Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sox Talk

I heard from my agent that the Yankees are about to offer me a $4 million contract if I don't rip them here, so I won't. Why not take it? After all, they're operating in a financial realm that no other team - not even the Red Sox or Mets - can fathom, apparently. They can afford it, it seems.

As much of an advantage as the Red Sox have over almost all the other teams (the Mets, Angels, and possibly the Orioles are the only other teams in the top tier of financial capacity, and you have to discount the Orioles because they're owned by a douchebag), the Yankees have over them. Which puts the Yankees a full quantum jump ahead of all the rest of baseball. Just the first 16 players on their current roster are going to be making about $185 million combined next year.

Basically, the best hope for Boston (and Tampa) is to see if this year becomes like the last time the Yankees tried to assemble a team by buying all the players in sight. It resulted in 15 years of mediocrity until they started developing minor-league talent during Steinbrenner's suspension. People think of the 1977-1978 Yankees as the first teams that bought titles. Really, there were two truly high-profile free agents on those teams - Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter. Other than that the teams were mainly assembled through trades and minor-leaguers that they developed. The return to prominence they had in the 1990s was pretty much the same thing - good trades, developing talent, and a couple of hired guns to fill the holes. This Yankees team is becoming an all-star squad, and I really wonder if they can break the Curse of A-Rod. I wasn't nuts about the Red Sox trying to sign Mark Teixeira (I was happy with the lineup as-is - assuming a healthy David Ortiz at DH and a healthy Mike Lowell), but I really thought he'd wind up in Washington or Baltimore.

Also worth noting - Scott Boras is evil. I think he stays young by drinking the blood of virgin gneral managers. And I stand by that opinion regardless of whether or not any of his players sign with Boston.

Summary of the last two months

C'mon everyone, pay your bills!

Weekend down the Cape

Halloween party!

America is back, baby!

Ahh, vacation...

David takes Manhattan!

Sick of crappy headsets!

Lots of new customers

Snow, ice, bleh.

In-laws come to visit

Hurry up and wrap the gifts!

And that brings us up to date...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cry for help

Not me per se - I'm cool right now.  My cry is for a Bluetooth headset that doesn't suck in any way at all.  I've tried damn near all of them, really I have.  Here's the (short) list of features I want:

- Reasonably lightweight.  It doesn't have to be so small people mistake it for a vitamin tablet.  Just light enough so it doesn't hurt my ear.

- No need to stick in my ear.  My ears don't hold devices that well, anyways (I can't use iPod earbuds - they slip right out).  Give me a decent ear loop and I'll be fine.

- The ear loop should be small, but solid, and have enough play so I can actually wrap it properly around my ear.  And I need to wear sunglasses with it.

- Gimmick-free noise cancellation.  No weird probes in contact with my flesh.

- Good volume and easy adjustment.

- Battery life giving me at least 6 hours of talk time.  Standby doesn't matter as much - I plug it in every night.

- Either no blinking light, or one that's off by default.  It's bad enough I wear a headset all day.  I don't want to look like a cyborg when I do so.

- Range good enough that I can leave the phone in my pocket and not worry about static.

- Tough enough to toss in my jacket pocket or backpack without breaking it.

- Buttons that don't accidentally turn it on if I breathe heavy when I have it in my coat.

- A solid enough fit that I can put the thing on and use it without worrying that it's going to go flying off my face as soon as I turn my head.

Virtually all the ones I've tried flunk in some way or another.  I'm still using them anyways, but it's a huge pain in the neck.  Here's the current state of what I have:

- Jawbone 2: Sound is good, battery life is good, but it always feels like it's going to fall off.  And I have to use the old earpiece from the Jawbone 1 to hold it even half-securely.  Plus the little contact is always coming loose from my face.

- BlueAnt Z9i: Good performance, horrible earhooks.  The original Z9 fit somewhat better for some reason.

- BlueAnt V1: See above.  I was able to get an old earhook from a headset I used back in the Stone Age to fit into it and that helped a little, but the fit is still horrid.

- Motorola H15: I'm sending this one back.  Great promise, mediocre fit, horrible connections.  Maybe I just got a dud, but people were hanging up on me when I used it.

- Plantronics 520: Not horrible.  Blinks like a Cylon, looks a little too conspicuous, and I had to hack up the earpiece so it wouldn't cause pain.  But it fits OK now, the sound is pretty good, and the battery will last about a month.  I can leave it in my car for weeks and keep using it when I need to.

We've already established (through about 8 years of posts) that I am a Bluetooth Whore of the worst sort.  But I'm really kind of surprised that the market just hasn't built one that's a no-brainer for me yet.  Meanwhile, I'm struggling to get as close as I can to the right headset - so I keep buying them and keep rotating them in and out of my collection.  I've also given away a few over the years.

What I find myself doing of late is using the built-in Bluetooth in my car more and more, and leaving a headset in my pocket (the 520, usually) for the rest of the time.

Someday...

(It's been a nice last month since I posted - I'll write about it sometime this week or so)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Welcome back, America...

I feel like our country just took a nice, refreshing shower. We're clean again. The dirt of the last eight years is starting to swirl down the drain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The election, in a nutshell

Undecided voters?


To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.
I'd say that pretty much sums it up...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Congratulations Rays

Nice job - you guys earned it.  It's nice to have a real rival besides the Yankees.  The kid Longoria seems a little bit on the cocky side, but on the other hand a lot of folks say that about our second baseman.

At least now I don't have to stay up late to watch games, and maybe the duckboats'll get a little rest.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Improving transportation in Massachusetts

First of all: I live here. I really like it here. I make a good living. And I don't enjoy paying taxes that much.

OK. Now that that's out of the way, I think it's past due time to raise our taxes here. Which one, you ask? Well, our transportation infrastructure is falling apart. And tolls are high on our roads with (the Mass. Pike including the harbor tunnels and the Tobin Bridge) further increases scheduled. This combination isn't good. Also, the current toll structure is unfair as heck - cars traveling between east-west pay a distance-based toll (the Turnpike), and people traveling from my North Shore pay tolls on the Tobin Bridge and to use the harbor tunnels. However, the entire southeast portion of the state doesn't deal with tolls, nor do people in the northwest suburbs. All of I-93 is toll-free. Yet those people are heavy road users, too - the Big Dig took I-93 and put it underground, and the biggest project over the last 10 years or so as the Dig wound down was the widening of Route 3 to New Hampshire. We've also been rebuilding the I-95/128 sections around Canton and Westwood for a long time. These are expensive projects, and yet those road users pay nothing.

My solution? Well, the gas tax here has been fixed at approximately 21 cents per gallon since 1991. One of the lower gas taxes in the US. In 2006 (the last year for which I have data), that resulted in $674.6 million in revenue. The Turnpike Authority generated about $257 million in the same year from tolls (they also got money from leasing rights-of-way and their concessions). I couldn't find toll data from Massport for the Tobin Bridge, but I'd assume it's well under half of the total Pike toll revenue. Let's say $75 million just for giggles (probably high).

That gives us about $350 million total being brought in by tolls statewide.

