Friday, May 27, 2005

Damn!

Forgot to sign up again! [potentially not safe for work]

DVD Format Wars!

Sony is being a pain in negotiations for an industry standard for the next generation DVD format. Here's the thing- their format (Blu-ray) requires a new player to use it at all. The competing format is backward compatible- you only need a new player to see the content in HDTV. Which do you think will win? It's ironic that Sony was the inventor of Betamax video tapes, and that this story ws found on a site called betanews.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Weird

I've been finding the weirdest stuff in the Springfield, IL, Journal-Register newspaper.

"Legs found near Divernon"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Playin' With Fire!

Etc.

1- Can't tell you how rock solid stable my cable internet and Vonage phone have been since I got my hands on an APC SU1000. $40 on EBay, $50 for new batteries and I've got some fantastic battery backing up solidity. You have to get the good ones, the "online" or "delta" backup setups, because they also condition the power going into your various sensitive electronics. They also provide a sine wave AC 'signal', which is what the power company (hopefully) gives you. The cheap-ass ones do not condition the power- they barely suppress surges- and they put out a stepped approximation of a sine wave. Very noisy power to have going in to your fancy e-lectronic computers and such.

2- And now for the playing with fire portion of the program. To be honest, the above rant was partially to see what happens to the ads. I got my hands on two identical, malfunctioning computer screens. Very dim, and even the onscreen controls were barely visable. I accepted these believing they would make good backups should my current one fail spectacularly, and/or good spares for working on PCs. But they were too far gone for that. So, I hit the internet, intent on cracking them open and fiddling with the guts until they either worked, broke, or my heart stopped. After exhaustive research and tentative probing, I found the right little dial to twiddle and in effect turned up the brightness. Probably hastens the demise of the screen, but it's better than nothing.

Funniest thing he's said in 15 years

Leno testified soberly, though he did draw laughs at certain points. [...] As he left the stand, Leno made sure to mention that Renee Zellweger was appearing on the "Tonight Show" this evening. While most in the courtroom laughed at the quip, it was unclear if the defense found Leno's testimony amusing.

Next Stop!

In the parade of idiots who just don't get it.

"Our creed as a Christian, or a Protestant, or a Baptist church -- of course we don't have a creed but the bible -- but we do have the Baptist faith and message that says that we should cling to the 66 books of the Holy Bible and any other book outside of that claiming to know the way of God or claiming to be God's word is automatically written off and is trying to defeat people from the way of true righteousness inside of our viewpoint in how we view the word of God," [Rev. Creighton] Lovelace said.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Wild!

Watch American Experience on PBS this week, for the documentary about the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. I never really knew the story on that. Though I don't quite know what the filmmaker was going for with the last scene.

Compare and contrast the SLA's (Symbionese Liberation Army) insane rantings with the anti-WTA freaks of the last few years.

Data Mining!

Get ready for the fun!

http://www.chicagocrime.org/

WWJD?

"I asked myself, 'What would Jesus do?' " Koldenhoven wrote in the letter. "The Jesus I know would say, 'Welcome to Palos Heights.' "

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I find myself quite attracted to Rebecca DeMornay, Patricia Arquette and Olivia D'Abo. I detect a pattern.

SPAM!

Hormel tells us about SPAM- the meat product. 'spam' is unsolicited email. GET IT STRAIGHT!

Other SPAM-tastic information.

I agree with Bono

Never thought I'd say that. From Greg Kot's ridiculous Sunday spectacular.
Rock music was most exciting when it was in the 45 [rpm single], when it was disciplined into a single. Whether it was the Sex Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks, Nirvana, the Beatles, the Stones. The 45 is the pure rock to me. That is why I wanted to be in a band.
I find it interesting that the albums I didn't like were also the ones Kot says "there's no shame in not selling" about. If I am an entertainer, yeah, there is. It means people didn't like what I did.

I just find it funny that Newsey McPaperboy is telling a genuine rock star what albums he's allowed to make. How's your band doing, Kot?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Always a Hit!

Mocking the new TV shows:

These are the names of real shows, possibly the real actors in them, and definately not the real description.

"Commander-in-Chief" Geena Davis stars as president of the US. Oh. Wait. That one is real.

"Freddie" Freddie Prinze Jr. stars as a bathroom attendant for a Columbus, IN, banquet hall.

"Invasion" A hapless troupe of Lichtensteinians move to the US, intent on invading Ohio for the King. What happens when they rent half of a duplex from a retired Fleet Admiral who is also the full-time assistant Chief of Police to the inept, politically appointed, part-time Chief Gomer Pyle? Tune in this fall to find out!

"Hot Properties" Mike Dench, heating and cooling specialist who has never left Perth Amboy, inherits his uncle's HVAC business in Hollywood. Along with a furnace full of trouble! Mike can't help but stumble across crime. Watch as he ices the bad guys!

"Kolchak: The Night Stalker" Animated children's series about little Kolchak, a stalk of corn. And boy did he break the mold when he germinated! Unlike most growing cornstalks, he despises the sunlight and is always getting into trouble fooling around after dark. Watch as he grows up and learns life's lessons on a farm in the outskirts of Bucharest.

"Just Legal" The Olsen twins star as tough as nails vice cops entrapping dirty old men over the internet.

"Twins" Spinoff of above. A dirty old man cruises the internet looking for young girls. He's caught, tried, convicted and locked up for life. Now he's the Hannibal Lechter-esque advisor to the Olsen twins, and prison snitch. Starring the corpse of Rod Steiger as Warden Crimler and Brad Garret as Cooter.

"Modern Men" Hilarity ensues when a trio of 29-something New York metrosexuals move to small town south Texas to open a day spa. Of course, in Alabama the Tuscaloosa, but that is entirely ir-elephant to what I was talking about.

"Be Young" (Lifetime) Watch and weep as single mom and doctor Barb Young struggles as a Miami plastic surgeon durning the day, and a volunteer grief counsellor to the elderly at local nursing homes by night. And a Habitat for Humanity volunteer on the weekends. Watch as she struggles with this and an ongoing divorce battle with her estranged bastard husband. Husband played by that dude who played the Emperor from Star Wars.

"Related" Longtime married couple realize they're actually first cousins. But that's not all- their two teenage children (Adam and Eve) are dating a set of fraternal twins whose dad is the local prosecuter who is intent on prosecuting them for incest.

"Supernatural" Julie Haggarty runs a GNC franchise that is haunted by Jack Lellane and a recently deceased 17 year old crack dealer from Detroit. If laughter is the best medicine, you probably won't die watching this hilarious show!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Let the Healing Begin.

The national nightmare is over, they finally quit airing new episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond."

I think what offends me the most about that show is the sheer unlikability of all of the characters. Well, the main ones- I don't know if the children were written to be nice or not. But back to the topic. Seinfeld, which this show is obviously a "if he can do it, so can I" clone of, had characters who were awful. In fact, everyone was awful. But they were cartoons of real people, clowns whose horrible actions were amplified to extremes so that we could laugh. The Raymond characters weren't. All you saw were people oddly similar to awful people we encountered in real life, doing oddly familar awful things to each other. Grandpa yells, grandma nags. Wife nags, dad is a putz, brother/uncle is a lovable idiot. With some one liners thrown in. That's not good, and I frankly don't understand how people can like it.

Another problem, which I can't prove, is that I heard that they didn't necessarily have a cohesive writing staff. As I understand it, any schmoe with screenwriting software could choose the sitcom radio button, plug in some dialog and fax a script in. And they'd shoot it. So you'd get episodes where the characters didn't even fit into the mediocrity established for them. So all of a sudden we get the very special episodes where cancer is gotten, fought and beaten in 23 minutes, or the wacky neighbor makes a pass at the wife and Raymond gets tried for murder. * Or the oh-so funny episode (this one is real) where the wife is in traffic court for a DUI. Hilarious.

* "Murder 2? C'mon, uh, he wasn't really that great a guy. He's worth maybe ... murder 8." It's not that hard.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Stalest joke ever!

From "Get Smart":

I can't wait until these security measures are over with!

We can't until The Chameleon is out of commission. He can impersonate anyone he wants!

