Yeninko of the Umlaut

Friday, July 29, 2005

Time On My Side

In case you haven’t heard, I recently transferred jobs and as a result my commute time has drastically changed.

My old commuted used to look like this:

And my new commute looks like this:

Oh lord, the difference is like an hour and a half a day, plus I can poo at home if I like.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


I recently transferred from my job in Oakland to the same exact job except in San Francisco. My commute time went from 45 minutes or an hour each way to 8 minutes by bicycle each way. Can I get a hallelujah?

Fun with Angels

While in Wisconsin my little niece asked me how much I loved her. I teased her that I loved her about the length of a loaf of bread. To which she responded with dismay, “But I love you to the moon and back a thousand times! How come you love me so little when I love you so much?” I explained that I knew a lot of people and had to spread it thin to make sure everyone got enough and that she should get used to this usual imbalance of affection. She didn’t get it and everyone else thought I was mean.

Heat wave? It's drizzling!

Florida. The batches of high 80’s on the coasts. There are only temperatures in the seventies and those are on the border of our friendly northern neighbor, Snowland. But wait! What is this I spy in California? What is this little spot of overcast frozen wasteland? Yes sir, that is the inner Richmond of San Francisco. To beat a dead horse I quote Mark Twain "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco."

The only way I could die during this heat wave is from my helmet shield misting up and running into a tree.

Wisconsin 2005

I recently went to Wisconsin, as I try to do every year, and as always I had a blast. Wisconsin is like my own Las Vegas. I drink a lot, eat crap, gamble and generally have tons of fun. Seriously I think i ate a case of pringles in four days(five tubes a day).

Of note, this time around was the annual post-independence day BBQ and Children’s parade. You start by blocking off the cul de sac from traffic, add food and kegs of beer and root beer mixed in with the rockin-est 14 year old band you ever heard. Then get all children within god knows where...let me digress, there were like 100 adults there and I shit you not like 100+ kids. I live in SF. I see a kid about once a week and usually those are runaways. The sheer number of children they are putting out in the Midwest is staggering. Anyway, grab a gripe of kids, cover them in red, white and blue and have them get on anything with wheels and parade about. To top it off you need fire works, handily supplied by the dude across the street who also runs a commercial fireworks distributor or something. Kids each get four pounds of those white popper things they insist on throwing at your feet at the Laney Flea Market. Then after sunset (and the kegs run out) you bring out the real deal. First you clear people out to the lawns and then you start launching fireworks into the air. For the record I’m not into fireworks, I guess after twenty five years they just sort of wear thin of their magic. But when your sitting 50ft away from fireworks being launched 50ft into the air and exploding in a 50ft diameter, well they start to seem real cool again. Especially if it goes on for a couple of hours with the occasional launch landing in the crowd (I did mention the empty kegs right?). Top it off with the fireworks rubbish heap catching fire and getting all explodey about an hour after the festivities are done and well, that is a party Wisconsin style.

I also went to a demolition derby which was, as it always is, freakin cool. The white trash crowd rocks. Plus cars getting smashed and deep fried cheese curds! How could one not enjoy themselves?

And finally I learned to water ski. I’ve spent many a day on the lake or river having my arms pulled out of my socket only to land face down on some surprisingly hard water but I finally managed to get up and ski. And water skiing is sooo much fun. Ridiculously so. Day one I got up, day two I was on one ski. Yer never to old kids. Learn today!

There was more but I’ll dish it out to ya’ll slow like.



See it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

God Bless You Mr. Tuffy.

I would like to take a minute to sing the praises of Mr. Tuffy and the man who introduced me to them, the Dorfman.

The dealio is that I was getting a flat tire about every other day biking to and from BART, and while I was getting really good at fixing flats on the fly it was getting really, really annoying. So while venting about this Alex mentions I should get a set of Mr. Tuffy Tire (or tyre if you are down with the royalty) inserts. Basically they are thick-ass pieces of Polyurethane liner which you insert on the inside of your tire, between the tube and tire. I have not had a single flat since then, and this is significant because, while on BART yesterday I notice a big nick in my new Kevlar® tire. Big enough to actually look through and see Mr. Tuffy Sitting there protecting my inner tube from molestation. After doing a more detailed check I found many, many spots which looked like someone took a pen knife and stabbed a hole through my tire only to be stopped by Mr. Tuffy.