Now for the science...

My solution: raise the gas tax by at least 20¢. 25¢ would be OK as well. That doubles the revenue in total to somewhere in the $1.35 billion range - about $300 million more than a high estimate of total toll revenue. Now here's where the good part comes. In the legislation enabling the tax hike, after a 6-month window all tolls would be eliminated. Future increases in gas taxes would be automatic and indexed to inflation - and all the revenue from this would be dedicated to highway maintenance and transportation (the MBTA and regional bus services).

So you will have more money available to dedicate to highway and bridge maintenance for starters. You can also divert some money to the MBTA to expand and improve service. The six-month crossover produces a temporary bump in revenue beyond that - which can go to fund some of the more pressing infrastructure needs in the state.

Another advantage of the gas tax is that it's a true user tax. The more gas you use, the higher the taxes you pay. And the reason you'd be using more gas is either you drive a lot (which increases wear on the roads) or you have a very inefficient vehicle (increasing wear on the environment). A higher tax is an incentive to use less of the taxed item. In this case, gas.

One other point - even with double the gas tax our gas prices would be lower than many other states. Connecticut prices are routinely around 30¢ more than Massachusetts prices. Maine is similar much of the time. By comparative standards, this is a pain-free way to deal with our infrastructure issues.

I'm going to start pushing hard to try and get this done on a legislative level. Who knows if I'll have any luck, but I do know folks to at least get it on someone's agenda.

And it would affect me - I pay the gas bill for all my employees. But I still think it's a fairer way to fund our transportation systems.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rating the new portables

Disclaimer: I haven't gotten my hands on one of the new MacBooks or MacBook Pros yet. I may not have time to for a while yet. This take is based entirely on published specs and reviews, along with the announcement info.

First - the price-reduced MacBook (plastic) for $999. It's simply a re-pricing of yesterday's $1099 model, but breaking the psychological $1000 barrier is important. This holds the line short-term until the first serious price cut on the new MacBook models.

Second - the new MacBook. I love that we've picked up some Pro features, like the multitouch trackpad and discrete VRAM. I also like the speed and the fact that it uses the same high-end chipset as the Pro. My one quibble is that Apple has eliminated the FireWire port (goodbye, Target Disk mode) without giving any sort of reasonable substitute. USB takes care of virtually every serious need but migration and troubleshooting are a lot harder without the FireWire port. And that also dictates that despite the greatly improved specs, there will be no use of this at all in the DV marketplace. Pity. Otherwise excellent.

Third - new MacBook Pro. The 17" model is essentially dead (it did not get changed at all - no redesign), so we'll skip it. The new specs are truly splendid. Still 4GB RAM supported (that won't change in laptops for a while yet), but cache is improved, bus speed is faster, they now use DDR3 RAM, bigger drives are standard, and coolest (though the software limits the coolness at the moment) is the fact that you can run on either the lower-power integrated graphics or the swank-ass dedicated GPU. Real neat. I also like that we don't have latch mechanisms anymore, and easy access to the hard drive (along with the DVD slot moving to the side).

This space efficiency comes at the cost of the FireWire 400 port (there's still a FireWire 800 port, but I'm wondering if the clock is ticking for the interface), and DVI has been replaced by DisplayPort. That has great long-term potential but right now it means you'll need a dongle to use pretty much anything but about 5 TVs and the new Apple Cinema Display 24" that ships in November (which also dumps FireWire, but adds a MagSafe plug so no more having to buy a separate adapter for work - yay!).

I like the new look of both, too. Pretty spiffy. I miss matte displays but I don't hate glossy the way some do. Personal taste.

Fourth, and finally, the MacBook Air. Meh. It got the new chipset (good - it should improve speed and battery life a little), DisplayPort (OK), and a bigger hard drive (120GB is usable, and the new 128GB SSD option is even better, if pricey). Still the same clock speeds, and still only 2GB of RAM.

Maybe the next update will give it some love (speeds of 2GHZ or more, and 4GB RAM installed, along with either a wired Ethernet port or another USB port). By then the HD should be up to 160 or maybe even 240GB.

I don't expect to own one of these new MacBook Pros anytime real soon (unless I either have an older machine die or hire someone else), but the good news for me is that if/when I do at least I'll be able to use my Apple discount. Makes it a little more palatable. I will be installing quite a few of them in the next few weeks, though - they are a truly nice ride...

Quick sports talk

First of all - the reasons the Sox will win this series and ultimately the World Series: Very good, tested starting pitching. 1-5 in the batting order. Very strong defense. Papelbon.

Why they'll lose: Too many injuries. No Mike Lowell (instead of Lowell/Youkilis you have Youk/Kotsay). They probably won't be pitching Lester again unless we get to 7 games. Beckett isn't Beckett this year (he must be hurt still). Mike Timlin is on the roster.

The good news: Even if they don't win this one, we've got two of the last four already. Not too shabby (and the only multiple winner so far this decade). The Yankees are in utter disarray. The way the Sox farm system has been working, reinforcements are arriving every year. They should remain competitive. To get in the playoffs 5 out of the last 6 years and win two titles is pretty special. To win 3 (this year if they do) would be amazing. The playoff streaks Atlanta and the Yankees had were on another level, but neither team has won this decade.

Football - with Brady down, the Patriots aren't going to win the Super Bowl this year, though they still well may be a playoff team. But the more important thing is that there is absolutely no powerhouse team this year. Period. There's a bunch of decent teams, each with serious flaws that are one bad player performance away from getting blown out. The Patriot philosophy of developing a good solid middle class of interchangable players seems to be getting adopted league-wide, and as a result the pickings are thinner. So pretty much no team (except maybe the Raiders) is truly horrible, but no team is really that good. 4 more weeks and we should know who will contecd but right now even the unbeaten Titans have issues.

In racing, did Carl Edwards just have a lousy week or what?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Well...

Jon Lester is the freakin' MAN! Wow. And the bullpen almost blew it, but held on enough to get the win. Onto Tampa!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

iPhone 2.1 - if only this was July...

I loaded my iPhone 3g with the new 2.1 software the moment it became available (well, not quite - but I did go home for lunch just so I could do the update).  Here's a quick take on what was broken before, and how it is now:

- Camera incredibly slow to load: Well, it's a little better, but still not as good as in the original software.

- Contacts app slow to load: Fixed.  At least for my 500ish address book.  Not quite instant, but comparable to 1.0.

- App Store downloading issues: I had to clean everything up manually, but now all is well and I can use the app store just fine from the device or the Mac.  Updates work OK now as well.

- 3g call quality: Improved.  Coverage is still a little weak near my home, but calls now transition from 3g to GSM legacy without a hitch most of the time.

- Battery life: Seems a little better.  Also should be better if you use ActiveSync - now you have the option to do a timed sync (before it was push or manual only).  I strongly suggest timed sync.

- Safari stability: About the same.  Speed is a little improved, though.

- Bluetooth issues: The big one was resolved.  You can now listen to voicemail through a Bluetooth headset again (in 2.0.x, only a few headsets could do that).  According to reports, it now works again with car BT systems that weren't working in 2.0 - though it was working OK with the system in my Honda anyhow.

