Sunday, December 30, 2007

Former Old Monk Barmen take their chances on Downtown Plano & DART Rail

( Photo courtesy of G.J. McCARTHY/DMN)

Co-owners Gabe Whatley and Kelly Wesner, who previously helped operate The Old Monk, a popular Dallas pub, built the Fillmore in a building that was previously a hardware store, pharmacy and antiques shop.
Mr. Whatley said the crowds have encouraged him.
"People are looking to us to bring more people to the neighborhood, and I think we have," he said.
Gabe & Kelly are great guys. Pablo's Point wishes them much success in their suburban endeavors. Are Plano pubs smoke-free? I'm ready for Dallas pubs to go smoke free. Half the kids "smoking" at the Old Monk just let their ciggies dangle & stink up the joint so that they look cool. Let's move the smokers outside once & for all.

Sad news about the Tecole Taco House across the street from the Idle Rich Pub. It has been closed. Word is that it will be reopened in the new year as a mere pub. The food was really tasty. And it was a great place to get churros with caramel: a very effective hangover remedy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Hammer & The Hard Line

Well, once we had an easy ride and always felt the same
Time was on our side and I had everything to gain
Let it be like yesterday
Please let me have happy days
Won't you tell me
Where have all the good times gone?
- The Kinks
By now many Dallas radio listeners have heard all about Greg Williams ongoing recovery issues. Last week the Hard Line announced his being shown the door - ostensibly for not having complied with a "get-clean or you're fired" order from station management.
In the past few years I have really taken to listening to this Sports Radio station. Before embracing the Ticket 1310 AM, I used to screen out most AM radio for the poor sound and the bevy of commercials. At one point on my dial XM Radio & MP3 CD capability forced out local radio in favor of commercial-free entertainment. But I found myself craving local coverage. The recipe for 1310 The Ticket's Arbitron-ratings success in the DFW market has been a simple one: consistent, conversational sports coverage by next-door neighbor personalities. Greg "The Hammer" Williams was a key part of this recipe for the afternoon drive-time program. His "back porch country witticisms" imbued the 3+hour show with a sense of perspective. Don't be mistaken: It's Rhyner who holds the show together. Yet he seems to be the on-air personality most affected by The Hammer's departure. He would be wise to try out a few more co-host candidates.
My two cents would have the Sturminator replace Hammer. Bob Sturm has the sports smarts and the Ticket Schtick down pat. The one thing you can't expect to replace is the personal chemistry that the Hammer & Rhynes had together. They both loved talking the "talking sport" of baseball.
They have had Kevin Scott & Rob Wilonsky on the show to patch the dam. But The Hardline would do well to replace Greg Williams with a headliner from one of the other shows. Rhynes stated that they were likely to add someone to the lineup. The 2nd half of this statement is available here. The Morning Musers have their mojo. BAD Radio from 12pm to 3pm has Bob Sturm, Dan McDowell & Donovan Lewis. Bob Sturm would be a good fit. He's very knowledgeable sports wise. Dan McDowell might fit the Hammer's personality better. He's known to be cranky & willing to pick a fight (ask Lee Corso about that). But it's hard to imagine Dan McDowell handling the schizoid, to and fro Hardline of Corby & Danny very well.
Might be weird to analyze the drive-home show of an AM Radio Station's line-up. But this is the biggest ratings draw in DFW radio. It has been carefully cultivated over the years.
There's a liturgical quality to "Hi, I'm Ty Walker reminding you to remember the time you spent listening to Dunham & Miller Mornings on The Ticket SportsRadio 1310." It gets stuck in your head. A friend of mine moved to Cincinnati but still listens to The Ticket podcasts online.

(The photos were taken at a remote that the Hardline was doing at the Sigel's in Buckingham on September 27th a mere few weeks before Greggo's meltdown.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tom Petty - Runnin' Down A Dream DVD Trailer

In my daydreams, the movie megaplex down the interstate would be featuring this kind of movie in a festival atmosphere once or twice a week.

From Rolling Stone:

Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary Runnin’ Down a Dream, which tells the story of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ thirty-year journey and explores Petty’s own wanderings as a member of Traveling Wilburys and a solo performer. The film — which features testimonials from Eddie Vedder, Rick Rubin, Stevie Nicks, Johnny Depp and Dave Grohl, and footage of Petty playing alongside Bob Dylan, Vedder and many other artists — will screen October 14th at the 2007 New York Film Festival and in select cities the following day, and will then air on Sundance October 29th. A deluxe DVD release will hit Best Buy stores on the 16th.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scorsese to produce George Harrison Doc, Bogdanovich Petty Doc & Ringo Tarantino's Rock & Roll Daily Blog has this tidbit about a Martin Scorsese-produced rock doc on George Harrison.
Martin Scorsese will direct an authorized documentary about George Harrison, Daily Variety reports. “George Harrison’s music and his search for spiritual meaning is a story that still resonates today and I’m looking forward to delving deeper,” Scorsese said of the project. Harrison’s widow, Olivia, who will serve as a producer on the film, which will go into production this year. “It would have given George great joy to know that Martin Scorsese has agreed to tell his story,” she said. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have also agreed to participate.
And it appears that, finally, we will see the fruit of Peter Bogdanovich's yearlong filming of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' 30th Anniversary Tour.
In other rock movie news: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are about to get the documentary treatment at the hands of filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. Runnin’ Down A Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will debut at the New York Film Festival in October, and will then be available as a four-disc set at Best Buys nationwide. In addition to the documentary film, the release comes with a DVD of the band’s 30th Anniversary Concert in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida, as well as collection of rarities. quotes Quentin Tarantino's desire to make a film with Ringo Starr. (If he can do for Ringo what he did for John Travolta, you can imagine that Ringo is listening carefully.)
PULP FICTION director QUENTIN TARANTINO is hoping to cast BEATLES legend RINGO STARR in an upcoming movie role. The cult filmmaker admired the drummer's presence onstage and believes he has the abilities to star in a future film. He says, "I'm Elvis over the Beatles any day of the week but there's always been something special about Ringo. "I've always thought he had the best stage presence in the band."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Battle at Kruger

