Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Picture of The Best Byte Computer


I really like this name ...

This is from a local PC "box throw together" shop that went out of business a few years back. I snapped this pic at my local flea market this past weekend.

BEST BYTE would make a great Apple Store name or concept.

digg story

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It looked like it was over and then it got interesting

As reported by MacRumors:

In an interesting twist to the high-profile stock options backdating probe that has been ongoing for over a year at Apple, former CFO Fred Anderson is claiming that he warned Apple CEO Steve Jobs about the financial and legal repercussions of his backdated option grant, and that Jobs had given him assurances that the grant was board-approved.

The Wall Street Journal (Paid Subscription Required) has Mr. Anderson's full statement, which in part reads:

Fred was told by Steve Jobs in late January 2001 that Mr. Jobs had the agreement of the Board of Directors for the Executive Team grant on January 2, 2001. At the time Mr. Jobs provided Fred this assurance, Fred cautioned Mr. Jobs that the Executive Team grant would have to be priced based on the date of the actual Board agreement or there could be an accounting charge. He further advised Mr. Jobs that the Board would have to confirm its prior approval in a legally satisfactory method. He was told by Mr. Jobs that the Board had given its prior approval and the Board would verify it. Fred relied on these statements by Mr. Jobs and from them concluded the grant was being properly handled.

The SEC has yet to respond to these specific allegations. A previous report by Mercury News indicated that there has been a lack of evidence to support criminal charges against Mr. Jobs.

Anderson has recently settled with the SEC regarding his involvement in the ordeal, having admitted no guilt but having to pay a $150,000 fine in addition to paying back the received grants. Separately, the SEC is pursuing legal action against former general counsel Nancy Heinen, which she plans to contest.


Interesting - I was suspicious of Anderson seeming to take the fall but settling for such a serious charge - I knew he had to divulge some sort of important information.

[UPDATE] The Apple Board Of Directors released this statement:

"We are not going to enter into a public debate with Fred Anderson or his lawyer. Steve Jobs cooperated fully with Apple's independent investigation and with the government's investigation of stock option grants at Apple. The SEC investigated the matter thoroughly and its complaint speaks for itself, in terms of what it says, what it does not say, who it charges, and who it does not charge. We have complete confidence in the conclusions of Apple's independent investigation, and in Steve's integrity and his ability to lead Apple."

Moved Is The New Closed: Ebay Dropoff Closes Public Doors


* Bidzirk storefront / Other location listed also closed



* Picture of other location "moved to"

You may have heard of pink being the new black ... but now the word "moved" is the new closed.

In January of 2006 I posted a series of articles regarding The eBay Dropoff business. In my articles I used a specific example of a local eBay dropoff I had a personal experience with.

Over the course of 2006 another eBay dropoff moved into my town and then folded within 6 months.

The business model for walk-in traffic and giving customers a 50/50 split on their items is flawed. For electronics and tools - you are most likely to get more money from a pawn shop or even a classified ad than an eBay dropoff store. For items that have fixed margins - it is next to impossible to sell your inventory through such a business.

The eBay dropoff can not maintain a sustained inventory. Therefore just as AMITHEONLYONE.ORG so often points out - these businesses are failed from the beginning unless in a high traffic / big city. Even then, repeat customers are few after they see their first check.

Bidzirk ended up suing me for my article ... the frivolous litigation is still churning through the courts as a matter of process rather than logic. The opposing attorney is well funded - mounting a counter defense - had I hired an attorney - would reach into 6 figures by now. If any of you have wondered why my posting just hasn't been the same over the last year - this is the reason.

With eBay dropoffs going out of business all over the country and large eBay dropoffs like ISOLDit stores leaving behind shells of storefronts ... these businesses can't possibly receive any favorable press or promotional consideration due to lack of faith. Thus hurting business even more.

From FranchisePick.com:

Ken Sully, CEO of iSold It, has acknowledged publicly that there are serious flaws with the iSold It franchise concept. In an open letter published on Franchise Pick ( An Open Letter to iSold It Franchisees from CEO Ken Sully), Sully admits that 60 stores have closed and many more are struggling to survive. States Sully:

"Tragically, many individuals who believed passionately in the potential for the category have lost sizable investments, including homes and retirement savings….We personally find this unacceptable and, despite continued interest in this category, we do not feel comfortable selling any new franchises until we get the failure rate lower."


