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Friday, March 30, 2007

Andy and Work

Andy and Work
Originally uploaded by jeffdiogenes.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Amero Article

Dear Mr Smith and Editors of The Norwich Bulletin

I read your article in the Norwich Bulletin ( ), and the following statement caused me to write to your organization directly:
"Amero never denied the porn appeared on the computer. She said she had done everything she could to prevent the children from seeing the computer screen that day. The examination of her computer showed she had accessed the Internet for nearly the entire school day, with porn sites accessed for several hours during that time."

I find that this is misleading to the average person, and any IT Support/Computer Guy worth his salt automatically knows the truth hiding behind your article. It is this paragraph that tells me that you, as a reporter of facts, are not aware that pop-ups and spy ware will run and use the Internet all day if a computer is left on. This would cause Internet activity, you know.

Said differently: If you, as a reporter, reporting on technology, are unaware that pop ups and spy ware can access the internet all day without you knowing or seeing it, how would a teacher know? How can her ignorance as a schoolteacher make her liable? Most people don't know that if you close a pop up, it could very well still be running;

People. like. you.

The real story you missed (I think) is why didn't the school district prevent access to those sites? I bet if you ask if there is an internet filter they will say yes. If you ask why did it let porn images come in via pop up on a classroom's computer? Are they just letting porn through their firewall and letting the teacher take the blame? The Information Technology administrator of that school district should get 40 years in prison for letting porn through to the entire school, not the teacher that tried to stop the pop ups. At least she tried to shield the kids from it.

My experience on this planet tells me somehow you won't care, you got "your story" out there, and more exposure to your publication has been obtained. At least I know if I ever come across another Norwich Bulletin article, I'll be skeptical that any important details are actually correct or fact-checked.



Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Quest for Portable Music & Podcast Sanity


As I mentioned in a previous post, my trusty 20GB Rio Karma music player hath passed away almost at the ripe age of 4. I mourned my loss not just for the music but the personal attachment I had to that gadget. It did everything I wanted, the way I wanted and the way I expected. You could throw any type of music file at it and it would never tell you you couldn't play it. iTunes songs? It played em. DRM'd (that you buy online that you can only play on 1 or 2 machines/devices.) Music Files? It played em. Wacky non-standards-compliant VBR MP3's? Played.

You wouldn't believe the amount of crappy music players out there on the market right now. I know people love their iPods, but they are pretty proprietary and add a extra layer of hassle (iTunes) I don't want. Everything out there seems to want to protect you from your own music by introducing proprietary music loading software on your PC. Everything I looked at made me cringe in one way or another. Example: Microsoft's PlaysForSure certified or Microsoft's Zune certified? Do I even want to choose one over the other, or these both over competing technologies?

No. In fact...HELL NO. I don't know what the music industry thinks, but it seems to think everyone's got time to dink around with their music collection handpicking songs to put on so they can listen to the same songs over and over until it's reloaded with more handpicked songs. Oh I know, you can have iTunes randomly pick songs and shuffle them on your player, but even then, iTunes would double or triple my music library file space when it imports my existing collection into a iTunes library. I still fail to see the point in that system...but anyway....

Also, whatever I did get would have to be able to interface with podcasts easily.

Music players on the market as it stands now, just plain suck with the exception of some iRiver hard drive products. There, now you don't have to go find out for yourself the hard way. That still left me with the problem of no music player for the car. I had to find something, or I was going to go with the iRiver units, but even that wasn't "Like my Rio" because there was no network jack on the iRiver units. Boy that was a nice feature, my Rio accessible from any computer on the network at my house....

Before I made my decision I thought it would be a good time to give the current PocketPC Music Player software market another look. Before the Rio I tried using my PocketPC to play music, and yeah, it worked, but not without it's own hassles. Things like choppy music on certain VBR MP3's, lousy Filename/Tag support, and very very limited space on the storage cards killed the novelty off quick back then.

This time around, there are numerous freeware and shareware music players competing for a PocketPC owner's love. Add to this that my PocketPC needs have evolved since then and I am now using a PocketPC Phone. How well can a music player work on this phone? Also, how can I get my Phone with it's proprietary 1/8" stereo/mic, headset jack to play on my car stereo?

