Monday, September 29, 2008

Hey, I think you're late for your Mensa meeting!

While we are on the topic of Macs I thought I'd share my unfortunate experience at Apple's Genius Bar.

I've been having some problems with my iphone charging and so tonight I went to the Apple store for guidance. I don't think I uttered a complete sentence the whole time. The Mensa Member behind the counter kept interupting me to ask questions he apparently already knew the answer to. My side of the conversation went something like this:

It doesn't seem to be charging because when I . . .
Yes, but it doesn't . . .
Kind of--but when it . . .
Well, what happened is . . .
No, I don't think . . .

But it's OK. Clearly we where past mere words. --One heart and one mind-- He restored my phone to it's original state and reinstalled all the software. He told me to come back if I continued to have problems.


I was pretty disappointed. I like Macs (and their commercials). I hope this evening wasn't reflective of Apple tech support in general. Maybe the guy was just tired and anxious to finish his shift. Maybe he was late for a meeting or something.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Open mouth, insert disk...

I want to clarify a couple of points that were brought to my attention last night by BanAnna in regards to my last post about Apple. First, I knew that discussing the topic of Apple would be a sensitive one, mis-stepping or over stepping boundaries could have consequences in regards to my position with family. Knowing this, I tried early in the article to mention that I was not classifying a “normal”, proficient, Apple user, or even Apple users that like or even love their product. After the article was reviewed it was decided that some feeling might be hurt. Instead of trying to go in and edit the piece, mostly due to the fact it was unknown who had read it, I decided to add this note. Again, I want to make sure that it is understood that the people I am classifying in the first couple of paragraphs fall into a sub-culture that probably comprises a small percentage of all Apple users. I have no issue nor do I feel the need to make fun of those that just enjoy and like Apple… that is why there are 31 flavors. I myself learned to use a computer on a Macintosh, and I understand that some prefer one and some the other. My issue is in relation to the sub-culture or “click” that occasionally has rubbed me the wrong way. Having had experience with both systems, I can honestly say that I prefer using a PC over a Mac. That does not mean that I feel Mac is inferior, nor do I feel that one is better than the other. I guess what I am trying to say is, they both have their strengths and weaknesses, and honestly I find them to be comparable to one another…with the exception of Vista... Time for Crow! That said; I hope that I have not offended anyone, nor do I wish to hurt the feelings of the passionate Apple user. My dealings with close friends and family members who use Apple have never left me feeling the way I described in the post below. In no way are my statements below to be misconstrued or interpreted that I am, in anyway, relating to a particular person or persons; it is more along the lines of an indirect group of people. Can’t we all just get along? This might be more drama than what it is worth, but having the coin flipped by BanAnna I would hate to ever find out I offended someone that was unintentional… :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An Apple a day, keeps Steve Jobs rich.

(Warning; this is a very long, make Andy angry blog!)
For those who know me well; when I say Apple, what comes to mind? It is not that I necessarily dislike the company; in fact this post will probably contradict your feelings towards my “Mac point of view”. But before I start the good, let’s just get the bad out of the way so I can feel better about myself. The first and fore most distain for Apple does not have anything to do with its technology at all, it is its users. Now I know I am going to be rubbing some fur the wrong way with my family, but let me further explain. The average Mac user and I get along great. If you haven’t already guessed, I am a Windows man. It is the cult underground of Mac users that I can not stand.

You know the types, the people that like to sit and talk about how much better Mac is in comparison to pc. They will usually quote some statistic about the speed of a Mac’s processor in comparison; or how much more secure a Mac is, or maybe something along the lines of “My Mac never freezes” which I can honestly say is not true. BanAnna has experienced many melt downs, and do not even get me started about my iPod. I found this “stat” on one of many websites devoted to proving Mac is superior. (Note, this comparison is pretty old in comparison to the processor's of today, but ilustrates the point no less.)Of course this “performance” is almost unnoticeable unless you are doing some major photo rendering or other very demanding processor crunching. The average user browses, checks email, uses some form of word documenting software, watches movies, etc. None of these processes are demanding on computers resources now-a-days. Not to mention that the difference in speed mentioned above is in milliseconds. So why all the yelling militant Apple people, or “Genius” users? For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term; go to an Apple store for tech support, you will find the tech area is called, “The Genius Bar”… more on this latter. Experience has taught me that those who yell the loudest, not only get the squeaky wheel oiled, but they also have something to hide, or are compensating for something they feel inferior about. Ever heard of the old adage, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”? If this is such a superior product, wouldn’t the capitalist market we live in dictate this? Why can’t the superior product use its own accolades to defend its self, why the need to sit in your Mom’s basement blogging about how much better Mac is?... Ok that was a cheap shot. Still, I have always been surprised at how vocal these “power users” are. Maybe they are compassionate, and pc users could care less because they are disenchanted by using such a lack luster inferior product. Possible… I was IT and left because I got tired of it, maybe if I had spent more time with Mac, I would have enjoyed it more. I digress. It is this sub-culture of Mac users that makes me despise the product, and it is unfortunate that I have been influenced and tainted because of them. I find it a little ironic that it is because of their efforts to convince me, and the world that has left me turned off from Mac while leaving a bad taste in my mouth. The whole “I”mentality of the Mac “die hard” is a little pompous… ok they are just down right “I”arrogant. This is the other area of the culture I despise.