- Still no Notes sync.  Bleh.

All in all, this is what Apple would have shipped in July if they could have.  Originally, they promised some goodies like turn-by-turn GPS support and a push service for 3rd party apps this month, but all the bugs in 2.0 turned their September focus to stability - and rightly so.  Ultimately this is a no-brainer update, though.  Hopefully the new functionality will deploy in the near future, as developers are already building for it.

I was talking about this with someone a couple of days ago - basically, if this had been the initial iPhone release people would have been astounded by how good it was.  The catch for Apple is that they've already set the bar with the initial iPhone.  Now it's all about meeting expectations.  iPhone 2007 redefined what people expect from a cellphone.  iPhone 3g is more, it's (now) better, but it's not the revolution its predecessor was.  Could be worse, though.  Apple could be in the shoes of the competition.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Where did summer go?

Just wondering.  Vacation was nice, and then I worked an abbreviated week last week - we went to join my parents and my sister's family down in Chatham for two days at the end of the week.  It was hectic, but the beach there was nice and thanks to an unexpected contest victory by Jane (she won a Cape Cod vacation package from NECN), we got to spend our first night together ever without our son.  Albeit over an hour away in Falmouth, but it was still kind of a neat experience if a brief one.

I've had some interesting churn on the business side - a couple of clients have gone away but there's been more than enough new business lately to compensate and then some.  Now that Gary's back from his tour we'll be upgrading the company site significantly and adding a technical blog for the clients, and that will be a nice service we can provide.

It remains a challenge to make sure that all the work can be done to my methodology and satisfaction - that's the single most difficult part of running a service business.  I hire pretty good people, but I'm the single person I trust the most to do almost anything.  Makes it a little tough to keep on top of things.

David starts 1st grade on Wednesday.  Wow.  He had a good summer, I think - spent a lot of time swimming, had ample play dates with friends, and now that Jane has departed from her job if all goes well she can be a lot more involved in his school life.  That can only be good. 

Sorry for the relatively disjointed update tonight...  If Sarah Palin doesn't drop out in the next couple of days I'll eviscerate her candidacy then.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

First day on the Rock

My tech-support life is still in full swing.  Although I didn't turn my computer on for the first day and a half I was here, I wound up still providing support on short notice anyways.

This afternoon, we went to go see a lecture and slideshow by Peter Simon (Carly's brother, and a well-regarded photographer) at the gallery in downtown Vineyard Haven he shares with his wife.  The talk was fascinating, but when he was trying to get the projector going it wasn't treating him well.  Jane volunteered me to help out, and I was able to get it taken care of quick and easy.  He had Vista, and it wasn't properly identifying the projector's refresh capability.  I fixed it, and upped the resolution to 1024x768 while I was at it.  The show went off without a hitch.

And we got a nice signed calendar for 2009 in the process.

Other than that, the house is nice, the island is great as always, and I wish I could afford to buy a house here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Teh Snappy is back!

iPhone 2.01 software was dropped upon us late yesterday - after updating, it seems to restore a lot of the response performance that vanished under the initial 2.0 release. Hopefully they improved RF performance somewhat as well. We shall see once I take it on the road today...

Last weekend was a blur of music, downpours, and no sleep. We started out with a free show by Entrain on Friday night as part of the annual Seaport Festival here (terrific show, lots of fun). Then Saturday David went off in the afternoon with a babysitter while we went to the Springsteen concert in Foxboro. We also did some shopping for a sofa (our 6-year-old set is falling apart) and
though the show was good, it wasn't great. Plus we got clobbered by a storm as we arrived there, which wound up pushing the show start back an hour and a half. And because of Foxboro's noise curfew we wound up with a show that was shorter than he usually plays.

Sunday there was one more show we could see - my web designer also plays with Boston when they go off on their relatively rare tours (hence the day job with me). We were on the guest list for their Sunday night show, but we'd just plain been music'ed out at that point. I'm told we missed a great show by my other employees who were there. Rats.

Instead we went up to Kittery for back-to-school shopping for David, and fought a torrential thunderstorm the whole way. Not to mention we arrived exactly two minutes too late for lunch at Flo's. When they say they close at 3, they mean it.

Shoulda gone to the show instead!

I'm writing a more technical piece right now for the BNUG blog to try and help put some more life in it - should be posted in a day or so. It's about netbooks.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

OK - time to grow...

I am going to experiment with Twitter.  My ramblings will be at twitter.com/joshturiel - most of my more interesting thoughts are one-liners, anyways.  Dunno if it'll last, but iPhones are quite well-suited to microblogging, so I might as well experiment with being a 2.0 kinda guy.

The iVerdict 2.0

So far, I'd have to pronounce the iPhone 2.0 as a qualified Win.  A full Win isn't awarded until a couple of days into the workweek when I have answers to a couple of the things I've seen.

Here's the Win/Fail count by item:

Firmware 2.0: Win.  Many operations (like using the Photo app with my 8.5kPhoto library) are faster.  Mobile Safari protects from ad pages and pop-ups better, but crashes more often on really complicated stuff.  Contacts search is huge.  This Win pretty much balances out all the Fail awards, it's so big.

Battery life: Possibly Fail.  I had push on for my Exchange-ish account (I use Kerio Mail Server 6.5 at work), but after the first day of normal usage, for some reason last night it caught in a loop or something and drained half my battery in about an hour.  I assume a bug.  Until I figure it out I went back to timed download.  If push does this regularly then battery life gets a Fail, but still no Win unless 3g life turns out good.

AT&T 3g - Fail.  3g speed rocks, but often I find myself unable to get any bars of 3g.  And the phone has some trouble switching back and forth.  Indications online appear to be that this is an AT&T issue - they had similar capacity problems the first week or so after iPhone 1.0.  So for causing the same issues two years running AT&T gets a bag full of Fail.

GPS: Win.  Works well, locks quickly, and is pretty simple.  Well-integrated with Maps.

Form factor: Big Win.  The 3g is more comfortable in the hand and slides into a pocket better.  The new speakers are clearly better.  The buttons are even better, and the headphone jack is normal.

Activations: Massive, unprecedented Fail on day 1.  Not so bad now.  Apple worked around the worst of it, thankfully, and I got mine activated without too much trouble once I made it home.

Peripheral compatibility: Win, but the Firewire loophole is now shut.  Until this model, you could use older Firewire-based chargers to charge iPhones.  No more.  Otherwise, compatibility is good.

Capacity: Win.  16 GB is mega-useful.  My old one was full.

As with the old model, expect a minor firmware update to be distributed in 2-4 weeks that fixes the vast majority of the issues I and others notice.  Despite the things I've dinged here, overall there is a lot more polish on the 2.0 phone than was on the 1.0 at initial release.  That's important.  And the App Store is awesome.  I can't even do justice to it in this post.

