Could it be September Already?

Wow… 2007 is just melting away as we speak. September is imminent. The summer love is coming to an end. A few random thoughts as we go into the last third of the year:

I like fall. To me fall means “education” as it has long been associated with the return to school for me. In fact, this is only the second year where the fall hasn’t brought a change in focus from work to school. I’m still not 100% used to working year round, and not having that fall transition I’m sure accounts for my lack of productivity at work.

Remember all those goals I set in January? Yeah… neither do I. I mean, I know what some of the things I wanted to accomplish this year have been, but have I really accomplished them yet? Not really. I have worked semi-consistently at each of them. Some have crashed and burned. Others have produced some results. Others have yet to produce any result. Some have gone back to being distant dreams. I suppose it’s time to whip out those written goals and do a reevaluation of them and recommit to them.

I like fall weather. I like the crispness of the air. I love the sounds of crowds in football stadiums which can be heard for miles around. I love how the mornings can be brisk, and the afternoons bright.

I don’t like what’s to come though: Fall pruning. The world dying. Putting up halloween, then thanksgiving, then christmas decorations. The rush of holiday shopping and focus on end of year profits. I could pass all those things up.

Recently I have been in what I’d like to call the “post-summer-pre-fall-funk”. This is a generally unproductive, anti-social mood you get in when summer is basically over and you didn’t get a vacation, when fall isn’t quite here and you can’t really enjoy being outside again, and when you are just plain tired every day.

Why is it at my old jobs, I could work for months on end, six days a week, with no break – no days off, and here in the “real world” working cushy hours for cushy wages in a cushy indoor chair makes me absolutely crazy in anticipation of the 4 weeks per year of paid time off?

I’ll leave you with that thought. Happy September!

New iPods On Their Way

The Apple Rumor Mill has been a-buzz lately with confident speculation that Apple will be announcing a new line of iPods in the next few weeks; as early as September 5.

Here are my summaries/predictions/conclusions:

  • The new iPod will feature a widescreen, multi-touch display, and will play video.
  • The new iPod will be based on a OS X, like the iPhone. This is a no brainer for Apple. Now they have put the work in to make iPhone an iPod, just leverage all that work in an iPod only form factor.
  • The new iPod will look very similar to an iPhone. Same widescreen, multi-touch technology. Same singular home button. However, there will be some kind of design change or color difference. iPhone users will want to maintain their outward iPhone superiority to the less expensive, iPhone looking iPods.
  • Many have speculated that the new iPod will be based on NAND flash (the type of memory that is in the iPod nano) rather than a 2.5″ mobile hard disk. The hard disks are the single greatest point of failure in the old iPods, and the NAND flash in iPod nanos is practically indestructible. HOWEVER… I’m not 100% sold on that. NAND flash is much more expensive per gigabyte, and packing enough NAND flash into the iPhone form factor to equate the current largest iPod (80gb) would do it in. Apple can’t make the margins it needs at that price. I don’t see them shrinking the capacity of the largest iPod either. With every iPod release up until this point, they have expanded the storage capacity at the high end. Will we suddenly go crashing back down to 32gb after we have enjoyed 80gb? I doubt it.
  • They will certainly refresh the iPod, and likely refresh the iPod Nano (although it will mostly just be the new OS), but i’m not confident they will refresh the iPod Shuffle.

My prediction is that the new iPod will be a HUGE financial success for Apple (much bigger than iPhone), and will drive their holiday sales and 3rd to 4th quarter profits. Apple’s timing and strategy have been perfect.

iPhones were a perfect product for the summer, because a cell phone is not a product that we can all just go grab and use. Most of us have contracts we can’t break and can’t justify over $1000 to switch carriers and handsets. The hype was good. But the MONEY will come now with the new iPod.

Everyone and anyone can use a new iPod. Teens, old people, even babes in arms. It has been almost 2 years since the last iPod refresh, so we’ve all been waiting for this one for a very long time!

Sweet Sixteen

Happy Sixteenth Birthday to my youngest, sweetest, and most spoiled brother, Tyler!

Here are a few 16 year old survival tips:

  1. Drive the speed limit and stop at all stop signs. There are too many cops in the world who are gunning for you to take chances.
  2. Resist the urge to give your friends rides. They will never stop asking for them, and you will never get gas money from them.
  3. Never drive your car off the pavement. Ever.
  4. No. Sidewalks do NOT count as pavement.
  5. Lock your car even while it’s in your own driveway. The only thing I ever had stolen from my car was between the hours of 1am and 7am while the car was parked directly in front of the house.
  6. Be friends with a lot of girls, and resist the urge to hook up with them.

You know, you spend most of your teenage years looking forward to your sixteenth birthday, then toward your eighteenth birthday, then toward your twenty-first. Each time, you’re absolutely sure that life will suddenly begin for you. Well, the truth is, life only begins after you actually begin it.

Carpe diem (seize the day).

Love ya buddy!

