What a Month

February was quite a month for me. First was a feeling of dread and impending doom at work - which was confirmed on Valentine’s day. I got a pink slip from my employer - the right color, to be sure, but it just didn’t say “love.” Essentially, the company folded, its assets liquidated. I ended up being one of the liquidated assets - I was offered a new job to a company that acquired people & technology. I was told to “stick around” for a few hours while a job offer was being prepared.

Meanwhile, I sat there, in the office, having a bit of a personal dilema: I was in the office, and have this strong sense of “I should be dilligent and work.” I had a lot of work to do until I got my pink slip, and the feeling doesn’t just go away. So I’m sitting there, feeling compelled to work & be dilligent. But I was also entirely unemployed - there wasn’t a whole lot of reason to work. So, myself & a bunch of survivors grabbed a notebook PC and watched a movie. (Office Space, which seemed quite fitting.) I still kept having this feeling that I’d get in trouble, and had to keep reminding myself - what are they gonna do? Fire me? They already did!

I ended up getting a new position and a modest raise. I was unemployed a total of about three hours - which is likely to be the shortest period of unemployment in my life; there’s not a lot of room for topping that record. Meanwhile, the next few weeks were spent in a frenetic scramble to grab the (computer) resources I would need to keep doing my job, and consolidating them together into two racks, and then re-connecting everything & bringing it back to an operational status.

On Friday, I stepped on the scale for the first time in about a month. (A doctor’s appointment at the end of January). I was stunned - I’d lost 15 pounds in about four weeks. There are a couple of factors: I blame stress first & foremost. The scramble to move the computer hardware around was a workout, which probably helped. Finally, the last issue, diet. I typically went out to lunch with a couple of co-workers & good friends. Much to my chagrin, they were let go, and I no longer have anybody to go to lunch with - so I’ve been brown bagging it & having sandwiches.

I feel bad that I kept a job & they didn’t - for both personal & professional reasons. They’ve got families to care for, I don’t. Add to that I’m already missing them at work - they have much needed skills. I’m following their job hunt with a great deal of interest - I’m rooting for them more than I’d ever root for a favorite sports team.

Yesterday, I purchased an Apple TV - my brother had one already, so I was pretty confident that it wouldn’t be a bad purchase. I have to say, the new rental feature is genius: I decided to give it a try on a movie I’ve never seen, but wanted to: Meet the Robinsons. What happened is quite different from what I expected. I expected to see it start downloading, and after a couple of hours, I could watch it. Instead, about two minutes later, a message popped up telling me I could start watching the movie. Whoah. The video quality was easily DVD grade, along with excellent surround sound. And it was streaming over the internet with no delay. My connection is about 2 Mbit - nothing special, pretty average. I was completely amazed that I am able to download fast enough to watch the movie almost immediately. It reminds me of the “dream” of a real “video on demand” service - I can pick any movie in the catalog, any time, and watch it right away.

I have seen the future, and yet again, Apple is taking a good idea, and making it something my mom can use. It’s absolutely incredible. And if I had a faster internet connection - like UTOPIA, for example, I could stream HD video on demand.

Blu-ray may not have won the HD wars after all. Since I have both, I’m able to say which I like better - the quality is more or less the same, but BD seems to be simply a higher quality DVD; HD DVD was a move forward in terms of the menu system and interactivity, and I’m sorry to see the technology I preferred die.

Yet it seems that Blu-ray may be doomed by downloads. The Apple TV was an eye opener - before today, I thought that Blu-ray would be a viable format. Blu-ray prices have skyrocketed after the demise of HD DVD. The higher picture & video quality of a BD may be overshadowed by its high cost. Apple TV is cheaper, gives DVD quality video “on demand”, and has HD video that can no doubt be streamed with a better internet connection than I have. The Apple TV’s picture & sound quality isn’t as good as BD - 720p isn’t as good as 1080p, but it’s still better than DVD.

$5 to rent a HD movie - without leaving the couch, is reasonable. Especially when purchasing the movie in HD DVD or BD is $25-30. When you stop to think about it, how many DVD’s have you watched enough to be cheaper to buy than rent for $5 each time?

So the Apple TV has compelling advantages over BD, but it’s comparing Apples to Blueberries - each has their advantages. I’m starting to believe the Apple TV will change the way people enjoy their media - just like the iPod.

I also got my mom a unique present for her birthday - a carved candle from Holland House candles - I saw them on the Science Channel’s How it’s Made. It’s beautiful, and my mom loves it. It’s a great gift for anybody who is into candles.