Friday, July 11, 2008

iPhone 2.0 in-hand

Yesterday I got my hands on the 2.0 firmware and updated my original iPhone.  I was impressed.  But today I went to get the new phone anyways.  Just for comparison's sake - last year I arrived around 3:30 PM to get the phone at the 6PM opening.  About a half-hour after the store opened, I was on my way out the door with the phone and had it activated soon after.  Today, not so much.

In today's case, the store opened at 8.  I went over at 9, hoping the line wouldn't be as bad as last year.  I was right - it was worse.  I finally got into the store a little before 2PM (!) and the actual purchase was relatively pain-free.  The payment systems at Apple were up and down much of the day and that slowed them up even more.  Apple was activating phones for people who wanted that - I just wanted to get home by then (I was starved and tired), so I got in, backed up my old iPhone (which was deactivated already) and, after a few tries I was able to get the phone activated.  Restoring took about 15 minutes, and I had to re-setup my voicemail because it was lost in the transfer.  All OK in the end, though.

UI performance is slightly more responsive than the original.  The hand feel is a little better (it's tapered now), and the volume is much better on the speakerphone.  The 3g radio is significantly faster.  You can tell.  Other than that I'm still getting the hang of it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This just in...

If you are looking for a laptop (or any other piece of expensive electronic hardware), please don't look to get it from a foreigner on Craigslist!  Every day, I see alert messages on my mailing lists that "Amy from Manchester UK" (substitute name and European city du jour) is selling a MacBook Pro (substitute other Mac or Dell or whatever du jour) and is obviously a scammer, based on some research the intrepid poster has done.

Duh!  They're all scammers!  Craigslist is a wonderful thing, but has rapidly become the scammer's medium of choice.  I won't use it for the same reason I won't eBay - it's just not worth it to me.  I don't feel like trying to judge character to save a few extra dollars.  I've only sold a couple of things via eBay, and those times I had my friend Rob (an eBay nut) sell 'em for me - and the last time we did so we dealt with a jerk in CA who was trying to rip off my old iPod.  Screw that.

If you're looking for a used sofa within driving distance, Craigslist is awesome.  If you want a laptop, go to the vendor directly.  If you want to save a few dollars, there's a web store called Amazon that I hear is pretty good.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

iPhone Reloaded

So here's the scoop.  Unlike last year, when I really didn't make up my mind that I would get an iPhone until the morning it came out, I already know what I'm going to do this time.  I'm going to get one.  In fact, I will get one fairly early in the day Friday (I won't wait for the store to open, but soon afterwards).  I will do it because a large number of my customers want to buy them, and I'll need all the expertise I can get with it.

However, I'm also quite happy with the one I have now, a year later.  Here are the reasons that make sense for me to upgrade:

- Starting over with a new battery.  A year after buying the first one, I'm sure the charge capacity will start tapering off in the next few months.  Li-Ion batteries are like that.

- 3g.  Fast Internet is good.  And Metro Boston has pretty solid 3g coverage.  In fact, most of the East Coast has good coverage.

- Better voice quality.  This is nice.  The existing model is pretty good for a GSM phone, but it can always be better.

And why I really would rather keep the current one:

- Cost.  Why buy a new one?  And the plans are a little more expensive.

- All the coolest new software features are free with the 2.0 software update that comes out Friday as well.

- 3g is fast.  But you pay by giving up battery life for it.  Only 5 hours' combined talk/net time, compared to about 8+ when you use EDGE (still supported, by the way).

- Now that the iPhone is in a traditional subsidized model, you are locked to the phone for 2 real years - not like the old one where you buy the phone and that's it.  Plus that makes the purchase more of a pain in the ass - now I have to actually do the contract in the Apple Store.  Blah.

Personally I'd rather buy it for the $499 that the 16GB model would cost unsubsidized, activate at home, and then get a credit back or something for the $200 subsidy amount by buying it at Apple.  Or buy at AT&T the same way, and get a rebate check or something.  Whatever.  One of the great things about iPhone 1.0 was that it let you take the annoying cellphone store paperwork and crap out of the process.

Either which way, though, in the end iPhones are a money-maker for me because for my clients Apple can do no wrong.  Which is nice.  Plus they make cool stuff.

Plug-in cars - why gasoline isn't dead yet

Yeah, this is not my typical topic, but with all the hype around electric cars lately (gas at $4/gallon will do that), I'd like to point out exactly why the internal combustion engine as we know it isn't dead yet, and may not die in the foreseeable future, either.

It's a simple bit of everyday math. I can pull into a gas station and fill my car with about 20 gallons for gas in 3-4 minutes. Maybe less. That 20 gallons of gas will give my Honda Pilot (I bought it about a month ago to replace my trusty Kia) enough fuel to travel between 350-450 miles, depending on the kind of driving I do. Or a full day on the road, realistically, assuming I am on a long trip of some sort.

On the other hand, even assuming twice the battery performance of today's battery packs, I will at most get about 250-300 miles out of a charge, and the car will have to be substantially smaller to do that. Plus I will need to charge the car for at least an hour or more to charge an empty battery - not the several minutes that it takes to fuel up.

Now granted that electric cars are far gentler on the environment in almost every way (batteries usually have a decent load of toxic metal in them), especially because from an infrastructure perspective it is far more efficient to simply get power from the grid than it is to transport large vats of gasoline in trucks and tankers. No-brainer there. But if electric cars could take a full charge in about 5 minutes or so (maybe even 10) and then provide sufficient power to take a small crossover SUV-ish vehicle (like a Honda CR-V or maybe a Chevy Equinox) for 300 miles, that's the point when they will rule. But for now fossil fuels are still a far more effective way to get power to a vehicle.

I think ultimately plug-in hybrids will be the best answer, maybe eventually fuel cells as well. But the combination of power from the grid combined with easy chemical generation will give us the best overall flexibility, plus maximum compatibility with the existing infrastructure.

On the other hand I'm one battery generation away from buying a Segway. When they can get a range of about 30 miles (they're good for up to about 20 right now) and recharge in a half-hour to 80% capacity I will jump onboard and do most of my local travel that way. Add a 6-foot retractable power cord so I can top off wherever I am easily and all will be well with the world.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Back intact

My family returned to me last night, ending (once again) my bachelor days.  It wasn't a bad week without them - I worked all five weekdays (including the holiday), went to a cookout, had fun at the NASCAR race up in New Hampshire, and cleaned the house pretty well (considering).

With them back, we spent the day doing Family Stuff.  Breakfast together at IHOP, and then after we spent an hour or so together with the Globe, we went for a walk into town and even took time to go to the movies together (we saw Wall•E, which was terrific).  That represents two movies in one year for me (last month Jane and I went to see "You Don't Mess With The Zohan", also enjoyable, though not brilliant like Wall•E was).  It's a modern-day record.

Work is lined up to be slightly slow the next few days, but between iPhone 2.0 and a bunch of customer projects starting next week we're going to be really busy from here on in.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It's gonna be a long season...

Swept by the Rays. Ouch.

More seriously, this years' Sox are an odd case. Definitely a team in transition. There's a very good crop of starters coming aboard from the minors (Buchholz and Masterson), Beckett isn't quite up to his '07 form but still the best starter on the staff, and both Matsuzaka and Lester have made huge strides. Plus Wakefield is still Wakefield. They've upgraded at their backup catcher position, have the same infield as last year (for a change), and still have arguably the best closer in the game today. Plus this year we're finally getting a taste of what JD Drew can do - he was just player of the month for June.

