Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Podcasts, take me away...

Awhile back, I saw Steve Jobs on some news show, maybe 60 Minutes, where he basically admitted that people will have to spend a few hundred bucks every two years if they want to remain 'current' or 'cool'.

I love my Ipod. Best invention since the computer. A few years back, I'd talk with my co-workers at lunch about how they were really into Napster and downloading tunes to the desktop. But I had no real interest in listening to music in that fashion. It wasn't until Apple popularized the Ipod, and shortly thereafter, the concept of 'Podcasts' was conceived, that I became intrigued. After all, a podcasts is just another MP3 file, which doesn't necessarily have to be a 'song'. It could be an online blog, or a 'talk radio' type thing. I began searching for and downloading podcasts as soon as I got my first Ipod in 2004.

One day, I had a problem with Itunes, and the guy at the other end wouldn't help me unless I got the 'extended warranty' which adds one extra year from the DATE OF PURCHASE, not the date of the extended warranty. Thus, my warranty for my Ipod would run out on or about November 6, 2006.

As luck would have it, I started having problems just about that time. Please go back and read the entry entitled "Good Service from Apple"

I got a new (old) Ipod (40 GB) as well as a new USB cord. The problem was, the new Ipod (new serial number) would only be under warranty for 30 days. You can guess the rest from here.

I began having problems which ultimately lead to the 'sad Ipod' icon and the notation to visit the Ipod support page. Not promising. I *KNEW* I'd have to get a new Ipod, so one sunny March day, we headed out to find an answer. (I don't think its been sunny since). I need to have an Ipod. I walk alot, and I cannot live without music to do it. Discmans (discmen?) no longer cut it, as I won't carry around a handful of CDs and besides, most of my CDs have good the way of the Dodo. I tried a small transistor/shortwave radio and the problem with that is what do you do when there is no good song playing as well as the dead air, static and I really hate commercials. They may be the cornerstone of our economy, but I hate them nonetheless.

So first we stopped off at a nearby Best Buy. We found a sympathetic employee who ran the Ipod through a few test. I would have tipped the guy if he got it to work, but he considered it dead. For his help, I had planned to come back to buy the Ipod there. Next was the Apple Store,with the dreaded 'there if nothing we can do' . But at least they offered me 10% off.

Now, Ipods and MP3 players come in all shapes and sizes, and besides, my colection is in Itunes, so I can't afford to take a chance of all my music not being compatible with the player, so of course, I stuck with the Ipod. But my collection of songs and podcasts total at least 11GB, so Nanos are out, so I picked up a 30GB (I had a 40GB), but al least I now have Video.

Over the years, I have listened to a LOT of podcasts, many of which arent worthy of mention, are a lot of fluff and no substance (vaporcasts), but there are a few, I heartily reccommend. I still use Ipodder (link to the right) to test new acquistions, and I have a few I get directly through Itunes. So here is my lists.

One of the best, and probably my first keeper, since my days in Vegas is Podcast NYC. (Link to the right). Rob the Mediamaster has several podcasts including his Pop Cuture Rant, Podcast NYC, where he spotlights new talent playing in the Big Apple area and it was through him that I became a fan of Jason Yudoff (see link). A highly professional podcasts, its one of the best, and now that I have video, I can add his Video Blog, which highlights, walks down Fifth Avenue, concerts and other NYC scenery.

One I almost deleted, but have kept and glad I did is Rockcast:This Is The Rock, a weekly rock radio show. It might be out of Chicago, but thats the beauty of podcasts - location becomes irrelevant. One cool episode had a 1967 commercial for Foster beer, sung by Eric Clapton.

One of the best podcasts to date is Bluepower, hosted by John Rhys. He runs the gamut from Mississippi Delta blues, 60s blues, banned in Boston, banned from White Radio. Another favorite was when he interviewed Bobby Boric Pickett, of the 'Monster Mash' fame.

One relatively new bright spot is my friend The Dreamerm from Nightmare Hall (link to the right) is now doing Podcasts. A disc jockey in a better time, Dreamer brings you the Best in Hi NRG Club music and well as a few introsepctive tunes. He played one track, "White Bird' that brought abck memories of when I was just a boy. While there, check out his often biting commentary on the Nightmare Hall blog.

I have always wanted to learn to speak and read Mandarin Chinese. Well, there are Chines lessons available through the wonders of Podcasting. Another that I download is Radio macondo, for the very best in Salsa Cubano - a whole world of music awaits you.

Some podcasts I download are just regular guys voicing their opinions, like "The Mind of Men" from Mass. and "Guycast" a quartet of college guys from Maryland, talking about guys, girls, cars, sex and sports. Warning: Definitely not kid friendly.


As I mentioned, we have been devoid of sun for what seems like a month. After this weekend's monsoon, it is still gray and showery, with spring still a weekend away. It has been warmer in January than it has been om April, that's probably why my various pachpodiums and Adenium have yet to sprout. But my new acquisition a Crassula Argentea seems to be growing since I purchased it from Kennedy's about a month a go. I also picked up a purple Rex Begonia, which I promptly removed a leaf to see if I can get a leaf sprout.

I actually have sprouts of Saguaro, Ferocactus Herrarae, and 'even' Lithops Optica. No true leaves, but what do you expect with no sun and winter like temps. The one true surprise I have is that I haev two 'mini-trees' with lettuce like leaves of Moringa Oleifera, seeds of which I gor from the Seed Depot of the CSSA. But even the long time posters on Garden Web have offered little information about their care and cutural requirements. I want a caudex!


One last thing - if yesterdays's tragedy at Virginia Tech would have been committed by an Arab American, would the spin have been about 'is this terrorism?' on Fox? And why we 'need' to remain in Iraq? Yes, it is indeed terrorism, but we can't blame in squarely on a foreign power. Peace be to all who are grieving at Virginia Tech.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I wasn't the only one to notice

A few days ago, I posted an entry about the Circuit City layoffs and its effects on the working and middle classes. I decided on Monday to buy a daily edition of the New York Times, (as if I need another news source), but in the Business Section was an article entitked "Circuit City Lays Off 3,400 And Hardly Anyone Cares" by David Carr, 'The Media Equation".

His point is similar to mine, that there is a bigger story here than meets the eye and it is getting under-reported. When the media wants to get 'Business News' they go to the corner office and talk to the CEO, but they don't seem to care about the vanishing pool of decent jobs for the rest of us.

Circuit City, ina an effort to save $250M, will lay off 4300, precisely because these people did their jobs well. Karr notes that Circuit City is practicing 'domestic outsourcing'. He also makes mention of the fact that while there may be many people applying for no-benefit, low pay retail jobs, there not just for teenagers anymore, there are many who are heads of household who have these jobs 'because its the only thing they can find'.

The irony is that CC could save juat as much by laying off a handful of CEOs and VPs. Don't worry about them - they have contracts and Golden Parachutes. Unfortunately, the guy with two kids at home does not.


We all hear the stories about how much debt the American individual accumulates and the fact that they don't save any money. Here's one reason why they don't save: At a recent stop at my (new) bank, the amount of interest paying out for a savings account is, get this: 0.015%! What an investment vehicle. Contrast that with the 'average' bak credit card rate of 15%, never mind the mounting fees they keep adding on to ensure that you remain on the hook.


I attended my first Passover Seder the other day, by visiting a guy I used to work with almost 20 years ago. It was intersting, the various meanings of various foods that were served, but the desserts, many many varieties, took a bite out of my 2000 calorie a day diet. A good time was had by all.

Next Year in Jerusalem!