Archive for the 'Random Musings' Category



13
Apr
09

20 Reasons Why I’m Leaving My iPhone for the Palm Pre

Having been an iPhone owner since it launched in June of 2007, many who know me assumed that I would be upgrading to future releases of the iPhone.  (After all, isn’t that what an Apple Fanboy would do?).

I skipped the iPhone 3G.  And although there are some pains associated with not having some of the features, I am sure that I made the right decision.  There are few differences between the iPhone 2G and 3G.  The cases are slightly different — the 2G shedding the silver backing for a shiny plastic one with the 3G.  The only other differences are a GPS radio, connectivity to the AT&T 3G network, a 16GB version and a non-recessed headphone jack.  Everything else is practically the same.  Same processor, same architecture — same everything.  None of these additions were tantalizing enough to make me consider extending my AT&T contract another two years.

In December when Palm sent around teasers to the technology press inviting them out to experience “Palm’s Newness”, I was intrigued.  But I never even considered the thought that anything they would have to say would make me consider leaving what has been a great experience with my current iPhone.

That was until I watched the keynote.

I watched the entire hour long keynote when I got home after the presentation – twice.  At first, I was simply impressed.  I didn’t expect much from Palm and any device that pushes the envelope and gives other competitors a reason to stay on their toes and not play it safe benefits us all.  And certainly with the announcement of the Pre, Palm was doing just that.

In the weeks that would follow after watching countless hands-on videos and imagining the possibilities, I began to consider the phone more and more.  (I’m at the point now where I can probably do the demo that they have scripted for the press myself.)

Make no mistake about it — barring any monumental announcement made by Apple between now and June 29, the Palm Pre will be my next phone.  And having made that decision, I realize that potentially there’s a lot that I’m losing.  But for me, there’s so much more that I believe I’ll be gaining.

Before I get into the reasons why I’m probably going to buy the Pre, I want to state that it has nothing to do with some flaw or huge dissatisfaction in my iPhone experience.  There are areas with my iPhone where I feel that I could have been better served.  But overall, I have never had as seamless an experience as I have had with this device.  All of my data (provided I have a connection to the web) is in one central location.  My music, pictures, emails, contacts and calendar are all replicated from my PC on my phone.  The battery life could be better, but considering how much I use it as my primary media player, I really can’t complain.

Also, before reading the list, please consider the fact that I would be coming from the 2G version of the iPhone to any 3G device (Palm Pre or iPhone 3G).  There are some benefits that I’d gain by simply buying a 3G device.  But casting aside the iPhone 3G, everyone knows that the smart money says between now and June, Apple will announce the next version of the iPhone.  So this is a decision I’m making having not seen the next iPhone.  If Apple addresses many of the benefits I outline here having observed the Pre, my decision could change.  However, looking at the iPhone 3.0 press conference, I don’t think it will.  Regardless of how improved the new iPhone’s hardware is and whether it has twice or three times the existing memory or a forward-facing camera or any of the other rumors I’ve heard, my concerns are largely with the software and the overall experience.  The 3.0 press conference didn’t impress me at all.  The benefits discussed were largely targeted towards developers, with a few bones tossed out to consumers like “Cut and Paste” and “Search”.

But I need to preface this discussion by saying that I am rather pleased with my current phone.  The iPhone is still a revolutionary device when compared to other phones, and this is without any of the benefits brought in by the App Store.  The addition of applications last year has really expanded the ability of the device and I would recommend the iPhone to almost anyone looking for a great multimedia phone.

So why the switch?  (So glad you asked.)

Continue reading ’20 Reasons Why I’m Leaving My iPhone for the Palm Pre’

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12
Apr
09

So, am I an “Apple fanboy”?

In many of my social circles, I’m considered the infamous “Apple fanboy”.  You know, a fanboy — one who pledges an undying devotion to a product or brand, regardless of what other alternatives exist.  And if you didn’t know me and only examined my home, you’d be hard pressed to conclude differently.  The “Think Different” poster is one giveaway.  The iMac and Macbook Pro are probably two others.  It’s true — I have a deep appreciation for products made by the folks in Cupertino.

