Microsoft Zune 30 gig

Well Microsoft missed reading a study from the 70s that indicated that BROWN and GREEN were the two most negative colors for consumers.

So, as Microsoft evidently has a lot of unsold BROWN Zunes, they were on sale on Black Friday for as low as $79, which you have to admit is a pretty good deal. In their infinite wisdom, Microsoft is going to replace the BROWN Zunes with GREEN ones. Doh!

Like when you are working out or whatever, who cares what color your Zune, iPod or any other MP3 player is? Really! Although we have every single model of iPod here at home, I bought one of the brown Zunes to see how it compared to the iPod.

Well the Zune software is different to say the least. In some areas it's easier to use in others it's not. It is definitely flashier than the iTunes software, but it also offers fewer songs in its marketplace.

The Zune is ok if it is your first MP3 player or if like me you have used others over the years and just want to check it out from a technical standpoint.

January 2008: After owning the Zune for a while, I think one of its most outstanding features is the built-in FM radio for those of us who lack massive MP3 collections of music. The worst feature is the PC software for the Zune. Apple's iTunes software simply is superior to the Zune software and I don't find iTunes that intuitive to begin with....

Toshiba HD-A3 DVD player

As one of the bits of Black Friday swag, my daughter got a Toshiba HD-A3 DVD player from for $175. While we don't have actual HD programming via satellite or cable yet, playing an HD DVD was STUNNING to say the least! In the box was 300 and The Bourne Identity. If you purchase an HD DVD player, go to where you can print a page that entitles you to five free HDs.

Even watching non-HD DVDs was a whole new experience as "up-verting" by the Toshiba was absolutely amazing!

Hey! I'm not anti-Blu-Ray, but Blu-Ray DVD players are still much higher in price than the HD players. I could see ending up with both formats until the high definition DVD war has a winner.

In the meantime, if you find a reasonably priced HD DVD player, buy one!

By the way, use HDMI cables to connect your HD player to your HD TV, and buy the cables off of the Internet for $5 or more instead of purchasing HDMI cables at Best Buy, Fry's or Circuit City for outrageous amounts like $50 or higher. There's only two states with an HDMI cable: It works or it doesn't work. End of story!

Don't give to the Salvation Army this holiday season

This religious organization spends more than $300 MILLION on "Administrative Costs" in the US alone. Kind of makes one wonder what high level quality of life is being financed for the leaders of this organization by your donations.

No need to discuss their dogma of being anti-homosexual or encouraging the breeding of large families. Maybe they can out breed the Mormons and Catholics.

I'd rather hand my charitible donations directly to a homeless person or to a locally managed shelter or hospice.

Avoid charities and religious groups this holiday season that have massive administration overheads or that just don't actually move their cause forward.

Vista Service Pack Release Candidate 1 is OK

The ONE thing that makes the first of what I expect will be many, service packs for Windows Vista is that for us unfortunate users (retail beta testers?) of Vista Ultimate is that now one's Internet connection is established immediately instead of five minutes after Vista Ultimate has booted up.

Performance? HA! My startup time is SLOWER now, but I'm confident that Microsoft will label that as being "more secure" by using some new mystery code that we don't see while the PC boots up.

Windows Live OneCare failure

Well, Windows Live OneCare is finally off of the last system in my home. My wife had been using it under Windows XP. Recently OneCare downloaded an "update" that made it totally unuseable. Using Microsoft's OneCare repair tools (kind of says something about the product when they have repair tools, eh?) and doing a total uninstall and reinstall could not get OneCare back in operation.

So, I installed Symantec's Norton 360, which offers everything that OneCare does. Norton 360 also has many additional features over and above OneCare, such as regularly tuning up your PC.

I use Norton 360 on three of my PCs and find it to be an excellent for securing and protecting your PC, especially if you are a heavy Internet user.