Friday, February 29, 2008

I have a good friend who isn't particularly into technology. I don't mean that she's a Luddite - she has a computer, uses e-mail without a hiccup and generally has no problem with tech as much as she wants or needs to use it. But she recently decided it was time to get mobile with her music and of course I suggested she start running iTunes. I even dropped in on her, well, she had me to dinner as I sold her my old digital camera and brought an install disc for iTunes since she runs off a dial-up connection and doing the download would have taken ... let's just say way longer than it should.
In any event, we got her PC up and running with music. It was a lot of fun to see her getting into loading her music into the computer, setting up preferences, ripping only selected songs from a CD, enjoying the automatic track info download from the Gracenote CDDB. Those are the sort of things I've grown accustomed to but which are, in prospect, just so frickin' cool!
Now that she's got the software set up, I e-mailed her the other day to point out that the 1 GB iPod shuffle had its price knocked down to $49. She took the plunge. And today she called to say that she was doing the set up and she couldn't get the iPod to show up on the PC. I told her to try unplugging the USB plug and re-plugging it back in. Nothing. Yet I was on the right track. After starting to search the Apple knowledge database, she gives me the eureka moment. She didn't have the iPod firmly seated in its dock! Bingo.
Small victories. We take where we can. I'm delighted that another person's joined the digital music sphere.
Linky Love
I've just spent an inordinate amount of time reading an article at Wired on "High Tech Cowboys of the Deep" about modern ship salvage operators. Really fascinating. Read it if you have a chance. And be sure to scroll down to the picture of Colin Trepte. That picture should be in the dictionary beside the term "Lead Salvage Diver."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Men's Rings
I dropped by good old Amazon and saw a link to 25% off men's jewelry. Not being a fan of same, I thought I'd take a look. And this is what I saw. Great gawd a-mighty. If it don't look gay, it looks goombah.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

American Idol
I haven't been paying much attention to the current season of AI but I'm really digging Carly Smithson. I love that touch of the Oirish accent and she sang "Crazy On You" which song I've always enjoyed (I am, after all, a Heart fan) creditably. Of course blue eyes and dark hair is a wicked combination. Simon seems to be pretty positive about her as well.
I've also liked Amanda Overmeyer with that silly bifurcated skunk stripe hair and the growly voice.
So far not a single one of the male singers has shown me that he can stay with either of those two women.
If you pay attention to the band, you'll see several PRS guitars - the Matteo Blue 513 that was in play last year, an orange Singlecut (orange is not a color that always works on PRSi but it does on the singlecut) and a black sunburst EG. All excellent choices but I do think the 513 is just an insanely good piece of guitarfleisch.
The Reef Of Death
Some times the world conspires to just piss me off. Case in point was this past Sunday's noisepaper which had an article about man-made reefs which are either made to contain or made from the ashes of the cremated. The funerary industry wants to call these "cremains" but it strikes me as a grotesque portmanteau word and I refuse to use it save in an explanatory aside. On the other hand, I have no problem with the reefs themselves - in fact, I rather like the idea that one can elect to have his ashed incorporated into a cement ball which will be sunk and on which life will thrive. Or have ones ashes put into a niche in a reef created for the purpose. I could even see my scuba-diving friend the Enigmatic Misanthrope opting for such a method of ... can't really call it "interment" can I. Inaquament. No. That's worse.
Which is beside the point of what's frying my shorts about the article. Let me reproduce the offense which is a picture caption: "Neptune Memorial Reef, off the coast of Miami, is a place where ocean-lovers can be buried. Owned by the Neptune Society, it covers 16 acres and is a replica of the lost city of Atlantis."
(all caps bold italics) Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!(/all caps bold italics) A "replica" of WHAT! Given that Atlantis is a fiction and a fever dream of the easily gulled, no one can replicate that which never existed. Oh fer far-flung moronicism.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nazi Gold And Then Some
A while back I posted about what I considered a possibility of what had happened to the Amber Room. I was engaging in some serious blue skying. Now there is some exciting news coming out of Germany that there's a cache of stolen gold (a near certainty) which may include the panels of the Amber Room. I will keep my fingers peeled and an eye crossed in hopes that one of the real missing treasures of the modern world may come to light again. The link goes to an Engliush-language article on Dr. Spiegel's website. I would excerpt it but do yourself a favor and RTWT.
