Ipod Projects and Developments

This has been the week of the Ipod in FilteringCraig-Land. Every day could be considered Ipod Day in FilteringCraig-Land with how much I use it, but this week was especially Ipod-in-esian. (Thank you. I just made that up myself.)

On Sunday after having breakfast with an equally geeky friend of mine (who also happens to share the name Craig, believe it or not), we got to talking about geek-like things, until my friend decided to tell me about his pet peeve. (My pet peeves might happen to include the words pet and peeve if you can wrap your head around that one, but I digress.)

(NotFiltering)Craig said that his pet peeve is how car stereos, stock and after market, neglect to add a direct line input jack. They have them on basically every other kind of stereo you can buy that is even close to top of the line. I figure it would cost them about $0.35 in actual materials and maybe an additional one-time research and development expense to figure out the minor logistics issues that are raised by putting a 1/8" input jack into the front of a car stereo. For those of you who don't know what I am talking about yet, the question can be phrased, "Why don't car stereo makers make it easy to connect your Ipod and any device with a headphone jack?"

First of all, does anyone have an answer? I couldn't come up with a good reason why a lot of stereos don't have it.

So (NotFiltering)Craig decided it would be relatively easy to add that jack to an existing car and we set to taking my 2002 Lexus ES 300 apart to see how to do it. We decided that we were going to go for the CD changer as that is already something of an external device that inputs into the head unit.

My CD changer is in the armrest area of my car, so we took the whole center console apart and removed it. The changer sat on an array of metal plates and stands with wires connected to it from the bottom. (NotFiltering)Craig identified the main wire and disconnected the changer. After downloading a wiring diagram off of the internet and with a custom-designed audio line detection tool (a headphone amplifier, an uncoiled telephone wire and a pair of headphones) (NotFiltering)Craig was able to identify the www.jasminlive.mobi audio lines in the wiring harness.

Next was the trip to RadioShack. We decided that we were going to buy a 1/8" headphone jack (male to red/white RCA connectors) cut off the other end and do what they call a Western Union splice on the audio wires from the CD changer. The Western Union splice will basically pre-empt the device that you are putting it in front of (the CD changer) so we also decided to buy a handy little switch so that when I wanted to use the CD changer, we could just switch off the line from the headphone jack that we were installing.

So, we (mostly (NotFiltering)Craig) installed all this stuff into my car and it worked like a charm. The signal strength from the Ipod to the car stereo is totally excellent and now I don't have to bother with the FM modulator ever again. All told, the process cost me about $20 and about 5 hours because we did a lot of testing and working through scenarios because we didn't really have a plan other than to take my car apart to see what was there.

The one big lesson learned was that the switch was totally unnecessary. As it turns out, when the Ipod isn't on, the CD changer takes control and when the Ipod is on it pre-empts the changer. So the switch was pretty unnecessary, but I am glad we erred on the side of caution.

Everything was wonderful and perfect in Ipod-land. The sounds were great. The reception was perfect because I wasn't using an FM modulator anymore. I was happy.

And then, yesterday, my 40 gig Ipod stopped working.


I took it to the Apple store because it was under the one year warranty (I bought it on September 8th 2004, WHEW!) but because they have antiquated the 40 Gig non-color Ipod it was going to take 10 days to get a new one in stock (NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!)

So, I did what any quick thinking Ipod geek would do in spoiled desperation. I set up for someone (my brother) to buy the 40 gig Ipod when I get it back and in the meantime, I bought myself the big daddy 60 gig Ipod with the color screen and all is again right with the world.

I can't ever remember being this in love / dominated by a single product. I know it certainly isn't normal. It makes me wonder. If I were to buy a Mac computer, would I fall as head over heels in love with it, as I have with my Ipod?

I keep saying, my next computer purchase will be a Mac. Maybe it's time to do that already.

Vegas Trip

Thanks to my guest blogger dmoney, but it is good to be back. Some quick Vegas stuff.

If you are down a lot of money, your comeback can come from a variety of sources. Never rule any game out, except for maybe Casino War, which people actually play. I was down big-time and made a pretty big rally on Saturday playing Pai Gow Poker.

There is a reason that the original casinos downtown, including Binion's Horseshoe are failing. They are seedy dumps with food stands that recall the booth you find in the front of Wal Mart, or Target. I don't care if you sell a shrimp cocktail for $1.29. Blech.

According to the chaturbate rooms soundtrack that repeated frequently at the Mirage, Keane, Hoobastank and Maroon 5 are the three biggest bands in the world. If I hear "The Reason" ever again, it will be too effing soon. Haven't Hoobastank achieved Mr. Big status yet? I imagine a bunch of seventh graders loving that song and then casting the band aside for the rest of eternity. I kind of liked Keane and Maroon 5, but after this weekend it might all be over.

All places that serve people need to be like Vegas and treat the customer the way Vegas does. I have played at tables in many different places and nobody ever treats you like a second class citizen in Vegas unless you deserve it. I remember going to tables in Foxwoods and other places and having them hate me even before I put a dime on the table. Dealers and pit bosses, please keep in mind that you wouldn't have a job if I wasn't willing to play at your tables. The customer is always right. Especially when you are raking all their money away.

I have an excuse because it was the movie on the plane, but "Shall We Dance" was a horrendous abomination of a movie. J Lo doesn't really know any better. ("Maid in Manhattan," "The Wedding Planner," "Anaconda") Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon ought to be ashamed of themselves. Also John Turturro should have a lawsuit against Stanley Tucci for stealing his career.

