I Got An iPod Touch (32GB)

I called my dad Friday afternoon, and asked if he’d like to buy me an iPod Touch for my birthday. The Apple iPhone sounds really good, but I just talked him into buying an iPaq 6945 Windows Mobile phone last October as a graduation present. I’m slowly moving my old posts over from Blogger, so maybe I’ll get to that one eventually.

After wasting an entire day at work, I needed something to make me feel better. Since my mom passed away, my dad and my brother live in what must amount to a bachelor’s paradise. I figured that buying my own present (on my rewards Visa) and having him send the check was easiest all around. I checked Circuit City’s website, and found that the 32 GB iPod Touches aren’t carried by 2 of 3 local stores and are out of stock in the third. I have never been successful in getting my wife into an Apple store, so off we went to Marlton. I told my kids we were going to a store the sells Apples like my computers. I have an old iMac 333Mhz G3 and an iBook G3 600 Mhz, so they’ve grown up around outdated Apples (of course my 80 Gig video iPod is already obsolete.)

I am impressed by the Apple store. The store was crowded, but I was met right away by a "genius". I think that’s what the Apple store calls them, but I know it’s what bloggers call them. I actually wanted a minute to screw with the Macbook Air demo units, but when the employee met me I said "I’m looking for the 32 Gig iPod Touch." He led me right to the wall with the cases, which I had thought about anyway. I loved the case on my 80 GB video iPod, especially when working on the house and and yard, because I had an arm sleeve that I can put the iPod on. I picked out a case for the iPod Touch, then the genius went into the back to get the touch. He then took a handheld unit, swiped my credit card, and I signed off. Wow, that was fast. In the meantime, my wife was going out of her mind trying to keep Joshua and Caleb from crashing two iMacs on display, but both seemed to be running children’s applications anyway. She was expecting a long wait, as there were a bunch of people in line. I told her I was already done. Then we went to Trader Joe’s for her to do some shopping. Everybody won Friday night.

It took me a while to get all of my content synced. I need to watch some of the video that I’ve built up. It all fit on an 80 Gig video iPod, but not on a 32 Gig iPod Touch. I’ll have to make an effort to watch some of the shows I’ve converted and some of the video podcasts I’ve built up.

Overall, I love the iPod Touch. It’s phenomenal. It came preconfigured with gmail imap settings, so I just entered my email login and password and it was there. It picked up my home wireless network right away also. Seriously, this is amazing! I still have my iPaq 6945 Windows Mobile phone, and the iPod Touch is showing me some glaring limitations of Windows Mobile. Maybe not limitations, and the Touch has many of them as well, but a media player with wi-fi, email, and full featured web browsing is not something to complain about. It would take me several minutes while leaving the house to get my 6945 to connect to wireless, bring up Flexmail 2007 (as Pocket Outlook is too limited for my tastes), download messages, then close Flexmail and turn off wireless. I can whip out my iPod Touch and check email in seconds on my way out the door. Pocket Internet Explorer is about useless, but Safari on the Touch is pretty good for keeping up on my Google Reader feeds of looking things up online sitting on the couch.

I’m not sure if I’d want to jump straight to an iPhone, but the Touch will definitely make up for email and surfing limitations on my WM Phone.

Technorati Tags: iPod Touch,Windows Mobile,iPaq 6945

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Wasted Day Rant

Today seems like it was a total waste. I got nothing productive at all done. Nothing. Today was filled with frustration, futility, and shame.

 

First off, when I started my new job, I was told to go ahead and order a laptop. I was allowed to pick out what I wanted. I’m sick of being stuck with obsolete technology, so planning to be using this laptop for several years, I asked if Windows Vista was OK. I don’t care what technology journalists and TWIT panelists say, I like Windows Vista. I think it’s safe and secure and one hell of a graphical shell improvement over good old Windows XP.

