Posts Tagged shopping

The Beatles

I’ve never been a Beatles fanatic. I like a lot of their music, but I’ve never owned a single track. I’m not completely sure why this is, though I could go into each music-buying phase of my life and come up with reasons. Lately, the biggest reason is that I primarily purchase individual tracks and The Beatles weren’t sold that way. Until now.

As is presumably widely known, as of this past Tuesday, The Beatles has come to iTunes. I was happy that this had finely happened as I’ve been paying attention during the long process that led up to this moment. When The Beatles Box Set came out last September, I had fully expected it to be on iTunes as well. I was disappointed when that didn’t happen. Now, 14 months later, it has.

While I was tempted to purchase the box set last year, or at least put it on my wish list, the value just wasn’t strong enough for me. I really wanted to be able to pick-and-choose the songs I wanted. Now that I have that option, it’s somewhat comical how tempted I was to simply click the “BUY ALBUM” button for the entire box set. I resisted this impulse and I’m glad I did. It turns out that it would have been a mistake for several reasons.

First, it’s overpriced. The physical version, which has the technical advantage of higher quality (though I doubt I’d ever notice) along with the ease of having backups for the ripped music rather than having to burn backups of the downloaded music, is $20 cheaper.

Second, the mono versions of the songs are not included in the iTunes box set. In fact, they aren’t available at all on iTunes. I’m not going to go into the details, but many people strongly prefer the mono versions of the early Beatles songs over the stereo versions.

Third, and perhaps most significant, is that the whole reason I was waiting for The Beatles to be available digitally was so that I could buy just the songs I wanted. To give up that flexibility on impulse would be silly.

So, now what? Many readers may not be surprised that the answer involves a spreadsheet. I went through the entire song listing for the box set, by album, and rated each track as either “Yes”, “Maybe”, “Meh”, “No” or “Dup”. “Yes” means that I’d buy the song for iTunes $1.29 price. “Maybe” means that I wouldn’t buy the individual song, but I’d appreciate it on an album. “Meh” means that I don’t really care, but there is some chance that getting the song on an album and listening to it repeatedly would result in it growing on me. “No” is obvious and “Dup” means that the song was on an earlier album in what I think is a mostly similar version.

Building this spreadsheet took a while as it included listening to at least some portion of the 30-second preview for a majority of the songs. But it’s done. The rest is just math. Here’s the data:

Album Yes Maybe Meh No Dup
Magical Mystery Tour 7 2 2

Let It Be 5 5 2

A Hard Day’s Night 5 6 2

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 11 2


Yellow Submarine
3 8
2
Beatles For Sale 2 6 6

Help! 5 8 1

Please Please Me 6 2 5 1
Revolver 4 6 3 1
Rubber Soul 8 3 3

With The Beatles 4 7 3

Abbey Road 9 5 3

The Beatles (White Album) 5 15 10

Past Masters 9 14 5
5

The first thing that jumps out at me is that I clearly have a bias in favor of Sgt. Pepper. I have a theory that my father played this album a lot when I was at a particular age. Now, at $1.29 per “Yes” song and half price per “Maybe” song, the only albums that are definitely worth (to me) their (iTunes) cost are Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, with Rubber Soul being “close enough”. On the other hand, the entire collection comes close to being worthwhile. Switch to the $130 physical media price and it’s a done deal.

Except…

There’s still the issue of mono versus stereo. Investigating the mono version of the box set a bit further and it turns out that it doesn’t include Abbey Road or Let It Be. Instead, it includes both mono and stereo versions of Help! and Rubber Soul. I find this a bit odd, but what can you do? (Note that it’s also missing Yellow Submarine, though all of the songs are actually present on other albums, just not the musical score from the movie.)

Taking away my computed value of Abbey Road and Let It Be leaves the total just $13.50 short of Amazon’s price for the mono box set. Close enough, particularly including the fact that the mono versions aren’t available individually.

