A guy from San Diego was in Thailand when the Tsunami hit journaling about his experiences abroad (http://www.mytripjournal.com/behle). His blog has now been documenting his experiences escaping the tidal wave and helping in the relief effort.
Wednesday, December 29
A guy from San Diego was in Thailand when the Tsunami hit journaling about his experiences abroad (http://www.mytripjournal.com/behle). His blog has now been documenting his experiences escaping the tidal wave and helping in the relief effort.
This article talks about the flops of this year's gadget market:
* Sony introduced a hard-drive-based digital music player that WON'T PLAY MP3-ENCODED SONGS.
* A Japanese company created a USB Flash drive that is designed to look like a piece of sushi... and charges $99 for them as compared to $20 or less for comparable non-"designer" drives.
* Hot Cubby USB Cup Warmer: a coaster that plugs into a computer's USB port to keep drinks warm.
* Griffin Technology, who spawned the amazingly useful iMic USB microphone adapter, came out this year with the iBeam laser pointer attachment for the iPod. Why?
* Procter & Gamble's "Scentstories;" a CD-like "player" that emits smells to describe such events as exploring a mountain trail, relaxing in a hammock, or wandering barefooton the shore. If you really want to confuse yourself, you can even play all three at once.
* Toshiba developed a Bluetooth wireless washing machine that can download clothing care instructions from a PC or send out a signal to the connected computer in case it breaks down.
All novel ideas, of course... but in what way are they at all useful?
Did you get a gift card this Christmas? Do you think you'll actually visit the merchant whose logo adorns that bit of plastic?
If you have any gift cards that you don't think you'll use, you can sell them (for a bit less than face value) or trade them with other SwapAGift participants whose friends don't know them very well either.
This is a great idea... you can also visit the site to purchase gift cards at a discount. Currently there's a $100 Best Buy gift card on sale for $95 and a $178 CompUSA gift card available for $148 (to name just a couple). I think this is a great idea!
Friday, December 17
While what's *in* this intelligence reform bill is decent, I worry more about what has been left *out* of it. Namely, a program to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
Illegal immigration is, without a doubt, the greatest problem threatening our country today... Southern California in particular. We spend billions upon billions of dollars a year to cover services for illegal immigrants, not to mention the poor enforcement of federal immigration laws create such a porous border that terrorists have almost an open invitation to enter the country.
I could go on and on, but as I've already posted on this subject I'll just let it go. My main political issue of interest is illegal immigration, and in future I intend to vote for any candidate that supports closed borders, without regard to the side of the aisle on which they sit. I've heard that Hillary Clinton might run a closed-borders campaign for the 2008 Presidential election, and if she does she'll have my usually-Republican vote.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:41 AM
This is a sad story... I heard about it as it broke on the news last night at about 5:45. At that time I wasn't aware of the gunmans identity (the Crystal Cathedral's orchestra conductor), but I heard about the random shots he had fired. It seems that he finally shot himself at about 2am this morning.
My mother-in-law, who works with the Crystal Cathedral's crisis hotline service, had left the church less than an hour before the news broke. I'm sure they'll have something special to honor the deceased Johnnie Wayne Carl in church this Sunday, and I'll see what I can find out about the service.
I drove past this accident on my way to work this morning. It was mostly cleaned up when I saw it (and I was on the southbound side, which had not been diverted to side streets), but it definitely looked very serious. Several CHP cars and tow trucks were present.
This is actually kind of funny -- students at University College London have studied in-depth the behavior of the character Gollum from LOTR in order to attempt a diagnosis of his personality disorders. Apparently, he fulfills seven out of the nine basic criteria for determining the presence of a schizoid personality disorder.
Some thought that his disorder might be schizophrenia, but since his two personalities communicate with each other that couldn't be it... patients with Multiple Personality Disorder are unaware of their alternate "identity."
It seems that they were basing their diagnoses on the Andy Serkis/CGI interpretation of Gollum from the Peter Jackson films and not specfically from the book, as this article cites a suggested thyroid problem due to bulging eyes and grossly low weight.
All in all, I think that this study is entertaining but ultimately just silly.
Thursday, December 16
I first looked at this article because I know my wife likes Keith Urban. However, after reading it I was intrigued myself. Even though I'm not a big country music fan, I can appreciate the musicality inherent in (most of) it.