Oy. At this point, I think maybe my needs are too complicated....

I spent some time on this, and after trying many many many music programs, I found myself REALLY liking Pocket Player. Like, alot. It can handle all the music I throw at it as well as has support for some formats I never heard of. It wins in that department. I can bore you with some more details but just know its hands down the most user-friendly, customizable, kick-ass PocketPC music program out there.

With one problem, it is kinda crappy about the way it handles podcasts over a slow internet connection like my mobile phone has. (You see we live in a 2ndary market which means I get slow internet and everyone else south of Flint, MI gets fast EV-DO internet.) Over my slow connection, the podcasts can't be "live streamed" unless I want to listen to a very choppy podcast that pauses every 5 seconds. Which I don't. Ever. I don't neccesarily need to have a streamed podcast, I'd appreciate it downloading the whole thing in the background so I can play it later, but thats not how PocketPlayer handles it's podcasts. So now we add to the list.

Where are we? This is what I need: "Something I can use to play downloaded Podcasts, that picks random songs from my music, picks new music I downloaded and haven't heard, have it all play thru my car stereo ,and automatically get music on this PocketPC Phone - without me thinking."

Yes, ok, I'll admit, I'm my own worst enemy on this one. But, it turns out, it can actually be done. And I will admit it's not super slick but it works the way I need it.

1 PocketPlayer (You may substitute the default PocketPC Media Player, it's not too bad)
1 - Sprint PPC-6700 3.5mm Stereo Headphone Adapter with Built-In Mic & Answer Button (P/N: PPCPADPT20)
1 Generic Radio Shack Tape Cassette Adapter
1 Juice (Formerly iPodder)
1 Windows Media Player (meh)
1 account (optional)

Heres how it works:
I setup a account and then tell it what podcasts I want to subscribe to. I download Juice (freeware) that reads my account and pulls in the subscriptions and begins downloading the latest episodes automatically. I could skip the PodNova account, but I like being able to add a podcast from home or from work while I'm thinking about it rather than wait until I'm at work to re-find them to add to Juice. These episodes are dumped into a folder in my music collection called !Podcasts. Juice also handles cleaning up old episodes. Then in Media Player I setup an Auto-Generated-Playlist that will add anything under a week old that is in the !Podcast folder. I then assign that playlist to auto-sync to my PocketPC Phone using the sync feature of Windows Media Player. I also assign another playlist to find any new music from that week that I downloaded but hasn't been played. And if that wasn't enough, there's a 3rd playlist that will randomly pick crap from my collection just to fill it up. So everytime I put my PocketPC Phone in the cradle to sync my contacts and stuff, it's syncing those 3 playlists.
When I go to work, lunch, or back home I hook the PocketPC Phone up to the PPCTechs adapter which is hooked up to the RadioShack Cassette adapter that then plays through my car stereo.

And it sounds great in case you are wondering. PocketPlayer and the default PocketPC Media Player will also both pause the music if a phonecall comes in, and then it will start playing again from where it left off. Nice feature. And because the PPCTechs adapter has the mic and answer button, when a call comes in I hit that button to answer and talk to the other person hands-free. I even found a nice minimalist "skin" for PocketPlayer that you see to the right. It's black. It's functional.

So finally, a music setup I can use to play music. I'll admit to two drawbacks, 1) 1gig memory card on my PocketPC is not the 20gig I am used to on the Rio, but that's ok because I'm constantly syncing the PocketPC anyhow so 1gig ends up being "just right". The Rio did have an automatic shuffle and sync option but the program would have to be running for it to do that. I didn't sync very often because of that. And 2) It seems I have to manually delete songs I no longer want from the PocketPC for it to put more stuff on. That hasn't been a real problem because most of the time I want to listen to it at least once before it gets pulled off the player.

And because I did it all on my PocketPC Phone, I didn't need to buy a separate $100-$400 music player.


And just so you don't think I wrote this all the while thinking my audience cares, this is the aPathetic blog, don't think that I don't know that you don't care. :)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Billy In Action

Billy in The Butt Hutt