamming people's comments. Until I can figure out how to control this with Blogger, I am shutting the ability to comment on posts off.

    What sucks is that the folks that are doing this are preventing my ability to interact with all of you, but I don't have a good way to fix it right now.

    I'll let you know when I come up with a solution.

    Blog comments now require login

    I just discovered 643 spam comments, so I have changed the site settings to require you to log in to leave a comment.  Unfortunately, if this does not work, I will either have to change comment service providers or disable comments completely.

    For those of you that want to leave anonymous comments, I do apologize.