Saturday, October 10, 2009

iTunes "Genius" - Does It Live Up to the Hype?

Some time ago, Apple introduced Genius into one of the iTunes releases, a feature I suspected of "spying" on my listening habits and turned off immediately. Okay, I'm really not paranoid, but I wasn't convinced I should be inviting a "Genius" into my musical life.

Things changed. I purchased a MacBook Pro, my first Macintosh after being a PC snob for so many years, ignoring my wife's claim "If you go Mac, you won't go back." After building my iTunes library on my new toy, I decided to enable Genius.

Man, was I surprised! The first mix out of the box that Genius created was a winner for a couple of reasons. First, the songs all made sense for the theme. They segued nicely into each other and really established the mood. Second, and probably most interestingly, it chose songs I forgot I even had in my extensive library, including a number of B (and C and D) sides I never really listened to very much. I love new music - in fact, I go out of my way to listen to music I know I never liked before just to give it yet another chance. Genius is already helping me in that capacity without even having to download anything new!

What has been your experience with Genius? Are you a believer or a skeptic like I was?


Photo Credit, Johan Larsson

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Computer Fun

The fires are long gone, but that doesn't mean hell has frozen, at least here on the Hill. I am a technology junkie and have been since childhood. I've had professional and person success in that particular industry and even though I've lamented certain practices in the technology realm - in my opinion, computers have primarily been a boon to modern society.

That is, when they work. When they don't, then it's sometimes akin to hell on earth.

Case in point, my four year-old Toshiba Tablet PC suddenly decided it was tired of using its built-in display, forcing me to scramble around on Friday morning until I could hook it up to my external monitor. Meanwhile, I'm trying to decide if I can just live in this split mode or have to break down and get a new laptop).

You may ask if I'm such a techie, why don't I just fix it? Well, I spent several hours on Friday and Saturday adjusting drivers & configuration settings, running diagnostics and fiddling around in general. My conclusion is that this is a hardware issue that can only be fixed by an authorized Toshiba service establishment. It's very unlikely that the cost of repair will make sense in light of the relative low cost of new laptops. And while its replacement won't be a tablet PC (I don't use those features anymore), there are a number of applications I've installed on this one that would be difficult for me to reestablish on a new one. Even if I could find the installation files and the registration codes for the purchased programs, it would take me hours to reconstruct my new environment. Who has that kind of time?

This problematic computer doesn't leave me high and dry, computer-wise. I still have my trusty Aspire One, my primary writing computer (primarily because of its size and battery length) and my MacBook Pro, my latest favorite computer toy. It's just I hate being in a TBD state with my technology. I like fast solutions and none are in the offing.

So, technology challenges are the concern of the day at the Villa in these waning summer days. I'm sure this story will eventually have a happy ending, but until then, I'll remain in computer hell or at least a form of limbo.

Until next time, stay true to your technology!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

110 Fwy view of Station Fire

110 Fwy view of Station Fire
Originally uploaded by socalvillaguy

This is what the Station fire in La Canada Flintridge looks like to those traveling north on the 110 Freeway just south of downtown Los Angeles. The fire has consumed 7,000 acres thus far and is 0% contained as of this writing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

If the Smoke Doesn't Get You ...

Hello, gentle readers ...

A brief update from your friendly correspondent on the Hill. 

La Canada Flintridge, a mere stone's throw from us if you can heave stones three or so miles, has had an unwelcomed visitor in their backyard for the past few days.  A brush fire started on Wednesday and has developed into an official conflagration.  The side effects of this ongoing inferno, at least to us folks here in our neck of the glen, has been smoke and ash.  On top of that, we've had a couple days of triple digit temperatures, forcing us to say inside or occasionally take refuge in the cool embrace of our pool.  To pile on more kindling, as it were, our air conditioning system decided to take a siesta, thanks to its overheated compressor.  Who knew that running the A/C night and day for two days would cause such havoc?  Something tells me there's more behind the scenes, but I'm too damn hot to argue with the technician about it right now.

So, the mood in the Villa the moment:  hot and irritated.  My darling spouse has minor surgery in the morning as well, so she's not going to enjoy convalescing in tropical temperatures.  Who can blame her?  I'm getting overheated just writing this short blog post.

I'll leave you with a few fun photos from the Villa.  Please send rain.  Thanks.