I liked the fact that this article describes his playing style and instrumentation instead of dwelling on the concert atmosphere and a bunch of tunes I don't know. I've heard him on the radio a few times, and I really like the fact that he plays real music instead of the chord-based "I don't know what I'm playing, but it got me a recording contract anyway" that is so ubiquitous in modern pop.
Wednesday, December 15
Cool! Target and Wal-Mart are selling "Stocking Stuffer" DVDs of old movies and TV programs for $1. This doesn't list the titles that are available, but I think it's a great idea and I've wondered for quite a while why DVDs of every type (no matter how old the content) still have $10-and-up price tags.
I found this article interesting since I recently became a Netflix customer. I looked around at the various US online-rental places (Netflix, Blockbuster, Wal-Mart), and I definitely think Netflix is the way to go. Blockbuster has a *slightly* lower price, Wal-Mart is a little quicker at getting new movies to you (they use the USPS tracking system to ship a new movie to you as soon as you send one back instead of waiting until they actually receive it), but Netflix blows them both away in terms of DVD availability. I even rented the BBC TV version of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" from them, and that's not even available for purchase in the US! Admittedly the TV version sucked as compared to the books and the radio, but I just like the fact that nearly anything you could want is available. I even have the entire Monty Python's Flying Circus (14 volumes) scattered about in my Queue right now, and eventually I might add the 14-volume DVD set of Roger Moore playing Leslie Charteris' "The Saint" (which was the inspiration for the 1997 Val Kilmer movie).
Netflix has it all, and they have nothing to worry about. Also, Netflix Freak is a really cool OSX application that lets you manage your Netflix Queue and browse DVDs without needing to plod through a slow HTML interface.
Monday, December 13
Wednesday, December 1
Cool! I want one. I didn't know they were this cheap already.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:46 AM
This article is about a 12-year-old kid who, in addition to hearing complex compositions in his head, can write them all down without a moment's hesitation. The first part isn't *quite* as spectacular to me (while not a "composer" per se, I have studied the art of composition and have even written enough to present an original recital), but the ability to translate aural sensations into written music is utterly amazing. I, a college-educated musician with a degree in Music Theory, can't even begin to describe how difficult that is... much less how much respect I have for anyone with a gift this developed.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:38 AM
Apple, while having been a great driving computer-industry force for quite a while, has exceeded all expectations this year. Read the article for more info... Go Apple!
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:36 AM
Merriam-Webster says that "blog" was one of its most looked-up words (they remove constant lookups like "affect/effect" and profane words from their word of the list), and it has earned itself a place in the 2005 edition of their Collegiate Dictionary. Huzzah for bloggers!
I didn't actually get to see this episode of 'Jeopardy' since we don't get NBC at our new place, but I'm almost glad this whole winning streak is over. I don't feel sorry for Ken Jennings, with his $2.5 million prize, and I'm willing to wager that he's relieved to be finished with his stint on the popular quiz show.
Monday, November 29
This is pretty sad... Target is not going to allow Salvation Army bell-ringers to stand outside its stores this Christmas, costing the charity an estimated nine million dollars in contributions.
The Salvation army is hoping to redirect such gifts to its Web site.
Heh... a London hotel is offering a free room to couples with given names "Mary" and "Joseph."
"We are trying to make up for the hotel industry not having any rooms left on Christmas Eve 2004 years ago," said hotel manager Sandy Leckie. Well, Sandy, it was actually 2008 years ago (or 2007, if you don't believe the Year Zero existed), and it wasn't Christmas Eve (Christmas didn't exist yet, and there's no way the shepherds were sleeping outdoors in winter anyway... Jesus was probably born in the spring), but otherwise it's a nice sentiment I suppose. :)
The original title for the article to which this is linked, penned by some headline writer at Reuters, was "'Alexander' Falls on Sword at Box Office." I think it's pretty dumb to devote the headline for the weekend box-office roundup to the number 6 film... but whatever. I apologize for the corny title I made up, but you can blame Focus on the Family for the idea.