 

In order to gain access to one of the networks I need, I have to get my laptop approved by the people on the network. I will say that I have a very hard time holding my mouth back when up against other IT people. I have an IT degree and have been playing around with computers as a hobby for more than a decade, although my experience led me into an engineering position. I hate running up against large IT bureaucracies, as I know that most of the rules and requirements that they have are nothing more than organizational preferences, most of which are BS policies. When I picked out my laptop, I asked if Vista was OK and I was told yes, so I went with Vista. (I wasn’t told yes by these network people, whom I knew nothing about at the time.) I know that you XP Luddites are hoping that XP will last forever, but the truth is sooner or later, Microsoft will HAVE to stop supporting it and I’m planning for that. But, I was told that I can’t get my laptop approved for network access unless I put XP on it. OK, I found a copy of XP, wiped the drive, did a base install, and dropped it off with the techs.

 

Then I had to deal with another issue. We’re still trying to sell our home in a market that sucks really bad. I hadn’t heard from my realtor in a while, and I left a message last night and another this morning. I broke down and called the brokerage manager. My realtor called back right away. She had sent me an email, but I don’t have access to my gmail account at work now like I did on my last job. I did feel a little bit bad about having to escalate, but I had no way to know that she planned to call me later in the day. I still feel a little bit of shame, but not much. In order to get a signal, I had to go outside. I work in the approach path to Philly International, so while I was talking on my phone low flying jets passed overhead.

 

Then I got a call from the network people. My laptop didn’t have network card drivers, so they couldn’t do anything. I went to get it back. Go figure, since this laptop was designed for Windows Vista, nobody bothered to write XP drivers for any of the hardware in it. I spent an hour and a half trying to find them, but to be honest, if I wanted to work that hard to find drivers I would have installed Linux.

 

By then, the workday was over. I just wanted to drink myself stupid. Nobody from my group was around, so I can’t even ask my supervisor what to do about my laptop until Monday. Oh, I can get my laptop on the network if I want to, but if I get caught there will be a lot of trouble for everybody. It’s highly unlikely that I will be caught; I’ve had the laptop on that network with Vista already. I know a workaround, but I don’t want to cause trouble. However, stupid Luddite policies like that one are just begging a geek with my skills and lack of patience to use a workaround. Seriously, this network JUST started supporting Window XP THIS YEAR! Windows Vista has been out for more than a year now, XP has been out for more than seven.

 

I need to get a job in the group that makes these policies. Anyway, this day was a waste, I got nothing done, I feel a little ashamed at calling my realtor’s brokerage manager to get her attention, and this ranting blog entry is the only thing I have to show for this entire day.

 

Oh, well. My birthday is Monday. My dad might be willing to get me an iPod Touch, so I might call and ask if I just buy it myself can he send the money. Maybe I’ll have an iPod Touch to show for today. That would be nice. That or at least a six pack of Yeungling.

 

Actually, there was one good thing this workday. We had a team meeting early. It was my first one, and I met some new people.

 

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University of Phoenix Switches to Gmail

I logged onto my page on the University of Phoenix’s website yesterday to see what the commencement information is for this year. As I was poking around, I decided to log into my webmail account so see if anything has happened since last October. I found two emails regarding the University of Phoenix switching student email accounts to gmail. Wow, new students are blessed. I had to deal with an 8 MB account limit over IMAP. I had such a horrible experience that I thought for a while that IMAP was an older technology.

 

For some reason, most of my traffic on this blog is from people looking for UOP email account settings. Of course, they don’t stick around and leave comments to make me feel better (or worse) about the time I’ve spent putting more than 240 posts on this blog over 3 years. Ya’ll can stop searching now, as gmail’s help can provide all of the information you need.

 

I’m not sure what they’re using for newsgroups, but searches to my blog can trail off. Gmail can help you.

 

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How To Enable the Wireless Switch on a Toshiba Satellite A215-S6814

As I said in a previous post, I recently started a new job. On my first day on the job, I was told to pick out a laptop from one of the online vendors. I spent a day or two doing various research, until I picked out the laptop that I thought would be right. I tried as best as I could to plan for obsolescence, picking out a dual-core processor with 2.2Ghz and 3 Gigs of RAM. Actually, the first laptop I picked out, just as I was compiling the order numbers, turned out to come with XP Pro. I went looking for another one with Windows Vista, as part of my hedge against the possible obsolescence. A brand new high powered laptop could be dragging it’s butt and out of hard disk space in 3 to 4 years. It’s not likely, but possible. I’ll never forget the feeling of getting a relatively new Gateway Pentium III 500 Mhz only to find in less than 3 years that the hard drive crashed because I filled all 10 Gigs of it.

