Sunday, October 30, 2005

Black Diamond Railroad Trail

I got a healthy run in tonight on the Black Diamond Railroad Trail. The trail is located in Mendon, NY and is just gorgeous. It doesn't hurt that the leaves are changing, which adds a bit of color to things.

The trail is nice and flat as it used to host a railroad. There are many clues to this (including a sign saying the name of the trial) though my favorite is the use of railroad ties as a kind of marker for the parking lot. I think of it as a creative way to recycle.

--Ben

Yummy Dinner

The Kochmans provided a super delicious meal this evening. I got to try mashed cauliflower - which was very tasty. It looks like mashed potatoes, but is lacking those evil carbs.

Ahhh, the advantages of having multiple Jewish mother's bent on feeding you.

--Ben

Test...test...

This is yet another test to see if blogger images are working.

--Ben

Boing Boing: Telecommuting Video Blog

Boing Boing: Telecommuting Video Blog

Yikes, and I thought I took my gray time seriously!

Hmmm, I wonder if I could be the first person to video blog from the bathroom? Why use it as the library, when it could be the studio?

Cool Tool: Instant Period Costumes

Cool Tool: Instant Period Costumes

This one is for my craft oriented Mom. Seems like a clever book/idea for making costumes.

This also falls into the category of solving a seemingly complex problem with a simple and cheap solution.

Seth's Blog: Tools vs. Craftsmen

Seth's Blog: Tools vs. Craftsmen

I just love posts like these -- inspirational reminders that we live in such a wonderful time. The idea that we have gobs of free tools available to anyone who wants them just blows my mind.

With my cell phone alone, I can participate in the worlds of photography, publishing and probably even radio if I tried hard enough. And all for free.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Close counts in horseshoes, not marketing

We were at Old Navy tonight shopping. In the dressing room was something fairly smart, the form to signup for an Old Navy credit card. That's good, right? After all, you are putting your customer's gray time to use (sitting around while your friend is trying on clothes) and you are breaking down all possible barriers to people signing up (you put the form in every possible place).

But, the effort was *close* and not quite right. If I were them, to make this effor go all the way, I would:

(1) Include a pen with the form. How can you expect folks to fill out the form without a pen? Spend a few pennies and make the pens branded as Old Navy pens. Then encourage folks to take the pens with them. As a result, they will be carrying the Old Navy brand around with them.

(2) Have the application and clipboard placed in a nice holder. I checked two different changing rooms and both of them had a clipboard and form just sitting on the bench in the room. It almost looked like someone left the clipboard there accidently. Instead, the display should be obvious and explicit. You want people to notice the display and use it, not just look at the clipboard and ignore it.

(3) Include some marketing copy with the form. Maybe something like: "Got a minute to save a buck? Here are 5 good reasons you should apply for an Old Navy Card ..." The copy will help to sell people why they wait. And, if you make the copy context sensitive (knowing people are looking at this form in a dressing room: "the outfit you just tried on didn't fit, but our card does" kinda thing) it should be more effective.

It looks to me like Old Navy could spend a few dollars and take the beginning of a marketing idea all the way to success.

--Ben

Testing...testing....

NOTE: Image upload failed; please try again later.

Blogger claims that images were broken, but are now fixed.

This post will either confirm or deny their claim.

--Ben

Still Performing

Here is my very sick father-in-law. He's performing a card trick and keeping us all entertained in the process.

He used the phrase ash-badasharie (meaning tush or bum). The nurses were a bit concerned until we explained that the term is a common one in his vocabulary.

--Ben

The Other Kind of Program Scalability

Scalability | Lambda the Ultimate

This is an interesting article/rant on program scalability. Scalability not from the perspective of how to write programs that handle more transactions, but from the perspective of writing more complex programs with more team members.

It's a tricky problem -- and as the author points out, one that Java wins at while other languages such as Scheme lose.

The main reason that I think a language like Scheme fails is that not enough of the patterns for daily use have been flushed out. That is, the basic paradigms such as mapping or filtering a list are as clean as can be. But, how do you handle a presentation layer in a web application? Or, how do you go from a PostgreSQL database to a rendered result set?