Follow up stories:

Is eBay becoming the pawn shop of the 21st Century?

I used ISOLDIT but they bought it

From the Bidzirk website:

Bidzirk SM currently has 2 stores in Greenville, SC, with a new store opening soon in Powdersville, SC to accomodate larger items, including automobiles, boats, and recreational vehicles. Within 2 years, 10 additional stores will open in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.


In reality both Greenville stores have closed and no other "stores" have opened. A warehouse exists but I'm not sure to what capacity it operates.

Again, the website of the average ebay dropoff indicates success, but the letter from the iSoldIt CEO is very telling of the current state of eBay Dropoffs.

* E-auction block also had a store locally to me and maybe survived 4 months during 2006.

* From The AuctionPost Founder:

The conclusion after a years trading, refining and redefining the business model is that the retail drop-off store as a stand alone concept simply does not work.


* AuctionPost was a UK eBay Dropoff chain


[UPDATE] Bidzirk appears to be selling inventory using the ID Bidzirk103 located in Piedmont SC. Bidzirk101 tied to Mills Mill and Bidzirk102 tied CherryDale have closed and neither ID has listed in the past 15 days as of the writing of this update.

Extreme curse words

Russell Simmons, hip hop mogul, on rap lyrics:

"...the words "bitch," "ho" and "nigger" should be considered "extreme curse words."


Simmons is the first to make a stand against the double standard of racial epithet of certain segments of the rap music industry.

My question is ... when were these words EVER not extreme? Why did we allow them to come into common vernacular? The answer ... no one who is being critisized for using these words uses the words on a regular basis ... it is hypocrisy for any black or any woman to defend against these words if they listen to rap music that contains them.

I applaud Simmons for making the call to the industry he serves ... however ... they are just words - even if "extreme".

My rule of thumb in writing ... if an "extreme word" is part of the telling of the story - I use it. If I have to ADD "extreme" words - I don't.

One thing I detest about many of my Mac blog peers is the free use of four letter words in their writing and the irony of every now and then blogging about their families and posting pictures of their daughters.

Apple Sued Over Use Of Tabs In OS X Tiger?


* Graphic from Engadget



As reported by Slashdot:

"... an Illinois-based company and its Nevada partner have filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc., alleging that Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger' infringes an interface patent relating to the OS's nearly universal use of tabs. The suit was filed in the patent troll's and forum shopper's favorite venue: Marshall, TX. The patent in question is 5072412, which was originally issued to Xerox in 1987, but is now owned or licensed to IP Innovation LLC and its parent Technology Licensing Corporation. 'Category dividers triggered by Spotlight searches, as well as page tabs in the Safari web browser, bear the closest similarity to the now 20-year-old description' of the patent, according to the article. IP Innovation is requesting damages in excess of $20 million and an injunction against future sales and distribution of Mac OS X 10.4. Software patent reform can't come soon enough!"


The absurdity of copyright and patent law continues. One day ... there will be a case that will bring this broken system to the forefront of people's mind so as they demand change. I honestly thought it would be The Creative vs Apple suit and result in Apple's win basically acquiring Creative ... alas ... Apple just paid them off to shut them up.Then I thought the Cisco iPhone suit would be "the one lawsuit" - but it ends up Cisco was just milking that for the press.

This suit will be added to the Fix Your Thinking reference section: Your Rights The Law & Litigation

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fix Your Thinking wins award!! But can I win another?




Well it seems I won an entry in Digital Culture's "Best Technology Writing 2007". Many thanks to all those who nominated me.

The book , which is a collection of tech writing from the past year, will be published this September.

I will be holding a contest to give away a few signed copies.

From The Digital Culture ABOUT PAGE:

"The essays collected in this book are sparkling, imaginative pieces of journalism that just happen to be about technology. People steeped in the world of AJAX or Massively Mulitplayer Online Games will find a lot to value here, but so will readers simply in search of good writing."

~ James Fallows, National Correspondent for Atlantic Monthly


In other contest news ... I entered into the engadget "make us a mascot" contest.