After waiting for several weeks, my laptop arrived today, late this afternoon. I had time to connect the Toshiba docking station and monitor and start the laptop up before the end of the workday, so I did what any good employee would do: I took it home with me to work on this weekend. I have to remove all of the crapware and install some of my utilities, and get Vista tweaked just right.

When I got home, I wanted to set the new laptop up on my wireless network so I could start downloading useful utilities and updates, like SP1. That’s when I ran into problems. For the life of me, I could not get the wireless to activate. I easily could have plugged the laptop into my LAN, but why do that when you’re supposed to have working wireless? The F8 key has a wireless symbol on it, so I kept pressing Function+F8, and a map of the function keys kept coming down from the top of the screen saying something about enabling the wireless switch. I thought that’s what F8 did. I did a search and came across this: http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsid=2297. Apparently there is a physical switch on the front of the laptop near the card reader. Doh! I turned that switch and it found my network.

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How Dangerous is Your Commute?

Recent construction on Route 42 in New Jersey has added an "express lane" to the southbound lanes. After an occurrence yesterday, I am close to figuring out how to contact the commission in charge of planning this travesty and asking them to remove the express lane before somebody gets killed (like me.)

 

I was driving home like normal, heading southbound on Rt. 42 and approaching the express lane. Like any highway configuration in south Jersey, the 42/I-676/I-295 interchange cannot be described but in words that are not suitable for a family blog. Idiotic might be an understatement. After crossing from Pennsylvania on the Walt Whitman Bridge, Rt. 42 is met by lanes from Rt. 130 and I-676. As the route progresses toward I-295, drivers really need to plan ahead. The exit for I-295 south is the left hand lane of Rt. 42, and traffic headed for I-295 north needs to get in the right hand lane of Rt.42. The express lane starts just before the I-295 south exit, so the two left lanes are split off from the rest of the highway by a cement divider. I assume that the purpose for the express lane is to save drivers a few seconds of driving by not having to worry about drivers who are not capable of reading road signs and planning ahead by getting in the proper exit lane ahead of time. I have already been stuck in traffic backed up to the I-95 exit to the Walt Whitman Bridge because somebody plowed into the safety rail before the cement divider for the express lane.

 

Yesterday, as I was approaching the express lane, I saw a Dodge Caravan style mini-van jam the brakes on right in the middle of the highway just at the express lane. As I realized that they weren’t joking or slowing down for some perceived traffic impediment, I hit my brakes hard lest I plow into them. I saw a large Ford pickup truck jam it’s brakes in my rearview mirror. The minivan in front of me came to a complete stop as cars began flying around the Ford behind me until the lane I was in started having to stop. I hit my horn twice "beep, beep" as a little "Uhm, can we start moving? Stopping in the middle of a highway, especially in New Jersey, is like very dangerous or something." Then the minivan’s backup lights came on and the van started backing up almost right into me. Apparently the driver couldn’t read the road signs for the past two or so miles and came to a complete stop with the front of his or her car past the guardrail, making it impossible to change lanes. Now the driver was backing up apparently in the hopes of backing up far enough to somehow get over a lane with oncoming traffic to make whatever exit he or she needed. As I saw the van’s bumper approaching the front of my Sedona, I decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I NEVER use my horn, but in this case I placed my fist on the horn and held it down until I saw the minivan stop and the backup lights go off.

 

Now that the driver had nowhere to go, you might expect forward motion, but this driver sat for several more seconds. I was about to roll down my window and scream something like "If you’re too stupid to read road signs, get off at the next exit and turn around!" It was the most charitable thing I could think of to say at that moment. Finally, the minivan started moving forward, so I could and the traffic now stopped behind me could as well. As soon as we cleared the express lanes, I changed lanes and flew around that minivan. I always wonder, is it smarter to have a clueless driver in front of you where you can see them, or behind you so you can get away from them?