Java has answers to these. Answers people know and trust. Scheme has the promise that it can be done, and be done cleaner than any other language. Promises are nice, but when you have a boss breathing down your neck and you have a product to produce, you need answers.

Of course I think this problem can be solved. That is, powerful languages can have the patterns needed to make them accessible to large audiences. To contribute my 2 cents to the effort, I've created the Scheme Pet Store. This is a demonstration of how Scheme can be used to solve a problem that Java typically solves.

But my initial implementation of the Scheme Pet Store is hardly enough. We need to refine the pet store until it represents patterns that we, as a community, agree on.

The really exciting part, and my experience with the pet store proved to me, when you get the basics there Scheme can really shine.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Choose your own metaphor



While running in Rochester I ran by MCC - the local community college. It has always struck me as odd that directly adjacent to MCC is the county prison. I'm not sure what the message is, but while on my run (and deprived of oxygen) I came up with a few theories:

(1) without knowledge you have lawlessness

(2) the line between good and evil is remarkebly thin

(3) the behavior of most convicts and most college students is about the same

So, what would you make of this juxteposition?

--Ben

Book review: Don't sweat the small stuff...and it's all small stuff

I've been "reading" this cute little book: Don't Sweat The Small Stuff ... and It's All Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson. I say "reading" because this barely a book in the typical sense.

His advice isn't unlike a Java patterns book: name a technique for achieving inner-piece, then describe and give examples of it. Each technique takes between 1-3 small pages. It's also like a pattern book in that once you've learend the techniques you can just refer to them by name. Like, "oh, now's a good time to try the 'life is a test' technique."

In general the book is good and the advice useful. He doesn't dwell on any one technique too long, which is both good and bad.

This is actually a good book to fill gray time because you can get value out of it when you only have a couple of minutes handy.

Buy one, put it in your bathroom, and read it often.

Score: 7/10 for what it is, good quicky self help inspirational reading.

--Ben

iPod for Medical images

CNN.com - 'I use my iPod to store medical images' - Oct 26, 2005

A nice hack a doctor developed to store medical images and allow him to carry them around.

I can imagine that off the shelf solutions like this much be a lot cheaper than developing a medical specific device.

Super-simple DIY synth plans

MAKE: Blog: Super-simple DIY synth plans

This seems like it would be a fun electronics project to play with. It doesn't have many parts, yet you end up with a fun device.

Add it to the when I retire TODO list...

Small Business Trends: Top 10 Most Practical Blogs for Entrepreneurs

Small Business Trends: Top 10 Most Practical Blogs for Entrepreneurs

A good list of business blogs if you are looking to seed your reading list.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Attack of the Zombie Copy

A List Apart: Attack of the Zombie Copy

This is a cute/useful article on web copy. Read it, and stop writing like a value added, paradigm shifting, market leading, best of breed fool.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Announcement: Scheme Pet Store

I have finally polished up the Scheme Pet Store -- below is the official announcment. Read the project writeup, and then start developing your web apps in Scheme.


Announcement: Scheme Pet Store

I would like to announce the availability of the Scheme Pet Store, a version of the Java Pet Store, written in Scheme. This application demonstrates the creation of a non-trivial, e-commerce-based web application in Scheme.

The application is written using the SISCweb framework and can be hosted in any J2EE compliant web container.

As it stands now, the Scheme Pet Store is a proof of concept that demonstrates that Scheme is an ideal language for writing web applications. With sufficient feedback from the Scheme community, this application can be improved to the point where it could be thought of as a reference application.

Interested? Check out...

  • The website: http://schemepetstore.pbwiki.com/
  • The project writeup: http://schemepetstore.pbwiki.com/ProjectWriteup
  • The source code: http://schemepetstore.pbwiki.com/DownloadSource

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at benjisimon@gmail.com.

Thanks,
Ben

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Hand Written Notes -- success stories

Here are two examples of hand written notes being a successful marketing tool.

