The iPod Nano:
I know you've all been waiting for it, since none of you have ever seen an iPod before, so here's my review of the iPod Nano. It's not as good as it could be. It's not a bad mp3 player - the form factor is certainly hard to beat (although it'd have a more pleasing look if it was slightly shorter and wider - the ratio of height to width is a little odd, but of course, the razor-thinness is great) but the interface and storage are somewhat lacking. To go from using a 20G mp3 player to a 2G mp3 player is really annoying, actually, as I'm used to being able to pull up any of the ~5000 songs I've got on my player; now I'm down to approximately 450 songs. 450 sounds like a lot until you actually try to limit yourself to it.
The interface is a bit odd. It has almost no dedicated buttons on it, just the "hold" button and the scroll wheel thingy. (The hold button is a fabulous idea and if not patented or something stupid should be adopted by every portable device ever - it's a little switch that, when flipped, disable the rest of the buttons on the device. Almost all devices have a "lock" or "hold" mode, but most of them require you to wade through menus and use the same buttons as the rest of the interface to get to it. With the iPod Nano, you just slide it to one side to enable, to the other to disable.) The scroll wheel thingy - which is one of those things raved about by people - is actually a pain in the ass. There's no on/off button, which seems odd but I can live with. But the menu navigation - you click on the middle button to enter a menu, on the menu button to go back a step. You turn the wheel to go up and down through your options.
So bear with me for a second. To get to an option, you click on the menu button. Then you turn the wheel (counter-)clockwise until you get to your menu option, which is indicated with an arrow pointing right, and click the middle button. If you click the wrong thing and want to go back, or are just browsing and want to back, you click the menu button. So even though the visual indicates right, you click middle. Even though the reverse direction from right is left, you click menu (which is "up"). Even though menu took you "down" or "right" into the menus, it also takes you "up" or "left" once you're in the menus. Do you get used to it fairly quickly? Sure. But it's completely non-intuitive and doesn't match the visual menu structure. For a company so obsessed with interfaces, you'd think they'd have noticed that and fixed it on an earlier generation of iPods (the Nano is part of the 4th generation of iPods).
Having said all that: I wouldn't spend $200 on a 2G mp3 player, no matter how it looked or how small it was, but I do like the Nano. I'd give it maybe a 3/5 if you're considering the price, 4/5 if you're ignoring the price (which few people can realistically do). The $250/4G seems like a much better deal to me, wish the vendor had sprung for the extra $50.
The New York Giants:
The Giants are having one of their best starts in a while, in a lot of ways. Their offense is putting up huge numbers, their defense isn't great but is stopping the opponent when they need to, and overall, they're looking very exciting for us NY fans, something which is frankly a bit unusual nowadays. But you know what? They're not as good as they could be, and what worries me, is that their win/loss record and their league-leading point totals may be obscuring some worrisome truths.
Having seen Eli play, I can say this: he's not bad. He comes up with big plays when it's critical. The problem? When it's not critical, he's mediocre at best. Calm down - CALM DOWN! Look at his stats if you don't believe me: he's completed a mere 50.9% of his passes, and has a mediocre (not bad, but not great either) QB rating of 83.2. It doesn't feel like it, when you look at his 4th quarter heroics, but he's a very different quarterback in the first 3 quarters. He's also given up 9 turnovers - only 5 INTs, but 4 fumbles as well. That's more than one per game on average.
Rushing? Well, Tiki had a phenomenal game last week, that's obvious. But prior to that game - which I'd argue is, unfortunately, an exception - he was averaging around 80 yards a game. This isn't terrible, but it's clearly not where the star RB on the highest scoring team in the league should be.
Receiving? I can't argue with much here, other than I think Plaxico is good but overrated and is overconfident - he's dropped several easy catches and not only that, I blame a couple of Eli's INT's on him. He is occasionally shockingly lazy on the field - where a Toomer will always put the full effort into every catch, Plaxico relies on his height and his natural abilities. He's shown that someone who is also talented, but more driven, will beat him to the ball. Eli can't always be expected to throw the ball where only he can get it, and if it's not over everyone else's head, there are times when the opponent will simply outwork him and get the ball. I've never felt that way about the overly cocky (but undeniably hard working) Shockey or the ever-reliable Toomer. Of course, the fact that they only have 4 reliable receivers, and one is a TE and one is a RB might concern people - they really only have 2 solid WRs and one is the aforementioned Plaxico Burress.
Defense? Not a lot needs to be said, they allow more yards than almost any other team, but they also have something like the 2nd best turnover ratio. They're aggressive and sloppy, is what it comes down to. When they click, they have the potential to be phenomenal, but this season so far we've rarely seen it - last week's performance was not, despite the numbers, phenomenal. The Redskins helped by dropping balls and missing opportunities. Was it good? Yes. But it wasn't a once-in-a-lifetime performance as the first-time shutout of the Redskins implied.
