Sunday, May 29, 2005

Ring tone top of pops?

Must be a killer ringtone...


Update - No, it's not

Thursday, May 26, 2005

An honest look at Tiger

The Register provides many reasons why an upgrade is not really neccessary, and tells you which features Apple has REMOVED from OS X in this latest update.
Saving an MP3 that you've loaded from a web page and played in Safari now requires an additional $29.99 payment for Quick Time Pro. That will be reason enough not to upgrade for many. Roxio's Toast no longer burns songs purchased from Apple's Music Store. Right-clicking to download a file from Safari still works, but for how long is anyone's guess. The trend isn't in the right direction - Apple has gradually been removing multimedia features from its software products (see Apple de-socializes iTunes).

It's hard to escape the conclusion that Apple now views the Mac as a platform for a closed home entertainment system - based on iTunes and QuickTime - rather than an open computing platform. AirPort Express is a great example of how a little vision, and terrific engineering, can be spoiled by this new approach. Using Airport Express, it ought to be possible to pipe audio wirelessly from any Mac application to the remote speakers - which should appear as another sound output device in the control panel. But Apple crippled the software, forcing the user to pipe music through iTunes.

The Mac is becoming the incredible vanishing media platform!


This has GOT to be bogus

This guy somehow gets triple gas mileage for his car after freezing his engine in liquid nitrogen. Sounds WAY fishy to me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Power from cold sea water?

Running the frigid pipes through heat exchangers produces unlimited air-conditioning that costs almost nothing. Draining their sweat yields an endless supply of freshwater for drinking and irrigation. The cold water also creates a temperature difference between root and fruit that Craven believes speeds growth. And by turning the flow on and off, Craven has found he can further accelerate the plants' growth cycle by forcing them in and out of dormancy - he can get three crops of grapes a year and pineapples in eight months instead of the usual 18. Feeding some of the water through a contraption Craven calls a hurricane tower generates clean electricity. "What the world doesn't understand," says Craven, still zigzagging through the parking lot, "is that what we don't have enough of is cold, not heat."


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What we really want out of our next console

Yeah, this is a rambling, self-contradictory mess of an article, but it's funny, and you gotta love rants like this:
If pretty graphics are king, it's time to remember what pretty graphics are for: immersion. For whatever its faults, Doom III knew this.

Immersion means soothing to sleep the part of our brain that remembers we're not intergalactic bounty hunters or world-class athletes. And that part of us is rudely jostled awake when our snowboarder bounces off an invisible wall in midair...

...because he strayed from the race area. I understand you can't have infinite space, guys surfing right off the mountain and taking a snowboard tour of Asia. But put a cliff there. Cliffs are solid. Empty air is not solid.

Almost every game does this. In Lord of the Rings: Return of the King there's actually a "run out of a crumbling building" level and where stones rain down on your head and block your path. So the biggest difficulty in the level is that you can't jump over a knee-high stone because THERE IS NO FUCKING JUMPING IN THE GAME.

Game makers: it doesn't have to be a jumping game for you to give the characters the basic ability to jump low obstacles that all humans have. And when I walk up to little ledges that are 10-inches off the ground, a ledge a toddler could crawl over, and you arbitrarily don't let me pass because it's not a jumping game, you remind me of what I'm really doing: playing a game. We're to the stage where it should be a minimum requirement in the game universe: rock should act like rock, air should act like air and humans should move like humans.


Families flee San Francisco

This sounds familiar. However, I like this part:
etermined to change things, Mayor Gavin Newsom has put the kid crisis near the top of his agenda, appointing a 27-member policy council to develop plans for keeping families in the city.

"It goes to the heart and soul of what I think a city is about — it's about generations, it's about renewal and it's about aspirations," said Newsom, 37. "To me, that's what children represent and that's what families represent and we just can't sit back idly and let it go away."

Newsom has expanded health insurance for the poor to cover more people under 25, and created a tax credit for working families. And voters have approved measures to patch up San Francisco's public schools, which have seen enrollment drop from about 62,000 to 59,000 since 2000.

One voter initiative approved up to $60 million annually to restore public school arts, physical education and other extras that state spending no longer covers. Another expanded the city's Children's Fund, guaranteeing about $30 million a year for after-school activities, child care subsidies and other programs.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Santorum, meet Godwin

*head explodes*


Harry Reid is my hero

Read the first salvo in the war over judicial filibusters.
And now, the President of the United States has joined the fray and become the latest to rewrite the Constitution and reinvent reality. Speaking to fellow Republicans on Tuesday night, he said that the Senate "has a duty to promptly consider each...nominee on the Senate floor, discuss and debate their qualifications, and then give them the up or down vote they deserve."