Makes me want to dash off some notes today...

Scenes from the day

Shira sleeping.

Ben geeking.

Dad ipodding and pdaing

Mom munching.

All is well and normal int the world.

--Ben

Shopping quiz

OK, here's the quiz: you are in the middle of nowhere (aka Mendon, NY) and you need to pick up the following items. Banannas, Kudos Bars, Shampoo, Conditioner, a USB adapter/extension kit and some blank CD-R's. It's 10:30pm on a Saturday night.

What single store can provide all this and more?

Easy, of course. Wal-Mart. The store everyone loves to hate and hates to love.

As usual, they came through with all the items we needed. So, say what you want about their labor practices...from a shopping perspective, they've got the processed nailed.

--Ben

Sneaker Net Hack

Shira and I are staying at a location this weekend without networking - be it wired, or WiFi. There is one computer here with a - gulp - dial-up connection.

Yep, I'm currently surfing the web at 52.0 Kbs.

The tricky part is that I don't want to hog the computer and would actually like to work on Shira's laptop?

My basic solution involved a 3 step process:

(1) download everything I need over dial-up (2) put all the downloaded material on my Mach 256 MP3 player (did I mention how much I love this device? Get one and don't leave home without it.) (3) use sneakernet to transfer the files to Shira's laptop.

This would have all worked out great, accept my thumbdrive was too fat to fit into the USB port. So while we were out I stopped and picked up a portable USB extension cord. So, in the end my plan worked.

As it stands I'm currently almost half way through an 8mb download - that'll take me about 23 minutes. Plenty of time to write this post and perhaps another.

--Ben

Friday, October 21, 2005

Roadside mystery

For some reason, along I-390 (cohocton, NY) there's always been an abandoned helicopter by the side of the road.

Just once I'm going to convince Shira to stop and check it out.

This time I got a snapshot which you can kinda see said helicopter.

--Ben

You know you know a route well when ...

...when, on a 380 mile trip, you know exactly which 2 gas stations you want to hit.

We almost know the folks in Harrisburg better than we know our own neighbors.

And, of course, what would a trip to Rochester be without rain and gloom?

--Ben

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Scenes from a U2 concert

As I sit here, U2 is playing their 2nd encore for a very excited crowd in DC. The show was great, very well done.

They even included a text messaging campaign for their ONE cause. It's always nice when cellphones can be used on a massive scale for good. All it's about mobile.

The hard part - getting to the metro and out of here in one piece.

--Ben

My First Podcast

I know you've all been waiting for weeks for this...but here it is -- my very first podcast. Recorded on none other than my Mach 256.

You can follow all of my podcasting by subscribing to: my OurMedia RSS feed.

I don't actually have plans to do much, if any podcasting yet. But, if all goes well I'll be attending a U2 concert tonight, and I thought it might be neat to try to grab some audio from the event. And, being the Boy Scout type I thought I would be prepared and try it out before the event.

Anyway, this is just me having fun.

If you are looking for a free podcast hosting solution though, OurMedia looks good and is worth checking out.

French joke gone bad

Today, on my run I noticed the typical keep out sign. But, along with English, it had the line:

No entre por aqui

My guess was that it was French, and I was going to make some joke about how we go out of our way to keep them out. But, google doesn't know how to translate that phrase from French. The closest I can come to making sense is:

Portuguese: in the one it enters for here

Huh?

So, what am I missing? What language is this?

I have this sinking feeling that the language is...English.

--Ben

When TV Anchors Fib

When TV Anchors Fib

This incident reminds me of a debate we had at our high school newspaper. The debate when like this. Suppose you had a picture of someone. And that someone was facing to the right, like:

  +-------+
  |       |
  |  ===> |
  |       |
  +-------+

Now, suppose the hole for the photo was here:

  +--------------------+
  | ............ +-----+
  | ............ |Hole |
  | ............ +-----+
  | ...................|
  +--------------------|

It's not esthetically pleasing to drop the above photo into the above hole -- the picture would be looking off page. That's a layout no-no. So, what to do? Well, if there was no text in the photo, one could simply reverse the negative and print it again. Everything would come out backwards, and the person would be now looking onto the page, exactly what you needed.

