So, I have been spending a bit of time trying to decide whether to buy a juicer (Super Angel 5500 vs. Omega 8004 or 8006) or a blender. Sure, they do very different things, and I will probably wind up with both at the end of the day … but as of today I have pulled the trigger on a Blendtec blender (available at Costco.com for a pretty good price, with two jars for a “limited time”) and then I went ahead (before taking delivery) and ordered the “Twister” jar, which is supposed to be great for making nut butters (on sale at Blendtec.com if you use the promotion code, in all caps, TWISTER) to save $30.
I should be receiving both this week. My wife will probably kill me when she sees that this damned thing comes with 3 “jars” — what the hell do I need 3 freaking jars for!? I can hear it now.
I may use one jar for grinding grains… I really like the idea of buying brown rice, turning it into flour and then making pancakes with it. I also like the idea of making some baby foods as well as green smoothies and strawberry banana sorbets. The practice may be completely different. We shall see.
I chose Blendtec over Vitamix, for several reasons, some of which may not be valid.
First, to my ear listening to them on You-Tube, the Vitamix sounded louder. Reviews say otherwise. Maybe it is pitch instead of volume, but to my ear the Vitamix sounded louder. Indeed, I looked into buying “The Quiet One” which is the Vitamix brand in use at Starbucks. But I am pretty sure I need a special electrical outlet to use the commercial product, plus the warranty is not as good for consumer use, so I didn’t want to spend so much more on a blender with a less favorable warranty, even if it would be very quiet (in comparison).
Second, if I don’t need a sharp blade at the bottom of my blender, I prefer not to have one. If I ever cut myself by doing something stupid while cleaning out peanut butter, I would be kicking myself to no end, saying “why didn’t I get the Blendtec with its dull blade!”
Third, even though the presets may not be all that great, I like the idea of a “smoothie” button, a “sauce” button and a “soup button”. I understand some vitamix models have the presets as well, but they were not being sold by Costco.com, and quite honestly, I am not spending this much on a blender without having complete comfort that I can return it whenever I want. If I don’t like the thing, or find that I don’t use it, it is going back to Costco. I’ll wind up with a “twister jar” that I spent $100, which I will sell on E-bay if necessary.
I don’t care so much which product works “better” than the other, or which product is “better for me” — at least I don’t care enough to buy both even with Costco’s generous return policy. The Blendtec was less expensive, looks better and seems more idiot proof. Plus, i have some old Apple products that I may want to blend. (That’s a joke).
I have not been diving in a long time … and so maybe, just maybe, this blog will change direction….again.
We are new parents as of a few weeks ago. A few weeks before that, New York State began screening newborns for a very rare and very serious condition known as SCIDS, a condition which if left untreated leads to the death of most people within the first year of life, but if treated in the first few months, can be cured and lead to survival rate of 95% though bone marrow or cord blood treatment.
We knew nothing about this before Tuesday afternoon. On Monday afternoon, we visited the pediatrician and were told he wanted to see if our baby could gain more weight by Wednesday, so we went home with a mission. Wake, change, feed, wake and supplement. Growing a baby is tiring. So on Tuesday, we napped for 90 minutes, and woke up to find a message on the machine… “Hello, this is Lauren from your pediatrician’s office, the doctor has been trying to reach you for over two hours, please call.”
Now this was odd, since we saw the doctor the previous day and were going see the doctor the following morning. When I returned the call at 4:13, the office told me again that they were trying to reach for over two hours, and I asked what the problem was. They told me that one of our son’s tests came back positive, and because they could not reach us they made an appointment for us to see a specialist the following day at 2pm. She gave me the new doctor’s contact information and address, so I called her and wound up in voicemail. I looked her up to see she specialized in allergies and immunology.
I also looked at the phone log and saw that the pediatrician’s office had called at 3:12, 3:17, 3:21, 3:26, 3:42, 3:51, 3:58, and the message was left at 4:05. WOW! I do not believe I ever tried to reach anybody so desperately. What was so important?
