mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Home, sweet home...

Well, I'm now officially a homeowner, and have been for the last 10 hours.

Settlement was a little more eventful than I would have prefered. I'm doing a CDA 40-year mortgage. The problem was that the loan documents that were sent over were for a 30-year. Initially, we thought that the loan was approved as a 30, which meant I wouldn't be able to settle today because they would have to be reprocessed. It turned out that the loan was approved correctly, the mortgage company just needed to redo the docs. There was also an issue with the carpet allowance the seller's gave - CDA doesn't like them. The initial plan was to leave them off and just have the seller cut me a check, but he didn't like that because then he would be getting more for the house and would have to pay capital gains tax. My realtor ended up having to write an adendum to the contract during closing changing it to closing costs. And then it became mine.

So I've already moved two carloads of stuff in. I also took a trip to Lowe's with one of my coworkers and his girlfriend, who actually has taste, to try to figure out what color to paint stuff. Most of it consisted of me saying I liked a color, and her saying it was too dark. I did buy two samplers, and I have to admit they did look darker on the walls than they did on the paint chips, so she does know her stuff.

So now I get to spend the long weekend painting and moving. Whee!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In 12 hours, I'll be a homeowner...

Well, today was the final walkthru. My realtor and I verified that the soon-to-be-my townhouse was still standing and that the previous owners hadn't removed all the appliances while I wasn't looking. I gave the toilets a test flush, and started looking at all the stuff I want to change about my new house.

I also went to my credit union and got a check with one more zero than pretty much any check I've ever written or probably will write again in a long time. It represents about 75% of my net worth. No more thinking when I'm fed up at work that I could always quit and live off my savings for a while. Now I need my job to pay my mortgage.

So hopefully this was a good decision. In 12 hours I'll be a homeowner and I'll start finding out.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A couple pictures from Hamfest...

These are courtesy of Mike, one of our student workers who went with us. He has a bunch more, but this was all I could fit on my flash drive (he has a blingy Nikon D70s so they were really big before I resized them...)

Holy shit, there's a lemon in my lemonade!

That's it, we're coming back on September 19th!

Oh, there's were I parked my Porche 911... I mean, my PT Cruiser

I keep that shit on 16's, yo!

So 2x3x4 - does that have 24 patties?

man, that was a long day. I'm tired!

Friday, June 23, 2006

More Movin' News...

Well, I've got 5 more days until I'm officially a homeowner.

I've actually gotten to the point where I'm eager for the next couple days to go by so I can sign the papers and start moving stuff and painting and buying furniture and a grill and all the other stuff that I need.

Part of this is because things are starting to fall into place. I've called the power company, turned in my cable boxes, and scheduled carpet people. I'm also starting to run out of things to pack. Aside from the stuff I can't live without - TV, dishes, clothing, my desktop PC - almost everything is in boxes. I have movers scheduled for July 10th to move the big stuff - furniture and the like. Thanks to a coworkers recommendation, I found rather cheap movers, and given the fact that I live on the third floor of a building with a very narrow spiral staircase, and that I have pretty much no upper body strength, I think it's worth the money. The last time I tried to move myself took hours, lots of struggle, and two rather annoyed friends.

I took the last 3 days off to pack, but I don't really have much left to pack that I can't live without. I also want to start getting boxes out of here so it actually looks like I've accomplished something.

The next three weeks or so aren't going to be fun - I've got to get everything moved and unpacked, rooms painted, furniture and stuff bought and assembled, and cable and internet hooked up. But I think once it's done I'm going to be much better off - I'm more comfortable in the 'burbs than in the city where I've been for the last 3 years, and I really need more space than my rented room gives me. While I don't look forward to the fact that my mortgage payment plus utilities is going to be more than twice my current rent, I think it will be worth it.

Gee, it's a good thing we have that universal phone service thing, since so many people don't have phones...

The FCC has recently ruled that VOIP companies must contribute around 10% of revenues to the Universal Service Fund.