This was my entry - submitting it as Philip Smith from Fix Your Thinking. Lemme know what you think ...



If mascot stands to the side - the three prongs on the plug also form the letter "E"

Could probably use fleshing out into either costume or made a little more cartoonish.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Doing Disney! The Ultimate Review & Tip Guide To All Things Disney World! Part II: Budgeting Your Time, Money, & Psyche!


* Disney Day 3: The Magic Kingdom: Pointing out on the map where we were. (We were in line for over 3 hours for the Song Of The South ride.) We didn't reach this ride in time to get a FastPass.

One of the most important things about going to Disney World for any one should be budgeting. Not just of money - but of emotions, relaxation, and most important; stress. You are on vacation ... and ... you are going to "the happiest place on earth" after all. Leave all your worries and your frustrations at home. If your children act up, if someone cuts in line, don't sweat it. I mean ... discipline your child promptly but don't make a scene. I saw so many parents getting unreasonably upset with their children. By making this trip more about them ... you will discover that the trip is about you. Take a moment to understand that piece of zen I just typed.

___________________________________________________


I can't tell you all of the tips I used to save money on my trip, but I will try my best to help you get the most bang for your buck that I can.

First ... having a credit card that rewards you in some way is very important. By reward ... I mean some card that gives you points in a program, frequent flier miles, or some percent back. The latter being my choice. I used my PayPal card to pay for everything ... eventhough most of the trip was paid for by someone else. I had them deposit approximately $1000 into my checking account two weeks before the trip. I used my PayPal card to pay for everything (which if does not have enough funds pulls money from my checking account). Every time I made even a $2 purchase - money was debited from my PayPal accout which gives me 1.5% cash back and in turn also debited from my checking account which gives me 1.5%+ back in rewards points. $1000 only equals $30 ... but hey $30 is $30 right? It helps to offset any unexpected expenses. Purchases at Disney World actually get you higher than 1.5% back through the Visa Extras program. If you have a Visa Debit/ATM Card - you can sign up regardless of which bank you are with.

As mentioned in the previous part of this series - a travel agent can most likely get you a much better deal on a Disney vacation. Of course there has to be some sort of middleman markup, but the savings on a Disney World trip is still much greater than you can get on your own. It took me less than 30 minutes to book my hotel and get a few tickets through a local travel agent. If in or around Greenville South Carolina - I highly recommend Linda Long Travel. Stacy, at Linda Long, was very helpful - quickly finding what I needed and didn't push any premiums or extras on me. If you do use Linda Long Travel - ask for Stacy and tell her you heard about her on this blog.

Previously I suggested buying your Disney tickets through a link in the MouseSavers.com newsletter. This is only a better deal if you are not buying a Disney package. When talking to a travel agent - make them aware of any savings that you noted in a MouseSaver's newsletter. It's best to print any tips or discounts out so your travel agent can verify them.

One note about staying on Disney property vs staying in a hotel near Disney. If your hotel does not offer a free shuttle service, know that you will be paying $10 to park at each theme park. If you do one park a day ... this equals $40. This was one of the unexpected and unbudgeted expenses that skipped my mind in the planning of this trip. All In all we spent $50 on parking fees. Still ... it was cool to have all the parking receipts lined up on the dashboard like trophies. Remember though that staying on a Disney property that gives you free transportation to the theme parks is like getting a $10 per day bonus because you don't have to pay for parking. Disney shuttle and monorail services also drop you off right at the theme park and in some cases you get to walk through special gates and you are there. Also know that if you stay on property - you get to get in the closest park to your hotel an hour early. You could literally get half the rides finished in this time because the crowds are so much lighter.



While on the topic of driving & parking ... if driving; here's a GREAT tip I discovered while down there. A dad got out of a car and tied a ribbon to his antenna so he could easily locate his car in the parking lot. Know that if you drive a Dodge Caravan (or other common automobile) ... even if you remember where you parked - finding your car amongst similar cars may be difficult. I could shoot myself for not remembering a trick I used to use when I went tailgating at Clemson Home Football games. I used to take a FunNoodle™ and place it over the antenna of my car so I could quickly look out at the parking lot and locate my car ... it also was great to be able to send others out to the car to get things left behind or to return things to the car that got burdensome to carry. If you don't have an antenna or have an auto-retracting antenna - get a magnetic antenna and place it on the top of your car or just get a dowling rod (from a craft store) and place it securely. It looks kind of silly at first - but trust me ... this is a very helpful idea ... at Disney or anywhere that has a large parking lot. Kids should like the FunNoodle™ idea too - make it a tradition. If you have multiple kids, let a different one "Place the FunNoodle™" each day.