I called my pediatrician’s office back and told them it has been 30 minutes but I did not get a return call from the specialist, so I wanted go confirm we had the appointment even if I did not hear back. She said yes, and I asked what this was all about. She told me that our boy’s test results came back positive for Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, or SCIDS. She also told us that our pediatrician was not in today but that he would be told first thing in the morning before we were to see him for our 9:30 appointment with him.
After hanging up, I hit Google and learned enough to know we were in a lot of trouble. I read that SCIDS was considered a pediatric emergency and this was consistent with being called 8 times and having an appointment scheduled for us all in the course of an hour.
It turns out that our baby does not have SCIDS. New York recently (less then two months ago) started screening for SCIDS, and this simply means that babies would be tested for certain traits and if they tested positively they would need follow up testing. In other words, there are going to be a lot of false positive test results. Our baby does have a very low T-cell count and therefore has a very compromised immune system that requires monitoring but which may also fix itself over the coming weeks. However, he has more T-cells than a SCIDS baby would have, so we are not facing the worst immune deficiency disorder and he may very well out grow this over time.
Needless to say, we are quite relieved and quite annoyed. Our pediatrician’s office really messed up badly. The news should not have been conveyed by a non doctor and the doctor should have known about the test results when we arrived the following day. He did not. And he let us go to the hospital to have the sonogram done where we sat in a waiting room for over an hour. I should have known better and canceled the sonogram so we were not around potentially contagious people. He should have taken this more seriously then he did. And his staff should not have panicked us by telling us he had a condition he did not. When we went to the immunologist, before we had our insurance card copied, a nurse swept in and took us to a private room so we would not be around sick people. My pediatrician took no such precaution either because he was thoughtless or because he was never told about the screening result. Either way, not cool.
We will know more when he is retested and when other test results come back over the next couple of weeks. In the interim, we will be looking for a new pediatrician. Hopefully, other new parents will be spared this anxiety. And hopefully other pediatricians will not make the same mistake and implement more appropriate communication procedures.
This is one diver’s perspective.
Apple stock is more worthless than the stock of nearly every other company. This is not a criticism of the company, or its products, but of the stock market in general.
Unlike many stocks, Apple does not pay its shareholders a dividend. Therefore, its shareholders receive nothing by virtue of owning the company and must rely on the possibility of there being another person who is willing to pay more for the stock than the shareholders did, in order to realize any benefit from ownership.
Now, it is true, as a shareholder one has the right to vote, but such a right is hardly worth the cost of ownership, and offers no tangible benefit. Theoretically, any non-dividend paying stock offers the same drawbacks, but Apple is somewhat unique. With virtually every other company, there remains the possibility that another company or investor will take the accompany “private” or otherwise acquire it, and pay the shareholders for their ownership interests. However, Apple is a large company, representing 20% of the NASDAQ 100, in addition to which it has tens of billions of dollars in cash, making it an impossible takeover candidate at today’s prices.
Which brings me back to my original thesis, that the stock is worth nothing except what someone else might be willing pay for it. If the stock paid a dividend, it would be worth the present value of all future dividend payments, regardless of whether anybody was willing to purchase the stock from its current shareholders.
I have realized tens of thousands of dollars in gains, buying and selling Apple stock, and I expect others have done even better. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize it is a foolish company to invest in. All the more so because so much of the company’s perceived fortunes (and therefore, its stock price) is dependent upon the health and wellbeing of Steve Jobs, who, despite what some may think, is a mortal man, subject to certainty of death, which will nearly certainly cause the stock price to plummet, at least temporarily.
I for one wold prefer to own a solid company paying a solid dividend, and hope that it will be taken over one day, with a premium paid to existing shareholders. That is just not something that is remotely possible with Apple, precisely because it has become so successful and so large. One day like Microsoft did, perhaps it will declare a dividend. Until that time, I will strongly consider selling my position, or reducing it substantially.
Last night I had the brilliant idea of capturing the domain names, iPorn and iPadPorn, in the hopes that some sleazy publisher would have to beg me to buy my clever domain name for an outrageous sum of money (thinking of the sex.com website auction).
This morning, I found that both names were taken. And I also was surprised to see just how clearly and beautiful the video rendered. I was equally surprised to see that pinching and zooming actually works on the video, making it like one is directing the film.