For those who aren't familiar with it, VOIP is Voice Over Internet Protocol. Basically, it's a way of transmitting phone calls over internet broadband connections - you plug a POTS (plain ol' telephone service) phone into a converter box and can make calls over your DSL or cable connection, thus bypassing long-distance fees. The Universal Service Fund is an FCC program that phone providers pay in that is used for discounts on phone service for the poor, to expand service to rural and high-cost areas, and to fund internet for schools.

It was started in the '30's, when it wasn't cost-effective to run phone lines to rural areas. I think it's safe to say that that goal was accomplished a long time ago - and thanks to cell phones, it's possible for people to get phone service in areas where running wires wouldn't be cost-effective - it's a lot easier to put up some towers than to run copper or fiber everywhere. In fact, some countries, like South Africa, have basically skipped POTS service and have gone straight from no phone lines to cell phones.

The same is true for phone service for the poor - thanks to prepaid cell phones, everyone can get a cell phone for emergencies - they can buy it at 7-11 or Wal-Mart with no credit check.

As far as internet for schools, it's a noble goal, but it's worth asking why it should be done at a federal level, and why it should be paid for by phone companies and by the people who use phones and networked communications.

The Universal Service Fund is a great example of why goverment programs and the expansion of government should be opposed, even when the goal seems noble - because goverment programs never die, they just grow and change. If they fulfill their purpose, they find a new purpose.

I've never been a fan of attempts to use taxes to fulfill a social goal - I think trying to use taxes to promote a certain type of behavior or punish another is something that the government should avoid doing - that taxes should be used to collect money to do the things that government needs to do. Thus, I've never been a fan of pigovian taxes or sin taxes - and not just because I like to drive, and occasionally smoke a cigar or drink a beer. When government tries to use taxes to reward or punish behavior, it has to start making judgement calls about what is good or bad, and often does without data or research. It also tends to overcorrect, to tax more heavily than the actual costs, and to stay in place after the problem is solved.

But the Universal Service Fund isn't a Pigovian tax. It's just the opposite. Instead of a tax to punish people for doing something bad, like smoking, it punishes people for something good - having a phone or an internet connection. The government seems to think that communication is a good thing - or it wouldn't spend the revenue from the Universal Service Fund on increasing it. But the tax also punishes people for using technology, from having a phone or a cell phone - and with the VOIP expansion of the tax, it also punishes people for trying a new technology, for being early adopters. I wonder how many people there are who aren't poor or rural enough to qualify for the programs that the USF pays for, but can't afford or struggle more to pay their phone bills because they have to pay the USF. I wonder how many people have not gotten DSL or a cell phone or a second phone line for this reason. In an effort to increase technology, the FCC is punishing people who use technology, and inhibiting it's growth.

It's time for us to admit that we've done pretty well with making sure everyone who wants a phone has it - more through the profit-driven actions of private companies than thru the government - and get rid of the Universal Service Fund.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

On Vacation, sort of...

Well, I took the next three days off. See, where I work we get 3 personal days in addition to the standard vacation days. These have to be used up by a certain time or you lose them - something I always come close to, to the point that HR called our Financial Analyst to let her know that I needed to take them or I would lose them. That certain time that they need to be used by is Friday. Since I figured they would be useful as close as to when I move as possible, I decided to use them on the last 3 possible days - wednesday, thursday, and friday.

So I have the next three days off. I plan on doing some sleeping and stuff, and also some more packing, although I only have a limited amount of stuff that I can still pack without needing. It looks like I probably won't actually be moving until July 10 or so, which gives me a couple days after settlement to paint before my carpet comes in and a few more days after that to do some other stuff (buy furniture, move the stuff I don't want the movers to move, ect). That's the plan, although plans change.

It will be nice to take some time off. I'm not really a big vacation time person - most of the time when I take vacation, it's a day around a holiday when I'm driving up to NJ to visit the 'rents. In the past, I've actually lost vacation time because I didn't take any and hit the point where I stopped accumulating. This was especially common when I worked nights for a year and a half - since I was the only person there, it was difficult to take off without making everyone else's life difficult.