Look at the programming that is going on, all techs that work for Mac are geniuses, in accordance with the corporate design of their stores and online tech support. If you use iTunes, and yes I do too, you will notice the latest updated iTunes, version 8 point something, has a new music randomizer engine. Click a song, select genius and it creates a playlist that is catered to that particular genre. Though I am inclined to believe that it is built more around the year that particular song was released, instead of the songs sound, and type. But it is obvious why Apple has embarked down this road, Pandora has become very popular. Pandora is a music streaming website that builds playlists catered to your favorite type of music. You give it songs you like and it finds other songs that match it. There are over 128 different genres linked to each song, and it is very good at what it does. Plus you can hear music that you might never have heard before, and it is FREE. Check them out at

So what is my point, do I hate Apple? Not at all. I admire their designs, I love my iPod; at least when it is not frozen. I have an iphone that kind of does what it is supposed to. But they keep releasing updates that fix some problems, and create others… sound familiar? Think Microsoft. I have found that as Apple has become more main stream, they are starting to feel the pains that Microsoft knows all to well. That really is the case with any large company that starts to appeal to the masses. The more people that use it, the more vulnerable it is to hackers. One thing that has helped and hurt Apple has been its proprietary hardware. Owning a pc is like owning a mutt. It is comprised of several different hardware devices designed by many different companies. Of course, these products have to be Windows ready, but it creates a problem when it comes to reliability and stability. You never know if the device is failing because its driver is not completely compatible with Windows, or if Windows software cannot manage the device properly. Hence the phrase, “plug and pray”. Apple has avoided this mess by making there own systems and contracting with hardware companies that have to go through certification to be used on a Mac. This also has hurt them at the same time. Mac hardware tends to be more expensive and you do not have the ability to shop for cheaper stuff, because the hardware is proprietary only to Apple. This particular topic has created intense debates with users and designers. By not giving the end user a choice, there is very little competition for the hardware designers to battle, or be motivated to design bigger and better hardware. This in turn means that there is no driving force behind the hardware manufactures to create new and more innovative products. Intel, whose chips are now used in Macs, comes out with a new and faster processor every couple of months, why? One theory is it creates a form of job security, when you buy a computer; it is out of date in about a month; therefore it drives the consumer to want to upgrade to the latest and greatest. The other reason is because they are competing for market share, one of their leading competitors is AMD; who also wants your business, so they are going to try and release a better chip to compete with Intel. Both of these companies’ chips, I might add, can be used in a PC.

Apple has done some great things over the years; I never believed I would ever switch from winamp to iTunes. Winamp was the software to have way back in the day for mp3 listening. It might be said that they were the direct reason iTunes is free, Winamp was free. Once I made the switch, I never looked back. I still today believe that iTunes, by far, is the best software for mp3s. Again, I love my iPod, I love the design of the PowerBooks, and for a company that was in danger of going under a very long time ago, they have created a foothold in the market that is not going anywhere… for now. Steve Jobs has lead the company to great success, and most of it has been built on the back of the iPod. I am embarrassed to admit that I have owned 8 iPods since its initial premier to Windows users. I owned the first generation, which actually was Windows specific. Would you believe there was a time when Apple only intended on making iPods for just Mac users? That would have been the end for the iPod. Over time I have sold old ones to buy the latest and greatest, one with more space, better designs, etc. Which leads me to the initial point of this article, or at least part of it? The iphone. This device has raised the bar in phone design. Their efforts obviously have paid off; I think almost one third of AT&T’s entire network is comprised of iphone users… under 2 year contracts of course. And with the popularity, comes the law suites. Supposedly there are some class action suits being filed, and as apple continues to release updates at an unprecedented rate, more problems emerge. This, in part, is due to popularity and third party applications, which expose them even more to hackers. And then the "ad on" fees, oh how I love those. It is almost enough to make one rethink owning a Blackberry. It’s these applications that bring me to my point, again. Apple released its own piece of ad on software for the iPhone that just impressed me beyond belief. Remote.

