PhillipBlanton.com

"Save me, oh God, from people who have no sense of humor."
— Ludlow Porch

The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph for $6? Still Too Expensive.

As almost all newspapers are today, the Gazette Telegraph is crappy. Their slanted "reporting" and condescending editorials are just plain offensive; all while their subscription rates continuously increase. So, about two years ago I canceled our subscription and I haven't looked back. Today I got the following email from them...

This is my reply...

$6 for only the Sunday edition for three months? You people are pathetic. Your paper isn't worth even that anymore.

I will however, offer to pay you $5 per month for all editions. That's seven days a week of newspaper service for $5 per month. Not a limited trial price, or introductory price, but $5 per month for all editions, for as long as I care to receive them.

I still think that's too much, but my dog, Tank is trained to bring in the paper each morning and he LOVES it. I'll pay $3 per month so that he can have his job back. Another benefit that I can think of is that I'll have paper to use for starting fires and that's worth about $2 per month. When I canceled your stupid paper, I didn't realize how valuable having a steady supply of fire-starter was.

So, for $5 per month I'll allow you to deliver your "news" paper to my house every morning. You can boast to your advertisers about a new, paid subscriber; I'll have my fire-starter and my dog will be happy to bring it in to me every day. It's a win-win for everyone!

I'll send you $60 for the year and I look forward to delivery resuming soon.

With Warmest Regards,
Phillip H. Blanton

Update: The Gazette replied and offered me seven days of newspaper deliver for $69 per year. I accepted, so Tank will be fetching them again soon. By the way, here is a video of Tank fetching the paper.

This is what's wrong with the Kindle (and by extension, the Apple iPad Bookstore)

I own a Kindle. When I first bought it I was lured with the promise of getting elctronic versions of my books at a substantial discount. It makes sense. The production of an electronic version of a book is completed in one step. That electronic book can then be copied an infinite number of times at a very very tiny cost; much less than one cent per copy. Conversely, paper books must be created in production runs that require people to set up the presses, run the presses, maintain the presses, continually feed raw material - ink and paper - into the presses, etc... Not to mention the cost of storage, transportation, handling. The cost of producing a paper book is orders of magnitude greater than producing a copy of an electronic book. Additionally, the normal rules of supply and demand don't work with electronic books since there is no real limit on supply. 

The retail price of the electronic book should reflect these actualities, but it doesn't. I expected pricing on electronic books to shake out over time, and settle in at something in the $4 to $7 range. When I see this on the Amazon website...

I realize that the Kindle and iPad and Sony book readers will NEVER be as popular as they can be. At least not until the ebook sellers get the pricing in order. At comparable prices to the paper book, I will always buy paper before the electronic version.

The New Logitech G330 Headset Rocks! --- NOT

Update:
I was wrong. I bought this headset on March 18, and here it is March 26, and the microphone has quit. A $50 headset with a microphone that lasts somewhat less than eight days. Why can't I buy a good headset? My HP headset still works, but it is so painfully uncomfortable that it is useless. I'm not cheap. I am willing to spend good money for a good headset. WHY CAN'T I FIND ONE???


I am a software developer and I work with geographically distributed teams. I use Skype and other VOIP systems on a daily basis, so a good headset is mandatory. Until today the best headset i had was a cheapo, behind-the-neck headset my wife bought me at the Loveland Wal-Mart when we were visiting there and I forgot to bring my expensive Plantronics headset. I have used the cheapo headset for going on three years now and it is flawless. Comfortable, clear, Works consistently. Unfortunately I guess Wal-Mart quit carrying it because I have been unable to replace it.

Today, while killing time at the local Best Buy I found a nice behind-the-neck headset from Logitech that I thought might do the trick. Unfortunately it was $50, so I balked a bit. I eventually ended up buying it and giving it a try. I am so glad I did. Though it was a little expensive, it is awesome. It's super comfortable and has great sound. You can tell by the foam on the earpads that is is a high-quality headset. It is a Logitech G330 "Gaming" headset. Normally the "gaming" label would have put me off, but I think they are just using that word to justify the high price tag.

I will now be selling two headsets on EBay. They are both Microsoft branded headsets (all Microsoft branded headsets suck). I have also used a number of Plantronics behind-the-neck headsets, and while they are fine headsets with good sound, they don't last long. I have been through three high-priced Plantronics sets that each crapped out after about eight months. Since I am not renting headsets, I expect them to last longer than that.

Hers's hoping that the new Logitech G330 outlasts the Plantronics junk. 

Short Ebay Item Links

I posted this once before, but lost it when I moved the blog contents here from Radwarrior.com, so I am re-creating the post.

Have you ever wanted to email an ebay link to someone but hated copying and pasting the mile-long link?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Flightcom-4DLX-Classic-Headsets-Set-of-2_W0QQitemZ270530825553QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotors_Aviation_Parts_Gear?hash=item3efce4cd51

I don't know why EBay has to have such ugly, long links. There is a way to shorterize them yourself, without using a service like http://bit.ly, or http://tinyurl.com. All you have to do is hand craft the link on http://gci.ebay.com?viewitem&item= <item number>. Here's the same item with the short link...

http://cgi.ebay.com?ViewItem&item=270530825553

There's also a way to make a nice, short link to your ebay seller's page.

http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/pblanton

Just replaced the Windows 7 Bootcamp Partition with OpenSUSE 11.2

openSUSE.org

And it is the finest Linux distribution I have ever used. I used to use SUSE back in the 2001-2004 time, before Novell bought it. I liked buying the boxed version at Best Buy or CompUSA. After Novell bought it, they jacked up the price and it went away from the retailers. I'd heard good things about this upstart Ubuntu distro and that is what I started using. When OpenSUSE came out, I stuck with Ubuntu, because I liked it. Recently though I was wanting to try out a new distribution on a Windows machine I was upgrading to Linux, and the OpenSUSE with the latest KDE blew me away.