The Revolution-less Democracy

So I have been thinking about this thing in Iraq for a pretty long time now. I wish I could say I have some great idea; some great answer to solve the conundrum in which we find our country, our military, and the middle east as a whole.

The only conclusion I can draw is this: freedom and democracy is not a gift you can simply bestow. Even though I believe that every human soul craves liberty from fear and oppression, all outward signs indicate that the people of Iraq have historically not felt strongly enough about it, as they were content to allow dictators and tyrants to rule over them.

Democracy is not a gift that can be bestowed. It is not something that can be constructed from a blueprint. We can’t simply make xerox copies of the United States’ Constitution and save all mankind and government. Freedom, government, and self-determination are things only a people themselves can fight for and attain.

Revolution itself seems necessary for any kind of representative government. While the phrase “bloodless revolution” has been coined and accepted, there is no such thing as as revolutionless democracy. The people must stand up and say that the country that unites them transcends their religion and special interest. That before being a Sunni, Shiite or Kurd; they are an Iraqi. In the United States we have revolutions every two, four, and six years. We call them elections.

Look at Isreal. We “installed” a democracy in that country much like we are trying to install the democracy in Iraq. More than fifty years later, it still hangs by a thread.

Are we willing to engage in a Neo-Colonialism where we send our military to every country of the world in which we have an interest? Will our military bases and embassies become the new wave of American colonialism?

One thing is for certain. Barring any major breakdown (a la 1979 Iranian revolution) in the Iraqi government, we will be there for a generation or two.

It’s Elementary!

It’s that time of year again. School bells are ringing, (well, actually none of the schools I ever went to had bells – they opted for the more annoying alarm-esque steady digital tone) and children are returning to school. The school yards are different, even from my elementary school days less than 15 years ago. The teeter totters and merry-go-rounds have been removed and replaced with environmentally friendly, super safe, rubber rocks. Yes, education has changed in this country.

One thing I vividly remember learning as early as second grade, was about the many explorers and adventurers of Christopher Columbus’ day. There were explorers like Vasco DaGama, who discovered the oversea trade route to India around Africa. There was Columbus, who defied all science and tradition by going west, and discovering the “new world.” There was Magellan, whose voyage ended as the first to circumnavigate the entire earth, exploring the terrible freezing passages of South American straits. The list continues: Leif Erikson, Henry Hudson, Bartholomeu Dias, & Pedro Cabral. While the accuracy of what I learned has been dramatically called into question by today’s historicity, the important thing is, this is what I remember learning when I was in the second grade.

With that in mind, let me brazenly shift gears. Many Americans are afraid of India and China, the world’s largest emerging markets. How can a country as relatively small as America have any chance of competing with countries with such vast human resources?

The answer comes from what I learned in second grade.

Americans are explorers. We are adventurers. We are innovators. We lead the world in technology, and have done so through the 20th centry. We pioneered the digital/information age, and remain at it’s forefront. Even though China and India can manufacture and produce products at much lower cost, the intellectual property and innovation which makes those product possible is still originating from this country.

So as we watch our educational system evolve, as it will inevitably do. Let’s keep talking about the explorers and the adventurers. Lets promote and enhance innovation, creativity, and change in our public and private universities. Therein lies the key to preserving our status as the world’s greatest ideological superpower.

No Time Like The Present

One of my good friends, Jeff, once told me:

There’s never a better time to look for a job than when you already have a job you love.

So in that spirit, I want to congratulate Jeff on his new job as an Arts Manager at a large university, and remind everyone that there is no time like the present to be looking for your dream job! When you least expect it, it may just present itself.

iPhone – Why I’m Still Waiting…

I would absolutely love to buy an iPhone…

-BUT- (there’s always a but)

Here are the top reasons why I have not purchased my iPhone yet. If Apple wants my $600 and at&t wants my wireless business, they will have to address these items first.

1. Voice Navigation/Calling

The most crucial problem facing the user interface of the iphone is its lack of tactile buttons. You can’t use your motor memory to make or even receive calls. For example, using my current cell phone, without even looking I can press Softkey 2 to open my contacts and press the M key will bring up “Mom”, then I press talk… no need to even look at my phone. With the iPhone, I have to look for “Contacts”, flick through the list until I find “Mom” then press her contact, then press to dial her. I had to look at my phone at least 4 times, not including a very prolonged look to flick through the contact list. What this equates to is millions of drivers having to LOOK at their cellphones to actually use them. This will create major safety hazards on roads (as if the current state of the 21 and under crowd txting from their cars wasn’t bad enough). Even when I just had a standard iPod, I found myself distracted by it, trying to switch playlists or genres while driving.

2. 3G EDGE Network

There is no excuse for launching the worlds most anticipated mobile device, promising to unleash the mobile internet in a way that has never been accomplished before, and then (in effect) putting a 14.4kbps modem on it and expecting everyone to love it.