Remote is a piece of software that operates on the iphone wile connected to your home Wi-Fi. I need to back up a little. Itunes has a built in feature that allows you to share your music library over a local network. Basically it shares your music over your local home network, allowing any Mac or PC running iTunes to see your libraries, and there in play the music from the host computer. Not a bad idea for a home with multiple computers. But it gets better; they have also created a broadcast agent called Airtunes. Airtunes allows a user to broadcast what ever they are playing on their local machine to remote speakers. The idea is that you can have speakers anywhere in the house play what ever iTunes is playing on your computer. Neat idea eh? There is a catch, as there always is. You need a device to be able to receive this Wi-Fi broadcast, and then play it through your remote speakers. Enter Airport, or Airport Express. These devices are literally network hubs and routers with a couple of special features. They basically plug into the wall, and allow a computer to connect to the internet via LAN cable. But what sets them apart from any other network hub, is the capability to plug a mini jack into them for sound that can in turn plug into a stereo receiver that runs speakers. I also want to note that Airport or Airport Express also has a USB slot to plug in a remote printer.As you can see, the mini jack connection splits into a pair of RCA cables that plug into a stereo receiver. This allows Airtunes to broadcast the music that is playing on your computer to a set of remote speakers. That way you can listen to the music on your PC or Mac, and at the same time, play the same song in any room of the house. If you have more than one room with speakers, get another Express at 100 bucks a crack. You can essentially run as many of them as your router can handle. But wait, what if I am enjoying the music in my living room, while the computer that is running iTunes and broadcasting the signal is in another room of the house? What if I want to change the song, or even change the playlist? What if I am running multiple Airports and I want to turn off one room, or activate another? Enter the whole reason I decided to talk about Apple and some of their great innovations in the first place.

The iphone or an iPod touch can run a little piece of software you can download from Apple (for free) that is called Remote. It allows you to connect to your computer that is running iTunes and change the song, playlist, adjust the volume, or even turn off and on different rooms. Not to mention that this software requires no configuration, and as most avid Apple users will tell you, it just works. Carrying your phone allows you to carry a remote to your homes sound system. This little ad-on sold me when it comes to Apple and some of their very forward thinking, now if they would only just come up with a router that can run iTunes so you don’t have to leave a computer running at all times. So, to sum up a very long and somewhat unorganized post, I think Apple has a lot to offer… Am I sold on their operating platform, not really. But ultimately I feel that both companies can co-exist and both have likes and dislikes. Not to mention, I love Apples forward thinking, it defiantly keeps the market from becoming anything but stagnant. Co-existing might be understating what I am thinking, I think there is a place for both companies in such a vast techno world. I also want to add that I personally am running a couple Airports through out my own home; I have speakers in the bathroom… I have always longed to be able to listen to music in the shower. Can you find the speakers?What would I like to see, I would like to see Apple merge with Microsoft. I know what you are thinking, and you might be right. But the unforeseen giant is biding it’s time, and waiting for the moment to put both companies to shame. Google scares me, and for those of you who keep up on the news; if they have it their way, the industry will be reinvented making the Mac or PC obsolete.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A lot of "Yee - Hawin!"

Well, this is it... I really wish I had filmed more... So, until 2010.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Richard Sweetcheeks and the Bum-etts!

To follow suite with my theme, I am posting another movie today. This one, by far, was my favorite! They had not performed for years, this in part was due to failed attempts to secure contracts that each member could live with, and you know how that goes. The group disbanded and went off to start their own solo careers. It was believed that they never would play together again. The long nights, being on the road, the adoring fans, it got to be too much for them. Supposedly the proverbial straw that broke the camel was that they were served cookie bars, instead of round cookies in their dressing rooms. That was the beginning of the end.

After years of separation, by chance, they happened to end up at a party together; and then their performance was requested. What impressed me the most was how willing they were to get back together after being separated for so long. Within 20 seconds, they were up on stage, performing as if it was yesterday. I was able to secure a front row seat to this gig, and lucky for me, security was loose (Supposedly they were all tied up with some idiot who parasailed himself into the foliage), so I was able to sneak in a video camera. The story behind this act is interesting. Supposedly the group was formed to destroy another family reunion, at least that is what the tabloids are saying. So, before I start in on that story; let me end by taking the honor to introduce, "Richard Sweetcheeks, and the Bum-etts."


