It’s The Best Toy Ever

The iPhone is transformational technology. It will change your life.

apple-iphone-3g.jpg“It’s the best toy ever,” was what my secretive friend in the San Fernando Valley said right after he got his iPhone. He kept saying it and saying it and saying it until I too broke down. You know what? He was right.

I complained originally about the keyboard and inconsistencies regarding when or which apps allow you to turn the screen to the landscape position. Still true. Horrendous battery life. Also true. I have chargers or cables at home, work and in the car.

The iPhone is transformational technology. It will change your life.

More than likely what I’m saying also applies to the new phones running the Android operating system, like the Droid and the soon to be unveiled (but already widely seen) phone from Google itself!

If you just count hours I used the iPhone more when I first got it . Now I go for value and utility. I answer email and check Facebook and Twitter. I don’t update my blog with it… well I did once and it wasn’t fun!

I have added apps. I’ve added enough that every once in a while I clean things out and reclaim a little space.

I have been blown away by some of these little programs like the amazing ReelDirector video editor. That was $4.99 well spent! Everyone is astounded I can shoot and edit video in the phone and the quality is very good.

Tonight my friend Bob showed me Glympse, which will allow a friend to track you for a set period of time. If I was driving to your house I’d send a private url which would allow you to track me and know when I’d be there.

Sometimes I use the iPhone instead of my car radio to listen to shows on NPR. I flew cross country using it to watch movies. I keep France24, a 24-hour English language all-news TV network from France, as my live TV demo–though I seldom actually watch it otherwise.

Yes, it’s a phone. It’s also a computer which leverages special hardware, like a GPS receiver, compass, accelerometer and touch screen. That makes it a computer that knows exactly where it is and what’s nearby.

Every time a new app arrives the phone does a little more. That’s not going away any time soon.

Apple is a little controlling. I wish I could see a little more of the inner digital workings.

I’m sure my California friend is reading this and taking some satisfaction that he ‘made the sale.’

That New Computer Smell

A few days ago my desktop computer at work spontaneously changed its screen resolution to 1440×900 and would not let me revert to 1280×1024. Grrrrrr. I spent a few hours online going through other Linux related resolution questions before I finally said, “Screw it.”

I know–how totally nerdy to use Ubuntu Linux as my desktop. Contrary to popular belief there isn’t anything much I can do with Windows I can’t do with Linux. As long as my bosses don’t object I’m happy–and always virus free!

That being said Linux isn’t quite as user friendly as Windows, though it’s gotten a lot better over time. Today’s install went very smoothly with sound working immediately and Internet access (which is non-standard to my desk) taking just a few minutes more.

There’s not much I store on this machine. In fact I was surprised to see this box is running with a 20 Gb hard drive! That’s a thousand times larger than the first hard drive I owned butt still around 1/10th the size of the smallest drive you can buy today.

Before I reformatted this machine I transferred all my configuration scripts to a memory stick which I promptly left home! Oops. With a little Internet magic Helaine plugged the memory stick into Stef’s laptop and I plucked the files.

All I had to do was install them into the correct directory and set up the “cron” (a program which fires off certain tasks at specific times). What could be easier?

The scripts, which worked perfectly in the old machine, were dying a gruesome death in the new one! It took a phone call to my friend Bob in Florida to get them running. Why his solution worked is totally beyond me! Scripts which were working yesterday should have worked today.

So, my resolution is fixed and I’m up and running with a clean install of Ubuntu 9.04. Clean installs always work better and have that new computer smell.

Ubuntu releases a brand new Linux distribution every six months. October, next month, is the next scheduled push. I’ll probably do all of this again.

A Picture From My Past — WBT Circa 1971

Also featured, three dead guys, someone from Hazard, KY, a production wiz, a limo company owner and the owner of a voluminous collection of 45s!

John Harper found this photo on Facebook. What must one enter in the search box to come up with this?

I’m second from the left. The guy in the middle is my friend Bob who visited last weekend. Also featured, three dead guys, someone from Hazard, KY, a production wiz, a limo company owner and the owner of a voluminous collection of 45s!