My wife and I saw "National Treasure" this weekend, and we both really liked it. She isn't a big fan of Nicolas Cage, but for both of us the combination of action, intelligence, and "just-a-regular-guy" acting really made it worthwhile. I liked one particular scene where Cage hits a guy and brings him down, but then he stops to nurse his hurt hand before the action continues. This is what made the movie, in my opinion, even better than the classic "Indiana Jones" flicks: the hero is not a superhuman "action-hero" type of guy, he's just like any regular nerdy history nut. I'm reminded of Stanley Goodspeed (Cage's character in "The Rock," a great film which I rented and first saw over the past weekend), the self-described "chemical super-freak" who still finds it in himself to do what is needed to save the city of San Francisco. Another bit that makes it better than Indiana Jones is that it's set right in our own American backyard and deals with our own relatively recent American history instead of foreign places and ancient temples.
Diane Kruger (whose first big film was this summer's "Troy," in which she played Helen) was also great as Cage's female counterpart. I really enjoyed seeing an actual good-looking woman on the screen instead of the emaciated Hollywood-imposed "archetype of beauty" who looks like she needs a sandwich more than she needs to get the guy. It was also cool to see her actually play an integral part in the development of the intellectual part of the story. She did it believably, too... unlike Denise Richards' character in one of the recent Bond films, who basically came off as a pair of boobs with a bunch of lines she didn't really understand. While I'm on the subject, I hope that they don't try to give academic brains to one of the Bond girls ever again unless they get a real woman like Kruger to play her.
In any case, I heartily recommend "National Treasure." Go see it; it's worth your while, and even with a PG rating it's able to truly intrigue the intellect and entertain the masses.
On the whole, this article didn't really tell me anything I didn't know (or at least expect). However, one tidbit was very interesting. I hadn't known the origin of the term "Black Friday" before, but it is called that because it's the day most retailers move into profit for the year... getting "in the black," as opposed to "in the red."
It's also interesting to think about how much money changed hands in one day - $22.8 billion, just in America. The mind boggles.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:06 AM
Wednesday, November 24
The best bit of this article (though you really should read the whole thing):
By the 1990s, a VHS recorder was a common feature in most homes as prices fell and technology improved -- although the art of actually programming a recorder remained a mystery to many.
To add insult to injury, police grudgingly admit that in Britain at least, house burglars don't even bother to take VHS players because new ones now cost so little that no one wants a second-hand model.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 3:31 PM
I'm looking forward to this movie, even though Jamie Lee Curtis looks like Rita Rudner in the previews. I also haven't seen Tim Allen do anything new in a while, and the kid who plays Dewey in Malcolm in the Middle will probably do well too.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 3:28 PM
Monday, November 22
If you've ever seen "Office Space" or fantasized about destroying bothersome workplace equipment, you'll understand this concept. Apparently there's a junkyard in Lubia, Spain, that will let you go around with a sledgehammer and bash in "cars, computers, phones, and photos of the boss." 40 euros ($52) will buy you two hours of destructive joy, but organizers from group called StopStress say that nobody has yet been able to make their aggression last more than half an hour.
This is a pretty neat idea: Taipei wants to completely cover its environs with an ubiquitous Wi-Fi network. This means that PDAs, Laptops, and other wireless devices will be able to connect to the Internet anywhere in the city.
It seems that this may not be as fun for those with their own 802.11x networks (and even cordless phones and baby monitors) at home, but the added connectivity throughout the city seems to be a great idea.
If only there was a way to get Wi-Fi connectivity to jump from 2.4GHz to another frequency not quite as occupied by other cordless and wireless household gadgets... However, this worldwide connectivity is definitely the Internet of the future, and I see Wi-Fi and cellular technologies converging into one voice-and-data wireless system several years down the road.
Not only are half of parents planning to give gifts of interactive entertainment to their children this Christmas, apparently 37 percent of Americans (I'm assuming that this figure refers to the adult population) "expect to either give or receive a video game as a gift this holiday."
