Will extending unemployment benefits make labor stats look worse?

I think it’s pretty common knowledge that unemployment statistics are understating unemployment because they fail to count those still out of work, but have exhausted their benefits. I wonder, then, that if they extend unemployment benefits, will unemployment statistics spike as those still unemployed folks are re-added back into the system and, thus, counted again. Since it would appear that H.R. 3548 will extend benefits another 13 weeks and is expected (hoped?) to pass, I guess we will see if my theory holds water.

Map an FTP site to a drive letter

Mapping an FTP site to a drive letter is very handy. It saves you the lengthy process of saving a copy of the file somewhere, booting an FTP client, logging into a ftp site, navigating to the source file, navigating to the target folder, uploading the file, closing the client, and deleting the original file. Just save the file directly to the FTP-mapped drive and you’re done. Perfect for my blog post pics!

I’ve been using FTP Drive for a while, but iTunes doesn’t like it and spits out an annoying error every time I boot it. Netdrive is a newer product and it’s free for personal use! Documentation is sparce, but set up is not much different than any other FTP client. It supports passive mode, SSL, SFTP, etc. iTunes seems to like it so, so do I.

One trick I learned as that you can add a path to the end of the FTP URL, like ftp.mydomain.com/images and the folder will become the root of the mapped drive. Very nice!

Great site to buy travel-sized products

One by one, my local grocery stores stopped carrying these individual salad dressing packets. Since all salad dressing must be refrigerated after opening, these are quite handy to use in a packed lunch. A quick Bing search and I found Minimus.biz. They specialize is selling individual portion packets for travel, office, camping, etc., including a decent assortment of salad dressing. They have everything! Cereals, shampoos, soap, playing cards, scissors…everything. The best part is that the quantities are very reasonable, that is, you don’t have to buy 50 or 100 at a time. For example, the salad dressing packets were sold in units of one! Yes, I could buy 1 one-ounce packet of italian dressing; however, I spent $20 to get the free shipping. Highly recommended.

I *hate* iTunes, but I guess I have to use it

After upgrading to 3.0 recently on my 2nd gen iPod Touch, MediaMonkey would no longer recognize the device. I installed a beta driver and it recognized it, *but* it corrupted the files. Ugh.

I’m feeling kinda like someone with a hacked iPhone and have decided that instead of fighting them, I might as well join them. In doing a restore I ended up having to install the 3.1.1 firmware upgrade, but it didn’t look like I had to pay =) Maybe because I only upgraded to 3.0 a few weeks ago. I dunno, but I won’t question a free upgrade. Also installed iTunes 9. Seems more like 8.1 and maybe even 8.0.1…HAHAHA I also had to re-install all my apps! THAT was a pain. Fortunately, the iTunes store keeps track of everything, even the free ones, so I just had to follow my purchase history.

I will continue to use MediaMonkey to manage my music, album art, ID3 tags, etc. I just don’t fully trust iTunes with my entire music collection, so I think I’ll just create a special folder with all my iPod music, even though it will mean I’ll have duplicate files. I have plenty of extra storage space.

I like keeping a special playlist of all my iPod music that is ordered by the date added to my Touch so I can quickly listen to music I’ve just added. I know I can use the automatic Recently Added playlist, but I’ve restored and started over so many times, that auto-playlist is unreliable. It is going to be sort of a pain to use both apps, but guess the alternative is even more evil.

UPDATE 2009-09-10:
OK, I’m *totally* giving in. I set iTunes to “keep my media organized”, that is, it’s going to keep stuff in artistalbumfolders. I did this so I could take advantage of, and be in sync with, the new “Automatically Add to iTunes” feature which automatically adds media put in that folder to the iTunes library. Of course, unlike other media managers, it doesn’t just monitor and add entries to the library, it renames and moves the files into the iTunes media folder. Apple always has to be different! See why I don’t trust iTunes with my entire media library?!

Doug’s #1 Rule of Business: Take the customer’s money as fast as possible.

Businesses spend billions on advertising and promotions to do one thing: Get consumers in their stores to buy their products. Marketing departments are critical in any business.

So why then, do businesses often do such a poor job “closing the deal”? Why do they have several checkout lines, but only man a few during peak hours??? Their soon to be ex-customers stand in line. Irritated. Vowing not to come back. Planning to take their business to a competitor.

And yet, the insanity continues. The ads and promos have done their job with great success. A customer has visited the store and made a selection. There they stand. Practically holding their hands out with money…”please take my hard earned cash”, they plead. But no deal. You need to wait in this line, just like everyone else.

How many times do you go into a large store and of the 20+ people that are visibly working there, they’ve got one or maybe two uninspired dorks plodding people through the checkout process. It’s a crime! So called fast-food are big time breakers of my #1 rule.

You would think that upper management or the owners would visit the operating locations once in a while and see what is going on. I would also think the store managers would be appalled and make changes. Maybe they have and just get no support.

There are a few that get it right: CostCo, Frys Electronics, (most) McDonalds, and Pavilions. Sure, you might stand in line at those places, but they show effort to get you checked out as quickly as possible. That’s the difference. Conveying concern and showing effort.

I have had this “rule” for many years, but what makes me bring it up is my experience at the local Ralphs grocery store in Culver City. My daughter and I stepped in to buy a few items and when we got to the checkout, it was oh 70 feet long. It was maybe 6pm on a Sunday night. One checkout open! They eventually managed to get two more open. Now do you think the manager walked around guiding customers to the newly opened lines? Hell no. They just pissed customers off as people just grabbed the shortest lines, etc. etc. I hate that store, but yet I continue to think things might have changed or I’ll catch it at a better time. I should know better. Pavilions may cost more, but I guess ya gotta pay for good customer service.

iTunes Genius-like playlist with MediaMonkey

My kid was showing me the iTunes genius feature and I was a bit intrigued. Although I have a 2nd gen iPod Touch I *hate* iTunes and only use it when I have to. Slow and stoopid IMHO, but I digress.

My music and tag manager of choice is MediaMonkey. One of it’s features is support for plug-ins and there is this cool LastFM one. It works in conjunction with MM’s AutoDJ feature which normally just adds a random song to the PlayNow list, but with the plug-in, it will automatically add a similar artist based on LastFM data.

Go to this forum post for a link to download the latest LastFM Auto-DJ plugin. To install, just double-click the plug-in file (like it was an executable file). The .mmip file extension should be associated with MM, assuming you have MM already installed. After the plugin is installed, complete the following steps:

1. Choose ‘Options’ from the main Tools menu.
2. Click on ‘Auto-DJ / Now Playing’ in the Player group of options.
3. Enable ‘Auto-DJ’ and set ‘Automatically maintain at least’ to 1.
4. Set ‘Add tracks from:’ to ‘Last.FM DJ’.
5. Unless you’ve rated most of your music, click the Configure button and enable the ‘Include unknown rating option’–this is very important!
6. Click ‘OK’.
Finally, start the Auto DJ playing mode by choosing ‘Auto-DJ’ from the Play menu. Make sure you do this last step or nothing will happen. Note that there is a toggle button on the player. The location depends on the skin you are using and, at least for me, it’s not a very recognizable icon.

Now, just drag any track to “seed” the process and the Auto-DJ feature will start adding similar artists. Since it isn’t analyzing the song, like iTunes Genius or Pandora might do, you get an interesting chain of songs.