Every Part Of The Danny Forecast Relies On Guesswork

When the initialization is bad everything that follows it is suspect. Take the forecast with a healthy grain of salt.

It’s a little early for the late guidance on Danny, but not too early to tell you my worry. All day long the Hurricane Center has had trouble finding the center of the storm. Here’s what they said at 11:00 AM.


They’re saying it’s moving west, but they’re officially marking it as northwest. Got it so far?

The latest technical discussion just hit a few minutes ago.


When the initialization is bad everything that follows it is suspect. Take the forecast with a healthy grain of salt.

The only good news is Danny continues to be a wimp. It wouldn’t take much to knock him out… nor much for him to rapidly intensify.

Earlier this evening my friend Bob, a professor of meteorology and tropical weather expert said, “I think it either remains a TS or becomes cat 2/3. I don’t think there is an in between.”

He’s probably right, but that’s not much help either!

Four Photos I Like From The Beach In West Haven

I pulled out my camera and fired off a few dozen shots. These are the four I like.

This past weekend my friend Bob was in from Charlotte. We met my first day in radio!

Before he visited other friends we went to the beach in West Haven. I really like this as one of the best places to ‘walk the water’ with a paved path along the Sound’s edge.

It’s laid back. It’s friendly. It’s unpretentious. It is not what it was back when Savin Rock was the place! That’s fine.

I pulled out my camera and fired off a few dozen shots. These are the four I like. It’s worth noting they’re four very different subjects and camera techniques.

These shots were taken out in the open meaning I didn’t need permission. That being said I don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy and will act accordingly.





In Google’s Doghouse–Again

I’ve already asked for forgiveness. Maybe I can be forgiven before I’m banished? Maybe not?

Oh oh–it’s happened again!

Dear site owner or webmaster of,

While we were indexing your webpages, we detected that some of your pages were using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines, which can be found here: This appears to be because your site has been modified by a third party. Typically, the offending party gains access to an insecure directory that has open permissions. Many times, they will upload files or modify existing ones, which then show up as spam in our index.

Thanks to my friend Bob, it’s now all gone. But is it gone soon enough?

In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from are scheduled to be removed temporarily from our search results for at least 30 days.

We would prefer to keep your pages in Google’s index. If you wish to be reconsidered, please correct or remove all pages (may not be limited to the examples provided) that are outside our quality guidelines. One potential remedy is to contact your web host technical support for assistance. For more information about security for webmasters, see When such changes have been made, please visit to learn more and submit your site for reconsideration.

Sincerely, Google Search Quality Team

I’ve already asked for forgiveness. Maybe I can be forgiven before I’m banished? Maybe not?

We shall see.

Meanwhile, this stinks.

Gustav’s Amazing Growth Spurt

The wind, nearly doubled in speed, has almost four times the power. The rule of thumb says it will destroy eight times as much as last night’s storm would.

The ability of a hurricane to rapidly increase in intensity never ceases to amaze me. Last night when I went to bed Gustav had a top sustained wind speed of 80 mph. Now, less that 12 hours later it’s 145 mph! The wind, nearly doubled in speed, has almost four times the power. The rule of thumb says it will destroy eight times as much as last night’s storm would.

This radar image is a snapshot in time. Part of the power of the Internet this is an image I never had access to–direct from the Cuban government’s weather bureau&#185. Gustav is about to attack the Isle of Youth (formerly the Isle of Pines) and its 100,000 residents.

I expect the storm to weaken as it passes over Western Cuba then strengthen again in the Gulf.

I’ve written about this before and discussed it often with my friend Bob. There is an internal balance necessary for a hurricane to get to 140 mph or more. That speed is almost impossible to maintain for any length of time. Gustav will see its intensity pulse up-and-down once it reestablishes itself in the Gulf. Hopefully, landfall will come as it is diminishing.

&#185 – It’s interesting that the Instituto de Meteoologia de la Republica de Cuba–part of a ‘people’s paradise,’ finds it necessary to add: “Copyright © 1997-2008. INSMET ® Todos los derechos reservados ” Am I surprised? Todo-lly.

