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.’

WLNG The Radio Anachronism

They want to hear 10 minutes of commercials and six or seven jingles sandwiched between two marginal hits that haven’t gotten any radio play in 35 years.


Imagine you were tuning around on your car radio when all of a sudden one station came to you from out of the sixties. I’m not talking music as much as sound and style–right out of the sixties!

There is such a station and Helaine and I listened to it while we drove home along the Connecticut shoreline tonight. It is WLNG 92.1 in Sag Harbor, NY.

While I was still in high school, my friend John Wells and his parents invited me to their summer home, a little cottage on Shelter Island at Long Island’s east end. I first heard WLNG, then on 1600 AM, on that trip. Even in the late sixties WLNG was an anachronism.

No station in the history of broadcasting has done more remote broadcasts from appliance stores and drugstores and tiny parades with few spectators. No station runs more long and tedious public service announcements recorded over the phone. No station has, or plays, more jingles. No station plays more obscure music.

Last night on WLNG we heard “Goodbye” by Mary Hopkin and Donny Osmond’s version of “Hey Girl.” There were a few other songs too obscure for me to identify and I was a disk jockey on oldies stations for all of the seventies. This afternoon, while we were heading to Sleeping Giant, they played “Deck of Cards,” the 1950s ‘talkie’ song with a Christian theme by Wink Martindale (listed on the label as Win). I can virtually guarantee no other station in America is playing this song.

WLNG is in mono. Honest. Are there any commercial FM stations other than WLNG that don’t broadcast in stereo? As I understand it, then general manager Paul Sidney wanted the station to sound louder. The laws of physics make mono 3db louder than stereo.

Paul Sidney is another anachronism of WLNG. He is totally unflappable when on-the-air, usually broadcasting on-location, because he’s already experienced every on-air screw-up and failure possible. There is nothing smooth or polished about Paul. As you listen, you might think he’s on-the-air for the first time. Surprise, he’s been on WLNG 45 years!

I can’t think of any station with less employee turnover than WLNG. Many of their staffers have been there since the sixties and seventies. That’s unheard of. The morning man’s been there since 1964, another disk jockey since 1975. Paul Sidney’s been there even longer.

Any time I’ve ever had a friend in radio visit they always want to listen to WLNG. They want to hear 10 minutes of commercials and six or seven jingles sandwiched between two marginal hits that haven’t gotten any radio play in 35 years.

God, I love WLNG.

My MLB Beef

I just sent the following to the Major League Baseball site. It was actually longer at first, but there’s a 500 character limit.

I subscribe to the MLB TV. This year you are running a commercial for MLB merchandise at Dick’s every half inning.

The commercial is much louder than the game audio. If I adjust for the game, I get blasted every half inning. If I adjust for the commercial, I can’t hear the game. It isn’t quite as easy as adjusting your car radio.

Please have a little more compassion for those of us who pay to watch the games. This is something under your control.

All the best,

Geoff Fox

I’ll let you know if anything develops.

End Of An Era?

Maybe the headline is a little strong. It’s probably not the end of an era, but certainly the leading edge of a slippery slope that WCBS radio in New York is now on.

First, my credentials. I have had a WCBS button on my car radio since 1969 (except for the short time I spent in Phoenix). Even when I lived in Florida, and could only hear the station a few minutes at a time… every once in a while, it got a button. At home, it is on while I shower every day.

It was disappointing, to me, when WCBS got the Yankees. I have nothing against the team (well, as a Phillies fan, I guess I really do), but each game and its attendant pre and post game show eats into the news content. The calculation on the station’s part is that most games are played at off times for news.

Later today, that changes. With the Yankees playing Tampa in Tokyo this morning at 5:30 AM, for the first time since they went to news in 1967, WCBS will not be running news in morning drive.

In essence, the station is saying baseball is more important than news. It would not have been my decision.

Am I John Mayer’s stalker?

Click here for more photos from the concert

As of Wednesday morning, I still hadn’t heard from John Mayer’s road manager, Scotty Crowe, as promised. Just a little worried (it is my nature), I sent another email to the management folks and got a reassuring email in return.

By early afternoon there was an upbeat voicemail at work. We were good to go (literally and figuratively). The only surprise was the time. “Meet and greet” is normally a post show event. Not with this show. John would be entertaining at 7:00 PM.

Anticipating Hartford traffic (which we never saw), Steffie and I arrived at The Meadows a bit before 6:00 PM. A line had already begun to form the entrance. People with tickets for the vast expanse of lawn wanted to stake their claim and find a good seat.

Good lawn seating is miles away from the stage. Bad seating is in another time zone.

We hit the “will call” window, looking for our “Meet and Greet” passes. Nada. But, that’s not at all unusual. As it turned out, the clerk was looking in the wrong place, and a turn to the left produced two round adhesive passes and a small Xeroxed set of instructions to the marshaling point.

The gates to The Meadows actually open at 6:30 PM. But the real excitement starts a few minutes earlier as a PA announcement lists what you can and cannot do… can and cannot bring.

