**** Dell, Part 2: The Save (?)

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life, Technology on | No Comments

We’ll see what happens with this, but I may have gotten all my problems solved. (Pre-Script: I knew I said I was going to talk more about corruption from both political parties today, but it’ll have to wait).

As you may remember, I recently ranted about Dell’s idiotic decision to put an Express Card slot in my laptop, rather than the older but more popular PCMCIA (PC Card) slot.  Ever since then, I’ve been considering my options.  I could:

A) Suck it up and get the vastly more expensive Express Card (Like $50 at cheapest for IEEE 1394a EC compared to like $13 retail for 1394a PC Card).  This is my least preferable choice.

B) Get a new laptop that has a PC Card slot or Firewire built in.  I’d been considering either buying my own (it’d be an Apple or a high end Dell in this case) or seeing what my dad could do for me.  It so turns out that my dad has a laptop in that has a PCMCIA slot, which would help me out a lot.  However, it’s not much better than my current computer.  Still, it’d fix both my problem of needing a PCMCIA slot and maybe have an actual properly working sound card.  This is my next preferable option, and the one I was going to pursue until tonight.

C) Leave the world of laptops behind and get a desktop.  I’d also been considering this, comparing Mac and high end Dell desktops.  They’re cheaper for one thing, and generally, desktops work a lot better for video editing.  Making it even better though, my dad just got traded a Sony Vaio desktop in lieu of his usual diagnostic fee.

Now, see how fate favors Lord Merritt (sorry fellow Harry Potter fans, couldn’t resist modifying that quote).  Not only does the computer have 1 gig of the best memory out there (Crucial), but it also is a 2.4ghz P4 (I’m using a 1.4 Celeron at the moment).  It also has a DVDRW/CDRW drive (which I’ve wanted for a while since I started getting too much music).  But, that’s not the best thing, and I think you know what’s coming.  It also has Firewire ports!  One 6 pin in the back, and a 4 pin in front.  That’s absolutely fantastic!  Interestingly, it also has an optical output, meaning I could hook this thing up to my living room’s receiver.

The only thing I’m a little worried about is that the guy says he has had to bring it in for repair 3 times this year.  And the fact that this last time (why it was in to us) was because of a failed Hard Drive.  But, my dad says he’ll put in a 160 or 250gb drive in it if I want it.  (Damnit, writing this makes me want it even more).

I already sort of have a monitor in the way of my 15-inch flatscreen TV.  So it’d perhaps be a bit of an unusual monitor, but it’d work.  No, it wouldn’t be a laptop, but who cares?  I’ve never actually brought my laptop to classes or anywhere else on campus, so an actual desktop would work fine for me.

Yea, think I’m going with this desktop.  I’ll need to get a 4 pin to a 4pin firewire cable now, but they’re cheap enough.  Thanks broken repair computers!


Another Scandal

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics on | No Comments

Wow.  I must admit, even I thought the Republicans had a chance for a few months of peace, a time when they wouldn’t make big news.  Now that Albert Gonzales and Karl Rove had jettisoned, they could get back to the job of running the country, right?

Well, apparently we were all thrown for a surprise.  Enter Senator Larry Craig.  I won’t bother explaining all the details that everybody already knows, but no sooner had the big news gone out than we were thrown some more.  In a more serene time, this probably would have been swept under the carpet, but these are no peaceful times in scandal land.  With everything else that’s gone on at Capitol Hill, I think Republicans are desperately looking for an escape hatch.  This is the kind of stuff that got the Republicans overthrown from their lofty leadership positions, after all.  No Republican wants to hear that one of their own is making the whole party look bad.  Not only do they have their own butts to worry about, but they want a Republican President elected next year.

Like with Gonzales, I think we’ll see more and more Congresspeople call for his resignation.  As far as I understand, however, he’s a pretty tough old bird.  He’s had the “he’s gay” accusation thrown his way before, and was even linked to a 1980s version of last year’s page scandal.  So, it may be hard to boot him out.  However, I think this is the first time he’s actually gotten gotten convicted of something so against party morals.  That may increase the pressure that much more.  But, we’ll see.  Even if he doesn’t leave himself, his constituents may have something to say about this next year.

