Monday, December 14, 2009

iTunes vs. Kindle

So I just got my Kindle and love it! I plowed through three books in the first week I had it and haven't slowed down since. It's really easy to find and download books and the e-ink display is sharp and crisp. Best of all, it's not chained to iTunes.

Here's why iTunes sucks; every song is encoded as AACs, which is a propriety format owned by Apple. This means the songs you bought and paid good money for won't play on anything but an iPod. That sucks, but what really sucks is Apple's crappy customer service.

My iTunes account was recently hacked by some d-bag who loves Chris Brown (really, Chris Fking Brown?). They rang up $40 in fraudulent charges. Apple's response; all sales are final. It was like pulling teeth to get a refund. I trusted Apple with my credit card and they couldn't protect my financial information. Not only that, but they didn't care enough to address my concerns or respond to my emails. Good times.

I'm sure Crapple will be rolling out their own eReader sometime soon. I hope it fails miserably. I'm sick of being locked into Apples proprietary system, not being able to do what I want with my digital content, and having to fight for decent customer service. From now on, all my mp3s will come from Amazon (which will play on ANY device).

Going to Europe

My girlfriend and I are heading to Europe this May. We'll be going to Zurich, Interlaken, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, and Venice. This will be my fifth big Europe trip, but her first, so I'm really excited to show her around and experience the culture together.

You know what else is cool about traveling in Europe? If you have an accident or get sick, you won't be bankrupted by medical bills because (like the rest of the civilized world) Europe has universal health care. It may be wishful thinking, but given that we're the wealthiest nation on Earth, maybe someday we too can have a health system that doesn't destroy families and deny coverage to millions of our citizens. Lookout Canada, we're catching up!

My new toy

So after spending a couple months looking at bikes, I narrowed my options down to the Ducati Monster 696 and the Harley Davidson Sportster Iron 883. The 2009 Monster has a newly revamped engine cranking out 80hp and a dry weight of just 355lbs. This gives it an absolutely insane power to weight ratio. However, lighter bikes like the Monster tend to feel a bit jumpy on the banged up asphalt of Los Angeles and the riding position is built for the corners, not long rides up the coast.

The Iron 883 is definitely more sedate with a dry weight of 548lbs, but still cranks out 55 foot pounds of torque vs. the Monster's 50, so it still has a nice pull off the line. The blacked out styling looks great and the straighter drag bars give a good grip for tall guys like me.

In the end, these are really two extremely different bikes with two distinct purposes. Even though I love carving up the corners of Mulholland Drive and the Angeles Crest, I also wanted a bike that I could comfortably commute to work on or take on 100+ mile rides. The Harley was the best fit for my needs and style, so that's the bike I bought.

Of course, once you buy a Harley, you have to make it your own. I wanted to take my girlfriend riding with me, so I picked up the Badlander seat and the short rail sissy bar with detachable side plates. This turned out to be a great combo. It maintains the low, flowing lines of the bike, has plenty of padding, and provides enough support so my girl doesn't fall off the back when we nail a pothole. After racking up 700 miles on my bike, I'm still glad I went with the Harley.