Back in the game

I got Family Tree Maker 16 “Collector’s Edition” – normally like a hundred bucks, but got it for like $35 on Amazon. It comes with a year’s subscription to, so I was poking around to see if I could find any documents. It’s been a while since I’ve done any research, so it was nice to get back into it.

I found a picture of the S.S. Campania, which my great-grandparents Samuel and Annie Aidinoff took to America. I found the ship’s manifest a while ago, but always nice to have photos, even if they are generic.

I also found some listings of my great-great-grandfather, Horatio Firth, who was a doctor in Brooklyn.

Nothing really exciting yet, like more branches on the ol’ family tree, but still looking.


I’ve been getting these stabbing pains in the side of my head today. Every so often, like maybe once every couple minutes, it feels like my left temple is caving in.

I wonder if it’s tooth pain getting mapped incorrectly, or if the veins in my temple are slowly failing as I spiral unknowingly towards oblivion…

It seems to be happening with increasing frequency, a couple times a minute now.

Always disconcerting when things go wrong with my head… I’m very fond of my brain and prefer it stay intact…

Gaaah… probably tooth-related, I have a couple teeth that need some work, but I was waiting until January when my dental insurance resets, otherwise I have to pay it out-of-pocket.

Just need to meditate, I guess. It’s all in my head, after all. =)

A couple Advil couldn’t hurt, too.

Probably doesn’t help that the AC is messed up and it’s 80 degrees and humid in my cube.

Amazon MP3s – Initial Experience

I decided to try out the new Amazon MP3 service before going to bed.

The first thing I noticed was that for previews, Amazon uses RealPlayer. I’m not a big fan of RealPlayer, as in the past it was an invasive app that had all sorts of control panels and took over all media playing functions. Maybe it’s not like that anymore, but I didn’t really want to install RealPlayer. So instead, I opened iTunes. The albums I was looking at were available in both Amazon and iTunes, so I used iTunes to listen to previews.

After listening to a few clips, I decided on an album to download:

The Sunset Tree, by The Mountain Goats

It is $9.99 on iTunes, and $8.99 on Amazon.

When I click to buy the album, Amazon alerts me that I have to download and install their “tiny app” to complete the sale. Uh-oh. I am suspicious. Is this a tracking app, or controlling my usage, or just bloatware?

I download an install the app. It *is* pretty tiny (under 600k), and seems to be just a file download queue system. I set it to not automatically add the downloaded songs to iTunes (I’ll put them on the media server and link to them from there).

I complete the checkout, and it prompts me to download a .amz file, apparently a download queue list for the downloader app. The files start downloading. The process is quick.

Once they are done, I copy the files from that directory to the media server downstairs, and add links to them to the iTunes library.

I listen to the album as I sync the songs onto my iPod.

Overall, the whole process was quick and pretty easy. I’ll have to install RealPlayer if I want to hear preview clips, not something I’m happy about, but other than that, they have a better product than Apple.

Amazon has a higher bitrate (256 on Amazon vs. 128 on iTunes), more universal file format (MP3 vs. Apple’s AAC), no DRM, and cheaper prices than Apple! I may never buy from iTunes again.

Warning shot, or direct hit?

Today Amazon either fired a warning shot across iTunes’s bow, or hit them directly in the mast.

They announced a beta of an Amazon Music store… with DRM-free music, meaning you can (gasp) use it however you want, on whatever player you want!

And…drumroll, please… the songs are *cheaper* than iTunes.

Average iTunes song: 99 cents.
Average Amazon song: 89 cents.

Average iTunes album: $9.99
Average Amazon album: $8.99 (and some are cheaper!)

Amazon Music Store

Non-DRM’d music – maybe someone finally gets it!

I’ll have to try it out when I get home, see if it’s easy to use, and if there are any hidden catches.

The Big E and potter-E

Saturday Sarah and I went to the Big E. If you haven’t heard of it, the Big E is essentially a supersized state fair, with all of New England represented.

It was a good time. There was fair food, a midway, and farming exhibitions.

The sheer mass of people was a little overwhelming at times (especially when they were coming between me and a gyro… you don’t want to come between me and a gyro). But overall a fun time.

There was one point where I even filled the archetypical “boyfriend at a fair” role… we were walking around the Midway, looking at the games, looking for any that were interesting. Sarah saw someone walk by with a giant stuffed monkey, and said “Ooh, giant monkeys! We should try the game that has that as a prize!”

We found the place with monkeys, and it turned out to be a ring toss. If you’ve never seen ring toss, it’s a grid of glass bottles, you throw plastic rings and try to get them on a bottle. The tricky part is the hard plastic bounces off the glass, so the rings bounce around like pachinko balls. But I figure we can have fun trying, so I plunk down the $5 for a bucket of rings.

The second ring I throw comes to rest on a bottle! So I won the monkey for Sarah!

On Sunday, we were trying to think of things to do. Not many good movies were playing in the area. So while Sarah took a shower, I brainstormed and came up with about 20 fun things to do, most of which were legal. Sarah added a couple to the list, and we set off.

We ended up going to a paint-a-pot place, Claytopia. I painted two small bowls to use as dessert dishes, and Sarah painted a cat dish for Rita. They will be fired and ready to pick up by Wednesday, so we can see how they came out.

Then we watched some musicians (The Primate Incident, if I remember right) who were performing in a park. There was also a girl hula-hooping to the music, who was quite the expert.

We got some coffee and sat in the park, then bought some sandwich ingredients and went home and had sandwiches.

Training? Bleh.

After missing out on the FlashForward conference, I started looking around for other conferences and training available.

Nothing out there has caught my eye. It all seems bland and uninteresting next to FlashForward.

The more I look around, the more depressed I get that I’m not going to FlashForward. It looks exciting and interesting, and looked like there was lots of new stuff to learn. And this is the one time FlashForward’s in Boston, so probably missed my only chance to go for years.

Bleh. This is going to be a great week, the rest of the week I can be thinking about the fun things Adam and the others are doing at FlashForward, while I slog through bug fixes.

The witching hour is upon us

It’s midnight, movie night is over (we watched Zodiac, a bit slow in parts but good), and everyone has toddled on home. Sarah’s already asleep like a good student should be…

So I’m all alone in the quiet of the house…

as Dave was leaving, I found my nail clippers, which I had been on the point of tearing my house apart for earlier. But I decided to let it go, to not panic. So when Dave was heading out, he asked, “where would your clippers be?” and I replied “right here,” reached down, and picked them up. I swear I looked there earlier, but such is the way of seeking and finding,

So I clipped my nails, there is no one else awake… so time to…

time to…

time to…

clean my tub!

Before (eww)

Nine minutes and one brillo pad later.

Now perhaps I will read for a little, and then retire for the evening.

No Flash for Me

Damn. I had been looking forward to going to the FlashForward conference in Boston later this week. I was approved by my manager and director to go, but the process of getting info on how to actually get a ticket purchased took so long, that in the meantime, the conference sold out. So no fun Flash learnings for Tev.