Duty to whom? The radical right wing of the Republican Party who see within their reach the destruction of America's mainstream values?

It's certainly not duty to the tenets of our Constitution or to the American people who are waiting for progress and promise, not partisanship and petty debates.

The duties of the United States Senate are set forth in the Constitution of the United States. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential nominees "an up or down vote." It says appointments shall be made with the Advice and Consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying that every nominee receives a vote.

The attempt to do away with the filibuster is nothing short of clearing the trees for the confirmation of an unacceptable nominee on the Supreme Court. If the Majority gets its way, George Bush and the far right will have the sole power to put whoever they want on the Supreme Court -- from Pat Robertson to Phylis Schlafley. They don't want someone who represents the values of all Americans, someone who can win bipartisan consensus. They want someone who can skate through with only a bare partisan majority, someone whose beliefs lay in the fringes of our society.

Nobody will be able to stop them from placing these people on the highest court in the land - extremist judges who won't protect our rights and who hold values far outside the mainstream of America.

Here's what's really at stake here:

The civil rights of millions of Americans.

The voting rights of millions of Americans.

The right to clean water to drink and safe air to breathe for millions of Americans.

The right to free speech and religious beliefs.

The right to equality, opportunity and justice.

And, nothing less than the individual rights and liberties of all Americans.

It is up to us in this Chamber to say no to this abuse of power. To stand up for the Constitution and let George Bush and the Republican Party know that the Supreme Court is not theirs to claim.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

This is hot

Am I gonna have to buy ANOTHER Game Boy?


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Get your (kitten) war on!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Everything bad is good bad good for you

Steven Johnson, the writer of Everything Bad Is Good For You and Dana Stevens, Slate's TV critic, have an email argument about whether TV and videogames today are really, as Johnson claims, making us smarter. Stevens is willing (and this, in itself, is a breakthrough admission for most culture critics) to concede that some videogames may be good for our IQs. However:
I was struck by a story you tell in the section on gaming about a man who was profiled in Wired who's deeply involved in a simulation game called Ultima Online. Having undertaken the task of turning his "avatar," or virtual persona, into an expert blacksmith, he was coming home from work every night to hours of repetitive mining labor in the sim world—essentially, working a second job at night. That you cheerily adduce this as evidence of the value of gaming strikes me as odd. To me, the irony of this guy's double shift seemed more like a bleakly Marxist critique of the replacement of real by artificial experience, and the complete effacement of leisure time. The Man has him coming and going; his boss gets eight hours of work out of him by day, the makers of the game by night.

If you look at the average American's TV-viewing habits, some of that same chain-gang logic applies. We're putting in nearly a full workweek—about 30 hours—in front of the screen. So what if we're all becoming geniuses at sussing out plot threads on ER? Unless we broaden our understanding of what these technologies are doing—not just to our IQ scores, but to our language, our social networks, our bodies, our imaginations—we run the risk of falling into a tautological feedback loop, in which technology has nothing to teach us except how to be better consumers of that same technology. And that would be really dumb.


Wrong on so many levels

Saturday, May 14, 2005

New fuel cell runs on PEOPLE

Well, not really - it actually runs on their blood! Really.


Friday, May 13, 2005

Armando from Daily Kos interviews Rep. McDermott on the Common Good

On the "ownership society":
McDERMOTT: The more you live, the more you become wary of the guy selling snake oil and ... I always tell a story about my grandfather, you know, my grandfather back in the 20s the big thing was electricity and there was a guy named Samuel in Chicago, where I was born and raised. He was putting together all his electrical conglomerates and he ultimately put together Commonwealth Edison, but they were selling stock for this stuff and they came down in central Illinois where my grandfather, who had a second-grade education, and his wife came over and she said Jim, we've got to buy some of that Samuel's stock, my brother is getting rich and they are going to be millionaires, we are not going to have anything, and he said well Jane I'll tell you what, go out to the State Bank, we've got $500 down there, half of it is yours, you can buy that stock. He said, while you're walking down there, just remember or ask yourself the question, why are those tycoons from Chicago down here selling that stuff in the cornfields to people like you and me? She never bought any stock and her brother went broke.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Rest of country "discovers" flatiron steak

Looks like it won't be a "value cut" for much longer...

Weekly round-up

Work has been crazy for the last couple of weeks, hence the lack of blogging. Here are a few cool things I've seen that I haven't had time to blog about yet:

Burnout 3 was, by far, my favorite videogame of 2004. This year, we get two Burnout titles. Burnout Revenge, for PS2/Xbox, adds a "revenge" mode to the game, and appears to allow collisions with "civilians" without the insta-crashing from Burnout 3. Burnout Legends is a remixed version of all three Burnout games, for the PSP. I just wish it would come out before my multiple trips to China scheduled for this summer...

Burnout Revenge preview

Burnout Legends preview

The Powerseed is an extremely-overpriced and unnecessary gadget that some of us could probably really use. I always scarf my meals, and although in theory I could use "self-control" to keep the scarfing in check, this little gadget seems like another, more-likely-to-suceed option. I'd buy one, if I didn't know that I could build this thing for about $3 in parts. Maybe I'll buy one anyway.


Yahoo has launched a $4.99/month all-you-can-eat music subscription service. This seems to be about the right price, but you should get unprotected music - as it is, the music becomes unplayable once your subscription lapses (or once the service goes away).


My friend Adam built the ultimate Mac-based media center using a G4 tower and a pile of other hardware. He is truly living in the future at this point, with live videoconferencing, PVR, HDTV, Music (with neato graphics), all controlled via wireless keyboard and mouse from his couch and displayed on a widescreen LCD HDTV. He wrote up his setup and posted it on


In politics, Avedon, posting at Eschaton wonders if all the voter conspiracy theories might be true after all:

One reason I don't think it's at all paranoid to suspect that the Republicans have deliberately taken over the voting system in order to cheat is that they keep doing things that don't otherwise make sense. There's a rather long list of things you just wouldn't expect them to think they could get away with unless they really thought they could control the ballot box, because otherwise they would have to expect that the public would kick enough of them out to not only end some political careers but also make impeachment - and prison - a distinct possibility.

Check out that list for a refreshing dose of renewed outrage.

And, in personal news:

1. We got a house

2. My wife got a new job as chef de cuisine of Boulette's Larder. If you are in downtown San Francsico, be sure to stop by for some amazing organic breakfast and/or lunch. Or you can pick up something to take home for dinner, especially if you are trying to impress...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Bye bye broadcast flag!

Turns out the FCC can't tell me how to design a PVR. Yay!


Wednesday, May 04, 2005


"We're going to catch the world in the headlights of my justice."

The Colbert Report: "No, you shut up!"


Monday, May 02, 2005

Et tu, PBS?

The Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias, prompting some public broadcasting leaders - including the chief executive of PBS - to object that his actions pose a threat to editorial independence.

In late March, on the recommendation of administration officials, Mr. Tomlinson hired the director of the White House Office of Global Communications as a senior staff member, corporation officials said. While she was still on the White House staff, she helped draft guidelines governing the work of two ombudsmen whom the corporation recently appointed to review the content of public radio and television broadcasts.

Mr. Tomlinson also encouraged corporation and public broadcasting officials to broadcast "The Journal Editorial Report," whose host, Paul Gigot, is editor of the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. And while a search firm has been retained to find a successor for Kathleen A. Cox, the corporation's president and chief executive, whose contract was not renewed last month, Mr. Tomlinson has made clear to the board that his choice is Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee who is now an assistant secretary of state.

Mr. Tomlinson's tenure has brought criticism that his chairmanship has been the most polarizing in a generation. Christy Carpenter, a Democratic appointee to the board from 1998 to 2002, said partisanship was "essentially nonexistent" in her first years. But once Mr. Tomlinson, a former editor in chief of Reader's Digest, joined in September 2000 and President Bush's election changed the board's political composition, the tenor changed, she said.

"There was an increasingly and disturbingly aggressive desire to be more involved and to push programming in a more conservative direction," said Ms. Carpenter, who is now a vice president of the Museum of Television and Radio. One of the more disturbing developments, she added, was a "very vehement dislike for Bill Moyers."

Mr. Tomlinson said he understood the need to reassure liberals that the traditions of public broadcasting, including public affairs programs, were not changing, "that we're not trying to put a wet blanket on this type of programming."

But his efforts to sow goodwill have shown that what he says he tries to project is sometimes read in a different way. Last November, members of the Association of Public Television Stations met in Baltimore along with officials from the corporation and PBS. Mr. Tomlinson told them they should make sure their programming better reflected the Republican mandate.

Mr. Tomlinson said that his comment was in jest and that he couldn't imagine how remarks at "a fun occasion" were taken the wrong way. Others, though, were not amused.

"I was in that room," said Ms. Mitchell. "I was surprised by the comment. I thought it was inappropriate."

Such a twisted view of "balance," I don't even know how to respond to this Orwellian horseshit.
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