Having to stress over finding your car in the endless Disney parking lots can easily ruin your whole day. Your parking tram attendant will most likely remind you that Disney's Magic Kingdom has the largest parking lot in the world. I wouldn't even cloud my mind with anything other than the name of the parking lot you were in. Parking lots are named by 5000 car capacity. They are named Mickey, Goofy, Donald, etc etc. As a child going to Disney World ... I remember my dad boiling sometimes because we couldn't locate the car. It may seem easy to remember once you park, but the excitement of the day and the lots filling up with a much greater volume during the day can make remembering your exact spot difficult.

I also suggest getting a mesh backpack. The one pictured here is only $9.88 at Walmart. Disney places security gaurds before the gates to check bags as a requirement by the Department of HomeLand Security. A big dark bag will hold you up in line and make people behind you angry. I suggest you not carry a purse. Try to fit everything into one small pack that you carry on your shoulders. Carry a couple of snacks, some water, and have an accessible pocket for your maps and tickets. Try to have as few things to carry as possible and make one person in charge of the money, but make sure at least one other person has a credit card on their person. Leave your driver's license and wallet. Carry a minimal amount of cash. I suggest $25 in cash per 4 people. ALL eating places within Disney take credit cards, even the ice cream vendors. I suggest paying for everyhting you can with credit cards or debit cards.

___________________________________________________


Here are some budget considerations:

* Food
- food is actually very reasoanbly priced within the Disney Theme Parks. Selection isn't all that great. The Animal Kingdom in particular has almost zero food. For some reason, the main food there is naked hot dogs. I can hardly eat a hot dog without chili. Later in the day I discovered that the Camp Minnie-Mickey section of the Animal Kingdom has pizza and a few other things. It's obvious that Disney has recognized that this is a problem as two full blown themed restaurants were under construction while I was down there.

If I may ... I suggest you either arrive at Animal Kingdom after lunch, leave for lunch and come back, or bring a lunch in a nice backpack.

The Magic Kingdom is pretty well equipped with places to eat. As is Epcot. For the Magic Kingdom I would recommend you eat a big breakfast before going, then eat a light lunch like a Barbeque Turkey Leg at Magic Kingdom, then about 7PM eat near The Pirates Of The Carribbean. You will be very near Main Street USA and ready to find a good spot for the Electric Light Parade and fireworks display. There are a number of restaurants to the right of The Pirates Of The Carribbean - and although I didn't eat there this trip I have eaten at The Crystal Palace and El Pirata Y El Perico Restaurant. Both are very affordable and have a nice place to sit down and take a break.

In Epcot, I highly recommend eating a light breakfast before entering the park and eating at DeLand for lunch. Make sure that you take the "Behind the Seeds Tour" at Deland after your lunch. This is a great relaxing boat ride giving a brief American agricutural history and showing how Disney is on the cutting edge of Hydroponic gardening. Actual fish, vegetables, and fruits used at Epcot are grown at DeLand. It's very neat to see these active gardens. You'll see a tomato TREE - yes TREE, you will also see lemons the size of pumpkins. I assure you that you will love this ride - and like I said ... it's a good chance to let your food settle.

If you are able to afford it; the World Showcase in Epcot has great dining experiences available at each country.

Disney MGM is full of affordable eating opportunities.

I recommend that, at least one or two nights, you eat elsewhere in Orlando for dinner ... one night we ate at an Ethiopian restaurant. You may laugh at that. I've been to Washington DC several times - where there is a large Ethiopian subculture. I've always enjoyed eating at the Ethiopian restaurants. So ... I suggested we try an Ethiopian restaurant near our hotel. As fate would have it ... this restaurant had just located in Orlando - owned by the same people from Washington D.C. - where I had eaten previously. The food is very reasonably priced. You don't use eating utensils - you use an Ethiopian bread to pinch your food. This is a great opportunity for children to experience something different. You will be very surprised at how filling and appetizing the meal is. Also know that one plate is probably enough for 3 people. If you have more than that, get different things to sample.