We crave SPEED! Launching iPhone with the 2.5G network is dumb. Maybe it was the excessive power requirements of the 3G chip. Maybe it was the added cost. Maybe it was that at&t hasn’t rolled out the 3G network widely enough. Maybe the iPhone is just ahead of its time…

And don’t try to sell me a line about how the built in wi-fi will satsify me. Unless I am at home or at work, I am not in a hotspot or near a hotspot. I am freakin’ mobile! Public hotspots at coffee shops and airports cost WAY too much money… no way i’m using them!

3. Corporate Discounts/Accounts

Although this one doesn’t affect the public at large, this IS a PRIME segment of your market, and the ones I would argue are the most important to iPhone success: people who work for tech companies… THE EARLY ADOPTERS. Many tech companies pay for their employees phones, and Apple’s/at&t’s absolute refusal to grant them the ability to offer the phone to them is just plain silly.

I would even be OK if they didn’t want to discount the iPhone, but precluding corporate paid users from even purchasing the iPhone is shooting yourself in the foot. If you haven’t guessed by now, I work for a tech company. My co-workers and I would absolutely LOVE to buy iPhones. We would love to recommend them to everyone we see. We would love to show them off and tell everyone how Apple has made our dream device… but you just simply won’t let us.

4. Support Stereo bluetooth headphones and get rid of the proprietary headphone jack.

You can’t advertise an iPod that you can’t plug a set of non-Apple headphones into. People spend BIG bucks on earphones these days, and it’s no secret that Apple does not have the good ones. The white wire sure is stylish, but if I want a good $200-500 set of noise-cancelling earphones that lets me hear the music rather than the plane’s engines, I CERTAINLY want them to work in my $600 iPhone.

Along these same lines, let me utilize the bluetooth capability and go wireless with my headphones! iPhone does not currently support stereo bluetooth headphones. This is a MUST!

5. The Battery

This has been one of the biggest issues for everyone, and simply summed up it is this:

  • People can’t live for 3-5 days without their phone while Apple replaces their battery (or actually swaps the handset)
  • People want to be able to have spare or extended batteries in case they are using power intensive applications (which on the iPhone is pretty much everything: video, voice, data, wireless technology)

Honestly, it is less of an issue for me. I have owned an iPod for 3 years and still haven’t seen much degradation in the battery, such that I would want to replace it. However, knowing the flawed nature of Lithium Ion batteries, Apple needs a better battery strategy.

That’s it Apple. Fix those 5 things, and I’m on board.

SYTYCD – Top 4 Reviews

OK Friends… Quick blog today about last night’s SYTYCD, before the big revelation tonight.

First of all, I’d like to point out the major changes to the competition this year. This year’s top dancers did solos every night. Even on the vote off shows, they often had the dancers do solos. This made things even harder for the ballroom/partner dancers and gave great advantage to the beat boys and hip hoppers. Also, the finals are between 4 people, and up until that time a guy and girl was kicked off every week. This was to increase the chances that a girl could win the competition, since it is so clearly skewed toward the guys.

OK. Let’s get down to business.

Danny – your strengths are your technique and your beautiful lines. You are tall with potentially awkward lankiness, yet you seem to know what to do with every inch of your body in order to make it look great!

The waltz was my favorite last night. So beautiful and flowing. Those smooth waltzes take me to another world.

You’re solo was FREAKING awesome. It was certainly your best this season, and gave me a real reason to want to pick up the phone to vote for you.

Lacie – you are at a slight disadvantage here. If you win, everyone will say it’s because of your brother. Your instant popularity has been because of him, but you have proved yourself week after week. You are consistent, and actually very good at what you do. The latin styles are great, and you’ve held your own in the other styles.

What was up with your solo outfit tonight? It was super-ugly . Looked like tin foil wrapped over underwear.

Neil – I would not have placed you in the top 4 at the beginning of this competition. You lacked confidence that somewhere along the line you found. You are the most improved/developed dancer in this competition. I think the reason we like you is that you’re not too dancie. You have a good mix of gymnast/dancer/actor. Something weird happens to guys when they get too dancy (like Ben from last year and Danny this year). You are just dancy enough, but still seem like a great guy.

I really liked the Mia Michaels routine with you and Danny. I thought it was so NOT mia michaels style. It was so athletic and rough. She is usually so much more internal to external.

I hated the hip hop routine. You both felt so unnatural.

Sabra – Based on your total performance this season, you are my pick to win this year. You truly dance with your whole heart, and you seem like a really great person. It is time for a girl to win this competition, and I would prefer it not be a Schwimmer. You didn’t only dance all the styles, you brought it in all the styles. I almost died when I saw the video of Dominic dropping you during You Can’t Stop the Beat. I can’t believe that happened and you didn’t have a concussion.

I really didn’t like many of your dances last night. The Fox idea was underdeveloped, i thought. Not badly danced, just not fully thought through choreography.

I liked your solo, but I thought you had done better solos earlier in the season.

Well America… It’s up to you now, but I made my pick.