You’re Protesting Wrong

Since the start of the Gaza offensive (or war) by Israel, there seems to have been a growing number of anti-semitic incidents. From synagogues being attacked in France to the most recent attack on a student at Temple university (thinking about it I find a degree of irony that this happened at Temple). The majority if not all of these attacks have been in response to Israel entering Gaza. I am not going to discuss if what Israel is doing is justified or not. What I want to talk about is how misguided these protests are.

What do I mean when I say these protests are misguided? Simply put, if you are if you are “protesting” by attacking a synagogue or beating down a local Jew or Israeli, you’re protesting wrong. The proper place to protest is at your local Israeli consulate. Do you know why? That is where the Israeli government is located. An Israeli playing soccer is not a representitive of the Israeli government. Additionally it’s OK to block the Brooklyn Bridge and chant “Free Palastine” altrhough I don’t know if you will be convincing anyone who is stuck on the bridge. Oh yeah, getting a permit is highly reccomended. Any “protests” that are not at an Israeli government location is nothing more than an assault which should be proscuted.

Speaking of offences to be proscuted, I’d like to bring up the thugs who murdered the Arab boy in retaliation for the kidnappings. It is my fervent hope they proscuted to the fullest extent of the law. It seems Israeli law does have the death penality is specific cases and I an in agreement with Rabbi Levanon that it should be used in this situation.

An Amazing Play by the Pirates Josh Harrison

I didn’t get a chance to watch, listen, or follow the game Friday night because it was Shabbos and I go off the grid for the day. This morning my friend Ari Levine told me about this amazing play.

At first I thought he was talking about the play Thursday night where Ike Davis was caught in a rundown long enoungh for Andrew McCutchen to score a run. The play Ari was talking about makes that one very tame in comparison.

A few observations
1. Josh Harrison can do no wrong at this point. He has been playing like a man possessed and this is just another example of that.
2. Ruben Tejada made a bad decision to stop the rundow because he thought Harrison was out of the baseline. He has to make the throw to the pitcher who was covering third.
3. Why wasn’t Harrison called out of the baseline? The only reason I can come up with is that Tejada was following him. I am sure that isn’t correct but that is my guess right now.

Thoughts from Amazon’s Phone Launch

Amazon Fire Phone

Although I asked Amazon for an invite to their event, I didn’t make the cut. I wasn’t expecting to get an invite but I figured it was worth a try. I did “watch” the event via The Verge’s live blog. Here are a few impressions I came away with:

  • I would really like it if Amazon talked hard numbers when it came to things like number of Prime members or Kindle Fires/TVs sold.
  • There are some disturning quotes from the event. I’ll paraphrase the one which really made me flip “Amazon Prime was the best life choice I’ve made so far.” Really?!
  • Unlimited photo storage is the way to go. I’m glad Amazon did that.
  • Pre-cacheing video sounds interesting. I assume it will learn what by knowing what you’ve previously watched.
  • Amazon is all about the ecosystem. I think they have that right. However it is a little scary and intrusive how Firefly ties in to let you buy things.
  • The 3D effects are really cool looking. I just wonder if it can be more than just a gimmick.
  • I like the fact the carosel will now show a preview of content inside of the app. That could be useful.
  • The idea of going from the lock screen to your photos is a good idea.
  • $200 with a 2 year contract for a 32GB model seems fair. However the same price for a 16GB model seems a little more expensive than I thought it would be. Especially if you consider how much they are trying to get you to buy things from Amazon.
  • Having said that the fact Amazon is adding a $99 value (free 12 months of Amazon Prime) to the phone does make the deal a little more palatable.
  • My first impression is that the Fire Phone is an interesting device but if my contract were up I don’t think I would leave the iPhone for it. However, that opinion may change once I get my hands on one for a bit.

Making the Switch from Evernote to Onenote

Note: This was cross-posted at Quo Vadis’ Blog.

I have been a big fan of Evernote for a long time. The ability to keep your notes one one place and have them automatically sync to any device is really what “the cloud” is all about. For a long time Evernote was my goto place for storing information. The fact it was the only cross platform service of its kind helped me like it as well.

Earlier this year a competitor became cross platform and I have found it works better for me how how I like to organize my data. Microsoft’s OneNoteis that competitor. At the root both services allow you to set up different notebooks for your various needs. However, where OneNote excells for me its use of the notebook metaphore and each notebook is allowed to have an unlimited number of tabs. Within those tabs you are able to have pages. This is opposed to the tagging Evernote does. A good example of this would be a cookbook. You can have tabs for your desserts, main dishes and appitizers and when you are on that tab you can see them automatically. As I said before the metaphore really works for me and how I prefer to set up my things. I suppose you can kind of do the same with subnotebooks in Evernote but it just doesn’t do it for me. As they say, your milage may vary.

OneNote does have its faults. The biggest one I have seen is the ability to get data into OneNote. Specifically getting data out of Evernote and into OneNote. There is no import function on the Mac client. Another oversight is not having the ability to do handwriting. This is something Evernote does allow on their mobile devices with the Penultimate app. I believe these are a major oversights and ones Microsoft hopefully will address in their next release.