I started using OS 10 in 2001 out of sheer interest.  My intention was to buy a Powerbook, check it out for a few weeks and then return it, paying the restocking fee as the price for renting the machine.  However, the more I delved into the OS and the more I found that I liked, and the harder it was to part with.

Turn the page eight years later and my house looks like an Apple Retail Store.  I owned the 2nd iPod (in 2001 I paid <gulp> $499 for a 10 gig behemoth — and I still have it.)  Since the Powerbook, I’ve owned four other Macs and only recently have I given one to a family member (and that was a tough decision).  I’ve owned three full-sized iPods, two iPod shuffles and I was about the fiftieth person on line in Bridgewater New Jersey on June 29, 2007 waiting five hours for the chance to spend $599 to buy the first iPhone.

I guess I can’t really run from the accusations of Apple fanboy-ism.

But examining my tech life a little further reveals more than just an appreciation for all things that have an Apple logo on them.  I was running Window 3.1 in 1991 and took the day off to get Windows 95 when it released.  I bought Windows 98 the day it came out and was the first in an office of so-called techies to run beta versions of Windows 2000 and subsequently XP.  People didn’t even ask if I was running the new OS — they just knew: “Hey Dev, how’s Windows XP?  Should I be considering it??”

And then there are all of the other tech purchases and gadgets.  I’ve owned a bunch of other mp3 players — and this was pre-iPod, when most folks were walking around with portable CD players.  I was a launch-day purchaser or the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, PlayStation (September 9, 1995), GameBoy Advance and probably a few other gaming consoles.  I was an early purchaser of the Amazon Kindle.  I’ve owned two netbooks — one Asus eee PC (which I sold) and a Dell Mini 9.  I own a Nokia 770 Internet tablet.

When I go into a Best Buy, without being obnoxious, I’ve often assisted confused customers about buying decisions and sadly the guys in the store know me well enough not to ask me if I need any help.  (Truthfully, I listen to so many tech podcasts and read so much about tech that often times I find myself helping them.)

I drop all of this information not to bask in my technology glory, but to clarify my stance.  I am not an Apple fanboy.  I am a tech aficionado. There’s a stark difference.  I haven’t purchased and don’t own everything Apple.  I have the experience and understanding of technology to give an objective opinion on most technology offerings – and that includes the ones made by Apple.  In fact, I have been known to criticize Apple when I felt that it’s offering was sub-standard.  I didn’t buy an Apple TV and wouldn’t buy one as it currently stands.  I’ve always despised their mice and keyboards.  And although I run OS 10 as my primary operating system, I also run three other operating systems right now (Windows Vista, Windows 7 – beta 7077, and Ubuntu 8.10).  To call me an Apple fanboy would be like calling Tiger Woods ‘a pretty good putter’ – it’s a true statement, but an incredibly reductive one as well.

05
Dec
08

Shonda Rhimes Must Have It In For Katherine Heigl

One of these people is dead. It’s no secret that Katherine Heigl is as close to Isaiah Washington in terms of her current standing with the Grey’s Anatomy writers.  This isn’t to say that she’s making homophobic comments.  However, Grey’s fans can recall the buzzing that was circulating the set when Isaiah had an altercation or made comments towards T.R. Knight.  That same attention is here again.  I find Katherine (as an actress and as an interview) fascinating.  I guess it’s just something in the way that she responds to questions.  It lets me know that she’d make for an incredibly interesting conversation.  However, it might be that independent and against-the-grain attitude that ends her run on Grey’s.

It’s no secret that she’s very outspoken.  She’s different from most of the ‘Hollywood crowd’.  (She has a backbone.)  When Katherine felt that her character was underutilized last season, she took her name out of the running for an Emmy nomination for Best Actress (despite the fact that she won the award last year.)  A bit risky.  Some may say a bit ungrateful… but one that is undoubtedly the response of a person who considers their craft ‘art’ and isn’t just looking for a check.  She cares about how her character is being portrayed.

