26 December 2005

The Christmas Post

I almost neglected to put up The Christmas Post; my apologies. (And, my apologies for all the semi-colons tonight; that one was on purpose.)



Christmas was wonderfully dull. After opening our gifts at home (and after smoked salmon and capers on cream-cheese-topped crackers), we got ready to head out.



We were supposed to have the day to ourselves in our new house, but we got invited to J--'s folks place at the sort of last minute and headed over there around lunch. In the long run, it was a good thing because, as J-- remarked, Christmas doesn't feel right until you have to schlep your way to someone else's house, which is so true it makes you want to laugh.



So, we do the parent thing, complete with uncomfortable conversation and then head home.



J-- outdid herself again this year, blowing past our pre-set limits without nary a glance at the total line. Not that I'm complaining, but I think the limit thing is starting to look like a Michigan speed limit: merely a suggestion. And with what wonderful item did she heap shame upon my head for not having gifts in king? This puppy: the I'm-Such-A-Nerd, Alton Brown edition Shun 8" Chef's knife. The blade is at a 10 degree angle which is supposed to be an effort saver, but I have to relearn the knife anyway after the disaster my knife skills have become after years of using my other set, so the angle isn't any more strange than having a good knife again would have been. But boy, is it going to be nice to have a good blade again; I had to cut an onion just to try it out and it was.. ok.. you know what.. I'm geeking out on a knife. Had I even the skill to work under a chef, I would have something to stand on, but I don't so, this is just kind of sad, actually.



I also got a lump of coal in my stocking. Not sure what to make of that.



But, a good Christmas around here. The pets did well; Froggie has destroyed two of his three new toys already, which is a record even for him. We go to the West side over New Years. Can you feel the excitement?

Comments return

I have also turned comments back on, with moderation. If it gets too bad, I may just switch back to WordPress; I'm hearing good things.

It's a Jeep Thing

I am now in the league of happy surburbanites who have a) a house and b) an SUV. Tonight, we bought a 2003 Jeep Liberty. It's the Sport edition, which is the low end, but it halved the milage on our primary vehicle and lowered the payment by almost $80 (I got shafted on my last car purchase).



So, the maroon Jeep now rests comfortably in the driveway, waiting to be insured; everything was closed today. First impressions are good and range from "drives more like a truck" to Happy Dancing in the dealership parking lot. All in all, pretty positive marks for a used car.



Tomorrow: tying up all the loose ends (title, insurance, extra keys and such). Oh, and thanks to the guys at Motorquest of Jackson. Ask for Dennis; he put up with our crap and managed to smile through it (three and half hours in the dealership).

23 December 2005

Rebuilding

I'm rebuilding my computer as one of my Christmas break projects, a long overdue cleaning of the system. And God bless Season Days!

22 December 2005

Microsoft expands support for the interrobang

A follow up to a long-ago post... The coolest symbol now has extended support from Microsoft. The interrobang (a combo of the question and exclamation marks) now has characters is many of the default fonts in Windows that use Unicode (Lucinda Sans, Arial, Palatino, etc..)



If only it would come into common usage. It needs to be included on cell phones for text messaging, or in IM clients.



Link

That Feeling Again

Do you ever watch a movie and sit there, staring at the credits, pretty sure that you missed something? And then, as you talk it over with the other people who watched it with you, you start to realize that none of them, intelligent as they are, caught that it. And then, as the conversation drifts out of discussions about camera angles and lighting, you realize, no, we all did not in fact miss something. It wasn't there in the first place.



That's Primer. Primer is one of those films that was shot so cheaply, you want to believe that there's something meaningful there, something that made it drift onto your list of movies to see. But at it's heart, Primer is the same story you've read about time travel and maintaining the purity of the flow of time, only so convoluted and devoid of direction, you have to fill in the gaps with made up story in order to have the movie make sense.



The clever part of the story is that one of the time travelers wakes the beast in all of us, the beast that realizes that by using the time machine, he can improve the present for himself. But the morality tale of what becomes of family, friends, and self gets lost in the self. The characters are simple until the last, when Aaron (played by the director, Shane Carruth), wings his way out of his life in the present to a world in which he is now prescient of that which will happen (thanks to an alluded-to trick of time travel). No regret, no thought about his wife and child, no connection to his friend Abe, the man who basically handed this new world over to Aaron. Abe is able to completely eschew all aspects of his past life and jump, happily, into a new existence. The complete disregard for any normal, human emotion is as ridiculous as the "science" that leads to the machine's creation.



This movie, for all it's appearances, is not Pi (that would be the other movie shot on under $10K that made it big). Pi had an engaging story, characters you hated or cared about, but at least felt something for, and acting. Primer is a study in misdirection and filmographic minimalism, but not entertaining or deep. It's perfect fodder for the indie circuit, however, so get ready for lots of gushing from people who are pretty sure it means something, but can't tell you what.

20 December 2005

Just so I get this straight...

Adam Curry edits the podcast entry which, unfortunately, he has more than a passing interest in and gets crucified.



Jimmy Wales does the same thing and we're cool with that?



Just so I know who to vilify.



For the record, I tend to fall on the side of argument that Tycho from Penny Arcade expressed recently; there are authorities. Believing otherwise is asinine.

19 December 2005

Quick question

What exactly do you have to eat to have this dream?

You're trapped in a Mexican town (which you know because there are lots of Mexican people around) but it's surrounded by corn. You also know that you have to kill a famous 40's villian 8 times in different settings, since he has 8 lives, by sliding a knife between the 6th and 7th ribs.

Just wondering, because we're never having it for dinner again.

UM Starts Own Record Label

It's called Block M Records; mostly classical, and a little sparse right now. Something to watch, though.

Bloglines down today

Bloglines, my RSS aggregator of choice, will be going down today for around 6 hours (if all goes well) for a data center upgrade. The linked news post basically says that they are a victim of their own success, which is great news for them as a company.

However, I have to wonder why they are moving in the middle of the day? I work on a web application and the consideration to take down the app in the middle of the day just doesn't even happen. How can a major service, owned by someone as big as Ask Jeeves, just shut down in the middle of a weekday?

I hope the move goes well, but come one Ask Jeeves, let's act like you've worked online for a few years.

Bloglines | News

10 December 2005

Free-for-all gets planes load faster

While it seems backwards, I've seen this work. On a recent trip, we flew a budget airline and they were turning planes over (deplaning and boarding the entire plane) in under 30 minutes, something I've never had on Northwest.



Link [via digg]

30 November 2005

Bloglines vs Newsgator

I have been a long time Bloglines user. I used to be a heavy RSS Bandit user. When the latest version of RSS Bandit came out, I saw they had added support to synch with Newsgator, a competitor to Bloglines.

Since I don't really have any loyalty to Bloglines and I really liked using RSS Bandit on the desktop, this seemed like a great reason to once again give Newsgator a try (I had tried it a number of months ago).

I tried, I really did: I updated all my feeds in Newsgator and in RSS Bandit; I set up my account in RSS Bandit; I started my first synchronization. And.... nothing. After 2 hours I had to end the process manually. Bummer. Ok, maybe it's a first try thing. Check the password, delete all the feeds from RSS Bandit, start the download. Error. Arg. I keep using Newsgator as my main web-based aggregator, getting used to the interface and digging in the settings.

So, I think to myself, self, it's just a first day problem; the service is busy because lots of people are trying to do this. Something didn't get configured right. I wait a day, uninstall RSS Bandit, clear out all the local setting on my machine, and reinstall. Same thing. Now I'm a little annoyed.

This morning, I went digging into my Bookmarks menu to find the link my Bloglines link. Why? I just like it better. Here's why:


  • Bloglines lets me mark all my feeds as read. Seems simple, right? You can't do this in Newsgator. Have 3000 new posts? Too bad, get ready to click the Mark This Page Read link about 50 times.

  • Both services allow me to sort by date, but only Bloglines sorts by source as well. If I open a newspaper view of all the feeds in a folder, Newsgator list them only by date. Bloglines first sorts them by source, then by date. This, to me, is the more logical way to present the data and mimics RSS Bandit.

  • I know it's bad design to some people, but I like having my feeds in a separate frame. When I scroll the newspaper view in Bloglines, the feed list stays visible in the left pane. Newsgator uses one page and the feed list scrolls off the top of the window as I scroll through the newspaper view.

  • That said, I like the styling of the Newsgator interface much better. The fonts are a bit small, but scale. The colors and shading are attractive and well designed. One criticism for both services: let me choose a style. CSS is cheap, give us some choices.

  • Bloglines lets me easily add feeds for tracking specialty items, such as UPS packages or weather; they put it right on the main page sometimes when I load my feeds. I could find an easy way to add these kinds of feeds in Newsgator.


Other than that, the services seem fairly similar. I do wish some of the desktop aggregators would integrate with both Bloglines and Newsgator, but I'm guessing that Newsgator has made it easier for developers to use their API as they're the only service I see supported. Both RSS Bandit and FeedDemon have added or will add support for Newsgator; I haven't seen any desktop aggregators doing the same with Bloglines. If I can get the synchronization to work, I'll probably switch to Newsgator and learn to use it, but I'm wondering why I have to make that switch.

29 November 2005

Firefox 1.5 today

Get ready to update.

Firefox 1.5 also includes new support for Web standards, adding support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), JavaScript 1.6 and new versions of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).


Link

27 November 2005

What Don't Tech Companies Get?

Technology.



I play Battlefield 2; it's a kick-ass FPS. EA, the publisher, has a long and storied history of releasing many, many (needed) patches for the series. They just released the latest for BF2.



When I started to download the file from their site (this is EA, largest game company in North America), I was getting about 26KB/s down. Yeah.


After an hour (of an estimated 2.5 hour download), I searched up a Bittorrent link from 3DGamers.



Current speed: 239.2KB/s, 24 minutes total download time estimated.



I'll leave it to the brain trusts at the various publishers to figure that one out.

21 November 2005

... And I Feel Fine

Not to be left out of a good thing, Ford today announced 4,000 white-collar job cuts.



I don't see any posts of these cuts on the local pro-Union blogs. Funny that...

It's the End of the World as We Know It

General Motors announced today that they would be closing 9 plants and RIFing 30,000 people in the next 3 years. 30,000 people. For Michiganders, that means the Lansing plant, the Flint engine facility, and the service and parts center in Ypsilanti will be closed, with the potential for another plant closing.

For three areas that need all the jobs they can get, this is a huge blow. For a state economy that's floundering, this could be devastating. It's also the first of what will likely be more announcements. Northwest has been louding proclaiming their financial problems; other auto makers aren't doing as well as they would like.

When are we going to get serious about moving away from a manufacturing-based economy? We need to start busting the myth that people entering the work force can get a job on the line just like their parents. Those jobs just won't be there in the numbers needed. Unions need to start being honest with their members that they can't stop plant closings at this scale. Workers need to wake up and realize that no matter what orginization you belong to, you aren't safe from these kinds of actions. And Michigan needs to shake off the dream that manufacturing jobs are going to come back.

17 November 2005

ColorMatch Redux

A freakin' awesome tool for generating color schemes. Makes me want to work on this site again.



ColorMatch Redux

Huge list of Open Source software

Looking for a CMS? How about a screen reader? Or try a new email client. This Wikipedia list of open source applications can point you in the right direction for any of those and hundreds of other needs.

16 November 2005

Installing Drupal on 1&1

Has anyone installed Drupal on a 1&1 hosted site? I'm trying to uplaod the SQL file that creates the tables in my MySQL database, but I can't get it to run. Google, so far, hasn't been any help. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Update: Nevermind, I got it to work. Had to run the uploaded file from the server through the phpMyAdmin console at 1&1, but only after configuring the database.mysql file to point to the right server (duh).

Google Base is Live

Quick note for today, Google Base is live. (Insert obilgatory "All Your Base" joke.)

Link

14 November 2005

Collaborative Novels

Got a novel in you? How about a chapter? What about that great character?

Toss any of them into the mix a Glypho, what appears to be an online, collaborative novel-writing site. I wonder if this would help NaNoWriMo participants gets over the hump.

11 November 2005

Lemur Named after John Cleese

A Zurich University team has named a newly-discovered species of lemur after comedian John Cleese. Cleese has been a long time spokesman and campaigner for the endangered animals. The new species, avahi cleesei, declined comment, but did hit Michael Palin in the head with a halibut.

Link

10 November 2005

Flame of the Week

Via Boing Boing, a link to a flame against the developers of Sony's rootkit. (NSFW)


MY GOD MAN!!! Do you realize what you're doing? DO you? What kind of HONEY BITCH TOOL have you become? Have you no shame? None at all?

Look at you. Look at yourself. Look at what you've BECOME. Your job is writing code to BREAK PEOPLE'S COMPUTERS if they dare to put a CELINE DION CD into their disk drive. Is this what you always wanted? Is this what you went to school for? Is this what we've all -- all of us, every other hacker and programmer and geek and computer person -- is this what we've all helped you to do?


It goes on... funny stuff and so true.

And the counter attack begins

Huzzah to the New York Times for jumping on the latest trend from the Fourth Estate; Blogs aren't just annoying; they're actually bad for society. Just a few, brief years ago, flash mobs were the source of all those riots at G8 and Seattle. Now, the French riots are the fault of evil 14-year old bloggers. And these evil bloggers are getting off after being arrested because for "procedural reasons". It almost begs for a suspension of those ridiculous laws so we can round up all those bloggers and hold them.

Why do reporters always have to reach for an angle to blame the technology? If this was 1517, the New York Times would be questioning the need for nails as they aid disruptive elements such as Martin Luther in the nailing of theses to the doors of church doors. They would then have to draw a line from the 1440s and blame not just Luther, but Gutenberg as well for enabling "anyone who can afford one" the ability to print virtually unlimited amounts of material.

Here's a very brief rundown for all the Fourth Estaters who don't get it: It you're focusing on the technology, you're missing the story. People don't riot so they can post about it on the French version of LiveJournal. People riot because of societal problems. People riot because no one is listening to them. People riot because reporters who try to blame the delivery system aren't doing their job and telling the real story.

09 November 2005

Christmas comes early, thanks to Amazon

My Christmas came early this year, courtesy of Amazon's kick-ass Amazon Prime service ($79 for unlimited two-day shipping). I got a new set of cookware from J--, who, despite the unintentional gifting, has accepted that I love my gift and will count it as a gift when the appropriate day arrives. (UPS left it on our porch and it was shipped in the original box; hard not to know what is was.)



Of course, since I had a slowly dating set of cookware, I had to get rid of it. Instead of chucking it, I FreeCycled it. The Ann Arbor FreeCycle group is very active and a great place to offload some of those things that aren't worth throwing out, but you don't use. I've used it twice, both offers, and had a response within minutes.

Un-Effing-Believable

Detroit deserves everything it has coming to it after re-electing Kwame Kilpatrick. The thug mentality and corruption in Detroit will run wild right up until the whole city goes into receivership. The fallout will be felt statewide.

Detroit is facing a projected deficit of $200 million in its $1.4-billion general fund budget, and Kilpatrick has delayed making deep cuts or layoffs until after the election. Unless Kilpatrick can perform a financial miracle in the next eight weeks, he may find paying city workers and vendors and warding off state oversight of city finances his next great challenge.


This is the same deficit he's been unable to fix in the previous four years. Maybe the voters are right and he needs "another chance". The first few hundred chances just weren't enough. Idiots. Note to Lansing, start prepping the finance manager you're going to have to appoint when the City goes into receivership. The mayor's own finance director told the City Council that, barring significant cuts, the City will run out of money before the holidays.

In an unrelated note, 33% of Detroiters want to leave the City, preferably for another state. Surprise, surprise.

The city's population has shrunk by half in the last 50 years. About 10,000 to 12,000 residents leave yearly, and the city's population is now around 900,000.


This is terrible day for Michigan. Our largest City is on the brink of financial disaster and the person in charge, again, is the same person who has been unable to fix anything previously. I believe that's the definition of insanity.

08 November 2005

Honoring Rosa Parks

I know quoting The Onion is low-level slogging, but this is so damn funny, I laughed out loud.

Alabama State Senator Hank Erwin, one of the hundreds of emotional guests at Bush's $5,000-a-plate dinner, proposed a toast, saying, "If I may paraphrase the words of Dr. Martin Luther King... 'I am free at last, free at last—thank God almighty, I'm free at last to stop thinking about civil rights.'"


And the sad thing is, someone out there will believe this.

The Death Of Rosa Parks - The Onion

How It Should Have Ended

These guys make alternate endings to blockbuster movies. What should Han have done at the end of Episode 4? Why do all the Smith's just stand there in Matrix Revolutions? Just what the hell is going on in Blair Witch? Download the movies and find out. (Help the site out and use BitTorrent; I highly recommend utorrent (microtorrent)).

The Official How It Should Have Ended Website

07 November 2005

CVS camera: Hacked

I hacked the CVS disposable camera tonight. It was kind of fun, aside from the fact that I totally suck at soldering. I used the instructions at Make and Hack a Day.



Instructions are all over the place to hack this camera, so it's not like I was doing any actual exploration, but I've never done a much hardware hacking, so this was a fun little project. I highly recommend the Make instructions.



Tips for anyone thinking of doing this:


  1. Get a good soldering iron. Mine blows, but it cost $5. You get what you pay for.

  2. Practice soldering on something you don't care about. My first and only experience soldering was this project.

  3. eBay is your friend. Aside from the camera, which I found on sale, the Palm connecter can be had on eBay for less than $10 shipped.

  4. Don't expect too much. It's a $25 camcorder. The quality is so-so. Our house is a little dark and the picture quality isn't great. It's a nifty little toy, but that's about it.

  5. Pets hate camcorders. At least ours do.

Homer Simpson was Right - Beer Really is Good For You

Want to be healthier? Drink more beer, and the more hops the better.

It turns out that beer hops contain a unique micronutrient that inhibits cancer-causing enzymes. Hops are plants used in beer to give it aroma, flavor and bitterness.

"It clearly has some interesting chemo-preventive properties, and the only way people are getting any of it right now is through beer consumption," [Fred Stevens, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry at Oregon State's College of Pharmacy] said.


Praise God and pass the IPA.

ABC News: Drinker's Delight: Beer May Fight Disease

06 November 2005

For that special AOL user in your family

El Edwards, the voice of AOL's "You've Got Mail" announcement, is selling customized WAV files on his web site. For $10, you can have El say "You've Got Mail, Ryan".

Anyone know of any remixes of this guy's work?

Link

03 November 2005

In which I Immerse Myself In Local Politics

(Cross posted to Chelsea Blog)

The chill in the air isn’t just from the change in seasons.

A Chelsea City Trustee has unleashed the first salvo in a public battle over… I’m not sure. But it sure sounds like some people don’t like each other.

Since the story broke in The Chelsea Standard, I’ll have to recap instead of linking.

Back in October, the City Council approved a lease (a link!) for a Ford Five Hundred from Palmer Ford for Mike Steklac, a car provided by the City to Mike in his capacity as City Manager. The approved lease payment was $291.11 per month. When Mike went to pick up the car, the salesman informed him that the offer the City had negotiated was no longer available. The new price was $662.43, a slight increase.

So Steklac went to Faist-Diesing Chevrolet and negotiated a deal for an Impala at around the same price as the Ford lease (actually, $40 less a year). When Steklac brought the new lease to the City Council for approval, City Council Trustee Jamie Bollinger pounced. Bollinger stated that he had spoken with Biff Weber, the owner of Palmer Ford, and indicated that Steklac should have discussed the discrepancy with management before leaving. Bollinger alleges that Steklac only waited 35 minutes before leaving Palmer Ford, “not allowing time for the dealership’s management to address the problem”. Steklac defended this by claiming that “Ford Motor Co. credit department would have ‘kicked back’ the lease if he had pursued it,” an incident, by the way, that Biff Weber felt compelled to apologize for.

But the real stinger came later. Bollinger “suggested Steklac’s behavior [of negotiating a new lease without discussing it with City Council] is emblematic of a larger problem with [his] job performance.” This claim was supported by City Trustee Jim Myles as well. Myles is up for election next week.

By the way, I should mention at this point that the new lease was unanimously approved.

Moving on, Bollinger then confronted Mayo Ann Feeney, who had defended Steklac. The Standard quotes Bollinger as saying “So you approve of (Steklac) going outside of the City Council’s decision?” There is no follow-up comment.And then, we get to the rub. Why is Bollinger so incensed with the lease not coming from Palmer Ford? “Bollinger said Monday that part of the reason he was displeased with Steklac was because Palmer Ford has done favors for the city in the past.” Such as? How about repainting a police cruiser at no cost and donating a vehicle hoist to the city. I did a quick search on Google and vehicle hoists run anywhere from $1600 to $2100 dollars for a basic model. Painting a police cruiser isn’t cheap, either.

Let’s step back a little bit and look this over thoroughly. First, who the hell at Palmer Ford decided to try and bilk the City for an extra $13,367.52? ($10,479.96 for the first three-year lease subtracted from the new quote for 36 months; $23,847.48.) Unless they’re pleading New Salesguy Syndrome, someone seriously dropped the ball. Especially for an organization who is so generous to the City.

Next, I’m not sure how this whole City-negotiated lease things works. Is the City Manager legally bound to take the lease, even if the stated price at closing isn’t the negotiated rate? Everyone better say no to that. Then I fail to see the issue with the City Manager, a person entrusted with, uh, managing the City, negotiating a car lease.

Bollinger's belabored point was that the lease Steklac brought to the Council wasn't the same lease they had approved. He has a point; Steklac didn't bring that back. However, what Steklac did bring back was a better deal. And, he did it on his own. We'll come back to that.

I also don’t put a whole lot of credence on the statements of a Trustee who appears to have a huge conflict of interest in the lease negotiation process at Palmer Ford. Things went kittywompas and he called the dealership owner? Does the Trustee expect to call Craig Common if he has a bad meal at the Common Grill? Add in this whole kick back tack, and sudden Palmer Ford seems to have a little too much influence with certain members of the City Council.

Bollinger and Myles also accused Steklac of having a performance problem at his job. This is a serious accusation and hardly done justice by The Standard. If the Trustees honestly believe that Steklac’s performance is poor, then tell us why. Don’t throw out accusations from behind the wall of the newspaper. Make your case. If they don’t have one, both of them should not only be ashamed, but removed from City Council.

Bollinger’s last statement to the Standard is hilarious in it’s irony. “We’re still living in a small city, where you can go to an owner and shake his hand if you have a problem.” Of course, in this scenario, that handshake was false. The deal was broken the moment the City Manager wasn’t offered exactly what was agreed to. Handshakes in imply trust. Palmer Ford broke that trust. In my opinion, anyone, City representative or not, who gets that treatment is well within their social rights to scoff at a dealer and walk away. Palmer’s past donations do not earn them the right to sweat out a City official. Apparently the only handshake that's good in this town is Bollinger's, not Steklac's and certainly not Palmer Ford's.

This whole thing has the smell of a political smear. It reeks of backroom, old boy, cronyism, just the kind of politics that thrive in small towns. (And I know, I’m from one.) There are questions not answered here. Why can a lone City representative negotiate a better deal on his own than a Trustee with a direct line to the owner of car dealership? Why does the dealership with ties to that same Trustee switch the terms of a City-negotiated lease at the last minute? Why does the City Manager get broadsided when he calls the dealership’s bluff and gets a better deal? Why does Bollinger jump Steklac in a City Council meeting with some ethereal accusation of poor job performance, but present no evidence? And then when it’s all said and done, why, if what Steklac has done is such a sin, does the new lease get approved unanimously? Bollinger doesn't even have the fortitude to vote against it.

Sounds like the new lease just needed a bit of hot air to get off the ground.

Excellent breakdown of why Google Print != Indexing Web Pages

One of the arguments for Google Print is that it's the same as crawling the web and making that index searchable. A comment on Slashdot nukes that theory very, very neatly.

I'm going to quote the whole thing, but credit is due to Bulmakau.

I am sure many will ask what the difference between books and sites is. And since we all like google scanning out sites, why should we oppose book scanning?
Well, for several reasons:
1. It is WE who like our sites scanned, and if not, we add a Robots.txt file. We can protect some of the content on our site, or all. and we easily know if its being spidered, so we can take action. How will that be with books? Robots.txt is not probably. You know what? if anything, it already exists in a way. All (most) books say have on them, in print, right in the beginning a text saying "copying of material from this book is not allowed unless permitted, prior, in writing, by the author or the publisher". I think that resembles a robots.txt file. no? And authors have little ability to "check the web logs" and see who scans their books.
2. We get something directly from it. Fair use dictates that google links to our sites directly. How will that be with books? You have to go to the shop to at least consider buying the book? Not likely. They can send traffic to Amazon maybe? But still, not a parallel (and if they do, I am sure they will collect referral fee ;))
3. Our sites operate in the internet. Books "operate" in libraries, stores. You go to a library? you can search there for a book. On the internet, you can search for sites. Not only that, but internet has shaped to be mostly a free and open medium. Books - not. Books, you have to buy, or at least subscribe to a library (paid, directly or indirectly). Different "market".
4. Most of our sites are free, and are freely accessed. Most of the sites in google are such sites. As a matter of fact, subscribed sites where their content is protected and paid for (as books are) do NOT have their content on google. And IF they have, THEY take the steps to get it into google. Books are in a sense like protected/paid sites.
A world of difference that is going to be erased very abruptly by google..
Good or bad? You decide (and also authors, publications and libraries which seems to have decided already)

01 November 2005

Things Are Funnier with Juxtaposition

Dire Straights, The Best of.
Blink 182 - Greatest Hits

Tipping point

WinZip 10.0 was released today. Hardly anyone noticed.



WinZip is one of those eponymous applications that has outlived itself. It's not that no one compresses data anymore, but WinZip has started the downward spiral into obscurity. At one point, one couldn't get around without WinZip. In the days when hard drives were measured in megabytes and floppy disks were the backbone of the sneaker net, WinZip was The Application, an essential tool in any computer user's kit.



Now, with native support for ZIP files in Windows and open source applications like 7-Zip and Izarc, WinZip's hold on the market is slipping. With no native support for common formats suchas RAR files and the ever increasing irrelevance of compression in a terabyte world, and WinZip's lack of splash isn't hard to imagine.



That's not to say that WinZip 10 won't be a success. But with a slim list of improvements I just don't see a great push to upgrade or purchase. Especially when I can get the essentials for free. Of course, none of this is WinZip's fault; the world has just taken the first major steps away from the need for WinZip. It's a marker of the passing of another standard from the early days of the 'net (ah, wither Z-Modem).



Just think, some day they'll say these kinds of things about monitors and hard drives.

$500 Gaming Rig

Please ignore this post, this is so I don't lose the link.

Link

31 October 2005

Google Print

I haven't written specifically about Google Print (although I've alluded to it a couple of times), but I thought, hey, better late than never.



There are literally millions of posts all over the Web about this, so I won't bore you with a recap. What I will do is ask a question that has been bothering me and that keeps me from fanboying about Google Print.



First, some back story. In college, I had more than one professor who chose to use a text that wasn't in print anymore. What this usually meant was photocopies of the pages of the book in question from the university library. If I made the copies (and didn't get called out for copying "too much" of the book), the library staff didn't seem to mind. However, if the professor did so (or his staff) and handed those copies out to the students, that had to be cleared for all the copyright BS, as if the University were reprinting the entire book. (There was some arbitrary threshold if I remember correctly.) It basically boiled down to a huge legal mess if the professor needed to use the text. Some did, some didn't. In the "didn't" case, the class was basically left to their own devices to obtain the text as they could.



Google claims that scanning (copying), running OCR, and shoving all the text of these books into their database is fair use. Many claim this should be so because it furthers society somehow (I'm not contending that). For example, David Weinberger says "...as a citizen who wants to live in an ever smarter world, I hope Google Print goes ahead." Ok, I can buy that. But if University professors, who certainly are making the world smarter, can't do essentially the same thing as Google wants to do without paying their dues, why is Google suddenly exempt from those rules?


Until someone gives me a clear answer to that, I can't fault any author that raises an objection. Don't get me wrong, I think a Google Print-like service is inevitable, but why do we have to strongarm people into the system if they don't want to? Enough people are dying to get in (*hand up*); Google is wrong to use their muscle to force anything down people's throats.

HOW TO: Tune an HDTV with a THX-Optimized DVD

I wonder how far off our TV is.

Link

29 October 2005

Why Does God Hate Amputees?

A totally biased, simple, attack on the religious. It's the same, tired, "religious people are mindless idiots" argument. WIth a clever title. And lots of straw men. Actually, one big straw man, but that never seems to matter.

By the way, God is bad because men are mortal. And he doesn't exist because the Bible is fake (I love self-referential arguments). Shove that in your philosophical... pipe and smoke it.

If you want an interesting topic for discussion about God, try God, A Biography by Jack Miles.

Link

28 October 2005

Digital Lust - Deskloops

Imagine all of your windows in a continuous strip, accessible by moving your cursor to the side of your screen. Imagine being able to save an entire set of windows and load them later on. This is Deskloops. Eye candy? Oh yeah. But since when has that stopped anyone (I'm looking at you, iTunes)?

Download Deskloops [via Lifehacker]

Common Census

Via S.S. Trudeau we get a link to the Common Census map, drawn not by political boundaries, but by influence. Influence in this case is measured by respondants to the (brief) survey about what you feel is your community.

This is a very interesting map and illustrates a commonly held perception about Michigan; that of the sphere's of influence within the state. I wonder if this holds true for the other regions of the country.

Check it out and contribute; it's only as good as people's input.

CommonCensus Map Project

Attack of the Blogs - Let the Games begin

BoingBoing, Dan Gillmor, Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble, Paul Kedrosky, Mike from Techdirt, and Gary Stein have all weighed in. Can't wait to see what Jeff Jarvis has to say about this.

27 October 2005

Attack of the Blogs

Congratulations to Forbes for having one of the most poorly written articles on blogging ever. Daniel Lyons, who obviously falls squarely on the side of the older styles of journalism (those would be nepotism, invective, and abuse), pens a mighty blow against "the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns", blogs. Here's a nice sampling:



Often a bashing victim can't even figure out who his attacker is. No target is too mighty, or too obscure, for this new and virulent strain of oratory.

"Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek...

"I'd say 50% to 60% of attacks are sponsored by competitors," says Bruce Fischman, a lawyer in Miami for targets of online abuse.

One blog, Groklaw, exists primarily to bash software maker SCOGroup in its Linux patent lawsuit against IBM, producing laughably biased, pro-IBMcoverage; its origins are a mystery.

Google and other services operate with government-sanctioned impunity, protected from any liability for anything posted on the blogs they host. Thus they serve up vitriolic "content" without bearing any legal responsibility for ensuring it is fair or accurate; at times they even sell ads alongside the diatribes.


Ah yes, the sweet sounds of balanced reporting. Welcome to blogging world, Mr. Lyons. I'm guessing your next story will be about the poor quality of the millions of emails you are about to receive. And, not to take the bait too hard, but you are also an idiot, Mr. Lyons. Blogs are more than a cheap product-bashing tool. They are also important tools for communicating to millions of people. Even Presidential candidates use blogs to campaign. Blogs are social barometers. Blogs are ways for companies to talk with, not to, their customers. Companies also put on human faces with blogs (see Microsoft). Oh, and Groklaw is a pretty interesting study in the power of blogs to overcome the disinformation you obviously fell for, Mr. Lyons. (Hot Tip: SCO is going to lose.)



So, the next time you, Mr. Lyons, want to write a story about blogs or anything related to the Internet, pull your head out of you ass (or at least quit kissing the ass of what I'm guessing are sponsors) and try to present the entire story. And if a Forbes editor wants to prevent your brand name from ending up like a blog-bashed diet-pill, you'd do well to sort out Daniel Lyons.



Read the whole article (BugMeNot required; wonder what Forbes thinks of that extension?) and the original story on MeFi.

Scourge of the Earth

The comments situation here will continue as I just had a fun peek into my server stats. 22.09% of the requests to my site are to mt-comments.cgi. Oddly, the most bandwidth passes from my Politics category, but that's another story.



Now, I don't pretend to be in any way important to the community; this is a vanity site and a chance for me to screw around with a server without nuking one my own machines. Still, I was amazed at the traffic that spammers bring to this back-woods URL. In the last 80 days, 7691 hits were recorded to just mt-comments.cgi. That's a little under 100 a day. That's almost, well, 100 times more than the legit visitors I get. (Thanks to AAiOR for continuing to read, BTW; if you're ever coming to Chelsea, drop me a line. I think I owe you a beer.)



Anyway, as humbling as a stats check was, I'm going to keep the comments open to registered users only. Sorry, but mainland China is a little too friendly to the scum of the internet.

26 October 2005

Comedy Central Drops a Motherload

Comedy Central has announced that on November 1, they will launch Motherload, a broadband IPTV service. Yes, it will include The Daily Show because, if it didn't, no one would have noticed the press release.

This is a cool idea; Comedy Central has decent traction among the high-bandwidth crowd thanks to the Daily Show and they probably realize that they get a lot of publicity from the file trading of clips of the show. They don't issue C&Ds to everyone who posts them because it gets them more viewers. Motherload gives them the ability to bring those people back to their site (read: more advertising), but also gets eyes on new shows. It's an incubator for new content.

We'll see how they screw this up (they have the dreaded "$SERVICE Video player" phrase in the press release, so some kind of wonky DRM is obviously going to be a part of this (WMV? Real Player?) Hopefully it's not too intrusive.

Hey Comedy Central, chuck some bucks at Odeo and get video enclosures set up for you content so it can get fed right into iPod with Videos. Mmmm.... RSS Tivo.

24 October 2005

Rosa Parks has died

Link to Freep Story

My blog is worth how much?

I take Paypal, bad checks, and whompum.



Hell, at this price, I'll be busy for the next week setting up Splogspot accounts.




My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?



Link

Extending Google Print

Funny stuff.

"Never mind those. Listen -- I can use Google's logic to get free copies of films, music -- anything I want! All I have to do is borrow the CDs or DVDs, downloaded music or video or whatever, copy them, and then offer some sort of 'fair use' excerpt index service, just like Google is doing with the books. It's the perfect gimmick. Maybe I could runs ads with them too -- that's where Google is really raking it in. Hell, if Google can do this sort of thing with one kind of copyrighted work without paying, why can't anyone else do it too, and why should it be restricted just to books?"


REALITY RESET: "Free for All: The Google Excuse" [via Kottke]

23 October 2005

Wow, I didn't think it was possible...

...but I like Anne Rice even less now. She found the Lord (he's been missing, yah know).



Link

Google Goes Exclusive

Via Dan Gillmor, we get a link to Dave Winer. I'm not a huge Dave Winer fan, with all that "I did this so you must credit me" crap for technology that is everywhere. We all know that Tim Berners-Lee came up with the web, but we don't put his name next to every mention ("See our website; thanks to Tim Berners-Lee"). Dave essentially crabs about the same thing with RSS and podcasting (and don't get me started on Adam Curry).



But, I'm off track. Dave is one of those people that, well, you either know about him or you don't. He's got his moments of stupendous annoyance and other moments, like today, where he has flashes of deep insight.



Dave's target this time is a Silicon Valley behemoth that is forgetting how it got to where it is: Google.



Later this week Google will have their invite-only Zeitgeist conference. It's as closed as a conference can be. And this is the company we lifted on our shoulders and held up as a shining example of the web at its best. We were wrong to do that, but forgive us for having hope. At some core level Google did understand the web, but there was also a lot about Google that was against the web, and now that's most of what they are.


And he's right. From email to IM to information retrieval to micropayments, Google has been telling everyone that they've been doing it wrong and Google now has the real answer. Is scanning books to make the searchable bad? No, of course not, but you need to have everyone's buy in. Google has been making the rounds pissing off group after group with their projects. We, the technorati, laugh at the outmoded industries who succumb to Google's Better Way, but what happens when they come for your work? What happens when you're not in on the Way It's Going To Be meeting? What happens when Google wants to do something radically different instead of just a little different?



We often ridicule Microsoft for being a soulless, stodgy company, a reputation that Microsoft has sent Bill Gates to overcome with his nerdy demeanor and the candor of a marketing VP. Google learned well from that, recruiting the elite from the Web to be their prophets; better a zealot than the cult leader to spread the word. But Google is no different than Microsoft; both are enormous machines that take what they want and apologize later. Both are drains on the local brain trust, an intellectual equivalent of dropping a Wal-Mart in the center of your town. Both are trusted with more information about you and me than we probably realize.



Now Google is starting down the path that feels, well, evil. Web 2.0 is the latest buzz word, the best explanation of which that I've heard goes like this: Web 1.0 was a monologue, Web 2.0 is a conversation. Blogs obviously fall here, but so does the Skype phenomenon, enterprise IM (??), and a bunch of other lofty ideas. Sound familiar? The Google Zeitgeist meeting, which is invite-only, happens soon. The Zeitgeist is bascially a list of what's hot, based on Google searches and indexing. You and I make the Zeitgeist with our blogs and comments, links and photos. Web 2.0 is certainly on the Zeitgeist, but this meeting is closed to all but a select few: the Prophets. Our input is not welcome there, but our data is.



And so, as Dave puts it, "we follow them down into bad years". It was bound to happen; you don't flirt with a market value of $100 billion (with a b) and not let it go to your head. The real question is: What's next? Where does Google go from here? They can't remain the industry darling without new products or services. Search can only be that good for so long. Logic dictates that some time, probably very soon, someone will do search better. Many already do email better, many already do IM better. Google has ridden it's name for a long time and the fare is coming due. Let's hope it doesn't get too bad.



Link

19 October 2005

Jack Thompson - The Saga Continues

Quick follow-up. Ars Technica has a great summary of the events along with some new details.



The Penny Arcade fans have banned together and worked up a detailed account of Jack's activities. One of the forum members has reported the entire incident to the FBI, including the detailed report (forum thread here [NSFW language]). The letter has also been sent to the Florida Bar Association who has already once reprimand Thompson in 1998.



Disbarment might be a pipe dream, but it's one more step on Jack's way to the bottom. By the way, search for John B. Thompson on Google for some hilarious reading.

Arbor Update Flips the Racists

Arbor Update, a local Ann Arbor blog, recently posted about the riots in Toledo (CNN story). Throughout the day, I've been following the hilarious thread as trolls are driven to the post, likely from a search or some post in the neo-Nazi forum somewhere. After some people called for the racist crap be deleted, one of the mods at Arbor Update flipped the comments and proposed donating $1 for each racist comment made in the thread. Many others have joined in, and the flames continue.



Of course, being Ann Arbor, someone had to ruin a highly entertaining troll-bashing by starting the "conservative are Nazis" BS; nice to see everyone's true colors are starting to show through.



But, it's a good cause, in a macabre sort of way. Check it out, make a donation. Help fight racist, anti-Semitic, idiots.

Dear Channel 7

I tried to post the following message on your "forums" in response to the hit piece tonight on the governor, but you have a character limit. My commend got deleted as well; must be a technical problem. So, if someone would get get lucky enough to surf over here, here's my response to Steve Wilson's "report" Mackinac Mansion Part I.



Note to the management: you lost a viewer tonight.

What's next? "See Steve's next report where he continues to insinuate that the First Gentleman is living a swingin' bachelors lifestyle, tomorrow at 7!

Whats the matter Steve, Granholm put you in your place? The juices running a little slower lately? Needed a little yellow journalism fix to get your warmed up for the election cycle?

With an election as important as this mayors race, a budget crisis that could bankrupt the City of Detroit, and real problems everywhere in between, Channel 7 could better serve the community with real stories, not this kind of sensationalist tripe.