As I said, at the time, this was a real stumper. Now it's pretty clear to me. Don't do it. Yeah, it's that simple. Don't. Why? Because, if the photo is ever found to have been manipulated you will be giving up one of your most important assets -- your credibility. If you could flip a photo to make it fit, what else would you do?

In my eyes, you start with small games like this and progress to staged shots like the link above points to. And, as Bernard Goldberg explains, when the news media pulls stunts like this, they lose credibility. Which is only their most important asset.

Boing Boing: Daily Show on bird flu

Boing Boing: Daily Show on bird flu

This one is for my Brother David -- the PHD epidemiologist in our family (heck, every family needs one, right?).

Dave, you've got the situation under control, right?

Seth's Blog: Understanding the Long Tail

Seth's Blog: Understanding the Long Tail

An interesting snipet from Seth Godin. Makes you appreciate that there's a market for everything, it's just a matter of finding the right folks to sell to.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Inventing the Internet. Did Al Gore Invent the Internet?

Inventing the Internet. Did Al Gore Invent the Internet?

Turns out, the answer is...kinda. Odd, I never knew that the above statement even had any backing in reality. Strange.

Hand Written Notes Have Become A Power Tool

Hand-Written Notes Have Become Power Tools

This is nice, quick, article. It touches on a few of my favorite topics:

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Binary Odometer

You know you're married to a computer geek when you see your odometer and think it's cool that it's all binary! Of course, it's also amazing how fast the mileage can rack up on a new car with multiple trips to Rochester!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Little things, big differences

As usual, I've been slaving over my lawn trying to get it to turn greenish. My last attempt was a few weeks ago and I've been watering religously ever since.

The front lawn looks good. Like real grass and a real lawn.

The back lawn, which was in worse shape, is beginning to show a bit of life. I'm seeing those thin pieces of grass sprout up.

This is absolutely amazing to me. I'm blown away by the fact that you put seed, fertalizer and lots of water on the ground - and a few weeks later grass appears. I guess, being a computer programmer, I'm not used to such delayed cause and effect. When I change something small in a program, I expect to be able to verify that pretty easily. When I change something small on my lawn (sprinkle seed, etc.) - nothing happens. Then out of the blue something amazing happens, something big, like life appearing.

So I'm now in the nuturing stage of this process. Somehow I'm going to try to turn these thin little pieces of lawn into a lush lawn. Now, if I could pull that off, that would be a miracle.

--Ben

Ideas Are Cheap

Ideas Are Cheap
“Eliminate the time between the idea and the act and your dreams become your realities.” - Dr. Edward Kramer

Hmmmm, now if only there was a way to turn your software ideas into reality quickly. I mean really quickly. And maybe even cheaply. Now that would be cool.

Oh wait, there is.

ITD 210 -- Developing a Web Design Course

While it's not totally official yet, it looks like I'm going to get a chance to teach ITD 210 - Web Page Design II. Naturally, the first thing I did was to start a wiki to sketch out how this course will be taught.

If anyone has suggestions for what they wish had been taught to them in a web page design course, I'd love to them.

In the mean time, you can track my progress in developing this course by viewing the RSS feed for the course wiki.

The Advertising Slogan Generator

The Advertising Slogan Generator

No more having to kill myself coming up with slogans for i2x, as this script will do it for me.

So just remember: Choosy Mothers Choose Ideas2Executables.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Meat'normous - huh?

This latest product from Burger Kings seems right out of a Saturday Night Live skit. C'mon - meat'normous?

Either Burger King is out of touch with it's consumers (as Wendy's starts offering fruit as a side to replace fries). Or scarier still, they know them all too well.

--Ben

Wendy's Fruit'normous

See, I'm not making this up. Wendy's is really pushing fruit as a part of their meals (see my last post about Burger King's new meat'normous promo).