Here we have proof that it's never too late to give up. Don't mind the shaky camera work. It's worth putting up with.

My father-in-law showed this viral video to us. He said "before you watch this, don't freak out, ok?"


Not that you ever planned to mess with a cape buffalo, but if you did, here's a thought: Don't—especially if the way you were going to do it was by picking on one of his kids.

Cape buffalo aren't usually the stuff of news, but in the last month they've become the heroes of blogs, newsgroups and fan sites, ever since YouTube posted a video that may be the hottest upload in web history that doesn't include a naked famous person or a politician saying something career-ending. The 8-min., 23-sec. clip is a three-act play of attack, counterattack and rescue shot three summers ago in Kruger National Park in South Africa and posted only this May. Since then, it has been viewed more than 3.8 million times—200,000 times in a single day this week—drawn more than 6,000 comments and been bookmarked as a fan favorite more than 20,000 times. And a single viewing of the thriller in Kruger (though you're unlikely to watch it just once) shows why.

The smackdown took place at an ordinary watering hole where a small herd of cape buffalo were drinking and idling, wandering dangerously close to a pack of concealed lions that either did not smell very lion-like or, more probably, were crouching deliberately upwind. On the other side of the hole, six tourists and a guide watched in a parked range vehicle. The lions waited until the buffalo got close enough and then pounced, seizing the baby and scattering the adults. That's usually a game-ender for a baby buffalo, but things got even worse for this one as he struggled backwards, splashed part way into the water, and got his hind legs snagged by a pair of crocodiles. He somehow yanked free of them, but remained in the jaws of the lions until suddenly the adult cape buffalos stormed back in much greater numbers, dispersed the lions and made off with the remarkably unharmed baby.

"The guide told us that in his 15 years of doing this he'd never seen anything like it," American tourist Jason Schlosberg tells TIME. Schlosberg shot still pictures of the battle while a travelling companion, Dave Budzinski, shot the now-famous video.

The response from the YouTubers was less measured.

"Mess with one bean, you get the whole burrito," one posted.

"This is a disgrace for the lion family! Beaten by a cow!" said another.

Still others saw a larger message in the encounter. "A democratically elected government formed the LEMA (Lion Emergency Management Agency) which takes a little time to organize, but seems to come through in the end. We could learn something here."

"Majority rule, plain and simple," was how another put it.

Human geopolitics aside, what many wanted to know was just how common this kind of gang war is among species. Does such comparatively organized thrust and counterthrust occur routinely in nature, or were these unusually clever critters?

Certainly the battle for dinner between the lions and crocs was nothing unusual. Plenty of animals subscribe to the are-you-going-to-finish-that? school of eating, rarely waiting for the answer before trying to help themselves to someone else's meal. Even top predators like big jungle cats may spend as much time defending a kill as eating it, one of the reasons some of them will carry a carcass up into a tree before tucking in.

"It's common for two species to fight over a third. That's not unusual," says veterinarian and animal behaviorist Katherine Houpt of Cornell University.

What really surprised and delighted web viewers was the cavalry charge of the returning buffalos, who put themselves in the path of the predators to save the good-as-gone baby. Cape buffalo, after all, are not the MacArthur Fellows of the animal world. They're lumbering, quarrelsome and predictable in their movements and, says Houpt, "40% of them wind of them up in the belly of lions." But that means 60% don't, and the rescue that the Kruger group pulled off was actually nothing particularly special among herding species.

"These kinds of animals collaborate all the time," says the University of Pennsylvania's Sue McDonnell, also an animal behaviorist and vet. "The larger herd is broken down into smaller harems, with a domanant male and several females and their babies. If a youngster is threatened, both the harem males and bachelor males—which usually fight with one another—will get together to try to rescue it." You don't even have to travel to Africa to see such herbivorous first-responders at work. McDonnell specializes in studying wild horses and has occasionally seen the rough—sometimes lethal—treatment feral dogs receive when they're foolish enough to spook the group. Huzzahs for the heroism of the Kruger buffalos are fine for the web crowd, but for the herding males themselves, it's just part of the job description.

