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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