 

If anybody from whatever commision that is in charge of the Route 42 construction is reading this, please get rid of that express lane before you kill somebody!

 

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Palm Sunday Remarks

I have the head table in church today, and this is what I plan to say. I need to prepare my remarks somewhere. By "head table", I am officiating the Lord’s Supper. In my church, we take the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. One layperson takes the podium (pulpit) and shares some thoughts to prepare the congregation’s hearts and minds for the Lord’s Supper. Four men take the bread (Matzo crackers) then fruit of the vine (Welch’s Grape Juice) and serve them to the congregation. Then out of convenience the collection is taken up. Then the ministers get up to do the sermon. It’s simply the way the church I attend handles things. I believe most Churches of Christ do it the same way. Though many churches have traditions and other ways of taking the Lord’s Supper, I can’t find any specific chapter on how often or or exactly how to go about it. We simply try to "this do in remembrance of me" as best we can. A thought did occur to me as I was processing my thoughts for my remarks that Jesus possibly meant this to be done as part of the Passover celebration, which the church normally doesn’t observe. I was thinking of the anti-Semitism that developed in the early church and how the church parted ways with the Judaism it was born of. There is a lot of interesting reading on that subject; more than I have time to go into here.

As a side note, although many Christians believe that the wine is to be non-alcoholic and as such serve grape juice instead, I do personally believe that it was alcoholic wine served at the Last Supper based on a simple fact of agriculture. The grape harvest was in October in ancient Israel. Until I see a special on the History Channel showing some ancient refrigeration system used to keep grape juice fresh all year, I’ll have to assume that the only way to keep grapes until March or April is to ferment them. It would have to have been wine that was used in the cup at the Last Supper based on that. However, I am aware that many Christians prefer the non-alcoholic grape juice. I have better things to do than fight about it. I’m also sure that Jesus passed more than a little plastic thimble-cup around, but again, we do the best we can with what we have on a Sunday morning in between the opening songs and the sermon.

Remarks:

Good morning. Many of you know that I love history, and so I love to get up here and officiate the Lord’s Supper on a day that has some historical or prophetic significance. It’s much easier for me to come up with something to say on days like this. I was talking with my wife yesterday asking for her input on what I’m going to say today, and I brought up that we’re approaching the holiest day of the year for Christians. She said "No, it’s the holiest week." I honestly never thought of it that way. We all know that next Sunday is Easter, the day that we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. The Jews were given a set of days to observe in the Torah, the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible. They had seventy days in all, counting the Sabbaths and all of the holy days such as Passover, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Under ancient Judaism, only on Yom Kippur could the High Priest enter the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and later the temple after an extensive ritual of cleansing, sacrifice, and preparation. The High Priest entered with a rope tied to him in case he did something wrong and God struck him dead. With the rope, the other priests could drag him out. I have no idea what was done for the rest of Yom Kippur in those cases, which I’m sure were rare.

Our faith was born out of Judaism. Our Lord is a Jew. The first Christians were Jews. Somewhere along the early path, however, the two split. We can see from the Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s early writings that many Jews were hostile to the early Christians. The first persecutions came from Jews, including the very writer of some of our favorite books in the Bible, Saul of Tarsus. The church, for a variety of reasons, parted ways with Judaism. For Jews, the holiest day of the year is still Yom Kippur, for us, it’s Easter, which I call Resurrection Day at times.

I’ve heard somewhere that you can tell what is most important to someone by how much time, money, or energy he or she devotes to it. How much of the Bible is devoted to the Creation? A couple of chapters in Genesis, some spattering of verses in the Psalms, a little bit in Isaiah… How much of the Bible is devoted to the redemption? Pretty much the rest of it. What did the creation cost God? Seven days. How much did the redemption cost Him? His son.

Before I continue, I thought it would be interesting to see how much each of the Gospel writers devoted just to this week.