One question that's not answered—and probably not answerable—by either the video or the scientists is how well the beaten-up baby fared after the cameras stopped rolling. Certainly the right bite to the neck would have caused the baby to bleed out fast—which did not appear to happen—and the right hold on its hind legs would have broken them, making it impossible for him to trot back to the herd as he did. Buffalo hide is tough, and perhaps this baby was even tougher and scrappier than most—or perhaps the crocs and lions simply had their B-teams out that day. Whatever the answer, one of the best thing about the alternate-reality, user-driven world of the Web is the freedom it provides—in the absence of alternative evidence—to invent the endings we'd like to see. Judging by the 6,000-plus responses, in the YouTube world at least, the baby's doing just fine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Transformative Musical Experiences

On the drive into work today, I listened to some of the Eddie Vedder soundtrack to the upcoming movie adaptation of Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild". The Eddie Vedder solo stuff is great, very meditative, expansive, & reflective. It's the perfect kind of music to have a transformative musical experience to on a drive. Before leaving for work, I hastily threw together an MP3 CD of a variety of albums to listen to. Along with the Eddie Vedder on the CD, I put on Frank Sinatra's "In the Wee Small Hours", Robert Plant & Allison Krauss's "Raising Sand", Tegan & Sara's "The Con" and some John Hiatt.

I'm really excited to listen to the Robert Plant & Allison Krauss album. I watched a press kit for the album on (BTW Amazon, I would've gladly posted the video here if Amazon would allow it.) I'm not a huge fan of either artist really. I mean, I love Zeppelin as much as the next 30-something guy who spent their youth listening the them on Classic Rock Radio and trying to pick out "Stairway to Heaven". But I'm really keen on the uniqueness of the musical pairing between such polar opposite artistic backgrounds. In particular, I'm looking to hear a different Robert Plant than what I'm used to hearing in Zeppelin. And likewise, I'm interested in hearing Allison Krauss in a less wholesome, bluegrass vein.

My commute is 6 miles long and only takes 15-20 minutes depending on school zones and traffic. The shortness of the trip severely limits the possibility of having any transformative musical experiences.

Back in the day there were plenty of opportunities for transformative musical experiences. As a student, the drive down to Austin was long enough to listen to 2, 90-minute mix tapes. The drive up to Texoma-Land from Dallas was long enough for an album.

Given the short commute, my in-car choice for entertainment has changed somewhat. For the past 5 years, I've developed much more of an appetite for talk radio than I ever used to have. (Specifically, SPORTS Talk Radio.) Talk Radio can be transformative as well. But it's obviously not a musically transformative experience. Rather, it can be a thought provoking one. Dad used to tell me that I'd grow out of my zeal for music. I suppose that's manifest in my preference for SportsRadio these days. So this week I will make an attempt to listen to a bit more new music. Perhaps I'll have the occasional transformative musical experience.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stones/Scorsese Shine A Light

I can't wait to see this movie. This should go some way towards making up for the dreck that was "Pirates of the Caribbean III". I had so looked forward to seeing Keith Richards as Captain Jack Sparrow's dad. And then they went and made it one of the worst sequels since Superman III. That was one of the worst experiences I've ever had sitting in a cinema. Damn shame.

No word yet on when the Peter Bogdanovich movie of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' last tour will be out. It commemorated their 30th Anniversary as a band.

Anyone seen "Gimme Shelter"?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Beckham Effect Continues

Another example of the MLS Beckham Effect in big markets: Washington D.C.

Tune in tomorrow (Thursday) night for the DC United/LA Galaxy game on ESPN2. It should be a feisty match. The Galaxy are struggling to make the playoffs. DC United has been strong all season & is well-positioned for the playoffs. LA really needs 3 points. They left Toronto with 1 point...and thankful for that considering how much Toronto dominated in the first half of that contest. Beckham's doubtful again. But his personage will once again be on the bench. And who knows, maybe since they're playing on a natural pitch this time, he'll get some playing time.

The Washington Post match preview has all the trappings of what the MLS dreams of: big game day traffic tips for fans coming in buses, trains & automobiles, parking tips and, not to mention, a sold out RFK Stadium. This is the Pele effect wrought in the new media age. If gets a significant jump in click-throughs on their MLS Soccer coverage, then that's solid evidence for their programming chiefs. Yes, they've already committed to the Beckham matches. But web traffic definitely is a new factor that must be taken seriously.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thoughts on American Futbol

Last night my friend Tom & I had a spirited discussion about soccer's chances of mainstream success here in America. Tom had read a previous post here speculating on the meaning of David Beckham's arrival on these shores. He found my rosy prediction about soccer's inevitable acceptance to be way off reality. Summarizing Tom's strong opinion about soccer here: There's no way that, in our generation, soccer will find a huge audience (ie. get regular coverage on SportsCenter or on your local sports talk radio.)

He outlined his strong disagreement thusly:

1. There ain't no way that 30-45 year old guys like us are going to start watching soccer on a regular basis. That's too much of a stretch for sports fans who already have too much on their plate: American Football, Baseball, Basketball, not to mention X Games,

2. The only way soccer will become popular here is if the young kids today grow up watching it, become very familiar with it and find a few soccer heroes to fawn over. Then maybe it gets acceptance 20 years down the line.

I had a hard time defending my dreams of American Soccer acceptance to Tom over the phone. But it did get me thinking today. Perhaps I should do a better job of articulating my appreciation of the game.

