They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

PC blues, iPod stuff

First, the new computer wouldn't burn DVDs. As I mentioned below, I was concerned that it was getting too hot in the cabinet, so I moved it out sit behind the subwoofer in a corner of the room. No help. I called HP. This was the second time. The first time that I called, the nice man in Mumbai told me that I need to have Lightscribe disks. I subsequently found out that this was not true. A Lightscribe drive can burn to any disk, only needs Lightscribe disks to burn labels. Anyway, I had tried that before calling back. This time (it was Saturday morning) it took me twice to get somebody that I could understand and that had a decent connection. My intention was to have them ship me a new PC or a new drive and then ship them back the old one when the data was transferred. The guy asked me a bunch of questions and concluded that "the drive is working". I disagreed but he contended that since I could read DVDs it was working. My only option was be transferred to another nice subcontinental fellow who would charge me $60 for the privilege of speaking to him. IF that person agreed that it was an HP problem and not my fault, then they would waive the charge. Right about this time Mike came to the door to take me to Lowe's to buy some cabinets for the garage. I had no time for this nonsense so I chewed the guy out and hung up.

My options appeared to be:
  1. Take the thing back to Best Buy with the same story
  2. Roll the dice on this dubious sounding $60 venture
  3. Give up. I hadn't needed a DVD burner and would have paid the same amount for a PC that didn't have one. It was just a matter of principle.

I spent the rest of the day and most of the next dealing with the garage. On Sunday night I noticed that the Squeezebox was not lit up, which happens when it can't connect to the server (which runs on the PC we are talking about). This will normally happen when it loses its wireless connection. But it stayed that way. I switched the plasma over to PC mode and there was nothing there. I checked the PC and it was off. I couldn't make it come on without pulling the power cord, reinserting it, and turning it on. It came up OK, the Squeezebox came on and I switched back over to watching TV. A little later I noticed this happened again. Some time the next morning I had determined that it couldn't stay up for more than about 5 minutes.

This was great. I had a demonstrably dead soldier on my hands that Best Buy would take back without question, which they did. They had it in stock and I now have a new PC, which can burn DVDs. What had I lost? Not much other than the work of setting the PC up the way I wanted it and a $1.99 episode of Dragnet that I downloaded from iTunes. I had my iTunes library on the Nano, right? All I had to do was load them back down to the new PC. It turns out that this is not so easy...

If you hook up an ipod to a different computer than the one you are synched with, iTunes will tell you that and ask you if you would like to wipe out the songs on the iPod and replace them with the ones from the (in my case empty) library on the new computer. If you answer no, it will bring up your iPod in iTunes but the songs are grayed and you very specifically can't drag them to your library. I guess they don't want people sharing songs. Here is what I did:

Enable disc access to the iPod. That mounts the ipod as a drive which you can then access like any other files. If you drill down you find the songs. Unfortunately they are in folder named F00, F01, etc. all with names like XHRW.mp3. So if you relied on the file names for anything, you had lost them. After some experimentation I found that if you enabled the option that allows iTunes to manage the filenames, etc. AND told it to copy a file into the iTunes hierarchy, that it would place it in a folder under artist and album AND construct a meaningful name. So the procedure was to copy each folder of songs off the iPod into a temporary folder, then tell iTunes to import all of the songs in that folder. When done, you have all of the songs from the iPod in your library, organized in a reasonable fashion. You can then tell iTunes to update your iPod, effectively putting back what it already has. You can also delete the folder of temporary files. Turning off disk access is good too because with it on you have to manually eject the ipod in the application before removing it from the dock.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Been Away

When we last spoke, Michigan had lost to Ohio State. Things have only gotten worse. Although Ohio State DID get into a BCS Bowl, somehow that got Iowa into a Jan 2 bowl, not Michigan. What was worse was that Michigan lost the Alamo Bowl to Nebraska. Worse than that, Ohio State WON the Fiesta Bowl. And the national championship went the wrong way too. ugh

Got a Squeezbox for my birthday. Very cool.

Have made a lot of the reservations for our European trip in March.

AA 870 PHX 03/17 02:26 PM DFW 03/17 05:48 PM First
AA 78 DFW 03/17 06:55 PM LGW 03/18 09:55 AM Business
AA 6643 LHR 03/18 02:35 PM VIE 03/18/2006 05:50 PM Economy

Vienna: Danube Hilton 3/18-3/19
Amstetten: Hotel Exel 3/19-3/22
Budapest: Budapest Hilton 3/22-3/24
Vienna: Hotel Altstadt 3/24-3/27

HG 8734 VIE 03/27 2:30 PM CDG 03/27 4:15 PM Economy

Paris: Hôtel Waldorf Montparnasse 3/27-3/30

Eurostar 9019 Paris Nord 03/30 10:19 AM London Waterloo 03/30 11:54 AM

London: Trafalgar London 3/30-3/31

AA 81 LGW 03/31 12:55 PM DFW 03/31 04:10 PM Business
AA 1807 DFW 03/31 06:01 PM PHX 03/31 07:38 PM First

Notes: Yes, we are flying into Gatwick and transferring to Heathrow. We need to take a bus but there appears to be plenty of time. I will be alone in coach on the London to Vienna flight. Due to the way we got the tickets, Susan will be in business class and I will be in the back somewhere.

We purchased European East railpasses, which will work in Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, plus some other places that we aren't going to. Unlimited first class travel on any 6 days. John will be with us but as an Austrian resident he is not eligible for this, plus he has a couple of cards that will reduce the cost of his tickets, one inside Austria, the other outside.

On 3/29 in Paris we are doing a Paris Market Tour, conducted by this guy.

I got a lot of neat stuff over the holidays. I bought a computer to work with the entertainment center. This thing is really small, can sit on its side in the cabinet with the other components. Unfortunately, it doesn't get adequate ventilation and I am having to move it elsewhere, but it does everything I wanted it to. For Christmas I got a framed (actually haven't seen it framed yet) poster of the closing of Tiger Stadium. Also a bluetooth car kit, the Bob Dylan scrapbook, along with some movies, books and other things that I am forgetting to mention. After Christmas Susan surprised me with telling me I should buy an Ipod Nano, which I did, immediately upon her telling me (we were in the Apple Store at Chandler Fashion Square). Got the black one with 4GB.