Digital cameras were on the forbidden list. I decided to take it anyway and hope for the best. After all, meeting John and having the passes might be enough of a mitigating factor. As it turned out, the ‘frisker’ took a look at he camera, pondered for two seconds, and pronounced it within reason. My guess is, with the lens retracted, he thought it was a non-professional film camera.

My first rock concert was probably 1966 or 1967. I went with my Cousin Michael and Larry Lubetsky to the Village Theater, aka The Fillmore East. We did that often on Friday and Saturday nights. It was pure fun and music (with the Joshua Light Show and the smell of marijuana pungent enough to knock you on your butt).

Things have changed

If there is something that isn’t for sale, or marked with signage, I didn’t see it. I’m surprised a wheelchair company doesn’t sponsor the handicapped ramp.

In the parking lot were four perky post-teens (male and female) wearing red t-shirts. They would be passing out Trojan condoms throughout the evening.

Dodge sponsored this, Comcast that, and Channel 30 something else. Dunkin’ Donuts was passing out Fruit Coolatas, but most everything else was for sale and over priced beyond belief (again, please excuse my naivet´┐Ż. I’m 53 and I’m not in the concert demo anymore).

Considering there is a law in Connecticut preventing a reseller from marking up a concert ticket by too much, you’d think the venue itself would follow that same policy when it came to bottled water or beer or pretzels. They could let you in for free and still make a profit.

A few minutes before 7:00 we met Scotty Crowe. It’s interesting how the Internet can catapult unlikely people into the limelight, and Scotty is one of them. Once I knew I’d be meeting him, I “Googled” him. Not only does he write John Mayer’s Road Journal, he also has some dedicated fans, including a Scotty Crowe bulletin board. Damn!

We went into the hallway that would serve as “Meet and Greet” central, and waited. I tried to make small talk with Scotty, but as is always the case when I do something like that, I came off as a total dork. At least I gave him a good PhotoShop tip (Ctl-L is perfect for enhancing video levels on digital photos).

John came out a few minutes later. I don’t notice these things, but Steffie said he was wearing the same outfit we saw him wear at Oakdale. He’s tall and thin and young and I’m jealous..

After saying hello and posing with the people in front of us, John came over. He was very nice (though after meeting him at KC-101, Oakdale and now here, I can’t help but wonder if he thinks I’m a stalker… or if I actually am a stalker).

As soon as he started to speak to Stefanie, he said, “You’re Stef, right?” I believe that was the magic moment as far as she was concerned. To be remembered by someone in his position, who meets so many people, was very gratifying.

I told John I thought he was smart, and a nice guy. But, I had seen others who had that… and lost it. I told him it was very important he remember to continue to be the kind of person he is now. I seriously think he will. But, as with Scotty a few minutes earlier, I felt like a dork after I said it. I hope he’ll think I was somewhat appropriate.

We had come very early and we found out we would be staying very late. Not only was John Mayer performing, so were the Counting Crows and an opening act before them. There was only so much we could take, so Steffie and I sat outside, people watching, while Stew (or possibly Stu… I wasn’t inside) performed.

We headed inside and found our seats before the Crows hit the stage.

If you have never been to The Meadows (and now that I’ve talked about all the commercialism, you should know, it’s the “ Meadows Music Centre). It is a huge, high roofed pavilion with theater seating and a removable rear wall. There is no air conditioning. There are no ceiling fans. It was hot and sticky and uncomfortable.

I had never seen the Counting Crows and I was favorably impressed. Lead singer Adam Duritz, his hair fashioned with somewhat wild dreadlocks, is very talented and (and I always like this in a performance) a commanding presence on stage.

Toward the end of the set, he told a story of going to school in Watertown, CT and flunking a music course. Judging by the description, it is probably The Taft School. A website FAQ confirms it.

The Crows got off after 10:00 PM. The venue had not cooled down. Every once in a while, a brief whisper of air would move by, and you’d think, maybe it’s going to cool down. But the ‘waft’ was short lived; a tease at best.

Not quite 11:00, John Mayer took the stage. As appreciative as the audience was for the Counting Crows, they stepped it up a notch and a half for John. There’s no doubt that a packed house is good for the home team, and he is the home town here.

He is an artist who sounds just like his Cd’s (I wanted to write records, but that would make me very old, wouldn’t it?). That means his artistry is real and not produced into being. Most of the house stood for most of the performance.

He did the hits, and some cuts from the new CD (out in a few weeks) and then a phenomenal guitar solo. As good as he is as a troubadour, John Mayer is a masterful guitarist; as good as I’ve heard

There’s obviously some BB King in his riffs, and probably others I don’t recognize, but mostly it is his ability to make the guitar become its own voice that makes his playing so good. It is my contention that if he weren’t singing, he’d have an amazing career as a guitarist.

At 11:45 PM he said goodnight, only to come back on stage alone to do the first of two encore numbers.

We were out by midnight. As soon as I turned on the car radio, I realized I wasn’t hearing quite as well as I did when I went in! Within ten minutes we had navigated Hartford and gotten onto I-91 southbound.

Though Steffie tried (and she has pre-season field hockey practice tomorrow morning) she had only a few minutes of sleep before we were home.

Great night. I’d do it again.

Click here for more photos from the concert