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June 30, 2010

links for 2010-06-30

June 29, 2010

What I learned today, June 29

The non-Hispanic white population of New York City is just 35 percent, and has been below 40 percent since the 1990s.

June 28, 2010

links for 2010-06-28

June 24, 2010

links for 2010-06-24

  • I'm an Apple fan, shareholder and relatively early adopter. But I have never understood the concept of waiting on a long line to buy a gadget. For one thing, the gadget's not going anywhere; pick it up a day, or a week, later if your career isn't dependent on it. Truly, what's the difference? (I bought the original iPhone on Day Two and my life was no less fulfilling or sexy.) For another, the danger of buying first means you may get to be the one to expose flaws. There's an old adage that says not to buy a car in its first model year, because production quality improves over time; perhaps this is starting apply to Apple, which has to crank out a million of any new device just for launch. Curious to see how this plays out.
    (tags: gadgets iphone)

Happiness is

Happiness is, originally uploaded by netwert.

Levain Bakery and sunflowers. Miss you, Amy.

June 23, 2010

What I learned today, June 23

This is not news to me, but it may be to you: New Jersey has around 600 diners, the most in the country.

News to me is that Wikipedia has an awesome page on diners. Worth reading if you've ever ordered a taylor ham-egg-and-cheese sandwich after midnight (or if you know someone who has).

June 22, 2010

links for 2010-06-22

June 21, 2010

What I learned today, June 21

Father's Day is the third-best-selling "Hallmark Holiday," with 93 million cards changing hands at a cost of $749 million. It trails Valentine's Day (152 million cards) and Mother's Day (141 million) in volume. All three combined are dwarfed by Christmas, which generates 1.8 billion card sales each year.

June 20, 2010

links for 2010-06-20

June 17, 2010

links for 2010-06-17

On twentieth-century media

The Awl: The Golden Age Of Hipper-Than-Thou CD Fetishization Begins Now.

See, I've still got my old stereo, and I've been hoarding all the CDs I bought or burned between the ages of 13 and 24. Sure, they take up a lot of space. Was a bitch to move them out of the old apartment, too, but it's worth it. This stuff is gold. ... We remember Tower Records, man. We were there.
My son (age two) broke my CD player last month. My gorgeous, wonderful, feature-rich, six-disc Pioneer CD changer, which lasted longer in regular use than any other piece of electronics I've ever owned, which I loved so much that I bought a matching car CD changer so I could swap the cartridges, which was such a near-perfect device that I actually had the laser realigned in 1996 rather than buy a new one. The day it broke was almost exactly the 20th anniversary of its purchase.

Twenty years is a long time for a piece of stereo equipment, so I'm not all that saddened that it broke. Its passing has thrown me into something of an existential crisis, though.

Do I buy another one?

I mean, I'm an iPod guy through and through. Had one since they first came out. I carry a 160GB iPod Classic in addition to my iPhone. I rarely pop in CDs to listen to casually, and despite my lifelong love affair with record stores, I've only physically bought music two or three times in the past couple of years, and they were point-of-sale impulse buys.

On the other hand, I have a lot of discs. More than a thousand. Most of which I've never properly digitized, because of the daunting task of burning a thousand CDs. (I perversely burn the albums I least care about, in order to get them out of my apartment, which means my iTunes collection contains a lot of mediocre music and not enough of my old favorites.) When we moved into our current apartment, I had two wall units custom-built for our living room, one of which just houses CDs.

I have been thinking for awhile about digitizing the whole thing and just moving on. But what to do with all that music? I'm something of a collector and I don't like the idea of throwing away the tangible jewel boxes and liner notes, especially considering how much money, and time, I invested in acquiring them.

But the reality of progress cannot be ignored. I saved 800 cassette tapes and 200 vinyl records in my parents' house when I moved out in the '90s, and to date, I've listened to roughly 30 of those cassettes and none of the records. The hoarder in me shouts, "But those thirty! And how much is irreplaceable? And what about the next time you need music and forget your iPod? And the bootlegs, man! And imagine if you had to reassemble your metal collection from scratch...!"

