Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Good Day

This week I'm on vacation from work, but not on 'a vacation'. That is to say that I am not going into the office, nor doing any work from home for my employer, but I haven't gone anywhere and haven't planned any special activities. I'm simply taking a few days off from work. I AM trying to get as much accomplished as possible during this unusual free time.

Today was a very nice day. I planned on waking up early this morning and going to the fitness center to work out, and then going to the mall to get new glasses. At the end of the year I sometimes get new glasses to use up remaining money in my flexible spending account (FSA). As for the fitness center, I've been working out every few days for the last month or so, and it's not nearly as bad as I expected. Today, however, I overslept and didn't work out after all.

First thing in the morning I tried to determine if the optical store I usually use was in my current insurance plan. They weren't. I then called some people, searched the internet, and found an eye doctor to use that was in my plan. Her office was closed until January 5, however. Next, I called the administrator of the FSA, and learned my FSA year doesn't end until May 31, so there is no urgency as far as getting new glasses and spending the money. One task knocked out already!

At this point it was about 10:30am. I checked moviewatcher.com, and saw Bedtime Stories was playing nearby at 11:45am. Nate and I got ready, and took off for the theatre with a couple of PB&Js stuffed under my jacket. We both liked the movie a lot. It felt to me like the traditional Disney flicks I'd see when I was a kid.

After the movie, we got my car a Deluxe car wash. The car came out looking great. Unfortunately every once in a while the car wash folks break the ashtray door on my console. I don't know how they do this, but it happens occasionally, so when we got home I spent about 15 minutes in the driveway fixing the ashtray. (This isn't really a huge deal, but is annoying. I need to remove the center console and re-attach a spring to the side of the lid, and then put everything back together.)

Once I'd fixed the ashtray and put the car back together, I went in to the house, and proceeded to help Nate build his brand-new Legos set that grandma gave him for Chanukah. -- Lego Racers - Ring of Fire! Everything came out great, and Nate had a blast playing with the car. I'll try to remember tomorrow to take some pics of his latest creation and add the pictures to his page.

Once we finished with the Legos I made dinner for Jess, Nate, and I. I'd picked up some wonton soup, and we had a Cashew Chicken kit that I simply needed to add chicken to and prepare.

After we ate dinner it was just about time to get Maren from her Nana's, where she'd been having a party with Nana all day long. One of my favorite movies is High Fidelity. One of my Chanukah presents from Jess was her taking me to see the High Fidelity stage production, performed at our local Jewish Community Center. I had no idea how the movie could be transformed in to a musical, but it was great. During Chanukah Jessica gave me the Original Cast Recording from the play, and I popped it in to the car stereo on the trip to get Maren. It was great too.

As alluded to in a previous post, I'd been searching for the Logitech S510 keyboard/mouse combo all year. This item has been discontinued, and given that, given the state of the economy, and given that we are in the time period immediately after a terrible Christmas shopping season, I've been hoping to find the product heavily discounted somewhere. Microcenter is only a little farther than my in-laws' apartment, so before heading out to pick up Maren I thought I'd check Microcenter's website for the S510 and see if they had any left, and what the price was.

Once I loaded up my web browser, though, I thought to check Target first, as Target is closer. Target had the S510 on sale for $37, much cheaper than their usual price of $61. So I swung by Target and bought the keyboard/mouse bundle for myself before picking Maren up.

Next I picked Maren up, and she was unusually happy. She was just in an unbelievably great mood, and she spent the drive home telling me about everything she and Nana had done all day long.

Finally we arrived home and Jess put Nate and Maren to bed while I ripped my new CD and copied the files to my music repository.

Distilling my day to the core, I:
* Took Nate to a movie
* Got a new toy I'd been wanting for a year, on sale
* Built a lego set with Nate
* spent some quality car-time with Maren
* had a nice dinner at home
* got to listen to a good new CD

It's been an excellent day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ruminating on the 'death' of Windows XP

Yesterday I read that Microsoft has extended the cutoff date for sales of Windows XP, again. I've seen countless articles discussing this, read a few, and had coworkers discuss the topic with me. The consensus seems to be that this is evidence of the failure of Windows Vista.

This has me wondering why Microsoft (or really, any publisher) needs to kill old versions of software at all.

Ever since I was a teenager I wished car companies could continue producing certain classics, even years later. I'd love it if it was possible to still buy a 1976 Delta 88 convertible, or a 240Z, or a first-generation RX-7, new. But as recent events show, car manufacturers incur large expenses, and it would be untenably costly for them to produce extra models. It would also run afoul of various safety regulations, certainly - a 1976 automobile won't meet 2009 auto safety regulations.

Software is different. There aren't any safety regulations concerning Windows. And the cost of producing and reproducing the software is inconsequential.

I'd think Microsoft could simply produce any version of any software they've ever produced and sold, and keep them all avaialble pretty much eternally. If for some reason a person wants to buy a copy of DOS 5, where's the harm in that? If somebody sees a compelling reason to want Vista, they can buy it and install it in place of XP, Ubuntu, or whatever they had previously.

If a person or company wanted to use XP, they still could. If Microsoft felt that XP was no longer competitive in the marketplace, they could produce a newer OS, such as Vista, to comepete with the other OSes available. If Vista, Windows 7, or whatever else bested the competing systems, then MS would make money from it. If people decided to NOT buy the newer system, they could either buy XP, or something from a different publisher. In that case, Microsoft still has a shot at collecting money.

Instead, we have a situation where Microsoft will ONLY offer Vista, and if a buyer doesn't like that, they need to either try to find some 'sneaky' way to procure XP, or legitimately buy some other OS from somebody other than Microsoft. Microsoft also has to deal with the PR and marketing hurdles in their way as they try to extend the sales-life of XP without looking like Vista was a failure.

I don't see the sense in this. If Microsoft instead sold anything they've ever sold, to anyone at anytime, they wouldn't be in this situation. I don't see a downside.

Of course, I'm not a sales/marketing person, and my brain simply doesn't work the way theirs do. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and Sales/Mktg are from some planet in the Alpha Centauri system.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm no math expert, but this is interesting...

Was 'window-shoppping' online today, and glanced at a product I've wanted for about a year - the Logitech S510 wireless keyboard and mouse combo. Last spring Target had this for about $50, this past weekend they had it priced at $61. Now, that's not the direction I've been waiting for, but today I found the item online:

The image is a bit small, but clicking on it shows it full-size. In a nutshell, the item is described as ' (*regular $51 - $11 mwave instant discount = $45, while supplies last!) '. Now I'm no whiz, but how does $51 - $11 = $45? And then, for our further amusement, the price is listed as $36.76!

Unrelated - I realize it's been over two months since my last update, and I have plenty to write about now. I'll hopefully get this thing updated soon with other news. I should really learn about RSS. Maybe this blog can notify any interested readers when there is a new post, and you won't have to just check occasionally. Wouldn't surprise me if it can do that....