The Ethiopian restaurant I'm referring to is called Ethiopian Cuisine, it is just off off of International Boulevard and right next door to a comedy club.

All drinks and ice cream are priced below your average fair or sporting event price within Disney - something that really surprised me.

* Souvenirs - your children will most likely want souvenirs. I suggest you visit the dollar store before your trip. In your backpack keep a couple glow bracelets and give them to your kids at night so they won't feel left out. Note that vendors at the night shows charge more than the vendors you pass while entering the event area - at least I noticed this was true at Fantasmic at Disney MGM Again, this trip is about them - which in turn will make it about you. I have been collecting Goofy Hats over the years since I last went to Orlando in 1998. So, I had enough Goofy Hats to go around. If you are prepared like this... you won't have to even worry about stopping and wasting time at a souvenir stand.

Want a free souvenir? Pal around with the Disney cast members. Let someone go in front of you in line, give up a spot for someone in a wheelchair, help someone on or off a ride - just get noticed being kind by a Disney cast member and they will give a "Pixie pin" - supposedly the only way you get this "Pixie pin" is by impressing Disney staff with an act of kindness. I got this pin without knowing I would for surrending a prime parade spot for someone in a wheelchair.

* If you look at the first picture you can see the "Pixie pin" on the strap of my backpack.

* I looked on eBay for this pin and apparently people sell these instead of giving the second pin away


* Tickets To Other parks - you may be better off getting your Universal and Sea World Tickets while in Orlando. Many places (including your hotel) may offer a Flex Ticket that allows you to go to four different parks for one price. This is a better deal if you have teenagers that you trust to be on their own ... this will give them a lot of options for night time entertainment.

Lastly ... know that Disney will wear you out if you let it. Don't think that you have to get everything done. The parks all have periods of time when they are not busy. Disney specifically times events such as parades so that people can take advantage of crowded rides. Catch a day parade in one park, but take advantage of the crowd watching the parade on other days to get on rides across the park from the parade. I mangaed to get in two day parades - my favorite was the Animal Kingdom parade.

Budget your time around sitting down and resting every couple of rides or shows. I assure you that you will be able to see most if not all of the parks. Don't rush! Have fun! Relax!

Don't forget to pay your taxes!

Don't forget that today is the last day to file your taxes. You have until Midnight in your time zone to do so. Most post offices that have a front desk will be open until midnight ... otherwise you must have your return in the mail by the time your postman arrives at your front door.

Of course you can always file electronically too. You have until 11:50 PM tonight to file your return electronically.

It is my opinion that an electronic return that is complicated and long filed today will be flagged for review. A complicated return should have filed within the last week.

Also remember ... if you are getting a refund, you have no deadline. However ... you do flag yourself for not filing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Philips Buys DLO


As reported by MacMinute:

'Philips to acquire DLO'

According to a report on The Engineer Online, Royal Philips Electronics has announced that Philips will acquire Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) subject to regulatory approval. "DLO designs, markets and distributes accessories, including docking stations, FM transmitters, cables and cases for mobile audio-visual devices such as MP3 and video players. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2007, upon which DLO will become part of the Peripherals & Accessories business unit of Philips’ Consumer Electronics division. No financial details on the transaction were disclosed."


More on this later ...

I know the CEO and VP of DLO and will see if I can get any scoops regarding this news.

WTF Mac Store (Photo)

Running "The" along the side [of Mac Store] isn't bad typography, but the lack of a visual break between the "T" and "H" makes this sign say, "WTF Mac Store"



read more | digg story

* You can also see the sign on the store's homepage

Doing Disney! The Ultimate Review & Tip Guide To All Things Disney World! Part I: Tickets!


* Disney Day 1: A picture of me in my goofy hat planning our next move in the Animal Kingdom

I just got back from a week long vacation in Orlando Florida - having done all things Disney (and visited Universal Studios).

I would like to provide you with a thorough review & tip extravaganza.

