I just read about Yahoo's purchase of Flickr. Apparently, this is part of a move to increase their presence in the rapidly blogging market. It also looks like their whole blogging site is going to center around a new Yahoo site called Yahoo 360 degrees. The site isn't even in beta yet, but the description makes it sound very interesting. I've been a fan of Yahoo for many years. In fact for a long time there, before the rise of Google, I practically 'lived' on Yahoo. I got my mail there, I looked up maps there, I searched the web there. It was kind of scary to think that one web site offered everything I've ever wanted to find on the Internet. To this day, I still have my homepage of my browser set to My Yahoo. It's just too useful. As I understand things, from the Yahoo 360 site, you can integrate blogging, IM, online photo albums etc. all together on this one site. Add in the fact that the Yahoo Photo site apparently has unlimited photo hosting, the ability to upload photos directly from a camera phone, and lots of other features, makes this a site I'm definately going to keep my eye on. It looks like they might be doing a better job of integrating things together than Google has done so far with the Blogger.com and Picasa.com sites.
In short- don't bother.
You know, I am a big fan of animation. I've probably seen every animated Disney movie released in the last 10 years, I raved in my previous blog about "The Incredibles", and I loved both Shrek movies. With so many examples of great animation, I fail to understand why movie studios still seem to manage to come up with such dissapointments as "Robots". As I understand it, this was Robin Williams first animated movie in 15 years. His last animated movie was "Alladin" for Disney. He should have waited.
It's pretty bad when even Robin Williams' insane brand of humor can't even save a movie. The story made little sense. In one scene you have "Fender", the Robin Williams voiced robot, suddenly decide, at the most inappropriate moment to break out into a robot impression of a Brittany Spears dance routine! In another scene, the big hero robot, idol of millions, suddenly is seen surfing a sea of dominos while riding on a giant domino. Huh? What the hell is the point of stupid, useless scenes like these? It seems like the entire movie was a half hour movie that got padded out to 90 minutes because the movie was too short. There were too many stupid, useless action sequences in this movie that took up a lot of time. Anyone who knows anything about movies knows that every scene in the movie should be designed to fit together and progress the story to its conclusion. A movie like "The Incredibles" exemplifies this beautifully. Every scene in that movie progressed the story. Most scenes in this movie just seemed to be a disjointed mixture of sight gags designed for laughs, and most of them weren't even funny!
There have been way too many horrible movies released into theaters these days. When will movie companies learn?
Ironic isn't it. I said just two days ago that I wasn't ready to buy a new car. I said that my car was running well, not perfectly but well. Turns out that's not true. I just brought my car into the dealership to get an oil leak checked out. $2000 worth of repairs! Damn! I think this just pushed me over the edge beyond the point where repairing the car isn't worth it. Now *I'm* looking at what new/used cars I can get to replace it!
I had to get a rental car to drive until tomorrow evening, when the car will be ready. They rented me a Ford F250 Super Duty pickup truck! This thing is huge! It makes SUVs look small! I do not like driving this thing. I'm having a hard time judging distances while driving this monster.
I trying to decide what car I could get. I'm considering the Ford Mustang GT, Honda Accord, Acura TL, Nissan Maxima and possibly others. The new Mustang GTs are very hard to get these days. The dealership salesman told me it would be 2 1/2 to 3 months to get one. I suppose that I could survive 3 more months in the old Camaro, if this is what I decide. I don't know what car to get yet. I'm seriously considering a late model used car, but haven't decided one way or the other yet.
Damn, the last couple of months have been expensive.
I just got done spending a good 3-4 hours watching my new DVD of 'The Incredibles'. I have to say that this is truly an Incredible movie! It won an Oscar for Best Animated Movie, and I definately feel that it was well deserved. I love this movie! I can't remember the last time I was watching a movie and just grinning the whole time. I'm a longtime fan of animation and comic books in general, so this movie was the perfect fit for me.
If you are a fan of animation or comic books, you must see this movie!
My apologies for the lack of blogs for the last few days. I've been very preoccupied with shopping for a car. As such, here are my latest observations:
This is a fun little car to drive! It handles very well. It has reasonably good acceleration but you need to really push the RPMs to get it to take off. It's also rather expensive at $27,000 MSRP for a car with only 220HP, cloth seats, and a tiny trunk. One down side of it was that you could feel very bump on the road as your drive. Not a very smooth ride, but a very agile one. I was also impressed on how the salesman wasn't pushy. Rear visibility was good.
