Friday, July 8, 2011

Listening to the cloud

First of all, sorry about my week-long hiatus.  I've been so busy at work, working odd hours, and doing stuff around the house and I've just simply been too tired to do anything.  In my short spurts of down time, I decided to dip my toe into cloud computing.  I've had a Dropbox account for a while now to keep some files available to my computer and my phone, but I wanted something that could do just a bit more.  The most obvious place to start was my music collection.  Compared to some people I know, mine is paltry, just shy of 1000 songs and about 3GB in size.  I do keep some music on my android phone, but by no means do I have all of it on there.  I've tried 3 different services, mSpot, Amazon mp3/Amazon Cloud Player, and Google Music.

First of all, Google Music is in beta and currently only available in the US by invitation.  You can request an invitation on the site and I got mine within 2 days.  As of right now there is NO storage limit, so those of you with thousands of songs can rejoice.  Unfortunately, the PC app and android app could definitely use some polishing and is lacking some functions the other two offer (such as a lock screen widget on the phone).  I'm sure this is because it's in beta right now though.  No word yet though on when this will become available to everyone and how much it will cost (if it will cost anything at all)

Secondly, mSpot is fairly simple and easy to use.  Signing up for free gives you 5GB of space.  One complaint is that compared to Google's and Amazon's services, the PC application was VERY slow to upload.  The sound quality also seems to be degraded on my phone and noticeably sounds worse than the original file.

Right now, I prefer Amazon.  They also offer 5GB for free which is plenty for my smallish music collection.  The android app is very functional and offers decent control. The sound quality is also much better than mSpot.

I must say, it's pretty cool to have my entire music collection anywhere I go without it taking up space on my phone's memory card, and for those of us who are still lucky enough to have grandfathered unlimited data plans, we can listen anywhere to our heart's content even if wifi isn't available

Friday, July 1, 2011

"He who is tired of Weird Al is tired of life" -Homer Simpson

Today I managed to pick myself up a copy of Weird Al Yankovic's new album "Alpocalypse".  It's his first album since "Straight Outta Lynwood" 5 years ago.  It's a typical Weird Al affair... a polka, a few original songs in the style of other artists, and of course his signature parodies.  In this album he rips off Bruno Mars, T.I., Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and even Lady Gaga.

The Lady Gaga story is an interesting one.  Even though according to the law he doesn't have to ask the original artist for permission to do a parody, Al likes to do so anyway before he even starts work on one.  He asked Gaga's manager and he declined unless he saw the lyrics.  Al wrote the lyrics for "Perform This Way" (parody of "Born This Way") and sent them to her manager.  A few weeks passed and the manager said he wanted to hear the full song.  Al scrambled to get it recorded and pushed the release of this album back to do so.  Her manager still didn't like it and Al put the song up online and wanted the proceeds to go to charity, because he didn't want the song to go to waste

After it had been online for a less than a day, Gaga and her staff saw it (apparently her manager never showed her the lyrics or the finished song), loved it, and immediately gave Al permission to put it on his album.  I'm glad it worked out for him too because the song is very well done and catchy.  "Polka Face" is still my favorite though so far, probably because I saw it live last summer.

Luckily for Weird Al, there will never be a shortage of popular songs to parody

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Watch your step!

We all know restaurants and stores put those "caution: wet floor" signs out just to cover themselves in case of a lawsuit if someone slips and falls and hurts themselves.  Just like probably everyone else, I tend to tune them out because what's a damp floor going to do?  We walk over freshly mopped floors and drive during the rain all of the time.

My shoes have no-slip soles so I have even more traction than the "average" person and don't even think twice.  And it's true, most of the time there's nothing to worry about... unless oil or grease is involved.  When the two mix, it's a slippery combo no matter what you're wearing.  Today, someone was mopping the kitchen area at work and greasy surfaces are inevitable.  At the same time, I was told to get another container of sweet tea from the fridge.  As I was walking back up front with the heavy, odd-sized container, one of my feet slipped and I fell flat on my hip, hit my knee against the side of a deep fryer, slammed my wrist on the edge of the fryer, and spilled four gallons of sugary, sticky McDonalds sweet tea on me.

Ironically, we don't have those caution signs in the work area.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are today's parents too lazy?

One of the things I've been noticing over the last few years is that when out in public at Wal Mart, a restaurant, or whatever, most kids seem to be out of control.  My parents sometimes remark to my sister and me saying "Oh, if you had done such-and-such when you were that young, we wouldn't take you out" or "we would have punished you on the spot."  I'm not talking about simple kid stuff such as constant whining or being full of energy, but things like talking back, running off, and throwing tantrums while parents just ignore it.