That’s it, then. Get the mono box set, plus Abbey Road, plus the 5 Let It Be songs I want. For the supremely curious, the 5 “Maybe” songs on Let It Be that I’ll be missing out on in order to save $6.54 are Two of Us, Dig a Pony, Maggie Mae, I’ve Got a Feeling, and For You Blue.

Of course, I really feel like I should leave the mono box set on my wish list until after Christmas. So, for now, I guess I’ll just buy Abbey Road for now. Oh, wait… would you look at that. Abbey Road and Let It Be are both available on Amazon for $7.99. That makes Let It Be worthwhile. I guess it’s Amazon all the way.

Thanks for nothing, Apple.

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iMultiply?

I started to Tweet this but was doubting I could really fit it into 140 characters. It then occurred to me that this would be as good a time as any to actually write something here again. I had expected my first post back to be about my new Prius, but that will have to wait.

As cool as it looks, and as much as I’d like to have one, I simply didn’t see how a MacBook Air would fit into my life. For most things I think I’d use it for, it seems I can use my iPad. Still, the gears turn…

Our single Mac is the MacBook Pro we acquired about 2 1/2 years ago. The MBP mostly stays in the family room on a laptop table. From time to time I’ve toyed with the idea of getting an iMac for the study. The Windows XP system that was technically replaced by the MBP is still in the study and gets primarily used by the kids for schoolwork. It fills this need adequately, leaving very little motivation for making a change. The only real motivation left is to improve my photo (and video, theoretically) editing process with a faster system and (much) larger display(s). In the end, it wasn’t enough motivation, at least for now.

Earlier today, I had another idea. I could move the MBP to the study, along with a new large monitor for improved photo editing, and replace it in the family room with a MacBook Air. This is an expansion of a scenario I had already considered, which was just to get a large monitor for photo editing, but only move the MBP to the study on demand. It is mobile, after all. With the pricing of Apple’s displays versus the iMacs, and with the ability to use an iMac as a second display for the MBP, this idea didn’t really go anywhere. Mostly, it was stopped by the fact that I’d really want the MBP and iMac to work together as a multiprocessing system when connected, which they wouldn’t do.

It should be readily apparent by now, if it wasn’t at the start, that I’m really just trying to come up with a justification to by a MacBook Air. So, here we go!

What if, instead of moving the MBP to the study I sold the MBP and replaced it with an iMac and a MacBook Air? Doesn’t that sound good? I wonder what an early-2008 17″ MBP is worth?

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Online Purchase Fail

burning moneyIt was my fault. No question about it.

It’s not like it was my first time ordering products over the Internet. I’ve been doing that for longer than my nearly-12-year-old daughter has been alive.

Sure, I’ve had the occasional issue where I accidentally paid too much because I didn’t properly consider the shipping cost. I’ve ordered things that I ended up rarely (or never) using. I’ve even gotten caught up in an online auction to the point where I paid slightly more than retail price for something, even before including shipping.

But about three weeks ago I managed to pull a trifecta of ordering the wrong products.

First, I accidentally ordered the wrong Blu-Ray player (Panasonic DMP-BD60 instead of Samsung BD-P1600, in case you care). Luckily, I was telling a friend about this order and this led to me realizing my mistake in time to cancel the order. (The Samsung was priced a bit higher than I wanted to spend, so I didn’t end up ordering it.)

Then, in the same order I ordered two pieces of equipment for my pool in an attempt to save a few bucks. But it turned out that neither of those was the right piece, either. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize these mistakes until the components arrived — and in the case of one of them, not until I had removed it from the packaging.

I suppose I could send the unopened one back, and perhaps the opened one as well. But I’m thinking I’ll just take them to the pool supply store and see if they’ll give me something for them when I buy the correct components. Shipping things back is just too much trouble.

Lesson I should learn: Do a better job of verifying components.

Lesson I actually learned: When in doubt, just buy it at the store.