Why are they in trouble, then? Well, first of all the injury bug. Dice-K missed a few starts, Bartolo Colon is on the DL now with back problems, and Beckett missed the first couple of weeks and isn't quite back to form. Combine that with Mike Lowell's stint on the injured list and the 6+ weeks that Ortiz will have missed by the time he comes back, and that's a lot of consistency gone. But there's more.

First of all, Lugo is a huge weak spot. He is hitting better right now than he did at this point last year, but at this point last year he was below the Mendoza Line. You can't suck more than that. Combine mediocre offense with horrid defense and he's a huge liability. You can take a weak-hitting shortstop if he is a vacuum in the field, but not when he just sucks.

The biggest problem this year though is the combination of a slumping Varitek (every year he has a longer offensive slump - this year he looks more overmatched than ever) and a middle relief group that has just been awful as a whole. Each one has had a good streak, but as a group they've been horrid. The best thing I can say about Mike Timlin is that he's rehabbing in the minors. Manny Delcarmen seemed like he was going to make The Leap this year, but he's regressed. Craig Hansen just may never quite get there. And Hideki Okajima seems to not have the command he did last year - he used to be able to hit spots with his fastball and use it to set up his offspeed stuff. He isn't doing it this time around.

The Sox have so much offensive firepower that they can't help but stay in the race (even assuming 0-for-3 perfomances every night from Varitek and Lugo), but I don't think we'll be spoiled with another Series this year. I hope to be proven wrong, though.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

This is my life

I'm home working this week while Jane and David are off at the beach.  So that said, here's my swinging bachelor life today:

Leave my last work stop just about 5 in a raging thunderstorm.  Dash to the car, soaked through (in only about 50 meters' distance).  Drive to the market and buy some fish.  Cook dinner.  Do some remote work and catch up on e-mails.  Read paper, watch some TV.

I noticed a pesky fly that got into the house and was buzzing around.  But I didn't see him for a while.  I also noticed that the floor in my home office is kind of dirty.  As I sit down to check the news before bed, the fly zips by me a couple of times.

So I decide to multitask.  I have a Dyson vacuum, legendary for its power.  I go and get the vacuum, plug it in, and start cleaning my floor.  Right up until the fly settles for a moment on the outside of my wall lamp.

That hose pulled him in just like that.  Bang.  And I have a clean floor.  This is bachelor multitasking.

Monday, June 09, 2008

How did I do?

So WWDC has begun, the keynote is over, and we've got a slew of stuff. How did I do on my guesses?

iPhone 2.0 - yep, nailed that. It'll be called the iPhone 3g, and the pricing plans will change a little - along with more traditional carrier subsidies coming along. No more activation at home? Epic Fail. Simultaneous voice and data? Win.

iPhone software 2.0 - Win. Got that.

Mobile Me? - Got it, upgrade done, same price as .Mac.

10.6? Say hello to "Snow Leopard", due in "about a year". Minor improvements to Leopard (hence the name as a derivative), but smaller size, better performance, and more stability. Haven't seen yet if it's x86-only or not.

No new hardware, no new surprises.

The only place I seriously missed was timing - I expected the iPhone 2 to be available this week, but it will be in-stores on 7/11. And I wouldn't be surprised to see a minor hardware tweak or two tomorrow (Tuesday is traditionally New Hardware Day at Apple). The other alternative is that they may do weekly updates of products from now until the week of 7/11 in order to keep the drums beating.

WWDC predictions

Although Blogger lets me change times, this is actually being posted at about 10:30 EDT on June 9th - 2.5 hours before the Jobs keynote at WWDC. I wrote this for a client last week and I figured now I'd share it:

Here's what I'm expecting to see announced in order of likelihood:

iPhone hardware 2.0: 100%. New phone, with 3g and GPS support, maybe video calling as well. I think they will add AT&T's OTA TV service as well.

iPhone software 2.0: 100%. Same software as on new phone, but minus the features that depend on new hardware (like video, GPS, and 3g radio stuff).

.Mac goes away, replaced with "Mobile Me" service: 98%. It'll support Exchange-like features for regular users and have new stuff over .Mac. It'll probably be announced and then live in a week or so, when 10.5.4 is released.

Preannounce Mac OS 10.6, shipping sometime next year: 75%. I think they'll announce it since Leopard's now about 9 months old. They'll try and ship it in January, and it'll be Intel-only.

New hardware of any sort: 50%. I don't think there's any major stuff from Intel that warrants an announcement next week. Maybe the mini will get an update, but I think that isn't worth announcing at the conference.

"One more thing..." - 50%. Steve likes to pull surprises out of his sleeve. But he does it more often at MacWorld than at WWDC.

Friday, May 30, 2008

iPhone 2 expectations

I'm really amused by all the breathless predictions and anticipation regarding iPhone 2.0, which will be announced and ship in the next couple of weeks.  It's not like the first one, where all we had was a Jobs demo, with details trickling out over the last few weeks to release in a controlled fashion.  This one will have very few surprises at all, and if there are any I expect them to be at the margins.

We already know almost all the details of the software - betas have been coming out fast and furious and they all get dissected as they hit.  We know that ActiveSync support is included.  We also know that .Mac services will be souped up (and maybe renamed) to support OTA sync as well.  GPS support is built into the software now, geotagging is now an option for pictures, and we can do a selective search for contacts.  I assume that notes will now sync to the Mac as well - this was a "left-out" feature in 1.0.

The hardware is almost as well-known.  The form factor will be similar to the existing model.  It may support video in from the screen side (for videoconferencing), we don't know that for sure yet.  We know it'll support AT&T's 3G network in the US, and it'll work overseas as well.  Apple is now doing lots of low-key announcements.  The new iPhone will be available pretty much worldwide (except for Russia and China at this writing).  Since GPS support is built into the new software, expect it in the new hardware.  And the look will change some, even though the form factor stays the same - maybe a plastic shell on a steel frame to save weight (the battery will probably be a little bigger).

The only real question extends to the pricing model.  Will the device be sold the same way the old one was, or will we get carrier subsidies?  Unfortunately, that's not the kind of question that get the hearts of Mac fanbois racing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another batch o' randomness

Quick thoughts:

David turned 6 last weekend. We took him to the same Mexican restaurant we've been spending all the birthdays at lately and made him wear the sombrero. He didn't like that. But we gave him a Nintendo DS Lite as a birthday gift, which made it all cool.

Work is a little more manageable right now. I still haven't hired a new person yet, but I've talked to a couple of possibilities. We'll see where that takes us.

I really wish I could vote for John McCain. Unfortunately, I just want to see the religious wing of the Republican party crushed so badly that I can't even think too hard about it. So I went with Obama - I decided on him about 2 days before the Mass. primary and I'm willing to overlook the areas where I differ with him. Why? Because he's not a Republican. Once the religious right collapses and we return to the days of a relatively moderate, secular Republican party I could come back someday. I'd rather be a conservative than a liberal, but I'd rather be a liberal than what passes for conservative nowadays.