Friday, September 12, 2008

There's a Skeeter!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I was able to secure a couple of home movies from the "Anti-Talent Show", back at the reunion in July. I enjoyed watching these, and I was sad to see that the Peanut Butter and Jelly song was not in the mix. I did find, however, the song called "There's a Skeeter in the Bathroom". Today's post will be short, I want to thank all the nice heartfelt compliments from the last couple of posts. I truly have felt the warmth and welcome into an impressive family. I never could have asked, or hoped for a more loving group of wonderful individuals. Thanks again.


p.s. Here's a hint for the next movie to come, "Cheeks".

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meet "The Brickman"

I must say that I have really enjoyed the blog scene; Anna had introduced it to me during our time of engagement. And by introducing, I mean that she brought me into the small corner that makes up the network of the family. Being IT, I had already known what blogging was, I actually had a section on my website that was devoted to blogging... I found that I never updated it, because it just wasn't any fun. But this is not what I wanted to talk about today. Today, I want to reflect back on my first encounter with the beloved Brickman. I was introduced to the Brickman back in January; it was during my initial trip out to meet Anna's parents before I proposed to her. Though my intentions at the time were not poised on getting married, I honestly just had the desire to see where her family lived and meet them. Looking at this in retrospect, I can see where I might have had subconscious ulterior motives. It was a smart move on my part none the less; we got engaged 3 weeks latter. I feel it's a good idea to meet the parents before you call and ask permission to marry their only daughter. :-) But this story can, and should be told by Anna; she has remarkable storytelling talents. Now if she could just get over the whole blog posting anxiety. And again, I am off target.

Anyway, my trip out to Washington was supposed to be a meet the parents. Little did I know it was a meet the family. By chance, and I don't know if it was chance or planned, Alan and Christina where there with the kids. So I thought, ok, this isn't too bad; a couple more strangers to meet, and then stay with for a couple of days. Not to hard. In this type of situation you hope you are liked, or else it can be a very uncomfortable couple of days, especially when you are staying at their home. These were things I hadn't thought about until I was on the plane headed for the island, no turning back now. So I start to get to know the family and then I find out, I will be meeting more. Enter Brickman and Janet stage left. Wow, at this point I was starting to develop all kinds of conspiracy theories about my supposed meet the parents trip. The introductions are not over yet, I got to meet grandma after that. So, for those of you who are counting, that makes nine people. Keep in mind that Anna and I were only dating at the time. Some people might think that this is not that big of a deal, they might take this experience in stride and enjoy meeting new people. Me, I was terrified, and without a transferable ticket... not to mention I was trapped on an island. At that point, all I could do was hope that I would be accepted, being liked would be a dream. My fears were squelched as I was warmly received and loved. Even if they did end up not liking me, I never would have known. This brings me to my point, finally.

My introduction to the Brickman is one I fondly remember. I was downstairs in the Hopper House, probably couriering with feelings of fear and nervousness, when Anna came and told me that her Uncle and Aunt had arrived. As I started the long assent up the stairs, I heard a booming voice coming from the hall. My first encounter was classic Brickman, it is one that we, ironically, have all scene before. For those of you who attended the family reunion, you might remember the anti-talent show. It was quite an experience, filled with laughter and great performances. Just last night, I downloaded the movies I had taken of the show from my Camcorder. I had totally forgotten about them. I honestly wish that the movies were of the same quality as the pictures I took; as you will soon see, it is obvious that my skills in filming are lacking in comparison to taking pictures. So, as you might have already guessed, I filmed the famous CARROT DANCE! It was this same dance that became my introduction to the Brickman back in January. Needless to say, after seeing this, all my anxieties and fears disappeared. So, it gives me great pleasure to present to you all; The Brickman, & his famous Carrot Dance, enjoy!

Now you might wonder why I posted the second movie below, what relevance does it have to the Carrot Dance? I unfortunately stopped filming at the end, before the applause was given, so I wanted everyone to see that this act was wildly accepted and loved by all who were able to witness it.

I have many more movies that I will be posting, so keep checking back.

p.s. I find revenge is a dish best served in the foliage. ;-)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A stitch in time, will save nine.

