Wednesday, 25 October 2006

My friend Scott loaned me his XM Satellite Radio for my recent road trip to Minnesota and back (2,000+ miles each direction). Wow. Way Cool.

Nothing makes a long, long drive half way across the country and back bearable like non-stop stand up comedy and 70's era music that just plays all the way across the country. Throw in some CNN, BBC and a little FOX News for balance and let's just say it's a great way to travel.

I went to Minnesota last week to help a friend move, among other things. It's been that and weddings (lots of weddings) recently. The satellite radio - combined with a pair of GMRS handie talkies - made for an enjoyable journey back to Oregon. If you ever drive across the country and your travel companion is in another car, take a pair of 10-mile radios with you and get off Channel 1. You'll be glad you did.

Anyhow - back to the XM radio. This was (believe it or not) my first experience using a satellite radio unit. I've looked at them before, but honestly I have never really liked the form factor of the receivers. On this trip I used the built in FM transmitter to get the audio out of the receiver and over my audio system, since I don't have a cassette player in my car. I wish they could make the transmitters a bit more powerful since I had to change the FM channel on my car radio periodically whenever the frequency selected was in use by a local radio station (too bad there's not a frequency set aside and used for low power in-car type transmitters). But that's really just nit-picking. I guess if I was constantly listening to XM or a similar service in Portland all the time, I'd get frustrated with the FM transmitter since the stations are so many and since they bleed out of band so badly in some cases. But for a cross-country trip it was pretty cool.

I like the ability to take the radio from one car to another, so although built-in receivers would obviate the need for a low power transmitter, that's not really what I'd want.

I noticed that some channels have considerably better fidelity - a compression-related effect, I am sure - than did others. I have been told that XM started compressing a lot of programming pretty heavily early this year, and that Sirius has better audio quality. Anyone done some detailed listening comparisons? I've not yet listened to the Sirius broadcasts, so I cannot compare myself. I know there are differences in programming, as well as a significant overlap in the core channels. Too bad Sirius doesn't have the "decades" channels. I liked those a lot.

Do you use XM or Sirius satellite radio? What do you think and how well does it work for you?



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Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, 25 October 2006 13:30:41 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 24 October 2006

I just finished reading For One More Day, the latest book by Mitch Albom, on flight from Providence. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone. Everyone, in fact.

Albom has a way of writing things that hit life's most important nails right on the head, whether fact or fiction. His Tuesdays with Morrie had some great life lessons, and the Five People You Meet in Heaven was also a terrific story that will make a person think.

For One More Day takes the premise that many - probably most - of us have lost loved ones and had things left unsaid, unasked and unanswered. Unfulfilled and unresolved at times. The book asks the question, "What if you had one more day with that person?"

And from there builds the story. An important and emotional one that the majority of us can almost certainly relate to, each in our own unique ways.

There are people who have gone before me, one or two in particular who - if I am being completely honest - I would have questions for, things to say to them, and answers to provide. I know that can never happen, but Albom's journey in this story lets us process some of those conflicted feelings - including guilt, loss, despair, happiness and others - that can tear at our souls from time to time.

Read For One More Day. Take the lessons and apply them in your life today. I can say that after losing someone so close to me a few years ago, I have tried to do some of that, and this story simply reaffirms the importance of doing so all the more.



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Random Stuff
Tuesday, 24 October 2006 09:55:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you happen to be looking for me over the next month or so and can't find me, don't panic or anything. It's probably because I'm not around. Seems to have been that way for the past several months now. Not much is changing in that regard. Anyhow, I'll be all over the place for next next while...

I've was gone on a (great) trip to Minnesota and back for more than a week until this past Friday, and then was back home for two nights, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then I was back on the road again, at the Marriott in Newport, Rhode Island (nice hotel) where I was speaking Monday at a conference on the topic of multifactor authentication and security. Then I flew whirlwind-style back home Monday night. Next I'm off to New Mexico on Wednesday for a work meeting, and back home late Thursday night and off again to Europe on Saturday very early in the morning. Hopefully on Friday I can work from home a little and then get ready for the Europe trip.

The European jaunt is a couple weeks long and will include Vienna, Austria as well as visits to a variety of places in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and northern Italy for a week plus a couple days of vacation time, before I have to be back in Austria for a few days of work stuff.

