Tuesday, August 31, 2004

iMac G5


Pretty damned cool looking.

Now if only they made a wireless keyboard and mouse standard . . .

via Apple

Posted at 09:12 AM in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Presidential Candidates on the issues


Do issues matter to voters?

A resource is available this year that previous generations of voters never enjoyed: Gathered in one place, a web collection of all their views on major and miner issues, including voting records, quotes, all annotated with links to sources.

Very cool stuff . . .

John Kerry

George W. Bush

Posted at 07:32 AM in Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I am seriously tired of Blockbuster

Is it just me, or does Blockbuster Video, well, kinda blow?

Between the satellite dish and TiVo, I rent videos much less than I used to. Every now and again, I'll rent something special like LOTR Return of the King or The Triplets of Belleville.

So I do just that today. I learn: 1) the price has crept up to $4.49 per rental; and b) I owe a $4.49 late fee from June.

Splain this to me, Lucy: I rented a movie in June for $4 for a week. It got returned a day late. The fee is another $4 for the extra 12 hours. WTF?

That's why I think Blockbuster blows. Its penny ante, nickel and dime bulls$%# like that which is just so annoying. They always seem to have their hands in my pocket.

Funny thing is, DVDs are actually a much better experience -- picture-quality wise, alternative endings, out-takes, additional material.

Oh, well, too bad. Video on Demand inches closer every day, and dinosaurs like Blockbuster end up with customers who cannot wait for them to go belly up.

I know I am not the only one waiting to say: Buh-Bye!

: The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King (Widescreen Edition)
The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King

: The Triplets of Belleville
The Triplets of Belleville

Posted at 06:05 AM in Film | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, August 30, 2004

iPod Smart Playlists


Seriously, you mean to tell me that people who own iPods, do not know they can custom craft playlists? Its one of the absolute coolest things about iTunes!

In the days of Vinyl, I was a mixed tape junkie. It used to take me hours and hours to make a 90 minute mix. Now it theoretically takes seconds.

But how can you not know about Smart Playlists?

A recent article in the NYT addresses the issue:


"There are ways to circumvent Shuffle - on an iPod at least - by using iTunes, most notably by creating a Smart Playlist. Indeed, one could argue that the most innovative thing about the iPod is not the number of songs that can be stored on it, but the intelligent ways in which the iTunes software can manage users' music. After all, having 10,000 songs on a tiny device is relatively useless unless you can play exactly what you want, when you want it.

Creating Smart Playlists enables users to slice and dice their music libraries using pretty much any criteria they want. One can produce, for example, an entire list of songs that share nothing other than that they occupy the seventh track on their respective albums. The Date Added subcategory can be used as the selection criteria to generate a mix of songs that have been added to the iPod over the course of, say, the last two weeks.

The Smart Playlists function is relatively easy to use - there is even a Web site, www.smartplaylists.com, devoted to creating them - but it is more difficult than simply clicking on Shuffle, and it seems to be popular among more technically inclined iPod owners. (Most people interviewed for this article had never heard of Smart Playlists, let alone used them.)"

Here's the discussion of "Shuffle Play"

Shuffle commands have been around since the dawn of the CD player. But the sheer quantity of music on an MP3 player like the iPod - and in its desktop application, iTunes - has enabled the function to take on an entirely new sense of scale and scope. It also heightens the risk that a long-forgotten favorite song will pop up, for better or for worse, in mixed company.

There is an unintended consequence of the allure of Shuffle: it is causing iPod users to question whether their devices "prefer" certain types of music . . . These people are not the only ones who think that iPods have minds of their own. IPod enthusiasts are throwing all manner of Shuffle conspiracy theories around on Internet message boards, ranging from the somewhat plausible to the absurd.

At the macslash.org discussion site, one posting said: "I'm pretty sure iTunes is not sorting my songs randomly. It seems to learn. I'd say it's using some Bayesian logic and/or simple neural networks to vary probabilities of songs to be selected and adjust parameters of selection by the users history of song skipping."

When confronted with such elaborate theories, Stan Ng, Apple Computer's director of iPod product marketing, laughed. "The funny thing about it is that it really is random," he said. "When you turn on Shuffle Songs, it creates a randomized list of all the music on your iPod without repeating a song."

That is to say, if you listened on Shuffle to all 1,000 songs stored on an iPod Mini, you would theoretically never hear the same song twice, much the way you would never get two queens of hearts if you pulled cards from a single deck one by one. (Conversely, if you select Random on the iTunes Smart Playlist function, you might hear the same song twice in a row, though it is unlikely.)

The popularity of the listening mode led Apple's product design team to add Shuffle to the main menu on the fourth-generation iPod, which was introduced on July 19. Now, instead of having to scroll down into Settings to turn Shuffle on or off, users have it at their fingertips.

Mr. Ng said that the technology behind the Shuffle function has remained the same since the first-generation iPod. He declined to reveal the algorithm used to generate randomness on Shuffle, but said the only reason that an iPod might seem to know a listener's preferences is that the listener, after all, chose the music in the first place.

Tunes, a Hard Drive and (Just Maybe) a Brain
New York Times, August 26, 2004

Posted at 07:51 AM in Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sunday, August 29, 2004



Posted at 07:33 AM in Art & Design | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, August 28, 2004

How Much Got "Lost in Translation" from Swedish?