Televised soccer has no commercial interruptions.

I really prefer not being bombarded with commercials every inning, pitching change, series or timeout. Watch a soccer game and lose yourself in two luxurious 45 minute halves. (These days, ESPN2 annoys us with the sports crawler. That's another blog post though! For now, I'm thankful that they throw us the occasional soccer bone.) You really get a sense of pace for the game.

Soccer Has Real Passion, not Artificial Exuberance

Been to an NBA, NFL or MLB game in the past few years? For whatever reason, the presentation of the live game has been maxi-size hyped. Do we really need for each batter to have a theme song? Is it necessary to blow our ears & eyes out with a laser light show and "Girls Girls Girls" blaring at an NBA game in October? As a fan, this is insulting to me. There's no such offensive overhyping in Major League Soccer.

I watched the ESPN2 coverage of last Sunday night's Toronto FC/LA Galaxy game. (Yes, the only reason ESPN2 broadcast this game was because of the presence of David Beckham.) I had no idea how insanely passionate the Toronto FC fans were going to be. It was a really impressive display. And none of it was artificially produced: No dancing girls on the sideline, no dimmed house lights & laser shows & no commercials between plays. It was pure sports passion.

In the movie about the NY Cosmos: Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the NY Cosmos there was a reporter talking about the short American attention span for sports. We expect the commercial after the punt or a stretch in the 7th inning. She explained how soccer is similar to an opera or a play. You get swept up in one act, you break for intermission, then you come back for Act Two. I genuinely find this refreshing in this day and age. I suspect that I'm not alone in that sentiment.

I have a confession to make. I used to loathe soccer. As a kid, I used to play goalie. Our offense was strong & I would get really bored on the other side of the field waiting for the next stampede. I did enjoy going to SMU to watch the Tornado games. I followed Kyle Rote Jr., Kenny Cooper & Mike Renshaw. Later in life, studying in Europe left me far removed from my beloved Cowboys early '90's resurgence. This sapped any enthusiasm I might have had for Real or Atletico de Madrid. I was happy enough going to watch the Super Bowl at 3:30AM in some Spanish pub.

But in 1994 I worked protocol for the World Cup here in Dallas. I went to all the games at the Cotton Bowl. And I followed closely our American squad's tourney. (We beat Colombia!) Watching the 1998 World Cup was also instrumental in stirring the soccer embers. I will never forget the victory over Mexico. What an upset! Then we got our own soccer team again: the Dallas Burn. We went to all of the inaugural season's home games at the Cotton Bowl. (I was a season ticket holder with my buddies Bryan, Brandon & Tim.) We had a blast at those games.

I do hope someday soon we'll be listening to local sports reporters covering FC Dallas scuttlebutt. We have a playoff contending, division leading team this season. The league has the highest profile soccer star in the world now. (Hopefully the Galaxy make the playoffs so we can see him some!) Most clubs have plans for or already have shiny new soccer-specific stadiums with great site lines. It's a matter of time before we're all enjoying the beautiful game again: this time for keeps.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Personal Blimp Progress

Congratulations go to Dan Nachbar on the NPR coverage of his Personal Blimp. The FAA has granted his experimental craft the permission to take passengers along on board. He e-mailed me the details:

"After nine months of waiting, the FAA has finally said
"YES" to the request that Mike Kuehlmuss (my cobuilder) and I
be allowed to take passengers in Alberto, the Personal Blimp!
Getting rid of this stumbling block is a big step forward."

We've been in touch for more than 3 years now. (Pablo's Point blogged about his "SkyYacht" way back when.) Well, NPR has just filed a story on the Blimp. And I couldn't be happier for Dan. It's a really well put together project. And the Boston Globe coverage below is excellent. It's wonderful to see such a graceful aircraft. (Especially in light of summer travel stories from our nation's airports: 7 hour wait for takeoff on the runway, cancelled flights, crowded & germy planes, etc.) Our future's in the hands of small entrepreneurs like Dan & co. who patiently test out these vanguard ideas & ready them for the marketplace. Onward,airships!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Futbol meets Football

Get ready for Beckham-mania on these coasts!
This is a brilliant little marketing ploy on behalf of Adidas: nicest guy in football meets Golden Boy of futbol in Madrid.

iPhone Launch: La Cantera, San Antonio

Pablo's Point sent intrepid reporter Pablonius Monk to cover the big iPhone launch in the lovely Shops at La Cantera, San Antonio. Here's his coverage:

This was a big day for Steve Jobs, Apple, and technophiles everywhere. Equate this with standing in line for U2 tickets, Star Wars or Harry Potter midnight sales. Because there is a similar carnival-like atmosphere here. Yellow-shirted security guards roll around on their Segways. Apple Store employees roll iGloo ice chests around to pass out SmartWater to overheated fans to prevent sunstroke. (It's hot and humid in San Antonio after copious rainfall the past few days). The folks in line are having a blast regardless. The Godiva store down the way is sending store clerks with trays of cool white chocolate raspberry cream samples to offer the customers in line. The Apple team has worked hard to curry this kind of loyalty. And it has paid off today.