I put a clear 3M skin on my MacBook Pro's wristrest. Nice. Now I don't have to worry so much about the wristwatch scuffing effect.

Over the last two months I have lost seven pounds.

Which doesn't make much of a dent in the basic problem. But if I can make that pace for a few more months, I'll be in a good place by the end of the year. We'll see.

The problem I had with a mail server in mid-April is now solved forever. I worked a few hours on Monday and deployed a permanent server (4 cores of Xeon goodness) to handle the system. It isn't even breaking a sweat now. Meanwhile, I got to build my first high-end system in several years to do the temporary fix, and now I'm going to stick a decent video card in it, bring it back home, and play games on it. A win-win.

Leopard 10.5.3 was released yesterday. Which means it's now finally pretty much ready for prime time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

If only

If I could write just a tenth as well as Malcolm Gladwell does, I would be making a fabulous living exploring all the oddities of human behavior. I could dive from subject to subject and write bestselling books about the ability of humans to make snap decisions, and to judge trends. I could do that because even a tenth of Gladwell is still pretty damned good.

But I'm bringing five percent, max. So I settle for fixing computers and running networks. It's not a bad consolation prize, though. Even at five percent I still write fairly well. I just pretty much have to keep it confined to this boring old blog and the occasional tech publication.

Oh well.

Another big day

Jane's parents sent us money to buy David a bicycle for his upcoming birthday - so I took him yesterday to the local bike shop to get one.  Today, he rode it all the way to the park and around it.  With training wheels.  But that won't last long, I suspect.

He named it "Thunder".

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sorry I've left folks hanging

Sunday's as good a time as any to catch up...

So here's what's going on. I had an employee leave on tax day, in the middle of a project. No warning. It left me behind the proverbial 8-ball. So I have been doing extra work to try and catch up, and repair the damage done by all the things that were hanging. It's caused some problems with customers (who have generally been very understanding, though), and it's left me in a position where I have to really think a lot about the direction this company of mine is headed in.

So far, I've been growing fairly organically. As the business has grown, I've added people to help. I start them as part-time for 3 months or so, and then move them to full-time if their skills and the business are a good match. It worked OK, and minimized risk. But here's the problem with it. I am the best employee (overall) I can afford to buy. Each of the people I have here possess skills, and in some cases they can do individual things better than me (good example - Joey is much better than me at Daylite database management). But I'm the best rounded of them, and I also know the most about things like servers and cross-platform integration. I also am the face of the company (it's got my name on it), and so I have to go get most of the business. Besides those, I'm the manager of everyone else's time and resources. Wearing all three of those hats is tough. And I feel like I've lost track of too many of the balls I need to keep in the air of late, especially this last month.

So here's what I'm trying to do for now. First of all, I'm trying to shut the doors as much as I can to new business for a while. I'm overwhelmed with what I have now overall. I am looking for a part-time person to help on the PC side and replace the one I lost. They will need to be fairly advanced in skills. I have to be able to trust them to do a lot of work and it'll take a while for me to get to that level of comfort.

Second, I'm cross-training the people I have as best as I can. I need to make folks better and more interchangable.

Third, I'm now putting more of my time into seeing the projects in-person and doing the work myself. If I'm not out getting business I can spend more of my time taking care of what I already have.

Fourth, I'm getting more aggressive on expenses. I figure if I can cut some of my other costs down internally, I can make my exisisting price structures work better and withstand any slump in business that comes from not recruiting as much new work now. If existing clients slow down I want to be ready for that eventuality.

Fifth, and most importantly, I'm re-evaluating everything. I can't work on my own, because then I get zero time to myself and very finite earnings. I can't grow and run a big organization because I don't have the patience or the skills to do so - and I want to keep doing engineering work myself. But maybe I don't have to be on my own. Maybe I could take on a partner, or join up with another company, or something of the sort. Maybe I could look at my fee structures and raise prices or go to more project-based work. Maybe I could tinker with the business model. I don't know for sure at the moment, and chances are I'll keep on this way but just get things in order. But I'll look at everything. Priority one is to keep the customers happy. If I can do that all else should follow.

Home has been better. David had a birthday party today, at the Beverly Y's Sterling Center where they do swimming and gymnastics. 2 years ago, one of his preschool friends had a party there and David went and had fun, but was nervous about things. This year was a complete 180º from the other party. What a difference 2 years make between a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old. He was experimenting with everything, vaulting, trying equipment, and doing flips on the mat. And almost all the kids were like that. A pleasure to watch (although nerve-wracking at times!). We gave his friend Olivia a ride to the party with us, and she really enjoyed going with us.

After a years' worth of nagging from Jane to get a new camcorder (ours broke a couple of years ago), I went out this morning and bought one. I got a little $170 model from RadioShack that takes 720p video. Pretty spiffy for the money, though it is solid-state only (I put an 8GB SDHC card in it - good for 4.5 hours of record time), uses a CMOS sensor, and has a relatively cheapie lens (digital zoom only). On the other hand, it's tiny, fits in a pocket, and is Good Enough for things like parties and weekend trips. If I shot tons of video I'd want something else, but it's great for what we need. The files are basic QuickTime format, and it mouts as a USB drive on the desktop. They include Windows software for those of you cursed with no Mac.

Final note for now: Kyle Busch is a very talented race car driver. He's also a menace. Little E wasn't the first person he punted and probably won't be the last.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Where, oh where, has the author been?

Yeah, I know...  No posts and you're all going back to other folks' blogs.  Sorry.  Most of them are better than me at blogging, anyways.  Here's the nutshell version of what's been up for me keeping me off the screen:

- I had an employee go AWOL last week.  Left me in a mess o' hurt.  I'm actively hunting for a replacement now.

- A major mail/calendaring system upgrade went awry.  Basically, since iCal uses HTTP connections to manage the calendar server (with a separate stateful transaction for each calendar loaded), I wound up with about 25 people sharing 25 calendars and 625 concurrent HTTP sessions (about half of which were also SSL-encrypted) to go with it.  And it turned out that's not so good on an old dual-G5 Xserve.  In fact, I'm migrating the whole system to a Core 2 Quad system I built to see if it'll handle the load better.

- While driving to get the hardware in question Tuesday night, I was pulled over for speeding.  Thankfully, I escaped with a warning.

- I've had several new clients come onboard, and I'm trying to juggle time the right way for everyone.  Minus a person.

- My wife had to spend a week down in Philly helping her folks out.

- I still have a proposal to write tomorrow and a remarkable amount of other stuff to do.

So I will try and post every once in a while, but it's looking slow for the forseeable future.  Bummer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another lap complete

As of a few minutes ago, I have begun my 43rd lap around the Sun.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

An Easter note:

Faith:

Sticking its fingers in its ears in the face of reason and chanting "nanananana I can't hear you" since the dawn of humanity.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Been offline again

I know, you're all disappointed I went OTA for the last few weeks. Sorry. Anyhow, it's been a hectic few weeks here - I hired another person last week, had a couple of office crises to manage, and a big deployment for a new client. All has gone pretty well, shockingly. But I think I'm at my growth limit now. Granted, I've said similar in the past, but four people is about the most I can manage singlehandedly.

