Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Zune 8gb review

I recently bought the new Zune flash player it's the 8 gb model and gave it a quick once over. So far the player appears to be a solid competitor to the ipod nano. The first thing you notice when trying out some of the pre-loaded content is the outstanding video quality. The screen is a bit smaller than the nano (1.8 inches vs 2.0) but the clarity of the picture seems a little better. That's a subjective observation and could change in time. The sound quality with the same bit rate song ripped from the same cd sounded slightly better on the zune, again a totally subjective observation. I should note that neither in my opinion have the sound quality of the hard drive based Cowon iaudio6 a 4 gb player with the best sound quality of any mp3 player I've tried.
The interface on the zune is also excellent. The squircle? if thats whats it called was easy to learn and is only slightly less functional than the ipods click wheel. I prefer the the menu as it starts up , choosing between the various categories is easy, better for me than the ipod because the larger font make it easier for my eyes to quickly pick out a catagory, than on the ipod. That however changes quickly when a category is chosen. Individual songs are very small when trying to find your selection. The ipod however is really no better, anyone without perfect vision will strain to see what they're playing on either player.
I find the players to be basically equal head to head at this point. The wireless features of the Zune for both syncing with the Zune software and sharing with other Zunes I haven't yet had a chance to use, and I don't expect to any time soon.
The Zune does have an FM radio, a nice feature I will use in time. the ipod has an equalizer that I've never bothered to use, the Zune does not.
My own preference for the players themselves while using them out in the field and in the car would go to the Zune but not by much.
The software on the Zune is very nice. I was able to find pretty much all the podcast I was interested in and I'd say it presented the podcast in a way that I ended up trying several new podcasts that I never saw or just didn't notice in itunes. The music library seems well stocked with a great selection of artists and tracks. But there is no way this compares to itunes or the seamless way it finds your artist and then tells you what others have downloaded. I find itunes superior overall to the Zune store for overall use, and I must say the color of the Zune store is hideous, pink, what where they thinking.
Compatibility: Zune is a windows based product, period, xp service pack 2 and beyond only. Itunes I believe goes all the way back to windows 2000 and beyond and of coarse Mac os 10.2 and beyond!
Well that's my first impression I'll continue to use both my 8gb nano and the 8gb Zune for the forseeable future until I get sick of some feature in one or the other. I have a huge collection on itunes but the zune software allows for a monthly subscription service I'll try out eventually.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Leopard installation hell

A couple of weeks ago I decided to upgrade my Powerbook G4 with Leopard. I knew I was at the lower end of the hardware requirement spec. 1GB G4 processor and 768 of ram, I was just above the minimum. I decided a clean install seemed in order so I backed up my data and went to work.
I put in the disc went to disc utility and did a reformat then installed Leopard. I'd heard it was a slow process so when it took an hour and a half I wasn't to concerned. Finally the machine rebooted and I waited to do the usual registration sign in to start. I got as far as the pre login screen with the spinning wheel below the apple logo, and this was where it stayed. I waited for about half an hour and still no progress. I tried rebooting several times and this was as far as I got. So I decided something went wrong during the install. I ended up trying a fresh install 5 times. I never did get past the spinning wheel and apple logo. Finally I decided it wasn't to be and reinstalled Tiger.
After a day or so I decided to try one more time with Leopard. This time I decided to just upgrade. For some reason the install took about half the time, and worked perfectly. I've been looking around the blogs and support pages and most people end up doing a clean install when having Leopard install problems.
Well I am glad thats over, I'm enjoying the new features of Leopard and it doesn't seem to be much slower than Tiger.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pre storm fun

Always enjoy a good rain storm especially since a below average rainfall for 2006-07 in this part of California left us pretty dry. One good storm and and we might get a coho run in time for Christmas. Went for a short bike ride, my favorite short but sweet single track, 1300 feet up and then right back down. The Titus Switchblade I ride is a few years old but climbs and descends better than any bike I've tried.
Tried installing a beta version of Office 2008 for mac on my old Powerbook G4 running Leopard. It runs but it's sooo slow. Beta releases are always a crap shoot, this one looks nice but it's very buggy, definitely not for production. I prefer Office 2007 on Windows I love the ease of use, for me the ribbon works, although some people hate it.
Mulled over the idea downloading RC of service pack 1 for Vista. Think I'll pass,I'm having 0 problems with the OS as it stands. Looking forward to the final release. On the Extreme tech podcast( mentioned that most of the service pack will not be, re-releases of updates already pushed by widows update. But have new features, a modification of UAC to lessen the steps in some cases from 4 to 1 "allows". I think Vista is an awesome OS, not without its glitches but all my hardware has always worked, it seldom crashes a program and runs fast and stable.
So much for conventional wisdow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Welcome: I wanted to create a blog about the things that interest me. Mainly I enjoy everything technology related, computers, digital music, video, and photography primarily. I love to try different operating systems and different hardware, when ever I can. I listen to a ton of podcast mostly technology related with a few of the NPR offerings thrown in once in a while. I like to try various download services and different mp3 players.
My other alter-ego is that of an outdoor enthusiast. Backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking or cross country skiing is what I love. I've been into the outdoors for over 40 years.