Revisiting CD’s after iPod

Using the iPod for two or three years, I thought I was pretty much over CD’s. It was kind of a “How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm?” kind of thing. How can you go back after the convenience, selection, portability, quality, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the iPod. The design is brilliant to this day. The first time I put it in my hand and made some song selections, I went “this is the way it’s supposed to be.” I even splurged on a set of very decent headphones. I ripped my entire CD library to MP3, just like everyone else.

Something was missing. Some depth, some space, some imaging, some something. I found that something on the source CD’s played on very decent audio system with real speakers. I’m not sure this is going to make sense, but when I play an exceptional song on the iPod, I hear the music, and very well, too. When I play the source CD on my home system, I not only hear the music, I see it. I can tell where everything is placed in my head.

Most of the sound is there when I listen to the iPod. But there is a dimension missing. A dimension of space.

I have had a similar problem with remastered CD’s of albums that were originally released on vinyl. There is often something missing there. Usually, the CD sounds “colder” and “brighter” than what I remember the vinyl to be. Plus, if it is a remix, it’s usually pretty bad.

Will I go back to CD’s only now? Of course not. I’m not stupid. What I will do is to listen to my CD’s a bit more so I can remember the dimensions that I am missing and then use the iPod version to basically recall the images I hear when listening to a CD on good equipment.

This means that Anne is stuck with me having expensive equipment with pretty good size tower speakers. Sorry, dear.


Not sure about this post

When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, there was a pop culture term called the generation gap. It sort of is still in use today, but not really. The main premise is pretty self-explanatory. I have a 16 year old son and find myself on the other side of it.

I was raised by World War II vet (both of them), Irish-Scottish Catholics parents. For their generation, they were on the older side when they had their four children, of which I was the youngest. Classic baby-boomer profile, home in the ‘burbs in Connecticut and Dad commuted by train to New York City for work.

My son was born when I was 32, about the same age as my dad was when I was born. This generational spread (32+ years per generation) puts the 1800’s easily within two generations from me and three from my son. That’s somewhat of an anomaly.

Some changes seem to take generations to manifest. The longer the space between generations, the fewer chances of change and, maybe more importantly, more change has to take place between generations. Socially, the big change between my father (and his generation) and me is how to deal with people who are different. I really don’t know the specifics about how he felt about different ethic groups, because he knew that things had changed during the civil rights movement, but he couldn’t get a true handle on what it meant. This is a classic first generational reaction to change.

Every generation has touchstone dates. With my parents, most were related to WWII (Pearl Harbor, VE day, VJ day.) There is one more, that is the transitional date between me and them – the assassination of JFK. I was in Kindergarten, but I remember the reactions of everyone around me as my mom and I went to pick up my older sisters at school. I knew something was going on and it meant something. I don’t know if there were anymore true “dates of importance” for them.

The next one for me was the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember clearly when, when and how I heard the news and how things were different after hearing it than before. I getting a ride home with mom driving from swim lessons / award ceremonies for reaching some level of proficiency at the local Boy’s Club. We were on Glenville Rd between Valley Road and Sherwood Place in a 1964 green Ford Country Squire station wagon (I even remember the license plate and what month the registration tag expired – but that’s just more Tom craziness) when I heard the coverage on the radio.

Now, this event could have passed in my life very quickly. I grew up in a very rich suburb (we weren’t, but the town was.) Pretty darn white, great schools. Until 1962 (just a few years before we moved there,) the town I grew up in had the highest per capita income in the United States. Beverly Hills was #2. This is not a place where race relations needed to be a day-to day issue. It is where people hid from it. Some thought that was one of the things that they were paying for by living in this town.

Not sure what that was all about.

Anne asked me once about how I would feel if my son ended up dating someone from a different ethnic group or whatever. I thought about it for a bit and came to the conclusion that it mattered, but only in regards to making something that was hard – having a good relationship – even harder. I couldn’t care less about race, color, creed, gender, whatever. It’s not the issue.

The problem is that he is going to have to live with that relationship in the world. Anything out of the ordinary for society is going to cause some grief. As long as he knows this going into the relationship and is willing to still move forward with the relationship, who am I to care about appearances? The only thing I have to care about is that the relationship is emotionally good for him.

Without going into details, with all the struggles that we have been through with my son, the appearance of who he chooses to date is far down the list of things that I need to worry about.