Tech-wise, the problems with Leopard and wireless seem better, though not-quite solved yet. I hadn't blogged it before, but Leopard has a habit of dropping wireless connections at inopportune times. I noticed yesterday that my MacBook Pro was still trying to run the Intermapper daemon even though I'd removed it in the move to the new system. So that was slowing things down and, I think, helping to mess up wireless as well. The new firmware for Time Capsules and AirPort Extremes (along with AirPort cards) seems to help, but I'm holding out hope that 10.5.3 will make even more of a difference.

My in-laws are in town for the week - I'm ducking them for a couple of days for the most part in order to minimize the chance I'll give them the cold I just am getting over. Passing it along wouldn't be a great idea.

I mentioned this before, but soon my office website will get an overhaul. Some new stuff, an updated look, and a Wordpress blog. Most of my technical blog posts will move there and just get a link back to here once that happens.

The eeePC has been handy. Still undecided on whether I'll run mainly Windows or Linux on it, though. I like the simplicity of Linux but the networking is really a kludge.

Also - I spent Tuesday at a Microsoft training event (I had to leave early, though), where I was given copies of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and Vista Ultimate with SP1. Second prize was apparently two copies of Vista. I have finally installed Vista on a Parallels VM as a clean install, though, so I can get more hands-on time with it. I still see no deployments likely in the future, though. SBS 2008 is still forthcoming a ways down the line.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Latest tech

Two new tech things of significance:  I had to pick up another laptop since I have a new guy starting in two weeks.  So I applied Company Trickle-Down Theory and got a new Penryn-based MacBook Pro to replace my Santa Rosa.  Short version - they are, for all intents and purposes, the same.  No significant differences.  The Penryn has slightly better battery life, and runs a wee bit cooler.  But it's just basically a CPU refresh.  The multi-touch trackpad?  Whoop.

More potentially cool is the handheld computer I got as an experiment.  I ordered an Asus EEE PC (the 8GB version) from Newegg last week and got it on Friday.  I used it a couple of days with the built-in Linux, and now I'm playing with Windows XP on it (I will clone the HD image and save it in a week or two, then go back to Linux).  I upgraded it to 2GB RAM (to go with the 8GB SSD in it), and it's a pretty interesting device.  Small enough to stuff in my coat pocket, a little quirky, but the short version of this one is (I'm writing a more extensive review for the BNUG blog) this:

Windows - more apps, fast boot, easier management, far easier networking (wireless networking on Linux even annoys me!).  Runs hotter, though, and the battery life is a little less.

Under Linux, pretty much all the stuff you'll need is there.  It's got good connectivity, but package management is a pain if you stick to defaults.  Honestly, though, the next generation of these is going to rock.  The specs on mine (out of the box):  1GB RAM, 8GB SSD, 10/100 Ethernet and b/g wifi, a SDHC cardslot, 7" 800x480 screen, and a 900 MHz processor underclocked to 630.  I figure the next-gen model will be like this:

2GB RAM, 16 (or maybe 32) GB of SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, b/g/n wifi, an option to add EVDO or WiMAX, a 8" or 9" screen (probably at 1024x600 or some similar resolution), and the processor will be about 1.2 GHz and able to run at that speed with lower voltage.  Battery life will probably go to 4-5 hours from the current 3-3.5.  Imagine that for a minute - that was close to state-of-the art specs from a couple of years ago, but squeezed into a paperback book.  Cool.

When that does happen, I will get one, get VMware running on it, and that'll do double duty as my Windows machine instead of picking and choosing.  Food for thought.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Add to that list

The folks who call about car warranties from the number 850-475-5122.  The owner of the company needs to die in a suitably horrible way.  Perhaps electrocution from a poorly wired and grounded phone handset.  Yeah, that would be sweet...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If you live out in Coronado CA

And you happen to know the MLM jackasses who own "Small Business Network" (they call me several times a week from an autodialer that uses the CID 508-438-2672), please do me a favor and do Bad Things to them.  I won't offer you anything for said favor, but the wheels of karma will definitely spin favorably in your direction.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

One down

Thirty-seven (including the All-Star race) to go.  The NASCAR 2008 Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup season has begun and the Bud Shootout is in the books - answering the age-old question: "Would the move away from DEI help or hurt Dale Jr.?"

The answer:  Help.  Big-time.  Junior dominated the Shootout in his new Hendrick car, and won pretty handily, leading over 2/3 of the overall laps.  Last year, between the turmoil at DEI and the mysterious tendency of his engines to blow out, Junior still nearly made the Chase (the playoffs, for those of you accustomed to more conventional sports).  With good equipment (finally), you should see him return to his traditional place: dominant on plate tracks, strong on short tracks, good on the cookie-cutters.  He should make the Chase easily, and be competitive in the title hunt.

Which is good news for ratings - a Junior near the front equals eyeballs when you're talking about the most popular driver in American motorsports.  Now, if only IRL and Champ Car would merge I might give a crap about open-wheel racing as well.  Especially in hi-def.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Personal trivia - Places

Just for the heck of it, here are two useless lists - one of nations I've been to, and one of states I've been to. I count them even if all I did there was stop at an airport and change planes, and islands outside the US I count as nations (even though some are owned by other countries):

Nations:
Canada (Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec), Mexico, Venezuela, Aruba, St. Maarten, Barbados, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent, Martinique (though I didn't go ashore - I was sick), the Virgin Islands (both ours and the British ones), the Bahamas, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden.

Basically, I've been to Canada a bunch of times, Aruba twice, Europe once, and the Bahamas once. The rest were on cruises - two with my family as a teenager and one with my wife about 15 years ago. I think I might have flown to St. Maarten once, too - but I honestly can't remember. If I did, it was a long time ago.

States:
Massachusetts (duh), Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky (the airport for Cincinnati is there), Virginia, West Virginia (for about 5 miles), Delaware, Maryland, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Utah, and California.

Utah was for a Novell business trip back around 11-12 years ago, California was two trips as a kid, and Illinois was two business trips to my old company's parent. Even though I've actually been to almost half the 50 states, I've really only spent significant time in the Northeast.

What does that say? Well, absolutely nothing really - that's why it's trivia! More seriously, even though I'm passionately interested in the world around me, I have very little desire to actually see it in person. Even less since I got HD.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Blueprints

What do the Patriots need in the offseason? Well, first of all, it's easy to pinpoint the moment when the "FU" blowouts ended and when they started gutting out the victories. It was when Rosie Colvin hurt his foot and went on IR. Not only was he their pass rushing specialist, but he also added valuable depth to the defense, allowing Bruschi and Seau to be role players instead of going all-out. As well as the two of them played, it's obvious that relying on two inside backers that are in their late 30s to go 60 minutes is dangerous. Both could play next year if they wanted to, but they need help. Vrabel is likely to go another season.