Out of 28 Chapters, 8 of Matthew’s are about this very week we’re celebrating. That is 28%. Mark spent 6 of 16 chapters, or 38%. Luke wrote about this week for 5 1/2 out of 24 chapters, or 23%. John must have really wanted to make a point because 8 1/2 of his 21 chapters or roughly 40% were devoted just to this week. I don’t even count Chapter 21 as it talks about events that happened AFTER the resurrection. Perhaps whoever is up here next week, if you haven’t thought of anything else yet, could figure out the percentage of text devoted just to the resurrection.

Now for the point. Many of you know that I like rabbit trails and it can take me a while to make a point.  Today is the day on our Christian calendar known as Palm Sunday. This is the day we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as He came knowing that He would be put to death and raised three days later. Jesus did not enter Jerusalem in a vacuum. Though we know and believe that He will return, we know not the day nor the hour. Many waste a lot of time and credibility speculating when Jesus will come back. Many have done foolish things expecting the return of Jesus. In about 1847 or 1848, one movement believed that Jesus would return that year. I am probably oversimplifying when I say that most of them sold their houses and sat on a hill waiting for Jesus’ return. I’m not sure what part of "occupy till I return" that they missed. His return may be a mystery for very good reasons, but his entry into Jerusalem on a donkey on a specific day was not, and He held them accountable to know that. Many of the people seemed to know, and the religious leaders seemed to understand but rather than joy they acted angrily. Let’s read this account:

Please turn to Luke 19. You can also find accounts of the triumphal entry in Matt 21, Mark 11, and John 12, but I think Luke captures the Pharisees’ reaction the best. Dan and Steve, I know you’re both working very hard on a sermon series from Luke about the road to Jerusalem, and I pray that I don’t take anything you had planned to say this morning.

[28] When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.[29] And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage* and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples,[30] saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.[31] “And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”[32] So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them.[33] But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”[34] And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”[35] Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.[36] And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.[37] Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,[38] saying:

‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’*

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

[39] And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”[40] But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

I think the other Gospel writers capture the quote from Psalm 118 better, but Luke’s account is worth the read for verses 39 and 40. We sing Psalm 118 verse 24 often enough. "This is the day that the Lord has made." The people were singing from verse 26. I think the triumphal entry was the day that the Lord has made, which is the point Jesus is making in verse 40. This day has been so appointed on God’s calendar that the stones would have sung Jesus in if the people didn’t. The Pharisees understood this, but rather than welcome Jesus as Messiah, they saw Him as a blasphemer.

This is what we’re observing today as we prepare to follow Jesus’ instruction to "this do in remembrance of me." As Matthew quotes the people in Matt 21:9 "

[9] Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’*

Hosanna in the highest!”

Hosanna to the Son of David. Let us pray.

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Brief Update

I’m sorry I dropped off the face of the Earth again. I got a new job. I had been wanting to write about some of my experiences during my job hunt, but on the off chance that somebody from my previous job read this blog, I figured I would keep my mouth shut.

 

I didn’t leave out of bitterness, or hard feelings. Not many, anyway. I worked with some fine people in a very laid back office. I’d never experienced the freedom to set my own schedule and manage my responsibilities as I did on that job. I had it very good there. But, I worked in a field office with one contract to support one customer and the contract was winding down. Many of the people in that office were at the end of their respective careers, and expected to retire when the contract ended in a few years. I still have at least 30 years left in the workforce by conventional wisdom, so that luxury escaped me. I was also itching for more responsibilities (and more money) and there was no room to advance in that organization. I put my resume on Careerbuilder to see what would happen. I’ll probably try to write up a more detailed post later.

 

I still work in the same industry, but on an entirely different project. I’m also an engineer now. I’m an engineer in an engineering company, which is like being a pilot in the Air Force. It’s wonderful being what your organization is purposed to do. I also changed states. I now work in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My commute is only a few miles longer than my previous commute, but I now have to contend with Route 42 rather than Interstate 295. I’m finding 42 to have plenty of challenges. Oh, yeah, there’s also that pesky bridge toll every day. It’s free to enter New Jersey, but there’s no way out without paying for it.

 

As I said, I’ll try to put up more details later. I just wanted to make this blog active again. I get about 10-20 hits per day. It took years to build that kind of traffic.

 

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