I spoke with the folks at the head of the line. They had arrived at the store the night before at 11:30pm. "Mall security wouldn't let us camp out inside the mall area. So we slept in the parking lot." The folks in line behind them had been there since 6:30AM Friday morning. Dave from San Antonio even made himself an iPhone costume to wear for the occasion (a big carboard box with a slot for breathing). There's a bearded guy underneath a tree playing Henry Mancini's The Pink Panther theme on his trumpet.

I took a few photos of the scene on my LG camera phone. I had to delete some old photos to make room for the new iPhone-fest shots. The LG allows me to send these digital files to another phone number or to an e-mail address. I type in my e-mail address to send the photos to myself. I have to type in the e-mail address with the clunky numeric pad each time I send a photo. There's no way to save the e-mail address. And I have to send each photo one-by-one. You can't send them as a group file. I couldn't help thinking how much easier it would be to blog all of this from an iPhone.

The reviews are in from the major papers. The consensus is very positive. Walt Mossberg & David Pogue both love this iPhone. There are a few caveats coming from all circles. Charlie Rose had a guest panel on the show last night to discuss Steve Jobs and the prospects for iPhone success.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dell Ubuntu XPS 410n On The Way

I ordered my first Dell PC on Saturday afternoon. It's an XPS 410n Desktop Computer with a special Operating System preloaded onto it: Ubuntu.

I am an end user.

I started to build it online at Dell's online sales process is a fine-tuned machine. I'm really impressed with how simple it is to put together a computer custom-made on

It's a very smooth, step-by-step process with a progress bar along the way. Each tab has a video explainer if you're stumped on which option to choose. I watched the video about choosing the right optical drive. The video carefully detailed the different options and advantages to each of them.

The steps were:

"Select your processor" (For an extra $50, I upgraded from the Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor E4300 (2MB L2 Cache,1.8GHz,800FSB) to the Intel® Core™ 2 E6320 Duo Processor(4MB L2 cache,1.86GHz,1066FSB). I can't wait to try out the Intel Core 2 Duo chip.

"Select your Operating System": Between the Ubuntu Service Support Packages, I chose the basic one: Ubuntu Feisty Fawn version 7.04 without any support (no added charges). (There were options for 30-days starter support for $65, 1-year basic support for $125 or 1-year standard support for $275 - these options will likely be the Canonical support offered through Dell - not sure if there's any price break here from what Canonical charges through its Global Support Services Group.)

"Select My Memory" - I bumped up the default memory of 1GB to 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 2 DIMMs.

"Select My Hard Drive" - Went with the default option here. 250GB is plenty. But you could go as high as 500GB.

"Select My Optical Drive" - upgraded to the Dual Drives: 48x Combo + 16x DVD+/-RW w/ dbl layer write capable.

"Select My Monitors" - I selected "No Monitor" (had to scroll down a little to see this option) and saved $170. (Dell's "Compatibility Instructions" popped up at this point to let me know that the default speakers on the XPS needed a monitor upon which to be attached and were not free standing. I chose "Fix it later".)

"Select My Video Card" - XPS only has one option: the 256MB nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache [Included in Price]

"Select My Sound Card" - only had one option: Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio (Included in Price)

"Select My Speakers" - Selecting no speakers here saved me $10 and "fixed" the previously mentioned "No Monitor" issue with the flat panel speakers.

"Select My Keyboard & Mouse" - upgraded from the regular issue USB keyboard to the Multimedia keyboard with volume control nob & control buttons for $25. (I'm curious to see how well this works on Ubuntu.)

"Select My Mouse" - only had one option: Dell Optical USB Mouse.

"Select My Power Protection" - no thanks.

"Select My External Backup & Storage" - no thanks.

"Select My Floppy & Media Reader" - upgrade to the 13 in 1 Media Card Reader (adds $20 to price - but, oh the convenience for uploading photos.)

"Select My Warranty & Service" - 1Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor - Next Business Day (included in price).

"Select My Protection Against Accident" - no thanks.

"Select My Environmental Options" - no thanks, but yes, I will make certain my old Sony VAIO running Feisty Fawn will go to a happy family rather than the trash heap.

"Checking the Status of Your Build" Progress Bar (excitement builds!)

"REVIEW MY SUMMARY Congratulations! Your system is ready to be built."

(No telephone modem included in system - pesky Wintel modems!) wasn't giving me any options for TV tuner or internal wireless card. (I want to be ready to install Ubuntu Media Center as soon as it comes out!) had a nice post about the different Dell Ubuntu offerings. The article mentioned that the XPS was the only desktop that had three PCI slots. So I called up the 800 number. Tony from Nashville walked me through the rest of the sale. He checked with his manager to see if they were offering internal wireless as an option on the XPS desktop. A couple of minutes later no was the answer. That didn't surprise me. But I figured I'd rather check than not be certain. These are easy additions later on down the line.

Speaking with Tony, I found out about Dell's rather generous 12-month free financing offer. I took them up on this offer. I should receive the computer by June 5th.

I told my wife all about the new Dell Ubuntu PC headed our way. She's a Mac girl. She knows well my enthusiasm for Ubuntu. So I think she humored me a bit after I told her about our new acquisition.

"Why didn't you just purchase a Windows PC & dual boot it with Ubuntu?"