Unfortunately there was no Gallagher sighting this year, although my brother did share a blackjack table with TV's Josh Taylor. He played Michael Hogan on "Valerie" and "The Hogan Family," with that Cyclops Sandy Duncan and Jason Bateman. He was also known as Dylan's father Jack McKay on Beverly Hills 90210. Hopefully we can plan our trip during the porn awards next year and get some better celeb sightings.

But that was it for the trip. A 14 beer night on Saturday night and a long flight home.

I think we might need two Vegas trips a year. Anyone in?

Meetings about Meetings

After many meetings this week, I have a couple of observations.

1. The word is ETCETERA. It is not to be spoken EX-CETERA. Please be wary of this, especially if you plan on saying it more than 10 times in a presentation.

2. Replicative may or may not be a word depending on who you ask. It is listed in the dictionary, but it is highlighted in red in MS Word. If nothing else, there is probably a simpler word that you can use instead.

3. It doesn't matter what you have to say, or how you explain it. If you look like Major Dad then I am going to spend the rest of your time speaking trying to stifle a laugh while your gruff voice and surly face gets funnier and funnier to the little mice running on wheels in my brain.

4. If, during a long-winded explanation of something, you insist on using the word "basically" over and over again, then basically, what I am saying is that no matter how, basically, you say whatever you are basically trying to say, it won't seem all that, basically, basic. Basically, that is what I am trying to say. (basically)

5. No matter how much you want to impress your audience from https://www.jasminelive.online/ with the ease of use of your product, you should never, and I mean never, draw comparisons to the Ron Popeil Automated Spit with the catchphrase "Set it and Forget It!" unless you want to sell me something for a few easy installments of $19.95

6. If you use a three letter abbreviation to talk about a certain kind of technology that is offered and I, being a huge dork, don't know what you are talking about, how on earth do you expect anyone in the world to have any idea what you are talking about? You can talk all day about the "XYZ" but if nobody knows what the hell that is, then you might as well just shut up.

7. Just because a system has some easy to read details that are somewhat reminiscent of a dashboard, doesn't mean that we need the verb "dashboarding" in the English language to describe your latest creation.

Gratitude - Gratitude

Jonah Matranga is well traveled if nothing else. I missed out on his first band, Far, but I grew to love his vocals after catching on to his solo project Onelinedrawing and with his part-time band New End Original. Now Jonah is playing the band game again with a new major label gig called Gratitude. Joining him is ex-Crumb guitarist Mark Weinberg.

So, how does a former major-label-darling-gone-indie-kid end up in a project that gets signed to Atlantic Records on the strength of only four songs? All I can say is that crazy things are happening in music right now and it couldn't have happened to a more gracious and talented performer. Plus, having heard the songs, they are deserving of a little praise.

"Drive Away" combines the bigger guitar sound that Matranga's voice compliments, with poppy hooks and a melodic chorus. "The Greatest Wonder" sounds like some classic vintage U2. Matranga's vocals sound similar to Bono, and the delayed guitar sound sounds like something straight out of The Edge's playbook. Combine that with a very U2-esque drum shuffle and a grandiose arena friendly sound and it wouldn't surprise me to hear this song fill up every inch of every venue in which it is played just like many of U2's greatest hits.

Don't think for a second that Gratitude is a tribute band or anything because they keep true to their various roots. Sometimes backing off to Jonah's solo style and embracing the heavier and punkier roots that have built the bands to this point. If Jimmy Eat World was a genre, "This is the Part" would fit securely in that realm.

But I back off the comparisons. As I finish listening to this album it makes me feel guilty for having drawn so many parallels between other artists when clearly this record sounds like its own true expression. It is just an all around great rock record. There isn't one song which totally pulls away from the pack, but as a whole it is infectious with its riffs, melodies and truly wonderful moments.

Knowing Jonah's career, I can only assume that this will be an even better stage show, so be sure to check out this album and try to catch the band live when they come to your town.

Iron and Wine - The Woman King

It was really by accident that I came across Iron and Wine's debut, "The Creek Drank the Cradle." It is not by accident that I have bought and religiously listened to everything that Samuel Beam has put out under his band moniker since that time. "The Sea and the Rhythm" picked up magically where the debut left off. "Our Endless Numbered Days" expanded on the beautifully poetic style by increasing the production value and adding an expanse of instruments to the mix.

Now it seems that Iron and Wine are aiming to be one of the most prolific recording artists of my lifetime with yet another EP, "The Woman King." With this many releases, a listener could certainly have an expectation of staleness in the air, but somehow, Sam Beam continues to push the boundaries of a folk style that many would have probably considered old hat, if not boring or dead.

But here he is, pushing again and seemingly adding to the surprising spectacle at every turn. Beam creates another wonderful set of lush harmonic landscapes with his acoustic guitar, scarce drums, and other stringed instruments of any and every kind. Even his use of electric guitar on "Evening on the Ground" sounds epic if only because it is he who is using it.

While only six songs, "The Woman King" is not to be missed. Old fans will appreciate the traditional beauty of the title track and "Jezebel," while those in search of something new from Iron and Wine will appreciate "Freedom Hangs Like Heaven," and "Evening on the Ground."

It has been an amazing run thus far. It will be interesting to see just how long it lasts and where it can go from here.