First, let me start off with a guide I found on eBay regarding tickets. I didn't write this; it was written by another eBay buyer. It gives a good warning about buying Disney tickets from untrusted sources:

"Last year I purchased Walt Disney World tickets for my family on eBay. THESE WERE SOLD TO ME AS COMPLIMENTRY NO EXPIRATION 4 DAY HOPPER PASSES. I spent $795.00 for these tickets. When we arrived at the theme park and proceeded to go thru the gate we were told we needed to go to Customer Relations. There; I was asked where I purchased the tickets. I TOLD THEM EBAY. DISNEY said they go on eBay and search for these COMPLIMENTRY TICKETS because they can not be sold and are intended only for the person who received them. They took my tickets and voided them immediately. MY FAMILY AND I WERE DEVASTED AS WE STOOD THERE AND NOT PERMITTED TO GO INTO THE PARK. DISNEY would not help us and the only thing we could do was to purchase NEW tickets which cost me $900.00. THIS EXPERIENCE RUINED MY WHOLE VACATION . I hope this will help any one who thinking about purchasing DISNEY tickets on eBay PLEASE BEWARE THAT DISNEY DOES GO ON EBAY AND LOOKS FOR THESE COMPLIMENTRY TICKETS and voids them."


Part I: Tickets


Before planning ANY Orlando vacation .... you should buy your tickets first. This will be your single biggest expense and will involve your most detailed planning. Hold off on buying Universal or Sea World Tickets until you arrive in Orlando. (More on that later)

Before going in early April of 2007, I looked at getting tickets through eBay. A lot of auctions looked suspicious. I bid on several that seemed legit ... but ... all auctions I bid on were cancelled soon thereafter. Know that most Disney tickets expire within 14 days of use. I find it hard to believe that those that buy the NO EXPIRATION tickets would sell them because it is a pretty big premium over normal ticket prices (about $45 per ticket).

Also know that tickets are TIED TO A FINGERPRINT on at least one day through the park - therefore voiding them for resale to anyone other than the original ticket holder. This also makes it necessary that each person have their own ticket throughout the stay. Taking a sharpie and writing the name of each person across the front of the ticket is a good idea. You can't trick the system either, hoping to resale them ... Disney gate keepers will NOT let you through without a valid fingerprint. I tried to put my knuckle through the first time and it wouldn't read.

Don't be fooled by online gimmicks offering free tickets and certainly don't think that all the billboard offers you see in Orlando for free or discounted Disney tickets are actually free - they aren't. Most if not all of these "FREE Ticket offers" involve you looking at a timeshare condominium. These "condo tours" usually take an entire day and require a MARRIED couple. If you are taking kids, it is a burden to drag them along because TRUST ME; it is a whole day. My family used to go to Disney World every year when I was a child. My dad decided to do this one year and I remember hating it. He got the FREE tickets but it was at least a 6 hour mandatory tour of the condos. And honestly, I don't feel right looking at something that I don't intend to buy and couldn't possibly afford or even be talked into buying.

Also, while in Orlando, you'll see lots of billboards for "Disney's Best Kept Secret" - these are actual Disney owned timeshares that come with free park admission - however - know that they are premium priced and still require that DAY OF LOOKING.

I found that the cheapest way to get tickets is by subscribing to the MOUSESAVERS.COM newsletter and getting a special link to an affilaite of theirs called Undercover Tourist - they will ship the tickets to you for free (via ground) - which requires a 14 day advance purchase. Or you can pick them up at a very easy to locate UPS Store on International Boulevard that is about 4.5 miles from the front gate of the Magic Kingdom and 1 mile from the gate of Universal. I got my tickets for $28 off EACH ticket at the gate price. I paid with my PayPal card to get 1.5% back which also debits my checking account where I get 1.5% back for my debits - saving me an additional $6. This is the absolute cheapest, no hassle means of getting tickets to Disney World in Florida that I found.