"Good question, babe. I suppose I did it to support freedom of choice. I am really excited about a "Choose Your Operating System" option being available. But I guess there's a pretty strong quotient of idealism behind my decision too. It's the principle of the thing."

"I think that's great, Pablo. What does Linux do that Windows or Mac doesn't do?"

"Wow - another good question, babe."

"Well, I'm not trying to second guess you here. I'm just curious about all of this."

"Linux is a very stable OS - like your Mac."

"I see."

"And it's free. And it's ALWAYS going to be free. That means no DRM, no spyware, no malware, no viruses, no costly upgrades, no worrying about whether your software is genuine Windows issue, no worrying about inputting a 25-character software key in order to obtain permission to install or reinstall something. That also means no more worrying about some company's fourth quarter report driving my software into early obsolescence. That means being able to copy my contacts from one e-mail program to another without an upgrade being bullied upon me. That means uploading and downloading anything I choose off and onto my iPod."

"Honey, why don't we watch a little golf? The Colonial is on television."

"OK OK. I can get a little carried away with this stuff, huh?"

"Don't worry - I know it's a passion for you."

"Thanks, babe. Who's on the leaderboard?"

"I think it's Bernhard Langer."

Thanks to Dell for offering Ubuntu, my favorite OS, on their rock solid PC's. It's good to see a Texas company in the vanguard on this one. Thanks to the Ubuntu Community and Mark Shuttleworth for getting this newbie onto the Linux bandwagon.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dellighted about Ubuntu

This week brought the announcement that Dell will soon offer desktops & laptops with Ubuntu Linux installed. Of note is that these are marketed for the end-user, not just for servers or some enterprise solution. My friend Leo just bought a Toshiba laptop with Vista on it. He's frustrated with the gunk that's on it. Back in the day, Leo used to be quite the computer user - we're talking Windows 3.1 days. He was one of those guys who was quick to break out a DOS command line. But ever since Windows 95, he's shied away from such tinkering. Suffice it to say that he's become a computer minimalist - he uses his computers for AutoCAD, e-mail & surfing the web. Anything beyond that and he can't be bothered - too much mucking about in the registry. I can't say that I blame him.

I'm delighted about Dell finally offering something else besides "Dell recommends Microsoft Windows". In a world that's dominated by the web, what OS you choose to use should be a secondary concern. The comparison could be automobiles. They all do the same thing: cars get you from point A to point B. But you have freedom of choice as to what kind of complexity you want in a car. You can get a Corolla or a Cadillac. If you prefer an OS that isn't bloated beyond reason, requires no slug-inducing antivirus suite, (can anyone say: clean sweepers, antispyware solutions, antivirus definition updates & firewall protection? or 60 apps that you'll never bother to install or open?), choose Linux.

My 8 year old Sony VAIO desktop (which Leo helped me purchase on uBid refurbished) came installed with Windows 98SE. I had upgraded to XP back in 2002. After a year or two of XP, the VAIO had bogged down & needed a fresh install. But since Microsoft had only sold me the update, reinstalling that OS was a paralyzing concern. I would have to reinstall Windows 98, then stick in the Windows XP Update CD, install antivirus packages, then spend a few hours updating XP to SP2 & all the different critical security updates. No thanks. The hardware was working fine. It was the software that was causing the problems.

Having used Mozilla Firefox, GAIM, Open Office, AbiWord & Thunderbird on Windows, I knew that Open Source Free Software was a viable option. It was cross-platform and worked like a charm. Not to mention that it provided me innovative & free features that were never a possibility from commercial vendors. Was it time for me to install a Linux distro on my VAIO? Maybe...

I was intrigued by the Linux story. But I feared the command line. You see, I had never been a DOS master like Leo was at one point. My first computer was a hand-me-down Mac. So I needed to know that I could point and click my way through things. Enter Ubuntu. I took the plunge after reading about "Linux for Human Beings". It installed in a snap. My Sony VAIO was instantly more responsive and fast. Ubuntu runs on it like a champ. To say I've gotten my use out of that computer is an understatement. Ubuntu really helped me stretch it out.

Soon I will retire the Sony VAIO Ubuntu desktop. You see, it's time for a new computer.

Why not Apple?

Four years ago, I convinced my parents to dump Windows and purchase an iMac. They took the plunge after some strong arm tactics, I confess. I explained to them that I would no longer be their IT go-to-guy if they bought another Windows box. Their last computer was a Gateway with Windows 98 on it. Despite having antivirus, it got infected. Fixing it turned out to be a nightmare. I was shocked at how the antivirus phone support washed their hands of the situation. Gateway's service plan had long ago expired. So I had no options.

They've had no trouble whatsoever with the iMac. It could use a little more RAM now that it's running OSX Tiger, but I'm quite pleased with the way that purchase has worked out. So much so, that I encouraged my older brother to do the same. So back over Xmas, he bought his first Mac since 1985.

I had expected that my next computer purchase would be a Mac. My wife has always had one for work. But I think I'm going to go with the Dell Ubuntu option. I'm genuinely excited about computers again. I don't fear the command line like I used to. Ubuntu's latest release, Feisty Fawn, is a cinch to use. Apple's great. I love that their reemergence has galvanized the consumer marketplace. I love the iPod. I love iTunes. The iPhone is poised to reinvigorate a stale cell phone marketplace. But Apples are pricey. They are the BMW of computers. All I need is the Honda Accord equivalent: Dell running Ubuntu.

