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July 7, 2006

Odds and Ends

• Welcome to the 800th entry written on the Greet Machine. Unfortunately it will be much like the previous 799 entries ... full of "dashed off tripe" that may or may not be of any interest to you. Enjoy!

• So, in all I have purchased a total of 5 different iPods from Apple. My original mini still works, but other than that I have not had very good luck with these products. My wife dropped her mini on the floor so her's no longer works. My son went swimming with his Shuffle so now that doesn't work (I got him a used one on eBay to replace it). And this last February I bought an iPod video (30GB) for myself. Up until a couple of days ago things were going pretty good ...

And then I installed the 06-28-2006 firmware and the newest version of iTunes and everything went to hell in a handbasket. If anyone else has made the mistake of "upgrading" with these new software packages you might know what I am talking about. Suddleny my iPod wouldn't load, it wouldn't let me reset it, and it wouldn't play anything. In fact, it locked up my computer. I even tried to restore it, which blows everything away, but all that did was give me an empty, non-functioning iPod. Boy, was I ever ticked. So, I decided to take it to the Apple store.

I went to the one at Southdale and immediately started complaining to whoever would listen. Of course, they were skeptical. "Who is this idiot with a Windows formatted iPod to tell us his is broken?" I was confident in my appraisal, though, "My iPod is broken," I said, "And I doubt you will be able to fix it." So, they signed me up for the "Genius Bar."

The "Genius Bar" is staffed by Apple "geniuses" that should either be able to fix your problem, tell you to take a hike (if your warranty has expired), or replace your product. I explained to the Genius that I had literally spent hours following every instruction to the letter on their web site to fix it and that the stupid thing is just plain screwed. He smugly said, "I've got a couple of tricks that should work." And with that he went into the backroom to work his magic.

"Ha! If he fixes it monkeys will fly out of my butt," I thought. So, he comes out 10 minutes later and says, "It works. Here ya go." Not so fast, I told him. I asked, "Did you put any songs on it? Can you get it to play music?" He sighed and said he would give that a try.

What stuns me about this is that he would come out and declare "It works" but not actually test out the primary function of the device: to play music. I mean, I could get it to light up and look pretty. I had been doing that for the last couple of days. Could he get it to play "Funky Cold Medina" by Tone Loc, though? I think not. And if it ain't playing "Funky Cold Medina" I don't want it.

After another 10 minutes he came back out, this time looking a little less than enthusiastic. Without looking up he said, "We'll give you another one." Victory was mine!

So, now I have a brand new 30GB iPod Video. Hopefully this will last longer than 4 months. Has anyone else had these kinds of problems with these troublesome little devices? I am a little concerned that it is a flawed technology, especially on the Windows side of things.

• Freealonzo passed me an interesting link yesterday that I refuse to post on this web site lest they get even more publicity. If you are interested, point your browser to www dot ccarl dot com. This site is about as anti-stadium as I am pro-stadium and they desparately want the "Four Horsemen" of Hennepin County to pay the price for putting together a half-billion dollar public works project that will employ thousands of construction workers (not to mention hundreds of permanent part-time jobs for immigrants, students, elderly, and others), give millions of dollars to HC libraries and youth sports, revitalize and improve the safety of a struggling area of downtown, maintain a 50 year Minnesota tradition of Twins baseball, and bring over 2 million people into downtown Minneapolis every year. How dare they!

Anyway, they also have a petition entitled "No Taxation Without Representation" that a whopping 33 people have signed so far. But just let that title soak in for a little bit: No Taxation Without Representation. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe we have representation in the form of the Hennepin County Commissioners they dislike so much, not to mention the state "representatives" and senators that heard and voted on the bill to begin with.

I must admit that I am continually surprised at how people keep getting this wrong. I understand you are upset about the tax. I can even understand that you think there should be a referendum. But this is definitely not "Taxation without Representation." Not even close.

As you all probably know, the phrase "taxation without representation" goes back to early American colonial history, where the Americans were upset that Great Britain taxed them without having any colonists seated in Parliament. The Americans held to the view of actual representation, meaning that in order to be taxed by Parliament, the Americans rightly should have actual legislators seated and voting in London. While it can be debated whether or not actual representation would have circumvented the colonists anger over being taxed at all, in the end all they were demanding was to have representatives in London looking out for their best interests.

Oh well, I wish them the best (not really) but I am a little skeptical that they'll be able to reach their goal of 500,000 signatures. Or that it will make a difference.

• Finally, we have this little tidbit from the Star Tribune that the newly appointed Ballpark Authority has had its first meeting. Among the many jobs they have to do before even the first shovel full of dirt is dug is that they have to hire an Executive Director. Needless to say, I would like to officially throw my hat into the ring. I think I would make a fine Executive Director, and I would probably do it for half of what they would have to pay the other stiffs ... er, I mean candidates. Plus, I really like ballparks, hot dogs, and baseball. I am what is known as "the complete package." And speaking of other candidates, the Strib writes:

The board has yet to get a list of candidates, but authority chairman Steve Cramer said he's aware of at least two people who've expressed interest: Dan Kenney, an aide to Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and a member of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, and Steve Maki, the commission's director of facilities and engineering.

I don't know much about this Maki guy, but I've heard some good stuff about Dan Kenney. In fact, I've heard he is a real stand up individual and that he has a pretty decent jump shot on the old basketball court. So, if I am forced to remove myself from the list of candidates, I would definitely pull for Mr. Kenney. But I won't go down without a fight!

Finally, if I am given the position of Executive Director, my first "executive" decision would be to ban all urinal troughs from the design discussions. Yes, you heard me correctly, there will be no urinal troughs in the new ballpark under my watch. I know what you are thinking, that I am some kind of genius or something, but I am just trying to look out for you, dear reader, and everyone that suffers from Shy Kidney Syndrome (or SKS).

That's all for now, and remember, no urinal troughs!

Posted by snackeru at July 7, 2006 7:15 AM


"No Urination without Representation!"

I demand that there be complete representation of the masses on this committee! The urination trough is a time-honored sporting tradition that goes back to the glorius days of the Romans. It was a rite of manly passage. Back then, if you couldn't pee in the trough, you weren't fit to serve in any form of government appointments and would be relegated to street sweeping or toga washing or such.

So it should be today. Like the old Roman saying goes "If you can't pee in a trough, you might as well go live in Carthage you twit."

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at July 7, 2006 4:38 PM

47 comments as of Sunday afternoon. What's interesting is that 30 percent of the "signatures" are either anonymous or from outside of Hennepin County.

Posted by: freealonzo at July 9, 2006 1:57 PM

Urinal troughs are very efficient. Plus, due to the Dome's other inadequacies, the lines for stalls are usually extremely short or nonexistent. If you're taking kids, sit in the sparse regions of the upper deck and you'll practically have the bathroom all to yourself.

Posted by: spycake at July 10, 2006 2:57 PM

Well, all you folks here know I'm no friend of the new ballpark, but even I think the CCARL folks are being a bit overheated in their rhetoric - though I understand the idea of being outraged at the way the stadium debate has been finally 'resolved', the fact is that there's an awful lot of 'outrage fatigue' out there, and you're going to have to do more than just spout incendiary slogans to get peoples' dander up.

What I'd be siginificantly more concerned about, if I were a stadium supporter, is the thought that the 2007 Legislature could simply repeal the 2006 authorization, if enough of an effort was made to get new House and Senate leadership between now and then. Granted, it doesn't seem likely, given how 'safe' most long-time House and Senate legislators are in their 2006 races, but a reasonably well-funded and intelligently proposed repeal, made into a 2006 campaign issue, would not only have a potentially devastating impact on any eventual ballpark, but would absolutely cripple the Twins in their 2006 off-season negotiations even if it ultimately didn't pass.

The question is, will anyone pick up this ball and run with it?

Posted by: David Wintheiser at July 10, 2006 9:50 PM

David, stop that! You are going to get Shane all paranoid.

Besides CCARL, there has been very little organized opposition to the ballpark now that it has been approved. I doubt very much that a politician will lose his or her job or that a change in leadership will occur due to the ballpark vote. I know you said it was unlikely that a repeal situation would come to pass but I would put it into the unthinkable category.

Posted by: freealonzo at July 11, 2006 8:15 AM

Shane can rest easy, alonzo.

To paraphrase the great Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, if anyone was going to perpetrate such a heinous crime against the new ballpark, it would have been me!

Posted by: David Wintheiser at July 11, 2006 11:47 PM

I have had a 30G iPod photo for just over a year now, and I also use mine with a Windows machine. Overall, I've been very happy with it, but I have had some moments of frustration, doubt, and disappointment. There have been two main problems, neither of which has ever been fully resolved:

1) My iPod has a habit of pausing itself in the midst of playing music for no discernable reason. You may have noticed that the device is programmed to pause automatically if the headphones are disconnected from the jack in the midst of playing something, but in my case, it was happening all the time, both when I am moving or sitting very still. Of course, I have never been able to get it to reproduce the problem at will. Some online research I did revealed that the problem is not unique to me. Others speculated that it is caused by using headphones other than the ones that come with iPod (which I can't use, because earbuds hurt my hears). It is not *supposed* to be a problem to use other headphones, but apparently the ones that come with the device have a smaller amount of metal around the base of the jack, and the metal at the base of standard headphone jacks causes some kind of short when it comes in contact with the metal case of the iPod. At least that's the theory I read online. Of course, all Apple representatives I spoke to denied that this was a possibility and denied that there was any problem with devices going to pause. Basically, I just put up with it. Sometimes I go for weeks without it happening, and then it will happen five times in an hour.

2) I have had problems with audio book files causing the device to freeze up. They play fine, but if I then shut off the device or if I pause the file for long enough to allow it to turn itself off, it won't turn on again. If I first switch over to a music file and play that for a few seconds, it won't happen. It's only if the last file that was being played was an audio book file. Every time that happens, I have to reboot the iPod in order to get it to turn on, which seems to deplete the battery by about a third every time I do it. Very frustrating. Again, when I called Apple about it, they had no idea what I was talking about. They offered me the option of sending it in for diagnosis, but I never bothered. The problem seems to have disappeared with more recent upgrades of the software. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it has, anyway.

I haven't installed the latest upgrade of the firmware, and now I'm kind of wondering if I shouldn't do it . . .

Posted by: ldfs at July 19, 2006 2:13 PM

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