Radio In The Home

Radio is having trouble competing with TV in the one daypart radio has historically dominated. That’s good for TV, because AM drive is the one daypart that’s going to be difficult for the interactivity of computers to reach, and which has shown growth substantial viewing growth in the last two decades.

I start most weekdays late. Saturdays start even later.

In the shower six’ish, I turned on the radio. Garrison Keillor was just starting A Prairie Home Companion on Public Radio.

Helaine walked in to use the sink and wash her face. She couldn’t help but hear the radio blasting away. He’s not her favorite.

OK – that’s too kind.

She dislikes the show. There, I said it.

As I listened to some guy from Louisiana that Garrison was praising as if he was the second coming, I started to think about radio. These are tough times for radio.

It’s not just the competition from satellite services and iPods, it’s also TV. Does anyone listen to the radio at home except me?

I asked my friend Bob last week. He said he thinks the vast majority of his morning show’s audience (Bob & Sheri, heard across the US) is out of the home. Some are in cars, others at work. There are downloaders listening to podcasts, but that’s still a small minority.

Radio is having trouble competing with TV in the one daypart radio has historically dominated. That’s good for TV, because AM drive is the one daypart that’s going to be difficult for the interactivity of computers to compete in and which has shown substantial viewing growth in the last two decades.

My only in-house radio listening takes place in the shower. I have a Sony radio (using 3 c-cell batteries that last well over a year between replacements), mounted on a bracket on the shower’s side wall.

We have a clock radio next to the bed. It’s hardly used. When I turned on the family room receiver during last week’s poker game, it was the first time it had been on in months… maybe years. That radio is at least thirty years old. When it dies, it won’t be replaced.

It’s very difficult for sound to compete with sound and pictures. That’s probably a good thing for me.

Together Again, For The First Time

I have been on the radio many times since coming to Connecticut. It comes with the territory and I enjoy it.

It’s been pretty well established here, I’ll always have one foot in radio – even though it’s been over 25 years since I worked professionally there.

Monday morning at 8:00 AM, I take the plunge again, but this time it’s very different. On the occasion of our 24th wedding anniversary, Helaine will join me live on WPLR. This is the first time Helaine has appeared publicly anywhere! I know she’s currently having nightmares about it.

Some of this started when my friend Bob spent a few days with us last October. He heard us verbally sparring and thought it might be entertaining on-the-air. Now we get to see if he was right.

Will she talk about how I used to refer to her as my ‘friend,’ or maybe how I negotiated our engagement? Helaine is fast, witty, and knows every skeleton in my stuffed to the gills closet! She can fillet me like a carp. On radio, that can be a lot of fun.

If you’re up, join us Monday morning at 8:00 EST on WPLR, 99.1 FM. They do stream on the Internet. You can try this or go to their homepage and link from there.

People Continue To Die

My friend Farrell, currently winning hearts and minds in Warsaw, Poland, just sent me the news – Joey Bishop is dead.

Bishop was a fixture of late night television in the late 60s, often subbing for Johnny Carson, then hosting his own talk show on ABC (where Regis Philbin got his network start… and nearly his end).

Hosting on the very weak ABC, versus the well established Johnny Carson, Bishop was an immediate underdog. His status as a member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack was a small mitigating factor, but in the end not enough.

Originially a standup comic (Comedy Central says he’s #96 on the all time 100 best), everything I’ve heard in the last decade or so said Joey Bishop was a very bitter, angry and not very nice guy. I’ve got a list of people like that, performers who felt they deserved more success than they got and couldn’t get over it. It seems like an awful way to live out your life.

Bishop was know for the phrase, “Son of a gun.” It was said in an almost question-like way. Typing the letters doesn’t have the same impact as hearing him say them.

Also entering the ‘file footage’ category yesterday was Teresa Brewer. Her top-40 hits, Ricochet and Music!, Music!, Music!, came too early for me to care about.

She’s important in my life, because she was the first ‘act’ I saw in Las Vegas. It was 1975, I was traveling the west with my friend Bob, and we went to Caesar’s Palace to see her open for Rowan and Martin.

The stage was large and full of people. We sat where the maitre’d sat losers and bumpkins – far from the action.