In defense of the series creator and lead writer, Shonda Rhimes, it is completely up to her as writer to decide how her on-screen characters are to be developed.  Shonda has gone on record as saying that she has a “Grey’s bible” and that every plotline’s resolution is pretty much ‘laid out’.  And so, perhaps, this was the season to de-emphasize Heigl’s character (Izzie Stevens) and to focus on the development of less prominently featured characters?  Whatever the reason, it’s a bit juvenile to think that someone who has given us as many compelling moments as Rhimes has would de-emphasize a character over a personal dispute.

Or perhaps I have it completely wrong.  Perhaps Katherine doesn’t have an issue with the way she has been used at all.  Maybe she just doesn’t think she herself gave 100% this season and would feel guilty if she won the award?  Or perhaps there is some inside disagreement that is beyond the reach of nagging tabloids.

Whatever the reason, it’s become clear to me this season that Shonda is making an exit for Katherine.

Continue reading ‘Shonda Rhimes Must Have It In For Katherine Heigl’

03
Nov
08

If You’re Out There….

C6073662 I’ve gone on record before as saying that I’m bothered at the amount of attention that is being given to Senator Obama’s race (or at least one HALF of his race).  I totally understand the significance of race in this country.  Considering the fact that only fifty years ago Senator Obama might not have even been able to sit at the same table to have dinner as Joe Biden, this could indeed be an incredible point of arrival for this country.  However, my pride comes from the fact that he represents so much more.  I am sorta in between Generations X and Y.  And speaking for them, we’ve always had these legends told to us about being able to stand up tall knowing that your Chief Executive in the White House was someone who you could be proud of.  It’s funny to see pictures of relative’s homes and see images of John Kennedy and Martin King on their walls in the background.  And it’s not to say that we don’t identify with those men.  We certainly do.  But the question which has always lurked in the back of our minds is, “Where is OUR John Kennedy?”  Is the best we can aspire to now to sit and dream of images of our leaders of old?

I had a close friend laugh at me when I sent her the YouTube links to the Obama-inspired songs (Yes We Can and We Are the Ones).  She’s kinda reductive anyway (and she admits that she is).  But her comment was, “Do you think that a song or a video will coerce me into voting for a candidate.”  And although I didn’t take the time to properly respond (because you can always tell when someone is tuning you out) but if I did take the time to respond, it would be to suggest this: while I don’t believe that a song done ‘We Are the World’ style can tickle your emotions and cause you to action, the songs are more than just blind faith celebrity driven anthems.  They represent the things that I have been wondering whether or not people cared about anymore (particularly the ‘We Are the Ones’ video.)  After all, these are all pretty much millionaires who are supporting a man who tells them that in order to do the things that we need to do that he’ll raise their taxes (everyone making under 250K lowered taxes, assumption is that the ones over will contribute more.  We’ll see.)

But more than this, I have fears about tomorrow.  (Tuesday November 4, 2008.)  Will this be the day that we can start on the road to disproving everyone who says that the kind of change that has been talked about since January is false hope?  “How does he think he can get all that stuff done?”  Well, here we are again.  Every first Tuesday of November – seemingly every four years since 2000, I literally sit up, in the dark, after having cast my vote earlier and watch Tom Brokaw…and get a headache.  No, not a figurative headache.  A literal headache.  This is before the returns are even in.  It just happens.  Perhaps it’s anxiety.  (Maybe even it’s the fact that I’m watching TV in the dark.)  But it happens.  I am about as nervous as I’ve ever been with this election.  And my anxiety extends even past the election, but that’s another post.

My fears are largely concerning the fact that I wonder if all the shirt-wearing, bumper-sticker wearing folks that I didn’t see when I stood on empty voting lines in 2000 and particularly in 2004, will show up.  I just worry that people aren’t seeing the bigger picture and the potential unity that this might represent.  Everyone was partying when Senator Obama won the nomination – I didn’t quite understand why we were partying during halftime at the Super Bowl where there was no score.

Back during the Democratic Convention, someone told me that John Legend had written a song about the hope that Barack represents.  But more so about the call to action that it requires for this to become a reality.  I was working during the convention, so I only saw the speeches made by each candidate when I got home.  But I did download the song.  And I cried.

Continue reading ‘If You’re Out There….’