Redefining the Fourth of July

I was in the parking lot of IHOP today with my son Patrick. We were talking about how the Fourth of July this year kind of didn’t mean much. It had in other years, but it seems to have lost some of it’s meaning and importance.

I realized that I had been through this before. The 4th has a tendency to reflect how we, both as individuals and as a people, see ourselves as Americans. This year seems to be more of a transitional year where people aren’t quite sure what it means.

This is a good thing. One thing for sure, Americans certainly can change their opinions of themselves. I remember this same kind of transition in the mid 1970’s. Between the effects of Watergate and the end of the Vietnam war, there was a change in how we viewed what it meant to be a patriotic American. Some would say that this happened in the 1960’s, but I disagree. The stuff in the 1960’s didn’t effect the Fourth of July. It did in the 70’s.

It’s happening now again. Five or six year past 9-11, several years into a war that is having problems by any one’s measure, we are somewhat adrift for who we are. We’ll figure it out.


p.s. While I am not the biggest 4th of July fan, as mentioned here and implied here, this year is demonstrably different.

Best comeback of all time?

Once at a social gathering, Gladstone said to Disraeli, “I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease”. Disraeli replied, “That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.”

Is this the best English language comeback of all time? Got a better one? Post it as a comment.


“No” means “No”, maybe

The interaction between the sales department and the IT department can be a very interesting thing. A lot of it relates to how you view the word “no.”

In IT, when we say “no,” we usually have a really good reason. The usual suspects for saying “no” are:

  • Something is going to fail
  • It won’t do what you want
  • It will be ridiculously expensive
  • It will be an horrendous amount of work for everyone.

I don’t want to say “no,” but when I do, I really mean it. I’m not being capricious, rash, or nasty (most of the time.) I have thought about it or have enough direct experience that I know what will happen. “No” is a conclusion , a result of rational and reasoned thought. That’s a lot of what IT folks get paid for.It has been my experience with better salespeople that “no” is the place where negotiations start. In their line of business, they are trained to overcome the “no” to get to where they think they need to be.

Thinking about it a little further, it is not only salespeople, but sometimes lawyers and anyone who have read too many books on the art of the deal or negotiations. Those folks seem to cluster in the sales department more than other areas, but they can exist in almost any department.

The IT department comes off as being hard-nose blankety-blanks who always get in the way of progress and the salespeople come off as selfish, not listening or not understanding basic English. Neither is true, but it certainly feels true to both sides.

I think part of the issue is also how you view decisions and opinions. When asked a question or for an opinion regarding a subject for which I am responsible, I take it very seriously. It may not take a lot of time, but the answer you get from me will be my best effort to make what you want happen to happen in the best possible way. Sometimes, given certain restraints, you are better off not doing it the way it was presented.
When the negotiations over “no” start, I can get to the point where I feel that you asked for my somewhat expert opinion, I gave it to you, and the negotiations are not adding any new information that will change my mind. You asked for my opinion, I gave it. Normally, you are not going to be able to negotiate me off of a technical concern. If you want to overrule me, that’s OK too. I understand that I am not going to win every battle. Just don’t ever think you are going to win the technical argument. When I get overruled over a “no”, that’s usually not fun, because of the reasons for “no” outlined above. I just have to change the parameters to mitigate the damage or live with consequences. That’s life. It’s OK.

It took me the longest time to understand what was happening. Now that I do, I try to remember what “no” means. That’s something I thought I learned when I was about 2 or 3. Live and learn, I guess. TomOriginally written on 25 June 2007, heavily modified 26 June 2007, 7:00am PDT

$200 trash cans

I was at Linens ‘n Things last night. Anne was looking for something, I forget what. In touring the store, I noticed a standard, everyday kitchen trash can for $200. Now, who really needs a $200 trash can? If you want a trash can that expensive, I would normally say that’s your business, and why should I care?

There is a problem, though. Just by the fact that there are $200 trash cans in the market, all of a sudden almost all the prices of standard trash cans have gone up. Because in comparison to $200, they are still inexpensive. I have been noticing this a lot recently, where the entire market for an item is being pulled up by the craziness at the top.