Which brings me to my next point. I think maybe instead of using Kevlar® in bullet proof vest (and which totally didn’t protect my inner tubes) maybe they should be using Mr. Tuffy in bullet proof vests.

Bye Bye, Lil'Pretty Pink Thing

Last month, after owning my 6GB 4th generation Ipod Mini I sold it on Ebay for about $10 less than I paid for it. For me the Ipod turned out not to be the music listening tool I had expected it to be. Specifically I had the following issues with the Ipod.

  • The click wheel, while a totally cool design, isn’t very practical for on the go sporting use (for example, biking, running, surfing). While wearing the Ipod on different parts of you body and in different directions, it is hard to remember which way is clockwise and counter clockwise on the wheel. While this seems like a trivial matter, there isn’t a simple solution to it. And it was enough to annoy every time I turned the volume up instead of down. Obviously this could be filed under user error but I feel good UI overcomes a user’s ability to make repeated mistakes. A series of buttons would have been simple to memorize. For example the third button from the top is volume up and the second is volume down.

  • The inability to delete songs directly off the Ipod. The way I listen to new music is I play it, and if I don’t like it, I promptly delete it. I do this even with older music that I realize I am no longer a fan of. The fact that it can’t just be done with a track once and forever when I realize I don’t like it, is in itself very irritating, especially since the implementation of such a feature would have been so trivial.

  • The requirement of having a computer around in order to charge the Ipod. Apparently in past models a standard wall charger was included, but with the 4th generation Ipods this is no longer the case. A USB connection is used both to transfer music and to charge the Ipod. I like to travel and not everywhere is it feasible to bring my computer nor will I always have access to one when I arrive. While one can purchase a standard charger, it is just another thing I’m paying for that I feel should come with an electronic device.

  • Itunes method of sorting music. I have spent countless hours renaming all my ID3 tags so that Itunes could read them in a respectable manner. Having to then create a play list for every band (because I listen to music by bands not by albums) was just ridiculous. Especially since everything was already organized into folders and each file was titled on my computer. While this isn’t much of an issue for anyone who is new to digital music, for someone with 2000 tracks already, it is a mind boggling amount of needless effort. I often wondered what my former girlfriend was doing all those hours she claimed to be organizing music on Itunes late into the night, and now I know. She was really organizing music. Plenty of other MP3 players have software that can recognize folders and parse file names manageably without requiring a user to spend hours using third party software to rename already named files in a more anal retentive way.

  • The overall dependence on Itunes and, by implication, a computer. You can’t delete files without Itunes. You can’t change file names without Itunes, you can’t charge you Ipod without a computer, etc, etc. etc. The over all dependence of a music player using an industry wide standard open file format is just ridiculous. It’s not that you need a computer to use the IPOD, which is reasonable, but rather that you can’t do any sort of significant alteration to anything on your Ipod without Itunes. The Ipod is effectively ONLY an mp3 player with all addition functionality stripped out and placed in Itunes

  • Lack of an input Mic to record audio and lack of an FM tuner. Now this is just a nitpick since I knew the Ipod would not becoming with these features. But both of these tiny requirements would hardly have affected over all size or functionality, and which would have cost nearly nothing to include (Ipods only cost $40-60 to manufacture as it is). So the lack of these seems very odd to me.
I’d like to make two points in closing which are related. The first is that I was surprised at the response I would get to my complaints and questions on internet forums. For the most part people were very helpful with suggestions but almost all required me to use third party software, alter the way I was using the Ipod, or suggestions that I shouldn’t want the feature in the first place (barring the mic and FM tuner of course). When I buy a product I expect it to satisfy my needs, not require me to alter them. Can you imagine if someone told you couldn’t delete numbers on your phone without first connecting it to a computer?

And lastly, I know a lot of you out there love you Ipod, as a matter of fact I am the only former Ipod owner I know. What I’m trying to say with all this is the Ipod was not the music playing tool that I was looking for, for the reasons cited above. I mean this as no attack on you and your mindless acquiescence of the marketing you are presented with, it’s simply a reflection of how far superior I am to you all. In any case, perhaps I will be better be served with an iRiver H320 or H340.