This scandal has brought something up I’d like to discuss more fully tomorrow.  About how the two parties deal with scandal, and who does or doesn’t keep it under wraps.  The topic was prompted by comparisons former Congressman Tom Delay (who I don’t really think should be a spokesperson on Congressional scandal given his record) made today on MSNBC.  All that tomorrow in what’s should hopefully make for a nice long entry.


A Paperless Life, Maybe. But Voicemailess, Calless, and Cashless, too?

Posted by Mike Merritt in Society, Technology on | No Comments

Author Tim Ferriss, on his blog, tries to explain how any of us can live our lives without paper, voicemail, answering calls, or using cash.  Now, I try to live my life as electronically as possible and consolidated as possible.  Makes for easy reaching, see?  I’ve consolidated all my emails into one place (Gmail, I love you so).   I also use Google Calendar to schedule my life, and just started using Google Reader to file through my favorite blogs easily.  I also use iGoogle as my browser homepage so I’m easily able to get to all these things, as well as BBC News, some movie times, and Digg.  And with my new cell phone, I can check all these things anywhere I go.

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Stoopid AOL

Posted by Mike Merritt in Moblog on | No Comments

I think most people know by now that AOL is pretty much a POS. Yet the fact that so many still use it is a bit baffling.

Yet, even though I’ve always known that it sucks, I never truely realized how much until this Summer, when I worked at my dad’s computer repair business pretty much every week day I wasn’t doing my internship.

I’ve never used AOL as my ISP, so I never knew just how bad it was. I knew it was bloated, but not so much (at least these days) that it makes it painful for any of AOL’s remaining dial-up users. I had an idea that AOL often made difficulties whenever it got corrupted, but did not know how difficult until a computer I worked on this week.

Finally, don’t like the fact they are so tied to Internet Explorer, so that if things like images are off in IE, they will be in AOL.

There’s more I could say about AOL, but it’d take all night. AOL just needs to die a quick death.


Gonzo is Gonzo

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics on | No Comments

As I predicted in an earlier entry, Alberto Gonzales has announced his resignation, to take place next month. Well, alright, as they say, the writing was on the wall for his imminent departure.

As I discussed in my entry about Karl Rove, I believe that Gonzales’ resignation is part of a plan by the administration to make themselves look better before next year’s elections. I can’t know this for certain, but it’s a hunch, and I think a good one. Gonzales is just as, if not more important than Rove to making things look peachy for the Republicans come a year from November. Rove is the behind-the-scenes guy, but his kinda-maybe-sort of-possible role in some of the scandals of this administration would surely come back to create trouble for the Republican candidate. Gonzales, on the other hand, is even more important because he’s as publically available as Rove is privately unreachable. Take whatever trouble a continued Rove tenure could cause and multiply it by 10. That’s a to-term’s-end story of Alberto Gonzales.

As I’ve said before, I think the hope is that with Rove and Gonzales gone, the investigations might be continuing, but without them on the public scene, the news media won’t pay as much attention. They can only report on this stuff for so long before it becomes boring. Then they switch to other things for a while, until something big happens. With them out of the way, the media might be more apt to ignore the whole thing, mostly, until the Presidential election is over. By then, it won’t matter, since we’ll (they hope) have a Republican President-elect, and maybe a Congress to boot.

I don’t know how well this idea can work, since I’m not a political expert. But, the fact is that fired U.S. Attorneys and a leaked CIA operative are just not as interesting as Lindsay or Paris going to jail, or serving time over in their local rehab center. Probably they hope that the American public will tune in to that instead.

So, Rove and Gonzales are gone. I know some left-wingers would probably like to see Condoleezza Rice go, too. However, the fact is that she just hasn’t been as scandal-prone as Rove and Gonzales. I think she’s pretty safe for the rest of her term. The same people would also probably like to see Michael Chertoff go, but I also think he’s safe. He may have screwed up during Katrina, but lets not forget “Heck of a Job Brownie” got the shove on that one.

And so, I guess, ends the major resignation run of the Bush administration. Perhaps some bit players will leave, but I don’t foresee any more major people leaving. But, we’ll see what happens.