Stop the insanity! Don’t buy the $200 trash cans or the $30+ lb Yukon River salmon. It raises the entire market and we end up paying more for normal wares. So you buying that expensive stuff you really don’t need costs me money. Cut it out.


p.s. If you are going to buy crazy stuff like this, please do it for wine, beer, liquor, cigars, cigarettes or a junket to Las Vegas. I don’t participate in those markets. So I would much rather you buy a $200 bottle of wine than that stupid trash can. Yes, I am being petty and greedy. That’s what free markets are all about.

Quick Browser Comparison

So Apple thinks Safari is a good browser. Internet Explorer is the 500-pound gorilla. FireFox is the upstart, open-source, viva la revolucion, browser. Opera is, well, Opera. Are there differences? Does it matter?

In order, yes there are some differences and it sort of matters.

They all are going to take you to the same pages. They all are going to let you search. So in that sense, it’s not that big a deal.

I already had IE7 loaded on my computer, so I downloaded the newest version of Safari (beta), FireFox ( and Opera (9.21). They were installed within 30 minutes of each other. All 3 installed flawlessly, including picking up some tricky proxy settings from the Internet Explorer connections settings.

There are differences in how pages display. While this is somewhat subjective, I think that, in order, the displays go to Internet Explorer, then FireFox, then Opera, then Safari pretty far behind. The links are a sample screen shot of the same page in each of the browsers.

  • Internet Explorer has the advantage in that a lot of sites are designed to look good in IE over anything else. It is never the worst looking page, and usually the best looking overall. Sometimes Safari does a better job especially with larger headline and caption fonts. It is not as fast as FireFox to refresh a page, but faster than Opera and Safari.
  • FireFox does a good job on matching the vertical and horizontal spacing of IE, but uses a slightly different font set that may not be as appealing. Usually, body text is fine, but larger headlines and captions can be pretty bad – sometimes the worst of the bunch. It is the fastest to refresh a page.
  • Opera displays the fonts better than FireFox, but it’s vertical spacing is way different than FireFox or Internet Explorer. It is pretty fast, but not noticeable faster than IE, and slower than FireFox. It also does not have a home page button out of the box. You have to add it to your toolbar.
  • Safari for Windows is a beta, so I am not that upset yet. It has the most inconsistent display fonts. Some pages look great (maybe the best of the bunch) and some pages look horrible (the worse of the bunch.) The vertical spacing is better than Opera, but still tighter than FireFox and IE. It had the sllloooowwwwest refresh rate of any of them. It also does not have a home page button out of the box. You have to add it to your toolbar.

So, what does this mean?

  1. Internet Explorer is still the browser to beat.
  2. FireFox could be the browser to do it, but it is just short of slaying the Microsoft beast. I can certainly see using this as your primary browser.
  3. Opera is still pretty niche. It’s vertical spacing problem really can mess up the comparisons.
  4. If the full release version of Safari is not a vast improvement over this beta version, skip it.

Tomp.s. This is ongoing project. I will make updates to this post or add comments as appropriate

Hey, I’m still at this

It is surprising to me that I am still blogging. This was supposed to be a little demonstration project. I had no plans to continue blogging, just as I had no plans to stop at any particular time.

One of the things that I have struggled over in this medium is how much to share and how much to keep to myself. This is becoming a generational issue. Most kids today (mine included) have no compunction at all on what is said to them, about them, or by them on websites, or any other media. There seems to be a more limited view on privacy. This is not a horrible thing, but it is difficult for me.

As I have state previously, I am an introvert. Even doing something as simple as this blog is somewhat of a departure. I have no delusions of grandeur on what this means. It is not fantastic writing by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, I can put a few words together into a cogent sentence, but it does not seem to me to be much more than that. All this means is that I paid attention in English and Lit classes in high school and college.

This platform allows for both a sense of connection and a sense of anonymity or a degree of separation. I don’t have to look you in the eye when you read this. You don’t have to sit there listening to me babble on. You can read this or not. It’s your choice, and I’ll never know.

I have always been guilty of “sins of ommision” rather than “sins of commission”. Sorry about that – Catholic upbringing rearing its’ ugly head. This can seem like a much easier path through life. The less you do, the less are responsible for. At some point, though, this is no longer helpful. Some people never reach that. Lucky for them, I guess.

When you reach that point, the cost of not doing exceeds the cost of doing. This is still a new concept for me. I still define myself it terms of what I don’t do, instead of what I do. The fact that I am still writing about that and telling you this means that things are different.