15
Oct
08

So About These MacBook Announcements…

Apple Netbook The MacBook Pro will always have a special place in my tech treasure chest.  Strangely, it was the first Mac I purchased (in 2001 – back then we called ‘em PowerBooks.)  And for a long time I thought that’s where my computing dollar would be spent: continuously upgrading from MacBook Pro to MacBook Pro.  Perhaps I wouldn’t upgrade each year, but I’d certainly get in on major revisions and every other cycle.  And strangely enough this would be the cycle that would make sense.  (I bought my MacBook Pro in 2006.  I’m loving it, but somehow it’s really starting to show it’s age.  My backspace key is missing.  It’s got a few scratches.  And since it’s the primary machine that I use (right in front of my television) it would certainly make sense.  But that was with a 2006 mindset.  A lot has changed in the world.

I wrote about a year back about how excited I was that the industry was moving towards these small and inexpensive desktop experiences.  The newly coined ‘netbooks’ are getting old in the tooth according to some.  But I think they’re just about the most exciting thing in technology.  Why?  Well, for one, the conventional wisdom (if you spent time in a Best Buy or J&R Computer World here in Manhattan over the years) is that the smaller the laptop you seek, the more you’re going to pay.  It used to make sense.  (Smaller diodes, more careful manufacturing process, more expensive and hard-to-manufacture parts.)  But something about that logic never completely made sense to me.  So the netbook’s arrival as a major new tech category was a welcome trend.

The main reason why I’m so excited about the prospect of the netbook as a serious option is that it fits in with my life (and I would presume most consumer’s lives) perfectly.  I always get frustrated when people ask my about buying a laptop vs. a desktop.  People never consider the higher cost and lower performance that you’ll get in comparison to the actual amount of times that the machine will actually be moved.  I’m the ‘computer fix-it guy’ for a lot of my friends and some acquaintances and I’ll tell you – they get strange looks from me when they approach me with a Dell Inspiron and complain that it’s ‘making a noise’.  (Probably just the hard drive, but if it isn’t, they’re SOL for sure.)  For the majority of folks that I consult, a netbook is a wonderfully elegant solution for so many reasons:

Continue reading ‘So About These MacBook Announcements…’

01
Sep
08

Heath Ledger and Daniel Day-Lewis: Two of Our Greatest Examples

Daniel Day Lewis When I first saw There Will Be Blood, I didn’t like it.  Well, truthfully, I kinda hated it.  I was in a rush to see all of the Oscar-nominated films and in contrast to the different and suspenseful experience that No Country For Old Men provided, this seemed incredibly bland.  I’ve since watched it again and I like it a bit better.  (Not in love with it, but it’s better.)

However, one thing stood true throughout both viewings.  Regardless of how bored I felt by the material, it was easy to stay engaged because of Daniel Day-Lewis’s acting.  I often get into arguments with my friends about how loosely they throw around the term “great actor”.  I get incensed because in my mind, being a great actor extends far beyond playing the same guy or girl twenty-eight different times – only turning up or down the intensity depending on the role.  This is what keeps me from labeling Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington (prior to Training Day) as truly great actors.  Don’t mistake my words: They are incredibly engaging and entertaining actors.  They are incredible at the roles that they play.  But in my book, a truly great actor is like a slab of clay.  If you return in a week after the director has guided their art through his vision, you will see a sculpture and barely recognize the clay.  As much as I enjoy Julia Roberts on-screen persona or Matt Damon or Ben Affleck’s personality, it’s a difficult task for me to reflect upon a role where they had truly stepped outside of their personality and shown us a completely different character.

By my description, there aren’t many people who I can comfortably label as great.  For me, great isn’t about who sells the most DVDs or has the highest per-theater ticket sales.  After all, one look at the best attended films for the past few years should make it painfully clear that people no longer want to be challenged.  They simply want to watch a two hour version of the trailer.  (I always kinda shake my head when the theater laughs at a joke I’m sure they’ve heard fifty times before during the commercial spot.)  This is not to knock other actors.  We need action stars and character actors.  Alfred Hitchcock used Cary Grant for a reason – once you saw him onscreen, he didn’t need to waste screen time selling his style and charisma to you.  In much the same way, when you see Morgan Freeman, you’re going to get witty, strong willed and benevolent.  He’ll do the right thing.  When was the last time Morgan Freeman played a whimp or an unlikable guy – and actually do it to the same level that he does the good guy roles.