Apple has come down hard on Flash, associating it with Porn, and Mr. Jobs has said his device was porn free. The truth is, Apple has created a locked down device that ensures that visiting poronographic sites will be safe. No threat of viruses, no downloaded malware. Just pure, unadulterated porn. The iPad is, in essence, the ideal tool for viewing pornography.
Parents, beware. The device is a tool, and not simply the tool of angels and fairies. It can be used to view anything and everything, for better or for worse.
I was surprised to learn that the iPad edition of the Wall Street Journal, a paid subscription based product, is missing at least two critical items. One feature, and one section. Both missing items are quite ironic given the nature of the product.
The missing feature is a “search” function. One should be able to search the entire paper for a word or phrase. In the paper version, you have a “Names in the News” and “Companies in the News” section so you can find where items of interest appear in the paper. However, on the electronic version, you are required to read through the entire paper to find if your company or person is in the paper. Why on earth would an electronic paper not include an option to search?
Perhaps they want to make sure you hit the advertisements. But if that were the case, then they should link the advertising pop-up to the search feature. It would be annoying, but at least I could search and they can ensure the ads are viewed.
The other missing item is the Technology Section of the paper. One would think that for the iPad, the paper would include the technology section. Perhaps a decision was made to force techno-inclined readers to buy the paper version if they wanted to read about technology. Frankly, I think both decisions were very poorly thought out.
I have received two telemarketing calls since I have subscribed to the iPad edition of the WSJ – and both callers sought to sell me the paper version of the WSJ. Neither would take no for an answer, and neither seemed to think I should be satisfied with the electronic version. One went so far as to say I could donate my paper. I had to hang up on the second telemarketer because I simply did not wan to repeat the bizarre conversation.
I did not see a search feature in the Financial Times either. Nor the USA Today, nor the New York Times. Am I missing it, or is it something that no newspaper wants to provide? It cannot be that it is overly difficult to provide this expected and very basic functionality…. can it?
The classic “bait and switch” occurs when one company advertises a product at one price, and when the consumer goes to the store to purchase it, the store claims that they are out of the advertised product, but are selling a “similar” product which is either inferior in quality, or more expensive than the advertised product. In either case, you are offered something you did not want, and that was not advertised.
Apple advertised the iPad 3g with a “groundbreaking” data plan option, which allowed owners to choose between a 200 megabyte plan and an unlimited plan, without a contract, which allowed users to switch from month to month depending upon whether they were going to have a data intensive month. Everybody knows that “options” have value, and the option NOT to pay $30 a month for unlimited data use was one of the things that made the iPad attractive. Hence, it was advertised with that option and people paid an extra $130 for their device just to have the option. (The $130 also bought the option of connecting over the 3g network, not just the option to switch between data plans. And, of course, some people would not have bought the device at all if it did not offer unlimited 3g access).
In a new twist on an old fraud, the bait and switch occurred AFTER the purchase, and by a different company. Apple baited its customers with the AT&T plan it supposedly negotiated, consumers bought the product, and then AT&T pulled the switch. To soften the impact of the bait and switch, AT&T has offered current iPad 3g owners the option of keeping the unlimited plan for so long as users auto-renew the unlimited plan. In other words, what was once an option has now become a lifelong commitment if one wants unlimited data.
AT&T and Apple will eventually fix this, whether because of a class action law suit, or because Attorneys General throughout the country bring consumer fraud actions. Hopefully, this gets fixed sooner rather than later.
What really gets me, however, is that AT&T is crying about “data hogs” but is willing to force people to subscribe to the unlimited plan with the auto-renew requirement and thereby encourage data hogging, instead of leaving us with the option of forgoing the all you can eat buffet until such time as we may feel the need to use it. In other words, it seems there is a bit of disingenuousness about AT&T’s behavior. If they were really concerned about the usage, they would allow the grandfathered folks the option of going on and off the all you can eat buffet. This seems to confirm that they were more interested in locking people into the higher payment plan, in other words, removing the option which was so valuable to us.