I know! He's so good he can even do Frank Gorshan!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Computer Economics

On open source software.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lando!

Is this Billy Dee Williams playing a grieving father on Law and Order? It sure sounded like him.

Firefox!

For the Firefox users out there, you might have noticed an increase in pop-ups lately. I have found one of the mechanisms through which these are happening. Flash. The offending website puts a tiny flash object into the site, usually invisible, that launches the pop up. Drudge is one offender. I found this because I had recently downloaded Flashblock, an extension for Firefox, that allows the user to turn off all flash content and replace it with a play button (should you want to see the content). This is because some of the most annoying banner ads are flash. The plugin allows you to whitelist sites with flash that you trust. So far I have one.

I highly recommend this plug in, it has made my browsing experience a little more calm. Give it a try.

Excrement!

My fancy hi-fi stereo receiver bit the dust on me last night.

I'm getting no surround and very faint sound in 2 channel stereo mode. As some might remember, it actually vented plasma out the vent holes [=it ran hot], and that must have caught up with it. It has lasted about 6 years, but I think it should have lasted longer, as it wasn't a cheap model ($275 new, one of my first online purchases). Well, expensive to me anyhow. I realize you can blow that on a power cable. But for occasional music listenin' and DVD watchin', that's about the upper limit of what I choose to spend. I suppose I should have modified the exhaust fan, which only ran during loud use, louder than I cared for 99% of the time.

So, I begin my research. The Technics brand is no more, unless I later decide I need a DJ-style direct-drive turntable for $1000. But it always was a member of the Matsushita family, and now Panasonic is the brand for such things. My research independently led me to Panasonic too, specifically the new all-digital models. Seemingly, these things now contain a full digital path right to the digital power amplifier. But apparantly, I'm in the middle of a product cycle. The SA-XR50 seems to be discontinued/unavailable, and the SA-XR55 isn't out in North America yet. Fancy looking.


Huge!

And so I wait.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Hollywood movie stars!

A local lake may star in a movie this summer. I picture the Simpsons/Andy Griffith episodes where the locals go Hollywood crazy. See the various user fees imposed by the county.

Tiger, tiger, burning bright!

In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake. 1757–1827

Pretend I've inserted a lot of humorous links into the poem lovingly mocking OS X Tiger. One of them would have been this one, (probably on "Did He who made the lamb make thee?"), which is a guy who has already found an exploit for the Safari web browser. It has something to do with widgets, and does automatically install if you visit the page with Safari. There are instructions for removal, but I'd recommend using Internet Explorer to visit the page.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Popemobile!

Read the following news story, and then picture a pope or cardinal fishing the keys out of the cassock, cooly pointing the keyfob at it and hearing the chirp-chirp noise. I found it to be an odd mental image.

Reminds me of a coworker who owned an 1989 Eagle Premier (before it was a rebadged Interpid) that had keyless entry. Except it was optical- there was a sensor near the rearview mirror. Which meant he had to aim the keyfob to get it to open or close.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Ninja!

Deputy Police Chief Robert Stark said Doogan "supposedly knows karate."

Pepsi!

Is that a tall-boy of Pepsi?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

It's always the Dr. Pepper

You can take the soda out of the country and give it a doctorate, but you can't take the country out of the soda. Mr. Pibb would be so ashamed. I never want that defense team. Seriously.

NOTE: Despite my Chicago roots, I think 'soda' is appropriate when speaking of Dr. Pepper.

NOTE2: I love Dr. Pepper.

You need to eat this

OK, first off. I know this is a dish that has a name and heritage and I'm not taking credit for inventing anything. But I did come up with it without a recipe and I can't tell you what it's called. But it is delicious. Probably more of a fall/winter dish if you're going to be asthetic about it.

Get yourself:
Flank steak (or skirt steak) .75 or 1 pound
A can of Chipotle Chilis in adobo sauce (warning: the stuff I got contains actual fire. Very hot.)
An 8oz can of tomato sauce
half of a medium onion
two cloves of garlic
splash of mexican oregano
corn tortillas

(Note: you could probably substitute the last four ingredients with something like a roasted garlic spaghetti sauce)

Preheat oven to 250.