My Amazon.com Wish List has a couple of video games on it, but none of them are the new "Halo 2" and "GTA" -style games. I always find myself a bit retro in my video-game taste: when 3D gaming was all the rage, I still liked 2D platformers best; now that first-person combat shooters and criminal adventures are hip, I finally like 3D platform games (but I still prefer third-person to first-person). The games I want are kind of old (Rayman 2 & 3; Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb), but I find that liking older games means much less financial outlay at Best Buy and/or Amazon: Games more than a year or so old often end up on the cheap-o bin and are still as good as they were when priced at $30 or more.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:19 AM
Not only a short review of "National Treasure," this is Reuters' weekly round-up of the top-grossing movies of the week. The new Cage flick debuted at number 1, trailed by Paramount's SpongeBob flick. Apparently, viewers of this animated bit of hooliganery were "split evenly between moviegoers either side of 18 years." Odd, but Reuters reports that "'SpongeBob' is a cult favorite with the college crowd," which I believe but find a bit disheartening. The obsession of today's college student with kids' television programming is causing me to lose faith in the America of tomorrow.
Friday, November 19
The iSight, it appears, can be more than just a vehicle for online video chat. The application that intrigued me most in this article actually uses the iSight to scan barcodes from CDs (possibly DVDs, too, but it wasn't clear) in order to create a digital representation of your music library, including cover artwork.
I know iTunes does this sort of thing, too, but it doesn't have the ability to scan barcodes! That's pretty nifty.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 12:51 PM
Thursday, November 18
This new Treo looks awesome. Whenever prices start to go down, I will definitely be in the market for a PDA/phone/Bluetooth-modem like this.
However, with a $600 price tag (even though it'll have a discount for signing a term-of-service agreement), it's still out of reach. Also, since I'm currently on Verizon, I don't have access to any of the really cool new up-and-coming gadgets. Because of this, I'm very much looking into switching providers when my Verizon contract is up next summer.
This looks promising... a new Google search product that will index scholarly journals and academic publications worldwide. I poked around on it for a bit, and it seems promising. Obviously it has culled a lot more articles on Biotechnology and Environmental Science than on Music Theory (my academic field of interest, for those new or just passing through here), but I think this has the potential to be a great resource.
Interesting... a documentary on how various worldwide "Sesame Street" adaptations have challenged traditional values and exposed long-suppressed problems around the globe. Among the tidbits being explored are an HIV-positive Muppet that forced South Africa to recognize its AIDS epidemic and a strong female character that caused Egyptians to rethink traditional gender roles.
This promises to be a good show. The American Film Institute (AFI) is putting together a three-hour tribute to the best quotable movie quotes of all time. I actually get CBS at my apartment, so I'll be looking forward to when it airs next June!
I'm looking forward to the new "National Treasure" film. My wife says she can't stand Nicolas Cage because he has "no expression," but I think that's part of his charm. Of course, it didn't hurt that he's been opposite such talents as Téa Leoni, Don Cheadle, and Giovanni Ribisi (who, while not a "big" name, is a great actor in my opinion).
Besides, they're making comparisons between this new treasure-hunt movie and the Indiana Jones films. I love the mix of intelligence, action, and adventure in the old Harrison Ford classics, so if this has any relation at all I'm sure I'll be happy with it.
Firstly: Why is our country so gung-ho to honor the man who was only the second president ever to be formally impeached?
Secondly: Why is a former President, whose term ended four years ago, still getting so much press? I don't recall seeing George H. W. Bush in the news or writing books or continuing to be so much in the public eye after his term was over.
Wednesday, November 17
This is cool... Bluetooth is gaining wider acceptance and is a part of more and more gadgets. However, reading this article left me salivating for UWB (Ultrawideband, an up-and-coming shortrage wireless protocol) rather than Bluetooth.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:14 AM
Thursday, November 11
This is cool... a reality show ("The Scholar") whose grand prize is a full-ride scholarship to the university of the winner's choice! It's nice to see the whole reality-TV thing being used productively, as in Last Comic Standing where people were actually furthering their careers instead of romping about on an island in hopes of a cash prize.
I might actually turn on the TV for this show... lately, I haven't watched anything but movies and whatever sitcom rerun is on the WB when I go exercise at my apartment's fitness center.
This article made me chuckle. Apple is actually creating socks with iPod-sized pockets. I guess this is for when you're listening to tunes around the house and you're in boxers and a t-shirt (or other attire sans pockets)?
I think it's a cool idea, but a bit silly. Of course, if I actually had an iPod, I'd probably get some (of these socks, that is).
(UPDATE: After checking out Apple's Web page, I found out that these are knit "socks" in which to store your iPod, not real footwear with iPod-sized pockets. My apologies for any confusion, which was probably very limited due to the incredibly tiny readership of my blog.)
