Sunday, December 18, 2005

And Now For a Little Personal News...

So, what did you do over the Thanksgiving break?

I'm so glad you asked. Well, on Saturday, November 26th Patti and I got engaged.

Check out for two family photos and photos of the event.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Unfortunate Need for Word Verification

Hi folks! Hopefully I'll get caught up on some postings during the Thanksgiving break. This blog keeps getting hit with spam postings so I've decided to turn on word verification.

Friday, October 14, 2005

New iPod – Say Hello to video

Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t Apple just announce a new iPod about 6 weeks ago? Yes they did and they did it again! The large iPod has been replaced with a new model that emulates the appearance of the new Nano. The new large iPod is 2.4” x 4.1”. Both the 30GB and the 60GB are thinner, coming in at 0.43” and 0.55” in thickness. Both have a 2.5” color screen. No change has been made to the click wheel, which, in my opinion, is the best physical implementation, especially when compared to earlier generations. Battery life is up to 20 hours.

So, what can a 60GB iPod hold? It can hold 15,000 songs with full-color album art and up to 25,000 photos. Oh, and then there’s the potential to hold 150 hours of video! OK, so how do you get the video to your iPod? Simply go to the iTunes Music Store (using the new iTunes version 6.0) where you can download music videos, video podcasts, short films from Pixar and television shows! As of today there are 6 shows available, including LOST and Desperate Housewifes. The cost is $1.99 a show and each show will be available the next day following the broadcast. Good-bye VCR and Tivo and Hello iPod.

OK, what about quality? Glad you asked – H.264 video, up to 768 Kbps with 320 x240 resolution at 30 frames per second. It can also handle MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 mbps with 480 x 480 resolution. And you connect the iPod to a TV via an optional s-video cable. Going to the neighbor’s house for dinner? Just stick your iPod and s-video cable in your pocket and share your vacation pictures and video via their TV. Now the only question is which will make them more jealous – the vacation or the iPod?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sir Paul

I need to share an incredible experience last Monday, September 26th. Patti and I attended the Paul McCartney Concert. For me it ranks as the best concert I've ever seen. The opening act was a bit disappointing. It consisted of a DJ spinning Techno samplings from Paul McCartney's hits. It wasn't my cup of tea. Then a slide show appeared with Paul during the narrative. It consisted of his early days. What I always find appealing is his modesty. Here you have the wealthiest, most successful musician on the planet and he comes across like your friend down the street.

Paul began playing at 8:30 and continued without a stop until approximately 11:15. His vocals are still strong and only show the sign of aging in a few spots. The special effects were great. The effects weren't over done. They had loud bangs followed by five big balls of flame at the back of the stage. This appeared during Live and Let Die. There were also sparkler effects and colored flames at other points in the show. The colored flames appeared at the side and front corners of the stage. The colors were solid red and then solid green. I don't know how they did this but the colors were quite vivid.

Paul sang virtually every hit you could think of except When I'm 64. I assume he's saving that one. And, of course, he sang Yesterday.

Now a word about cost. I purchased the tickets from Ticketmaster minutes after they went on sale. The final cost was $140 per ticket. I bought two. Parking was $25. Food at the new Garden in Boston was $13 and 5 beers cost $30. Three shirts cost $112. Total - $460. I don;t know about you but I think this is outrageous. That kind of expense limits me to one large concert a year, maybe. Don't these people know that I would go to more concerts if they cost less?!

Now I have to admit that I'm spoiled. On the weekends I work as a bartender at the Sit N' Bull Pub in Maynard, MA. I see live music by decent bands in a small casual night club. The cover is $5 to $35 depending upon the band, with the average in the $7 to $10 range. Local bands include The Love Dogs, The Fools, Fat City, Peter Wolf, Bruce Marshall Band and BeatleJuice. It's a great deal.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Setting Expectations

As I recently said in my podcast (patriotcast), It is always important to set expectations. I will now attempt to set expectations with the hurricane Rita.

Seaside structures will be destroyed. If the storm hits Galveston, it will be wiped out. Road access to Galveston will be destroyed and anyone who stayed in Galveston will be stranded for 3 to 10 days, assuming they weren’t killed in the storm.

The petrochemical industry will be severely impacted. Any oil refinery in the greater Houston area will be damaged and offline for weeks, perhaps months. The reduction in refining capacity will drive gas prices up to $4 to $6 a gallon. Refining capacity was already at max’d out prior to this disruption.

There will be flooding along the Houston Ship Channel.

Houston will be severely damaged.

Power will be out for 2 to 6 weeks. Sewer treatment plants will be offline. Water will be disrupted for days.

Basic services – police, fire and hospitals will be disrupted for 1 to 2 weeks.

Unlike Katrina, you will see a far greater use of military assets in the initial rescue and recovery effort.

However, there are no levees to fail. The water will recede within hours since the area is above sea level.

It will be ugly.

Please, get out now!

To All of You in the Path of hurricane Rita

I hope you have a safe journey as you evacuate away from the coast. Please get out of the way of this storm. If at all possible, please lend a hand to neighbors, friends, etc. and help them evacuate. Most importantly, please leave NOW.

To anyone staying behind – please don’t. The force of this storm will be devastating. Structures will be destroyed.

Best of luck to everyone who will be affected.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Thank You MacWorld Boston, You Will Be Missed

On Friday, September 16th IDG World Expo announced that MacWorld Expo Boston has been cancelled. It is a sad day in the Mac community.

I began attending MacWorld in Boston in 1987. Unfortunately I have not been able to attend MacWorld Expo San Francisco. I know I’m truly missing a grand event in San Francisco and perhaps fate will allow me to attend some time in the future.

I consider myself very fortunate to experience the Boston shows. We all remember the hot, humid August days, the traffic, and the commuting between the two Expo sites - the World Trade Center (Boston) and Bayside Expo. I remember people bungee jumping from a crane. A friend of mine said it was the scariest thing he had ever done. I also remember the keynotes, especially when Steve Jobs returned and Bill Gates joined the keynote via teleconference. The announcements of the new partnership between the two organizations made headlines in papers around the country in 1997. Ironically, that was the last Boston MacWorld until 2004.

I thoroughly enjoyed the return of MacWorld Boston in 2004. The new convention center was enormous. Unfortunately, the number of vendors was limited, however, there were meetings galore. I was able to attend the keynote, “The Macintosh at 20 – The Celebration of 20 Years of Innovation. The keynote was hosted by the always-entertaining David Pogue. The original Mac development team appeared on stage and told tales of the early days. I bought a DVD of keynote and will hold on to it forever.

Bmac, Boston Macintosh User Group, was able to participate in the user group booth. It was refreshing to see so many people interested in a local user group. On Tuesday night in 2004 Bmac held its July monthly user group meeting at MIT and received a great turnout. The speaker for the evening was an Apple Engineer who was on vacation. This was quite a coup since Apple was not at the show.

The 2005 MacWorld Boston was another memorable event. I attended the MAC IT conferences and significantly participated in Bmac user group booth. While the show was small, spirits were high and I was able to meet and speak to numerous industry pundits, e.g., Chris Breen, Bob LeVitus, Andy Itnotko, Jason Snell and Adam Engst. This year Bmac was able to obtain meeting space at the show so Bmac held its July meeting at the show. The speaker was Adam Engst of TidBITs fame and again, we had a great turn out.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone involved with MacWorld, especially Sarah Hindmarsh of IDG Expo, who’s hard work and support of Bmac will always be appreciated. I would also like to thank all of the speakers and vendors for their contributions. And finally, I would like to thank all of the MacWorld Boston attendees throughout the years for your continuous support and love of the Macintosh community.

Thank you MacWorld Boston, I’ll miss you.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Motorola ROKR (aka the iTunes Phone) - A necessary move

Motorola ROKR (aka the iTunes Phone) – Another good move by Apple. It is crucial that Apple take some sort of action in this direction. Partnering is definitely the way to go. OK, so why an iTunes Phone? One word – teenagers. Wouldn’t a teenager love having the phone and iPod all in one neat little package? Yes, 20 and 30 something’s would want it too but that group would be more concerned with service and feature set. A teenager simply needs cellular service around their hometown.