That Dell is a Texas company, on the comeback trail and employs a good friend of mine (Hi Tim!) is icing on the cake. I've always had Dell PC's at work. They've always been reliable workhorses. So I will soon purchase a Dell Ubuntu PC.

Here's an interview at Dell Headquarters in Round Rock, TX with Mark Shuttleworth - South Africa's mercurial network security billionaire. He's young and enthusiastic - sort of like Mark Cuban (if you can imagine what it would have been like had Mark Cuban not purchased the Dallas Mavericks and instead dedicated his millions to the Open Source Movement).

If any of my loyal readers would like to try out Ubuntu on their PC or Mac, drop me a post and I'll be happy to send you a Live CD that you can use to test out Ubuntu before an installation. I think you'll be impressed with the product.

Monday, January 15, 2007

On Becks, the MLS & Soccer in America

This past week the Los Angeles Galaxy announced the signing of David Beckham for $250 million. He's a celebrity-athlete on par with Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. His moving to the U.S. from Europe is reminiscent of Michael Jordan retiring from the NBA to give Major League Baseball a shot. So regardless of what folks say about cashing in, he merits credit for the boldness of the move. (Michael Jordan was bold for giving baseball a go - as legendary as he was in the NBA, when he tried unsuccessfully to make the Chicago White Sox roster, he transcended basketball & established himself as a sports legend beyond his game.)

Soccer stateside now has a much better chance of making SportsCenter highlights because of David Beckham and the LA Galaxy. This past week The Ticket 1310AM spent an entire segment talking about it. Never mind that the Morning Musers don't think Soccer has a snowball's chance of making it here with or without David Beckham - the point is that they discussed soccer for an entire segment during the NFL playoff season - they hadn't spoken of soccer since last summer's World Cup. ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" discussed soccer for an entire segment last week as well (also dissing its chances, but nevertheless spending airtime on the sport.)

That is all it will take to get the sport up an eschelon in America. If the NHL in the 90's was able to get folks excited about a bunch of Canucks, Russians & Fins all the way down in Miami, Dallas & Los Angeles, the MLS can get America to embrace pro soccer.

The arguments against Pro Soccer as a popular spectator sport here usually refer to the lack of scoring, "it's boring", the tie-results & the anonymity of its players. Here's Alexi Lalas, GM of the Galaxy speaking to the lack of personality.

ESPNsoccernet: You were always known as a showman, on and off the field. Who in MLS right now brings that type of excitement to the league? Is MLS lacking in that department?

AL: Hell yeah, it's lacking. For the most part, we've created a generation of players who are unwilling or unable to show any personality. At times it's mind-numbing. Somebody do something. Grow some Valderrama hair! Date a supermodel! Clint Dempsey isn't everyone's poster boy just 'cause he scored in the World Cup. He made a rap video and plays with that attitude he's got. It's great. Like it or not, controversy, rumor and speculation are good for the game, and we don't have enough of it. So, like I tell my players: Don't bore me. Have an opinion. Make me and everyone else interested in who you are as a player and person. Make an impression.

Baseball can certainly be boring - dismally so in August in Arlington. The NBA in October is boring. Arena League Football is boring period. Average Joes can't possibly relate to 300 lb. Pro Football linebackers or 7 ft. tall NBA centers the same way they can Soccer stars. What gets us talking about sports are the personalities. And David Beckham gives us an instantly recognizable global personality - European Sports shows will show highlights from Major League Soccer this season. Every local newsteam in America with a local MLS team will cover Beckham's road game in their town.

Women are paying attention now too. As much gossip press at Posh Spice gets, MLS is bound to sell a thousand more seats because of that alone.

When I was a kid, Dad took me to see Pelé play the Dallas Tornado. I will never forget that. And I still fondly recall our very own local Tornado - Kyle Rote, Jr., Kenny Cooper. Now that we have a fiscally solid soccer league firmly established in the US, it's the perfect time to start this kind of transatlantic player acquisition. It will put butts in seats, sell beer & programs & get the media talking soccer in non-World Cup years.

TV Notes: The NBA has its Inside Stuff show. Major League Baseball has This Week in Baseball. The NFL has for years had the groundbreaking NFL Films. No sport since pro football has gained so much ground because of great camera work & narration. Major League Soccer needs a weekly highlights show along the likes of these. It's possible to watch these kinds of reports online at and elsewhere. But clearly a weekly highlights show showing the best plays & interviewing the personalities would help people engage with the sport. Worldwide coverage could also be included in a segment. Five minutes to go around the world and see highlights from the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, Spanish, Italian & Latin American leagues provides viewers with a taste of the global magnitude of the game.

One suggestion for Major League Soccer would be to engage the services of Paul Crowder, director of Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the NY Cosmos & editor of Dogtown & Z Boys & Riding Giants. The presentation of the game using slow-motion footage, great music & narration would do wonders for its popularity.,8599,1576807,00.html

Sunday, January 07, 2007

MacWorld 2007 Prediction - Beatles on iTunes

Apple's big MacWorld conference begins tomorrow. Steve Jobs is the Wizard of Oz for Apple. I suspect that along with the iTV & iPhone release, we'll hear about iTunes Music Store's exclusive package to distribute The Beatles' entire record catalog. I know in 2006 that the big Apple vs. Apple Corps legal fight ended in England with an Apple Computer victory.