And while I know I'll find plenty to occupy my time - making phone calls, packing, turning in my cable box, ect - I also always feel wasteful. I'm still used to my temping and student worker days, when a day off meant a day without pay. And while given the choice between a paid day off and a paid day of work, I would pick the former, if I had the option to, say, trade the day off for a day of work at time-and-a-half, or the option to sell the day off to someone else, I would - I value money much more than I value my time (which is why I worked five hours of overtime last night to fill in for a coworker who had a family emergency). Right now, I have enough time but not quite enough money to buy all the stuff I "need" for the house.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Baltimore County schools losing Macs..

I stumbled on this article in the Baltimore Sun about how Baltimore County is getting rid of Macs in it's graphics labs.

Many of the teachers aren't happy, since Macs have a big presence in the graphics industry and students won't be familiar with them. I'm not sure how big a concern that really is - MacOS is pretty easy to pick up, and my guess is many students will go onto college and get experience with Macs before they enter the real corporate world.

Still, I think it's a good idea to expose kids to as many platforms as possible, and I think the Mac is a great platform for education.

But my biggest beef was with this quote:

Students and staff can share information efficiently if everyone uses compatible equipment. "All of this can happen only if we're all on the same operating platform," said schools spokeswoman Kara Calder.

Huh? Issues with sharing files between Mac and PC has gone away years ago. Macs will run MS Office and files can be shared between mac and pc versions with no problem. Macs also include the ability to make PDF's natively, which can be read on any PC with Acrobat Reader. And if you are using the machines for graphics work, your files will be readable in the PC and Mac versions of whatever program you are using (Photoshop, Quark, ect). I can't think of any file that would open on an OSX machine but not on a Windows machine - especially not something in a high school environment.

I can understand that supporting two different platforms can be difficult - I'm one of the few people where I work who knows anything about Macs, and I don't know all that much, and PC's are cheaper to buy (although I would argue that they tend to break more). But at least be honest and don't blame compatibility, a problem that hasn't been an issue in the Mac/PC debate in years.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Well, I went to the Fredrick Area Father's Day Hamfest today with BSOM and two of the students who work in my department. I didn't just go as a shopper - I went to sell stuff, in the hopes of getting rid of a bunch of junk so I wouldn't have to move it.

I ended up with about $450 extra in my pocket and about five fewer boxes of complete crap. That isn't to say that much of that is profit - much of the stuff sold for about what I paid for it, and some at a loss. But most of it was stuff that if I didn't sell would be sitting around, and I want my new townhouse to be as clutter-free as possible. I'd rather lose a few bucks selling something than have it sit and gather dust - after all, economists would say that the cost is a sunk cost and shouldn't be considered - so I didn't.

The only thing I bought (besides food) was a license plate for $2. I'm planning on stealing a decorating idea from BSOM and decorating a wall in the new place, probably in the "family room", with old license plates.

But it was fun to look around at all the complete crap that people had for sale. One of the students took pics, so I might be posting some of them soon.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Van, gone...

I tried to buy a car last week.

The college I work for sells off excess vehicles every year - and this year I decided to put a bid on one at the sealed-bid auction they hold.

The vehicles they sold were pretty eclectic - a couple vans and minivans, a pickup, a Toyota Corolla, and two Cushmen 3-wheeled vehicles. They set a minimum price for each vehicle. Since it was sealed-bid, you didn't know what other people were bidding until bids were opened, which made bidding difficult, since you wanted to bid more than anyone else, but didn't know if anyone else was bidding or how much.

The vehicle I bid on was a 1989 Dodge Ram van. It had 90,000 miles and was in decent condition - ran good, some dents and rust, but nothing major. It also had a full rack and bin package, including a workbench with a vice. I bid $576, which was pretty close to blue book value in fair condition. My brilliant plan was to use it to move, and then either keep it as a second vehicle for hauling stuff or resell it either on craigslist or to carmax.

I was surprised that it received more bids than most of the other vehicles. I had the second highest bid, losing out to someone who bid $627. So thus ended my plan, which was either brilliant or stupid (considering it would have cost me about $1500 a year to insure it, although that is at the expensive rates of the city neighborhood I live in now and not where I will be moving in a few weeks).