Well, I'm sure this will be a draw from some users, but I think POP3 access for gmail is kind of silly. For me, the best part about gmail is the Webmail access... the ability to see my Inbox in exactly the same state no matter what computer I use to get online.
I suppose the big advantages will be: a) the ability to view emails "like you're used to," through whatever POP3 client you usually use, and b) the ability to view emails while not connected to the Internet. For me, though, I really like the gmail Web interface and wouldn't dream of going back to using Outlook. Also, I'm never at a computer without Internet access, so viewing messages while offline really is never an issue.
I suppose it *could* be an issue if I ever started using my PowerBook anywhere but at home or in my office, but I hope eventually to be able to be able to go online via my cell phone. Also, whenever I go to grad school I'm sure there will be plenty of Ethernet jacks around campus and in libraries. WiFi/AirPort networks would be best, of course (and that's what I use at home).
To get back to the original topic... honestly, I think that the whole POP3-gmail thing is for the people who aren't comfortable on the cutting edge of technology. Which isn't a bad thing, but it's not me.
Wednesday, November 10
'A force of security guards trained to protect retail stores across America will be deployed to the Persian Gulf region,' said Maj. Peter Archibald, a spokesman for Central Command. 'Once in Iraq, security teams will fortify ground forces and assist them in keeping the peace and quelling any horseplay.'
Immigration 'reform'? In what sick and twisted way does 'reform' mean "let's let a bunch of poor people come drain our economy legally?"
Before we ever do a deal with Mexico, or get as friendly with Vicente Fox as Colin Powell seems to be in the picture on this news story, we need to deal with all of the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS who have, by coming here ILLEGALLY, already commited a FEDERAL CRIME.
I know Bush doesn't give a sack of wet beans about what happens in California since it's clearly a Democratic state, but the massive influx of illegal immigrants can be, and in some cases clearly is, hiding terrorists who come into the country with fake Latin American names and two-for-a-peso Matricula Counsular cards that are purportedly "official ID" from the Mexican government. For that matter, I doubt that a Democrat president would care about California's current condition since he'd feel that our vote was "in the bag," so to speak.
This is definitely a Homeland Security issue, but the DHS hasn't lifted a finger to help stem the tide. In fact, Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary of the DHS, bent to the slightest pressure from Congressman Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and stopped the proactive efforts of police in Riverside County to rid our streets of these economic leeches.
I'm more pissed about this "deal" with Mexico than can be descibed in words on a webpage, but to hear more about the shaft California has been getting please listen to John and Ken on KFI (3-7pm weekdays, Pacific Time).
Tuesday, November 9
This looks promising... apparently, after a closer look at the San Diego charter, it seems that there is a case for completely dismissing Donna Frye as a candidate for mayor. No matter how many votes she winds up getting once the write-ins are counted.
Well, it looks like Reuters is reporting this momentous occasion as well. More reason for you to go check it out. :)
Posted by augmentedfourth at 1:08 PM
Finally, Mozilla Firefox (the best Web browser on earth) has gone 1.0. For the uninitiated, this means that it's finally a full-fledged product and is no longer in "beta test" mode. It works great, has an awesome popup-blocker, has a tabbed interface (as all *real* browsers these days must), and is also impervious to all of those stupid hacker tricks that exploit flaws in Internet Explorer.
Try it out! It's what I use in both Mac and Windows, and it's fantastic. One of the really cool things about it is that it's based on a plug-in sort of architecture... which basically means that it comes off-the-shelf (well, off-the-site) with only the most basic options necessary to run the browser, and then you can add on Extensions (from update.mozilla.org, as well as a number of other places) to add on only the features that you want. This means that it runs very quickly, as it's not hampered down by a full-fledged feature set of which you'll only end up using half.
Click the link on this post's title, and try it today!
Posted by augmentedfourth at 12:48 PM
Wednesday, October 20
This is pretty cool... some Apple iPods sold after the release of U2's next album (coming up in November) will have the new CD's tracks pre-loaded. Quite a marketing gimmick, I'd say. This will undoubtedly make the album sell better, but I don't know whether all purchasers will actually listen to the music.