When I get back from there, it'll be just two or three days back at home, then I'm off to Las Vegas for a few days (again for work). And - if all goes as planned - after that I can stay home for a while. I sure hope so, anyhow.

So, there ya go. If you work with me you'll probably hardly see me until mid-November (sorry). I guess that's why we have cell phones, though.

For those that are wondering where all the tech posts went, I've been wondering the same thing. I'll try to get back to them again. I guess I have been a bit burned out lately on technology stuff, but it's not gone from my mind.



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Tuesday, 24 October 2006 09:52:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 22 October 2006

Today was not my coffee day.

First of all, I got one halfway decent cup of coffee all day, and that was the one at the filling station on Industrial Ave in Longview Washington at about 6:30 a.m. on the way to the airport. I drank less than a quarter of that and left it in the truck when my friend dropped me off for my flight.

My next cup was on the plane, the first one that is. As the flight attendant handed me the filled-to-the-rim styro cup, we hit a bump and the hot coffee splashed all over me  in 14B and the nice, attractive woman sitting in 14A (note: reference edited because I realized I found it slightly distasteful myself upon re-reading...). Just my luck. It provided an opportunity for me to apologize several times, but that's not exactly the optimal way to get to know someone. Plus it was strong coffee, so I am sure that coffee-soaked clothing smell was just wonderful for her. Ugh. When offered coffee later on the flight I turned it down. I couldn't bear the idea of a second assault on my seat neighbor.

I got to Chicago and had an hour-and-a-half to wait for the next flight to Providence, so I went to the Red Carpet Club to get online, check a few emails, grab some snakes, and put down a safe cup of coffee sans-turbulence.

Someone had procured the little floor table near the chair I sat in, so I set the coffee on the arm rest and stated watching the Pittsburgh/Atlanta football game. It was fourth quarter and tied up - deja vu kind of situation. Anyhow, I ate my snacks, reached to pick up the garbage, and knocked my coffee straight into the leather chair I was sitting in. The cup dumped its contents right between me and the arm rest. Wonderful, I thought. Then I realized I was sitting in hot coffee and jumped. The lady across from me cringed. Well, at least she didn't laugh.

After that, I gave up on coffee for the rest of the day. OJ only for me. Until tomorrow, that is.



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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Sunday, 22 October 2006 18:07:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Some things just bug me. Sometimes I write them down. :)

For example - What is it that makes the concept of putting stuff into the overhead bins on airplanes so freakin' complicated? People just don't seem to get it, despite the repeated intercom begging performed by the flight attendants to put rollaways in wheels first, wheels first, WHEELS FREAKIN' FIRST.

Even worse, there's a subset of people who, when asked to move their bag to the optimal position in order to accommodate others, can get downright indignant. What is it with these people? Move your bag, sit down and shuddup already. They didn't build that bin - or this whole airplane - just for you. Jeez.

I dunno why this bugs me so much. I guess it's because the underlying message from such people is that they don't really care how their behavior, stuff or actions affect others. We have enough of that kind of problem already in this day and age. We really don't need it when a couple hundred people are jammed into a metal tube with wings and a couple engines hanging off a few bolts hurtling said flying torpedo through the air at a few hundred miles an hour.

Okay, I feel a little better now. Heh.



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Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Sunday, 22 October 2006 17:51:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 19 October 2006

Today we made it to the Grand Teton National Park, which is just south of Yellowstone (which is where we were yesterday, but the pics will have to be out of order since I don't have those copied yet).

We stayed at the snow lodge at Old Faithful in Yellowstone and woke up to snow on the ground. So, we threw the truck (with new all-terrain and snow tires) into four wheel drive and headed south for the Tetons. Honestly, I was worried the low clouds would prevent us from seeing much of anything. I was wrong, thank goodness.

Here are a few pics from our drive through the Tetons. As you can see, the clouds lifted. In the couple days we spent on our way through the Yellowstone and Grand Tetons parks, we saw lot of wildlife, including a grizzly bear, elk, reindeer, moose and more.

The flickr photoset from the trip is here. I'll add some more later, probably after I get home Friday night.

Grand Tetons National Park

Grand Tetons National Park

Elk in Grand Tetons National Park



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Photography | Random Stuff
Thursday, 19 October 2006 21:52:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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