Mobile virtual network operator – As was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article on September 8th, one possibility is for Apple to enter the wireless service arena. To do so, Apple would buy wireless service wholesale and resell it. This could be the third rail of the iTunes Phone. I would not attach the Apple name to any wireless service. As all cellular users know, we all are disappointed with the reception and coverage, no matter who we use as a provider. Wireless service does not match Apple’s image of a high quality product and service. Step aside and let someone else take the blame for inadequate service.

The iPod Nano - another winner from Apple

The iPod Nano – This product has every appearance of a winner. Apple has capitalized of the simple and universally recognized design of today’s larger iPod. As people say, size matters and in this case the smaller, the better; the larger the capacity, the better. And then there’s price point, getting the best bang of for your buck. Apple has achieved all three with the iPod Nano. The only issue I have is the name, why Nano? However, my concern about the name is pushed aside by the sleak appearance combined with the full functionality of its larger cousin.

What will this product do for Apple? Once again, the teenager and 20 something market is critical to capture. The goal – create a fan base for life. Every company in the world would love to have the loyal following that Mac owners continuously demonstrate. And Apple has repeated the process with the iPod. Innovation and quality are everything. Every MP3 developer is trying to design the iPod killer. Apple needs to do everything possible to prevent this – constantly improve the product, create a price range to meet everyone’s needs from the teenager to the high-end audiophile, and reduce physical size while maintaining the best interface in the industry. The iPod Nano addresses all of these issues and proves that Apple is still the leader of pack and will remain so as it continues to be sensitive to these factors.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Why does it take so long to provide relief?

I, like everyone else, am frustrated at the length of time required to provide relief. I have extensive experience in business operations and therefore understand that some delay is to be expected, however, this seems to be taking too long. Let me explain. Recovery forces must be self-sufficient. This means they bring their own food, water, fuel, sanitary facilities and transportation. If you bring in 5,000 workers, you need to have physical space to “shelter” (read support) these people. Tent cities would need to be created. And this is just for the workers. Why do you need to do this? These workers will be on site for several days or weeks.

Obviously, you could disburse workers into the area while having others set up the necessary support facilities. Now let’s work on the timeline. Step 1 – Notify workers to move to centers to prepare to be mobilized. Step 2 – Load supplies and workers onto transportation. Step 3 – Transport workers. Step 4 – Disburse workers and supplies while creating “shelter” for workers. Step 5 – Prepare outside facilities to receive refugees. Step 6 – Transport refugees to outside facilities.

Step 1 – Place workers on alert – 12 to 24 hours
Step 2 – Load supplies – 12 hours
Step 3 – Transport workers – 12 to 48 hours
Step 4 – Disburse workers – 12 hours
Step 5 – Prepare outside facilities 24 to 48 hours
Step 6 – Transport Refugees 12 to 48 hours

Total time – 3.5 to 8 days

OK, so where do you put the refugees? And let’s keep in mind we’re talking about big numbers – over 100,000 people. An outside facility needs to be able to provide shelter, sanitary facilities and kitchens. Two possibilities come to mind – schools and hotels. I would allocate every school to this function. Classrooms become sleeping areas. All schools have sanitary and cafeteria facilities. I would move people north, east and west outside of the disaster area. This would affect a significant number of states. The start of school would be delayed.

Let’s assume an average school has 10 classrooms and you can put 12 cots in each classroom. That means a school could house 120 people. You would need 833 schools to house 100,000 people. Sounds doable to me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


To all of those effected by this event - The thoughts of the nation are with you. I realize at this moment the situation is absolutely unbearable, however, I truly believe that state and federal authorities are moving as quickly as possible. A rescue and recovery operation of this size unfortunately takes time to help those in need. My thoughts are with everyone effected and to the rescue and recovery personnel.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

ER•6 Isolator Earphones – My ears are now spoiled

As I stated in a previous post, I attended MacWorld Boston this summer a bought a few things. One of my show floor stops was at the Etymotic Research, Inc. ( booth.

