Friday, September 29, 2006

Guinea-pigging

As I sit here blogging while my wife and son nap in the bedrooms (I've been planning my appointments for next week and reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, one of the three books I brought with me and the second one I've gotten to while also downloading Mac OS X 10.4.8), it occurs to me that I'm something of a guinea pig when it comes to OS updates. I download and install them the second they're out so that I can support them when I get to work (if only Apple didn't release most of them on Fridays, while folks were still at work then I could take my time).

And I also was just reading some message board complaints about the current Red Sox team (folks see Theo's moves as dismantling a championship team). And I think they're wrong - we are essentially guinea pigs for a new way of managing a team. And I can see the logic in it. The Sox system is basically big-money Moneyball - the Moneyball philosophy but with big dollars available to fill the holes and complete the team. Long-term, it should work, but what happened is that they caught lightning in a bottle in 2003 when they started deploying a roster was supposed to be a stopgap, and wound up nearly winning the AL. Then, with a few changes, they won the whole darn thing in 2004 - a significant enough fact that I dragged my then 2-year-old son downstairs from a sound sleep to see it, because he might not ever get the chance again!

Back then, we figured that the Sox would get a mulligan for a few years after winning. Well, the mulligan lasted a year, as it turned out. This is basically the first team of the New Sox era - this is a transition year where injuries and issues forced them to play more of the kids than they expected to, and sooner than they should have. The real lightning in a bottle was the convergence of events that killed this team in August, and in hindsight it was sheer luck and a lot of guys playing over their heads that allowed them to stay in contention until then.

In another year or so, you should see a good core of home-grown players that can stick around for years to come, supplemented by just enough big-money veterans and role players to keep this team solidly in contention for a long time. I really think that.

The weather here, by the way, is now looking up for the remainder of the time until we head home Sunday, with the rain having passed around 1 today. We'll be heading back out to have more fun as soon as I can pry my two lazy travel companions out of their beds...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What? You mean they don't just leap out of the water?

Today was a formative moment in our David's young life. As promised, we took him fishing - heading down to the docks in Edgartown after breakfast. Originally, he was pretty arrogant about the whole endeavor - telling us he'd catch a fish this big (stretching his arms as far apart as he could), and that we'd be eating it for twenty-one days.

Twenty-one is about the biggest number he really understands fully.

The first crack in the armor came when we walked down to the docks after eating (the Main Street Diner's changed owners in the five years since our last visit, and though it's not bad it's not as good as it was, either, and the prices went up). The Derby is happening right now, and we walked by the shed where they do the scoring, and we saw both the big prizes (a Nissan pickup truck and a fishing boat). This rattled him, and when I asked him if he was going to catch a fish big enough to win the truck, he demurred. And then, inside, he saw a pretty big striper - probably about a 25-pounder. That gave him pause as well.

But he soldiered on. And after I cast a few for both him and myself (I gave myself a crash course in casting last night - did OK at it), he just couldn't comprehend the idea that the fish just might not want to grab the hook, and that you might have to wait a while and might not even get one. Well, that just threw him for a loop.

We held on there about an hour - longer than I expected he'd make it. Then, we took off (with some frozen squid in tow) for the bridge at the Edgartown/Oak Bluffs line on State Beach, where we searched fruitlessly for stripers.

The rest of the day was mundane, yet fun. Instead of the twenty-one days' worth of striper meat, though, we went out for Mexican at Sharky's Cantina - where they accidentally made a second burrito for our table instead of the one I'd ordered, and gave it to us for free (it's in the fridge now, along with all the other leftovers).

I'm not even sure what we're doing the next few days...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday came and went

And no MacBook Pros with Merom processors to be found. This is not good. I'm going to cross my fingers that they make it in tomorrow, but between availability figures again moving towards instant gratification on the Apple online store and the lack of mention at an obvious place (the Photokina event that wound up only introducing a new version of Aperture), the odds are looking poor.

Which sucks a little, because I pretty much have to order one this week so I can get it to my new person who starts next Monday.

For once, big wrestling news

As my readers know, I'm a pro wrestling fan. I make no apologies about it - I like watching the action, I appreciate the athleticism that goes into making a good match (even if the outcome is pre-determined and usually obvious), and I like the way it's, at heart, a soap opera for guys. That said, there's rarely any news out of the business worth treating as real, legitimate news...

Except this - at last night's PPV broadcast, TNA Wrestling (WWE's only national TV competition) announced two things: one, that in November they'd be moving to prime time. And two, they'd signed Kurt Angle to a contract. That's huge. Angle is, despite his physical issues (he was released from WWE in part due to a painkiller dependency) one of the true stars of the business. And working the part-time TNA schedule is the best way to preserve his fragile body. It makes sense, even if I never really thought it would happen. TNA tapes at most two days per month, with a PPV one Sunday per month and rare house shows. WWE runs four days per week, every week, with one and sometimes more PPVs per month. In schedule, it's no contest.

If Angle has, as he claims, been working diligently to heal his body and get himself back in order, this is one of the biggest signings in the recent history of the business.

In other news, I'm watching in a couple of hours to see what Apple's announcements are (MBP, I hope... I have to order one today one way or another), and other than that I'm just sitting here in Oak Bluffs, chillin'.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Barring a major upset

Unless something major changes, the long-awaited (well, for a few weeks, at least) Merom-based MacBook Pro will be announced at an Apple special event that coincides with the opening of Photokina on the 25th. There will also be a significant upgrade to Aperture along with it, and who knows - maybe something else, as well.

Unless, of course, they announce the MacBook Pro this week instead. But this is what I'm expecting.