Neal Stephenson might want to do a patch on his "Cryptonomicon" set not in the Philippines but in Eastern Europe. Or not. He has, after all, done it. and done it well.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In The News
I've heard that an old, wrung-out socialist is giving up power. But enough about the Democrat campaign. I also heard that Castro is stepping down!
Linky Love
I happened upon the Digital Photography School blog. Looks like a good learning resource for the snap happy. I'm probably going to increase my digital photography this year so I may spend some time on the DPS. Such things as rules for landscape composition are helpful. Even though I'm "aware" of such things as the rule of thirds and framing, it's something that I usually forget to use. There are exceptions. This is a picture of the "Tower House" at Midplace on Ossabaw Island. I'm pleased with the way I got the branch and trunk of the forward live oak on the left to frame the structure against the oak in the background on the right.

Music Embed - First Of The Best Ofs
Today I post the first of three very best of music videos. Personal choice entirely and all three are equal in my estimation. I post them in no order of preference. I pick Van Halen's "Dreams" this week for the swell of patriotic pride the Blue Angels bring to my American bosom. I've been led to understand that the five across landing is something exceptional in that there are few runways wide enough to accommodate such a feat.
As for the music - great song. The requisite screaming guitar riffs. Sammy Hagar never sang better for VH. This viddy gives me chills. I hope you like it too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Japanese Radio
Long ago and far away, I was out in the provinces down southerly Honshu way. NHK radio would play some English language tunes (witness the Billy Field viddy I posted a couple of weeks ago) with sometimes hilarious results tucked in like a satsuma in a Christmas stocking. First, just a transliteration. The song "Endless Love" was current at the time so it was played. But it was introduced as "Endoress Rub." Which is not an unpleasant concept, really.
The other salient memory was listening to a broadcast that featured the music of Kenny Rogers. The fun came in a Japanese version of one of the songs. It is, or was, something of a trope of Japanese pop that foreign hits songs that had been translated into Japanese retained their title lines in English. So what do we get: "And She Bereaves In Me!" I pretty much fell out at that one.
Movies, But Not Netflixery
I caught a broadcast of "The Incredibles" a day or so ago and was reminded how amazingly good it is. The story holds together extremely well. The animation does look a bit behind the current state of the art but that's immaterial. The voice work is just superb - Holly Hunter's turn as Elatigirl/Helen Parr is possibly some of the greatest voice work done on an animated film. Though Pixar has set the bar awfully high on that score. The humor is laugh out loud funny and clever. Intelligence in animation is not to be taken for granted. I love this movie.
And, though it wasn't part of the broadcast, the short "Jack Jack Attack" featuring the Parr's/Incredible's baby and the babysitter is possibly even funnier than the main movie. It's on the DVD if you haven't seen it. Which begs the question, why haven't you seen it? It is a most enjoyable way to spend an episode of flixery. If you have seen it but not for a while, may I suggest you reacquaint yourself with this wonderful adult cartoon?

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Figured Out How We Ended Up With McCain
It's flu season and the GOP has a case of the RINO virus.
My Contribution To Bulwer-Lytton
As the massive deep space transport shuddered out of hyperspace and maneuvered to establish a stable orbit around Schlomo Glickstein 3, Captain Hazelwood thought, not for the first time, "Damn that star registry in book form registered in the US copyright office!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Give Blood
And you may find that blood is not enough. Yet you may find that blood is good to give. Case in point is today's 200 lb. pug of war: Lurch the English Mastiff. What a guy. He's donated blood for other dogs 20 times and he lives with four actual pugs. As Lurch's owner says, "Mastiffs are just like 200-pound pugs. They're just as friendly and just as goofy except they have a couple more zeros at the end of the weight."