As for who to blame, my money goes on Apple. Steve Jobs should never have said he struck a ground breaking deal. He should have said that AT&T is “currently offering” unlimited 3g access, but we have no idea if that will last. Of course, if he had some kind of commitment from AT&T then it could be enforced. We’ll have to see whether Apple had such a commitment, or whether, as it seems from its silence, Apple simply oversold its product with misleading and deceptive statements.
This Is One Diver’s Perspective.
While the last thing the world needs is another blog entry about a recently purchased iPad, I wanted to practice typing. My initial reaction to the keyboard was that I would never use my iPad for typing, but that has certainly changed. Now I am able to type reasonably fast without even looking at the keyboard. In fact it it is faster if I just trust my fingers and the autocorrect than it is to either hunt and peck or to look at the keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, I still look at the screen (and as a result i see that although autocorrect and auto caps are enabled, it does not capitalize the letter I when it should).
I have enjoyed having the WSJ to read on the commute into work, the scrabble game (iPhone version) to play, as well as various other games. Surprisingly, I have even been creating on my iPad, using dropbox and iAnnotate to put PDF files on my iPad so that i can annotate them and have them with me wherever I have my iPad with me, which means i need to get a better case to carry it around with me.
I am also using it to read books while commuting. However, I do not get as much book reading in as I did when I was using my Kindle. This is due to the fact that i do not have a good case for it and am not comfortable whipping out my iPad either on the subway platform or while standing in the train. That will probably not change, but one never knows.
I will be shocked if the iPad is not a staple electronic item for students. Having text books in pdf format, and being able to carry around all of one’s books on a small tablet will save the backs of many a poor student. Unfortunately, as with all technology, it is not affordable for everybody and it will separate the haves from the have nots even more. Some kids will have their books and the internet wherever they go, and others will not. Assuming the iPad kids use their devices for good and do not get distracted with the games, text messaging, etc., they will no doubt be learning more than their iPadless brethren.
I also can see the iPad generation being babysat by the device, with parents giving their children an electronic book like Toy Story, which can read aloud and turn pages automatically. It is better than the television for sure, but no doubt it is better to read in person than have a professional narrator do it for you.
I touch type over 100 words per minute when I really get going, but typically type at 80 words per minute. I was therefore assuming that I could never really type adequately on my iPad, and was frustrated enough at trying, that I nearly decided that I would resort to hunt and peck typing.
When typing on the iPad in landscape mode, I found myself struggling due to the fact that the “home” keys are not standard. On a standard keyboard, your right pinky rests on the semicolon, whereas on the iPad screen, your pinky would rest on the “return” key, as they moved the semicolon off of the main screen.
What this means to the touch typists among us is that you have to make sure that when you are hovering over the keyboard, the “GH” keys are visible between your index fingers, and not to place your pinky over the “L” as that key is typed with the ring finger. I knew something was wrong because I could only see the letter F whenever I tried to place my hands in the “home” position.
Once I figured this out, and made sure that the “GH” keys were visible (i.e., you don’t rest your index finger on those keys on a regular keyboard so you should not have them hovering over the virtual keys either), “touch typing” became a possibility. I still can’t really “touch type” without looking at the keypad, but I can type a lot faster than I could before, and faster than the hunt and peck method. Much faster.
When your fingers start to stray just make sure you position them so that the GH are clearly visible between your index fingers and start belting away!
Well, I’ve finally done it! I am going to be a father of boy this November, assuming the geneticist’s 75% certainty pans out as expected. This is going to be an incredible life-changing event and I am terrified by its implications. Fortunately, I have seen that others have done this before me, many with less intelligence, humor and resources than I am blessed with.
Obviously, this is going to put a crimp on our diving in the near future. But, I’ll never forget my first dive vacation, seeing the families with their children, and I hope that our baby grows into child interested in the underwater world. I just pray that there is life in our seas worth seeing in 10-15 years! I am sure it will seem incredible to the new diver, just as it was incredible to me (despite the fact that anybody diving for 20+years before my first dive, will tell me that the oceans were quite different when they started their adventures!).
I’ll keep the blog, and hope to get wet still, but I sense it will be a while….
This is One Daddy’s Perspective.