A London couple who were self-reportedly "messing around" accidentally dialed the emergency-respone number (in Britain it's 999) in the midst of their, um, play. A spokesman for the police said they were "relieved... the couple were clearly getting on very well together."
One of the best pieces of satire I've seen out of The Onion in quite a while.
There's not really much I can say. Just read it. :)
This looks really cool... the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra have created a new concert hall above a shopping mall in New York City. Wynton Marsalis, the JLC's Artistic Director, called it "the house of swing" as he welcomed guests to the inaugural gala performance on Monday night.
The main venue is ideally suited for the acoustics of jazz music, but opera, ballet, theater, and orchestra performances will all be showcased.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:05 AM
Tuesday, October 19
Heh... if you don't want a $2000 cell-phone blocker, just wallpaper the desired area with this (see link) for a "Cone of Silence" effect.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 1:25 PM
Hey! I'm back! I didn't post for a while, but that was because my wife and I were in the middle of moving. My breaks at work have been busy, while I change addresses and phone numbers with SBC, AAA, SDG&E, the U-T, BofA, and some companies whose names aren't catchy acronyms. I still don't have DSL set up at the new place, but if all goes well it'll be turned on by the time I get home from work this evening.
Anyway, the article for this post is quite interesting. I don't often get bugged by cell phones (the parishioners at my church are usually pretty conscientious about that), but I agree that there are many places at which a cell-phone blocker would be useful. I only wish it wasn't illegal here in the US.
Friday, October 8
This "modern-day ... 'Alice in Wonderland'" looks interesting. Though Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) is in it, I hope she also had a hand in the writing. I think she's a better writer than an actor, but she does well acting in things she herself has written.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:32 AM
Wednesday, October 6
I ran across this (pretty old; May 2000) article in The Onion's AV club by playing with Google's Personalized Search. I really liked it, as I have become a major Tom Lehrer fan within the last year or so. I even bought the Remains of Tom Lehrer boxed set recently, along with the songbook Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer (with Not Enough Drawings by Ronald Searle).
His stuff is satirical and sometimes offensive; there are a few tracks I usually skip on the CD. Also, though it's all funny, some of it is a bit dated since it was topical in the 50's and 60's. In general I like it all, though... especially the live recordings with Tom's patter in between.
Ooh... faster wireless.
*rubs hands together maniacally*
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:06 AM
Sunday, October 3
Well, that email subscription to my blog, having been tested, is now disabled. I got the kinks out of it (I think), and it's now a feature of my wife's blog, Verse of the Day. Basically, all of her posts get automatically sent to a Google Group, and subscribing allows you to receive the posts via email. Only the moderator is allowed to post, though... so it's just a mailing list, not a discussion group.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 1:15 PM
Friday, October 1
And back to the familiar territory of tech news...
I'm surprised that they're taking so much time on this inessential issue. Microsoft needs to package some sort of software which can play mp3s and audio streams out-of-the-box... it would confuse the not-quite-tech-literate (read: newbies) otherwise.
Can't the world's legal systems spend time on things that matter instead of clogging up the courts with relatively inconsequential issues?
Sorry, I started waxing political again.
And now a lighter article (who knew this would turn political?)...
"Joey" is an awesome new sitcom, and I'm pleased to see that it's been picked up for the full season. If you haven't watched it yet (my wife and i have seen every episode so far), watch it!
NBC, 8pm, Thursdays. It's a great show.
A New Hampshire focus group felt that Kerry was a better debater, but they all seem to have found justification for their previously-held stance in the outcome of last night's ordeal. According to an AOL poll I heard about on the radio (yeah, I know, who trusts the political opinion of AOL'ers?), most of its subscribers did not change their support as a result of the debate.
As I said in my last post... sure, Kerry was sleek and polished, but his content was insignificant. Also, his facial expressions during Bush's answers (CBS, which is where I tuned in last night, often showed both faces at the same time) seemed quite derisive as he smirked at our current commander-in-chief. Bush seemed much more introspective, considering Kerry's points and then responding while respectfully disagreeing.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:21 AM
I don't know how many who might actually read this watched the debate last night, but I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I happen to be a Bush supporter, and I like the way he performed. Kerry, of course, was more sleek and refined, but his content was (in my opinion) pretty insubstantial. While Bush had several breaks in his speech as he paused to think, I feel that his answers were much more thought-out as opposed to Kerry's very-scripted diarrhea of the mouth.
I know Bush was pretty scripted as well, and I too soon tired of him talking about the "hard work" in Iraq and Kerry's "mixed messages," but I found him to be much more authoritative and in-the-know than his opponent.
Regarding the whole "waffling" thing... I think that a president should take more time to decide before coming up with an "official position," and then stick with it. Tactics can change, yes, but the official position should not waver. Kerry has had a variety of "official positions" as regards our involvement in Iraq, and that is the vacillation that I oppose.
I'm going to blog another debate article, so read on in my next post.
Thursday, September 30
The subscription feature at the top of this page is brand-new. If anyone wants to join and help me work out the kinks (eventually I plan to help my wife add this feature to her blog), please feel free!
Also, this is a test message to see how well formatted text transmits in the emailed posts.
Cool... I knew that the whole "Sky Captain" movie was made with computers and bluescreens, but I didn't know it was all done on macintosh computers. As the proud owner of a new 15" Mac Powerbook G4, I applaud the moviemakers that made that decision.
According to visual effects supervisor Darin Hollings, "Kerry [Conran, the director] was such a proponent of the Mac that he wanted to make the entire movie in Cupertino."
P.S. For those of you saying "huh?", Apple's headquarters are in Cupertino, CA.
Though I already pretty much know who I'm going to vote for (well, "for whom I'm going to vote," of course, but though I love being correct that just sounds stuffy), I'll definitely be watching the debate tonight.
The stupid thing is that the two campaigns came together to form a 32-page memorandum outlining what will and what will not be acceptable in the debate. One thing (brought up by Kerry's camp, I'm sure) is that there will be no direct questioning allowed from one candidate to the other. They also don't want the TV stations to show one candidate's face while the other is talking... but most stations have said that "they'll report what they want to report, how they want to report it."
Basically, "hang you and your stupid debate bylaws." I couldn't agree more.
Tuesday, September 21
Sure, diversity is great... but entry into a university should be based on merit, not ethnicity. This is like Congressman David Dreier's commitment to being an "internationalist" when all it means is that he's just in favor of increasing the flow of illegal aliens into our country.
He's got the worst score, based on his voting record, than any other Republican in terms of controlling the flow of illegals (betterimmigration.com) - even worse than some notoriously open-border Democrats such as Hillary Clinton. Even if you usually vote Republican, the best choice based on this number-one issue facing the state of California is his Democrat opponent Cynthia Matthews.
Anyway, back to the topic of the linked article... it's about EDUCATION, not about RACE. Educate those who show the most promise; don't just let people in because "we need more black kids." Nothing against African-American students, of course, but all students should be held to the same academic standards when determining their eligibility for university admission.
Friday, September 17
Hurrah for Open Source software! OpenOffice.org starts up pretty slowly on Mac OS X, but it's usable. The biggest reason I'm linking to this article, though, is that there is a list of open-source alternative software packages (sadly, most are for Windows) listed on the bottom.
And any article advocating Mozilla Firefox can't be all bad. :)
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:44 AM
I don't know what the big deal is about SP2, anyway... if you have decent firewall and antivirus protection already, SP2 is just an unnecessary hassle. I'm sure I'll get it eventually, but I'll wait until the details are ironed out a bit more.
This is pretty much a "duh" article - since Senator Kerry's main campaign slogan seems to be "Vote for Me Cuz I'm Not Bush." He keeps saying what he's going to do, without giving specifics about how he intends to enact these lofty promises.
Of course, Dan Rather and CBS aren't helping him at all... just shut up about those memos already! You've already made big enough fools of yourselves, and anything you do to try to pull out is just digging the hole deeper. Cut your losses, and move on.
Thursday, September 16
Huh. Apparently Roy contends that the bite that nearly killed him was an attempt by his animal friend to save him. He apparently was having dizzy spells, and the tiger Montecore attempted to save him from falling off the stage. "It was unfortunate that his teeth hit my carotid artery," Roy says.
Just "unfortunate," eh? He was clinically dead for about a minute.
Monday, September 13
Eh... WMP10 looks cool, but I still like Winamp better on Windows. I like the automatic ripping qualities of WMP, but I miss the ability to show the currently-playing song name in the titlebar of the currently-active window.