Sort of like me and Johnny Depp.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Workin' For The Man
I was once a film editor until I was supposed to work on a emo film. It was too easy. The film cut itself.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'll Be Conflusticated
OK, I made that word up. I was going to say "I'll be buggered" but that's a little strong for what I'll be. I'm still in the overall set-up process of the home network so I thought I'd take a look at eBay to see what, if anything, the DSL modem (which Verizon is not interested in getting back - which should be a clue right there) might be worth. Ha. I found a couple exemplars of my particular model on offer for either 99 cents or $1.99. And, let me put the blunt point on this little thrillah - no bids. A perfectly functional DSL modem is worth, in real terms, nothing. Seems a little strange and a little sad but at least now I know.
Of course I'm old enough to remember how much I spent for my first modem which was a blazing 14400 bps box about the size of one half my PowerBook. And it didn't work all that well. Now I only want to use wireless and leave the modulation and demodulating to a box sitting somewhere in the house not necessarily on my desk.
I'm going to have to make up a package of electronics to take to the recycling station.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Embed For Which There Is No Written Explanation
The Gin Blossoms with "Hey Jealousy." The viddy displays some dated tropes but meaning adheres in the music, not what is shown. Consider this a part of my very own Apocrypha. Besides, the Gin Blossoms put out a couple of really great discs. New Miserable Experience indeed.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Music For Which There Is No Written Explanation
I just bought the Flash Girls CD "The Return of Pansy Smith & Violet Jones." The first song is "Signal to Noise" which was on a mix tape given to me several years ago. I'm trying to re-create the mix in an iTunes playlist with clean digital copies of the songs. If you're still reading the blog, it meant a lot to me. And I guess it still does if I'm buying a CD to get one song.
Friday morning, February 15. We enter a new day and a whole new system of living. Fiber has been plugged into my house and I didn't even try to get the FIOS tech to say "The house is lit." But I sure did think it. I have to say, saliently, that the tech was great - I gave him access to where he needed to go and he just went about his business. And he was very helpful, very friendly. If he's representative of Verizon techs, they have a good workforce. Your mileage may vary.
Next, FIOS TV. This is going to take some getting used to. I've grown accustomed to DirecTV and now I have a whole new set-up of channels, on-screen menus and a new remote control. But I have some fun new stuff as well. I never connected my DirecTV to the phone line so I was never able to buy any pay-per-view events or movies (incidentally, with all the naughty content on the cabled televising machine, perhaps that should be "pay perv view"). Now I can since everything comes galloping into the house on the FIOS line. Though it's unlikely that I actually will buy anything extra as I'm totally dialed in with Netflix.
Additional coolness enters via the aforementioned remote. With the old system, I'd sometimes gather up three remotes: TV, DirecTV box and DVD player. The tech programmed the FIOS remote so that it controls all three from the one remote. I guess I could have tried programming the Dtv remote but, as you might be able to tell from this post alone, I'm a bit of a creature of habit. One thing that made snicker last night was tuning in BBC America's "Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares." The guide display truncated the final word at the first three letters. I must be a shocking racist. No, I'm not.
I can't say that the picture quality is better but as I watch more, I think I may come to that conclusion. Previously the screen would show some "banding" of colors which may be in the set or may be in the broadcast signal. I'm hoping it's the latter and that FIOS will cure it. I haven't brought myself to the point of spending extra money for HD. It's just not worth it to me yet. If anyone who uses HD has a comment to make, please do.
ADDED: I almost forgot one net little feature on FIOS TV. Widgets. I can call up a weather bug and a traffic report on screen no matter what I'm watching. Weather is good. Traffic, not so much. But I have it dammit!

Now, the fibered up internet. FIOS sets up a router off the cable coming into the house and, not surprisingly in this modern world of hubbub and brouhaha, the router is wireless. So there was no need to run cables all over my house from the router to the desktop. Thank goodness. (pause for breath) Wireless. As much as I love it, getting it all set up and running the way I want it to run is a ... chore. A process. And yesterday I was not having the greatest luck in getting a stable connection that would make
connection automatic when I woke my iMac up. I went into the network control panel this morning and re-jiggered it so I think (I hope) I may have the solid connection form here on out. But I need to reset my laptop and my AirPort Express node from which I run my printer. Ooog. (sigh)
FIOS says it's faster than my DSL but I haven't run any speed tests to see. I have to imagine that it is simply because of the bigger pipeline it is. Of course now that my DSL is moot, I have a DSL modem that Verizon doesn't want back and a whole bunch of DSL line filters that are useless. Which Verizon doesn't want back. If there's a packrat curse of this modern world of hubbub and brouhaha, it's the accretion of telephone equipment that has been rendered obsolete or just passe. Still usable but not particularly wanted. Oh well. Also, my Netgear wireless router is now moot for the time being. I may try to set it up as a repeater to entend the range of the network though. It's too good to lie fallow.
One final note that's not related to FIOS per se: In setting up the new wireless network, I had reason to go into the wireless menu on my desktop which displays the networks whose signals I can receive. I can now see nine networks (one of which may be my AirPort Express). And one network is named "VoteRonPaul." I'm going to guess that belongs to my new next door neighbors.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Duke 77, Maryland 65
Fear the what now?

I've pretty much stayed away from the collitch bucketball this year (the brief look at UNC a couple of posts down being a notable exception) but I've grown tired of U Md's constant whining about "Dook." Yes, you beat Duke last year. You've even had remarkable success against Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. But the eternal mewling is unbecoming a major college program. Duke is renowned for hating UNC (I actually, do not - I resent the history of clobberation Duke has suffered at the hands of our neighbors but I respect the Tar Heels as a first class team at a first class state university). Now, I guess, Maryland has decided to make Duke the particular object of their ire. So let me point this out: Dookies don't really care about the Terps. We can lose to them without much nose-out-of-jointing. In fact, Maryland had best hope it stays that way. If Duke ever makes it a point of the season to beat Maryland, there's going to be some deep agony in College Park. Sorry. That's just the way it is.
So for now, feel free to indulge your fantasies and consider the Terps a better team than the Blue Devils because of last year's results. It's not like the Terps are a bad team - mai non! It's a signal achievement that they have matured and gotten nothing but better during this season under Gary Williams (a coach for whom I have nothing but respect). But Duke won both home and away. So unless you beat Duke in the tournament (not at all impossible), just STFU about Duke this year. Kthxbai.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Have You Ever Wondered
What The Chipmunks sounded like without the speed? Click here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quick Questions For Readers
How many people use thumb drives? If you use them, how many do you have? What's the purpose of the drive?
Full disclosure: I use them. I have one 4 GB and just ordered two 2 GB versions from Amazon. The purpose of the drives if first, confidential files that are not kept on the desktop machine and can be switched from to the laptop merely by plugging in a li'l bitty USB thingie. And what I mean by confidential is such things as password files and some images I have been sent by friends which no one else has any right to see. You can ask but I'm not going to say.
In any event, if you don't use thumb drives, you should. They're small, they can save you burning CD-ROMs often and they're getting dead cheap. The 2 GB ones I'm buying from Amazon cost $11.50 each. Not to mention that these little beauties allow you to take all sorts of info on the road and use it on a machine that may not be yours.
An episode of Foyle's War on the Howard University distant-seeing station tonight. Hmm. I didn't know the series had its own website until I searched just now. Aint the global inter tubes grand? Tonight's episode (cue dramatic music): War of Nerves! (Actually, it has been shown before but it's one I missed so it's "new to me.")
Though I may sneak peeks at UNC impending crushitation of U Va.
UPDATE: 45 seconds to go and UNC up by a mere two points. Not exactly crushitation. But it does raise the question of what's wrong with UNC. They are not playing like a top 10 team lately. Of course Tyler "Psycho T" Hansbrough getting fouled every time down court and not having it called (and one eGREGious flop by the U. Va. center) doesn't help.
So there: a one point win. Yow, a single point win over the league's bottom team. Carolina has much to worry about.
Okay "Scientists"
If you genetic engineers are so smart how come?
1. How come you haven't combined dandylion and, say, corn, to make crops that'll grow in cracks in the sidewalk?
2. How come you haven't snipped the coat color genes out of tigers and put them in, say, bunnies so we could have real fur coats that would look wicked cool?
3. How come you can't take the flesh eating bacteria that nature her own self has provided and turn it into a fat eating bacteria? It would destroy the liposuction industry in swole(n) foop.
