Monday, June 05, 2006

Done with QuickTime

Over the years I have had pretty limited exposure to Apple products. But, what I have seen and used I have generally been impressed by. Girlfriend got and iPod last Christmas and it is extremely cool both in look and functionality. And I love the sleek fit and finish. I have used iTunes myself as my primary music player on the computer for about a year now mainly because we've got a large iTunes network at the employment local. But, it works fine and I have had no problems - until now.

About six months ago I purchased the Pro version of QuickTime because I needed something to allow me to convert from AVI format video files to the Flash format for the web. It only cost $30 or so, and it did the job (and finally, at long last the NAG, NAG, NAG messages to upgrade in the free QuickTime went away), so I thought no further of it.

Now iTunes has been starting to nag me that there is a newer version available and I should upgrade. So, a few days ago I downloaded the latest version and started to install it but it stopped and warned me that a newer version of the QuickTime player was required and that if I proceeded that the Pro version of QuickTime I purchased would be overwritten with this latest free version. In a nutshell, I'd lose my $30 investment if I wanted the latest version of iTunes. It comes with QuickTime, no alternative. This, of coarse, pissed me off.

What I found out from the Apple web site was that I was just screwed and would have to buy the Pro version again if I wanted to upgrade iTunes (which I did since I can't play podcasts in the version I have). Or I could go back to the free nag-ware version and endure that. To this, I said, bite me Apple.

So, I have been looking for both a new music player and something that will play QuickTime movies without nagging me (I will keep my old Pro QuickTime installed to convert file formats for as long as it still works). On the music player end, I am still looking. I have tried the Rhapsody service and player and it seems okay. But, it's association with Real Networks and the king of all nagware applications, the Real Player, scares me. Any ideas?

However, on the QuickTime player front I found something called QuickTime Alternative. Now, that's a straightforward name if there ever was one. And I like it. It works well playing QuickTime movies and it's free with no nag screens. So far, no troubles.

Yes, I still think the iPod is cool. But, I am burned on Apple software for Windows.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Listening To - Blink 182

The Mark Tom and Travis Show. I went on a driving vacation across the Western States in the summer of 2001. Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana all in a month. It was just me all alone and I camped most of the time. It was fantastic. And I picked up this little gem at a dinky record store in Kalispell, Montana. And now, every time I here this album I think if that wonderful month of sun and fun, climbing to Angels Landing in Zion National Park or sitting all alone on the edge of Lake McDonald with only mountain goats around in Glacier Park. It looks like this album's not even available on Amazon - not sure why, but if you are a Blink fan maybe you can find it somewhere else. It's a good one as live Blink shows go - lots of fun and energy and good sound quality for a live gig. And remember, if you're going to Glacier Park this summer, there are lots of BEARS. Big Grizzly bears. So get some of that "grizzly-be-gone" pepper spray and don't hike alone. Or, if you do hike alone, take this CD and a little boom box and crank up the Blink on the trail. Bears will scatter without a doubt.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Oil - The Start of the End - Or Not

A while back a guy at work dropped a movie on my desk and told me I just had to watch it. He said it would change my whole view of the world oil situation and where America, as the largest oil consumer, is heading. The name of the movie is The End of Suburbia. The guy who gave me the movie is not the excitable type and his obvious interest in the subject (which had never come up before) intrigued me. Well, it took a few weeks, but I did finally get around to watching it. And, it was interesting. It's a seemingly well researched and documented expose' of the theory that we are on the cusp of peak oil (that the world will never pump more oil out of the ground than we are doing today and we are near or already on the down slope of the oil production). It also theorizes on what that will mean for America. Essentially, oil will get so expensive that the sprawl and suburban America will cease to exist.