This seems like a better marketing move to me. Not because of the actual nutritional content of the food but because of the message it sends to people who eat there. If you eat at Wendy's your the kind of person who cares about your health - and is doing something about it, even if all you do is order the same thing you would buy at Burger King.

--Ben

Closet progress: temporary solution

We finally got fed up with having all our clothes laying around on the floor. That plus a little wife nagging and we setup a temporary closet setup.

We actually went to home depot at like 8:30pm tonight to buy supplies. In general I hate Home Depot. The place is always a zoo, I can never find a person to talk to, and when I do they end up knowing less about the topic than I do.

But not tonight! Sydney helped us with our closet needs - he was right there when we needed him, gave us his full attention, new his stuff cold and went very far out of his way to get us the exact right product we needed (white pipe to hang stuff on vs. the much more accessable chrome stuff). What a pleasure it was to have a good Home Depot experience.

Though I have to mention, if you are ever in Arlington VA and need *anything* hardware store related, stop by Ayers hardware and variety (703-538-5678). They are the classic small hardware store where they give you good advice, treat you like a neighbor and always seem to have what you are looking for.

Anyways, back on topic. We installed the hanging stuff without too many difficulties. And, I got to use my cordless drill, stud finder and laser level all in one night. Dang I felt cool.

I'm not sure what the next move is going to be with the closet. We are considering having a pro do something fancy (and durable). Any suggestions?

--Ben

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Closet Repair 101

I'm pretty much over the devestation which was our walk-in closet. It's now time to rebuild.

I spent a good chunk of time trying to get things in enough order so that we can install new shelves and such. So far I've: emptied the the room of more junk than I thought we owned, removed all the hardware which was still on the wall, and spackled a few of the holes. I'm only doing a few first off as I've never done this before so I figured I'd start small.

In my last post on this topic I mentioned I couldn't think of anything good to come out of this. Well, now that I have had some time I have quite a few reasons why I'm thankful our closet fell down:

(1) we are gonna get a new, strong, better setup. What was installed was the default flimsy wire shelves - we can do much better now.

(2) I got to listen to podcasts while cleaning up the closet. It was a perfect example of making use of gray time.

(3) I'm learning the invaluable skill of...spackling. I'm so excited! This should be a good thing to know.

(4) we'll finally have a good excuse for getting rid of junk in closet. Goodwill here we come! How cool is that? We have something bad happen and we get to give charity as a result.

Shira says I'm a bit too positive about stuff like this. I think she's just missing all the good in this situation.

--Ben

Zell Miller - Concluded

I finished Zell Miller's, "A National Party No More." Overall, I wasn't that impressed. A few things he talked about that caught my ear included:

Iraq. He simply believes that Bush is making the tough, but right choice in invading Iraq. He does plenty of comparisons between WWII and Iraq - which I just have a hard time swallowing. Yes, Sadam is evil...but: (1) we are a nation that lives by the rule of law and the rule of law says you can't go around invading countries because their leader is evil. (2) Given our new policy of ridding the world of evil, what other dictators do we need to unseat, as they are also evil? (3) President Bush had to effectivly lie to the American people so he could get his war. Zell skips all this and tells a story about how when you see evil you have to destory it, not sit around thinking things through.

He also divides the country into two groups: those who think "nothing is worth dying for" and those fighting for freedom. How about the few of us who believe that war is a necessary evil, but that this was a manufactured war - not a required one. That view simply isn't mentioned.

Special Interest Groups. Zell's main argument seems to be: American's are middle of the road folks, while the special interest groups that the Democrats appeal to are way to the left. And the Democrats are really only interested in pleasing these groups, therefore the people are left behind. He does acknowledge that special interest groups exist for the Republicans, but thinks they aren't the same magnitude of problem for them. I'm not sure I buy that, but I'll take his word on it.

I actually appreciate his argument here as it gives me something new to think about. I honestly don't know if special interest groups are bringing down the Democratic party (and all of America for that matter).