Thanks,

A Former Viewer

Personal Peltier Beer Cooler

I must build this! A homemade Peltier Beer (erm... Beverage) cooler.

Ok, not really (I can't solder to safe my life), but this is pretty cool.

Link [via Engadget]

Converting a 48-Quart Cooler into a Mash Tun

Sweet, pictures and everything.

Link

18 October 2005

20 license-free fonts

Vitaly Friedman has compiled a list of 20 License-Free Fonts (that's free). Fonts are one of those beautiful things that no one pays attention to, at least until you get that invitation made in Kidnap or something. Pretty good list; I especially like Pigiarniq and JustOldFashion.

Link [via mezzoblue]

Penny Arcade is going to be even funnier than usual in a little bit

I'm going to stop apologizing for it and just give into the farce that has become Jack Thompson. (Note to certain readers, it must be something about the last name.)

Jack has now faxed a letter to the Seattle PD (where PA is located) asking that the authors of PA, Gabe and Tycho, be arrested. Of course, he got their website wrong, but that doesn't detract from the fun language and defamation suit he brought on himself. He accuses PA of extortion and criminal harassment, both of which I'm pretty sure require evidence in order to prosecute.

Jack, you have made yourself a public figure and, as such, are open to a whole level of mockery and satire the likes of which you obviously are unable to deal with. "I Hate Jack Thompson" T-shirts are not harassment, they're hella-funny. I highly recommend you crawl back under a rock and bother us no more. Cops are smarter than you pathetic, emotional pleas and insinuations. They're not dumb enough to arrest people who donate money to sick kids in the name of the person falsely accusing them of crimes.

gamepolitics: BREAKING NEWS: Will Seattle's Finest Be Raiding Penny Arcade?

Orson Scott Card's webzine

Orson Scott Card's webzine, Intergalatic Medicine Show, is up. Each issue costs $2.50 and Card has on the front page that he'll publish a new story in Ender's world every month (what's that little tickle in the back of my mind?).

Ender's Game is one of the best sf stories around and Card is quite a character.

[via Sci-Fi Storm]

IGMS

17 October 2005

Sorry, one more Jack Thompson post today

I don't know what gets this guy under my skin and, yes, I'm playing right into his sick need for attention, but I got drop one last post about this twit.

Not only does he whelch on charities, but others have to make up for him. The guys at Penny Arcade have donated $10,000 to The Entertainment Software Association Foundation in Jack's name.

Jack, as he will remind you, is a lawyer and, as such, likes to make wild, legal-sounding threats. See the Penny Arcade link above as well as this page over at VG Cats.

And the worst part, people like my folks don't hear this side of the story. Will someone from a responsbile news orginization (not C|Net) pick this up and wipe Jack Thompson off the map? Please? There are people doing far worse damage to society, and we really need to get back to them.

Jack Thompson chickens out

Following up on this post, Jack Thompson, lawyer, psychic, and now, apparently, back-peddling fool has rescinded his offer of $10,000 to charity if someone built his proposed violent video game. Why? Because someone did it. Jack now claims, in totally lawyerly fashion, that his original offer was satire. Unfortunately, we know that's not true as Jack can't actually identify satire, based on his reaction to the produced mod of GTA:SA where you can play as Jack Thompson.

So, either one of two things occurred here. Either Thompson's original piece was satire and he never intended to donate money to charity or he's lying now to get out of donating the money to charity. We await his explanation soon.

16 October 2005

Beer of the Moment

Every brewer has the passion for a good beer. I'm attempting to pose as a brewer, so why not take on some accoutrement? With that, I begin the Beer of the Moment segment (with a Beer category), wherein I gush about the beer that I have currently fallen for and avoid committments to some "of the $TIMESEGMENT" titling.



This edition of Beer of the Moment (or BotM, since everything deserves an acronym) is Great Lakes Brewing Company's Dortmunder Gold. Dortmunder is a Golden Lager (according to the label) brewed in the style of the town of Dortmund, Germany.



Vitals



  • ABV: 5.8%

  • ABW: 4.3%

  • IBU: 30


(Ratebeer page)



Reading the Ratebeer page makes you think you have try to like this beer, which is like saying you need to work up to sweet chocolate. Sure, you might have to if you come from the dark chocolate world, but most don't. The beer is a dark straw color; it reminds me of a dark Scotch. There is very little head, but a medium body. I expected something much heavier.



It smells slightly fruity, but I don't detect the cinnamon that some claim to smell. It's medium thickness in the mouth lingers after you swallow, but not in an unpleasant way. This is currently my favorite lager and something I have already bought two 6-packs of, which is saying something. I like IPAs, so this lager was a refreshing change. I highly recommend this beer.



Side note, on the same trip I also got a single (thankfully) of Founder's Devil Dancer IPA. Wow. Way over the top. 13% ABV, 200+ IBUs, thick as soup. I love Founder's Red's Rye, I'll even drink a Dirty Bastard now and then, but I couldn't like this one. Sometimes I think they make this kind of thing just so people can brag that they like it.



Anyway, go get the Dotmunder and have some chicken wings; I personally vouch for the combo.

DIY $100 PC?

Not quite, but this guy did it for $126. Not bad



Link [via digg]

15 October 2005

HOW-TO: Convert a DVD for your iPod (with video) in Windows

It took about 2 days, but Engaget has alread posted a HOWTO on how to your movies onto an iPod with video.



Link

14 October 2005

Jack Thompson goes after Penny Arcade

For those that don't know, Jack Thompson (notice the subtle URL) is the lawyer-cum-vigilante who is trying to make himself the face of the anti-video game movement. He gushes over these idiot laws over video games passed all over the country. (Side note to our Governor, Jennifer Granholm; you lost my vote.) He's basically the latest incarnation of the hysterical crowd that first blamed music, then blamed movies, and are now blaming video games for people's lack of responsibility. His equation usually goes like this: innocent child (think teddy bears and butterflies) plays big, bad video game, the goes on a Natural Born Killers-style rampage, slaughtering person, beast, and plant.

According to his website (see subtle URL above), he's also a psychic. He predicted "...in an interview by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show three weeks before the Beltway Snipers were apprehended, that one of the snipers "might very well be a video gamer as young as 15 trained on a game switched to sniper-mode or God-mode." Nevermind that he says this about every crime spree to anyone who will listen; luck often favors the undeserving. Hell, even John Edwards gets one right once in a while.

The fact is Jack Thompson is not a psychologist, he's not a doctor, he's a lawyer and has much to gain from his notoriety. He conveniently ignores statistics that refute his claims and uses straw man tactics in his attempt to make a point. Oh, by the way, good luck to Mr. Thompson on his case in the Grand Theft Auto murder case; that guy got convicted because he's a murderer, not mentally deficient.

Which brings us to Penny Arcade. Gabe and Tycho, the two proprietors of Penny Arcade, are about the most generous gamers you can find. They have donated about half a million dollars through their charity, all raised through grassroots efforts among gamers. Jack Thompson, as far as I know, has offered ten grand and donated none. They sent him an email (scroll down) with their phone number on it. Jack called them (article). I'm not exactly sure what law you sue someone under for emailing you, but if Jack can figure it out, I have about (counting.... ) 45 spammers I'd like to contact.

Jack Thomson is so bad at spreading the word about violent video games, even the people he's quoting are asking him to stop using their names. As the Dutch would say: Als alle gekken konden vliegen hadden we een permanente zonsverduistering - If all fools could fly, the sun would be eclipsed forever.

May Jack drift into irrelevance as quickly as New Coke.

12 October 2005

Comment spammers win again

Once again, comment/trackback spammers have blasted this site. It's taken me the better part of an hour to change the settings for Movable Type.



For the foreseeable future, comments are for registered commenters only and trackbacks are off. If you have a comment and don't want to register, email me.

10 Registry Tools Tested

Some interesting results and good tools.

PC Maintenance > Langa Letter: Testing 10 Windows 'Registry Cleaning' Software Packs > October 10, 2005" href="http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=171203805">Link

Digital Lust - Part, uh, it's a long-running thing

I'm sitting in a training session right now (thank God for WiFi and Bloglines).