Rowan and Martin were hosting Laugh In at the time. It was one of the hottest shows on TV. They were OK. Teresa Brewer was dynamite.

I’d never seen a show like that before, with a polished performer and big band. This was old school Vegas, still extremely glitzy and moneyed. In the midst of her act, she brought on John Bubbles&#185, someone I knew nothing about. When they tap danced, I was blown away.

She was tiny, but her voice was huge. I remember thinking how close her performance was to the original records I’d heard on the radio.

If, before I went, you would have asked if I wanted to see Teresa Brewer, I would have said, “No.” I left as a fan.

I’m sorry I never got to meet her to tell her that. A performer can never hear enough praise.

&#185 – From Wikipedia: In 1978, John Bubbles spoke at the Variety Arts Theatre in Los Angeles as a participant in a seminar on vaudeville. Someone asked him who the best tap dancer was. Bubbles answered, “You’re looking at him.”

Problems With This Website

If you’ve tried to get to this website over the past few days, you’ve probably experienced some difficulty. I was going to blame my hosting company, but the fault lies elsewhere.

On the right side of each page of is a plethora of weather data. I can’t imagine anyone really uses it, and I should remove it to reduce clutter and load times. Tonight, it bit me on the ass.

A line of php code plucks a list of extreme weather across the country and places it in that column. The list is actually produced on my friend Bob’s site, His site, or maybe just this file, is unavailable, so my site sat and patiently waited for this little file… and waited… and waited some more.

This evening, using the free WiFi at Las Vegas McCarren Airport, I edited the code on my site to remove the link. Everything’s OK now.

Now It’s The Hurricane Season

My friend Bob, the meteorology professor, just sent me an email with not much more than this link. Half past midnight on Saturday. He knew I’d be checking the mail.

The Atlantic is open. Hurricane season has begun – even with no Atlantic hurricanes.

Yes, I know the season’s officially underway June 1. That’s minor league stuff. The real hurricane season is squeezed in from the middle of August to the middle of September.

For the past few days the GFS (a physics based, dynamic weather model) has been showing a strong, hurricane like storm, moving off the coast of Africa heading toward the states.

The GFS is not made to predict tropical weather, and it does so poorly. Still, when run-after-run shows the same thing, you look. They have at the Hurricane Center.


Bob’s impressive model outputs are of the same storm, what looks to soon be Dean. These maps are different from my normal charts, but the bottom line’s the same.

Though I said the GFS has been forecasting this storm, it hasn’t been consistent with the long range path. A few days ago it took a sharp right, missing Florida and sailing close to shore, but off the East Coast. Another run had the storm moving into the Gulf and making landfall between Galveston and New Orleans. That’s a pretty big difference!

Obviously, we don’t have a clue yet, except this looks like Dean. And, it looks like Dean will be strong.

The next month will be busy.

The Coolest Weather

My friend Bob, down in Florida, might be the smartest guy I know. Certainly, as far as math is concerned he is.

Bob is a professor at Florida State with a PhD from Penn State. He is also the proprietor of In meteorological parlance, WX is weather.

Last night Bob hit me on IM to look at an addition to his site:

I’m not sure how, but four times an hour he parses every station in the world that’s delivering weather data and then picks out the most extreme of the lot. Where is it hottest or coldest or windiest – right now!

I have been surprised at how few stations actually do report extreme weather, like heavy rain or blizzard conditions. And, I’m sure over time, there will be repeat observations from sites located in inhospitable spots, like Mt. Washington.

The site is still in development, but worth taking a look.

Enough With The Horse Race

The talk on NPR’s Talk of the Nation today was all about politics and the next presidential election. Their political junkie, Ken Rudin, was front and center.

I had MSNBC on while getting dressed for work. It was also a discussion of the ’08 presidential race.

That’s November ’08 they’re discussing. I haven’t thought about what I want for dinner tonight. Maybe November ’08 is just a little too far ahead for me.

I have no idea what any of the candidates stand for, outside a very few hot button issues. I do know Hillary Clinton is not Tammy Wynette, Barack Obama did not attend a Maddrassa while growing up in Indonesia, Bill Richardson has a lead foot and Connecticut’s Senator Chris Dodd has the softest hands I’ve ever shaken.