Two examples that come to mind are these. First, my dad is a teacher and belongs to a teachers union. Zell probably thinks that union is evil, but from my perspective the union is working to make sure my Dad's job the best it can be.

A second example: I have a friend who works for an environmental organization - she has personally worked to keep the Artic wildlife preserve oil-drill-free. When you sit down and talk to her you learn she's incredibly dedicated to a cause she believes is worth fighting for and would think of Zell's argument that the preserve is just an excuse to raise money to gain power is ignorant and wrong.

I guess my point is that his talk of special interest groups as the reason for everything wrong in the Party makes some sense, yet those groups represent real people who have good intentions - which seems like a good thing.

So I'll have to research this topic.

Morality. I was expecting lots of talk about morality and how the goverment needs to clean up the air waves. I didn't get much of that, though he came out pretty against video games.

I did find it a bit strange that having children play games rated for them that contain fake violence is really bad, while actually subjecting your child to real violence (via spankings and such) is a really good thing. Strange. But that may be because I grew in a household where we had lots of plastic guns lying around and nobody ever gave me a "whip'in."

Overall, the book was just so-so. I think he wanted to prove how doomed the Democrats are, yet all he really ended up doing was telling us how he'd do things if he had the chance.

I give it 5/10 for listen-ability.

--Ben

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why Podcasts are Cool

The other day I blogged about my new mp3 player. To me, what's exciting about it isn't the device itself, but what it allows me to do. The simple answer is that it allows me carry around litterally hours of content in my pocket. Why is this a big deal? Two reasons...

Gray Time
Gray Time is defined here as the time spent doing an activity that you are 100% physically comitted to, but only partially mentally comitted to. This article goes into depth about this and gives good examples. Though two favorites are standing in line and driving (notice I said partially mentally comitted to...). Read the article and appreciate that the mp3 player gives you one more tool for making use of gray time.

More Content Per Square Inch
Gray time is important to fill. In fact I'm doing exactly that at this moment (as I'm writing this while waiting for a meeting to start). My sidekick already does that job pretty well, right? The fact is that I can easily pull it out and read/compose e-mail faster than I can take an mp3 player out, untangle the wires and listen.

But, and this is a big but - the sidekick has two issues. First, take away cell phone signal and your device becomes much less useful. Second, finding hours of conent to keep yourself occupied is tricky. The classic example is a 3 hour flight. Sure, you can turn off the wireless aspect of the sidekick and compose blog entries offline, or plan your day in the ToDo section (a favorite pastime of mine!), but after an hour it's gonna get old. I always end reading that silly Skymall catalog, and consider whether I need to buy the brass dryer-lint cleaner with bonus flashlight.

But with hours of podcasts in your pocket you can actually make use of that time. Or at the very least be entertained. The bottom line is that the mp3 player is like carrying around a couple books just in case you have time for some reading.

And the content/signal issue isn't just for big events like flights. Yesterday Shira left me in the lobby of her Grandma's old age home assisted living facilitiy for 45 minutes and I couldn't get signal. Instead I pulled out the old Mach mp3 player and made good use of that time.

Hmmm, my meetings approaching and I'm running out of gray time. Happy listening!

Total Closet Meltdown

Boy were Shira and I surprised when we got home from a long drive last night and took a peek inside our closet. Total devestation.

Apparently, the old saying about straws and camels applies to closets and Ann Taylor suits. The destruction was complete with every hanging garment lying on the floor.

I'm usually the one who sees the bright side of everything and even I'm having some difficulty being happy about this. But I'm trying.

Anyone have any suggestions for how to design a closet so that it can hold up to the weight of Shira's wardrobe?

--Ben

Starting a Business in Arlington, VA

As is fairly commonly know, Shira and I have started in a business (Ideas2Executables -- we turn your software vision into reality). Recently, I got asked how we did it. It wasn't that hard, so I thought I would share the steps we took to get things up and running. Please take this as motivation and not legal advice, or my wife will kill me.