Well, a lot of people are blogging about the “magical” iPad, many seeming to have a deep-seated hate toward the product, possibly over-reacting to other people’s “irrational” love of something they’ve yet to experience. So, I thought I would throw my two cents in, to help balance things out a bit.
Many people are critical of the device because it is “nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch.” Well, that is not quite true, since it sports a speedier processor, for one thing. And don’t we all pay for larger screen real estate, either in the size of our monitors or the size of our televisions? It would seem to me that a “handheld” device that is somewhat larger than an iPod Touch would certainly seem to be worth a little extra money to some people, without labeling those poor souls as “zombies” or “fanboyz”
Indeed, many people who have experienced an iPod Touch think the device is magical. It responds to the touch unlike any other device they have held, and it lets them so so many things they never thought of doing before, like playing games or watching a television program while waiting for an appointment at the DMV or the Doctor. So, again, it seems perfectly logical to want a “bigger version” in order to improve the web-browsing experience, the game playing experience, and the e-book reading experience.
Could the device be improved? Absolutely. Is it “evil” because it forces you to use a free “App” to play YouTube videos and may otherwise make “flash content” inaccessible? I suppose if there was flash content I wanted to see, and Apple was “censoring” it for no other reason than they do not want the iPad used to view porn, I might be upset. But, then again, I would more likely simply not buy the product rather than crusade against it as so many people are apt to do.
I prefer to happily believe that the iPad will “deliver” and by that, I mean it will be an elegant way to get the news, read a book, surf the web and view and respond to e-mail, all from the comfort of my couch. By elegant, I mean, an intuitive touch-screen interface that is pleasing to use, because it was designed to be used by fingers so the icons are not tiny, the keyboard usable, and the weight not too much to bear.
Is it “too much” to spend on such a device? Clearly, that depends upon one’s disposable income. Presumably, if the price were $19.99, people would not be complaining nearly so much. But, starting at $499, well, gosh, that is a lot more money than someone may be willing to spend on an “accessory device” or “MCD” (mobile computing device), and if they are going to spend that much they want to get more. The beauty of it is, they don’t have to buy — the strangeness of it is, they feel the need to criticize. I cannot help but wonder if there is a bit if i-Envy going on.
Sure, we all like to feel superior and more intelligent than the rest of the world, and it is easy to criticize people who have enough money to spend $499 more on a product they have not seen, and which nobody they know has seen. But, if it were $19.99 you can bet whatever you like that these same people would be lining up to buy the product. So, really, what we are talking about here are a bunch of people who are too poor to buy what they really want to own, or people who just wish to be critical of other people and their ideas and find it easier to express negative views than to keep silent.
I appreciate that many of these people are “just trying to be helpful” in explaining all of the shortcomings of the product’s technical feature-set, I really do. I look forward to a product that has a video camera built in, so that it can be used for video-chat and video conference calls. But, whether that is an “option” or a built-in feature, it will cost money, and presumably Apple wanted to create a product at a price point that did not allow such a feature at the prices. Or, perhaps, Apple simply wanted to grab the attention, sell a few million units, and then “upgrade” in version 2, to include the most talked about features that are missing.
The point is, I do not care, nor take it personally, that Apple would choose to do its market research by selling a device that is “missing” features. I’ll either buy an iPad or I won’t, based on whether I believe it will make me happy enough to part with my money. I will not be “angry” at the Company for attempting to sell me something I think is inferior, nor will I feel the need to criticize others who are “happy” that the company is selling a giant iPad at a cost which is unduly high. I am sympathetic to those that want the device but cannot afford it. It is always frustrating to be unable to buy something that you want, and that you see others enjoying. I am not sympathetic to those people who just feel the need to dump on the product or the people buying it, however, because such views are truly mean spirited.
Finally, I respect and appreciate all of the comedy and graphic design work that has gone into making fun of the iPad, and the comparisons between the iPad and a stone tablet. But, that is humor. The reality, as we know, is that a stone tablet does not display photographs beautifully. A stone tablet does not let you listen to music, read a best-seller, order groceries and control your Sonos sound system, all from the comfort of your couch or bed.
This is One Diver’s Perspective.