The base 3-4 defense is sound with Warren, Wilfork, and a healthy Seymour. The secondary needs more cover support - short passing over the middle was a weakness for them most of the season that was less of an issue in their red zone defense (with the shortened field), but still should be addressed.

Offensively, we hope the two-back set of Morris and Maroney will be showing its potential again. There are some decisions to be made in the receiving corps - Troy Brown will almost certainly retire, with Donté Stallworth probably leaving in free agency and Randy Moss taking a deal to stay. I'm not sure what happened on the O-line last night, but I noticed that Russ Hochstein spent an awful lot of time playing - injuries have been a problem on the line all season. As deep as they are on the line, there have been a lot of issues there and at tight end. Not sure how to fix that.

The likeliest scenario I see is that the Pats package their #7 pick (thank you, Niners), for a mid-1st and one or two later picks to draft a linebacker and a corner as priorities. What happens a month from now in free agency will be key.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Aftermath

After about a quarter, I said to one of my fellow party-goers "I'm sick of this nailbiter crap every time the Pats are in a Super Bowl - why can't we just win in a blowout for a change?"  No response at that point (granted, the person in question I was speaking to was a tad inebriated, but...).  Anyhow, other than one blown call (a defensive hands to the face by New York that was missed) and a bad coaching decision (of ours - not going for a very makeable field goal), it was just a terrific blood-and-guts battle.  And yet another Manning grew a pair of nuts and pulled the win out.  I'm getting sick of it.  It was a terrific win by the Giants, a major bummer of a loss by the Patriots, and the Giants definitely earned it.

The only post-mortem I can give right now is congrats to the Dolphins for remaining the lone undefeated team, but Mercury Morris can kiss my butt and go get caught with some celebratory coke again.  That's actually the extent of my bitterness.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I used to think he was an idiot

Now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Arlen Specter is an idiot. He proved it by grandstanding about Spygate this week, during Super Bowl week, of course. Now I'm not a US Senator, nor am I an NFL official (just a fan with a little knowledge of basic strategy and how to play Madden). But I do understand the difference between violating a company's internal rules (which, if you boil it down, was what the Patriots did) and violating Federal law (which is what Congress has the right to look into). Congress passes a lot of laws, most useless - but to the best of my knowledge there are no laws on the books anywhere prohibiting a team from videotaping other teams in any way, in any sport.

On the other hand the NFL does have rules about it. And the Patriots broke said rule (or, more accurately, they videotaped the opposing sideline from an unauthorized location - their own sideline) and were punished by the league rather severely for it. They were busted for it in the first quarter of the first game. I think we can safely assume it hasn't happened since this year. And other than the jackasses at the New York Post, nobody with half a brain really thinks it has anything to do with the success they had this year in going undefeated up to this point.

You know, Arlen, if you wanted to look into the antitrust exemptions that football and baseball hold, that'd be fine. But before you get to that, why don't you worry about the war in Iraq, fixing the economy before it tanks, getting health care for all the Americans who are uninsured, making a dent in the deficit, and about 5-600 other issues that are collectively more important than pro sports.

Moron.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Welcome back

So Trading Spaces may be watchable again - Paige is back, along with the "original"
premise and most of the original designers and Faber (Ty is on to bigger things, of course, and I don't know what became of Amy-Wynn). I watched the first return show tonight and it was nice to see it back. In other TV news, WWE is now in HD, which is interesting mostly because the workers can't really get away with calling spots in the ring now.

Also news: wrestler foreheads really look nasty in HD. Think about it.

We went out for an Adult Night last night with the Woodges and some friends of theirs. We needed one of those. Badly. I also had to work most of the weekend as well, which was at least lucrative if not what I'd prefer to be doing with my time. Super Bowl weekend shapes up to be the first weekend I haven't worked all year.

Which, by the way (if you haven't already guessed) is also why I've been mostly AWOL from this blog. We are about to start one on my work website, though. Gary and Joey are starting a redesign effort to go with it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Copied from my Slashdot post today

I've mainly been cooped up on this snowy day and alternating between work and trying to keep David amused (it's the first time they actually called off school this year).  So I replied to a Slashdot posting - "What Would You Do As President?"  My reply is pasted below:

None of the things I'd want to do would ever get done as President. Now, on the other hand, if I were Dictator of the US, I'd:

- Withdraw the vast majority of our troops from Iraq within a few months. Rapid transition to a trained Iraqi army.

- Send more troops to Afghanistan. We really neglected that one, and the lack of muscle there is one of the reasons that Pakistan is spiraling the drain right now as well.

- Pull most of our troops back from around the globe. Even Korea.

- Implement basic health insurance as a universal program, government-run. Allow people to buy supplemental insurance as they like from private carriers.

- Remove the income caps on Social Security and Medicaid taxes to help pay for it all.

- Don't let the estate tax go away.

- Increase the top rate on income over $250k by a couple of percent.

- Increase the standard deductions, and eliminate most itemized deductions. Simplification is good.

- Make states unify their sales taxes to both help revenues and simplify collection. Keep the rate low. (a few would go up, some would go down)

- Increase the gas tax to both pay for infrastructure improvements and to encourage alternative energy source development. Use tax credits to also stimulate alternative energy.

- Impose term limits on the judiciary. Long terms, but guaranteed turnover (maybe 20 years or so, enough to keep them independent, but also make sure that they aren't standing in the way for many decades to come). Pack as many of my judges as I can into the system to help keep the country from changing things back too fast.

- Streamline copyright law. Shorten terms, and make copyright clearance easier. Expand the fair use exemptions.

- Fix the patent system, put more resources into examination, and shorten patent periods in most areas to 5-10 years.

- Eliminate all farm and product subsidies, but phase them out over a 4-year period. Try and develop free trade with anyone who is willing to do the same and also drop tariffs and implement both copyright regulations and patent laws like the ones I create.

- Get the government out of bedrooms, science, and doctor-patient decisions. End the drug war by legalizing most of them, regulating them, and taxing the heck out of 'em. Take the money saved and put it into basic policing and treatment.

Then, after 4-8 years as dictator, get the heck out and let elected officials screw it all up again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

After New Hampshire

Obama - mainly even.  Early spin on the Clinton 3-point win is very Clinton-friendly, though.  A 3-point loss might have really crushed her, but the win keeps her in the game at least until Super Tuesday.  Obama remains a contender, though, and I think the new favorite overall.

Edwards - even.  His strategy is to make respectable showings until the Southern primaries.  Solid third place finishes help him.  If one of the two rock stars implodes this month, that'll give his strategy a chance.  I wouldn't mind seeing an Edwards/Obama ticket (I don't think he'd take the number 2 spot two cycles in a row).

On the other side of the aisle:

Romney - toast.  And not a moment too soon (I can't stand his smarmy act).

Huckabee - surprisingly legit contender.

Giuliani - He avoided the last two for the most part, hinging his hopes on Super Tuesday.  But I think he showed too much weakness the last two weeks and didn't manage expectations well enough.  Toast.

McCain - Now the likely nominee.  Nice comeback to knock out Romney.

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