4. And if you nanotechnologists are so smart, how come you haven't been able to build a scanning, tunneling electron microscope that can detect the Clintons' ethics? Aw hail, I might as well ask for a machine to detect unicorns.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oh And By The Way
It's frickin cold. It's high school cold tonight: full of teens. It's congressional approval rating cold. And windy. Like the collective sigh after a big, cold glass of Obama-flavored Kool-Aid combined with a Howie Dean YYEEAAAGGGHH and the spittle-flecked rationality of John McCain all bound up in one big smack-into-my-house package.
Annnddd SCENE. I'm done waterboarding metaphors tonight.
Sunday Night And There's Music In The Air
Music from a "Concrete Sky" to be precise. This is the non "North American" version of Beth Orton's song which I've managed to name in the first sentence of this post. The other version is much more Beth-centric, which is not entirely a bad thing, but I am deeply enamored of the beautiful forest setting of this viddy. I'd love to live in or near one of these mossy primeval forests. I'm not as thrilled with the soft-to-out-of focus look of the viddy but I'm not complaining about it either.
Beth Orton is one of those women whose looks I like but can never decide why. She's a bit ... I hate to say this ... bovine of face but she has that wonderful lanky sexiness that I find quite appealing. The gown-like dress seems rather out of place as do the tall boots. I can't explain the outfit for the life of me. Any speculation in comments is entirely welcome. And it's not just her looks. Her voice is quirky to the point that I can easily see someone not caring for her singing at all but when the material is right (her "Central Reservation" disc is pure magic), it's entrancing. "Concrete Sky" is right. I hope you're entranced as well.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The un-premeditated lack o' posting has left literally several individuals in the body politic bereft of coddling snark. Lo! As if a great salt pancake had been dropped upon them.
I have been muddling over a number of things which I hope/plan to post about over the weekend. Not to mention the return of the Sunday music embed on Sunday. But until then, I offer you a link to perhaps the most amazing macro photo of a bug I've ever seen. Not gross, not disgusting, just amazing.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Good Stuff
I've bitched off a few ads recently and I've got a slew of 'em to bitch off in the hopper. But I thought it was time to throw the advertisers a bone beyond posting videos of songs from Apple ads. What I want to praise is the ATT ad wherein the little daughter gives her father a stuffed monkey as he goes on a business trip. Daddy sends back pictures of the stuffed monkey culminating with a shot of the monkey outside their home on his return. The ad is sweet and not at all cloying. The affection in the family comes across as real and palpable. The "sweet thing/ apple of my eye" song adds to the effect. I'm not always down with ATT's forcing the "more bars" visual cues into its ads but in this one, the "bars" take a back seat to the tone. It's an enjoyable little story. I hope they give the creative team behind this one more chances.
I May Have To Blogroll This One
The Fail blog. If you don't get the idea from the name, visit the site and you'll twig to it immediately. I rather think my good friend the Enigmatic Misanthrope would get a larf and a harf out of it.
And I guarantee my friend Gradual Dazzle will get two larfs out of this post!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tasty Linkage
By one of those perverse strings of link following, which are well nigh impossible to remember how you got from, say, The Unofficial Apple Weblog to where you ended up, I found Steamy Kitchen. Sounds saucy, dunnit? Actually it's "Modern Asian Cooking: fast, fresh, simple enough for tonight's supper." From my first impression, that looks pretty accurate.
I may have to spend some time there and whomp up some tasty oriental eats the like of which I've never before made.
Too Late To Matter
I think that from now on I'm going to call Ewoks "Wookie Mcnuggets."
Maybe Not Who You Think
Birds attacked my father.
What famous director does this make you think of?
Answer in comments and I'll post the correct answer tomorrow.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Worst. Star Trek. Pun. Evar.
Uniforms Officer: Captain, this serger is broken but I think I can fix it.
Picard: Make it sew.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Early Music Embed
Since the whole world (or so we're led to believe) is going to be watching the New England Patriots attempt at history on Sunday night, I thought I might steal a march and put up the music embed a day early. So, for your delectation is Yael Naim's "New Soul" which is featured in Apple's ads for the new MacBook Air. Naim has a quirky voice and I don't know that I would want to listen to her for extended periods but this song is delightful and the video is just charming. I hope you agree.
Next week - a non-Apple related viddy, I promise.