Testing Moblog

Posted by Mike Merritt in Moblog on | No Comments

If you’re seeing this, I am blogging from my cell phone. Unforunately, WordPress doesn’t have a mobile admin skin of its own, so I was forced to make one.



Posted by Mike Merritt in Television on | No Comments

I don’t know what Fox was playing at this time.  They’ve had some pretty stupid ideas, and although this one doesn’t quite take the cake, it comes close.

For those not in the know, it was a semi-reality series starring Lauren Jones, a model who used to work for Bob Barker, who wants to become an anchorwomen at KYTX in Tyler, Texas.  What’s stupid about the show is that you can’t just look for anchor talent, the same way you can like on American Idol.  Anyone who’s spent any decent amount of time in the industry knows no person will taken seriously as an anchor unless they’ve actually done some reporting.  You don’t automatically get the chair, you earn it.  So, to think that somebody can just go up and actually do it straight away is kind of ridiculous.

Well, it was canceled after one show, which is pretty typical with a lot of their shows: they just don’t make it.  Oh well, there’s always modeling or acting for her.


**** Dell

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life, Rambling on | 3 Comments

I never thought I’d say this, since my experience with Dell laptops has been more or less satisfactory, but **** Dell.

So, I wanted a Firewire card for my laptop, so I could do some video stuff.  Pretty reasonable request, right?  Should be easy to find, right?  Well, it was easy to find, and my dad got one from one of his vendors.  Not thinking, since EVERY OTHER LAPTOP MAKER USES PCMICA (PC CARD), he got that kind.

So, my Firewire card came today.  I come home to put it in, and find a problem: it’s only going in halfway!  I go to Dell’s site to find out why this might be, but of course their specs for my computer suck.  So, I look up on Google “Dell B130 PC Card.”  And what do I find to my surprise?

It’s a ******* express card slot!!!!  So, my card’s not going to work with it, since the express card is different.  And you know what?  On a quick search on eBay, it seems they cost A LOT more than PC Cards (which tend to be an industry standard, and have been for years)!  And everywhere I’ve seen still seems to be using them, mostly!  Even Verizon touts their PC Card wireless internet.

I know I should have checked before buying, but neither me or my dad thought of it, since most laptops we’ve dealt with have uses PC Cards.

This…sucks.  Now we gotta get an express card Firewire card, so it’ll take even longer!!!


God’s Warriors

Posted by Mike Merritt in Religion, Television on | No Comments

I speak of this three-day mini-series as something of an outsider. I am not really religious, and so I hope that gives me something of a more objective viewpoint on the program.

For those who don’t know, “God’s Warriors” was a three-day mini-series by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour the investigates fundamentalism in the three major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I think I already know what most of the fundamentalists of each of these religions would say: that it was biased and hateful toward their religion. They might also say that overall, the program attacks religion.

I’m not so sure on that. Now, I know that CNN isn’t the most balanced of network’s, but what of the big three cable networks can say they are? Certainly not MSNBC or Fox News. On the other hand, I think that for the most part, it was pretty objective. It didn’t seem to try to promote any opinions about certain religions. And it gave both sides of the equation a voice. What I mean by that is while the fundamentalists got a chance to talk about what they do to promote a more conservative following of their religion, it also gave a chance for some of the more moderate, and even downright liberal, wings to say what they see as a theft of their faith by the other side. If anything, the program gave even more time to the fundamentalists.

If I do have any objections to the program, it’s some possibly unnecessary mixing of the true extremists (i.e. suicide bombers) with those that simply see the religion as a way of life. Even then, however, I do think they try to take some lengths to separate those two kinds of followers.

I’m not going to get into the nitpick details of each night. Just wanted to say that I personally found the mini-series a rather illuminating narrative.


A New Iraq Government Strategy?

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics on | No Comments

It would appear that the U.S. may be changing its attitude on democracy in Iraq.  Okay, maybe not changing it, more than fine tuning it.  Whatever the case is, according to some commanders on the ground, the administration may be looking for any solution that’ll bring stability to the country, even if it falls short of of full democratic standards.

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