Look for Ringo or Paul to be along for the show. This will mean a nice few months of Beatles' iTunes ads - right on time for the Super Bowl.

Another Beatle Séance?

Word from England has it that Beatle Paul is keen on finishing up a track that "The Threetles" (Paul, George & Ringo) worked on in 1995 for the Beatles' Anthology project. With the help of ELO meister Jeff Lynne, they recorded their parts on to various unfinished acetates that John Lennon had worked up in the 70's between baking bread & taking Central Park strolls. More from Ireland Online:

Paul McCartney is planning to reunite with his late Beatles bandmate John Lennon and finish an unreleased track the pair sang together.

The Fab Four abandoned Now And Then during their prime. McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr tried to resurrect the track when they put together their Beatles Anthology albums 10 years ago, but guitarist Harrison claimed it was not good enough.

Now McCartney wants to go back and finish the job.

A source tells British newspaper the Daily Express: “It has always niggled a bit with Paul that they didn’t finish Now And Then.

“While George wasn’t keen, Paul always thought the song had a lot of potential. He is now hoping to complete it after all, with him singing the harmonies to John’s lead vocal. It would obviously be very moving to hear the pair of them singing together one last time.”

McCartney himself recently said of the song: “It needed a bit of reworking but it had a beautiful verse.”

The Anthology records revealed a lot about the individual Beatles' studio demeanor & modus operandi. The Threetles tracks ended up being "Real Love" & "Free As A Bird". They are weird Franken-songs. Lennon's voice sounds way out there on both of them. (Makes you wonder what his vocals sounded like before being fed through the studio gimmicks!). The "Free As A Bird" video however is gorgeous. It's fun to spot the different Beatle references throughout. See it here before the Apple Records' Blue Meanies make YouTube take it down.

I never understood why the Threetles used Jeff Lynne to produce these lost tracks for them. He's to be credited for helping get the Traveling Wilburys together. One theory I have for how the Wilburys got together is that Jeff Lynne had the stinkiest, sweetest bud of them all. Dylan, Orbison, George & Tom couldn't refuse!

My big beef with Jeff Lynne's production is the slick sheen that pervades all of the drums. It's a shame that they sound the way that they do. I think it's a real flat sound. And the Threetles' tracks suffer specifically because of this sheen. Ringo deserves better.

And perhaps that's what Beatle Paul has in mind for "Now and Then". Let's hope Nigel Godrich lends a hand. "Chaos & Creation in the Backyard" has Paul's drumming all over it. If there's anyone out there that does a better Ringo-impression on drums it's Paul. It's uncanny.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Police Reunion Tour Rumors

Day four after the initial Police reunion rumors began and no official denial has surfaced from either Sting, Andy or Stewart. Recently I read Andy Summers' career memoir, "One Train Later". Andy Summers had a career before The Police? I didn't expect to learn about how poor he was at certain points in his career.

I've had Stewart's Police home movie DVD "Everyone Stares" on my Blockbuster queue for months now. (I guess Blockbuster wants me to have the impression that they DO have a copy somewhere - but only one copy worldwide.) So, yes, I'm a fan. And yes, I'm delighted at the rumors. Sting's last few records have been dull. And in all fairness, I've never listened to any Stewart Copeland projects or Andy Summers' records. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't imagine I'm missing a whole lot. Point being - we need these 3 back together making music & playing great shows. The Police were THE band for us back in the early 80's.

This is a long overdue move from all parties. Get back in the rehearsal lot, work through the rough spots and hit the road. Bliss us out again with your white-English-guys-cop-Afro-Caribbean-rhythms. Let the drummer play too fast & see where it leads. (Trust me Sting, Stewart will wear himself out more quickly now that he's older!)

Ideally the rehearsals go so well that the guys put together some rough mixes for a new record before setting off on tour this summer. Assuming the tour doesn't implode amidst inter-trio bickering, the fans get to enjoy the ensuing product - great extended jams from a musical force too long overlooked. Then MTV & VH1 will dump reality-show programming and start programming music again. The stars will align. We find Osama. You get the picture.

Sting's career needs this badly. Dominic Miller has been his mainstay guitarist since 1990. He may be technically very talented- but he's still a hired studio hand. Sting needs a proper collaborator. Sting's performance at Live 8 demonstrates even more so than the lackluster solo records how much he needs his old mates. He played nothing but Police songs (admittedly the songs are Sting compositions - but at least the music is best played by The Police - not by his antiseptic solo band.) Whatever happened to the Blue Turtles?

They're probably discussing the appropriate venue-size, tour length & tour stops. Do they play stadiums, enormous European Music Festivals (Glastonbury) & "Big Day Out" down under? Should they lean towards mid size sports arenas? Or should they play exclusive gigs at intimate, small-size places like Nokia Live (max 3,000-5,000 seats)?

Maybe they can play the next Us Festival.

Bring it on.

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