Now this is amusing:

Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2004 18:21:43 -0100 (GMT)
From: anakata
To: [email protected]
Subject: Re: Unauthorized Use of DreamWorks SKG Properties

On Mon, 23 Aug 2004 [email protected] wrote:

Dennis L. Wilson, Esq.
9720 Wilshire Blvd., Penthouse Suite
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Tel: (310) 248-3830
Fax: (310) 860-0363

August 23, 2004


Box 1206
Stockholm 11479

[email protected]

Re: Unauthorized Use of DreamWorks SKG Properties

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is being written to you on behalf of our client, DreamWorks SKG (hereinafter "DreamWorks"). DreamWorks is the exclusive owner of all copyright, trademark and other intellectual property rights in and to the "Shrek 2" motion picture. No one is authorized to copy, reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use the "Shrek 2" motion picture without the express written permission of DreamWorks.
As you may be aware, Internet Service Providers can be held liable if they do not respond to claims of infringement pursuant to the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In accordance with the DMCA, we request your assistance in the removal of infringements of the "Shrek 2" motion picture from this web site and any other sites for which you act as an Internet Service Provider.

We further declare under penalty of perjury that we are authorized to act on behalf of DreamWorks and
that the information in this letter is accurate. Please contact me immediately to discuss this matter

The response is utterly priceless

"As you may or may not be aware, Sweden is not a state in the United States of America. Sweden is a country in northern Europe. Unless you figured it out by now, US law does not apply here.

For your information, no Swedish law is being violated.

Please be assured that any further contact with us, regardless of medium, will result in

a) a suit being filed for harassment;
b) a formal complaint lodged with the bar of your legal counsel, for sending frivolous legal threats.
It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are fucking morons, and that you should please go sodomize yourself with retractable batons.

Please also note that your e-mail and letter will be published in full on http://www.thepiratebay.org.

Go fuck yourself.

Polite as usual,

via BoingBoing

Posted at 08:28 AM in Humor, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, August 27, 2004

Welcome RNC!


Via Political Strategy

Posted at 05:37 AM in Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

John Kerry on "The Daily Show"

Holy Snikeys!

When I wrote last week that "If I was advising the Kerry campaign, I’d schedule him for Monday's show -- on the condition that Stewart rerun that bit about the SBVFT" (here and here) I didn't think that anyone in the Kerry camp was paying attention -- but apparently, they were!


Here's the 411 from WaPo:

"When John Kerry decided it was time to do his first national TV interview since the Swift boaters for Bush launched their attack on the senator's Vietnam War record, he did not choose CBS's "60 Minutes," ABC's "Nightline" or "NBC Nightly News."

Kerry picked Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," where he will appear tonight in an extended interview.

Now I bet you feel terrible that you dismissed as fools those TV critics who, back in July, collectively crowned "The Daily Show" the year's best news and information program. I know I do.

This marks the first time "The Daily Show" has bagged an actual presidential nominee. Which is not to say that "The Daily Show" lacks political heat. In 2000, vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman showed up, and this election, every one of the 10 Democratic hopefuls except Kerry appeared on the show before the party's convention last month. John Edwards actually announced his intention to run for president on the show, and Carol Moseley Braun dropped out of the race the very next day after appearing on Jon Stewart's program.

In fact, Stewart's show has so much buzz during this election, it's annoying some of the traditional TV newsies . . ."

Seriously: Kerry on Comedy Central
By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post, Tuesday, August 24, 2004; Page C01

Posted at 02:53 PM in Humor, Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I forgot the author I got this from (anyone know the name?), but its astounding in its simplicity and resonance:

"At a recent luncheon with friends, the topic surfaced about someone who quit his job on short notice. The fellow who knew the details was asked, “Well, what did he say was the reason?”

“I’m sorry, but he talked to me in strict confidence,” my friend replied.

The topic quickly changed, but I thought about that meeting later. If I ever needed someone to talk with, where would I turn? I would likely gravitate toward the person who knew how to keep his mouth shut. In fact, my opinion of this gentleman’s character grew immensely when he spoke that one sentence about confidentiality.

Some people think it’s fun to gossip, yet they quickly gain a reputation as someone who can’t be trusted. If you want to raise your status among colleagues, here are four rules to follow.

1. Never betray a confidence.
2. Steer the conversation toward important ideas rather than about people.
3. Ask at least four questions for every answer you give.
4. End every conversation on a note of optimism about the future.

You’ll be surprised at the growing number of people who will request the pleasure of your company."

Posted at 10:59 AM in Philosophy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Google Guide


To hell with the IPO! Want to learn some of the really cool things you can make Google do? Check out The Google Guide

Here are all the advanced functions the story describes:

Advanced Search http://www.google.com/advanced_search
Anacubis http://www.anacubis.com/googledemo/google/index.asp
Google Answers http://answers.google.com/answers
GoogleAlert http://www.googlealert.com
Google Features http://www.google.com/help/features.html
Google Indicateur http://google.indicateur.comGoogle
Guide: http://www.googleguide.com
Google Help Central http://www.google.com/help/index.html
Google Labs http://labs.google.comGoogle
News Alerts http://www.google.com/newsalerts
Google Services and Tools http://www.google.com/options/
Google Ultimate Interface http://www.faganfinder.com/google.html
Something Awful http://www.somethingawful.com

The Google Guide
Garrett Wasny
Backbone Technology
May 07, 2004 - 02:20

Posted at 06:53 AM in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack