Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekend OTR: Duffy’s Tavern–“Mystery Valentine"

duffystavernYes, it’s another weekend and that means it’s time for another old time radio episode.

Since Valentine’s Day was this week, it seems only appropriate to post an episode appropriate to the holiday. And, we’ve got a comedy this time around, so get ready to laugh so hard you’ll break all your furniture.

As usual, this weekend’s episode is courtesy of our friends at If you’re a fan of old time radio, you owe it to yourself to pay The Cat a visit. Of course, OTR fans should also head over to First Arkansas News every Sunday to check on the latest Lum and Abner comic strip. Yes, that’s an original series over there and you don’t want to miss it, ace.

Having said all of that, click the below link to listen to this weekend’s OTR episode.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dump that iPhone 4 for a 4S? Save your money.


One of the great things about my job is that I can get a new smartphone whenever I’m due one under my contract with AT&T.

I was due a new phone last week, so I headed to my favorite AT&T retailer and swapped my iPhone 4 for the shiny, new 4S. Was it worth it? Well, that depends. If you’re still toting an iPhone 3G and are due an upgrade, the 4S is well worth investigating. If you have an iPhone 4, however, save your money. If you’re sick of the iPhone 4 and you’re desperate for something new, it might be worth your while to see what’s available in the Android camp.

Is the iPhone 4S a bad phone? Not at all. However, it’s so similar to my iPhone 4 that I’m reminded of a story in The Onion (the best parody site running, of course) about Arby’s apologizing for releasing the a sandwich that was merely the same old roast beef thing with a few strips of bacon slapped on it. It was technically a new sandwich, see, but it was more than a bit uninspired.

Apple is guilty of something marvelously similar with the iPhone 4S. Unlike the Beef ‘N’ Bacon sandwich, however, the 4S is a real, live product that has Apple and its devoted followers absolutely fawning over how great it is. In reality, the 4S is little more than a 4 with a gimmick thrown in and some slightly better specs. The case is the same. The pitifully small 3.5” screen is the same. Typing on the tiny keys on that dinky screen is still miserable.The 4S, in short, looks and acts a lot like a 4 with a few notable exceptions.

You can compare the 4, 4S and 3GS here. A couple of things that stand out about the 4S are a dual-core CPU rather than a single-core one, an 8 megapixel camera as opposed to the 5 megapixel one on the 4 and the ability to record 1080p HD video rather than 720p. The assumed performance boost of the dual core CPU is barely noticeable unless you happen to be playing games with a lot of animation (My Town2, for example, is a lot more comfortable on the 4S than the 4). It may well be that more apps will come out that will take full advantage of the dual core CPU in the near future, but most apps on the market perform about the same on either the 4 or 4S.

The camera resolution is a bit better (as mentioned), but it’s not that much better. The image stabilization on the video camera is a nice improvement but, again, nothing extraordinary.

Apple has also made a point out of the improved battery life on the 4S, but I’ve not noticed any improvement over my 4 with both phones running iOS 5.01. In fact, both the 4 and 4S under iOS 5.01 suck that battery down much quicker than a 4 running iOS 4. Strange.

Ah, and then there’s Siri – the highly-touted voice assistant. It’s a neat gimmick, but it feels out of place on a device made by a company that brags about how its stuff “just works” and claims nothing is released to the public until its refined and better than competing products. Siri has great potential and that may one day be realized, but for now it’s just a gimmick that is in danger of being as useless as FaceTime unless a lot of work is done on it.

Yes, one can voice dial with Siri, but that can be done reliably with an iPhone 4. What is promising is that voice texting works rather well, as does doing tasks such as setting alarms and reminders. One can also ask Siri for bits and pieces of information and launch Web searches just by talking to the voice assistant.

Ah, but Siri isn’t yet complete. For one thing, there are times when the service simply doesn’t work, leaving the user with an obnoxious message from Siri stating that she can’t take requests just now, but can do so later. Also, the database from which Siri draws it’s answers is far from complete.

For examples, let’s say I want to know what movies are playing in my town. Siri can find plenty of theaters 20 miles away in Little Rock, but isn’t aware of the 14-screen theater that’s a couple of miles from my house. The same is true when it comes to restaurants, stores and, well, just about anything else that one might want to find some information on in this little town of 30,000 people. Obviously, some of the functionality of Siri is useless to those of us who don’t live in a city.

Still, Apple may well put in the time and effort to make Siri a truly fantastic feature of the 4S, but I can’t imagine the company is motivated to do so. After all, the iPhone 4S has been out for four months now and there are still shortages in many areas. The 4S is selling like crazy and you just know someone at Apple has to look at profits, consider research and development costs and wonder if it would be wise to invest a lot of cash improving a product that people are lining up in droves to purchase.

So, again, the question remains – is it worth burning an upgrade on an iPhone 4S? If you’ve got an iPhone 4, then probably not. If you want a larger screen and some of the cooler bells and whistles that have been made available over the past year or so, you might do well to look at an Android. If you like your iPhone 4 just fine, it might be a great idea to simply wait until the iPhone 5 is released. There are no solid timetables on when the next iPhone will come out, of course, as Apple tends to float major upgrades on the market when the company damned well feels like it.

On the other hand, bear in mind that iPhones hold their value incredibly well. In fact, I fully expect to get at least $200 – the price my office ponied up for my 4S – when I dump my very good condition iPhone 4 on eBay. So, I’ve got a new phone and the chances are good my office will break even on the deal. Do some research and you’ll discover that Android phones haven’t historically held their value nearly as well.

Of course, if you’re type who has an iPhone 4 and hates change, the 4S is a safe bet. It’s nice and new, but so much like the 4 that you’ll barely notice a difference.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day, Michael Jordan style

First off, happy Valentine's Day from your good friend, The Hawg. Here's hoping you've got something special planned with a loved one and will have a great day.

Yes, Valentine's Day may have started as little more than a scam from greeting card companies, but it's turned into something -- a legitimate excuse to eat a bunch of candy and get presents. Who doesn't love presents and candy?

Second, let me relate a little story about Michael Jordan and Valentine's Day that's sure to please. Back around 1993, I was still toiling away at the University of Arkansas and earning that piece of worthless junk I call a law degree (yes, I did practice for four years and hated every minute of it, so hush). Now, law school isn't a very cheerful place. No, it's a place full of dread and bad vibes as you've got a bunch of unhappy, overworked students being tormented by unhappy, overworked law professors.

I, The Hawg, took it upon myself to bring a little cheer to the dreadful scene on Valentine's Day with a batch of what has to be one of the greatest byproducts of he holiday -- Michael Jordan Valentine's Day cards.

Who wouldn't be cheered up by that? Who wouldn't be thrilled to receive a card featuring Michael Jordan in a groovy sweater and affirming their coolness. Who wouldn't be happy to get a card featuring Michael Jordan going up for a patented dunk with slogans and buzzwords such as "cool" and "have a high flying day" plastered all over it?

Those Michael Jordan cards were, indeed, truly great. I offered to buy my 11-year-old daughter a box of them off of eBay so that she could hand them out to students and spread joy throughout the fifth grade, but she refused my offer.

Kids. Go figure.

Horoscope for the week of Feb. 13

I was certain that Dr. Zodiac wouldn’t turn in a horoscope this week. Saturday came and went with no word from the good doctor and the same went for Sunday.

On Monday, however, the mysterious Dr. Zodiac got in touch and delivered both a horoscope and a tale of woe. Yes, it seems Ms. Zodiac got tired of the doctor not having a “real job,” so she threw him out on the mean streets of Little Rock on Friday.

So, he went wandering and, eventually, grew tired. He found himself a cozy park bench near the Clinton Library, fell asleep and was promptly beaten and robbed by a gang of thugs. After recovering from his injuries enough to move on, he found a comfortable spot near the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette building on East Capitol and Scott and was (you guessed it) beaten up again. The beating was considerably more severe that time around as Dr. Zodiac had already been robbed and the new set of assailants became angry because he had no money to steal.

He wound up getting a good night’s sleep a Baptist Medical Center and, more importantly, had access to the want ads in the Democrat-Gazette. We’re proud to report that, by Monday, Dr. Zodiac landed a position as an astronomy professor (yes, he does have a doctorate) at a local educational facility that will remain nameless as the faculty there frowns on the “junk science” of astrology.

At any rate, I’m glad to hear Dr. Zodiac has landed on his feet and has turned in a horoscope even if it is late. While I do believe the good doctor’s current horoscope (or StarCast, as he calls it) has been tainted by his recent experiences, he assures me that every entry comes – as usual – directly from the stars. You can be the judge of that.


Mar 21-Apr 19

So, Aries, you’re all ready for Valentine’s Day, huh? You’ve got a special evening planned with a special someone, don’t you? Well, here’s a warning, Aries – that love of your life may one day throw you out on the streets. I hope the good times you’re going through now will comfort you was you’re being beaten by thugs while you’re exhausted and just want to be left alone to sleep and think in peace. Your lucky number this week is Crying face


Apr 20-May 20

Ah, Taurus. The bull. The bull is strong, right? We’ll see how strong you are when you’re thrown out on the streets by the love of you’re life and you’re being beaten by thugs. It’s a harsh, cold world, Taurus. Your lucky number this week is Broken heart 


May 21-Jun 21

You will have a brilliant idea this week, Gemini. One that will make you rich. It could be a simple product that everyone wants and needs or it could be a great marketing scheme, such as a marketing scheme for lawyers to offer cut-rate divorces on Valentine’s Day week. That’s a good one. That idea would be popular. It’s perfect for those who get thrown out of their homes by their spouses and have to live on the street until they can sort out their shattered lives. Your lucky number this week is $1,000,000.


Jun 22-Jul 22

This week you’ll learn that love and happiness are big, fat lies. That’s what I learned. That’s what I – the famed Dr. Zodiac – learned after getting tossed out of my happy home by my mean wife. You know what happened next – I got beaten, robbed, wound up in the hospital and had to get a job that was appropriate to my level of education. What a drag. Your lucky number this week is Thumbs down


Jul 23-Aug 22

The stars tell me that you might find your fortune this week. The Beatles once sang that “money can’t buy me love.” The hell it can’t. Your lucky number this week is $$$.


Aug 23-Sep 22

Get some sleep, Virgo. Yes, there are problems that are plaguing you and keeping you up nights, but here’s the thing – those problems will remain whether you get some sleep or not. You might as well get some rest. You never know when you’ll need it. I, the great Dr. Zodiac, wished I was well rested when my wife threw me out into the mean streets of Little Rock. Learn from my experiences, Virgo. Your lucky number this week is zzz.


Sep 23-Oct 23

This is the week you will finally take seriously your promise to do your part to be more socially conscious and earth friendly. For example, you will make sure your cigarettes are fully extinguished before you toss them out your car window. And, when you’re driving around town and drinking a beer, you’ll take pains to throw the empty can out of your car window instead of dumping it in a trash can so that someone less fortunate than you can recycle it. If we had more people like you, it would be a better world, indeed. Your lucky number this week is 40.


Oct 24-Nov 21

You will become fascinated with the joys of technology this week, Scorpio! Yes, this digital world allows you to do wonderful things, such as download a copy of that Ishtar movie so you can see for yourself how awful it is. The possibilities are endless, so have fun exploring. Your lucky number this week is 1001001.


Nov 22-Dec 21

It’s important to be prepared, Sagittarius, as you never know just what will happen to you. For example, if I would have had a premarital agreement, I’d still have custody of my beloved dog, Uranus. You never know just what life will throw at you, so always be ready. Your lucky number this week is ACA 9-12-306.


Dec 22-Jan 19

You’re in a rut, Capricorn, and you’ll realize just how deep that rut is when you find yourself getting excited about the fact that you can easily pick up reruns of Hee-Haw on cable. Your lucky number this week is population 13.


Jan 20-Feb 18

The stars have an odd one for you this week, Aquarius. I asked them about your StarCast for the week and they responded with a cryptic message – “You think you’re pretty cool don’t you, Aquarius?” I’m not quite sure what that means and, therefore, I know you’ll also be baffled. Your lucky number this week is ???


Feb 19-Mar 20

This is one of those week’s you’ll ponder life’s bigger questions. How did OJ Simpson go bad? If a tree falls on a lumberjack in the forest and no one is around, will he still make a sound? Should the legal system be abandoned in favor of settling our problems with guns in the street? You’ll not come close to answering those "big questions,” so it’s all a waste of time. Your lucky number this week is 42.