At work I see this ALL the time.  I've even had some parents tell me that they just give up saying it won't help one bit when the child in question is only 6 or 7 years old!  My parents have told me that when they were young, their parents kept them in line by using the belt.  My parents rarely used corporal punishment on my sister and me, but we did get grounded and had certain toys and video games taken away when it was called for.

From stories I hear from my friends who are new parents, they don't even do that.  Even my girlfriend says the same thing about her younger brother who has no respect for anyone, sneaks out of the house, and smokes weed in the house.  What I want to ask is why parents today are so soft? What is it that makes them so lazy and not actually parent and raise their kids?

What do you all think and what are your experiences with this?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Never too old for the park

Today was the first day in the last 6 that I've had more than 2-3 hours in a row to just relax and not do anything productive.  Luckily for me, the weather was cooperating and today was a nice, sunny, 75 degree day (24 C for my non-American readers).  My girlfriend and I spent a good half hour on the phone talking about how she's having the entire house steam-cleaned and how her mom was driving her crazy.  I suggested that we do something together so she could get the heck out of the house.  Since we are both broke college students, neither one of us wanted to do anything that involved spending more than $10.  After a whole 2 minutes of deliberation, we decided to go to the park by her house.

I picked her up a half hour later and drove the 5 minutes to the park.  Now, since it was a beautiful Saturday, the place was bustling with kids and their parents trying to keep an eye on them as the little ones ran all around and played on the equipment.  My girl and I found an old piece of equipment, a monkey-bar like structure that stood about 7 feet tall, and climbed to the top and just sat on it talking.  It was quite relaxing, really.  After about 15 minutes of that, we took turns on the swing set, chased each other around playfully, and ended the day by walking around the track and through the towering trees for a bit before taking the basket out of my car and having a picnic consisting of random snacks we each grabbed from the pantry before we left.

Even though the two of us are clearly too old and too big for the slides and other equipment, we still managed to have loads of fun spending the entire afternoon together.  I guess whether you're 10 years old or twice that age, you can still have fun at the local park, even if all you do is chat, act like a kid on the swing set, enjoy the weather, and enjoy the company of someone else.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Verizon leaving the "all you can eat" data buffet

Verizon announced a couple days ago that starting July 7th, it will no longer offer unlimited data plans for new customers or customers upgrading to a smartphone from a less advanced "dumb-phone".  Rumors have it that prices will start at $30 for 2GB ($30 currently gets you unlimited data) which is actually $5 a month more than rival AT&T's 2GB offering. Those customers that already have unlimited data (like me) will be grandfathered in and allowed to keep their current plan.  Rumors also say that you will still be able to keep that unlimited plan even when upgrading to a newer phone at the end of your contract.  However I seriously doubt that can be true because AT&T irritated a lot of people upgrading from an iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 by getting rid of their unlimited data.

According to various statistics I've seen online, the average user uses less than 1GB a month, so for most people this change won't affect them.  "Power users" such as myself use much more than that.  I average about 5GB a month and back in December I used nearly 9GB of data! (all thanks to youtube videos keeping me occupied during the boring days spent with extended famliy around Christmas and the two days I was stuck in various airports around the country for hours on end thanks to snow storms).  While tiered data is excellent for the phone company, it's not so great for the average consumer whose data use is only going to increase in the coming years.

With apps such as youtube, netflix, and upcoming hulu apps, that 2GB limit suddenly doesn't seem that high.  4G speeds make the problem even worse.  Assuming an 8 megabit connection (which is actually rather conservative) from Verizon's new 4G LTE network, that 2GB of data will be exhausted in less than 5 hours.  Personally, I don't support caps at all on 4G PHONES (data cards however, should be capped) but I believe caps could successfully be used on 3G networks because they're getting to the point where they can't handle today's usage.  Sprint's data cards have a 3G limit but not a 4G limit (phones still have unlimited data).  I believe Verizon should do the same thing with phones, but makes tiers fall in line with what the vast majority of people use (to help keep those who abuse the system by constantly tethering at bay), say something like 3 or 4GB a month.

But for the time being, I'm quite happy with my Droid 2 Global and my unlimited data plan that certainly isn't going away anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running late for work

Today I had an interesting customer in the drive-thru.  It started yesterday when she ordered two Frappes (we can't call them Frappucinos because Starbucks copy-writes that) and we had to tell her to pull up while we finished making them.  It was only going to take about another 30 seconds or so, and most people understand the concept of "parking cars" as we call it.  We finished her frappes about 45 seconds after we parked her and when we went outside to give them to her, she was no where to be found!  $5 worth of coffee and she didn't even stick around to get them!