The "Park Hopper Ticket" option (which costs $45 extra per ticket) is VERY over-rated. Don't think that going between parks is something you ACTUALLY want to do. You can leave and come back to the same park if you like. Take the time to explore each park thoroughly. Stay for each night time show and compare. Disney's Magic Kingdom features The Electric Light Parade and a fireworks display. Epcot Features a nightly fireworks and laser show. Animal Kingdom is more clear of crowds at night ... allowing you to catch things you didn't during the day. Disney MGM has the best night time show BY FAR! It's called "Fastasmic". I suggest you get there 1 1/2 hours BEFORE THE SHOW. Some Disney staff will tell you 45 minutes, but for my experience, the theater of 12,000+ seats was completely full 45 minutes before the show. Also, don't think that the typical "front row, second row, or center center" seats are the best. Pay attention to the poorly designed outdoor theater and the poles that may block your views of the show. (More on "Fastasmic" later)

Once inside a Disney theme park, each ride has a kiosk for FastPass distribution.



If you can, I recommend you send someone ahead of you while you wait in line for one attraction near the gates, to the attraction you most want to see or that will be the most crowded during the day. And so on throughout the day. While making sure you gage the amount of time you will be in line, send someone ahead to another attraction while you save their space in line for one attraction. A FastPass allows you to essentially walk right to the front of the line. Ticket takers and ride operators work this by taking 1 group of FastPass holders, then 1 group from "the line". The FastPass gives you a 1 hour window to return to a ride later in the day. You can only obtain a FastPass per ticket in 1 hour intervals. BUT - pay attention - if you get a FastPass at 10AM for a time between 3-4PM - note that you can obtain other FastPass tickets for rides that will ALLOW a FastPass BEFORE or AFTER the time on a currently held FastPass. It sounds confusing ... but you will understand once you get there.

As for Universal Studios tickets - I found that the cheapest way to get tickets is through a travel agent and or IN ORLANDO. I used Linda Long Travel in Greenville South Carolina. My tickets were $53 EACH after all my discounts applied. I recommend you do Universal Studios your first day in Orlando if you want to see it. Preferably a Sunday when crowds are the lightest. Universal Studios also has a FastPass distribution - I recommend you getting FastPass tickets for The Revenge Of The Mummy Ride.

Some other discounts that I found for Disney & Universal Tickets:

* The Entertainment Book - your localized Entertainment Book will have a section in the back for discounts to Universal and Sea World

* If you are part of a Fortune 500 company - your Human Resources Department may have discounted tickets. Check into it and see if the Undercover Tourist Tickets (via MouseSavers newsletter) are a better deal.

* Your hotel or local restaurants in Orlando sell HEAVILY discounted Flex Tickets that allow you to go to Wet & Wild, Universal, and Sea World all for one price that is lower than ONE DAY at Universal (which is Gate priced at $79.99)

* My brother goes to Disney World every 3 to 4 years - by building up Hilton Honors points on his credit card in the interim - he essentially takes a family of four for a total cost of $600 for an ENTIRE WEEK - basically just paying for food and travel.

* Don't think that a travel agent can't get you a good deal on a hotel and Disney tickets or that there must be a markup. Most likely your travel agent can buy specials for Orlando that will be FAR FAR less than you could get with ANY discount on your own. Remember a travel agent costs you NOTHING and you don't have to accept their offer first visit ... so shop around with one or two. If in Greenville SC - I highly recommend using Stacy at Linda Long Travel just off Laurens Rd near The Great Escape and EarShot.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bummer

Apple shifted developers from Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) to the iPhone team. The result: Leopard is delayed to October, and the iPhone is still on target for June.



read more | digg story

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Apple: No, You Can't Have Your Data Back, We're Keeping It (update)

From The Consumerist:

"Chris had an "unrecoverable" hard drive that Apple wouldn't let him keep. Chris was concerned that Apple was incorrect, and that the disk might in fact be recoverable by someone, and so he wanted it back. He asked nicely. He offered money. Sadly, nothing worked. Apple's policy was to keep the disc."


I recently asked my service provider if I could keep a hard drive for a few days and just have them give the return box that Apple provides to me. I had 30 days to send it back. In that time, I was able to recover it using the repaired laptop.

read more | digg story

Daring Fireball: Some facts about AAC

John Gruber of Daring Fireball debunks many misconceptions about the AAC audio format that iTunes uses. "There are some people who have long insisted that Apple’s grand scheme for the iPod and iTunes hinges on proprietary file format lock-in, and I think what they’re doing now is grasping for some way to continue making this argument."



read more | digg story

Very well written piece ... with some good education about audio formats and Apple's choices.