Now, usually I'm fairly leery of these "the sky is falling" types of books or movies or whatever. But, I think anyone who has put two seconds thought into the subject realizes oil won't last forever. But, are we truly at peak oil or do we have another generation? I don't know. But, here is another point of view that leans toward the latter theory, in other words, we ought to get our act together and start finding some alternative energy sources, but we have some time to do it. Also, the real "crisis" in the oil status quo is that most of it exists in volatile areas of the world. Interesting stuff.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Refreshing Trust

With the days getting longer and the eveings staying light until around 8pm we figured it was about time to start some after-work outings. A couple of days ago, GF sneaked out a bit early from under the taskmaster's whip and headed over to pick me up and embark on a little evening drive. We decided to do about an hour and a half loop through a nearby valley that is filled with fruit orchards. In the summer, in this area, there are fruit stands all over the place with the freshest apples, apricots, pears and all sorts of other yummy fruits and veggies. Well, we knew the fruit stands would be closed, but we hoped to catch a few of the trees as they started to come into bloom. However, as we were toodling along admiring the mountains and trees we came across a fruit stand at the side of the road that was open. Interested in what they might have at this time of year, we stopped.

We walked up and found this sign. It was open, and there were shelves of candies and dried fruits and other knickknacks, but there was nobody there. The farm house that seemed the logical home of the proprietors was about a quarter mile up a side road. In the back of the store there were big refrigerators filled with very large boxes of different types of apples and pears. And there was a metal box on a pole with a slot in the top to put your money in (there was a lock on the box - they weren't that trusting). Well, we weighed out 5 pounds of apples from the big walk-in fridge, I grabbed a package of dried pears and GF snagged a handful of apple candies and a little carved wooden thingy off one of the display shelves and then we used the calculator on the counter to figure what we owed and stuck it in the box. And I walked out of the place with the most gosh-darndest happy smile on my face. Too cool.


NASA Got This One Right

I remember how excited I was when the first pictures from the mars rovers started coming back. Now, after 2 years and zillions of pictures sent back (I don't know the real number, but a zillion seems like about right), they just keeping rolling along. NASA has had some awful failures (Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, loosing 2 Shuttles) and lack of a realistic vision, but on this one they got it bang-on perfect. Let's see more of these.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Stretched Thin

Do you ever have one of those months where every single solitary day is filled from sun up to sun set, weekends included? That's me right now. Crank that streching machine up.


Listening To - The Chieftains

Long Black Veil. I know some of the Chieftains purists don't like these star-studded albums packed with guest musicians and I can identify with the sentiment. But, even so this is one of my favorite of their albums. The Chieftains do their thing with a mix of various musical genres: celtic, pop, even country-esque. And I think the guests really add to the album rather than distract. I'm not a big Sinead O'Connor fan (not the politics - just can't identify with a lot of her music), but she is just brilliant along with the Chieftains.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Sexy Ride

What? My 2002 Mazda B3000 pickup didn't make the Forbes list of sexiest cars? How could they have overlooked such a sleek and sexy contender? Oh well. If I had to pick one of the Forbes' choices for sexiest car, I guess I'd have to take the Saturn Sky roadster. Sure, a Rolls-Royce or a Lamborghini would be fun, but the Saturn is more my style - convertable, sporty, and the one in the picture has a girl already in it! As Stewie would say..."Excellent."


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Yummy Samich

Is it just me or does this little girl just look the teeniest bit psychotic? Maybe she just really, really, really likes peanut butter and jelly.


Flight 93

A moving article on the new movie, Flight 93, by the father of Todd Beamer, who was one of the courageous passengers that fought with the terrorists. It is encouraging that he thinks the film makers got it right in their portrayal of that infamous flight and struggle that brought down the plane in a Pennsylvania field on Sept 11, 2001. He also pegs the enemy right on. The enemy is not a country or a people or a religion or even a specific terrorist group, but radical fundamentalist Islam that wants nothing less than to change the world - your world and mine.

"There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can't we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let's discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life."


Boobs win

Anna Nicole Smith wins:

"Dressed in all black, she wept in the courtroom in late February as justices discussed Marshall and whether he had intended to provide for his young wife in death. When Smith arrived at the court, several photographers were knocked to the ground in a scuffle to photograph her. "

Ahhhhh, so this is what love is all about. Poor girl, she clearly misses her deceased husband terribly and only wants his money to remember him by. But, maybe she should get back to "acting" to take her mind off of her loss.