Today she came through again, and this time pulled up straight to the window and wanted the coffees she ordered 24 hours prior.  Again, we had to park her because two frappes take much more time to make than the two Cokes that were in line behind her.  She became VERY indignant and demanded to see my manager.  She told my manager that she was running late for work and couldn't wait for them.  Then she actually had the gall to say that she's an important executive and we should treat her as such.

Ok, if one minute makes THAT much of a difference, then why are you stopping at all?  Either leave the house a couple minutes earlier or don't stop to get some coffees in the drive-thru.  And what does being an executive have to do with anything?  In our eyes, the guy scrounging up change to get a coffee is just as important as the guy in the BMW ordering a Big Mac meal.

Since when did society get this horrible sense of entitlement?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

Sorry about the long time since my last post, I've been very busy with work and my phone decided to take a dump on me so I've been back and forth with Verizon for the last few days getting that taken care of.

Tomorrow is Father's Day, the day we appreciate our overall underrated dads for everything they've done.  It's always intrigued me as to why our moms get much more appreciation than our dads.  Yes, I know, our moms carried us around as a parasite for 9 months and squeezed us out of a very tight body cavity one day, but our dads taught us a lot throughout our lives as well.  For the longest time (I'd say it started to change in the 70s and 80s) dads ruled the house and were looked up to.  Nowadays dads are portrayed as the incompetent, simplistic, stupid members of the family that the moms always have to clean up after.

I blame that stigma on the media.  Look at all of the popular sitcoms and TV shows of the last 10-15 years.  Everybody Loves Raymond, the King of Queens, Malcolm in the Middle, According to Jim, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show... the one thing they all have in common is that the dad/husband is an idiot and his wife is always cleaning up after him.  It's not just TV shows either.  Most commercials are the same way, whether it's mom "tricking" dad into cooking dinner by buying charcoal for the grill or catching her husband in the act of staying up late playing Xbox with their son.

So for all you dads out there, happy Father's Day and don't hurt yourself trying to open the envelope with the card

Monday, June 13, 2011

To moonlight or not to moonlight

Today while I was literally scrubbing the bathroom floors at the McDonalds where I now work, I got a phone call from a number I have never seen before.  Not wanting to break any rules on my first day on the job, I let it ring and go straight to voicemail.  After work I checked the message and it was a phone call from Meijer saying they're doing interviews for part time afternoon positions.

As much as I'd like the extra income, I find myself in a bind.  Right now McDonalds is only giving me 20 hours a week which is half of what I'd like to be seeing.  Today was also my first day so once they see what I'm capable of, I'm sure I'll be getting more hours.  If I was to get a second job, I can't even be sure McDonalds would give me a full schedule only working mornings.  Plus my girlfriend isn't quite keen on the idea of not being able to see me as much.  I sympathize with her too because I'm driving back down to Florida for school in two months and I want to spend as much time with her as I possibly can.

And it's also entirely possible the extra cash from the Meijer job wouldn't even off-set my reduced availability at McDonalds and the gas I'd be burning to drive 15 miles through a construction zone during evening rush hour.  I could REALLY use that extra money though, but is it worth time at home with my family and my girlfriend whom I barely get to see as it is?

Decisions decisions...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My First post... about McDonalds Jobs

I've been thinking about writing a blog for years, and I'm now deciding to start one up, keeping a personal journal of sorts, with my thoughts about the world and how I interact with it.

Tomorrow I start my summer job at McDonalds in Taylor, MI.  I've worked at two other McDonalds before, one in Dearborn Heights and another one down at school in Daytona Beach, FL.  All of my friends give me a hard time about working at McDonalds saying that I need to get the hell out of fast food.  Personally, I see nothing wrong with it.  I came home from school for the summer near the end of May and put in applications for more than 150 different positions for everything from food service and retail, to warehouse work and janitorial positions.  I managed to get one, and only one phone call... from McDonalds.  With today's economy, especially in Southeast Michigan, I'm very fortunate to even have a job.  Everyone says McDonalds is an easy dead-end job, but they couldn't be more wrong.  It's very stressful and very fast paced.  I'd be willing to bet than the average Joe wouldn't be able to survive a month working at a busy restaurant.  You deal with everything from rude customers, to massive orders for 20 sandwiches or more, to out of control kids and bathroom disasters that would make even the most seasoned janitor cringe.  Despite the challenges, with the right crew and management team, the job can be VERY enjoyable.  Some of the best people I've met in my life I worked with at McDonalds and there are some customers I will never forget because of the profound impression they made on me.

Yes, I can say I'm looking forward to my new job and a paycheck

Saturday, June 11, 2011

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