More than a few posts ago, I wrote about time, our perception of it, and the beauty of photography for being able to capture those brief moments in time. Those moments, in turn, become memories, and from there they have the power to invoke emotions that trigger all kinds of sensations. There are songs that I hear that can open the flood gates to memories from the past, certain smells can remind me off my youth; eye site is no exception. It is funny how many emotions, feelings, and memories are associated with the five senses, and can be triggered by them. I really enjoyed going through all the reunion pictures and remembering things we did, and feelings I had.
I honestly had wished that I had more time to filter through them more, but I rushed through to get them up and posted. Now, as time has allowed, I have been able to go back and look at them more closely, and in some cases I think... why did I include that? It's obvious I didn't check each picture when I was converting them from RAW format to jpegs... geek speak. The first priority, which started on the day we left Washington for home, was to weed through the ones that were out of focus. I felt a little overwhelmed, as Anna and I sat in the airport, waiting for our canceled and then re-booked flight...grrrrr. One reason for this feeling stemmed from the total size of the folders, somewhere in the realm of 7 gigs, or about 5600 pictures. I partially blame myself for this, I tend to be trigger happy, and take multiple shots, in the hopes that one will work out right. Then again I blame technology as well, size is no longer an issue when it comes to storage.
The point! As I began to finish the process, I started to really appreciate all the candid shots; I tend to prefer them over posed smiling... most likely this stems from my uncomfortable forced smile in which I look satanic, or like I am in pain. I also reflected on how grateful I was for the opportunity to attend such a wonderful gathering, and really appreciated all the time that was put into making it happen. I appreciated the warmth that was felt from all the families, and I am so grateful for the memories I have from attending. The reason I am touching on this subject again is because I just went through the folders from the reunion again, picking out my favorite landscape shots to post on my photography website. So today, I am going to post the pictures that I plan on using for I also am very sad that no one got a shot of me being retrieved from the foliage after my attempt to go parasailing. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, please read the comments from the last post.
Washington is a beautiful place, it seems impossible to take a bad shot. I actually had visited the state once before in January, but never had I seen it like this; in the middle of their pseudo summer. So, with out further adue here are my favorite landscape shots. I actually might spread them out over a couple of posts, to avoid making 1 gig posts... and avoid the wrath of Andy... :-)The one above was taken on the beach at sunset where we went kayaking. The one below was taken on the Ferry, on our way to Canada.These were the flowers that could be found on Reed and Cathy's deck. Sometimes you don't have to go far, the eagle at the top was also taken from their deck. The ones found below were taken on our first hike to Deception Pass. The ones below were also taken on that same hike, I was switching between Black and White and color, so the ones below were all taken in Black and White.The ones below are of Reed and Cathy's beach.
And last for this post, these were taken on our way or at Victoria Island.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Out of my league.

I know that this is way out of my league, to even attempt to duplicate Uncle Dick's Reunion Blog would be an insult to his art. With that said, I do feel that posts about him are lacking. So I will make this one quick.

"Brielle can be seen pointing out the flashing lights of a tow truck, to an oblivious Grampa, while it pulls away with His fire engine red Ford Explorer." "She then proceeded to remind him that he should not park in front of a fire hydrant... despite the color and official look of his truck.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's all about the Fall!

This might be a little off topic, considering all the things that we still have not caught up on, BanAnna is still procrastinating the Chichen Itza article she wanted to write... I noticed there is a saved draft created back in July in our list of entries... She is going to BBQ me for telling. :-) Anyway, we celebrated Labor Day by doing the complete opposite; I am not even going to mention what time we woke up. This brings me to my point, finally. If you haven’t already noticed, Fall is rapidly approaching. There is something about this season that I really love. The weather gets a little cooler, depending on where you live of course. Those in Fresno will not have noticed yet, and in Washington they never noticed that it was summer. Here in the Bay Area, there is a definite sign that Fall is coming. The days are getting shorter, something I hate. But with that also comes the different shades of light that proceed the shorter days. I have never been able to articulate the true beauty that exists during Fall. The light, especially in the evening is so saturated with deep colors. I love this time of day, the brilliance of the midday sun is gone, but there is still plenty of light to see. Much like the season, everything is rich in color and things seem more brilliant.

Again, you will have to forgive me for not being able to describe the feelings that come when Fall arrives. The leaves change, and they too are saturated with deep reds and orange. The suns position casts longer and deeper shadows. The temperature is milder, and the evening brings a more relaxing cool air to it, which is good for the A/C bill, and the smells of Autumn replace the summer. Love it!

So I decided that I would try and find some pictures that would illustrate my point... After going through my stock; I was only able to find Disneyland pictures taken in mid October... back in 2003. Oh well, I will use them to further try and illustrate my point, and attempt to salvage my post.

Look at this first picture... it is the Tower of Terror at Disney's California Adventure Park. And the one below it was taken roughly around the same time of day, the difference? July midday, and the second picture is midday October.October, mid afternoon can be seen below.
Notice the deeper colors as the light hits it? No they did not need to re-paint the building, these pictures were taken the same year. The sky seems
The picture above was taken late afternoon in October, and unfortunately I don't have one to compare it too, but I hope that this is starting to make sense. The picture below was taken in July mid morning... And this one was taken 4 months latter in OctoberMaybe I'm crazy and just want an excuse to post Disney pics...Until next time, take care >