PhillipBlanton.com

Phillip H. Blanton invites you and a guest to talk about him.

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. 

iMac Core i7


I am a software developer. I write software that targets the Microsoft .NET framework. I have switched to a Mac for all of my development work. You can too.

About a year ago, I bought a 15" Macbook pro for my 16 year-old daughter, for her birthday. I was on a business trip to Oak RIdge, Tennessee and took her new laptop with me before i gave it to her. While on the trip, I fell in love with the operating system.

For the past eight years or so, I have done all my work on a VMWare virtual machine. I haven't installed a development environment on my host operating system in as long. Therefore, the switch to Mac was seamless. I purchased VWare Fusion (for mac), ~$70, and just copied my virtual machines over to the new mac without a hitch. VMWare Fusion ran my old PC VM's without any problems.

When my wife decided that she needed a new laptop (and asked for a cheap netbook), I purchased her a 13" Macbook Pro. She fell in love with it immediately. Later, I needed to replace my old HP laptop with a faster one. I decided on a  unibody, 15" Macbook Pro and am soooo happy I did.

Recently it came time to replace my desktop with a new machine. I had been using the same virtual machines, copying them back and forth from my old Windows desktop to my new Macbook Pro. I decided to go all the way and replace my desktop with a Mac. I had researched a little and bought a 27" base model iMac. After a little research (on the new iMac) I decided that I had made a mistake. I wanted the new Intel Core i7, 27" iMac instead.

I went back to the Apple store in Colorado Springs, where I had purchased the new iMac not a week earlier. They said that although they don't carry the Core i7 iMac, they will be happy to take this one back and not charge me any restocking fee as long as I order my new Core i7 iMac from their store.

So, tomorrow, I plan on returning this beautiful new, 27" Core 2 Duo iMac, and ordering a new 27" Quad Core i7 iMac and paying them an extra $500. It will take a week or so to receive my new, hairy-chested iMac, but it will be well worth the wait. Did you know that the new Core i7 iMac will hyper-thread eight processor cores? Did you know that the new Core i7 iMac has a powerful ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card with 512MB of GDDR3 memory?

Yeah. Me either. But it does.

According to independent benchmarks, the new iMac is far more powerful than the Mac Pro at about half the price. Especially considering the fact that the Mac Pro doesn't even offer a 27" monitor option.

If you are a Windows developer, I highly recommend upgrading your development machines to Mac.

Update:
The Core i7 iMacs are delayed three weeks. Apparently they are so popular that Apple hasn't all the parts they need to keep up with the demand. I ordered mine with the remote control and I see that it has shipped, but the computer itself won't ship until about the 12th of February, and I won't likely get it until the middle of the following week. Here's hoping that it all comes together a bit earlier.  On the plus side, they won't charge my credit card until the computer ships.

More Update:
I placed my order from the Apple store on Friday Jan 22. I got an email last night at 11:49 PM, that says my new iMac shipped yesterday. Only one week and five days from the time I ordered it. Apparently the three week lead time has a lot of wiggle room in it for the iMac factory. Hopefully Apple has solved the screen problems with the 27" iMac. FedEx is showing the estimated delivery date as Feb 8 (Monday), so I am very excited.