After getting my new Core i7, 27" iMac, I was thinking about setting up the Boot Camp partition with Windows 7, but thought I'd try OpenSUSE on Boot Camp. I downloaded the freshly released 11.2 in 64-bit and was hooked. I can run Windows 7 in a Fusion Virtual Machine without any trouble, so my newly carved out Boot Camp partition goes OpenSUSE. My machine is *nix to the metal. It's a good feeling.

If you are a Windows developer and are looking for a nice, clean operating system for a change (Yeah, I know Windows 7 is the bomb. I don't care), I heartily recommend upgrading to a Mac, and Boot Camping, 64-bit style with OpenSUSE Linux.

Lorem Ipsum Filler Text in Javascript.

I do page layouts for websites sometimes and I often find myself going to http://lipsum.com, in order to find satisfactory filler text. Today I needed something a little more dynamic for testing a fluid page layout. I ended up writing a javascript function that you can call from within your asp.net page in order to dynamically create some filler text. Saves me a trip to lipsum.com, and is easy to use. it's been added to my standard debug.js file. Here it is…

<script type="text/javascript">
var chunkCount = 5;
var minChunksPerPara = 3;
var chunk1 = 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.';
var chunk2 = 'Nunc vitae dignissim turpis. Nulla eleifend felis sed velit molestie non fermentum nibh pellentesque.';
var chunk3 = 'Duis egestas dapibus felis ut posuere.';
var chunk4 = 'Ut nec neque eu lacus pulvinar commodo et vel diam. Integer semper adipiscing enim eu tempus.';
var lorem = ['p', chunk1, chunk2, chunk3, chunk4];
/* The number of chunks written to the current paragraph. */
var paraChunkCount = 0;
/* Minimum number of chunks to write per paragraph. Larger number means larger paragraphs. */
function fillLorem(chunks) {
	document.write('<p>' + chunk1 + ' ');
	for (var i = 0; i < chunks; i++) {
		var chunk = lorem[Math.floor(Math.random() * chunkCount)];
		if (chunk == 'p') {
			i--; /* decrement i, or else we'll lose a printed chunk for every p. */
			if (paraChunkCount >= minChunksPerPara) {
				/* we're writing the end of a paragraph and starting a new one. */
				paraChunkCount = 0;
				document.write('</p><p>');
				paraChunkCount = 0;
			}
		}
		else {
			/* We're writing the current chunk to the current paragraph. */
			document.write(chunk + ' ');
			paraChunkCount++;
		}
	}
	document.write('</p>');
}
</script>

…and here is how to use it:

<script type="text/javascript">fillLorem(50)</script>

That will create a filler text block made up of a random selection of fifty of chunk1 through chunk4. If you want a more natural looking Lipsum (fewer repeated passages), increase the number of chunks to something greater than four, and change the chunkCount variable to one greater than the number of chunks you have (one greater, because the 'p' is a chunk and needs to be represented in chunkCount).

Enjoy!

Drinking at 9:00 AM is totally acceptable behavior in the airport.

While waiting in the Denver airport, for an 11:10 AM flight to nashville, tennessee, I am sitting at a Quizno's in terminal A, that happens to be next door to a bar. The bar seems to be loosely associated with the Quizno's, because the barmaid keeps hawking Quizno's sandwiches and salads to the bar patrons. 

Many bar patrons are drinking beer, whisky and gin drinks at 9:00 AM. This would be totally unacceptable behavior outside of an airport setting. Apparently since airport patrons have been or will be traveling. The time zone excuse makes for a drinky drinkin' good time! 

The barmaid seems to be in her late thirties, and is enjoying the heck out of offering a "hot weenie" to every person who stops by. Apparently the Quizno's here offers a "hot weenie" sandwich on the menu. She seems to be cleaning up on the tips.   I am sitting near a "25-year-old" kid who's washing down a Quizno's Turkey Sub with a bud-lite; at 9:00 AM!  It's surreal.

The barmaid was nice enough to refill the water bottle that I had to dump out before crossing into the airport's "secure zone". She even refilled it with soda water for free! ... but I did buy a caesar salad from her.

Why I won't extend my Skype In number.

I have had a Skype In number for a few years. When I first bought it, it cost me about $20 per year. I thought that was a good price for having a real number that people could use to call me on Skype. That and the ability to have Skype forward all calls to my cell phone when I wasn't at the computer, made my SkypeIn number very useful.

Last year, when I went to extend the number for another year, the cost had gone up to $35 I think. I moaned, and paid it. It was still a good value.

This year, I went to extend my Skype In number and see that it has increased again to $60 per year, plus they have changed Skype Out to a subscription-based service that they want $2.95 per month for. Skype Out used to be a service that came with Skype In for free. Now, they offer a discount for Skype In, as long as you buy a Skype Out subscription at the same time, but the price has still increased by about 100% overall in the last year.

I see a trend here. I don't want to spend any more time, dependent on a service that insists on doubling its rate every year. I like Skype and think it is may be the best VOIP service out there, but if outfits like Magic Jack can give me a phone number and unlimited VOIP service for $20 per year AND include custom hardware (to be fair they charge $40 for the first year to offset the hardware costs), then Skype's prices are gouging pure and simple.

The whole point of Skype and what makes it so attractive is the low-cost. If they continue to pursue this high-cost path then the service becomes much less compelling. EBay buying Skype has been the worst thing to happen to the service since its inception. I won't continue to support it financially until I am convinced that it is returning to its roots.