Dodge Magnum RT
"Is that a Hemi?" Yes, it is. A 340HP station wagon! Who'd have thought that a station wagon would be cool! It has a lot of room inside. There was so much room on the driver's side that I couldn't reach the rear view mirror! And I'm 6' tall! The interior was OK. Stero was decent - 6CD changer in dash, steering wheel controls etc. Nice big trunk with a spare tire and a cover for the contents of the hatchback trunk. Acceleration was very good (at 340HP, it better be!), but it felt like I was driving a short truck (which is pretty much is). I was a bit uncomfortable with the almost SUV-ish feel of it. It moves fast, but it didn't have the amazing handling of the RX-8. Also, the rear visibility isn't great on this car, due to the very short windows of the car.
Toyota Camry Solara
Not a bad car. It only has 220HP, but is rides VERY smoothly and it a good price. I was quoted $25,900 for a fully loaded car - leather, sunroof, stereo with 6CD changer in dash and cassette. Rear visibility was pretty good - better than the Nissan Maxima.
So far, its a competition between the Nissan Maxima, the Toyota Camry Solara, and the Honda Accord. I really like the interior and features of the Nissan Maxima. It also has 265HP... A nice, speedy car. I just can't seem to accept the bad rear visibility on it. It seems to be an annoying common feature these days that cars have lousy rear visibility so I can't completely exclude this car yet. The Toyota Camry Solara is a good deal. Nice features nearly on par with the Maxima. The Maxima beats it out over such things as built in support for XM and Sirius satellite radio. The Camry Solara only has XM. Both have large trunks. Of course, for $2,000 more than the Camry Solara ($27,900) I can get a Toyota Avalon (280HP, but curiously lacking traction control as a standard feature). There's also the Honda Accord EX. This car seems to be nearly equal to the Solara and Maxima in features and price. No matter how hard I try, that Honda Accord keeps coming up as a possibility!
I spent this past weekend, and this evening shopping for a new car. I've been looking for a car in the $25-30K range. Here are my observations so far:
2005 Ford Mustang GT:
I went to look for this first. It's the closest equivalent to my Camaro Z28 in features and price. I've more or less given up on this due to lack of availability.
- 300 horsepower!
- good stereo
- attractive car
- Very hard to find. Limited supply right now.
- Because of limited supply, dealers are charging $2-3K premium over MSRP. This pushes the cost of the car to the $30K range.
- No steering wheel controls for the stereo
- Premium gas. This gas is very expensive these days
- No ABS brakes
I liked everything about this car. Cost, features, looks - everything. I came very close to buying one this weekend. When I went back for a 2nd look however, I noticed the terrible rear visibility. It's worse than my Camaro, which isn't very good to begin with. This was the deal breaker for me. I was really dissapointed in this. Had it not been for that, I would have bought one and been happy.
- Good price - $25K
- Stereo has both CD and cassette
- Stereo supports both XM and Sirius satellite radio. First car I've seen that supports both standard.
- attractive interior
- Poor rear visibility
Not sure about this one. Fairly good price, but limited availability means the potential for premiums over MSRP to get it, plus the delay in ordering one. They are so rare right now, I couldn't even look at one with the features I want. I'm not buying a car I've never seen!
- Attractive interior
- Stereo has CD and cassette
- Steering wheel controls for stereo (plus A/C and cruise control)
- 280 horsepower standard
- Full size spare
- Roomy interior
- No standard traction control. 280 HP with no traction control is not a good idea.
- No folding rear seats - only a small pass-through hole
- Top of the interior of the trunk is not covered. It's just bare metal with a couple of speakers sticking out. Looks odd
Another car I really liked. The price is the deal killer for me, though.
- 270 HP
- Excellent acceleration
- Bright Xeon headlights
- Stereo controls on steering wheel
- XM satellite radio standard
- Bluetooth cell phone interface standard
- Leather seats standard. Harder to maintain and more expensive
- Expensive. Cheapest I could find was $31,900
Still to go: Honda Accord V6. I'm trying to figure out what other cars I can look at...
I like computers. I program them for a living, and I play with them as a hobby, but why do they have to be such a hassle?
In the last several months, I've had the following problems with my computer:
- Replaced a brand new motherboard twice.
- Replaced a brand new CPU
- Replaced a dead 8 port switch
- Replaced a dead 8 port DSL router
- Replaced a dead KVM switch
- Replaced a dead CD burner drive
- Replaced a dead power supply 3 times
Why does all this stuff have to fail at the same time! Just when I get one thing fixed, something else breaks! I'm getting really tired of spending my evenings fixing the computer, rather than actually using it! Why can't this stuff just work?
Sometimes I wonder how I ended up so differently from the rest of my family.
Every member of my family except me drives a car/truck that is less than 2 years old and probably has less than 30,000 miles on it. Until last month, all three of their cars were Hondas. My mom drives a Honda Oddyssey, my dad drives a Honda CRV and until a month ago, my brother drove a Honda Accord. All 3 cards were bought from the same dealership, and all within a year of each other. A month ago my brother traded in his Accord and bought a Toyota 4Runner. My father is now talking about replacing his 'old' CRV (which probably only has 30,000 miles or so on it). My family seems to be under the impression that once a car's warranty runs out (usually at 36,000 miles), that the car is 'old' and it's time to trade it in for a new one before it gets so old that they won't get much money for it. In the time I've owned one car, my brother has had four cars: 2 pickup trucks, a Honda Accord, and now a Toyota 4Runner.