The auction was interesting - I and a couple friends went to the bid opening at lunchtime, and were surprised at the results. The Cushmen sold for well above the miniumum bid - one, with a stuck throttle cable, went for $700, and both had many bids. The two minivans (an Astro cargo and a Caravan passenger) were also popular. On the other hand, what I thought was the most desirable vehicle and one I briefly thought of buying to replace my current car - a '95 Ford F-350 4X4 diesel with plow and only 33k miles - got only one bid, and it was well below the minimum, and the other "nice" vehicle (a 98 Corolla with 54k miles that needed a new windshield and brakes) went for $4300 but got few bids.

The whole thing did make me ponder if buying a second, crappy vehicle was a good strategy given the issues I've had with my PT Cruiser and my strong desire to get rid of it, as well as my fear that it will have another major problem. But chances are I would just end up with two vehicles that break down all the time instead of one.

The best strategy is probably to replace it with something more reliable - either a sharply discounted new car or a good used car. It's something I would love to do soon, but I figure I should probably wait a while to see if my budget estimates for how much the new house will cost me are accurate and how much money I have left after buying furniture and the like and moving. I'm thinking December or next summer, assuming nothing major happens with the car or my life between then and now, but given how often I change my mind, or say I'm going to do something and don't, it's hard to say.


Well, last weekend I spent several thousand dollars on something that I don't really care about. In other words, I ordered new carpet for the townhouse that I will be closing on in another 11 days.

I went with beige, because I am boring - and because carpeting (much like paint and how a dryer should vent) is somthing I haven't given much thought to until now. Since I still haven't decided what color I'm painting anything - or even what I'm going to use a couple of the rooms for - I decided to go with something that would go with anything, and that would be a good color if/when it comes time to sell.

The carpet in the house now does really need to be replaced- it's worn, smells bad, and in parts is a rather unappealing shade of poop brown. My realtor negotiated a carpet allowance - which on the initial estimate was almost exactly what the carpet allowance was (and I didn't tell the carpet salesguy how much I had to spend). But of course when they measured, they realized that they had left off a bunch of stuff and raised the price by 25%. So now I actually have to spend "real" money (yes, I know that money is money, but I kind of looked at the carpet allowance money differently anyway) to get something I need but don't really care about.

I'm also still trying to decide how I'm moving - if it's worth the money to pay someone or just to get a friend or two and a u-haul (which I did the last time I moved and did not exactly enjoy). I also have to pick some paint colors, since I need to paint sometime between June 28 when I settle and July 5 when the carpet people come.

Plus I need to do all the other "stuff" - address changes, utilities turn-on, cable cancelation, furniture buying, insurance, ect.

Sometimes it amazes me that anyone manages to buy a house or move. Staying in the same place is so much easier.

More organic food? No thanks...

Walmart is making an effort to sell more organic food, and King Banion's wife thinks it's healthier.

King mentions being an avid Trader Joe's customer, and I admit to shopping there. They have a lot of good food, their prices are pretty competitive with that of normal grocery stores, and they have a lot of pre-cooked convinience food that is great for a busy single guy who doesn't have much of a kitchen - plus really good cookies.

I could care less about the organic aspect, though. I'll buy organic products if they are tasty and reasonably priced, but I don't make an effort to buy organic - and sometimes I wonder if I should be making an effort not to buy organic. This was mostly inspired by an episode of Bullshit! a few years back that pointed out that without chemicals and genetic engineering, there would be a whole lot less food grown - and that means a whole lot more people, especially in third-world countries, would starve to death (and MadAnthony, while kind of a jerk, tends to be against people starving to death).

I guess if customers want organic and are convinced it's better for them, Wal-Mart is probably doing the right thing by offering their customers what they want. I do wonder, however, how many of those customers have really thought about what organic is - and the impact that more of a movement to organic would have on food production and food supply, especially for poor or developing countries.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Warning: this post may cause annoyance...