Can I just say that I almost bought a video iPod while someone was droning on about sub-contracts? I'm not a fanboy or anything (see previous posts), but iPod + video + ability to buy TV shows to watch on iPod? Wow... nice work Apple.

BTW, the Apple site is at a crawl, but go check out the new stuff... very cool.

Apple

03 October 2005

Dark Chocolate; What Can't It Do?

Hot on the heals of chocolate's positive effects on your heart, a new study confirms a bit of folk wisdom: dark chocolate helps with diarrhea.

What can't that stuff do?

Free Music Monday

That title sounds like I'll do that every week, which I won't. I should, but I won't.

Anyway, Harvey Danger has released their latest album via bittorrent on their site. I haven't heard it yet, so no comment on quality.

29 September 2005

Ever seen Gattica?

You may not have to. It may soon be part of the NBA draft if the Chicago Bulls get their way.



Eddy Curry, the 22-year old forward for the Bulls is being required by the Bulls to submit to a DNA test prior being allowed to play in the upcoming season. Curry has been diagnosed with benign arrhythmia, a heart condition where abnormal heart rhythms are disrupted. Curry had a few incidents that led to his diagnosis and I can only assume treatment.



The Bulls now want Curry to submit to a DNA test to verify that he doesn't have cardiomyopathy, which when paired with the already-diagnosed benign arrhythmia could be fatal.



And that's where this becomes about more than basketball. Curry is an employee of the Bulls and disclosed his condition. The Bulls are now requiring that he prove he doesn't have other diseases in order to continue his employment. The slippery slope should be obvious.



The Bulls (who are becoming more appropriately named as I read through the quotes on this ESPN article) claim this is for the player's well-being. Which is entirely true, except that the employer doesn't get to make that call. Or shouldn't.



Mark this as the first of many such battles to come. And while the rules may seem different for employees such as pro athletes, the implications are far reaching.

He always was more tongue than normally seen on model his size

The foster family from which we adopted Froggie sent us some photos of the mutt when he was just a pup (well, a pup under 15 pounds anyway). I've added them to the beginning of the Froggie Flickr Fotoset.

28 September 2005

Call of Duty 2

Thanks to Les at SEB for the link    to Yahoo. Nice, fast servers with no waiting.



It let me know that COD2 isn't the next game purchase I'll be making. That's saying a lot because I played the hell out of COD. I even joined a clan, played other teams (sort of), and wasn't too bad (not great, but ok). The COD2 demo left me wanting. It felt like the original with some new maps and (some) better sounds. I've read the articles about the new engine and the improved rendering and yaddy yaddy yah. But after a couple plays through the demo, I was over the gloss and looking for more. I was missing that feeling I had with the original COD demo--wanting to play more.



I know it's a demo and I know the game isn't done, so I hope it gets better. But right now, Infinity Ward has the kiss of death going; same old game with the number "2" tacked on the end.



Download at Yahoo Games

USB Drive Utilities

Not utilities for a USB drive, but to keep on your drive. A couple of good links today, thanks to digg.

The Portable Freeware Collection

Mike Tech Show #41

Widgets are freakin' awesome

I love Konfabulator. My cognitive dissonance hasn't kicked in yet on the system resources it requires because it's just so damn cool. The Sleep Timer widget just made my day; I'm sure there's a way to do this in Windows, but I'm too lazy to figure it out. Basically, it'll shut down, restart, or sleep you computer after a set time.

27 September 2005

Don't Give to the Red Cross

Notice this is posted to Politics. I haven't verified anything in this obvious editorial, but I offer it for it's emotional value. The author is the president and CEO of a competing (is that the right word) organization to the Red Cross. He obviously has a vested interest in monies coming his way.



However, he raises an interesting point.



The Red Cross brand is platinum. Its fundraising vastly outruns its programs because it does very little or nothing to rescue survivors, provide direct medical care or rebuild houses.


Taken with a comment in a Fark forum (search the page for Red Cross) about the waste demonstrated by the Red Cross (how they willingly pay full price for hotel rooms they never use), and the suspicions build.



That said, I don't think any of the accusations leveled at the Red Cross, even if true, constitute a purposeful and malicious attempt to sucker anyone. I just think the Red Cross is like many bureaucratic organizations: bloated and inefficient. I personally gave my money for Katrina to Americares. As always, reading up on your charity is a good idea. Even platinum brands may not perform to your standards. YMMV.

Mike Brown is a fucking idiot

Sorry for the title, it doesn't happen often.



Mike Brown was in front of Congress today to answer for the disaster he oversaw after Katrina. I understand he doesn't want to fall on his sword for something he feels isn't his fault, but the level to which he stoops trying to blame anyone but himself is deep. Deep. A sample:



Ironically, it started with an organization called horsesass.org, that on some blog published a false, and, frankly, in my opinion, defamatory statement that the media just continued to repeat over and over. Next, one national magazine not only defamed me, but my alma mater, the Oklahoma City University School of Law, in one sentence alone leveling six false charges. [source]


He then blamed the governor of Louisiana, the mayor of New Orleans, and then shook his fist at "those meddling kids".



Mr. Brown, you're an idiot. Even if every word you say is true, you have been offered up as a sacrifice for all the wrongs of the Fed after this disaster. The fact that nothing you say is likely to be true, it seems you earned the distinction. Get ready for a Fisking of epic proportions, Mr. Brown.



Check out more of Brown's lies here.

Subvert from Within

It's one thing to talk about--and execute--a user-focused approach when you're a small company or an independent contractor. But what if you are, in fact, a fish in a sea as vast as, say, Microsoft? Can you hope to make a difference? Or does working at the "DarkStar" suck the soul from any employee with a passionate users bent?


Link

20 September 2005

Opera is Free

Opera today released their browser for free.. no ads, no banners, no nothing. Very cool. Opera is the parent to many of the features that people love in Firefox, including tabbed browsing. Well worth a look and something else to keep in mind when designing for the web.

Link

[via digg]

18 September 2005

Comments Spam

Sorry to do this, but I've had to tighten up my comment policy due to a comment spam attack. 2 days and over 100 spam comments (and that's for a site with less traffic than 127.0.0.1).

Anyone who uses TypeKey gets their comments auto published; otherwise, the comment goes in the queue. Spammers are scum, and we all pay.

16 September 2005

How not to get out of killing someone

Cross-examined by Lautenschlager, Vang was asked if each victim deserved to die. Vang answered "no" in some cases and "yes" in others.


Stunning... have fun in prison.



Link

Penn and Teller on PETA - Bullshit

Penn & Teller's Bullshit! on Showtime is one of the most lucid shows out there. Unfortunately, it's on Showtime, which I don't get (thank you, Internet). Today, I found a link to the episode on PETA, the People for the *cough*Ethical*cough* Treatment of Animals.



It's good enough that I'm posting the video here (right-click, save as).



I was never a fan of PETA, but after this, I feel sick. Watch. Learn.



UPDATE: Video is now gone; someone slammed my server.

Tie Two Ropes Together... Properly

Lifehacker has a cool post about how to properly lash two ropes together. As a failed Cadet (kind of like Boy Scouts, but with more God and less crafts), I should know this, yet don't. I bring shame on my family.

But no longer, as I will learn how to do this... as soon as I need to lash two ropes together.

...

Link

12 September 2005

Stupid web tricks

This is completely for a couple people at work and will make zero sense to anyone else.



You can now buy these T-shirts at Cafepress:





That is all.

Let the Disinformation Begin

The news hit recently that the next version of Windows, Vista, will come in 7 different "flavors", or SKUs. I'm making the prediction right now that this is a completely false story cooked up to divert attention from the disaster that Vista has become. After dropping pretty much every decent feature from Vista, Microsoft had another Windows Me release on their hands; a dressed-up version of the previous version.

Why do I say that? First, Microsoft may be dumb, but this would colossally dumb. People can't figure out the fact that Win XP has two versions; it's inconceivable that the general public could begin to fathom what they need to ask for when there are 7 versions.

Second, this is way to complicated for even Microsoft to support. Windows as an OS is very, very difficult to support from Microsoft's standpoint because of their insistence at maintaining backward compatibility. Introducing limited releases of an OS (which is what 6 versions of Vista would essentially be) is a logistical nightmare for Microsoft. Now, instead of maintaining security on one stripped-down version (XP Home), they have to protect 6 versions from hacking, cracking, and security risks.

If Vista comes in more than 3 versions, one of which will be Windows Vista Home Theatre Crashing Edition, I'll buy a Mac. I'll have to.

Link

This Week in Tech - Video

One of the very few podcasts I subscribe to (This Week in Tech) released one of their episodes on video. This was shot live in the San Francisco Apple store. BitTorrent download.

Link

10 September 2005

25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." –President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina (Source)


Link [via Fark]

07 September 2005

The joy of beer

I'm currently enjoying a glass of Arcadia Ales' Amber Ale, an excellent ale from the Arcadia Brewing Company (warning: crappy browsing experience) in Battle Creek. It will soon be chased by a New Holland Sundog Ale brewed in Holland (Michigan). Why the dopey post about microbrews?



Because I had to pour out five gallons of partially fermented ale when the foaming brew clogged the airlock, allowing the CO2 to build up enough pressure to blow the lid of the fermentor. I figure the beer was exposed to the open basement air for about 12 to 16 hours; not a good thing for maturing beer. I can't brew another batch until Saturday at the earliest and my last batch won't condition until at least the 16th. So I drown my sorrows in good beer from others, pretending my batch would have been as good as either of them. Ah, the brutality of failure.

Fire Michael Brown

Add geography to the growing list of FEMA fumbles.

A South Carolina health official said his colleagues scrambled Tuesday when FEMA gave only a half-hour notice to prepare for the arrival of a plane carrying as many as 180 evacuees to Charleston.

But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.


I know Michael Brown didn't personally do this (well, I believe he didn't), but if the leader allows this kind of incompetence to flourish, that leader is gone.



Link

06 September 2005

Keith Olbermann on NOLA and the Fed

Yep...

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might’ve saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could’ve brought last Monday and Tuesday — like the President, whose statements have looked like they’re being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”

Politician after politician — Republican and Democrat alike — has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the "I-Me" switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were — congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.


Video

[via Eschaton]

The 'city' of Louisiana - Bloggermann - MSNBC.com

05 September 2005

Epson printers suck

I'm at the end of my rope. About two weeks ago, the yellow cartridge on our Epson Stylus CX4600 dried up. It was a replacement from Laser Monks (which I highly recommend, by the way) which I've used since I bought the printer. I've run 6 or 7 sets of Laser Monks cartridges through this printer with no issues. So when this one died, I had a spare already sitting on my desk, popped it in and thought I'd be good to go.



Not so, first the Laser Monks cartridge wouldn't get recognized. I fiddled with it for a while, but the printer just wouldn't recognize the cartridge. No problem, I figured the chip got damaged or something was just wonky; it happens. So we bop down to Best Buy and drop $14 and change on a genuine Epson cartridge. Pop it open, replace the cartridge, let the thing charge and the printer says we're good to go; 4 ink cartridges recognized and full.



Print the first page and... only blue. Ok, it's been sitting for a while, so I run a head cleaning. Print again. Nothing but blue. Hmm, ok. Another two head cleanings later and I've blown (according to the monitoring software) a perceptible amount of ink just cleaning the head. Print again. Blue again, but almost invisible.



Now I'm worried. I pull all the cartridges, give them a little shake, pop them back in. The printer charges them, does a cleaning, and sets up. Print another page, full color, photo quality. I'm going to get that clog out of there somehow, even if I have to ram the ink through. Blue again, then less, then less, and by the middle of the page, no ink at all. Blank paper.



I'm currently running what is likely to be the 10th to 12th head cleaning cycle on these cartridges. More than 1/4 of the ink has been wasted on just cleaning the heads. At $14 and change each, across 4 cartridges, that's almost $14 to CLEAN the head. Which still doesn't work. This is the second printer I've done this too in the last week (in-laws printer had the same swan song). Both printers lasted less than a year.



I know printers are a commodity now a days, but this is awful. The quality on this thing would make Yugo laugh. And where do I go for a replacement? HP? Lexmark? Brother? *shudder* Now I have to buy another all-in-one because a part (which likely costs less than $20, but can't be fixed for less than $100) was engineered to break. I've loyally bought Epson printers for many years and for many people. I've given them as gifts, I've bought new ones with features I wanted. But the last few I've bought have been crap.



Goodbye Epson, I'm done with your products.

02 September 2005

Piling On... Katrina Shows Us the Underbelly

I'm committing the ultimate blogger faux pas, but I'm piling on and saying ditto to an entire post.

If I was the President of the country I would be on the ground in the command center with my entire team and NO ONE would sleep for the next three days or until things were under control. NO ONE. [Link]


Jason Calacanis is a smart guy and, like him, I tend to be conservative in my voting and political views, but the situation in the Gulf is unconscionable. Bush didn't visibly do anything for almost two days, and he has yet to be on the ground there. Flying over the Superdome in your jet is NOT helping. Marine One should be lifting people off roofs. Marines should be sweeping through New Orleans shooting looters. Every available unit should be setting up shelters and delivering water. We have a military that can deploy anywhere in the world in less than 48 hours; what's the problem with getting to Louisiana?

This whole thing makes me sick. We have an agency who's SOLE PURPOSE is to manage emergencies (it's in their damn name) and they are proving to be incompetent.

Never mind the idiotic stance on what was referred to as one of the top 3 likely disasters that could hit the US (Salon link; trust me, sit through the ads), but the reaction by governments (local, state, and federal) defies explanation.

01 September 2005

Disgrace

New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday, as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out and storm survivors battled for seats on the buses that would carry them away from the chaos. The tired and hungry seethed, saying they had been forsaken.

"This is not a FEMA operation. I haven't seen a single FEMA guy," [New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert] said. He added: "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."


Bloody, awful, terrible disgrace. I'm not one for over-reacting, but there will be an accounting for this week very soon for every twit that dropped the ball.

New Orleans in Anarchy With Fights, Rapes - Yahoo! News

30 August 2005

For the love of FSM

Back in March, Yahoo! bought Flickr, a growing community of people who upload their photos to share with whoever they want. Flickr was cool because it could be free (there's a pay option) and it was well designed. It allowed people to comment on other people's photos, tag them, and create groups to share.



So now, as Yahoo! starts to integrate Flickr into their portfolio, you know, like all acquired companies are eventually, Flickr Fans are pissed. Why?



At stake is a new user-profile stipulation that reads: "We will be migrating all independent Flickr accounts to Yahoo's network in 2006. At that time, if you have not done so already, you will be asked to create a Yahoo ID (or link your account to your Yahoo ID if you already have one) in order to continue using your account."


Members' photos will be deleted if they later drop their account with the portal and search engine, disappointing some.


Wow, what a terrible, evil thing to do to people. And what is their protest going to be?



"If Flickr really forces me to join Yahoo in 2006 in order to still use my account, I will quit 24 hours before the deadline," wrote Thomas Müller...


Yeah, that'll show 'em! You stop displaying your 1,400 photos on Flickr and take them to... uh... hmm. On second thought, what other photo-sharing site has tags, tons of traffic, and a hell of a lot more people who don't care about Yahoo! requiring a Yahoo! ID? That's right, no one.



I'm sorry people think getting a Yahoo! ID is a terrible thing (although I suspect these same people have about 10 Gmail accounts and don't anonymize their Google usage). But the fact is Yahoo! paid a lot of money for Flickr and they're damn sure going to use it. For every person who tells Yahoo! to Flick Off (very creative), about 10 more will come on through the integration with existing Yahoo! IDs. Sorry people, this is a losing battle and your idealism is off the mark. Go fight for something worthwhile.

Opera is 10; get it for free

Found over at 90% Crud...



Opera normally costs $39. Today, you can get it for free. But only today (30 Aug 2005). Go here, give them your email address and they'll give you registration codes for every platform they support.