I attended a dinner in 1972 where I sat next to current Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich for a few hours. I don’t even remember if he was a neat or sloppy diner. I have no idea where he stands on anything. Ditto for most of the other declared candidates.

Let’s get back to the MSNBC conversation for a moment. What it didn’t contain was meat. It was totally about the horse race. Who cares!

The headline on Drudge as I write this is, “TIME POLL: HILLARY 19-POINTS AHEAD OF OBAMA.” But in that same poll a significant portion of the electorate said they’d never heard of Obama.

I hate to quote Ann Coulter (but I will):

In January, two years before the 2000 presidential election, the leading Republican candidate in New Hampshire was … Liddy Dole (WMUR-TV/CNN poll, Jan. 12, 1999). In the end, Liddy Dole’s most successful run turned out to be a mad dash from her husband Bob after he accidentally popped two Viagras.

At this stage before the 1992 presidential election, the three leading Democratic candidates were, in order: Mario Cuomo,

Jesse Jackson and Lloyd Bentsen (Public Opinion Online, Feb. 21, 1991).

Only three months before the 1988 election, William Schneider cheerfully reported in The National Journal that Michael Dukakis beat George Herbert Walker Bush in 22 of 25 polls taken since April of that year. Bush did considerably better in the poll taken on Election Day.

Lord help me – she’s right. I can’t believe I even wrote that.

This early jockeying is reported because no news organization wants to run ‘bars and tone.’ It’s cheap and easy to discuss who is ahead. But, it’s meaningless.

At this point it’s more important to know where people stand, what they believe in. Or, maybe, we should let the recently elected congress wrangle with the currently serving president. Isn’t that the important story now?

November ’08 will come soon enough. Why rush it?

Photo Time

I tried to catch up on some loose photography today. The four photos (of 325) I wanted to keep from my Atlantic City trip got tweaked in Photoshop and then uploaded to a photo finisher.

Some of my friends print their own photos. My friend Peter, near Atlantic City as it turns out, has printed some gigundo photos which hang on his wall and look great. I’ve never been that lucky and I’ve read it’s no cheaper to print at home.

Anyway, any time I’ve ever tried to print something ‘critical’ it’s always taken at least two tries! I’m saving myself cash and grief by waiting for the postman to deliver my photos.

Getting the Atlantic City shots out of the way was simple. The big job is the one I’ve put off since October – our Southwest vacation photos.

My goal with those was to print a photo book, like the one I did for my ‘mancation’ to Maine with my friend Bob. The problem is, there are just so many photos and many of them are pretty good.

No photo gets printed ‘as is.’ Every shot needs some tweaking, though I’m trying to keep it at a minimum for this album. Instead of Photoshop, I’m relying on Picasa, the free photofinishing software from Google. Picasa can sharpen and adjust levels at the touch of a button.

Unfortunately, some shots have tiny marks caused by dust on the camera’s sensor. It’s a real problem in first generation DSLRs, though now solved in most modern cameras. Photoshop is the cure, which just adds another layer of complexity to what I wanted to be simple.

I’m through 13 pages in what I anticipate will be a 30-40 page book. It is tedious work. If this comes out anywhere near the last one, it will have been worth it.

Once the book is done, I need to pick 5-6 shots to enlarge. I have claimed the two walls that make the hallway to the attic stairs for my gallery. It’s beginning to fill up nicely.

I’ve been through these pictures many times and I continue to discover shots worth looking at. Often, I’ll play with them just to play. It’s amazing how you can change the look and feel of a photo with the right tools on your computer.

My photography hobby has turned into a lot of fun. I can see why so many people are hooked and throw money at it for all sorts of neat equipment.

What I don’t understand is how people were able to get good at it before the digital era. To me at least, good photography demands practice. That’s one reason I have no qualms shooting 325 pictures, mostly in one afternoon and evening in Atlantic City, to get four I’ll keep.

With film this would have been a prohibitively expensive undertaking. On top of that, by the time the prints were back I’d have forgotten exactly how the shots were set-up.

I am the un-Luddite.