Finely chop the onion, putting aside half, the garlic and ONE chili pepper. You will die if you use more than two.

Lightly oil a frying (or sautee or sauce) pan and heat till (almost) smoking.

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Sear the steak on both sides. Goal isn't to cook though as it is to get a nice layer of brown on the steak. When its done browning, set aside to rest.

Put the reserved half of the onions into the pan and cook them until almost brown. Now fancily deglaze the pan with a bit of the water (1/4 cup?). Goal is to loosen up the delicious brown bits up into a sauce with the onions. Precision isn't important at this step. Brown water and onions. Once that's done, put the tomato sauce, rest of the onions, garlic and peppers into the pan. Stir it up. You can put a teaspoon or two of the adobo sauce from the chilis but beware. It's hot, you see.

Cook that until it's reduced to a thick sauce, almost paste. Now salt it a little, remembering that the meat has some salt in it too. It needs some salt, but not much. 1/4 tsp?

Now the magic.

Get two sheets of tinfoil of a sufficient size to securely fold up the steak. Put half the sauce in the middle, then the steak, then the rest of the sauce. Fold up the foil into sort of a closed watertight boat, and then do it again. Place onto a cookie sheet and bake for an hour.

Once done, carefully open it up, let it cool a bit and then slice or pull it apart (a-la pulled pork) and mix it all up. Place onto corn tortillas and enjoy.

Blogger!

I will now attempt to justify my blogging existence by opinionating:

The "runaway bride" story. Let me get this straight. She's engaged to a Jesus freak. She lives in Georgia. She's got the crazy eyes. She skips town the Tuesday before her wedding with a bus ticket that she bought, perhaps Vegas bound. Leaving her engagement ring behind, mind you. For three days, she's just gone. Never said anything to anyone. Meanwhile, the Goddies and the straphangers in the Grief Community stage a three day freak out, complete with the arm-in-arm weeping field searches and the attendant vigils.

And now we're all seething, demanding that she repay the tens of thousands of dollars in costs incurred in the search.

It's not against the law to disappear yourself, and the costs were incurred before she came up with the kidnap story.

All she did was lie to her fiance about where she went. She might be nuts, or childish, or both- but that isn't criminal and we should really mind our own business.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Gay Country?

It sure seem that way...

http://www.montgomerygentry.com/


Not that there's anything wrong with it. I just can't get behind (watch it) the leather shirt and cowboy hat look.

There seems to be an odd undertone to country music these days. I suspect much of it comes from collisions between coastal marketing types and the more rural musicians, but there's something else. Lotta dudes wearing jewelry in flyover country. I won't speculate what it is, but they're trying to prove something...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Simpsons have Done It Again!

Albert Brooks was hilarious on the Simpsons tonight. I'm assuming the second, more fantastic (literal use, fantasy) episode was the 350th. Hooray! Hurrah!

My favorite, and I think I've actually done this, moment:

Brooks: Homer, you're suffering from Poor Self Esteem. [points to sign] PSI. Gah! It's supposed to be PSE. EVERY SIGN IS WRONG!

Lessons I learned Today

  • NASCAR is the ultimate television watching experience. First time I'd seen it in HDTV, and the first time I'd seen HDTV actually look good. The sound is 5.1 digital as well. Even mixed down to simple surround it is fantastic. The amount of technical wizardry that's involved in one of these races is almost inconceivable. Every car seems to have at least two cameras in it. Each car has telemetry so that they can put a bubble on the screen with their speed and other various information, with a pointer that follows the car in live action. Like the yellow line on a football broadcast, or the ill fated hockey puck effects. But for EVERY car.

  • That said, it looks like the 720p format is a smoother watch than the 1080i. Seems like the progressive ('p') format is what makes it look particularly good.

  • A regular guy, thirsty for some Diet Pepsi, can overpower Yoda and the Force.

  • Do not cannonball a multi-day salad eating spree with questionable Taco Bell. You've heard the immovable object versus unstoppable force conundrum? Consider what might happen if they were both trying to go in the same direction.