Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happier Subject - A Street Fair

Tomorrow, starting at about noon, there is a street fair on Court Street here in Brooklyn.  It runs from Union to 9th Street and should be a lot of fun.  My friend Dmitri, kind of a Severus Snape look-alike, will be playing with The Black Coffee Blues Band from 2:30 PM until 6:00 PM at 498 Court Street which, I think, is between Luguer and Nelson streets.  They will be playing at an indoor gallery space so if you don't see them from the street, look inside.



The Mysterious Chinese Woman is going to the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the morning, but she may be joining me later in the afternoon so be there or be, well, somewhere else.

Death Eaters beware.

Cognitive Dissonance

I am starting to think that the reason everyone raves about the iPad so much is that after spending all the time and money to acquire one they can't admit they may have made a mistake.

Easy to use, I don't think so.  And here is just one example.  I downloaded a free e-book from, no problem.  But to access and read it you need to download a free app, iBooks.  Okay, again, no problem.  But then no icon shows up.  You need to reboot to get the icon.  And then the icon doesn't appear on the main page of icons, even though there is plenty of room, but on a "hidden" page.  After scrolling to the "hidden" page you can then drag it to the main page.  Now really, would you say that is intuitive?

Also, to use Hotmail (I know, using a Microsoft application on an Apple product) I went to Safari and then went to and accessed Hotmail from there.  I can't simply use the Mail feature on the iPad because it only shows me my main mail box, but none of my other folders.  Okay, so now I am fine with getting to Hotmail.  But originally when I went to Safari you could get a panel of icons that worked like a user guide.  Now I have no idea how to get that to reappear.

No USB port is also a pain, although I knew there wouldn't be one going in.  But now I don't know how to get pictures from my camera to the iPad without first loading them to my main PC (I did finally manage to get iTunes completely loading by doing the install in Administrator mode) and then either doing an iTunes sync or uploading them to Photobucket and accessing them from there.

Tried to download Rhapsody, which I really like, but it needs Adobe Flash Player.  When I try to download and install that on my iPad I get this message:

"Thanks for trying to access Flash Player.  Unfortunately it is not available for your device because of restrictions that Apple has put in place.  Click here for a wide array of the latest smartphones and tablets that do support Adobe's Flash Player."

I can see where the iPad isn't meant to replace your PC or Mac or whatever, simply augment it.

I realize that I am still on a steep learning curve here, so hopefully things will get better.  Kind of disconcerting, though, when you go on Google and see how much stuff there is on work-arounds for what should be trivial stuff (getting an icon to show up after downloading an application, for example).  Microsoft would be ripped to shreds by Apple users if their applications or operating systems were half as buggy.  Just my humble opinion, of course.

On the other hand, with its orange cover that I bought it goes nicely with my Kindle, which has a purple cover.

Okay, last post kvetching about my iPad.  For now at least.  I am sure there will be more on this subject as time goes by.  Maybe, as I become more familiar with it, my comments may become more favorable.  Or someone will be getting a slightly used iPad for a Christmas present next year.

Yay!! Found the iPad version of Rhapsody.  Only problem is that it seems not to recognize my current membership, Unlimited Access, really isn't that unlimited.  It covers PCs, such as my HP Notebook and my Dell laptop and, of course, my HP TouchSmart.  What doesn't it cover?  You guessed it, "portable devices," which include the iPad.  So although I can load and use Rhapsody on my iPad, it will cost me an additional
$9.99 a month to do so,  My current subscription only costs me $71.88 a year.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Head Scratcher

I just bought a new iPad2.  This is my first experience with an Apple product other than an iPod and I am a bit perplexed.  The first thing you are asked to do before you can use it is plug it into a Mac or PC or something that already has iTunes installed.  So if this was your first and only PC or Apple product what do you have to do, go find someone who will let you plug into their PC or Apple product?  That just seems silly.

I can't think of another product that I have ever purchased that requires something like this.  Most products, including every PC that I have ever purchased, are usable right out of the box.

On top of that you need to set up an Apple Store account which requires you to enter your credit card information.  Apple sure operates differently than any other product I have ever purchased.

Okay, then it gets worse.  After getting my applications to show up on my iPad and thinking everything was working okay I get a message saying that there is an update available and then the update started.  That kicked my iPad back to the screen where it asks you to connect to iTunes.  Then I get a message saying that the update can't be applied and now here I sit again, back at the same screen I got when I first turned the thing on.  Haven't figured out what to do now, but so far this has been nothing but a frustrating experience.

Why do I even need to have ITunes, an application I never use, installed on my PC just to get a newly purchased iPad to work.  But you do, this is right from the User Manual:

To use iPad, you need:

A Mac or a PC with a USB 2.0 port and one of the following operating systems:
- Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later
- Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3
   or later

iTunes 10.2 or later, available at
An Apple ID
Broadband Internet access

Finally called Tech Support and got a friendly person on the other end after a fairly short wait.  Explained my problem and, essentially, he sent me an email detailing the steps I needed to take.  First step was to uninstall iTunes and related programs.  This I did.  Then it said to reinstall iTunes which, when I tried to do it still gave me error messages related to being unable to install the software for communicating with iPods and mobile phones.  I guess this means iPads as well.

Next step, trying to install iTunes on my HP Notebook to see if that works.  It should be noted that the only reason I am installing iTunes on my HP Notebook is to be able to use my iPad.  I have been happily using it without iTunes for over a year now.  Again, think of the irony.  I have to install software I will never use other than to be able to use my new iPad.  And I have to give my credit card information to the Apple Store even though I have no intention of ever buying anything from them.