So I bought a product yesterday and when opening it, noticed there was a warning on it informing me that it was a choking hazard and that I need to take certain steps if the product is to be used by young children. Which isn't unusual these days, except the product was a pack of Hebrew National 97% fat free hot dogs (which, I must say, are possibly the best hot dogs I've ever had - the Jews sure know how to make a wiener.) The package informed me that the hot dogs cause choking in children and should be cut lengthwise and into small pieces and that children need to be observed carefully.

Every time I think that I've seen it all when it comes to warnings, there is another one that goes beyond what I thought could ever be necessary to guard companies against lawsuits. Society has been making and eating sausage for hundreds of years, but only now do we find the need to warn people that there kids shouldn't shove an entire sausage down their gullet at one time.

The other warning that always strikes me as odd is the ones on the exersize equiptment at the gym I go to that says to discontiue using the equiptment if you become tired, dizzy or have trouble breathing. Which is odd, because I thought being tired and out of breath were pretty much standard parts of working out. If I had heeded the warning, I probably would have had to get off the treadmill the first time I stepped on it - and I'd be 75 pounds or so heavier and 6 inches wider. It's hard for me to think I would have been better off following the warning.

I'm not going to go on and talk about how we have too many lawsuits and that's why we have all these silly warning labels - I think everyone has figured that out. But I do long for the day I can buy a package of hot dogs and not have to read a warning label.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Pack it up, pack it in....

If you check this blog, you've probably noticed that I've been posting even less than usual. For some odd reason, working 6 days a week, plus taking a 2-day a week night class, plus trying to move, makes it difficult for MadAnthony to do other things he enjoys - like reading for pleasure or going to the gym or blogging or sleeping.

I've been trying to force myself to pack at least one box a day. It's difficult to pack and to try to go on with everyday life - to figure out what stuff you need to live and what stuff can go into a box for the next couple weeks. This results in what I like to call "the paradox of packing" - the stuff you pack is the stuff that you use least, that is already stowed away. As a result, most of what I've packed so far is stuff I seldom use - boxes of random computer parts that I "might need someday", books from the bookshelf, clothing that I don't wear, dishes I don't use. This means that I now have a ton of boxes that I can't really get around, and a bunch of empty bookshelves and cabinets, and still have a ton of stuff left. It also means that I find myself wondering if I should be throwing more out. I tend to be a pack rat, and find myself saving stuff I don't need, like power cables - we have a ton of these where I work, to the point that we regularly throw them out, yet I saved a box of them in case I needed them. Granted, I've thrown a bunch of stuff out- everything from a jamming laser printer to a 6-year-old box of Tuna Helper - but I've kept much more.

I'm going to a Hamfest - basically a flea market for geeks - next week in the hopes of unloading some of the crap I don't need and don't have time to eBay, which should give me a couple bucks and a few boxes less junk. Granted, at least some of the junk I'm dealing with was purchased at previous Hamfests, so I run the risk of buying more junk than I sell. Granted, this means giving up a day I could be using for packing - Sunday is currently my one day off - but I'm hoping I get rid of enough stuff to make it worthwhile.

One thing that has suffered of late is my diet. I haven't gained any weight yet, but I've been eating way too much deep-fried cheese and not hitting the gym enough due to time constraints and laziness. My landlord also has the world's oldest treadmill, something I will miss when I move - I'll have to buy one of my own, thus spending money, something I always hate to do but do too much of.

Speaking of which, I'm also debating about buying a second vehicle. The college I work for is selling off some surplus vans, and I'm thinking that buying a van would be a good idea - I can use it to move and to save on delivery fees for the furniture, treadmill, grill, ect that I plan on buying for the new house. I would then either sell it and get back most of my investment or keep it as a second vehicle for when the PT is in the shop or I need to haul something - provided the van didn't blow up or anything. Of course, I would have to deal with the extra insurance and registration costs, and I'm not sure how cost-effective this idea is.

Well, that's the MadAnthony update.

Who killed the electric car? It was never born...

