iPod Shuffle 2009 Review


Yes, Apple just came out with a new iPod Shuffle. As always, it’s cool. As always, if you’re into tech stuff, you want one.

+ Very cool size — smaller than ever.
+ Voice Over feature, where you can hear what songs you are listening to. This is by far the biggest innovation. Funny enough, if you have a Windows computer, it speaks to you in a female voice and male if you have a Mac. (An “alpha” thing?)
+ 4 gb capacity (2 gb was the previous high).

— 10 hour battery life. (The current Nano has 24 — and the $29 Shuffle I’ll mention in a minute has 12.)
— You can only use the Apple-provided headphones, which don’t fit every set of ears. (They don’t fit mine!)

Suggestion: Buy a 1 gb Shuffle from the Apple Refurb store for $29 or $39, depending on availability. Get a great set of headphones and sing all the way to the bank. (Update: Now there are 2 gb models for $39, if you keep checking back.)

Big users’ tip: always leave the headphones plugged in. If you take them out, this puppy is so small you’ll lose it within minutes.


Things of beauty


There’s a whole shop window filled with old Mac towers. It’s Denver’s Mac Outlet.

I used to work on one of those. I say “on” — as I took it apart to add memory, put a new hard drive in, add a video card, etc. I learned a lot about hardware that way. In comparison, changing out the hard drive to my MacBook Pro was like brain surgery. I remember how easy it was to just pop the side off, do the deed, and put it back together. No more.

I am reminded of growing up. We had a series of Volkswagens. My dad was always working on them. His bedside reading was How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. He let me and my brother “help”. That is something I have struggled with as a dad. Thankfully, car repairs have been minimal, but house repairs (or projects) seem to be an on-going part of life. Our house was built in 1965 or so, and things just wear out.

So my challenge has been to teach my boys how to do repairs. I usually take the lazy way out and do it myself. Bad me! Laziness is rarely the best way forward. As you know.


Drink responsibly?


I have a habit of picking up aluminum cans to recycle them. Why? “Recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television for three hours.” (Source. I heard that somewhere else too.)

So I’ll just pick one up, if I happen to see it in a parking lot or while I’m riding my bike.

Anyhow, I came across this flattened can. Joose. It is basically kool-aid with 9.9% alcohol. My question is, does anyone drink Joose responsibly?

By the way, the Joose can is so big that recycling it saved five hours of TV electricity time.


More bookstore findings


Another magazine I looked at was Car. Or maybe it was Top Gear. Anyway, there was a comparison text of Honda Accord-sized sedans.

I was greatly saddened.

Ford makes a fabulous car for Europe in that class called the Mondeo. GM has an equally brilliant offering called the Insignia. These cars go 130–135 mph and yet get about 49 mpg! (In US gallons, that’s about 41 mpg.)

The reason for the big car manufacturer bailouts is simply this… they believed America wasn’t sophisticated enough to buy such cars that they build elsewhere. And now that fuel prices are lower, Ford has considered not bringing the wonderful Fiesta* to America. Sigh. There is no hope.

* The current Fiesta is not anything like the one from about twenty years ago!

Update: Ford is definitely bringing the Fiesta to the States. There is hope!


What I Learned From a Sidewalk


I look down a lot, when I am walking. I should be looking up. But that’s a story for another time.

So I saw this little heel that fell off a woman’s shoe. (She must have had to walk unevenly the rest of the way to her destination.) But that got me thinking about womens’ dress shoes. A lot of pressure is focused on one small point.

And life is like that.

What is an area of your life where you can distribute the pressure? What are some ways you can do this? And what are ways you can do it slowly. Slow change is often more do-able than fast change.

(Special thanks to Robert Hruzek for this post idea.)


Outside the box


Recently, I had the joy of having to wait for about 30 minutes at a bookstore. I gravitated to the magazine section, as is normally the case.

Objekt is a very cool interior design magazine based in Holland. I didn’t buy it but enjoyed browsing through. (The cover price was a bit out of my range.)

The most striking interior was from an office featuring these oblique light fixtures. How cool! The designer just thought how it might be more appealing if he (or she) put them at an angle rather than the usual up-and-down orientation.

So, today’s little take takeaway… what are some ways you can think outside the norm today? I say this to myself too — I tend to get lazy and just go with the easy solution to some of the things I work on.


Old but still active


My very first blog, My Part of Nairobi, was my chronicle of life in that great city. We lived there from 2005–2007.

It still gets almost as many hits as my current blog, even though I haven’t updated it since we left. I guess people find that life more interesting than this.

Anyhow, one of my favorite blogs is Africa Expat Wives Club. The author has an irreverant yet respectful look at life there. She and her family have chosen to stay, unlike us. So her blog chronicles life there — many of the struggles and joys of an expat living in Kenya.

So I was checking my Google Analytics stats for that blog and noticed that I had received about 140 hits from her link to me, just in the last month. Pretty fun!


I love Honda


Our Honda minivan is about six years old. We are embarrassed at all the “suburbia” connotations that go with owning a minivan. But it is incredibly convenient. Our 1993 small 2-seater coupe gets about 10 miles better per gallon. (We actually travel as a family very often in it to enjoy the savings — but we dislike almost everything else about the coupe, in comparison.)

Anyhow, I was noticing that the seatbelts were awfully slow to retract. I asked our independent mechanic how much it would cost to replace them. He informed me that Honda has a lifetime warranty on seatbelts. That is how much they care for your safety!

So the local dealership replaced three and fixed one. The new belts work so much nicer. The dealership even gave me a ride to and from their shop! No charge at all.