President-elect Obama is a Zune User

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Dec 182008

The Obama transition organization was called the Obama-Biden Transition Project.[3] The transition team was convened during the height of the campaign, well before the outcome could be known, to begin making preparations for a potential administration. It was co-chaired by John Podesta, who was Bill Clinton’s fourth and last White House Chief of Staff and the president/chief executive officer of the Center for American Progress,[4] Valerie Jarrett, who is one of Obama’s longest-serving advisers,[5][6] and Pete Rouse, former Senate chief of staff for Tom Daschle who succeeded Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff.[7]

On November 5, the General Services Administration declared that Obama was the “apparent winner”, making him eligible to receive transition funding and other government services, and granting him access to their 2008 Presidential Transition Headquarters in Washington, D.C.[8] Podesta estimated that the transition would employ approximately 450 people and have a budget of about $12 million: $5.2 million would be paid by the federal government and the remaining $6.8 million would be funded by private sources, with each contribution limited to $5,000. The transition project would not accept money from political action committees or federal lobbyists.[9]
Transition team
Banners celebrating Obama’s ties to Chicago and his 2008 victory

On November 5, Obama announced his complete transition team, which was organized as a nonprofit tax-exempt organization under U.S. federal tax code 501(c)(4). The advisory board consisted of Carol Browner, William M. Daley, Christopher Edley, Michael Froman, Julius Genachowski, Donald Gips, Janet Napolitano, Federico Peña, Susan Rice, Sonal Shah, Mark Gitenstein and Ted Kaufman.[10]

Members of the transition team’s senior staff included:[10]

Chris Lu – Executive Director
Dan Pfeiffer – Communications Director
Stephanie Cutter – Chief Spokesperson
Robert Gibbs - Press Secretary[11]
Cassandra Butts – General Counsel
Jim Messina – Personnel Director
Patrick Gaspard – Associate Personnel Director
Christine A. Varney - Personnel Counsel
Melody Barnes – Co-Director of Agency Review
Lisa Brown – Co-Director of Agency Review
Phil Schiliro – Director of Congressional Relations
Michael Strautmanis – Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs
Katy Kale – Co-Director of Operations
Brad Kiley – Co-Director of Operations

Joshua Gotbaum and Michael Warren headed the transition of the Treasury Department. In addition, Thomas Donilon and Wendy Sherman oversaw the transition of the State Department. Seth D. Harris oversaw the transition in all of the labor, education, and transportation agencies with Edward Montgomery leading the Labor Department agency review team, Mortimer Downey leading the Transportation Department agency review team, and Judith Sherman leading the Education Department agency review team. Finally, John P. White and Michele Flournoy led the transition of the Defense Department.[12]

The Marketplace

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Nov 202008

Reports of economic activity

October sales of cars and light trucks in the United States fell precipitously in 2008 when compared with sales in October 2007, with General Motors falling 45%, Ford falling 30%, Chrysler falling 35%, Toyota falling 23%, Honda falling 25%, and Nissan falling 33%. Much of the falloff in sales was attributable to customers being unable to arrange financing.[1] Except for Wal-Mart, which posted a slight gain, retail sales were off during October 2008 as compared with October 2007 in the United States with some moderate priced stores reporting double digit decreases.[2] October retail sales were down 4.1% from October 2007 and down 2.8% from September 2008 with sales of cars and auto parts leading the way with a 23.4% decline from October 2007, and a 31.9% decline from September 2008.[3] There is a new live action reality spy game starting in Norfolk, Virginia.

Employment reports released by the Labor Department on Friday, November 7, showed that about 500,000 jobs were lost in the United States during September and October 2008 with unemployment rising to 6.5% at the end of October. The September figure was revised to 284,000 from the initial 159,000 reported. The initial October figure was 240,000. This is a substantial acceleration from the average 75,000 jobs lost each month since the beginning of 2008. It is anticipated by experts that unemployment will rise to 8% by the middle of 2009.[4]

In the UK car sales fell by 23% in October, following a 21% decline in September.[5]

Amid predictions of a “deep recession” in the UK and the Eurozone,[6] on Thursday, November 6, the Bank of England, citing a reduced danger of inflation due to falling commodities prices, lowered its base rate by 1.5 percentage points, from 4.5% to 3%.[7][8] This was accompanied by a 50 basis point drop in the base rate to 3.25% by the European Central Bank (ECB).[9][10]

On November 6, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at Washington, D.C., predicted for 2009 a worldwide −0.3% decrease of the BIP for the developed economies (−0.7% for the USA and −0.8% for Germany).[11]

On Sunday, November 9, the People’s Republic of China announced a $586 billion domestic stimulus package for the remainder of 2008, 2009, and 2010. Economic growth has slowed in China with sharp drops in property and stock values.[12] The money from the stimulus package will be spent on upgrading infrastructure, particularly roads, railways, airports and the power grids throughout the country and raise rural incomes via land reform. Also spending will be made on social welfare projects such as affordable housing and environmental protection.[13][14] Some Chinese factories engaged in low-end export manufacturing have gone out of business.[15]

On Monday, November 10, the US Treasury announced investment of 40 billion dollars in preferred stock of AIG, adjusting the terms of the existing credit line and its amount. Total exposure, including equity and debt, is now 150 billion dollars. Funds were drawn from the Troubled Asset Relief Program which was not available at the time of the original bailout of AIG.[16][17] The question of whether emergency funding would be made available to the troubled American auto industry remained under consideration. General Motors is the most threatened with a sharp drop in sales and diminishing cash reserves.[18]

On Wednesday, November 12, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson scrapped the original Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and announced shift in the focus to consumer lending. The remaining portion of the TARP budget will be used to help relieve pressure on consumer credits such as car loans, student loans, credit cards etc.[19]

On Thursday November 13, the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked another dramatic session, with the index (opening at 8,282.66) that after a mixed start tumbled again below the 8,000 mark (to a low of 7,965.42) but then reversed the trend and gained more than 900 points (fourth largest daily swing ever) in less than three hours closing at 8,835.25 with a net gain of more than 550 points (third largest ever).

The prospect of a federal bailout of failing US automakers appeared dim pending the inauguration of Barack Obama. There appeared to be opposition from both the Republican members of the Senate and the office of the incumbent president, George W. Bush, which expressed doubt that the companies could be salvaged.[20]

At the invitation of US President George W. Bush the leaders of the G-20 held the initial session of the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy on Saturday, November 15, in Washington, D.C. They agreed to cooperate with respect to the global financial crisis and issued a statement regarding immediate and medium term goals and actions considered necessary to support and reform the international economy. The next session will be held April 30, probably in London, after Barack Obama takes office as President of the United States. The initial session, attended by the leaders of the G-20 set forth a road map of proposed reforms which will be followed up in coming months by the development of specific proposals, including a comprehensive reform of the Bretton Woods Institutions

2009 Guide

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Nov 092008

This page is obsolete:

The manual has basic features and specifications of the product, such as the dimensions of the MP3 player and the size of the hard drive that the product could have. It also has pictures to show the user the different kinds of Zune players there are other than the one he or she purchased. This could be a selling technique Microsoft thought of in order to get consumers to keep buying Zune products if they like the diverse kinds of players that are out in the market. Next, the manual goes into controls. This shows how to use the touch pad that has been integrated into the new control scheme. After a few pictures, there is more information about another new feature – the wireless sync. This allows the Zune to connect and transfer information from the user’s PC to their Zune wireless. The manual first tells the consumer about all the features in the Zune, but does not show them how to use these features.

About half-way through the manual, there are step by step instructions on how to use all these features. The instructions are useful and easy to follow. The manual also informs about the connectivity of the Zune with the Xbox 360 and how music and videos on the Zune can be played on the 360. Overall, this manual seems like a good introduction to the Zune product. However, if one would want to get a full outlook about everything a Zune is capable of, this is not the technical document to use. There is not a guide on how to convert the consumer’s favorite TV shows or movies to the format the Zune is compatible with, nor are there helpful tips on using the Zune power management.

Podcasts from Point Harbor Community Church will stream, but others will not.

Zune Update

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Sep 202008

Updated after Zune became obsolete.

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Zune Car Audio Solution Soundgate Core

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Sep 072008

A few years back when I bought a car stereo for my 1998 Nissan Frontier (King Cab) I made sure to get one that could accommodate a CD changer. I did this because I knew if it could accommodate a CD changer it would either have RCA In ports or somewhere on the net I would be able to get an after market adapter to accommodate my needs (as it turned out my stereo just came with the RCA In ports). For years I was happy rollin’ along with an iPod until the Zune came out. The only problem was now there was no way to connect the Zune into my car stereo RCA In ports without using the 1/8″ (3.5 mm) headphone jack at the top of the Zune.

As you may or may not be aware when you connect a device this way (Zune, iPod or any other MP3 player) you have to crank up the volume on the MP3 player to the max, then use the volume on your radio to adjust to a comfortable level (very sloppy). Then if you are on a long trip (who can afford the gas anymore) you have to plug a car charger into the bottom of the Zune to keep it charged. This is way too many cables for me and creates a lot of clutter and chaos. Then BAM! along comes Soundgate’s ZNCBLPAK Core(tm) Cable Pack for the Zune. It took a lot of searching on message boards to find this little gem (God bless the internet) but it has been the solution to all of my problems.

By connecting the unit (see product manual here […]) directly into my stereo the volume from the Zune is now line leveled and I only have to adjust it at one source (the car stereo). To solve the cord clutter and chaos problem I had someone wire the Discrete Power Harness (included) directly into a power source in my truck. You could opt to use the Cigarette-Lighter Power Adapter (also included) but I prefer to be a bit more organized by having it wired to a dedicated power source. I do notice when I plug the Zune in this way it picks up a little more noise. If the volume is up loud on the car stereo you can hear the drive spin up in the Zune before the music kicks in.

You can get something called a ground loop isolator to correct the issue but for me it doesn’t bother me enough to worry about it. You never hear it once the music kicks in anyway. The Soundgate ZNCBLPAK Core(tm) Cable Pack for the Zune also comes with a 1/8″ (3.5mm) stereo mini-jack cable (because not all car stereos come with RCA In ports). I do not know if you get the same volume line leveling benefit if you connect your Zune this way. Perhaps another review will let us know. Additionally I do not have a video device to connect to so I cannot comment on that aspect of the unit either. I would highly recommend two products if you have a Zune.

1- Speck Dragon Toughskin Rubberized Case for Zune 80 GB ( (I also did a review for this).

2-Flex PED ([…]) this device can adjust to fit any MP3 player. I have also heard they will be coming out with a Soundgate REMCORE Wired Zune(tm) Remote Control soon (see more info here […]) that will connect directly to the Soundgate ZNCBLPAK Core(tm) Cable Pack for the Zune.

Now that I have done your homework, all you have to do is pull the trigger. What are you waiting for?

Press Release

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Sep 052008

Zune 3.0 To Come On September 16th Microsoft Zune. … Originally Posted by MS press release … Free, powerful software and firmware updates will give Zune owners the … Zune is also expanding its device lineup with new 16GB and 120GB … 16, 2008. ….. But will they drop an EQ in the V2 players?