Monday, May 23, 2005

Good Ol' Fashon Justice (follow up)

The two men responsible for defending their car will not be facing criminal charges for the death of the Edward Zanassi, who tried to steal their 1967 Camero. The county prosecutor also said that they may start treating auto theft as a crime and prosecute those who do it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Mp3 Players

This is an almost final draft of my latest writing assignment for my English class, enjoy if you wish.

The music industry has centered on forms over the decades. The media has changed many times; from analog to digital, from LP to CD, it continues to evolve before our eyes. The current mutation is in the form of compressed files that reside on a computer hard drives. Wav, Mp3, Ogg, and Mid are everyday words in my circles, representing 4 of the dozens of music file formats that live in cyberspace. New technology allows us to carry these files with us in small devices wherever we go with ever increasing capacities. The Apple iPod has become one of the most visible and popular of the music players seen today. Ask a random group of people and most of them will probably tell you that iPod is the best music player available, but that is only because the advertisements tell them that.
Turn on the TV, read a magazine, look at billboards and you will see an ad for an iPod, you practically have to go out of your way to avoid one. Apple followed the lead of such companies as Rio and Creative by releasing their own player, the iPod, named in the same fashion as their iMac and iBook computers. They realized several years ago that digital music players were going to be the next hot consumer music medium, and they were right. Dumping millions of dollars into their marketing campaign has allowed them to seize a sizable portion of the market. Now, thanks to the total media saturation, when most people think digital music, they think iPod. Apple’s marketing executives have done their job very well; I hope they all retire as billionaires.
The most common form of digital music today is MPEG-I Layer 3 Audio, more commonly shortened to Mp3. This format was revolutionary upon its introduction to the world in the early 1990s. Before Mp3, when computer hard drives were measured in megabytes, it was inconceivable to store an entire CD on a computer much less an entire collection. Mp3 made it possible to store music files on a computer hard drive as the data files were as much as 20 times smaller without substantially hurting the sound quality. The seeds for the new music revolution had been planted.
It took until 1999 with the introduction of to make Mp3 mainstream. People now realized that they could copy entire CDs onto their computer, and share them with others, while getting new music from all over the world for free. Many music artists embraced the new medium that allowed them to share their music with the entire world, without having to deal with the large record companies who would never sign them to a contract. The music industry took notice and sued Napster out of existence. They did this because people were stealing their music instead of paying for their songs. Napster and many of its successors are now gone, but the Mp3 craze has stuck to this day. Creative Audio, a company specializing in consumer audio equipment, decided to release a small digital player that would hold the downloaded music for people to play on the go. Unlike a CD player, these devices were small, never skipped a beat when moved, and lasted a very long time on a single battery. A handful of companies soon released their own Mp3 players, including Rio, Sony, and eventually Apple.
Apple’s iPod was not a landmark technology when it was released, but it did influence the evolution of today’s digital music players. It incorporated a new interface that had not been seen before and a sleek design. A tiny hard drive replaced the memory commonly found in an Mp3 player which allowed for an impressive five gigabytes of music storage; this was half of the storage space of the average desktop computer at the time. Apple marketed their new iPod niche as their Mac computers where it was quickly embraced by their loyal Mac users. The fad had been born.
It took more than a year for the iPod to be introduced into the mainstream market where it began picking up a dedicated user base that is growing even as I type this. The iPod has evolved through several newer generations and can hold as much as sixty gigabytes of music at this time. The sleek design graces countless ads and people everywhere sport their trademark white earphones. Go into any major electronics store and you will see a large display featuring the iPod and many accessories. From the media saturation, you would never know that any other model of Mp3 player existed. Today, the name “iPod” itself has come to be worth about $100 by itself; the average cost of having the Apple logo on your Mp3 player. If you want an Mp3 player with more features than an iPod, a simplified interface, or more music storage they are readily available. If the 14 hours of battery found in an iPod not enough for you, get something with 40 hours of juice. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the iPod is a very good Mp3 player even if it is the most expensive, but it is not the best available. The early pioneers of portable audio players are still developing and releasing new and improved players that are several steps ahead of the iPod in features and functions. Why don’t I see TV commercials and billboards being graced by the Creative Zen or the Rio Carbon players? I don’t see them because the companies would rather invest in new technology than advertisements. This is what will keep these companies alive after the iPod trend fades like the 8-track tape.
Apple has everything bet on their iPod at the moment, completely eclipsing their other product. The other Mp3 player manufacturers have several lines of audio devices on the market, Apple has one. I’ve tried to stay away from the huge, name brand fads because the better product is lurking closely in its shadow. With technology advancing at the fastest rate in history, being left behind is an easy feat no matter how advanced the technology is at the moment. The iPod will someday be surpassed by its nameless competitors just as the BetaMax tape player was replaced by the VHS system which has been replaced by the DVD, which will be replaced when something better comes along.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Good Ol' Fashon Justice

A man in Grahm tried to steal a 1967 Camaro Wednesday morning. He figured it would be an easy deal even if he got caught since car theft isn't generally prosecuted around here. He didn't count on being caught by the owner and his roommate who sent him to the hospital in critical condition. The would-be thief, Edward Zanassi, has a repeat criminal history including auto theft, identify theft, and drug charges. I say he had it coming.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Other sucky stuff

Now that they have effectively raised property taxes, they are milking more money out of me on top of that. The state legislature passed some fun tax bills. First, they repealed an initiative of the people which required a 2/3 vote of approval for all tax increases. Then they passed a 9.5 cent increase in the gas tax over the next 3 years. As of July 1 of this year, we will now have the second highest gas tax in the country, thirty-one cents on the state level, just a single cent behind New York. This will be remedied on January 1, 2006 when another 3 cent increase will take effect, giving us the highest gas tax in the country. I probably wouldn’t be complaining much if we had the best roads in the country, but there are places on the freeway where it isn’t safe to go the posted speed limit because the roads are about 10 years overdue for being resurfaced. 
The officials say that they need the tax money to fund such projects as their new light rail system. I have a serious problem with their current system; it doesn’t take people from where they are, to where they want to go. The current trains can take people from Everett to Seattle (about 30 miles) in an hour, with 2 stops in between. The budget analysis was just published in the paper; they spent $393 million on this system. The worst part about it is that there are about 160 people that ride the train on a daily basis. THAT COMES OUT TO $2.46 MILLION PER RIDER! Oh and the operating cost? It costs more than $300 per passenger in daily operating expenses to keep the two trains moving. If they are so hell-bent on taking 160 cars off of the road, they should buy these people small helicopters and train them how to use them, they would be saving tens of millions of dollars.
What is the official response to the low ridership? The idiots in charge are going to add another 400 passenger train to the existing two so that it is more convenient for those riding to have a slightly more flexible departure schedule. I’m guessing that that will only increase the operating costs 50% or so, but probably won’t increase the number of riders much. Someone seriously needs to look into this and consider filing criminal charges against those responsible.
The biggest problem is that Seattle residents aren’t fans of public transportation. The current system doesn’t take people from where they live or work to where they need to go. I could take the bus to school everyday instead of the 45 minutes I spend driving there, but it would require 2 transfers, waiting for the next buses to come, and it would take a little over 2 hours each way to get from my house to school. I don’t have an extra 2.5 hours every day to travel to and from school. I took a while on this post, which I don’t usually do, but I can submit it as a rough draft for an events paper I have in English class, so I’m technically doing homework at the moment. But I’ll post more later if I feel like it, whether or not you want to read it.