A couple days ago, I got some odd looks from coworkers when I started yelling at a movie trailer that was playing using the "Frontrow" feature of an iMac that we have set up for video conferencing via iChat.

The trailer was for Who Killed the Electric Car?, a movie that apparently centers around the GM EV1, an experimental electric car that GM made a limited production run of for testing purposes. EV1's were never sold - they were leased, and the terms of the lease said that the car would be turned in at the end. GM shredded the cars and stopped pursing electric vehicles, much to the dismay of the environmental tree-hugger crowd, and now they've come out with a movie about how it must be a vast conspiracy between the oil industry and the auto industry that killed the electric car.

I read tis book a while ago, so I'm pretty familiar with the EV1 story. The cynical view seems to be that the EV1 was a win-win for GM - if it suceeded, they would look good, but if it didn't they could say they tried and it was impossible.

But the EV1 was still held back by the biggest problem that faces electric cars - battery technology. Until someone comes up with a better battery, electric cars will always face a tradeoff.

There is a point in the trailer where someone - I think Richard Gere - says that electric cars would be perfect for "90% of the population". But I can't imagine that the EV1 would work for 90% of Americans, unless they own another, larger vehicle - the EV1 was a two-seater, had a range of less than 100 miles, and has to be charged. Good luck transporting the kids in a car with no backseat, or hauling stuff back from Home Depot. The problem is that batteries are large and heavy, and it's difficult to make a normal-sized car that can carry it's own weight for any distance. And for those of us who live in the city and don't have garages, it's rather difficult to plug a car in - I can't see myself running an extension cord from my apartment to the street below to plug in an electric car.

The fact that GM dumped billions into the EV1 suggests that they aren't part of a conspiracy to keep oil around, or the wouldn't have developed it at all. At one point in the movie trailer, a GM board member says that "GM invested in Hummer because they knew it would make them money." Surely that is evidence of a conspiracy - a company that wants to make money! Nevermind that that is why companies exist - to make profit - and that GM thought that they could make money selling Hummers not because they would force them down people's throats, but because people wanted them.

There is also a point in the trailer where someone says that there is a huge amount of oil left, and the industry wants to sell it - therefore there must be a conspiracy to keep down electric cars because they want to sell the rest of the oil. However, I think they are confusing cause and effect. It is true that the huge amount of oil that still remains has kept electric cars from becoming popular - but not because of a conspiracy. Oil is still fairly cheap, even if gas isn't as cheap as it used to be, and while it remains affordable it is difficult for consumers to justify spending a ton of money on an electric vehicle and sacrificing cargo space, people space, and the ability to not have to worry about running out of electricity. It's basic supply and demand - people don't need to substitute an inferior good like electric cars when the price of gas is low.

There are several comments that GM was shortsited in not developing the EV1. It is fair to say that GM isn't known for it's recent brilliant business moves, but I don't think that the treehuggers in this movie (including Ralph Nader) are business wizards themselves. My guess is that GM put some thought and ran some cost-benefit analysis and decided the EV1 wasn't worth it. And if electric cars were such a brilliant business move, other companies would probably be behind them - although the trailer focuses on GM, there is one part where they talk to a junkyard operator about "why are you shredding these new cars" - and the cars in question are a Honda EV prototype - which suggests that Honda came to the same conclusions as GM about the viablity of the electric vehicle.

The other problem I have with electric vehicle enthusists is that they frequently act like electric vehicles don't pollute at all. Sure, there are no tailpipe emissions, but modern gas cars have also become incredibly clean at the tailpipe - and the energy that drives electric cars still has to be produced somewhere, in power plants that use coal or nuclear power or hydroelectric power - all of which has it's own environmental issues. Producing power can't be done without any impact on the envirnoment - no human activity, including breathing, can, and to act like electric cars are totally nonpolluting is wrong.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A bit of cognative dissonance...

So I was behind a car on my way back from the gym today, driving down Falls Road, when the two bumper stickers on the mid-90's Chrysler Concord made me do a double take. Luckily, I had my camera phone (the LG VX8100) with me. Unfortunatly, it doesn't take great pictures...

here's the pic.