If you are on multiple devices and like to have your notes organized you can’t go wrong with either of these two services. However for my money OneNote is which works best for me.

Amazon Music Review

Amazon Music Review

I am not a big fan of streaming music. I tried iTunes Radio and I wasn’t sold on it, it seemed too difficult to make custom channels. I have used Pandora, which I think is the granddaddy of streaming services, and I like it but after a while you hear the same songs over and over. That can get boring rather quickly. I tried Spotify but didn’t like the interface. I haven’t tried the other popular service out there, Beats mainly because I’m not that into streaming, not to mention I’m trying to stay on a budget.

However, least week Amazon announced a new value add to their Prime membership, Prime Music. Since it is already included in my prime membership I decided to give it a try. (Just a reminder – I am an Amazon Affaliate so feel free to use these links to earn me a few pennies).

Prime Music is a curated service and it is set up by playlists. There are the standard playlists based on an artists (e.g. Paul Simon’s Top 50 songs) and the more interesting task based playlists. These task lists include “Cooking with Jazz” and the “Reading for: ” series where they give you music to listen to while you read certain genres of books.

The task based playlists similar to (but not the same as) what Beats can do. If i understand it correctly, you can tell Beats what you are doing and what you’re in the mood to listen to and it will create a playlist for you. The latter is better because there is more variety where as Prime Music you are stuck with the same list of songs.

One of the big weaknesses of Prime Music is the size of the music library. It is small when compared to the other services out there. While this is true and if you were considering Prime Music as your only streaming source it would be a problem. However as I mentioned in previousposts I believe Amazon sees this and their video as value adds for Prime and not a the main reason to sign up for Prime. Additionally even though they only have 1 million songs, who is to say that their catalogue won’t increase as the company makes more deals down the road?

I think that Prime Music is a good start, if you’re streaming needs are not extensive and you are already a Prime member you need to give it a try. I don’t think you should go out and sign up for Prime becaue of the service (If you do, please go through my site to sign up :) ).

Lag B’Omer thought about Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi

I am not sure if there is anything to be done with this but it is an interesting thought which occurred to me while teaching last week. We all know the famous story of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi (RASHBY). He and his son are forced to live in a cave for 13 years because Yehudah ben Garim told the Roman government about some unflattering things RASHBY said about the government.

However there is another story which RASHBY is a part of where he was the instigator and caused trouble for someone else. This is another famous story, where Rabban Gamliel is deposed from his position (head of the court) because of his (continued) treatment of Rabbi Yehoshua. The Talmud in Brachos tells us a student asked Rabbi Yehoshua is Maariv was a obligation or optional. He answered and then the student went to ask Rabban Gamliel the same question and he answered the opposite of Rabbi Yehoshua. The student told him this and Rabban Gamliel embarrassed Rabbi Yehoshua for the third (and final) time. At the end of this entire story the Talmud asks how this student was and it was RASHBY.

I think this is an interesting juxtaposition of stories. In one he is the victim and the other he is the cause. It also seems that the story of the cave happened when he was older. What if RASHBY having to hide in the cave was a devine punishment for causing all the trouble for Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua?

Several people I have spoken about this with think it is possible this is the case.

Comixology, Amazon and In-App Purchases

Earlier this month when Comixology was bought by Amazon there was some hand wringing by fans of the app. They believed the company would be ruined by Amazon. I was in the camp of Jason Snell and Andy Ihnatko believing the company would be run independently like Zappos, Audible.com and other companies under the Amazon umbrella.

Based on the news from yesterday, it’s looking like I was wrong. They have gotten rid of in-app purchases in both the iOS and Android app, denying Apple and Google a cut of what people have been purchasing. Additionally making it a lot more difficult for those using iOS (including myself) to buy comics on the fly.

It certainly seem this “upgrade” was decided on after Amazon bought Comixology. However, there is no way to that for certain because Comixology has not commented as of yet. It is possible this update and change in how the purchasing works was in the pipeline before they were bought by Amazon.

I would like to not seem like tin foil hat wearing conspiracy nut. However, Occam’s Razor is telling me otherwise. As much as I would like to give a benefit of the doubt, I don’t think I can.

I believe Comixology is making the wrong decision by putting its head in the sand and not discussing this issue. I have been in companies where they made a decision and refused to communicate to their clients. You don’t make a lot of friends by doing that. Hopefully tomorrow they will come out with some kind of statement.

There is one benefit of Comixology going this route. Since Comixology gives the independent creators a cut of the profits and they are no longer paying Google and Amazon, there should be an increase in profits. In turn this should lead to the creators getting more money. Time will tell if this will happen.

Baseball Season is Almost Here!

I love the fact that baseball is a little less than two weeks away. In addition to nice weather being right around the corner, the Pirates were pretty successful last year and look to be competitive this season.

Here is a video to get you pumped for the season:

If that didn’t get you psyched up maybe this will:

Of course tickets at PNC Park are hard to come by and no matter who you are, you are going to have a hard time getting tickets: