Thursday, December 30, 2004

The small but mighty MyFi Posted by Hello

Gadgets - to the power of X

I finally got my Christmas present yesterday - a Delphi MyFi XM radio receiver. I've considered satellite radio in the past, but I didn't want a receiver that tied me to the car or the house. I kept thinking that a Walkman-style receiver would one day be avaible.

That day came in December with the release of the MyFi. Once I heard that Major League Baseball had signed on with XM, I figured the time was right. The MyFi was in high demand, but my wife was able to grab one off of eBay.

My early reviews are positive. The price is steep - $350 - but that price includes lots of accessories that typically aren't included with satallite radios. The MyFi includes the radio itself, ear buds, a home cradle with antenna, an auto cradle with antenna, a cassette adapter, several connecting cables, a carry case, a belt clip, and a clip on personal antenna. Everything you need to use the radio wherever you are.

I powered on my MyFi in our kitchen and found that I could not get a signal. This is probably the one disadvantage of satellite radio - you have to have a clear view of the southern sky. The radio has a built in antenna, so when I held it by the window, it pulled in a signal and started playing the XM Preview channel.

I set up the home cradle and with the larger antenna in a southern window and access XM's web site to activate my radio. A couple of web pages later, my radio sprung to life with over 130 channels of music, news, sports, talk, and traffic and weather.

I also took the time to set up the auto cradle in my Mercury Mountaineer. The included auto antenna is magnetically attached to the roof of the vehicle. I ran the cable under the weather strips to the inside of the truck where I attached the cradle using the vent clip. The package includes several mounting options for the auto cradle. I'll use the vent clip until I decide where to permanently mount it.

I spent last night perusing the various channels. I found that I can listen to MSNBC and FOX news, over 60 music channels, several sports channels like ESPN Radio as well as access to Big 10, PAC 10, and ACC football and basketball games. There is a conservative talk channel (called America Right) and a liberal channel (called America Left). Lots of stuff to listen to!

So, the obvious question comes up. It's portable, designed to be carried along with you so you can listen at any time, any where. But you can't really listen to satellite radio anywhere, again since it requires a clear view of the southern sky. Since I work in the bowels of an office building, I couldn't listen to XM at work. That's where the MyFi's XM2Go feature comes in.

Last night, I set up my MyFi to record 2 1/2 hours of America Right as well as 2 1/2 hours of the MIX music channel. The MyFi can record up to 5 hours of programming in its internal flash memory. So today, here at work, I can listen to that recorded programming without needing a signal. This plan works great as long as what I want to hear is on at night. The downside here is if I wanted to listen to something that is on during the day, when I'd be at work listening to my recorded content without a signal.

I've had my MyFi less than 24 hours, so it's early to really judge, but so far I am impressed. The radio is easy to use, the firmware seems stable (no lock ups or other problems that I've experienced with some MP3 players). There is plenty of XM content ensuring that there is always something to listen to. My only wish is for more of the national talk shows to sign on to XM. I'd love to have access to Jim Rome, Tony Kornheiser, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly's the Radio Factor, Sean Hannity, etc.

I can see their reluctance to sign on, since many of them already offer on-line subscriptions to their shows and being available on XM may cut into that revenue. But I can definitely see a massive change for local radio stations. They will have to reinvent themselves to compete with satellite radio. Perhaps, satellite radio will go the way of satellite TV, where local stations become available via satellite.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Jose Lima rejoins the Royals in 2005 Posted by Hello

Believe It!

I had to check my calendar. I thought maybe it was April 1 instead of December 26. On the third page of the Kansas City Star's Sports Daily page was a small story entitled "Believe It: It's Lima Time Again." The Royals signed Jose Lima to a one year contract. I thought it was a joke, but it's true.

Lima resurrected his career in 2003 when Royals GM Allard Baird plucked him out of the Independent League where he was playing on the Newark Bears with Rickey Henderson. He pitched well in 2003 (8-3, 4.91), especially before a groin injury hampered him.

The Royals offered Lima an incentive-laden contract for 2004, but instead he chose to sign a minor league contract with the Dodgers. He went on to pitch well for the Dodgers, including a memorable complete game shutout against the Cardinals in the playoffs.

Lima's a very animated pitcher who is fun to watch, but the word is that if things start to go bad, he can be a problem in the clubhouse. I certainly enjoyed watching him with the Royals in '03.

I'm not sure how effective he will be in 2005. Dan Fox commented about Lima's stats away from pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium last season. If he can be the innings-eater that Baird is looking for, he can help the Royals. With his history of injuries and questionable effectiveness, I wouldn't expect more that 10 wins from him this year. Perhaps a tag team of Lima and the aging Appier could equate to one effective starter.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Royals Moves

The Royals finally made a few quiet moves last week. Rob & Rany discuss them in their latest post.

I'm not sure how Eli Marrero will turn out, but I think it's obvious that the Royals hare having a more difficult time finding a corner outfielder that they expected. Marrero had his best season last year, his first without spending any time as a catcher. If he continues that performance, he could be a decent platoon with Stairs or Long.

The Royals also were able to dump Benito Santiago. This trade, like the Darrell May trade, amazed me in that Allard Baird was able to find someone willing to take the player. I have no idea why the Pirates would want any part of Santiago - a 40 year old catcher caught up in the middle of the BALCO scandal. But, kudos for Baird for getting something for him.

What he got was B level prospect Leo Nunez. Nunez is another skinny pitcher (like Denny Bautista) who has electric stuff.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Branding SharePoint Portal Server

I spent a good part of 2004 branding a SharePoint Portal site for a client. Much of the work involved in branding Portal is undocumented, so I spent a lot of time using the old trial and error method.

Now, Daniel McPherson has created some documents on Branding Portal. Check them out:
Office Developer Center: Branding a SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Site: Part 1, Understanding the Use of a Corporate Brand

Office Developer Center: Branding a SharePoint Portal Server 2003 Site: Part 2, How to Apply Your Own Corporate Brand

Very good information. I just wish I had these articles in hand 9 months ago! :-)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sosa to the Royals?

The rumors are flying. Some are saying that the Royals are in talks with the Cubs to work out a deal that would fill KC's need for a power hitting corner outfielder. Sammy Sosa is guaranteed $17 million in 2005 and $18 million in 2006 if he is traded. Those are outrageous numbers for the small-market Royals.

So, why has this rumor persisted? Because the Cubs are supposedly willing to eat a good portion of Sosa's contract just to get rid of him.

The numbers look good. Sosa batted .253 with 35 HRs and 80 RBI in 478 AB in 2004. Good numbers indeed.

The Royals say they are interested in Sosa, but not if it means giving up any of their "core, young players." Is Mike Sweeney considered "core" or "young?" The Royals have a surplus of 1B/DH players, and Sweeney has a history of injuries. So, it might make sense to trade him for a player like Sosa.

Sweeney hit .287 in 2004. He had 22 HRs and 79 RBI in 411 AB. Good numbers. In fact, very similar numbers to Sosa.

Sosa is 36, Sweeney is 31. Considering the research that's been done recently on career trajectories (like that by my friend Dan Fox), Sosa's numbers are likely to decline fairly rapidly. Sweeney has long been the heart of the Royals team, and is a huge fan favorite.

Would it be wise to give up Sweeney for a player whose current team seems desperate to part ways with? I don't think so. I don't see the benefit of a Sweeney/Sosa swap.

I think the Royals should continue their original plan of finding a younger middle of the road outfielder who can drive in runs. (Austin Kearns, anyone?)

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Steroid Mess

Baseball is facing a scandal that some have compared to 1918 World Series scandal. While I don't think this situation is quite as severe as throwing a World Series for gamblers, I do think the face of baseball will change.

Dan Fox has done some interesting research career trajectories of ball players, and especially Bonds' career trajectory.

I believe it is pretty obvious that Bonds has been using some kind of performance enhancing supplement. His abnormal post-age-35 performance and his obvious body changes point to it. And if he really thinks we will believe him when he says he didn't know what the substance was, then I agree with Joe Posnanski - he must think we are "Fatty Heads."

Baseball blew its chance in 1993 to propel the game into the greatest American sport. Then, attendance as well as interest in the game was still strong. But instead, the owners and players chose the path that led to the strike, hurting the game so much that it has not fully recovered 10 years later.

This year, baseball has an opportunity right another long standing wrong. If baseball can come to an agreement on strong drug testing, it can help to heal one of those wounds inflicted in 1994. This is Bud Selig's chance to define his legacy.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Can the Chiefs get away with insulting its own fans???

I first became a Chiefs season ticket holder in 1989. I had just graduated from college and gotten my first full time job. I had money to burn and had been a suffering Chiefs fan for years. That season, the Chiefs had just hired GM Carl Peterson who then hired head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Season tickets were at an all time low because of the miserable decade the team had just gone through. My tickets are located mid-field, about halfway up the upper level. Great seats for football.