My review of The Dark Knight was pretty much the same as everyone elses: we loved the Joker.  However, I really resented some of the criticism that I heard (of all critics – not just myself) in the days subsequent to the release.  “Would we be going ga-ga over him if he were still alive?”  “Was the performance really all that great?” The correct answers are, “absolutely” and “positively”.  There are clearly times when you make more of a person’s career because they died early in their rise.  Purely subjective, but for me 2Pac fits this bill.  As saddened as the country was over the death of John Lennon, I remember seeing the Grammys he received posthumously and even at a young age, I realized that these were probably “make-up awards” for other great albums.  But it bears repeating that Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker truly was remarkable and unforgettable.  It was more than just ‘the pencil trick.’  It was the walk. The attitude.  The timing.  It truly rose the bar for super hero movies.  And using my own definition of great, this fits the bill because I remember watching and not being able to find Heath ledger under the makeup.  Where’s the Hollywood hunk who kept adorning the cover of magazines?  I didn’t even seen any resemblance to the Brokeback Mountain character.  He did something incredible.  He morphed.

Continue reading ‘Heath Ledger and Daniel Day-Lewis: Two of Our Greatest Examples’

03
Aug
08

High School Musical: This Explains Columbine A Bit

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Can you spot the kid in black who isn't dancing? Probably not at first glance, but look again.... closer.

Recently I watched the highly successful Disney production, High School Musical. I felt kinda left out, and in my futile efforts to slow down the aging process, I’m making attempts to peek in on the younger generation.

In short, it was predictable, superfluous, and somewhat shallow.  But for children growing up in 2006 (when the original was released), this might be just what the doctor ordered.  It’s clean (for the most part) and the message (in places) can help children to discover their individuality.

As I watched, my thoughts gravitated towards my nephew (who is approaching his 2nd birthday – wow how time flies.)  In this age of innocence lasting only as long as children can’t find the power button to the remote or before they can reach the keys and type ‘g-o-o-g-l-e<Shift><Enter>’, you do everything you can to try to hold on to their youth.  Corny as it may sound, we want them playing tag and wearing pajamas.  We want them to wake up Saturday mornings and watch cartoons and eat cereal.  I began to think, perhaps this is the high school that I’d want him to attend some day.

But then, I began to look a little deeper at the movie.

Now, please understand that I enjoyed the film.  I laughed a bit.  Often I had to turn away because the story was getting so sappy that it was on corny-overload.  But it wasn’t at all a bad film.  As I watched a bit closer, I noticed that the one area that the film deliberately chose to exclude were the other kids.  Yes, being a Disney production, you can find faces of all different nationalities (and even physical structures.  Well, somewhat. They had one overweight girl who liked hip-hop.  Go figure.)  But the other kids that I’m referring to are the ones that you avoid in the hallway.  The ones that your parents and even some friends tell you to watch out for.  The ones whose eyes have seen so much at such a young age that their eyes glaze over at the audacity of an adult telling them about ‘the real world’.

If you look at High School Musical in contrast to what children experience today in all but the most pricey private schools, you realize that the truth is very different.  Watching High School Musical for a child who lives in Cabrini-Green or Baisley Projects (um, excuse me…Baisley Houses) must be quite a depressing experience.  ‘Wow…look at their clothes.  Look at that science lab… Check out that drama class – it has a real mini-stage inside.  And Tariek isn’t around to ask them what colors they are reppin’.  Man, no wonder they look so happy.’

OK – so we know High School Musical is a bit of a utopia and I’m not faulting it for being so.  Most of us watch movies to escape the horror that we experience in our own lives – even if only for an hour and fifty minutes.  But something else occurred to me about the movie outside of the way that it contrasts real life for many children.

Continue reading ‘High School Musical: This Explains Columbine A Bit’