  1. Talked to a lawyer. The conversation was very brief, as he told us the differences between a corporation, LLC and sole proprietorship. It became clear very quickly that a sole proprietorship made the most sense. There's almost no paper work to file when you start a business that way and you can easily upgrade to an LLC if you would like. You don't get as many tax deductions as an LLC or Corporation, but in general, business expenses can be deducted. The main thing you lose by not being an LLC or Corporation in the ".Inc" or "LLC" at the end of your name. This was the route for us.
  2. There was no federal paperwork that had to be done, all we needed to do was to register the business with Arlington County. This consisted of doing 3 things:
    • Get a "Doing Business As" certificate from the county so that we can do business as something other than "Simon Co." This cost about $13.00.
    • Get an occupancy permit so we can work at home. This involved filling out a form or two and was free.
    • Get a business license. This was free as well.
    We did all of this at the County Courthouse in one day. This page describes the location in Arlington of where you can get each of the needed services done.
  3. At this point, we had a real live business. To make things a bit more official, we visited Bank of America where we opened up a business checking account. This allows folks to write checks to Ideas2Executables (feel free to write one yourself to test this out). They also set us up with a Visa and Debit card, so we can pay for stuff from this account as well and keep better track of business expenses.

That's about it. I'm sure different locales will have more less work associated with setting up a business. But overall I was amazed at how easy it was.

Let me know if I missed anything or if any of the above isn't clear.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Review: Trio Mach Speed MP3 player (256 mb)

So, I finially bit the bullet and bought myself an mp3 player. Why? The short answer is so that I can listen to podcasts. The long answer is too long to fit in this review.

I bought a player. Why the Mach Speed? Easy, tigerdirect.com had it for $9.99 (with 3 rebates). I figured for $10.00 I couldn't go too wrong.

I got the device a couple days ago and have used it for a bit of listening. I think I'm ready to give my thoughts on the device.

My initial thoughts when I opened the box were not pretty. They went something like: "yuck! What a big o'l chunk of plastic." Things didn't improve much when I listened to the pre-loaded song, which was a Back Street Boys hit. But it did play music, so I was happy.

Loading mp3's on it couldn't be easier. Just plug it into a USB port on your computer and treat it like any other drive. You can copy files to the root directory or make your own subdirectories. The device doubles as a plain old thumb drive which I think is a good thing. As it saves just a bit of room in my pockets.

I noticed the device came with a fairly lengthy manual (18 pages of English), which implied the device did more than play songs.

It turns out that the manual is a treat in itself. I hope that it was a machine translation from another language (klingon maybe?) because it couldn't decimate the English language more if it tried. Check out this quote as a sample: "More simple under FM interface, it only can do until 3rd step and deleted is preset channel." I kid you not, this is from page 5 of the manual.

Ok, the materials suck, the size is nothing impressive and the manual looks like the ouptiut of a CS 101 random sentance generator. Is there anything good I can say about this device? Of course. The reality is that it seems pretty full featured.

It does all the stuff you would hope it would do, like random play and fast-forward/rewind during a song. It lets you choose equalizer settings and tweak the tempo of the songs. There's even the ability to define a start/end point in a song and play just that segment over and over again - I assume as a tool for learning a song. The device has a built in microphone, which might make it suitable for "low-fi podcasting" especially if I were to try the hack shown here [1].

The bottom line is that if you have a chance to pick up ones of these cheeply (like $9.99 cheap) I'd say go for it. It seems to work more or less as promised. Though I wouldn't recommend picking up one of these guys for full price ($60-70?), you'll be disappointed.

Now that I have my mp3 player, what am I going to do with it? And why am I so excited to have this gadget? Those thoughts wil have to wait for another day. But I hope to share them soon.

[1] http://www.hexten.net/flash-mp3-player-microphone-hack/

--Ben

Moving Time

We moved a recliner from Grandma's place to Mom's place. I wouldn't exactly say we fit it in the car - we more or less just attached it.

On a good note, I got to get a refresher course in my pioneering merit badge.

--Ben

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails