The 50 Most Loathsome People in America

Aside from the obvious #1, #32 seems harsh; it's hardly their fault if the #9's of the world can't think for themselves. The 50 Most Loathsome People in America

Provenance: Blogometer > Mr. Gloomy Pants > Suspect Device (or invert it, I'm too lazy.)

Wordpress Automatic Upgrade plugin

Greatest. Plugin. Ever. All you WordPress users should go grab the Wordpress Automatic Upgrade plugin. Upgrade your WP site in less than 5 minutes.

The Jokes Write Themselves Dept.

The American Cornhole Association. For real, but not what you think (you dirty, filthy minded person you). When you're done getting your gear, head over the Cornhole Party.

Popcorn makers removing chemical

Back in May, a Washington Post article detailed the effects of diacetyl of workers at popcorn factories. Known to some as "popcorn lung", the chemical causes a rare but fatal lung disease, which only a transplant could cure.

Now four major popcorn manufacturers (the Orville Redenbacher, Act II, Pop Secret and Jolly Time brands) have agreed to remove the chemical. The only question that remains is what is being done to help those already affected. The linked article says that over 500 lawsuits are pending, and that many settlements have happened confidentially, but the House has also passed a bill to limit damages. Sounds like a few corporations want to have their cake and eat it, too.

Popcorn makers removing chemical

Done with Digg

Today marked the end of my regular use of digg as I unsubscribed from their RSS feed. Between election spam, recycled links from dozens of sites I already read, or whatever insipid Top 10 list got spammed to the front page by people gaming the system, digg has become a torrent or useless information. Their RSS feed kicks out hundreds of posts every day; missing one or two days with Google Reader results in a level of flotsam management that makes my inbox look downright tidy.

I'd ditched the diggnation podcast a while ago, mostly because I never got around to actually watching the thing. I haven't missed it at all and I doubt I'll miss digg much either. Since signing up in mid-2005, I was an avid user of digg; I didn't submit many stories (2, actually) mostly because I was reading such interesting stuff that other people put up. But, with digg's more recent turns towards becoming a full-on social site (leaving "news" behind), it's become a bastion for the worst of the web; spammers, trolls, and SEO "consultants".

So, I'm done with digg. Any suggestions (and don't say reddit) for other, early-days-digg sites?

YouTube - World of Warcraft Commercial - Verne Troyer

You've seen the Mr. T ad, you've seen William Shatner; now, it's  Verne Troyer.

Dead Xbox

After little less than a year, our Xbox 360 has succumbed to the 3 red rings of death. After speaking with "Adrian" in multi-click phone transfer land, we receive an incredibly well-designed (and, I'm assuming, oft-used) shipping box system to send back the unit. At Christmas. Via UPS. Yeah, not expecting to see any gaming for a while.

Google Street View for Detroit

Google's Street View, famous for the tempest in a tea cup of daring to show photos of idiots you could see by driving the street yourself,  has launched for, among others cities, Detroit. And the race is on to find a crime in progress on the streets of Detroit via Google Street View. (Just to get started: Comerica Park, Joe Louis Arena, Tiger's Stadium, Detroit Opera House)

Street View Images for Dallas, Detroit and Other 6 Cities

Bloody Hell - Dell's $4500 World of Warcraft Laptop

You just don't need this much computer to play WoW.  Now, for Crysis....
XPS M1730 World of Warcraft®  Edition

  • 17" HD widescreen notebook complete with World of Warcraft backpack

  • Illuminated speaker grills and faction specific Honor Badges

  • Back-lit keyboard stays awake as long as you can

  • Track your stats with the world's first built-in notebook Logitech®  GamePanelTM  LCD

  • Enhanced graphics with NVIDIA®  SLITM  technology and AGEIA PhysXTM  Mobile TechnologyTM

  • Pre-loaded with World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade and all major game patches

  • Golden Ticket for a custom FigurePrintTM  of your actual in-game World of Warcraft character with your actual armor and weapons

  • World of Warcraft Beta Club Key Card with a key to future World of Warcraft beta tests

  • World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade Collector's Edition Account Upgrade Certificates

  • Exclusive desktop background artwork and screensavers

  • Additional loot like a behind the scenes DVD, soundtrack, Warcraft novels, strategy guides, trading cards, etc

Aside from the PhysX technology, it's sporting Duel Core 2.2 Ghz chip, Vista Ultimate, 2 GB of RAM (that's it?), and 160GB hard drive. No Blu-Ray or HD-DVD (for the HD screen). Luckily, if you buy this laptop, Blizzard already owns your soul so Dell can't ask you for that.

Slashdot | Dell's World of Warcraft Laptop

When Chickens are Outlawed...

"Chickens lay eggs," Kunselman said. "I want fresh eggs. It's just a simple ordinance change."

"I want to have fresh milk," Rapundalo said. "Let's change the ordinance to allow cows or goats."

Yes, because the equivalent of an easily confined, flightless mammal is a medium to giant-sized, free-roaming one. Is this seriously the slippery slope that Ann Arbor City Council fears? Chickens are a starter animal for larger, more insidious animals? Warning, Councilman Rapundalo, many people in Ann Arbor legally own dogs; this, to me, implies it's legal to own an armored polar bear. Looks like ryan doesn't have to worry about parking downtown anymore.

Mich. councilman pushes chicken law

Creation Museum Report

Epic review of the Creation Museum, the nauseating edifice to the Creation "story". With it's accompanying photo gallery, the review of the Creation Museum is scathing, pointed, and hilarious all at once. Even Christians should be laughing at the absurdity of the assertions put out at this place. To wit:
But seriously, the ability to just come out and put on a placard that the Jurassic era is temporally contiguous with the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt — well, there’s a word for that, and that word is chutzpah. Because, look, that’s something you really have to sell if you want anyone to buy it. It’s one thing to say to people that God directly created the dinosaurs and that they lived in the Garden of Eden. It’s another thing to suggest they lived long enough to harass the Minoans, and do it with a straight face. It’s horseshit, pure and simple, but that’s not to suggest I can’t admire the hucksterism.

Thanks to titled: some amusing blog pun for the article tip. (Aren't neighbor-y people great for info?)

Food Pairing Networks

a collection of simple network graphs illustrating how the flavor components of 250 different food products relate to each other, as a tool to inspire the creation of original recipes.

Very interesting idea sent to me by a co-worker. The site is a little light on how the flavors were paired (or I may have missed that in my 45 seconds of skimming), but something to come back to and look at in detail.


Ask Reddit: What's your favourite joke?

Some are a little off-colour, but I like these (disclaimer: I'm Dutch-descended)

Q: How was copper wire invented? A: Two Dutchmen fighting over a penny

Q: What does a Dutchmen do when The Netherlands win the soccer world cup? A: He turns off his playstation Ask Reddit: What's your favourite joke?

Errol Morris - Zoom - Roger Fenton

A fascinating look at both the history behind one of the most famous photographs in history (Roger Fenton's photo "Valley of the Shadow of Death" in the Crimea) and Errol Morris' obsessive journey to lay to rest the controversy surrounding its creation.

Which Came First? (in three parts): 1, 2, 3

(warning for dial-up or underpowered users; pages are very large)

Obama's Play for the Tech Vote

He wants a CTO.

The CTO’s mandate would be quite different from the Cybersecurity czar appointed under the Bush Administration. Bush’s czar helped defend against cyberattacks. Obama’s CTO, by contrast, would ensure government officials holds open meetings, broadcast live webcasts of those meetings, and use blogging software, wikis and open comments to communicate policies with Americans, according to the plan.

Interesting. I've been watching Obama as he rises in this election cycle (which I still can't believe we're in) and he's been carefully crafting his message to fight the "inevitable" candidate, Sen. Clinton. Frankly, I find Obama a more honest, open candidate. Is he perfect? Of course not, but considering what's been tossed into the ring from either party, I'm not all that excited anyway (Rudy? Puh-lease.)