The red bumper sticker on the left says "Keep your doctor in Maryland. Stop lawsuit abuse." The sticker on the right is a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker.

Yup. A person who is concerned enough about medical malpractice lawsuit abuse to display a bumper sticker, but not concerned enough not to display a sticker advocating Edwards, who is a trial lawyer best known for suing doctors claiming that botched deliveries caused cerebral palsy - something that some have argued doesn't have much of a scientific basis.

It amazes me when people don't see a connection between, say, more government programs and higher taxes, and can't understand why they can't have more goverment programs, but still gripe at their tax bill. But it's rare that you see an example of this thinking so clearly.

Then again, the white bumper sticker on the top of that Concorde was for HomeStarRunner, so they can't be that bad...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mad Anthony's new iToy...

So last week, my boss was talking about how he felt the college I work for should buy a new laptop for him to use - so I mentioned that I felt that I would greatly increase my ability to support intel-based Macs if I had one of the new MacBooks that had just come out.

So he talked to his boss and got it approved - and I'm now the proud user of a 13" widescreen MacBook dual-core with a gig of ram and a sleek black finish.

My previous, personally-purchased laptop is/was a 12" Apple Powerbook 866. The MacBook is much nicer - the screen is way better, and much tougher, and I like the fact that it's widescreen. The remote and FrontRow are a nice touch, although I wonder how long it will be before I lose it - and I would have loved if Apple made the remote and power supply black to match the rest of the MacBook. It does match my black iPod Nano perfectly, though. The built-in iSight is a nice touch, and integrates smoothly.

Of course, I had to install BootCamp on it. Being able to run Windows on a Mac laptop is a huge bonus. I used my Powerbook mostly to take to my night MBA classes (mostly to kill time surfing the web before class) and with me traveling to my parent's house, and while it was rarely an issue, every now and then I wanted to run a piece of Windows-only software and couldn't.

Of course, it also demonstrated the perils of Windows. After installing BootCamp, partitioning the drive, and installing XP, I installed all the Windows updates, and then installed Symantec AV Corporate 10 - which promptly discovered Trojan.Adclicker. Yup, in the time it took to install the patches, I caught a virus. Darn Windows security.

I hope to take some pics later and update this post - haven't gotten a chance to yet.

And if you know anyone who is in the market for a gently-used 12" Powerbook G4, let me know....


I had to go to the mall yesterday. A professor at the college I worked at had a powerbook with a keyboard that wouldn't always show key presses, and was of course 14 days outside of warrenty. So after consultation with a few coworkers, I was off to the Apple Store after work to drop it off.

I've never been a mall person. My dad has always hated malls (his question - why would I want to go somewhere that sounds like maul?). In the past, I've tended to be ambivilent, but of late I've started to dislike the mall more and more.

Part of this is the deal hunter in me - it is rare that you find a good deal in a mall store. Mall stores are small, because space is expensive, so there is less chance that an item will sit around until it's marked down to a crazy low price, and mall store owners are less likely to take the risk of buying merchandise that may not sell. I find great deals at brick-and-morter mass merchandisers and catagory killers, and online, but almost never at a store in a mall.

And I, in general, dislike people, and the mall is always full of people - fat pushy women reminding me that I really could stand to lose a few pounds, annoyingly helpful store clerks when all I want to do is look around, and happy couples reminding me what a single loser I am.

There is one thing I do like about the mall - a Japanese Tepenyaki resturant that bsom got me hooked on. Of course, it was closed for renovation or replacement - I can't remember the name of the old place, and I'm pretty sure it was different than what was on the "coming soon" sign.

And to frustrate things more, my visit to the Apple store consisted of the guy reseting Open Firmware and saying it was fixed - and of course it worked then. Which means one of two outcomes, neither pleasant - I either totally misdiagnosed the issue and thus am a total nob job, or it actually is an issue with the keyboard and just happened to work at the time, which means I'll have an unhappy user with a computer that will be returned and stop working again... and I'll have to make another trip to the maul... I mean, mall.