iTunes Purchase

When I got the iPod I also had to get Apple’s iTunes (well, not really; I wound up sticking with Windows 98 and using Ephpod to get songs onto the iPod, but I did set up a Windows 2000 hard drive and load iTunes on it).

After a number of weeks I finally got all the security patches in place for Windows 2000 and felt like I could take iTunes for a spin on the internet and download some songs. 99 cents per song is really pretty reasonable. I’ve bought entire albums before because they had 3 good songs. The problem with downloading is you don’t actually have something to hold. I think that tangible ownership is an important part of having music, but maybe I’m just old fashioned. Cover art used to be giant and double albums (and plenty of single albums) would open up to even bigger artwork in the middle. CD covers just aren’t as impressive though some of the disc graphics are kind of neat.

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Dish Network PVR

This is a response to a person on AMUG who was thinking about buying a PVR and asked for advice . . .

I bought a Dish PVR 500 (or 501?) a couple of years ago. It’s the greatest thing since color. It records about 1 hour per gigabyte. Mine has a 40 GB drive in it and that’s really plenty. I’ve got stuff on there I’ve saved for months (if you don’t protect a show, then the oldest shows will automatically be deleted to make room for new shows when the hard drive gets full) and not watched that I could get rid of if I needed the space. Now they have much bigger hard drives so I don’t see that as being a problem.

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iPod Accessories

Tidbits this week and last week had gift ideas for iPod owners.

http://db.tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=07480

Since I don’t know any iPod owners except for me, I bought myself a gift (in ultra-violet):

http://www.radtech.us/podsleevz.html

The Tidbits guy likes it because (among other things) it takes some of the sensitivity away from the buttons.

One other accessory that is pretty neat is podlet that you connect to the top of the iPod that receives signals from a remote control. So that way you can hook up the iPod to your stereo and then skip forward, back, pause, control the volume, etc. with a remote. This guy suggests connecting the iPod to . . . . a PAL for a dynamite portable audio system. And he has a picture of it (the trouble, as he points out, is that while you can control the iPod from across the room, you can’t actually see anything on the display from across the room):

http://www.danfrakes.com/writing/images/TidBITS/iPodTivoliNavPod.jpg

It’s as if there is complete closure in the world. No doubt he has some way of turning the iPod into an Apache server so he can host Movable Type web logs too while listening to Lyle Lovett and Randy Newman.

Netflix epilogue

I cancelled my Netflix membership after 4 months (see original post. My plan wasn’t to stay subscribed to it for long, just long enough to get caught up on watching a lot of movies. I was happy with the service. It rarely took more than one work day for movies to make it from me to them or vice versa. So if you were really diligent you could watch a movie just about every day.

Really the limiting factor is how much time you have to watch movies and how many movies do you really want to see? If you start picking marginal movies then you will procrastinate watching them. Or if you have a busy life you won’t be able to watch them.

Anyway, I was able to watch 13 movies in August, 12 in September, 11 in October, and 7 in November. For $20 a month, plus tax, that comes out to about $2 per rental. I think I only returned one movie that I decided I just wasn’t going to watch, plus a couple that I didn’t watch all the way through.

For the newest hottest movies, you may have to wait a couple of weeks to see them. One in particular, The Italian Job, had a “long wait” on it for several weeks. But most of what I was looking for were movies that had been out for a while and they were available as soon as they worked their way to the top of my queue.

It’s a neat concept and it works great for a few months.

Follow-up: Two years later I tried Netflix again

iPod Impressions

I’ve added to this post since I first wrote it. New stuff is in italics.

I bought an Archos Jukebox 20 gigabyte MP3 player a couple of years ago and have been enjoying it without any major problems. I bought it right around the time the iPod came out. Its primary advantage at the time was that you could get 20 GB of storage space for $300 whereas the iPods gave you 10 for $500.

On my birthday my girlfriend gave me a 20 GB iPod. It has some great advantages over the Archos. The best are that it looks much cooler and is smaller (much lighter). Apple did a great job with the iPod, giving it 32 MB of memory so that it could read ahead 20 minutes without having to spin the hard drive back up again (the Archos has 2 MB so it can read ahead about 2 minutes). They also used a tiny little hard drive and internal batteries with a much faster firewire connection to the PC. Also the accessories were much better, including the nice earbud headphones, small AC jack, and remote. The headphones for the Archos were so bad I had to buy replacements right away and even the AC adapter was a cause of concern since it got the unit very hot during recharging influencing me into buying a huge Radioshack adapter with “regulated” voltage.

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Dog Outing

Susan sent me some information about the Georgia Dog Hiking Club. They hike a trail near the dam at Lake Allatoona every Sunday morning.

From Creative Loafing:

http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/2003-08-28/happs.html

The home page of the guy who runs it (with info towards the bottom of a very long web page; this guy didn’t appear to be there today):

http://home.aol.com/DrBatch/

So we tried it out. I sent an e-mail to the owners of Lucy (formerly Penny a.k.a. Little Katie) so we saw Lucy and Matt out there (I also saw Lucy with both Matt and Rachel last weekend at Stone Mountain for a hike). Today there were probably 20 dogs that came. It was funny seeing all the different dogs (many of them off their leashes which is just as well because you get tangled pretty quickly). Once we started everyone let their dogs off the leashes and pandemonium ensued, but the dogs all got along and our dogs didn’t go running off with the others at least.

The first part of the hike was almost straight up a mountainside. In fact it is like walking up the stairs of a 60-story building as you nearly double your elevation above sea level from 700 to 1350 feet at the top of Vineyard Mountain (according to this USGS map). Susan wasn’t feeling well at all (she thought she would have to turn back) so we got behind pretty quickly. We caught up or passed other people and their dogs and caught up with the main pack while they were playing in a part of the lake. The dogs thought this was the greatest thing ever. Then we got lost some more, came across some other people with dogs, and finally made it back to the car after 3 hours of hiking (everyone else was gone at this point). It’s definitely worth doing and was a lot of fun, but also a major workout. I’m going to need to borrow Jeb’s geiger counter next time so I can record the trail.

Brokers

This is an e-mail I wrote to my Auntie P when she asked me about what broker I use . . .

I had been using Vanguard which charged $20 per trade, but I thought that was pretty reasonable. Then they wanted to start charging a yearly fee plus increase the per trade costs so I went elsewhere. I considered E-Trade and Ameritrade, then tried Muriel Siebert but I wound up with Scottrade (Siebert’s web site didn’t work through my work’s firewall so I would have to pay extra to make phone trades or limit orders). They have very good customer satisfaction reviews (they always talk about winning the J.D. Power award four years in a row or whatever) and they are also really cheap. Online market orders are $7 and limit orders are $12. They also have local offices though I’ve never been. They don’t have minimum balances or fees for closing out your account. I’ve had them for about 9 months.

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