I don’t remember exactly what the tickets cost then, but I believe the seats were around the $28-30 range. The Chiefs then began their resurgence. Marty’s teams consistently won and made the playoffs. The 90’s were a great decade for Chiefs fans. Season ticket sales went through the roof, and there was a long waiting list for tickets. In Peterson’s 15 years of running the team, they have consistently won just enough games to hold the interest of the fans, but have failed to have success in the post season. They reached the AFC title game with Joe Montana, but that’s as far as they have made it. Building on the success of the team, and the fact that Arrowhead Stadium had become THE place to be on Sundays, the Chiefs have raised their ticket prices each season. This year, my seats cost $59 each, and parking is now $20 per car.

This season, the Chiefs have suffered through their worst season in years. As of today, the team is 4-8 and the defense is woefully bad. The defensive problems were apparent last season, but the Chiefs rode some spectacular kick returns to a 13-3 record and a home playoff game. The Colts came to town, the defense never forced a punt. It was another first round loss for the Chiefs and fans’ frustrations were beginning to mount.

Even though the Chiefs’ defense ranked last in the league in 2003, Peterson chose to retain all the defensive players. Instead, he fired defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and re-hired Gunther Cunningham. The mantra at the time was that the players were good, but the scheme was bad.

In 2004, again the defense is near the bottom of the league. Except this year, those fortunate bounces have not occurred. The offense is still the best in the league, but the defense can’t stop anybody. The fans are up in arms about a team that stood pat in the off season when it was so obvious that defensive personnel changes were needed.

Kansas City’s talk radio hosts began criticizing Peterson, and the callers have been doing the same. They believe that the team has been unfairly raising ticket prices and not improving the team on the field.

Which leads me to Rufus Dawes.

Rufus Dawes is a pseudonym for a columnist who writes for the Chiefs’ web site, The Dawes column typically appears after a media person has criticized the team, and the column attempts to explain the issue from the Chiefs’ side of the story. Nobody knows for sure who exactly the writer is. Some think it’s a PR person writing what Carl Peterson has asked him to write.

I have always had a problem with Rufus Dawes. First, when you run a professional football team, you are going to be criticized by the media and the fans. I think that one requirement would be to continue to do what you feel is right without letting those criticisms bother you. The existence of the Dawes columns shows that the media is getting under somebody’s skin at the Chiefs. My other issue is that even if you do want to respond to the media, don’t hide behind a pseudonym. If you feel you are right, come out and say it. Defend your position.

But this time, Rufus has gone too far. The latest Dawes column appeared on the front page of on Tuesday (12/7/04). The title is “Sports Talk Caller.” In it, Dawes bashes sports talk radio hosts and the listeners who call into those sports talk radio shows. Here are some quotes:

“A normal human being, wrote the British novelist and essayist George Orwell, is a mix of the noble and the ignoble, “of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.” Sports Bar Man, or Sports Talk Caller, is what Orwell referred to as the Sancho Panza type, who, he writes, covets “soft beds, no work, pots of beer, and women with ‘voluptuous’ figures.” If Mr. Orwell were with us today he would no doubt see the similarities.”

“Sports Talk Caller is ruled by his appetites and inclinations, among them ball – any kind of ball – and the notoriety he believes comes from being heard on the radio. Sports Talk Caller has such a flimsy sense of self that he derives his identity from listening to or being heard on a radio station.”

The column concludes by bashing two of the most popular sports talk show hosts in Kansas City, and then closes with this paragraph:

“Sport was once thought to bring out the best in people. Sports talk radio does just the opposite. It delights in negativity; it tears down sports institutions and sports people. And it does one more thing: it requires its primary listener, Sports Talk Caller, to pay attention to individuals whose lives are no more interesting than his own.”

So, here is a column on the official Kansas City Chiefs web site, that accuses sports talk radio listeners and callers of having a “flimsy sense of self” and who are lazy beer drinkers who love to look at women with “voluptuous figures.” (Fortunately for us, the Chiefs employ a squad of cheerleaders for us to view).

Okay, I’m confused. If I’m a person who listens to or calls sports talk radio, then I must be a fan of the local sports teams. If I’m a fan of the local sports teams, then I am likely to have spent some money to see the team, or to wear a team’s jersey. And yet, that very team is insulting me? This is ridiculous.

I’ve never called into a radio show, but I do listen to those shows every day. I love hearing about the teams that I enjoy watching. And now the Chiefs are insulting me. This year, I spent over $1,000 on tickets alone. That total does not include the parking money, or the money we’ve spent on hot dogs, beers, caps, and jerseys.

Of course, this has caused uproar amongst those radio talk shows and its listeners. The Chiefs claimed yesterday that they removed the column, but it is still there this morning. (see it here)

In what industry could a company insult the very customers who sustain it and get away with it? I would hope no industry could. I don’t think this company should get away with it either. That is why I am writing this letter to Carl Peterson:

Dear Mr. Peterson,

I am writing you to notify you that I am a season ticket holder who has just become a former season ticket holder.

I had been considering relinquishing my tickets for the last couple of years, but today I have made my decision.

What put me over the top? Rufus Dawes. Rufus says that I have a “flimsy sense of self” and that I covet “soft beds, no work, pots of beer.” Really? My household also makes over $150,000 a year and has spent a good amount of that money at Arrowhead Stadium. No more.

I will never again pay $20 to park my car. I will never again pay $7.00 for a beer. I will never again pay $60 to sit in the cold watching a football team that chooses to insult its fans.

Rufus thinks he was talking about Sports Talk Callers. But aren’t Sport Talk Callers also sports fans? And don’t fans pay the salaries of the Chiefs players, coaches and executives?

I don’t know who Rufus Dawes is, but since he only appears at, I must assume he represents the Chiefs’ point of view. And if the Chiefs think that I am a “complete idiot,” then this idiot doesn’t need to spend any more of his money on the Chiefs.

Respectfully yours,
Ron Hostetter

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Follow the Herd

First things first: I’m not a misanthropist.

I know that what I’m about to write is going to sound harsh and uncaring. I’m not harsh and uncaring. But I am rather tired of bracelets and ribbons.

There, I said it. I’m sick of seeing those magnetic ribbons on every car, truck and van on the road. I also support our troops. I believe in the war in Iraq. I have family who served in Iraq. I want them all to come home safely, and I deeply appreciate the work they do for our country. But I’m not going to put a magnet on my car. Why are so many people putting these things on their car? Oh sure, it’s a nice gesture. Plop down a dollar (I don’t know, but I assume the money is going to some worthy cause), and slap a magnet on the car to show your support. But somewhere it got out of hand.

I’ve been counting. At any given time on my drive to and from my office, I can see at several of these ribbon magnets on cars around me. Do this many people feel so strongly about the war and troops that they feel the need to display a magnet? Or, were they feeling left out by not having one? I somehow get the feeling that the urge to buy a magnet has more to do with fitting in than supporting the troops.

And now the magnets aren’t even about troops. Is the money for Kansas City Chiefs ribbons going to a worthy cause?

I thought it was a nice idea when Lance Armstrong started selling yellow bracelets to raise money in support of cancer survivors. But then the bracelets also got out of hand. Suddenly, they were sold out and only the very hippest of folks were wearing them. But I don’t understand why I’d have to wear a bracelet to prove that I support cancer survivors. I’ve been giving money to various charities for years and have never thought to myself “Gee, I wish I could wear a bracelet to prove how giving I am.”

Why? Why did Tom Brokaw have to wear a yellow bracelet on the air? Why did John Kerry have to wear a yellow bracelet while campaigning? The good feeling they get from simply supporting cancer survivors isn’t enough? They also need the good feeling they get from wearing a yellow piece of plastic. What kind of self esteem issues do these people have?

And, of course now there are pink bracelets, blue bracelets, green bracelets… A bracelet for every charity you can think of, and bracelets for the not so charitable. The blue one is to show support for the Kansas University Basketball team.

Me? I’ll just continue giving to my local charities. I’ll continue donating gifts for our church’s Giving Tree program. I’ll continue praying for our troops. And I’ll continue to feel good about it.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Top Prospects

I was reading the latest issue of Baseball America last night. This issue features the top 10 prospects for teams in the AL Central. I was reading about the Royals' top 10 prospects, and noticed a trend:

1. Billy Butler 3b, "At best, the Royals hope Butler can become an average defender who makes the routine plays. He eventually may have to move to first base."

4. Chris Lubanski of, "He has a below-average arm and several scouts project him as a left-fielder."

5. Justin Huber c, "...his defense lags behind Buck's and may push Huber to first base or left field."

7. Shane Costa of, "Costa's below-average arm relegates him to left field, where he'll need to produce for more power."

8. Mitch Maier 3b, "His likely destination is an outfield corner."

This means that it's more of the same for the Royals. Their 2004 roster features a bevy of first basemen and left fielders (Harvey, Sweeney, Stairs, et. al.).

According to this, the future Royals will still have lots of first basemen/DH-type players.

This is where the small market really shows its ugly face. True, the Royals can't keep players they sign once they hit free agency, but they also can't sign the top tier players. They draft players based on what kind of signing bonus they can afford. These players are usually very skilled in one area, but are not all-around players. This batch of players all have promising bats, but they all lack defesive skills. You can hide one or two of these types of players at first or left field, but not 5 or 6 of them.