I drive a 1999 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. It has 111,000 miles on it and has been through 5 accidents (only one was my fault!), but it's still chugging along. It isn't the prettiest car in the world, or in pefect running condition either for that matter, but all things considered, it runs quite well. When I bought this car back in 1999, I financed it for 3 years at 0% interest. I think Chevrolet was desparate to get rid of the Camaros, since they haven't sold well in years. Their loss was my gain. After 3 years of $580/month payments, the car was mine, free and clear. This is a good thing. At the same time, when I bought it, I also paid about $1000 for a 'bumper to bumper' extended warranty for 100,000 miles. I definately got my money's worth out of that warranty. I'm sure that the $1000 I spent for that warranty was a good investment. I would have spent far more than that on repairs to my car, had I not bought this warranty.
For over two and a half years now, I have not had to pay one cent in car payments, and for most of those last 2 1/2 years of financial freedom, my family has been hassling me to buy a new car. I have refused. They think I'm in denial and that my car is going to keel over dead any second now. I will always have a car payment, they say, so I might as well get used to it. I disagree. The way I see it, those last 2 1/2 years of no car payments has already saved me $17,400 in car payments! That's an additional $17,400 in my pocket instead of someone elses. That's almost the cost of an entire car right there!
Americans these days always seem to want the newest, shiniest things. I'm just as guilty of that in many aspects. I'm always buying the latest gadgets for my home (DVD players, iPods, etc.) but these are all small items that are relatively cheap. I'll spend a couple hundres dollars on a new gadget or an upgrade to the latest greatest PC, no problem, but I have a big problem with spending $30,000 just so I can drive a new car and impress all my friends. I don't care about impressing anyone with my car. It runs well, everything for the most part works fine (A/C, stereo, engine etc.). There is something to be said for owning free and clear a car that has 300 horsepower, and has enough acceleration that you are across the intersection before anyone else has even started moving!
I look at all the cars available these days and for any decent car, you are going to be spending $25,000 - $30,000 for a new car, no matter what you get. I've had my eye on the Acura TL for some time now. I want one bad, but I haven't gotten one yet because I don't like the concept of a monthly payment of over $600 for a car! The way I see it, every month that I don't buy a car, I'm saving at least $600. Yes, I may have to spend $500-1000 every 6 months or so on repairs to the Camaro, but it still ends up being a lot cheaper than buying a new car.
I know that at some point the Camaro will die and I'll have to find another car. This day gets closer and closer every day. I have been postponing this day as long as I can because, first of all, despite the fact that my car is old, I still like it. The acceleration is great, the stereo sounds good, the A/C works. I really have nothing to complain about. When this day does come, my plan is to try to buy a decent, late model used car. That way I can cut down on the monthly payment and reduce the inevitable depreciation hit you get whenever you drive a new car off the lot. I also plan to buy another 100,000 mile warranty and drive this new car, until it hits 100,000 miles, probably watching each member of my family cycle through several more cars in the process.
There is no way you are ever going to make money buying a car. It's a losing proposition. The idea is to minimize how much you lose.
It figures. Just when I start to think that Microsoft has finally gotten their act together and produced a stable operating system in Windows XP, they prove me wrong!
In my previous article "A 'Mount'ing problem in Windows", I described a way to mount an external drive to a subdirectory rather than mounting it to a drive letter, as is the standard in Windows. It turns out that this trick can come back and bite you really bad if you aren't very careful.
I had mounted several external drives to subdirectories on one of my computers. These external drives where actually the different card slots on an external memory card reader. The mounting trick worked well in that I was able to access the readers as subdirectories rather than drive letters. It was a little strange seeing the drive icon on a subdirectory, but it worked. Yesterday, I had a problem with the same hard drive that I had mounted these to subdirectories of. I was in the process of moving all the files off this hard drive so I could reformat it. In the process of moving all the files, I inadvertently tried to move these mounted subdirectories. Windows XP did not like this! As soon as it tried to move these mounted subdiretories, Windows proceeded to crash, giving me the infamous Blue Screen of Death and then reboot! This was the first time I've seen one of these BSODs in a long time.
I am not a big fan of Microsoft, yet I use their software because I had little choice. I am a huge fan of Linux, however. Linux has this same capability to mount external drives as subdirectories (in fact that's the only way to do it) and it has never crashed on me! I was grudgingly beginning to admit that Microsoft had improved things.
Thank you, Microsoft, for renewing my lack of faith in you.