So having said all of that, they have phenomenal special teams, they team as a whole is clicking now and really in sync, and they have a lot of fairly young talent. But they also have very little depth; a couple of injuries could really hurt. But hey, I'm not complaining - just tempering expectations. The G-Men are good, but they have the potential to be much, much better. (And that more than anything else excites me.)
The Nine Inch Nails concert:
So I saw NIN live at MSG with a bunch of people (including meeting evendeeper for the first time, hello!). That's cool. But I've been a fan since... the early 90's. I don't know exactly when, maybe '91 or '92. I've tried and failed to go see him twice before, once on the Downward Spiral tour, once when he was performing with Bowie somewhere, I forget. Both fell through. I had a lot of high expectations.
The thing I found is that, well, a lot of his songs sound better on the CD. Part of that was probably the crowd - they were clapping and hooting and hollering and singing over all of the songs I wanted to hear (not to mention moshing in their seats). They were annoying. But he also changed some of the songs for the performance and while that's understandable, most of them came out the worse for it. Some bands - say, Miranda Sex Garden, or Ben Folds - are actually more enjoyable live. I didn't find the same to be true of this concert. It was worth seeing, once, but just not quite as "powerful" as I had been expecting. On the other hand, he's also older now, has gone from his more gothy look and feel to more of a hardcore feel with his shaved head and more angry, less angsty presence, and that's fine, but it's not the NIN I grew up with. (Not that he wasn't angry before, but it's a different feeling now, I guess. I dunno.) I would've liked if he played more songs from his early days and less from his new cd (which of course would never happen, since he is touring around his new cd, but I was hoping).
Anyhoo, it was fun, but a little disappointing, too. I wanted to be totally worked up by the end of it, and I wasn't. Then again, I'm also not 18 any longer, either.
This season of television? Very not-as-good-as-it-could be.
Invasion? Interesting premise, not a terrible cast, but it gets more and more boring and pointless each week.
Lost? I was loving it, but season 2 is much weaker than season 1 so far - not to mention, hello, they keep on not showing it. Skip the sports, get back to the story.
Numb3rs. Bleh. Could've been the first show ever to try to make math nerds seksay, and instead, they just seem like, well, math nerds. The plots and the use of math are incredible stretches. If the math was more incidental - but a more realistic application - it would've been a lot more interesting, I think. It would've been nice if maybe not the entire set of math nerds were pathetic and socially inept. It's possible to be smart and not a loser.
Rescue Me. It's not on! Damnit.
Everwood. Actually, I don't have a lot of gripes here. It's a guilty pleasure, but it's actually got surprisingly strong writing and acting for being a "teen drama" or "family drama" or whatever they bill it as. It's the first time I've enjoyed a show in this genre, which is a nice change. Not great, but so far so good.
Smallville. I'm torn. I mean, it's Superman, before he was Superman. And I generally like the cast and the concept. But the execution is, at times, weak. The plots are mediocre, the acting varies wildly but tends to generally be in the "cheesy and overdone" camp, and overall, if I wasn't a fan of Superman and hadn't spent, what, 4 years now, watching it I probably wouldn't continue.
The Daily Show/ The Colbert Report. I'm lumping these two together; DS is the better show, but CR is improving with each new episode. The Ken Burns episode was a classic. Both shows are funny and worth watching, but it's sometimes hard to watch each 4 nights a week - that, plus they don't give accurate listings in TiVO so you have to watch the first few minutes sometimes before you realize which episode you're watching.
Ebert and Roper. Movie reviews - but half of the show is filler. They could present their reviews in 5 minutes if they wanted, maybe 10, but instead they stretch it out. Damnit. I like their reviews, but I wish they'd actually give us more of them, too many times they cut from a new review to rebroadcast the highlights (*cough*) from an earlier review of a movie. What? So stupid.
Bill Maher. Totally hit or miss. Some shows are brilliant, some are snoozers. I guess that's what you get from a live show.
It's been freezing a lot recently, plus my internet connection is all wonky. I fix the keyboard, the video card (I think, but I need to debug it sometime) starts freezing. And then the internet connection goes wonky. Wonky! Damnit. I just want a stable, fast, reliable, cheap, powerful computer. Is that too much to ask?
The New AsianAvenue.com:
It was exciting to relaunch, but the relaunch really illustrated something to me: this was a new beginning, not an end. We have more work to do on it, it feels, post-launch than we did pre-launch. And BP and MG are coming down the road as well. I'm really not sure how we're going to manage it all without falling apart, but we'll see. Still, overall, things are good, even if we do have the occasional technical problem. Now, back to work.