I was moderately impressed with the iPod changes this past week - increases in capacity and battery life, price cuts, and the Shuffle is truly so small as to be lost frequently (so they'll sell more!). The movie service is about what I expected for starters, iTunes 7 looks neat, and increasing the resolution of TV downloads was a nice bonus. iTV will be darned slick, and pre-announcing it, though rare for Apple, has the effect of freezing the market for prospective competitors without costing Apple any real sales (after all, it's an additional product instead of a replacement for something they sell already).

What was really nice was how they snatched all the thunder from Microsoft's Zune announcement, and the price cuts caught Redmond by surprise. As of right now, I don't see any serious threat to Apple anytime soon.

One more NASCAR post

I had to post this, because it was just too much of a slap - from Boston Globe writer Fluto Shinzawa's NHIS blog:

* Jon Howland, DeWalt's director of marketing, calls Matt Kenseth the perfect driver to represent the power tools manufacturer. "If we wanted a spokesman, we would have hired Michael Waltrip," Howland said. "He's got a ton of time to talk about the Napa brand because he doesn't make a lot of races. That's why we align ourselves with Matt."

That's just cold...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Turnover

Drivers who were in the Chase last year who aren't in it this year (in order of their finishes last year):

• Tony Stewart
• Greg Biffle
• Carl Edwards
• Ryan Newman
• Rusty Wallace (but he retired)
• Jeremy Mayfield
• Kurt Busch

Drivers who are new to the Chase this year:

• Kevin Harvick
• Kyle Busch
• Denny Hamlin
• Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• Jeff Burton
• Jeff Gordon
• Kasey Kahne

Drivers who made the Chase in both '05 and '06:

• Matt Kenseth
• Jimmie Johnson
• Mark Martin

Those three are also the only drivers to make it in all three years of the Chase format.

And the most telling stat of all, the one that makes sure that next year will have a different points system:

Number of times in the three seasons of the Chase system that a driver has made it in by being within 400 points of the leader (instead of being in the top 10:

• Zero

I'm certain that, at least, we'll see an increased bonus for winning (maybe another 10-15 points). Maybe they'll change the points a little to put more emphasis on top-fives, and maybe for poles as well. And there will probably be a change to allow multiple winners in the Chase automatically. If the rule were to allow any race winners in, we'd have three more drivers in this year:

• Tony Stewart (2 races won)
• Greg Biffle (1 race)
• Kurt Busch (1 race)

So it's not like you're exactly letting in all the riffraff. One race would let all three in, multiple races would just have gotten Stewart in. Interestingly, if the rule were to require at least one race won to qualify, both Burton and Martin would be out (neither has won, they made it in on the strength of a lot of top-tens).

Then again, they haven't asked me. And I'm not even that huge a fan. I'm just a math geek when it comes to this kind of stuff.

Friday, September 08, 2006

As I understand it

From the symptoms, David apparently developed Fifth Disease this week. Jane is taking him to the doctor to confirm that, but it's a very minor ailment for an otherwise healthy boy, and he is probably already over the contagious part.

That said, he was kicked out of school late this morning once everyone realized that was likely his ailment (policy). No biggie. He should be back in Tuesday.

Week #1 of pre-K was quite the washout - he wasn't there for two full days this week (home early Tuesday with fever, out Wednesday, in Thursday, out after a couple of hours Friday)...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

One follow-up point

I blogged about the new iMac announcement earlier today. Now, for some serious analysis. It was no secret that Apple would upgrade to use the new Core 2 Duo chips (Merom). But everyone (myself included) thought the announcement would be as part of the Jobs presentation next week ("And besides just giving you movies, we've also got these gorgeous new iMacs to play them back on"). Since they were just dropped on a regular old weekday, this probably means there's an even bigger shoe than expected for Tuesday in conjunction with the iTunes Movie Store launch. I honestly have no idea what it is.

It also tells us that going forward, product refreshes like today's will probably be pretty nonchalant. Expect plenty of hype when there's a major product change, but when MacBook Pro (for instance) gets its inevitable Merom upgrade in the next few days, expect a similar fanfare-free announcement to today's.

This does make my prognosticating job a little harder, though...

Surprise, Surprise...

In keeping with the almost all-Apple trend of the last few posts, Apple threw a real curveball today - upgrading the mini line (each model gets a speedbump and the Core Solo passes into history), and completely re-doing the iMac to upgrade speeds, upgrade to Core 2 Duo, and to add a model with a 24" display. Oh, and they cut prices, too - and re-did the bottom 17" model to match the edu-only one and get an iMac under the all-important $1000 price point (by $1, but it still counts).

Now that Apple's done a product refresh on a day other than Tuesday, all bets are off for the future!

(Also, I was expecting the iMac to be announced next week and the MacBook Pro this week)

In other news, my father in-law was discharged from the hospital today, and David's health is much improved.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

False Alarm

Apple had their store offline at 10 this morning for about a half-hour - usually, when this happens on a Tuesday that means they've got new products to sell. But this time there was nothing - just a false alarm. Next week, though, they've scheduled a press event that pretty clearly telegraphs the new iTunes Movie Store (at the very least). And it's scheduled to be in San Francisco, on the first day of Apple Expo in Paris (Apple doesn't like France right now due to DRM legislation there - hence the dis on doing it here instead of a full-fledged Stevenote).

In other false alarm news, my in-laws came to visit last Tuesday and were supposed to head home today. Unfortunately, though, my father in-law had to be hospitalized over the weekend - but he is now the proud owner of a coronary artery stent and all should now be well. It's good that this happened here, where the medical care available is top-notch. And David came home from his first day of pre-K with a significant fever. Tylenol and rest seem to be helping a lot, though, and I think he'll be back in school Thursday.

And I'm working my butt off as usual.

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