Okay, just successfully downloaded and installed the iTunes software and now I have updates to install.

Time spent trying to get my iPad to work so far, well over three hours.  Time it spent me to get my HP TouchSmart and my HP Notebook to work after taking them out of the box and plugging them in, ten minutes.

Plugged in my iPad and got a message on my HP Notebook that iTunes has discovered an iPad in recovery mode.  I must restore the iPad before it can be used with iTunes.  Thankfully I have been emailed the instructions for doing this.  Looks like nine steps and probably another hour.  Right now it is downloading a software update that has been saying 25 minutes remaining for about the last 15 minutes.  I think I am going to go read the New York Times on my new Kindle that worked immediately upon turning it on for the first time.

I am sure that after I get this thing working, assuming that I do, I will really like it and find some humor in this whole installation thing.  Right now, not so much.

I will keep you posted so stay tuned.

Yay!!!  Finally it works.  Or at least it seems to work.  I haven't put it through its paces yet but that will have to wait until tomorrow.  Now I just want to go to bed.  I know some of you will think I was naive, but I swear, from watching all of the commercials I thought I could just take the iPad out of the box, turn it on, type in my wireless password and away I would go.  Who knew.

As best as I can figure out, my problem was that iTunes, as it was installed on my HP TouchSmart, was missing some crucial pieces.  Namely, the software for communicating with iPods and mobile phones.  And, for some reason, after trying twice, these components could not be installed.  Therefore I had to do a clean install on my HP Notebook.  Once that was done and I did the restore on the iPad everything looks good.

I am hoping there will be no further updates to this saga.

A Reunion Of Sorts

Kind of late with this post, but better late than never, I guess.

Last Saturday I hooked up with my brother-in-law Jim. He had just returned from Rio where he was working on the movie Fast Five. Well, kind of working on the movie. He does lighting and did the lighting for the interviews with the cast. Pretty cool, though. Anyway, he looks after our place when the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I are in Mexico so I treated to him to a meal for his troubles. Cheap labor, if you ask me.

We started out at, no surprise here, the Waterfront Ale House.

Shameless Plug, I Know

Actually, I have to take a picture of their beer menu because it changes all the time and then I forget what I ordered. Maybe I should resurrect the practice of taking notes on recipe cards.

Jim had a Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball, probably because he liked the name, and the Mysterious Chinese Woman had an Avery's Joe's Pilsner.

Notice The Family Resemblance?

I Opted For The Ramstein Dark Wheat

The official name of the beer is Ramstein Winter Wheat Eisbock and it is brewed by the Highpoint Brewing Company right across the river in New Jersey. Well, New Jersey is right across the river, kind of. The beer is a potent 11.5% ABV but doesn't taste that strong and goes down way too smooth. Has a nice nutty taste to it and I liked it enough to have two. Jim had one as well when he finished his Hairy Eyeball.

Now normally I would just stay at the Waterfront Ale House if I wanted barbecue, or at least barbecued ribs, but Jim wanted to try out a place in Manhattan.

Hill Country

A different type of place, but the barbecue was authentic. It is quite big and really packed up while we were there. You get your menu and order your drinks from the waitress and then go up to the counter and order your food and bring it back to the table.

Checking Out The Menu

They have a big enclosed area where they do their barbecuing and they use wood so everything has that authentic flavor. And not just ribs.

A Big Guy And A Big Brisket, Or Maybe Ribs

Everything Cut To Order

Once we all figured out what we wanted, brisket, ribs, chicken and a couple of sides, we sent the Mysterious Chinese Woman up to collect our food.

Placing Our Order

And Proudly Delivering Them

Lots Of Good Stuff

We got sides of baked beans and collard greens. Hey, that rhymes. And nothing goes with barbecue better than, well, better than Margaritas.

Good Ones Too

And Then We Dug In

Notice how I smile for the camera while Jim just looks retarded?

I have to say that the food here is damn good. If I was just going for the ribs I would stick with the Waterfront Ale House (but then I am biased) but for an overall genuine in the city barbecue fix this place would be hard to beat. Would definitely come back again, especially if I was already in Manhattan.

Might Be Fun At Night Too

Hill Country

And there you have it, a happy reunion, good beer, good food, and good Margaritas.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When You Gotta Go You Gotta Go

Like much in New York, things don't always worked as advertised.  A big deal was made about putting public toilets around the city.  All kinds of arguments about whether they should be pay toilets, handicap accessible, manned or unmanned, you name it.  Kind of funny because there used to be public toilets all over the place.  But the ones in the subway stations have all been closed or converted to news stands, and most of the public bathrooms in the parks are closed.  Even the public bathrooms in newer places are often closed for one reason or another.  Puerto Vallarta in Mexico seems to have more accessible public bathrooms than New York City.  Granted, you are expected to pay a few pesos to use them, but so what.

Well, the new public toilets in New York are pay toilets as well.  But, as you might expect, they don't always work.

The Instructions Seem Clear Enough

Just Put In Your Quarter

Try To Open The Door

Then Do What You Need To Do

Hey, for all I know, this is how they are supposed to work.

And speaking of how things don't always work as planned, I thought this was kind of typical of trying to navigate the subway.

You Really Can't Get There From Here

Ah, life in the big city.  There really isn't anything like it.