Great Sales Technique - These folks sell basically one thing and they do it right. Numerous friendly representatives were offering you an opportunity to listen to the earphones. A representative placed the earphone in my ears – proper fit in vital to the sound quality. There were numerous iPods to listen to but had my iPod with me and was able to listen to my music. I was allowed to listen as long as I want and tested both the ER•6s and the ER•4s. These products sell themselves. I chose the ER•6s because they met my price point ($100).

Sound - The sound is simply great. I swear I hear things I’ve never noticed before in the music. As the sales reps and the literature explains, it is very important to get the ear phone deep in your ear canal otherwise you will not experience a proper bass response. I suggest you try both the plastic and foam ear tips.

Fit – Fit has always been an issue with me but the ER•6s fit great. The ER•6s come with both plastic and foam ear tips. The plastic ear tips did a better job blocking out external noise but I found them uncomfortable and I couldn’t get them deep enough into my ear canal. I was about to return the earphones and then I tried the form ear tips – outstanding! I rolled the form tips with my fingers thus temporarily compressing the ear tips. I then immediately inserted them into my ears and the foam expanded to a comfortable fit and great sound.

Customer Service – The representative gave me extra plastic tips when I purchased the ER•6s. I returned to the booth I mentioned that the foam tips worked great. They immediately gave me extra foam tips.

A great company and a great product. Make sure to stop by their booth if you see Etymotic Research at MacWorld.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Invisible Shield for your iPod - Great Product

I attended MacWorld this past summer and, as always, bought a few things. One of the items was called "Invisibleshield" by Protective Solutions, Inc. ( The product is a very thin protective film that you attach to your iPod. The stuff is incredible. At the show they had a sample of the film and asked you to poke a ballpoint pen through it. It was extremely hard to do. You then took a look at the models on display and it was hard to believe the film was actually on the product. The show price was approximately $16. While at the booth they offered to buff my iPod to remove some of the scratches. The gentleman spent about 5 minutes buffing my iPod and it looked significantly better. I carry my iPod in a case most of the time and the case actually scratches the iPod. Now it would have taken an hour or more of buffing to remove every mark, but I must tell you, my iPod looked much, much better.

I have a third gen model so they shipped me the film. In the package they request you go to the web site for directions. Initially the directions look a little overwhelming. However, in a nutshell they tell you to wet the sticky side of the film with soapy water and use a credit card to squeegee out the air bubbles. You are also assured that you can remove the film.

The application turned out to be easier than expected and the iPod looks fantastic. The film actually seems to reduce the remaining scratches. I don't recommend many products but this one is a winner. And yes, they have the Invisibleshield for PDAs, cell phones and other products.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The First Post

Welcome! I hope you find my various posts entertaining, informative and stimulating.

Rule #1 - I will not hide behind my keyboard. I will attempt to communicate to you as though you and I were speaking in person, face to face. I will make every attempt to treat my readers with respect. I will not force my opinions upon you. Instead, I welcome constructive rebuttals and replies and will respond in kind.

Topics - Life, Macintosh, Current Events, Politics, Business, etc.

Macs - Love 'em. I help run a mac user group - BMAC, Boston's Macintosh User Group.

Current Events - I try to be thoughtful and not reactionary. In other words, listen and gather data instead of voicing an uneducated opinion. Immediate commentary on "breaking news" will hopefully demonstrate respectful restraint.

Politics - moderate conservative. I wish I was more knowledgeable. I try to watch Meet the Press on Sundays and read an occasional piece of political non-fiction, e.g., The Secret Man by Bob Woodward. I try to understand both sides of the issue.

Business - Expertise - a generalist, accountant by training. I have a BS in Accountancy from Bentley College and a MBA from Babson College. I take immense pride in my alma maters. I'm also a Certified management Accountant. Experienced in accounting, IT, academia and operations.

That's enough for now.

My next step is to develop a better understanding of Blogger and then start posting some items.

Stay tuned.