Thing is, I have reassembled a lot of my music collection. No matter how much I deny it, I don't look back much: all those classic rock albums I have on cassette? I don't even leave those artists on the radio when the local rock radio station plays their songs. We move on.

In an ideal world, I'd find myself at home with two weeks to kill and no one else in the house, and I'd spend a few days pulling all my music--cassettes and all--into a lossless audio format on a two-terabyte hard drive with dual backups. I don't know if or when that will ever happen, but in the meantime, I may as well admit to progress.

So we're not replacing the CD player in the component stereo. We will, instead, pop in an iPod cable, so until we get a music server set up we can play tunes without dealing with the laptop. And my son--who, before breaking it, learned how to turn on the stereo and play CDs in the old Pioneer--will be able to bring his iPod into the living room and play his kids' tunes on his own volition, once he learns to read, that is. And at some point I'll even purge the living room of physical CDs.

It's not that the future has arrived. Heck, the future has been here for years. It just took a toddler's accident for me to formally let go of the past.

June 15, 2010

links for 2010-06-15

June 4, 2010

What I learned today, June 3

The typical modern soccer ball, with its black-on-white pentagons, looks the way it does because for the 1970 World Cup FIFA had Adidas design a ball that was easy to see on television.

That's me, the anachronism

For reasons still unclear to me, a six-month print subscription to Newsweek in my name began arriving in my mailbox this week. Awesome.

(I should note that not only is this borderline ridiculous, situationally, but also that in my many years of reading magazines I never liked Newsweek. I grew up in a Time household and I subscribe to The Economist. Newsweek felt fluffy. I wonder if I can gift this comp sub somewhere.)

June 3, 2010

On bagels

Westside Independent: Numerous UWS Restaurants Closed for Health Violations. The list of May offenders includes Tal Bagel, Hot & Crusty and Popover Cafe.

I had breakfast at Tal over the weekend and nearly posted a review to Yelp and Menupages about it. The place is, in a word, dirty. Tables full of crumbs, grimy floors, a crusty pizza that looked like it had been sitting out since the night before. My bagels were fine enough, but I had them toasted--they were undoubtedly a day old. (Ask a Tal employee on a Saturday morning, "Which bagels are warm?" and he'll tell you, "None, we didn't cook this morning.")

The beauty of living in Manhattan, of course, is that choice is abundant. So instead of Tal, I go to Lenny's a few blocks up for a bagel, or, when it's convenient, to H&H (which has had its share of problems recently, but about money, not cleanliness). I rarely go to my freakishly expensive local supermarkets; I hit Fairway instead. And while Popover Cafe has some good food, my wife (accurately!) says it's too dirty, so we eat elsewhere.

The real problem here is that all the dirty places on the UWS seem to be the ones nearest my apartment. Get it together, people! I want to support your well-run businesses!

On AT&T's new data tethering

For all the fuss about AT&T's new data rates (both pragmatically good and knee-jerk bad) the main point to keep in mind is whether those rates are actually good for consumers. For the most part, they are: John Gruber notes in his post that 98% of AT&T's users fall below the new 2GB monthly plan, and that even with overages these rates beat the competition.

datausage.pngI'm a daily, heavy user of data on my iPhone 3GS, so I logged into my phone bill to see where I land. And lo, a surprise: not only do I not need unlimited data, I can actually drop down to the 250MB plan. Because I regularly use my home and work wifi, and I don't download much media, my 3G bandwidth usage has been 230MB or less for the past six months.

I like the idea of an open meter, and when I change plans, I'll probably switch to the 2GB/month plan, even if it costs me a few bucks extra. I will be happier paying $25/month and never hitting my limit than paying $15/month and worrying about, or getting slapped with, overages when I download some videos. Still, that's found money for me, and for 98% of AT&T's smartphone users.

One could gripe all day about AT&T's signal strength or its needlessly expensive text messaging plans. But its data plans are well considered and decently consumer-friendly, no matter how the blogosphere reacts.

June 1, 2010

links for 2010-06-01

What I learned today, June 1

The elected members of the New York State Senate and Assembly have been more likely in the past 10 years to leave office by resigning in disgrace than to actually lose an election.