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Endymion Coronation Ball

endymion
As I previously mentioned, we went to New Orleans this past weekend for the Endymion Coronation Ball. The trip was great and played out pretty much as expected. We left Austin on an 8:10 AM flight and arrived in New Orleans at about 11:15.

After picking up our rental car, we headed to the hotel to drop of the wives before meeting Randy, our local connection, for lunch and bead shopping. However, on the way to the hotel we decided to stop at a Arc to check out their Mardi Gras sale (based on a recommendation). It seems like a pretty good program they have going, employing intellectually disabled adults to help reduce waste by recycling beads.

The two of us that were there were buying beads for ourselves and four other people. Though I didn’t end up buying any for myself (I was too picky based on a disappointing experience last year), we did get half of the beads for Travis the other four. This ended up being a great time saver later in the day since these beads were sold in 30 pound bags. While Travis was dealing with these beads, I went ahead and took the wives to the hotel.

Next up, Crazy Johnny’s! I got my steak in the form of a wonderful steak sandwich — which I then realized is the same way I had it last year, though I was the only one to do so then and all three of us did so this year. Three people is the fewest I’ve been part of at Crazy Johnny’s; certainly a different feel though still wonderful.

After dropping of the Arc beads at Randy’s apartment, we headed to Beads by the Dozen to shop for the rest of our beads. I didn’t enjoy this as much as usual, and I’m not really sure why. Certainly the fact that they were out of some of our favorite beads didn’t help, but I think there was more to it. This resulted in not spending as much time there, which was probably a good thing as we ended up having less time to get things done than we expected. With half the beads for five people, all of my beads, and some beads for Randy, we had quite a number of boxes of beads to transport back to Randy’s and then transfer to bags. I’m not sure how long it ended up taking us, but by the time we were finished it was probably passed the time we really needed to head to the hotel to get ready for the Coronation Ball.

Food. Drink. Music. Dancing. Parade. Beads. Painted tattoos. Palm readings. It was a great party. Here is a selection of pictures from the event:

For lots more pictures, including higher resolutions of these and shots of our group, head on over to my Gallery2 Album.

Only three weeks ’til Endymion!

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iTunes vs. Amazon

I bought myself an iPod Nano last November and the girls got new Nanos for Christmas (Brittney previously had the prior generation Nano, which has been handed “up” to Marci). I resisted such a purchase for myself for a long time because my Treo 755p works fine as a music player and, theoretically, as a video player as well. However, I’ve been going on runs without my Treo lately (which is a change) and thought that a Nano with an arm band would be a good running accessory.

Naturally, now that I have the Nano I use it for more than just running. Tivo Desktop Plus can be configured to automatically copy certain shows from my Tivo and convert them to iPod format. It’s pretty handy to have selected shows just show up on my iPod about a day after they air. I’ve also been listening to Podcasts in the car (I previously mentioned Coffee Break Spanish and I also listen to Clark Howard and 1Src).

Of course, I also listen to music. Prior to purchasing an iPod, I had Read the rest of this entry »

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UPS Interruptus

Well, it’s taken a number of months but the battery in the UPS for my Windows box has finally deteriated to the point that it can no longer power the system. I used to have other devices plugged into it and have been removing them over time as the UPS could no longer handle the load. Addmitedly, I was probably over-taxing it at first — 2.8 GHz P4, 19 in. CRT, HP 1600 Color LaserJet all on a 350 VA UPS.

I went to the APC web site to check for a battery replacement. They had it for $27+tax, plus $7 shipping. They also offered a trade-up program that purported to let you get up to twice the VA at up to a 35% discount. However, most of the reasonable replacements seemed to have little or no discount. Replacing it with the new version of the same model was $39+ts and moving up to 550VA was $56+ts.

I ended up picking up a new 550VA UPS at Fry’s for $70+t. I was going to get one for $60, but I liked the layout of the more expensive one better (lights and button on the side opposite of the power cable). Both were specifically not APC — Belkin instead — though Fry’s had the 550VA APC for $60 as well.

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