So, who would he appoint to this post? My money's on Lawrence Lessig. I could live with that choice very easily.

Can We Get Our Money Back, Then?

Programs that focus exclusively on abstinence have not been shown to affect teenager sexual behavior, although they are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a study released by a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce teen pregnancies.

Next on ABC News: America's Bombing Campaign Not Producing Desired Goodwill Among Bombed; People Do Bad Things Despite Pleas to Stop; Oil Prices Rise Despite Constant Demand: Who's To Blame?

ABC News: Report: Abstinence Not Curbing Teen Sex

Crybaby - Cookie Treats Constitute "subconscious campaigning"

Only (and I do mean only) in West Michigan.
A loser [ed. /snicker] in Wyoming's City Council race plans to file a complaint with the Kent County clerk's office over a box of cookies.Roger Haynes is accusing former state Representative Joanne Voorhees of subconscious campaigning by leaving cookies at an elementary school. He claims the gesture breached state law that prohibits campaigning within 100 feet of a polling place on Election Day.

Oooookay. I wonder if Haynes prayed that he would win; would that constitute supernatural campaigning? Considering he lost by 106 votes (with 1412 cast), those are some damn good cookies. [source, but good luck.] Side bar: WOOD-TV, seriously, we need to talk about your website.

Of course, the article leaves out some important details. Was it clear to voters that Voorhees had left the cookies? Were there cookies enough for everyone, or did those all-important 106 voters become influenced at early polls? And, since she brought windmill cookies, who's dumb enough to be influenced by that crap? Seriously, have you ever had a windmill cookie? *Phftooey*

WOOD TV8 - Wyoming City Council candidate cries foul over opponent's cookies

Local Election Results - Chelsea City Council and More Booze in W. Mich.

Looks like the locals are ready for some change. After leading the city into lawsuits over the water system and raising  taxes, this little 'burb got to vote yesterday. And it looks like the message is clear: it's time for a change. 2 of 3 incumbents lost their bids to first time opponents, and the incumbent that did win did so by 5 votes. Better manage that money well. Results are available at ClickOnDetroit and eWashtenaw.

Quick aside: what the hell is going on in Ward 2 of Ann Arbor? A named candidate barely beat a write-in candidate? Ouch.

And, in other news of the sane, Hudsonville finally got rid of the ban on alcohol sales in town. Looks like all the beer and liquor at the Fair will come from businesses actually in the city this coming year. (Yeah, keep pretending no one drinks in Hudsonville.) Next up, let the kids dance!

GMail IMAP still MIA

Google announced GMail IMAP support on 10/24 at 6am. That was a little over 5.5 days ago.

Not to sound ungrateful, but you can't announce a huge feature like that and then, you know, not deliver it. The announcing blog post even uses the beautifully indeterminate "couple of days" timeframe which, depending on your regional predications, could mean anywhere from 2 to however-many-we-feel-like days.

Ah well, when (or, if) it shows up I'll be fine. The things you can get away with when you're a monolithic corporation.

UPDATE (10/31): It showed up tonight; IMAP kicks ass.

So True...

The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.
  - Walter Bagehot

Gods Damn It - BSG Delayed?

Battlestar Gallactica delayed until April? titled: some amusing blog pun has some interesting tidbits about why if you care enough to use decoder highlighting to learn about it. 

I'm about over BSG at this point, especially if it takes a year to start a new season.

Worst User Experience Ever - Vista

My next computer is very likely to be a Mac at this rate. For every feature of Vista that I like (native search), some idiotic thing just pisses me right off.

Tonight, it's iTunes on Vista. Now, before you get all bent out of shape that it's the fault of the app developer, I gotta go with this being Vista's fault.

First, I've lost my iTunes library no fewer than 3 times since moving to Vista 4 months ago. It's a pain in the ass to recovery from that because something on Vista makes iTunes take forever to write library changes (no idea what). I could easily chalk that up to an iTunes fault (and, actually lean that way), but iTunes works on my XP boxen just fine at the same version; what's so frackin' hard about Vista?

But tonight, tonight it's Vista's fault. As I continue to reload my entire library of videos into iTunes--again--I noticed that some videos I newly converted won't play on my Vista box. They played fine on the Mac that made them, on the XP box I use at work, and on another XP box of a colleague.

After getting a Quicktime error on a file I know worked on this Vista box as recently as Monday, I hit Google. And, lo and behold, I found this:

As soon as I "Safely Removed" the USB FlashDrive, thereby turning off "ReadyBoost", al 14 files loaded properly into iTunes, and played properly in Quicktime. [source]

Wouldn't yah know it, I had plugged in a USB drive for the ReadyBoost benefits just this week. I unload the USB drive, double-click a file that had just failed on me and BAM it works.

That is, frankly, absolutely fucking stupid. What does or could ReadyBoost have to do with playing video files on Quicktime? Anyone?

So, now ReadyBoost is worthless to me, I still have to reload my entire library in iTunes, and I'm pissed. Working the checklist of new features in Vista, they're not really helping me out much. ReadyBoost? Unusable. UAC? Please; disabled. Sidebar? Aside from a clock and the weather, the gadgets are worthless (and development is anemic).

Congratulations Microsoft; when I have the money, you've likely lost another long-time customer.

Nad Shot

Juvenile? Yep.  Borderline stupi? Yep. Made me chuckle? You better believe it.

A blog devoted to scenes in comic books where someone is getting a shot to the nads.

Nad Shot

Kotaku - Unsubscribed

I un-sub'd from Kotaku today. Sometime (I don't know exactly when), someone posted Tubgirl to the front page of Kotaku, which dutifully delivered it to Google Reader via my RSS subscription. (Note, if you don't know what Tubgirl is, do not, I repeat, do NOT Google it. It is ridiculously Not Safe For Work and is likely one of the more disgusting things you could ever wish to see. I'm not kidding, you don't want to know. There are things you can't un-see.)

Despite the apology, Kotaku is off my subscription list. That leaves Lifehacker as the only Gawker property left in my RSS feeds. A quick note to any Gawker people trolling for posts about this; that was total and complete bullshit. When I think about how close I was to opening that folder (gaming) while bored in a meeting today, I can't even begin to imagine the fallout if it had been seen.

I'm not trying to be a prude, but if I can't be confident that reader a fucking website for games won't land me in a world of hurt at work, using the Unsubscribe button is a fairly easy, preventative step.

Taco Bell is opening stores in Mexico

Because it's not authentic until some crappy American franchise does it.

Isn't that like Bennigan's trying to get into Ireland?

Oh, damn, that already happened. Erm, hmm... Mongolian Grill in Mongolia? Damn it.

Let's go big. Beer in Jesusland? Crap.

I give up.

Minor Facebook annoyance

Facebook has proven to be an interesting toy. I don't buy all the hype, but it is certainly an interesting idea. As such, I've tried to use it in a spartan manner, putting in basic and mostly public information, seeing what happens. One thing that annoys me already is sort of a bitchy complaint, but..

I graduated from college long before Facebook crept into whoever created it's mind (yes, those people are likely much, much younger than I want to believe). But, as such, my university email address, which, I might add, was on a VAX system, is no longer available to me. Which means I can't join the networks for the colleges I attended since joining requires a valid .edu address at those institutions.

I don't have a solution beyond allowing people to join a school network without a .edu address at that school if they indicate their graduation date pre-dates the existance of Facebook. And, yes, that's a piss-poor solution because it basically throws open the door to spammers. But, there has to be a way around this. Anyone?

Question to the Faithful

Is a person is able to create non-sentient life (say, a bacterium), what does that do to your worldview?

This is not an endorsement of the experiment in question, but more a moral quandary. Eventually, someone will figure out how to combine the right amino acids and energy to create a non-theoretical lifeform. Since creation of life is reserved for deities, what will this eventual achievement mean to the larger community of believers?

What would it mean to you?

The meme that will not die

You've heard of LOLCATS. You've heard of I Can Has Cheezburger. You may even have heard of LOLPRESIDENT (epic Fark thread).

Now, there is HALOCATS. If you haven't played Halo 3, this will not be funny.

The Internet, opiate for the masses.

Things Which Are Difficult to Do Whilst Drunk

10. Drive. Not to advocate something illegal, but it is damn hard to drive while drunk. Motor vehicles require surprising amounts of coordination to keep either between the lines or even on the pavement. If you can avoid doing it, avoid doing it.

9. Type. This post brought to you by automatic spell-checking and the hunt-and-peck method.

8. Not sing. What is about being drunk that just makes you want to belt out that song that everyone but you hates? Loudly. Because, you know what, everyone else is wrong. Aerosmith rocks.

7. Code. I can barely type, now you want me to string together words, variables, and algorithms. Fuck that.

6. Care. I just couldn't care less about $TOPIC.

5. Not Care. God, that is so damned tragic; I'm not one to get emotional, but that makes me hurt.

4. Play games. I suspect this has much to do with why you can't drive: hand-eye coordination. Seriously, Guitar Hero on whiskey.. I have a new respect for Keith Richards.

3. Read. You know how boring books can be late at night? Yeah, now you're half-way to asleep; good luck finishing that brilliant tome.

2. Writing. Well, ok, to be fair, I actually write better when drunk. It's just that I can't share it with anyone. In the morning, what I thought was a massive success is likely to be more Scott Adams than Douglas Adams.

1. Not use the phone. What is it about alcohol, of whatever variety you choose to imbibe, that makes us want to grab a phone and call someone. This isn't just drunk-dialing-for-ass, this is general use of telephone technology in any form. My theory? So, I'm in this awesome place that gives me alcohol to the point of not being able to do anything else on this list; you should be here, too! And if your being here gets me some, all the better.

This list brought to you be New Holland Brewing's Lucid, Knob Creek Whiskey, and a wedding reception with a keg. Cheers.

A huge page of Monty Python videos

Say goodbye to your Saturday.


Drink Up - No booze if state legislators can't get their act together

Of all the stupid things, if the State can't work out a budget by next Monday, "non-essential services" will start to be shut down. So, when you can't renew your license at the Sec. of State, you also won't be able to drown your sorrows as package liquor distribution will stop. You can still buy, but if the shutdown lasts, how long will your local store have you favorite bottle in stock?

Wonder if this applies to beer, too.

No booze or bets if state shuts down

New Wordpress is out

This site is now running Wordpress 2.3, thanks to the new upgrade; check out the link for a huge feature list. Of note (and the reason for this post) is the new native tagging system. After trying to get Ultimate Tag Warrior working on this site, and giving up, WP now has it built in.

So, WP users, time to upgrade again. Beware, the database upgrade took a while for my mini-blog here so you majors are going to have some downtime.

New Computer + 2 months

Well, 2 months and then some. After buying the new computer, I was all gung ho to be a Vista-guy. I'm no fanboy, but I do like Windows (yeah yeah). It's familiar, it's easy to use, and I have tons of software from work that conveniently ports to my home machine.

So, what's Vista like after a couple months? Frustrating. Congratulations Microsoft, you made the following sentence pass my lips: "If I could sell these machines and come up with the cash, I'd buy a Mac." Vista is essentially the answer to "how do we prevent idiots from installing crapware on their computers and then blaming us?". It assumes that you are a) computer illiterate, b) in possession of a video card powerful enough to render scenes from Lord of The Rings from source and c) willing to put up with incredible amounts of confirmation dialog boxes.

Now, I am not a sysadmin by any stretch. I cannot (yet) pwn your box, forge email headers, or (apparently) get Ubuntu running in a virtual machine (dammit). However, I can build my own machines, hack a registry here and there, and configure damn near anything given the right documentation. So, what was the first thing that I did to "customize" my Vista install? That's right, I nulled the fucking UAC "feature". Yes, I am actually trying to defrag my hard drive; that should not require confirmation. Yes, I am trying to adjust the font size on my monitor; why the hell is that an admin-level change?

UAC is, for anyone who remotely uses a computer either incredibly frustrating or downright insipid. So, the major feature for security on Vista? For me, gone.

Next comes networking. Aside from the claim of easy setup, it's anything but. No one, and I mean no one, can read or write from any shared folder on my machine. As the current powerhouse in the, uhm, house, my machine is the goto box for encoding video. Unfortunately, everything has to be fetched from the machine as I'm unable to get the config to allow anyone to see the damn box, much less write to it. I suppose that's a security feature.

Aside from that, DirectX 10 sucks the big one. J-- bought me Bioshock for my birthday. After cranking down every video setting in the game (for a brand new computer with a GeForce 8600 GT, Windows score of 5.9 of 6), the game still had issues in certain areas. Then, after some digging, it turns out that the game performs better on DirectX9 and DirectX10. 'scuse me, but what the hell?

And, the last complaint, iTunes. This likely has blame to spread around to both Apple and Microsoft, but someone needs to step up and fix this issue. I like videos on my iPod. That means I have add and annotate quite a few files in iTunes. Under XP, this was simple: add video, right-click on it, set properties. In Vista, it goes like this: add video, wait, right-click on it, wait a very long time, enter properties, wait even longer still, repeat. To change the title on one sit-com length video takes (without exageration) at least 90 seconds. For a DVD of episodes, this means it takes 8-10 minutes to change the episode titles. It's enough to stop organizing them.

That said, at least iTunes is stable on Vista, which is a vast improvement over my XP box.

So, I'm not impressed with Vista. For $10 billion in development, I expected way more. If upgrading to XP wasn't such a pain in the ass, this machine would be an XP box. Thank god Virtual PC still works (although unsupported). At least I can have a dev environment.

The Beer Prayer

Our Lager,
Which art in barrels,
Hallowed be thy drink.

Thy will br drunk,
(I will be drunk),
At home as in the tavern.

Give us this day our foamy head,
And forgive us our spillages,
As we forgive those who spill
Against us.

And lead us not into incarceration,
But deliver us from hangovers.

For thine is the beer,
The bitter and the lager,
For ever and ever,

(courtesy of StumbleUpon and Office Humor).

Food Network Sucks

I used to be a huge fan of the Food Network. Of the very few hours I would give to TV a week, Food Network used to get a substantial amount of them. But, in the last year or so, FN has become as boring as, well, HGTV; all show and no substance. With the advent of Rachel Ray and a bevy of insipid "personalities" who couldn't cook their way into a family diner, the Food Network has sacrificed its mantle as a cooking network to become a food entertainment network and, worse, a reality TV network ("America's Next" + futureShowNameStr + "Star")

The basic night is now packed with contrived competitions (cause cooking is all about head-to-heads), "celebrity" chefs rehashing the same crap they have for years, and Emeril. Props to Emeril for sticking it out this long because I can't imagine what a soul-sucking experience it must be when the network you helped make starts tossing talent left and right.

For example, Mario Batali, the oddly fascinating Italian chef didn't have his contract renewed by Food Network. Must have been hanging with the wrong crowd again. You know, foodies. Which leaves Alton Brown and Emeril (maybe Giada if you're into her) as the only things worth watching. (Thanks to Ashley for the tip.)

So, my occasional Good Eats viewing will sustain me until someone figures out that what cable really needs is a cooking network. Stars will make themselves if the shows and the cooking are good. Maybe I need to pick up another season of America's Test Kitchen on DVD. Or Anthony Bourdain could finally get to be the ultimate chef and run a network. Can you imagine?

Shaky Jake dies Sunday at the age of 82

A fixture in Ann Arbor, Shaky Jake, died Sunday of an unspecified cause. If you know someone who knew Jake, they're probably lying.

Shaky Jake dies Sunday at the age of 82 - [via DataWhat?]

Random news and links

Bits and pieces in no particular order:

  • I joined the Chelsea Wellness Center; I need to lose weight, J-- gets a discount through the hospital, and it's easy to use.

  • I love wikis but don't get to use them enough. U of M IT has begun offering installation of MediaWiki for use around campus. My project team is now converting our development docs over to the wiki. I'm taking meeting notes. It's a good thing.

  • Bats sucks (the flying ones, not the wooden ones). Rabid bats suck even more, especially when you have to get the shots.

  • J-- and I are getting the shots.

  • Lawn mowers are ridiculously expensive for what they do. Seriously, it takes balls to say you should pay $300 for a machine to cut grass for a 20x16 patch of earth?

  • I miss Douglas Adams. I'm re-reading Salmon of Doubt, a collection of his works culled posthumously from his computers and the sad thought hit me that there are no more books of his to look forward to.

  • Heroes is awesome. Almost as good as Battlestar Galactica. We have the last two discs of Heroes in the house now so we can finish season 1 this weekend.

  • I have a new favorite word, courtesy of William Tozer via Alan Gutierrez; Coshirking: "A coffee break lasting more than one hour where local industry gossip is exchanged over open laptops."

  • IT Crowd, Season 2 is showing up on the bittorrent sites. Definitely worth the download.


Zero Punctuation reviews Bioshock (video with crude language).

Yep, that about sums it up. Bioshock is a solid FPS, a weak RPG, and more overhyped than the PS3. Ok, not as much as the PS3 as the game actually delivers some of what was promised, but.. just watch the video.

Oh, and don't play it on DirectX 10; apparently the performance is better on a DX9 system.

The Escapist : Zero Punctuation: BioShock

Michael Jackson Passes Away

He was possibly the most important driving force in the world-wide beer community over the past 30 years. Starting with his first publication of "World Guide to Beer" in 1977, he has always been a strong voice for the beer community.

A great loss to the brewing community, Michael Jackson (not the dancing one) has passed away.  Raise a glass for Mr. Jackson.

Michael Jackson Passes Away

Katrina - 2 Years On

I began a long rambling post about the Katrina-ravaged coast yesterday (the anniversary of the hurricane's landfall), but became bored by my own self-righteousness. I've never been to Louisiana or Mississippi so my attempts to personalize what is happening in that region fall flat.

Instead, you, dear reader, should go out and read for yourself from those living it what is going on or, more appropriately, not going on. A link fest is below, but I will add one commentary of my own. As a child of the West coast of Michigan, Lake Michigan was a huge part of my psyche. Living near one of the largest fresh-water lakes in the world really clicked for me and is one of the things I dearly miss living inland. As a one-time sailor and freeloading boater, I also know that the Great Lakes are a large area of work for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The same Army Corps that failed the city of New Orleans so spectacularly. To my Michigan family, friends, and random readers, what happened in New Orleans and all over the Gulf Coast is a signal to us as well. This state depends heavily on the services and projects completed by the Army Corps. You need only think of Holland, Grand Haven, or Saugatuk to envision the immense sea-works that allow shipping to come in and out of those harbors.

The precedents being set by the disaster in New Orleans has ramifications all the way up here. Katrina did not drown the city of New Orleans. Let me say that again. Katrina did not drown the city of New Orleans. The failure of the levees which held back the Mississippi River did that. The levees were not and are not the responsibility of the state, despite all the finger pointing. The levees are a federal responsibility. Just like the sea-ways on our coasts here in Michigan.

So, as you read some of the posts linked below, remember that what happens in New Orleans is not isolated there. The same agency that allowed the disaster to happen there is very active here. Holland may not flood, but the same methodology that allowed much of New Orleans to flood is being used to protect our coastline as well.

Alan Gutierrez: When The Saints Go Marching In

Large news round-up at VatulBlog

Anderson Cooper: No Right for Us to Feel Fatigued

Douglas Brinkley: If we want New Orleans to die, we should say so

Look to the future 2 years later: Shelley Midura

B. Rox: Two Years

Guitar Hero II

As a follow-up to this post, Guitar Hero II frakkin' rocks (rawks?)! My constant nagging netted me a copy of the game (with guitar) for my birthday. (Oh, yeah, it's my birthday.)

I also got, can you believe it, Bioshock on the PC. But, I've been playing Guitar Hero since we got back from dinner, so I have no comment on it yet.

Considering I went to work on my birthday, it's been a very good day. And get Guitar Hero. Seriously.

Countrywide May Have To File For Bankruptcy


Subprime Meltdown: Countrywide, America's Largest Mortgage Lender, May Have To File For Bankruptcy - Consumerist

Bat Update

The critter is gone. Nothing was broken, although I will say it's extremely hot covered up in the heat. Yes, I'm a total chicken, but I wasn't about to be bitten.

Note to the Entrepreneurially Inclined

If you're looking for a startup business, may I recommend pest removal, especially of the bat variety. We have a critter currently holed up in our spare bedroom and finding someone to not just remove it, but also inspect the attic for entry points is impossible. Of the 5 numbers I found via Google in SE Michigan, 2 don't do bats, 1 doesn't service our area (thanks Google), 1 didn't answer, and 1 said they could be out "maybe next Tuesday".

If you don't mind flying rodents, skunks, or whatever else stalks people's houses, there is some serious money in it and no shortage of demand apparently. Me, I have to figure out how I'm going to take out a 4 ounce bat with a tennis racket (which I have yet to procure) in a confined space slightly smaller than the space needed to swing the tennis racket.

Expect updates on broken light fixtures, broken mirrors, or a recounting of the excruciating process of getting rabies shots. Or, perhaps all of the above.

24-hour shutdowns scheduled for Ann Arbor I-94 ramps

Looks like fun driving in the city for the next few days.

  • Today, the westbound I-94 ramp to U.S.-23 and the entrance ramp from eastbound I-94 to Ann Arbor Saline Road.

  • Wednesday, the westbound I-94 ramp to State Street.

  • Thursday, the westbound I-94 ramp to Ann Arbor Saline Road and the eastbound I-94 ramp to U.S.-23.

  • Sunday, the eastbound I-94 ramp to State Street.

  • Monday, the eastbound I-94 ramp to Ann Arbor Saline Road.

  • Aug. 14, the westbound I-94 ramp to Jackson Avenue.

  • Aug .15, the eastbound I-94 ramp to Jackson Avenue.

24-hour shutdowns scheduled for Ann Arbor I-94 ramps

Question about an Xbox game

Does anyone who has owned the game think that Guitar Hero 2 is actually worth $80? Because I'm so tempted to buy it every damn time I walk into Best Buy and I can't tell if I'm just falling for good marketing or if the game is that good.

Video of MN Bridge Collapsing

Nothing too graphic, but disturbing to think of the randomness of this. (No embed, sorry, follow the link if you want to watch the video.) - KARE 11 Television

Elton John is an Idiot

Elton John wants to shut down the Internet for five years because "[t]he internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff." Right.

His proof for this?
He said: “In the early Seventies there were at least ten albums released every week that were fantastic.

“Now you’re lucky to find ten albums a year of that quality.

“And there are more albums released each week now than there were then.”

Riiiight. This, of course is the fault of the Internet. You know, that global distribution network that has enabled thousands of artists to find a market they would have previously missed.  It's also pretty dubious to claim that there are 10 albums a year of remarkable quality. That seems... high. Kidding. I think Sir Elton is, finally, too old for the current crop of artists.

Granted, there are some serious gaps in the release of quality albums, but that's not the fault of the Internet; that's the fault of music publishers and groups like the RIAA. When the radio is controlled by payola and breakout artists are stuff in the backwater of the, wait for it, Internet, it's not wonder there aren't "quality albums."

So, yes, I totally took the bait for Elton John's attention whoring, but if he even remotely means what he says, he may finally be irrelevant.

Why we must close the net

Online shopping roulette

I ordered a hard drive enclosure (this one) from TigerDirect on a recommendation I saw on a tech site. It's rediculously cheap, has USB and Firewire. It doesn't look the best, but for $30 I'm not going to complain.

I hadn't ordered from TigerDirect in a couple years, at least since before we moved. When I placed the order, I had to correct my address information to my present address. Like an idiot, I managed to update my billing address, so the charge went through, but forgot the shipping address.

So now, in my email, I have two messages from TigerDirect; an invoice saying the package is going to my old apartment, and and order confirmation saying the package is coming to my house. I called customer service immediately after placing the order and had them correct my shipping address, but it's a little disconcerting to have an invoice stating otherwise.

Huge points to TigerDirect for the customer service on the phone and email. Big deductions for not allowing me to update my geographical information via their site. When you click the "My Account" link on their page, this is what you get:


No place to update your contact information, other than your email address. Oh well.

Hopefully it gets here.

Daft Hands - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

You have to wait until almost a minute into this video for it really get going, but it's definately worth the wait. Daft Punk's Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger done by someone's hands.

What Stops You from Posting?

I just deleted a draft of a post because it was related to my job. Yes, this is my personnel space and yes, I should feel open to say what I want.

But I didn't. I had a long, well-linked post about a vendor related to my current work. It's not the vendor we work with, it's not even a company my group officially has a relationship with. But, and here's what stopped me, people at my institution do have relationships with the company. I may cross paths with these people. The grants world isn't that small. You see where this could lead.

I hate that I deleted it, even though it was probably the smart thing to do. Best case, I was on record with a flamer of a post. Worst case, I'd have dealt with that post for years.

God I hate politics.

Mac Worm Author Gets Death Threats, Blog Hacked

Synopsis: Researcher claims to have created a proof-of-concept worm for OS X. Posts this nugget to his anonymous blog. Apple zealots begin ad hominem attacks, insults, etc.

Now, it seems, the blog has been receiving death threats, been hacked, and the hunt for the identity of the poster is in full swing.

The best part? The comments on the Slashdot article.
Does this mean I should end my genetic experiment to cross-pollinate a Mac fanboy with a Scientologist to produce the world's most pompous asshole? [#]

He would have been better off picking a weaker target such Islam. You don't want to mess with those Mac zealots. [#]

Ah, ye olde flamewar... Repeat after me... it's just a computer. It's just a computer.

Art Fair Bingo

Woot! Art Fair Bingo returns for the Ann Arbor Art Fair(s). ($DEITY forbid it be one, unified art fair.)

Art Fair Bingo is a wonderful tradition wherein you, the discerning resident/exile/art-lover voluntarily go to Art Fair and photograph people or things on the bingo card. There are no prizes aside from the admiration of those of us who couldn't be paid enough to trudge through that idiotic soup of people. Or soup of idiot people.. I forget.

You know, being from Holland, you think I'd be used to huge festivals. Tulip Time was (or is) one of the largest festivals in the country and frankly makes Art Fair look like a cute bongo festival, except one where the bongos have been replaced by iPhones broadcasting Jack Costanzo tracks over $300 speakers.

If you'd like to play Art Fair Bingo and relish your schadenfreude as you watch the usual suspects waddle around downtown Ann Arbor, go nuts.

Art Fair Bingo

Gol a Mexico

Amazing goal from Lionel Messi of Argentina against Mexico. The definition of "touch".

The New Computer

I have finally broke (broken?) down and bought a new computer. Yes, I bought. Frankly, I can't build the machine for the price and, damn it, immediate gratification is so nice. Not that I haven't been looking for a month now but it feels immediate.

Anyway, I took the plunge and came up with an HP a6120n. (Note to self, here is the mobo spec sheet for later.) Core 2 Duo 2.0Ghz, 2 GB of RAM, 320 GB 7200 rpm hard drive.. it hums. Literally. After years of sitting next to my previous homebrewed machine (soon to be for sale, BTW), this new machine makes almost no noise. It's so quiet, I can hear the hard drive crunching during installs. My last machine was probably clocking in around 60 decibels... way too loud (ask J--).

I also came up from this dive with Windows Vista Home Premium. Yeah, I know. I've only spent a day with it so far, so my impressions are minimal. I will say that the UAC (User Account Control) is an abysmal thing to use. Uninstalling all the crapware that comes preloaded on a machine took at least twice as long as before Vista simply because I had to click no fewer than 3 and up to 6 confirmation dialog boxes just to uninstall software as an administrator. That's BS. I know Microsoft is the biggest target for malware, but how does this help combat that? After the 4th uninstall, I wasn't even reading the dialogs anymore, just skimming for "Continue", "Yes", or "OK".

That said, Vista is nothing if not pretty. The look is very shiny, and after adding an nVidia 8600 GT, it bops along just fine. The Start menu is so-so. I don't like it, but I haven't given up yet. I'll see how it goes for the rest of the week as I get over the language barrier from XP, but so far it's looking like OS X has come to Windows (and that's a good thing, mostly). We'll see how network configuration goes tonight.

I swear this is the last one

Yes, LOLCATS is played out. Yes, they're likely cliche at this point. But this made me chuckle and that's good enough to post.

LOLCATS aligned right

Lake Expo Online - Lake News

It’s unlikely this Congress will ever impeach George Bush because his people - some of who were close at hand during Watergate - didn’t make any Watergate-like tactical errors: no tapes, no smoking gun, no hard evidence of deliberate wrongdoing. That doesn’t make them any less guilty of what Theodore H. White described as the underlying deed that undid Nixon:

“The true crime of Richard Nixon was simple: he destroyed the myth that binds America together, and for this he was driven from power.

“The myth he broke was critical - that somewhere in American life there is at least one man who stands for the law, the President . . . That faith holds that all men are equal before the law and protected by it; and that no matter how the faith may be betrayed elsewhere, at one particular point - the Presidency - justice will done beyond prejudice, beyond rancor, beyond the possibility of a fix.”

Cops will continue to do their duty, prosecutors will continue to do theirs and judges will do likewise, but guilty men everywhere will find comfort in knowing that the justice system can be treated like a whore, if you have enough money or clout or both. Mob bosses will admire Bush’s loyalty to a closed-mouth soldier and petty criminals may well want to do better than small crime because they’ll realize that big crime pays big dividends.

Resign, Mr. President. Resign.

Lake Expo Online - Lake News

Best of Chaser's War on Everything


Internet Radio's Death Rattle

Today is a day of silence for Internet radio. Small broadcasters all the way up to Yahoo are shutting down in protest over the outrageous royalty rates approved by the Copyright Royalty Board. Who's the CRB? Essentially, they are an arm of Congress, tasked with reviewing and setting royalty rates.

How bad are the rates? Instead of a flat fee, broadcasters will have to pay a per performance, per listener rate with a minimum of $500 per channel per year. Of course, they don't define a channel in terms of the internet, so no one knows what that clause means. Internet broadcasters had proposed a fee structure that allowed for their continued existence and it was soundly rejected in favor of a proposal from SoundExchange, a fee collection body created by, guess who, the RIAA.

What's the math on this?
Because a typical Internet radio station plays about 16 songs an hour, that's a royalty obligation in 2006 of about 1.28 cents per listener-hour.

In 2006, a well-run Internet radio station might have been able to sell two radio spots an hour at a $3 net CPM (cost-per-thousand), which would add up to .6 cents per listener-hour. [source]

Effectively, the CRB has adopted a proposal that makes it cost at least twice as much to run an Internet radio station as what you could conceivably make in ad revenue. Oh, and satellite and terrestrial radio don't pay this rate. Note that this has nothing to do with RIAA-member bands or acts; this is a fee you have to pay if all you did was broadcast music you created yourself. It's a hit job by the RIAA, plain and simple.

So, what can you do? Call your representative, write a letter (not an email), urging them to support the Internet Radio Equality Act introduced in both the House and Senate. Internet Radio is not dead yet, but today is a preview of what it will be like come July 15th unless something changes.

Why Don't We Talk

I've seen, at a minimum, four posts in the last week about people complaining about people not "conversing" on their blogs. As a member of the sub-M level of bloggers, let me posit this.

It's not that no one cares, it's that they're really not into conversing. The Internet is passive on its prima facie. If you can induce one, maybe two, people to comment on your site, $DEITY bless you.

That said, to those that (hopefully) have sub'd to this minor corner of the 'nets, keep blogging; I'm reading. Especially you in NOLA.

Social Networking VPN

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a network technology that let's you use public Internet resources to securely use private network resources (such as you work network from an open WiFi access point).

When do we get something like this for social networking. Not my Top 8, not a bit-flip of friend or not a friend, but a set group of my choosing who can see a specific slice of my social network? With the Facebook API in the open, is it long before something like this turns up?

If you had something like that, what would you do with it? Customer channels? Secure communications with certain friends or family (Twitter VPN)? Would it get sued out of existence over fears of file sharing? Would anyone use it?

Web 'Design' on the Cheap

Backstory: J-- has decided to start a business. She's not quitting her day job or anything, but tossing her spare time into a new venture; henna. For those not in the know, henna is the mostly-Indian (as in the sub-Saharan continent) practice of staining the skin with a natural paste. Some of the design are incredibly complicated and complex, but J-- has picked it up in an incredibly short time. Despite my family's, er, chilly reception to her skills, I and everyone else she's worked on has been impressed and have encouraged her to keep going.

So, with the help of her friend, she's started booking gigs. As with all entrepreneurial endeavors, J-- has to have a web presence, which is about all I can contribute. So, fire up Dreamweaver, Firefox, and TopStyle and start hacking away at her site, Fat Cat Henna.

Three hours into it, and beating my head against my desk over rounded corners in CSS and it occurs to me I'm going at this all wrong. Other far smarter people have tread this ground already and publish a pretty kick-ass product. It's called Wordpress.

So, off to Wordpress we go, download, unzip, upload, configure and whadda yah know, we got ourselves a Hello World website. In slightly under 20 minutes. J-- digs around the following day and finds a few templates that she likes and brings them home via thumb drive. Download, unzip, upload, configure and whadda yah know, we got ourselves a solid framework, a template that's 90% to where she wants it (although not enough green yet).

So, aside from this post and some chores, we've spent the last 2 hours or so tweaking the site. Change some CSS, alter a couple graphics, copy and paste some content, upload some photos and whadda yah know, we got ourselves an honest to gosh, fully functional website.

The To Do list is short: Need to build and publish a Flickr slideshow, tweak the template a bit more (no blogging going on), and maybe a hack to allow her to publish gig dates without a hassle, but not a heck of a lot.

Did we design the site; I guess not, but I do know this. For a small business (of 1) with a $0 design budget, a $0 web management budget, and 2 days until her first solo gig, Wordpress got it done.

Christian Reformed Church lifts barrier to female ministers

I am shocked. Pleased, surprised, curious, but shocked.
Delegates meeting at their annual synod voted Tuesday to remove the word "male" from the requirements for church office.

This is a huge step for one of the most conservative Dutch Reformed organizations in the world. I'm absolutely certain this will cause a split in the church, similar to the Anglican Church. Much applause to the synod for dragging the church out of the dark ages and into modern life in acknowledging equality in the ability to lead a congregation.

First alcohol in Zeeland, now female ordination in the CRC, what's next? One service a week? Less homophobia? Actual wine at communion? I'm taking bets.

Reformed Church lifts barrier to female ministers

Articles You Just Want to Be Real

Second Life Makes Dream Of Owning Fictitious Coffee Shop Come True | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"Since I've never been too interested in inventory tracking, accounting, or interacting with people except inside a complex computer simulation, running this simulated coffee shop has been the greatest experience of my life."


Lyrics to Yellow Ledbetter

Ok, not really, but this video from Misheard Lyrics cracked me up.

By the way, according to the font of all knowledge, even Pearl Jam may be unaware of the real lyrics.

Battlestar Galactica to End After Next Season

It's official; the coming season will be the last for BSG. Via the LA Times and SciFi Channel itself, season 4 will end the story arc of one of the best shows on television. Producers Ronald Moore and David Eick said via the press release:
And while we know our fans will be saddened to know the end is coming, they should brace themselves for a wild ride getting there: We're going out with a bang.

Woot. Unlike some other shows, Moore and Eick are taking the show out on the highest note they can sustain. I just hope it doesn't get too out there (yeah yeah, it's scifi) as with the season finale from this past season.

I, for one, can't wait for this fourth and final season to get started.

Mixed-Connection Apps Get a Boost

Google announced today (GigaOM story) an extension of Google Reader that allows you to read up to 2000 of your feeds offline or in a mixed connection environment. As a beta, the synch feature is manual, but open to development obviously. They also described this functionality as "[o]ne of the most frequently requested features for Google's web applications". Note that that request is for Google apps in general, not just Reader.

This is big news and a validation of the Apollo philosophy. While some have objected to the "airplane mode" of web applications, I personally believe there's a huge market for people who work in spotty connectivity environments (like SE Michigan) and this is a very welcome effort from Google. It will be very interesting to see this space grow as more people wake up to the features and functionality that people are asking for.

Update: Even Dare Obasanjo thinks is cool. "Welcome to the future."

YouTube - The End of the Chip Clip

Warning, annoyingly (and annoying) music accompanies this video. Never use a chip clip again! - LOLPRESIDENT!!!1

You must, and I mean must, view this most epic of Fark Photoshop threads. Presidents with LOLCATS style captions. (Go here for primer on lolcats.)

Not safe for dial-up. (2823158) LOLPRESIDENT!!!1

The Founding Fathers on God

A comment on another post to the effect that this country was founded on religion tweaked me a little bit. So, here's some reading to get the perspectives of some of our founding fathers.

The Founding Fathers Speak Out on God, Religion and the First Amendment

Seperation of Church and State

Notes on the Founding Fathers and the Separation of Church and State (from a theology school)

The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians (Free Inquiry article)

This was from a very basic Google search. As religious teachers are keen to say, ignorance of your sin is not an excuse for it. Falsely claiming a common viewpoint with people of immeasurable importance without doing your research is just as damning.

The entire government has failed us on Iraq

Keith Olbermann is tapped into the mind of this country again with his Special Comment last night. Watch the video at MSNBC or One Good Move.

Sometimes, the story writes itself

2002, The Onion -RIAA Sues Radio Stations For Giving Away Free Music
RIAA attorney Russell Frackman said the lawsuit is intended to protect the artists.

"If this radio trend continues, it will severely damage a musician's ability to earn a living off his music," Frackman said. "[Metallica drummer] Lars Ulrich stopped in the other day wondering why his last royalty check was so small, and I didn't know what to say. How do you tell a man who's devoted his whole life to his music that someone is able to just give it away for free? That pirates are taking away his right to support himself with his craft?"

2007, LA Times - Artists and labels seek royalties from radio
Mary Wilson, who with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard formed the original Supremes, said the exemption was unfair and forced older musicians to continue touring to pay their bills.

"After so many years of not being compensated, it would be nice now at this late date to at least start," the 63-year-old Las Vegas resident said in Milwaukee, where she was performing at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. "They've gotten 50-some years of free play. Now maybe it's time to pay up."

I can't wait for the radio stations to tell the RIAA to stick and then start playing, yah know, music.


As I was wrapping up my last few things at work today, my cell phone rings with a number I didn't recognize. After a failed first attempt (@!&#! Verizon), the call came again. It was Discover calling about my credit card. Seems someone in San Francisco had rung up an abnormal amount of $58 charges to the tune of $500+ in the last 7 hours. (First thought: That's it?)

Without any evidence yet, the investigator said it sounded like my card had been skimmed.  What's really odd is that, while I actually carry that card, I rarely use it. As the investigator went over some of the charges, the only legitimate one that stood out was for my hosting service. Beyond that, I've been unable to come up with a time I've used that card. And, of course, I had shredded months worth of old statements just this past week, so I can't go back and look. My online account is locked (thank goodness) as is the account so I can't go transactions for a week or so.

I'm not mad, mostly because it's that particular card which, as I said, rarely gets used. I am slightly paranoid now to use my debit card though as I have little faith that the reaction from my bank would be nearly as good as Discover's has been (so far).

I'm sure there's more to come, but to anyone reading, check those statements and watch who swipes your card.

Butter Flavored Popcorn Linked to Lung Disease

[Irma] Ortiz, 44, is among a group of California food-flavoring workers recently diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare and life-threatening form of fixed obstructive lung disease. Also known as popcorn workers lung, because it has turned up in workers at microwave-popcorn factories, the disease destroys the lungs. A transplant is the only cure.

Cripes. Time to stop buying microwave popcorn. We prefer the old-fashioned, artery-clogging version anyway.

Flavoring Suspected in Illness - [via digg]

On My Feet Again

Sorry for the hiatus, I spent the last 9 days lying flat on my back. Apparently sometime on the last Saturday in April I managed to mess up my back. I did some odd jobs around the house, played with the dog, that kind of thing. But by early afternoon, I couldn't bend over to pick stuff up off the floor, hard shard, shooting pains in my lower back from pretty much every motion, and was feeling pretty damn miserable.

After toughing it out Sunday, Monday brought no relief and so off to the back specialist I go (thank you PPO for not requiring a referral; MCARE, we hardly knew ye). One co-pay, a diagnosis of you-might-have-itis, and two prescriptions later and I holed up in the bedroom.

Today was my follow-up and I'm probably 70-75% better. I did get a refresh on one prescription and have plenty left on the other (muscle relaxer and anti-inflammatory), but tomorrow I'm back to work.

Things learned:

  • I need to lose weight (join the club, you say?)
  • I'm not 22 anymore, although, as the song goes, I'm much to young to feel this damn old.
  • Our couch is not suitable for recuperating from back injuries.
  • The dog is more agile than I am by a magnitude of 10.
  • It is impossible to use a laptop computer resting on your stomach while lying flat in bed.
  • The Google search string that will lead you to a device that allows you to use a laptop while lying in bed is very, very elusive. I have yet to stumble on it.
  • Rifftrax are hilarious (and well worth $3).
  • I miss MST3K.

Tomorrow it's back to work and a ton of ribbing, I'm sure. I already caught wind that my "cripple leave" was the topic of a few comedic endeavors.

Laughed Out Loud

Found here (via this potentially NSFW link)

If you want to know if Spot loves you so, it's in his tail

When dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.


It suggests that the muscles in the right side of the tail reflect positive emotions while the muscles in the left side express negative ones.

Sounds like a good candidate for an Ig Nobel prize.


Mozy Online Backup

Nerds, rejoice.

Online backup company Mozy is here to save your data. Mozy is essentially off-site backup storage for the consumer. What's that, you say, you don't have off-site storage? What happens if tragedy strikes and your hard drive fails and the last backup you made was a 700MB CD two months ago?

With Mozy, you get 2GB of storage and a client that automatically synchs your new data to the Mozy servers. The best part? It's free. 2 GB of free storage. Got more than 2 GB? For $5 a month you get unlimited storage.

And they're not going anywhere; Mozy just landed a contract with GE to provide the Pro service to all 300,000+ employees.

I've been using the service for about a week and even convinced J-- to try it out. If you're thinking about trying it out, consider using this link to get me a referral. If you do use it, we each get an additional 256MB of storage space.  


This was kinda funny, in the I'm Too Big of Geek Kind of Way.

Military Hand Signals. Kinda.


Help Make Think New Orleans a Real Nonprofit

Alan at ThinkNOLA has hit a tough spot. Head over to the ThinkNOLA Blog and donate some cash to get him and the server through not just this month, but help make ThinkNOLA a real non-profit.

I'll issue this challenge. Anyone who's coming to the party this weekend, donate $25 to ThinkNOLA. That's two beers and nachos at Cambridge House.

Party in GR - 20 April

Get your petty cash out and butter up the significant others because we're going out on the town. The semi-annual TPC Board Advisory/excuse to drink with Dr. Sandy is on this week Friday. You don't have to be a board member to attend (although you will have to drink with board members) to come out. We're starting at Sazarac Lounge and maybe a trip to Cambridge House; who knows.

So polish off your weekly cartoons, write that movie review, by the kids a DVD. Just get your butt out to Sazarac at 6:30 this Friday. No photos will be taken. Well, maybe one if we get John to do that thing.

Bill Maher - New Rules

Want to be really scared about your government? Watch this.

Confirmation of Maher's claims here and here.

Penn & Teller Expose the Fallacy of Gun Control (video)

Thank God at least one television network has the balls to broadcast this stuff. Can you imagine any talking head on the Big 3 even thinking about the gun control issue in this way.

History is so old.

Link (with NSFW language)

A holy symbol inside a potato

"It's been really hard," Sachs said. "This potato has changed everything. I can't explain it."

All hail the potato! Glory be it's starchy mercy.

Oh, wait, Marshall, MI. Never mind.

Tune in next week when Holland resident Gertrude Van Pennipinchen sees Jesus in profile in a plate of toad-in-a-hole.

Thanks WMS-STCers

Thanks for inviting me to your meeting last night. I had a great time and was only disappointed that we didn't have more time to talk. If you had questions that us panel members didn't get to, please feel free to ask them here in the comments or via email at

Since we didn't get to all the questions, my notes for the session and available here.

Thanks again; hope to come and talk with you again soon.

Google Maps - My Maps

Google introduced My Maps, where you can create hyper-local maps using the Google Maps interface. Friggen awesome. I've started one for Chelsea hereOfficial announcement and instructions.

Careful What You Wish For

EMI Says Goodbye to DRM

Huzzah! Finally, one company has the guts to call the technorati's bluff and offer higher quality, non-DRM'd music downloads through a major digital distributor. EMI has announced that they will offer all of their digital assets, via iTunes, as non-DRM'd AAC-format files at "twice the quality" of the DRM'd version. EMI's press release doesn't mention the detailed of the kbps size, but 256kbps seems likely.

The hitch? The files will cost more, $0.30 more. Now, not a huge bump and, as BoingBoing points out, could be a sneeky way to backdoor a price increase, but not a terribly huge increase. This is feeding into the geek cred of we'll-pay-more-for-no-DRM line. The real test will be if the general consumer will do the same thing. In a world where cheaper often wins out over quality, it won't be the stock-optioned Valley web head that decides this, it will be the average iTunes user; the one who now sees that $20 iTunes card worth 15 songs, not 20.

Hopefully we'll huge sales on non-DRM'd Coldplay, Pink Floyd, the Stones, and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds to validate this business move. I'll be surprised, but here's hoping.

Scary Smart

You ever wish the people in your daily life were this smart?

One of These 37 Signals is Weak

David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails and partner in 37 signals, went nuclear on the official 37s blog in a profanity-titled post called You're not on a fucking plane (and if you are, it doesn't matter)! - (37signals). Now, I'm not a prude (feel free to search this blog or come out drinking with me), but leading a post on your corporate blog with the f-bomb is, what's the word, dumb.

But I'm not here to lament David's immature way of titling a post, but to take issue with the content of his post. Essentially, David argues that there's no need for offline components to web applications because connectivity is so ubiquitous. Which is true, if you live in a major metropolitan area, such as David does. But here in the uncharted backwaters of suburban Detroit (Ann Arbor), there's no such thing as ubiquitous WiFi. Sure, I could pay another $80 a month to get an EVDO card, but do I really need that? Not really, certainly not for business.

From a business standpoint, I know that my customers (professors and researchers) like to go to places that, ding, no one has been before. I wonder if they've laid lines that can handle 10mbps internet connections or cell tower that carry EVDO. I'm going to guess not. So, when I want my customers to interact with the web application we've built for them to get their research reviewed, how do they do that without an offline component? The answer now is paper, fax, and time.

So, why is 37 signals being so shortsighted? Apollo. Yep, that old chestnut called competition. Can't access your Basecamp account from the airplane? Build your own app that let's you update your project information offline and then synch that data when you do connect to the Internet. Sure, it's a stretch but the threat to 37 Signals and RoR is there.

As one of the commenters to the 37s post said, "Distortion field at work here, folks."

Microsoft Claims Vista Sales Double XP

Microsoft Corp. ... said on Monday that it sold more than 20 million Windows Vista licenses in the first month since the operating system's general debut on January 30.

The world's biggest software maker said the pace of Vista adoption is at more than twice the rate of its predecessor, Windows XP, which had sold 17 million licenses after its first two months of release. [source]

Wow, sounds impressive, doesn't it? Too bad it's hooey. Sure, in raw numbers, Vista is trouncing XP. Unfortunately, when XP was released in 2001, there were far fewer computers in the world. Some publications claim that the number of computers in the world doubles every 6 years, although the pace could be faster as there were 150 million personnel computers in 1994 and 575 million in 2004, over 350% more in 10 years.

So, really, when Microsoft says sales for Vista are huge, they're not huge enough. Conservatively, in 6 years, sales should be double (24 million) XP's numbers, possibly as high as 350% more (59.5 million). Makes 20 million seem, well, like marketing.

Things to Watch: Mr. Deity

Funny, funny stuff. Mr. Deity is a series of short vignettes detailing the trials and tribulations of being an all-knowing, all-powerful deity. The Boss has to deal with Larry, his annoying Holy Spirit, his son Jesse, and constant calls for attention from the cast-down Luci.

The show is available via YouTube or iTunes for free (podcast link). I'd recommend the iTunes version as the video quality is extremely high for a video podcast. Good for a chuckle, and not too blasphemous.


Movies you don't have to see - The Prestige

Super short review: Well acted, tired plot, too cute for it's own good.

Short review: The Prestige is one of those movies that starts with a premise (voiced over by one of the characters) and then proceeds to build the structure of the movie on that premise. The premise of The Prestige is that there's three parts to a magic trick: the pledge (where the performer sells the trick), the turn (where the performer makes the ordinary extraordinary, and the prestige (the payoff).

It sort of works, but the disjointed timing of the flashbacks and staccato movement of the action is jarring. Many people have commented on the similarities to the director's (Christopher Nolan) previous work, Momento. The Prestige has that feel, although not nearly as jarring. In that vein, however, The Prestige falls down. Where Momento jumped around in order to draw you into the point of view of the main character, The Prestige manages to confuse and dare you to figure out the When of what you just saw. For Nolan, disjointed timelines are starting to feel like a fall-back position.

That said, the movie is visually stunning, building a sense of presence from the sets themselves. The acting is very good, perhaps superb considering the stiffness of the leads previous roles (Michael Caine aside). Christian Bale and Michael Caine are both excellent and the casting of David Bowie as Nichola Tesla was a wonderful surprise. Scarlett Johansson as always, played herself, only this time she had to wear older clothes.

In the end, you're left wondering exactly what happened. The movie tried far too hard to be a magic trick, working to whip aside the cloth and reveal the end of the illusion. But the "ta da" moment never really hits you and you're left wanting. While the film waits for the applause after the prestige, all I could muster was courtesy clapping for technical execution and acting, but not so much for the experience.

3.5/5 stars (liked it, won't buy)

Final British bottle of HP sauce

The last bottle of HP sauce has been produced in England. Don't expect to see outrageous auctions for the bottles on eBay; parent company Heinz is moving production to the Netherlands.

Of course, this move came with a great deal of hand wringing and political posturing, with MPs attempting to get the sauce barred from Parliament cafeteria tables, because it somehow now symbolized less Britishness than before. Not that they did any of that went Heinz bought the company (from a French company who had previously bought HP) in 2005.

Wait until they find out that not everything is made where you think it should have been made.

Of course, this guy really hates Pachelbel

I don't remember where I saw this first, but..

I know I saw this on DataWhat first. Anecdote to all you music execs (and CBS); I bought this album after seeing this video.

Pachelbel's "Loose" Canon

Trying Yahoo.

Grr.. videos

They work! They work! Many thanks to the WPvideo plugin.

Cisco Buys WebEx for $3.2 Billion

Cisco Systems announced the acquisition today. WebEx, the original online collabrative tool, posted sales of $380 million with profit of around $47 million (according to Om). How in the hell is a company with $380 million in sales worth nearly ten times that at sale?

A little anecdote for Cisco; I recently participated in an evaluation of your new acquisition. I know other people have done the same in our larger orginization. You weren't even in the running. Lack of bundled VoIP, a typical market leader's sales pitch, and stiff competition combined with out of market pricing.. what a winning combination.

I seriously hope Cisco has some major initiatives planned for WebEx properties. There are far better products out there for considerably less money. I would think for $3.2 billion, Cisco could have built, from the ground up, a better competitive product. I sure hope this isn't Cisco's Skype.

Food for Thought

Randomly surfing tonight and ran across The Skeptic Report. Among the many interesting questions posed on the site was this one:

It is a strictly human disease. Did the Good Lord bestow the gift of gonorrhea on Adam, or was it Eve? Who carried it onto the Ark? Why would God instruct Noah to carry any disease organisms or parasites onto the Ark? One of Noah's family had to have been infected, but they were the only people worthy enough to be saved on the whole Earth. Which one had the clap? Why would He create anything so nasty anyway?

Well isn't that an nasty little problem. You can read many other niggling little issues with The Flood story here. Of course, the whole thing could be explained away by allowing that the Noah story was a rip-off amalgamation of many near east flood stories. But that raises nasty questions about the origins of Christianity.

Nah, it's just easier to dismiss all that troublesome history by claiming Christianity really existed before it ever came into being.

Who the hell is running Sony? Part 2

I asked once, I'm asking again. After blackballing Kotaku, making Slashdot, Gizmodo, and half the tech blogs in North America, Sony relented and let Kotaku back into the fold. Oh, and basically confirmed the rumor that Kotaku had reported on.

This is the latest in a series of missteps by Sony. First, Sony Entertainment President Jack Tretton issued a "bounty" on any PS3s in the wild to the tune of $1200 per unit. Penny Arcade responded with a $13,200 per hour comic. Then, based on a disastrous presentation at E3 (actual sentence pairing: "Based on actual Japanese history. So here's this Giant Enemy Crab."), entrepreneurial webbies have remixed the speech into, well, stuff like this.

Since we now know that Sony execs actually can read, and tend to read people that write about them, you'd think they'd have been given a clue when vids like this show up on YouTube. Alas, it is not to be so.

I've sworn off Sony products. I've owned a Vaio, a DVD player, a PlayStation, and a camera. PlayStation was solid. The Vaio had it's issues at the end; I sold it after getting too frustrated rebuilding it every 2 months. The camera we bought for our vacation crapped out within six months of purchase. The DVD player, after one year of use, would skip at exactly 1:12 into any movie. I refuse to spend $600 on a gaming console.

How many more people like me are they creating every day? Makes you wonder how long they have.

Twitter has pushed me too far

Inspired by Matt Haughey's stand against Twitter , I re-logged into Mastodon on all my devices and shelved my Twitter access. I haven&#...