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Showing posts from April, 2005

H2G2

Much digital ink will be spilled about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie this weekend. I saw it this evening with more than a little trepidation. I'm a huge fan of the books. In fact, I make it a point to re-read them at least every two years.

With that in mind, the movie isn't that bad. It's not the book, but then, what movie is? It is, however, in the spirit of the book. The opening 45 minutes bear a striking resemblance to the book. After that, it's hard to tell where the bits made up to fill in the bits written by Douglas Adams start and end. The movie works, despite Mos Def's flat effort as Ford.

In short, I give it a 7/10. It's nowhere near as bad as Adams' biographer made it out to be. If you like the books, hang your critic out for the evening and go see the movie with an open mind. It really isn't that bad.

And here I was going to donate that old computer...

MAKE, a occasionally interesting "hacking" blog, came out with a whopper of an article Monday detailing how to turn an old PC into a DIY TiVo/music server/gaming console. If you have an old PC and the console gaming stuff, it's a pretty cheap solution. Aw heck, it looks like fun to build, too. It even using Cygwin, so it has a hint of Linux without all the command-line odor.

Link

Why did Abobe buy Macromedia?

Because Microsoft is coming for them, targeting one of Adobe's flagship products.
Later in the day, Microsoft also unveiled "Metro," which can be best described as an alternative to or replacement for Adobe's PDF. Metro is an XML-based document specification that covers creation, viewing, and printing. Windows applications will be able to create Metro documents and Microsoft hopes to have printer manufacturers include support for it in much the same way as Adobe's PostScript. Microsoft will offer developers APIs so they can incorporate its features into their applications, as well as royalty-free licenses in order to encourage its adoption.
Adobe broadened their portfolio, so to speak, just in case. I wonder what they know about that hasn't been announced by Microsoft yet.
[Via Ars Technica]

Longhorn Help (or, The Way It Could Be)

Muchhasbeenmade of the upcoming release of Windows, still called Longhorn. (Can we possibly get someone in Microsoft Marketing to stop that stupid Office campaign [warning: Flash site] and come up with a name for the next version of Windows?)

While I'm not convinced that Longhorn is simply a bunch of "fixes and cosmetic enhancements", I'm also not convinced that Microsoft is going to deliver a compelling reason for lots of people to upgrade. They've already dropped WinFS and scaled back Avalon, both major incentives to use Longhorn.

That said, I do know of one thing that is coming that is actually kind of exciting. Terrifying in its own way, but potentially very cool. Longhorn Help. That's right, I said Help. First, a little background.

Back in the WinHelp days, technical writers and developers rarely met, and when they did they exchanged barbs and went back to their own sides of the building. Then along came people who can write AND develop. They got a hold of…

Ah del.icio.us

You know why I love del.icio.us? Because I dump stuff there I would never have bookmarked before. Maybe it's the niche nature of the tool, or the buzz, but I do like using it.

Plus, it let's me find stuff like The Always Amusing Euphemism Generator. Now, Lord only knows where I ran across that the first time, but I had foxylicious installed so it was right-click, add tags, hit save. Which means I could find it today. Which now means I have the phrase "smurfing the peach" stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Thanks del.icio.us!

One Last Go 'Roung with the Theocracy Thing

From Instapundit:
MICHAEL BARONE LOOKS AT religion and politics in America:

But whether the United States is on its way to becoming a theocracy is actually a silly question. No religion is going to impose laws on an unwilling Congress or the people of this country. And we have long lived comfortably with a few trappings of religion in the public space, such as "In God We Trust" or "God save this honorable court."

The real question is whether strong religious belief is on the rise in America and the world. Fifty years ago, secular liberals were confident that education, urbanization and science would lead people to renounce religion. That seems to have happened, if you confine your gaze to Europe, Canada and American university faculty clubs. . . .

America has not moved in the expected direction. In fact, just the opposite. Economist Robert Fogel's "The Fourth Great Awakening" argues that we've been in the midst of a religious revival since the 1950s, …

NASA's big wins

Much is made lately of the problems at NASA. While some of that criticism is well-deserved (the shuttle program in particular), NASA often gets the shaft when it comes to the projects they got very, very right.

Projects such as the Hubble telescope. Yesterday was the Hubble's 15th anniversary, the projected end of its service life. Even with current budget problems, the project could feasibly continue operating for an additional 3 to 6 years. With the shuttle's functional and budget problems, there certainly won't be a de-orbit mission for quite some time.

Mars rovers, NASA has had two very long-running programs that have made front page news that then faded onto page G15. It should be news on the order of the Apollo programs. The constant bean-counting and administrative BS only undermines the true purpose of projects like this. Exploration is tough, and it costs money. While the idea human space flight is sexy and, in some respects, a necessary component of space explorati…

Linux vs Windows - my perspective

I'm a basic computer user who happened to have grown up in a technology-rich world. Computers were everywhere for me beginning about 2nd grade. The kids of the '90s, those who are now starting college, are steeped in technology in a way that I can't even imagine. To have never seen a record player (pre-clubbin'), to have had a computer from the moment your fingers were dexterous enough to use a keyboard, to eschew email as inefficient and old--these are concepts that an 18 year old lives in. I understand some, but can't fathom others.

But is this the way it's supposed to be? Everything I know from school and experience tells me that, deep down and generally, people do not want to think. Thinking requires sacrifice and effort, two things most of us are unwilling to give. Technology is the ultimate "needer". It needs you to keep up, to be current, to understand ever more concepts in order to function at the top of the heap.

This is what Linux advocates …

Crappy software

This is more rant than anything, but I've been working all day so I need to decompress.

For some reason I was contemplating the software I would immediately re-install if I had a catastrophic failure. From there, I thought about the quality of that software. Then I started looking at some basic stuff, like how resource-intensive these programs were. And then I got annoyed, mostly at iTunes, but others are guilty as well.

Why does Apple get a pass when they make crappy software? (Sit down, zealots.) I have an iPod, so I pretty much have to use this software. It's a pain to go back and forth from one player to another, so I just made my default player. The management/UI/experience part of iTunes is top-notch. Really, I like using iTunes. What drives me crazy is that the application itself sucks up way too many resources.

For example, I have iTunes running right now with my iPod docked. iTunes runs three (visible) processes on my machine: iTunes.exe, iTunesHelper.exe, and iPodServ…

Barry Goldwater got it

However, on religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they pr…

Anyone registered to vote in Pennsylvania?

Then don't vote for Rick Santorum. This idiot introduced a bill that's just vague enough that the National Weather Service (you know, the one that's tax-funded) might have to take itself offline. I'm not going to quote the article because you need to read the whole thing. The quotes from Barry Myers, Executive Vice President at AccuWeather, are so ludicrous, I don't know if I should laugh or cry.

Don't visit AccuWeather. In fact, if they're so opposed to public services, let them get their own data. How do we legislate that? I'm sure we could find some headline-seeking Senator to sponsor it.

Link[via Geek News Central]

Spreading the mojo or why I love startups

Ok, this post is a little of me bragging, which I'm a little worried about doing. But, I have a greater point, so you'll have to bear with the bragging.

<bragging>I got a phone call today from someone at MadCap software</bragging> Now that that's out of the way, I can get on with the point. This person just wanted to talk. I'm not some super-elite figure in any field. I talked about their product and they wanted to follow up on that.
Excuse me while I put my professional hat on my knee for a second.
That is so off-the-wall, freakin' cool, it makes you jealous for the people that work there. How many employers have you worked for that would allow, much less encourage, you to call someone who just randomly talked about your product on their website? I know I haven't worked for one. In fact, I worked for a company that, if I called a customer without a salesman, a marketing guy, and someone from legal in the room--well, I'd have been out on my butt.

I …

RE: Creating Jade Empire's Language

Since someone in this household is playing the crap out of this game right now, I thought this might be interesting reading.

The New York Times has a very interesting piece on the invented language of Tho Fan for Jade Empire. The 2,500-word language was created in four months for about $2,000 by University of Alberta linguist Wolf Wikeley. The Ph.D. candidate even created a history for the language and then tested it out by translating the first chapter of John's Gospel into it. It's a great read, make sure you check it out.

Jade Empire for Xbox Speaks Language All Its Own [NYT]

[Via Kotaku]

Flickr ups their limits

Cool things starting to happen at Flickr now that they have Yahoo! money to burn. They've doubled the free account upload amount and doubled the number of photos in the stream. Pro accounts got an extension on their payments (basically doubling their contract lives), and new Pro accounts get more uploads (2 gigs) at half the price.

Very cool. Now if they do video, we can stop hearing about Google Video.

Link

It's a Pope!

Apparently they elected a Pope today. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, will lead about a billion Catholics... well, we don't know where. Sounds like he won't be around long, as he's 78. The prophecy draws nearer! Many laugh at St. Malachy's Prophecy (with good reason), but Ratzinger took the name Benedict, a nod to the prophecy. The 2nd to last Pope, according to St. Malachy, was going to be from the Benedictine order (which I can't confirm of Ratzinger is or isn't). In a Church where chance doesn't exist, taking the name Benedict is a fairly significant symbol.

Should be some interesting news, kooky or otherwise, in the next few days.

Link

Whoa... Adobe Buys Macromedia

I don't know how I feel about this, but Adobe and Macromedia announced that Adobe was buying Macromedia for around 3.4 billion. My gut reaction is that this could be very bad for the design market as these two companies were basically direct competitors. I keep thinking how much I disliked Go Live versus Dreamweaver and shudder at the innovation that wouldn't have happened in the market if these two companies were fighting for market share.

I hope the new company can maintain its focus on both sets of people that have traditionally been serviced by one or the other company: Adobe was squarely aimed at the design professional where Macromedia had web development in its pocket. There's always crossover, but given the Photoshop/Fireworks or Go Live/Dreamweaver choice, you could usually predict where the decision would fall.

It will be interesting to see this pan out (if it does).

Ars Technica - Adobe gobbles up Macromedia in pure-stock buy out worth 3.4 Billion Dollars

Why you shouldn't believe everything you see on the internet

I took the What Age Will You Die quiz after seeing it on J-Walk. The first time I did it, I got this result.




You Will Die at Age 67



67




You're pretty average when it comes to how you live...

And how you'll die as well.

I thought, how can I improve that a little? So I read over my answers and changed "Do you get at least a half hour of exercise, six days a week?" from No to Yes. Seems like a pretty standard, simple to implement lifestyle change; it should up that 67 to at least 70, right? Uhm....




You Will Die at Age 64



64




You're pretty average when it comes to how you live...

And how you'll die as well.

What Age Will You Die?


Not exactly. Luckily, if I start practicing yoga or meditating, it counteracts all that harmful exercise and gets me back to 67. Whew. I wonder how many people take this crap at face value? You know what, I don't want to know the answer to that question.

Comment to David Galbraith

David, your site doesn't have a comments link (that I could find) so I'm posting it here. (Re: this post)

I actually agree with many of your points. (I'm not sure about your vested interest, so I'll defer to Alex.) I think that religion in this country has become watered-down, over-marketed, soulless and boring. The music is the tip of the iceberg. I've been to about 3 services in the last 5 years and every time, the sermon given was so bland, uninspiring, and neutral--well, if I hadn't left the church before, I would have then.

But, I have to pick a bone with your classification of the religious right as being inartisitc and unspiritual. Too many times in these debates, the "religious right" gets trotted out and poked at. Just like the left, though, the right has its shades. I think it's unfair to lump everyone together and then call them inartisitc and unspiritual. It's all in the nuance; we just don't always appreciate the nuance if we do…

Out of town

After the rant yesterday it seems odd, but I'm heading to Grand Rapids for the weekend. I have no clue if the POS hotel that Priceline put us in has wireless (I have serious doubts), so posting might be non-existant.

But, if all goes well, we will get to have the most wonderful food to ever grace this planet, Fricano's Pizza.

We'll also be at Cambridge House tonight (after 5). Anyone lurking from GR, meet us there (Sandy will also be coming).

More comics

This guy has it down. What better way to generate traffic than to make your (hilarious) comic about a hitman who only takes contracts on pets. Very funny stuff. Check it out.

UPDATE: Oops, it's two guys: Jason Salsbury and Matt Kaufenberg. Should read a little bit before posting.

Change of mood

Since that last post was out of nowhere, I thought I would right the mood.

Here's a picture of a puppy.

Religion, politics and my ticket to Hell

I try not to be vulgar on this thing, on the off chance that someone reading it thinks me a witless wonder. (They can easily make that conclusion without four-letter words.) So, I will mention that later in this post I will be using some profanity, but all in the course of making a point. And, as Billie Connelly said, if you don't like, you can fuck off.

There is a growing attitude in the press, on the blogs, in the air that this country is suddenly some kind of theocracy. I read this post by David Galbraith and almost lost it. In making his point, he not only invokes Godwin's law, he sounds like a fool. But the issue really is that he's only a small voice in a larger choir of idiots who are so hung up on the President's personnel politics, that they are falling for the whole sinker as well as the hook.

Here's a memo to all the people who are obsessive about the coming Theocracy: there isn't one. There never will be one. You want to know why? Because of people li…

Kindred Spirits

I stumbled across Alan Gutierrez' blog this evening thanks to the aggregator over at ArborBlogs. Alan seems like one of those kindred spirits that I knew existed in this town, but often kept to themselves out of fear of "a tirade against a red-state," as Alan puts it.

That post isn't what made me write about Alan's site. This one is. I'll quote because Alan nails it (sorry Ann Arbor, he's got your number).
I started with noting how caustic Ann Arbor is. That people lack social grace, because they are Michiganders. They're wipping past each other at 70 MPH all day. They don't know how to say hello. That Ann Arbor is bubble, and people come here to escape the rest of Michigan, they think it is some sort of Paris of the mid-West. Ann Arbor is a bubble and people are bubble people, scared of what is outside the bubble, oddly xenophobic, while trying to seem worldly. Then I talked about having to litterally beg to differ, how thin-skinned, easily offen…

When is the "Make [x] into a battery for your [portable device]" craze over?

Ever since some one crammed a (dangerously simple) battery into an Altoids tin as a backup power supply for his iPod, the Me-Too crowds have been saturating the blog world with their contributions. We have the battery in a deck of playing cards, the battery in a yet-smaller Altoids case (for your mini, of course), and then the ultimate: make your own MP3 player in, yes, an Altoids case. (Sounds like Altoids has a great marketing campaign going.)

And then, today comes around and the "hacks" have started PSPs. Yes, now you can make a battery pack inside an Atari 2600 joystick. This kids is the tipping point. We are now ruining devices that are likely worth actual money (quick check on ebay says $15.00) and making battery packs that are larger, clunkier, and less functional than the device that actually needs the power. Wouldn't be easier to, oh, I don't know, pack along and additional set of batteries sans joystick?

Roger's Dept Store Closing in Grand Rapids

In the latest hit to the West Michigan area, the most recognizable name in business (aside from Amway/Van Andel) is closing up shop. Roger's department store announced today that, after over 50 years in the same location, they are closing down.

Roger's is one of those places that servers a community touch point. It's target client was mid- to high-end on the clothing scale, but they always had customers from just below. The Roger's annual sidewalk sale was practically an city event at one point. Thousands of people would decend on the store trying to get a piece of the good life for cheap.

The sadder aspect of this closing is the loss of the businesses influence in the community. Roger's was the corporate face of a lot of activities for a lot of years. It's departure probably leaves a lot of charities, funds, and causes without corporate sponsorship in a business climate that hasn't been healthy in a long time.

It's a sad day in Grand Rapids.

Link

Housing prices in AA are good, apparently

I was wrong; housing in Ann Arbor is affordable. Just look at this chart from Consumer Reports. Ann Arbor gets a "Fair Value" rating, with only an 8% differential between what's affordable and what the market price is.

Oh, except that in the first three quarters of last year, the rate at which prices increased began to accelerate. I wonder where those $224,000 houses are? Not anywhere near downtown, I guarentee.

Fun with Flickr

Classifying this as Made Me Laugh is actually telling, since this photoshopped image actually does make me laugh when I see it, and I made the damn thing. I'm such a nerd.

Flickr set of a house in Dexter, MI

So, I'm not an intentional Ludite, but sometimes I'm very, very slow on the uptake. I think it might have something to do with controlled substances in my past, but I don't like that line of thinking.
Anyway, I finally signed up for a Flickr account. I really don't have a reason to do so, but it seemed like fun. My first set is up, and oddly enough, I'm advertising for someone else.
...
I don't know what's wrong with my thought process on this one, but, enjoy the pictures.

House buying

So, J-- and I have been looking for a house for about a month now. We've learned a few things:
Basements in this area effin' blow. Whatever crap some ice flow left in this hole thousands of years ago is begging for the next ice age, just to remove the apparent seventeen miles of clay that comprise the majority of the land.
Apparently you can repair a foundation/basement that is leaning into the house at roughly a ten-degree angle with some steel rods, steel plates, and enough concrete to anchor a damn bridge.
Real estate agents (except ours) are a bunch of liars.
"For sale" on a sign doesn't actually mean the house is for sale.
Housing prices are a joke in Ann Arbor. Here's a for instance. I had friends in Chicago who bought a 1,500 square foot condo in Wrigleyville (the area right around the stadium). They paid ~$300,000. For $40,000 less, you can buy a piece of shit house on Seventh, which, last I checked, wasn't nearly as fun as Chicago. (see bullet one ab…

Hitchhiker's Movie is Bad says Adams Biographer

Crap, crap, CRAP!
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy movie is bad. Really bad. You just won't believe how vastly, staggeringly, jaw-droppingly bad it is. I mean, you might think that The Phantom Menace was a hopelessly misguided attempt to reinvent a much-loved franchise by people who, though well-intentioned, completely failed to understand what made the original popular - but that's just peanuts to the Hitchhiker's movie.
That's from the guy who was Adams' biographer. Damn it, damn it, damn it yet again. And now, like the second and third Matrix movies, I have to go drop $8+ to go see something that not only can't live up to expectations (which I was prepared for), but something that a qualified person hated. HATED.

Oh, and quotes like this aren't helping either:
There are quite a few nods to Douglas Adams himself and although these go some way to making up for the almost complete absence of his name from the publicity, surely a better way of paying tribute …

New look for an old site

If you visit this page via a browser, you'll see a new design today. It's not huge, just some color tweaks in the CSS and a banner image instead of the default MT stuff. Tweaking may continue, or I could just forget about it for another few months. I'm not designer, so bumping content around with the CSS or making graphics that need to be positioned in pixel-perfect fashion just isn't going to happen for a while.
But, this whole thing started as a learning experience and that's what I'm doing. Experiencing a learning... erm.. experience. If I'm internalizing any of this has yet to be seen.
Oh, if you find something that's busted, displaying improperly, or just plain bad, let me know.

Online color wheel

If you've ever had to generate a color scheme (say for a website) but didn't go it professionally, the availability of color wheel resources on the web is pretty depressing. Lots of people want to teach you about color, which isn't bad, but few enable you to do real color design, such as generating a tetrad color scheme. You can buy an app for it, but I don't want to spend $40 for something I do once a year.

But, this morning as I fuddle with this site, I finally found the motherlode; [ws] Color Scheme Generator. This is an awesome tool: triads, tetrads, color blindness simulator. A very robust tool, online. Check it out.

Internet issues

I think the DNS attack that's hitting the East coast is spreading to AA. My connection has been flaky all night.
When can we get some vigilante justice for the fools that are poisoning the DNS servers? Idiot spammers.
Side note: I know that "flaky" spell-checks properly, but shouldn't it really be "flakey"? I may have missed that day of class.
UPDATE There is a fix if you know how to edit your DNS server. Change your primary DNS to 4.1.1.1 and your alternate to 4.2.2.2 (solution from Broadbandreports uberforums)

Why do people hate Robert Scoble?

I have a news reader (duh) and with that comes about 500 feeds. I've never counted them, but that seems like a reasonable number. One of them happens to be Robert Scoble, who works for Microsoft. His title is something like Evangelist or something like that (I'm too lazy to look it up), but he's basically a technology-enabled brand-builder for MS. He's a marketer who gets the web. He's a salesmen with the soft sell for geeks (well, geeks who aren't rabid MS haters). In short, he's someone who works for a company and promotes that company. Evil, right?

He also has a (wildly popular) blog. People can subscribe to this blog. People can not subscribe to this blog. What amazes me is that people think it's necessary to broadcast that they are now no longer subscribing to his blog. BIG NEWS TYPEFACE INITIATED.

First, nice little traffic booster. Second, who gives a flying.... uhm, fark? You know what, I don't subscribe to Scripting News. You know why? It'…

Hand to forehead moment

This hand slap to the head once again brought to you by Technical Writers. Someone with the title Technical Author (cue eye roll) posted a one sentence question to a Help-authoring tool list. To quote: "Can anyone tell me what 'structured authoring' is?". This was met by links to a Google-searched PDF. The person read about, oh, 7 words, then skimmed and then came back to the list with (paraphrasing) "So, it's using templates?".

Cue hand to forehead.

Ok, this message is for all you Technical Authors, Content Developers, User Assistance Engineers, and plain ole' Technical Writers. (The rest of you can leave if you want.)

You. Are. Not. Helping. In the immortal words of Jon Stewart, "Just stop." If the following phrases don't mean anything to you, start polishing your resume:

Content Management
Information Architecture
Metadata
Business Objects
Format separated from Content
Assembling documentation (and not in a binder)


And I swear to God if any o…

Free online wine course from the CIA

Get a “taste” of The Culinary Institute of America’s professional wine courses by taking this exciting course online—for free. We’ll give you a sample of our in-depth, on-site courses by taking you on a virtual journey through three of the world’s top grape varieties. You’ll learn about where they grow, how they’re made into wine, how the wines they’re made into taste, what foods they work with best, and why they’re hot in the marketplace. We’ll suggest a few simple but great tastings you can do at home, and share some delicious wine-matched recipes from our CIA chefs. Along the way, you’ll meet some of our expert wine instructors and get a look at the full program of professional wine courses we offer. In this short course you will:

Learn about three of the world’s most exciting grape varieties from the diverse perspectives of CIA wine instructors, growers, winemakers, chefs, and wine marketing specialists.
Discover the principles involved in matching wine.
Participate in exciting guide…

Ann Arbor Greenway - As Bad as Arctic National Wildlife refuge Drilling

If I ever meet the author of AAiOR, I so need to buy him/her a beer/wine/stiff drink, mainly for making me laugh my ass off at the absurdity of this town. The term "overrated" barely scratches the surface of this pompous, over-marketed, elitist town. Too bad they have one of the best employers around (despite what GEO thinks).

Take today's post today over at AAiOR:

So if you're keeping track, the DDA's plan for a parking lot at First and William is marginally less bad than a putting a landfill or a war zone there, and about the same as an oil drilling operation. No word on how it would compare to a nuclear waste dump or a bioweapons facility.

See otherpostsatAAiOR about the Greenway/DDA dispute

ann arbor is overrated: a weblog: More Overheated Greenway Rhetoric

Censors on campus? Never!

It's like you could replace the University in this story with "University of Michigan" and no one would bat an eye. It hasn't happened at U-M, I'm just sayin'...

Last year, it was the fashion among campus conservative groups to hold anti-affirmative action bake sales: In such sales, prices are calibrated by the buyer's race, with women and minority groups receiving discounts and white male students paying a presumably "full price" for the same cookie. It was also the fashion for administrators to try to prevent such sales, and, when prevention failed, to shut them down and punish the students who held them. The bake sales weren't great commentary on affirmative action--they convinced no one who was not already convinced, and they angered people who might have been open to reasoned argument. But, inadvertently, they were great commentary on the state of free speech on campus, as group after group succeeded in flushing out the censors in their …

Building on legacy systems

I was playing around with MSN Desktop Search (which rocks, by the way), and came across an email from an old friend and co-worker, Tim (last name withheld for future Google-searching anonymity).
I have no idea if this is true or not, but take it as a parable, not so much gospel. It makes me laugh and wonder every time I stumble across it.
Ever Wonder Why?...

The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did th…

Mark Cuban gets it

The countdown for the extinction of CDs is about to begin

MP3 players are changing peoples listening habits. We dont carry folders filled with CDs anymore. We carry our library in our MP3 players. We dont listen to CDs. We listen to playlists that we adjust all the time. We dont burn CDs anymore, its too time consuming. We copy all our music to our MP3 players so its all available at our fingertips.
All of our music in a single device. Available to us where ever we are, for whenever we want it. Music how we want it, when we want it. Easy and breezy. Thats how we want to consume music.
Thats not how we are being sold music.

...

There is absolutely no reason I shouldnt have been able to buy the song or CD i wanted from the FYE record store I was standing in side of , IPod in hand, ready to buy. If only I could just connect the thing and download the songs.

...

The only question is who will be the first label to crack and offer this and how soon will it be. Of course the cynics will say that th…

RE: My Other T-Shirt...

I just bought this shirt... I think I need to get in the T-shirt business.



Link

[Via Preshrunk]

RE: Columbia U. researchers seek "Music Lab" survey participants

The Sociology department at Columbia Univ. is running an experiment in what makes a hit song. From BoingBoing:
My colleagues and I in the Sociology department at Columbia University are doing an experiment about pop music which might be interesting to your readers. If they participate they will have a chance to discover and download new music for free.

After listening to the music of Britney Spears, we became interested in why some musicians become superstars while other seemingly similar musicians don't. To understand this process better, we decided to find out how people form their musical tastes. We have created a website where people can listen to, rate, and download songs by cool, up-and-coming artists. All the downloads are free and legal so the site is a great place to find new music, help support emerging artists, and help out science -- all at the same time.

Once the research is completed we hope to be able to shed light not just on the popularity of music, but also on th…

Starbucks Delocator

Support your independent coffee house (or a second, not-as-large chain).

Or, just Googlebomb this site with
Starbuck's Delocator. Why? From BoingBoing:
"'The Delocator' is a site that helps you find independent alternatives to Starbucks in your neighborhood. So why isn't it called the 'Starbucks Delocator'? Because the San Francisco Art Institute was too scared that Starbucks would come through with the corporate smack-down. Of course this renaming means the site won't show up in google when people search for 'Starbucks', and what's the point if people can't discover it?

Or, it's a complete fake used to send people to Starbuck's because there are no "other" options. (It also serves Starbucks locations, which I don't quite understand; cynacism rising.) I added Sweetwater's to the list. Comon A2, where are the other ones?

New button in the Links section

I put a new button in the Links section on the right of the page (so if you're reading via RSS, you don't see it, except for this post).

It's for WOXY, an internet radio station. They play a pretty cool mix of modern rock (not Creed). Stuff like Camper Van Beethoven, The Decemberists, and well, lots of stuff I hadn't ever heard. I can stream it at work and it has, amazingly, taken over the iPod's duties for background distraction while I'm at work.

So, check 'em out. Good stuff. (Click the graphic to go to their site.)