Good Riddance 2008!

Hey Hey, it’s 2009! I am hoping for the best and a better year than 2008.

Here’s my recap, and because my memory is crap I will use the internets to remember things that I did or that happened to me in 2008.

In January we had DrupalCampWisconsin and it was cool. Personally, I was still getting over the passing away of my Dad the month before…

I spent February recording songs for the 2008 RPM Challenge. That was a lot of fun… an experiment in forced creativity. I’m not 100% pleased with what I produced, but more pleased that I did it. I will do it again in 2009.

March brought us the first MilwaukeeDevHouse, held at Bucketworks… People showed up and had a good time. All good…

Then there was April… I worked on a fairly large project, a Behind the Scenes video which premiered at the Majestic Theater in Waukesha… that was a trip! It was also when I decided to produce a documentary film (see Balancing Act) of course to offset all that, my cat was diagnosed with skin cancer, and needed surgery I could not afford, but got anyway… Luckily, she’s been good since then (and the fingers are crossed!)

Up next… May! We ended up moving in May. That was a major pain in the ass, and I miss living near the lake, but we are in a better place now, and the neighbors are not completely insane.

Now June, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times… We took a nice trip out East to visit relatives and to take an actual vacation. (Gasp!) I know… me? vacation? Yes, it happened… I got to play in the ocean, and do other vacation stuff, it was all good… Until my birthday, the worst birthday I’ve ever had. We missed our flight, I had to buy new tickets, Emma lost her camera, we had to go to Chicago instead of Milwaukee and have Milt pick us up… Disaster Birthday. Oh also, Bucketworks got destroyed in the flood, just like others in Wisconsin (and elsewhere) so hey, good times all around!

In July I spent every waking minute working to make up for taking a vacation in June. I don’t remember much… Oh wait, I think I remember being on hold with the IRS for 2 and 1/2 hours. That was not cool… Taxes? Paid off? Estimate 2010.

August saw the gang at Z2 building a new office. Any minute we didn’t spend doing client work, we were on ladders, hanging drywall, painting, putting in flooring, and packing and moving things. The office turned out great, so that’s all good. Oh wait, August is also when I decided to volunteer at a non-profit to help them rebuild after storm damage and dislocated my elbow (and toe) when a ladder I was on slipped. This made August officially worse than June, and I still can’t straighten my arm, and I’ll probably be paying medical bills until 2010. August sucked it so bad.

September was very depressing. I was dealing with having only one working arm, and living in fear of the medical bills to come, and setting up our new office, and planning for BarCampMilwaukee3, and… ugh, it just sucked, ok?

BarCampMilwaukee3 happened in October, and that was good! I learned a lot, and met new friends, and made new connections, and Bucketworks held up fine (except for the toilet exploding at 2AM, which I fixed) and my arm was doing a little better (out of the splint but still weak and not straight.)

November brought me a DSLR camera, which I love, and we had MilwaukeeDevHouse3, and that was fun, and hey, it brought the United States an election, and change, and so on, so now I am getting hopeful, even though my arm still hurts. I sure do like taking pictures though. Oh, Maddy and I missed Thanksgiving because she was sick, so we sat on the couch all day.

Along comes December, the end of the year. December seemed to go really fast. I took a crazy trip to New York/New Jersey which was crazy, and maybe it’s just me and traveling that is crazy, and maybe I shouldn’t. The holidays came, and they were ok, the best part was spending time with family. And the Wii. Definitely the Wii.

So without the cancer, and the injured arm, and the medical bills I can’t pay, and the taxes I still owe, and losing things, it was an OK year I guess…

(Dear 2009, please kick 2008’s ass in the AWESOME! category.)


iPod Review – One Year Later

I’ve had an iPod for just over a year now, so I thought I would make a few notes on it. I know the iPod is a beloved product, and the music player in some people’s minds, but it, like any other product (by Apple or otherwise) could use some improvements…

I have the 5th generation 30GB iPod with video. It was given to me by the lovely Dana. Before the iPod I was using a Rio 500, and an iRiver IPF-180T.

I had one annoying issue with syncing my iPod, but other than that, it’s been pretty much problem-free.

Now, in comparison, the Rio 500 still beats the iPod for bookmarking. The Rio has a button that will set a bookmark in any MP3 file. No so with the iPod. It does not support bookmarking of any audio file. This is annoying, especially as it was a feature I used daily, and had to give up on when I moved to the iPod.

The iPod does remember what is playing when you turn it off and continues from there (of course my cassette player did this in 1975 as well) but this fails when you plug your iPod into your computer! So if I’m half way through a podcast, and then want to charge or sync my iPod, it forgets where I was after ejecting, and I’m back at the home screen, and damned if I can remember what I was listening to. Sucks…

The iPod interface is simple, but I know at least one other person who has one that occasionally will not turn off, and has said “Couldn’t they just put a damn ON/OFF button on it?” Sometimes mine won’t turn off, so I just put it in my bag and hope it turns off automatically after a few minutes.

The iPod interface also requires you to look, or at least be able to feel around and guess where to push. Other players (with actual buttons) allow you to memorize where the buttons are and what they do. I could operate my Rio while driving and never take my eyes off the road. This seems to be a big concern with the iPhone as well, it will require visual attention to be able to use it.

The Rio kicks the iPod to the curb in regards to bookmarking, but that’s about it. As for the iRiver, the one I have is a cheap, low-end model, and the interface is horrible. The advantages it has is that it can record using a built-in microphone (I wish mine had an audio input though) and has an FM tuner. You can also combine these and record live from the radio. I guess it also plays WMA files, but I don’t have any of those. I mainly use it as a cheap, portable recording device, even though the quality is fairly poor in noisy situations. (I did use it to record myself snoring once.)

In summary, I do love the iPod, but it’s not the ultimate player. It could use some improvements. I’m not sure Apple will ever improve it to my satisfaction, but I thought it was worth critiquing.

(This post just talks about the iPod as an audio player. I plan to follow-up with it’s use as a video player as well.)