To add to his article; I also know that ALL Philips MP3 players also play AACs - so these MP3 player owners will also be able to buy songs from the iTunes Music Store.

Also updated here:

http://daringfireball.net/2007/04/wee_bit_more_on_aac

Think Different!


LowEndMac posts:


Think Different: 10 year retrospective

This site (FIXYOURTHINKING) was named for this very creative campaign aimed at the inner creative that Apple aims to inspire in all of us.

Monday, April 09, 2007

New York Times Proposes A Code Of Manners For Blogs

A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs


My take on this:

Bloggers should follow the EXISTING SPJ code of ethics - but just as with them - they should remain voluntary and non binding - just a separation of the leaders vs the hacks.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Real Reason You Won't Be Able To Use Your iPhone On A Plane


Interesting link via Slashdot:

"...the the real reason that cell phones calls are not allowed is fear of crowd control problems if calls are allowed during flight. Also, the airlines like keeping passengers ignorant about ground conditions. The public reason, interference with other systems, could easily be tested, but neither the FAA nor the FCC manage to do such testing."

Friday, April 06, 2007

iPod Saves an iLife in iRaq

Via Daring Fireball

iPod Takes Bullet for Soldier in Iraq

Kevin Garrad, a U.S. soldier in Iraq, was shot in the chest during a gunfight with an insurgent. The bullet hit Garrad’s fourth-generation iPod, which was in his jacket pocket, quite possibly saving his life.


The flicker photo set of the "bulleted iPod" can be found here along with this description:

My wife’s uncle works in a military hospital and told me about this. Its pretty amazing. Kevin Garrad (3rd Infantry Division) was on a street patrol in Iraq (Tikrit I believe) and as he rounded the corner of a building an armed (AK-47) insurgent came from the other side.

The two of them were within just a few feet of each other when they opened fire. The insurgent was killed and Kevin was hit in the left chest where his IPod was in his jacket pocket. It slowed the bullet down enough that it did not completely penetrate his body armor. Fortunately, Kevin suffered no wound.


I really hope that Apple sees this story floating around the Mac web and sends this soldier another iPod after tracking him down.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Apple Sued Over "1984" Commercial Because Of The Recent Political Ad For Barack Obama?



As reported by MacMinute:

'Apple sued over 1984 commercial'

"The copyright holder of George Orwell's classic novel '1984' may sue over the video that used Apple's Macintosh advertisement to jab at Senator Hillary Clinton, a lawyer for Rosenblum Productions has said," reports PC Advisor. "And she revealed that Apple was also served notice about using Orwellian imagery 23 years ago. 'We're not filing [a lawsuit] at this point; we're monitoring the situation,' said William Coulson, who represents Rosenblum Productions. 'But we certainly reserve the right to do so in the future,' Coulson did not specify whom Rosenblum might sue - the video's creator, YouTube Inc. or both," notes the report.


This is one of the most baseless suits I think I have ever seen.

This commercial only makes a reference to year 1984 as an Orwellian pop culture term. It certainly would fall under the protections of the Lanham Act afforded to Apple. And technically the poster/creator of the Barack Obama Ad should be protected for political speech too:

Directly as stated on The Cornell Law Website:

The Lanham Act defines the statutory and common law boundaries to trademarks and service marks. Trademarks (and service marks) are words or designs used in the advertising of goods and services. Rights to use a trademark are defined by the class(es) for which the trademark is used. Therefore, it is possible for different parties to use the same trademark in different classes. The Lanham Act defines the scope of a trademark, the process by which a federal registration can be obtained from the Patent and Trademark Office for a trademark, and penalties for trademark infringement.

The following shall not be actionable under this section:

(A) Fair use of a famous mark by another person in comparative commercial advertising or promotion to identify the competing goods or services of the owner of the famous mark.

(B) Noncommercial use of a mark.

(C) All forms of news reporting and news commentary.


This also goes to show in a karma kind of way - that nothing good comes from mixing politics with tech.

* Thanks to blogdog for giving me the heads up on this one