Please note: the viewport design is copied from Steve Den Beste's excellent blog, USS Clueless. Used with permission.

Saturday, December 24, 2005  


posted by Gary Williams at 8:14 PM | link |

Friday, December 23, 2005  

posted by Gary Williams at 5:49 AM | link |

Wednesday, December 21, 2005  

via ? Hosted By SPEAKEASY.NET

A Sirius Christmas

In January of last year, I got Sirius Satellite radio. I have a really nice Tivoli audio home unit. I love it and have successfully convinced a couple fans to get it themselves.

The S50 is Sirius' new portable unit and is very hard to come by right now.The S50 let's your record Sirius broadcasts (kinda like a Tivo) for playback later. You can also put mp3s and wma files on it.

So far, I love the unit. I don't have the home kit yet, so I can't really schedule recordings. But I have manually recorded some songs and talk shows while driving. The unit is pretty slick and the audio quality of the unit as an MP3 and Sirius media player is really nice. You can hook the car kit directly to your stero or, like me, use the FM transmitter in the cardock to broadcast over your stereo.

One thing I'm disappointed about, but I should have realized, is that the S50 itself is NOT a Sirius receiver. It's nothing more than a recording device and mp3 player. Without a car dock or home dock hooked up to an antenna, the S50 can not receive the Sirius signal.

So if you're jogging, you can't listen to live sirius. Only Mp3s and sirius broadcasts you've previously recorded. On top of that the FM transmitter is IN the cardock. Not the S50. And that's really disappointing. They should have put the FM transmitter in the unit itself. At least then you could play your Sirius broadcasts and MP3s in someone else's car.

One other disappointment. The RIAA has, apparently, cracked down on Sirius to make sure that people can't easily steal music. So the unit's firmware was changed to prevent you from recording long hours of the music channels. You can manually record songs as you hear your favorites. But setting a scheduled 3 hour recording of the 80's channel is now impossible. And scheduled recordings of talk and comedy channels is restricted to 2hours at a time. Which means recording the Stern show will requiring back to back scheduled recordings.

I love the unit, and I've really been enjoying Sirius in the car and being able to record my favorite songs and shows for later. It's cool to have a little player full of my mp3s and favorite sirius broadcasts.

That being said, I think that this unit won't reach it's full potential until Sirius listens to user feedback and updates the firmware based on our suggestions."

posted by Gary Williams at 9:20 AM | link |

Tuesday, December 20, 2005  



The Toledo Blade kicks off a major series on how President Bush has used the power of the federal government to reward his biggest campaign fundraisers (called Rangers & Pioneers). In the first overview piece, the paper notes "Bush administration policies, grand and obscure, have financially benefited companies or lobbying clients tied to at least 200 of the president's largest campaign fund-raisers...Dozens more stand to gain from Bush-backed initiatives that recently passed or await congressional approval." The investigation included targeted tax breaks, regulatory changes, pro-business legislation, high-profile salaried appointments, and federal contracts. In a subseqent story about the specifics, the Blade notes that "since Mr. Bush took office in 2001, the federal government has awarded more than $3 billion in contracts to the President's elite 2004 Texas fund-raisers, their businesses, and lobbying clients." Earlier this year, the Blade reported that "Mr. Bush's top Ohio fund-raisers collected more than $1.2 billion in taxpayers' dollars for their companies and lobbying clients." The Blade also reports that the Bush administration has showered some of these donors with taxpayer cash and favors despite them being under criminal investigation a...The Financial Times reports that Washington is abuzz with chatter about whether longtime Bush confidant and former Commerce Secretary Don Evans will sell out and become the head of Russia's state-owned oil company. One friend and former Evans colleague admitted that "The reality is the Russians want something that he should not feel comfortable delivering" - namely, U.S. government contacts, and potentially knowledge of sensitive energy information. Hilariously, a former U.S. government official, seemingly oblivious to how corruption is becoming a major political issue, said "The fact that he would be cashing in his political connections is not the problem." The only problem, he said, would be "doing it in a foreign county."...The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus suggests President Bush take up the call of lobbying reform in his 2006 State of the Union. She writes: "It seems unlikely, I concede, that the president will choose to take up this cause. But maybe -- as with Nixon going to China -- George W. Bush is just the right president to go after lobbyists."


The Missoulian reports "U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns first pushed for a tribal school construction program sought by lobbyist Jack Abramoff's clients within two months of receiving $75,000 in campaign donations from the indicted lobbyist's tribal clients in 2002...Burns has said Abramoff's campaign donations had no bearing on his support for a controversial grant he supported, and that he was supporting it because of official requests from Michigan's Senators. But "according to letters released from both Burns and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., Burns began advocating for the program more than a month before he received official requests from the Michigan delegation for grant money."...The most recent Burns story highlights another story by the New York Times about how "political strategists working for likely challengers in several 2006 Congressional races have said they intend to publicize the donations" from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff to incumbents...The LA Times' Jonathan Chait points out just how ridiculous it is for President Bush and congressional Republicans to claim that the Abramoff scandal involves both parties equally. "Republicans were happy to broadcast their close ties to lobbyists back when they brought little scrutiny and lots of money," Chait writes. "Now that Abramoff and other lobbyists are suddenly a political liability, Republicans are retroactively happy to share power with the other side. If they'd been a bit less greedy then, they'd be in a bit less trouble now."...AP reports that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) used an AIDS charity he created to siphon "nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle." The story also notes that the money went to the political aides even though donors to the charity "included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm."...AP reports "A state district judge said Saturday he will not immediately consider separating two criminal charges against Rep. Tom DeLay to allow an early trial, another blow to the former House majority leader's hopes of regaining his post."


Reuters reports that newspapers are dropping a second columnist, Peter Ferrara, who now admits to being paid by Jack Abramoff to write favorable opinion pieces about Abramoff's clients. Incredibly, Reuters also notes that "the columnist told BusinessWeek Online last week that he takes payments from lobbyists 'all the time' to write articles favorable to their clients and did not see anything wrong with the practice."


A secret letter from pension funds to the SEC obtained by USA Today details just how much CEOs are ripping off their shareholders. As the story notes, research shows "that CEO pay at many companies in the Russell 3000 index (representing 99% of the U.S. stock market) bore no relation to how well those companies performed...At 60 of the worst-performing companies in that group, which lost $769 billion in market value over the past five years, the aggregate pay for the top five executives of those 60 companies over the same period was $12 billion. In other words, since January of 2000, some 300 executives who were responsible for more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars in shareholder value vanishing were rewarded by their shareholders with salary, bonuses and stock options worth $12 billion."...Businessweek reports "A judge Friday refused to muzzle out-of-court statements related to the fraud and conspiracy case against Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling after Lay's speech Tuesday lambasting government tactics in pursuing him.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:58 AM | link |

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