Of course, I prefer iTunes on Mac OS X, and I'll very much enjoy owning my very first Macintosh computer (a 1.33GHz PowerBook G4) soon.
Freely viewable online copies of Shakespeare's works is now available!
(this post is dedicated to my wife, who at one time had an online alias of WillShakesFan :)
Anthony Daniels (C-3PO in the Star Wars films) will be the only actor to have appeared in all six episodes of Lucas's blockbuster science fiction saga. He laments the overuse of special effects in the prequel trilogy (as do most fans), but saying goodbye to this character, who is pivotal in both his career and the film series, was a teary occasion.
Thursday, September 9
Whoa. This is one of the most amazing Web sites I've ever visited. It's a tribute in memoriam to a young man, Jos Claerbout, who inexplicably died at the age of 25 from sudden cardiac arrest. His father, a Stanford professor, has encapsulated what can be verbally described of his excellent life. Based on what I've read (which is not much, as I've just spent half of one lunch break on it so far), I can unquestionably categorize his life as one of the most authentic I've ever known. In completely the sense that Kierkegaard meant when he talked about "authenticity."
Read it. It's great.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 1:10 PM
Wednesday, September 8
Well, I may be a bit more erratic about blogging in the near future (yeah, yeah... like I've been very consistent the last week or so anyway). I got the opportunity to orchestrate a bunch of "Schoolhouse Rock"-type pieces for the San Diego Symphony. This project is going to take up most of my time (I intend to go for it), so I'll be cutting out a lot of extraneous activities from now until February when they get performed.
By the way, most of these "extraneous activities" are Internet-related. :) I'll be cutting down on newsgroup posting, and probably delete my KoL account entirely. I'll probably give up reading fark.com, too. (The reason I didn't put a Fark link on the left is because I link to a lot of the same stuff.)
Anyway... back to my regular job. I'm working at home for the rest of the week, which is cool. No stupid commute!
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:07 AM
Saturday, September 4
What can I say? The new iMac is cool. In this article, Greg Joswiak describes in detail the innovations in this recently-released Macintosh computer.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:11 AM
This is a good article that describes most of the films coming out this fall. However, the reviewer/reporter who wrote it doesn't have a very good grasp on the use of the comma... so if you ignore approximately every third one in use, it might actually read smoothly.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:08 AM
Wednesday, September 1
I don't have a problem with running red lights, but it's at least nice to know that two of the intersections near my home (Valley Parkway & Center City and Escondido & Second) are getting red-light cameras. I drive through Escondido & Second every day on my way to work, so I'll just have to remember to be especially careful there.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:05 AM
Only "10%," eh? Most of the people to whom I've spoken who have installed SP2 ran into big problems. Of course, most of the people I talk to are tech-geeks who have tweaked their systems to at least some degree before installing the update.
A Microsoft guy said something in an article about "well, I'm doing fine with it," but who wouldn't if you've got the guy who wrote all of the code just down the hall? As of this point, I think that XP users should just leave well enough alone and stick with SP1a until all of the kinks have been worked out. Generally, if you've already got a firewall and related security parapernalia set up and running, there really isn't anything new provided by SP2 anyway.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:01 AM
The outrageous-looking new G5 iMac is basically just a thick studio display with a wireless mouse and keyboard. While technically the "world's thinnest desktop computer," according to one of Apples marketing execs, I think it just looks like a laptop on steroids.
Which then makes me wonder: how long until IBM finally makes a G5 chip that will go in the Apple PowerBook? This is the first time, ever, that Apple has put its pro-grade chip (in this case, the G5) into a consumer-grade computer (the iMac) before all of the pro-grade machines (of which the PowerBook is one) have it. Some speculation I've heard is that Apple should now have a G5 PB in 6-8 months.
I'm still holding out for tha G5 PB with OS X 10.4...
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:53 AM
I really like our governor's politics, and his speech last night was no exception. In response to his obvious charisma that he displayed at the Convention, I've heard that many people are relieved by the fact that he was not born in the US... because otherwise he could have gotten the Republican nomination for president.
In light of the great work he's doing in California, I support the effort (and something is currently in the works) to add to the Constitution an amendment repealing the necessity of natural-born citizenship in Presidential candidates.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:43 AM
Monday, August 30
"If you care, buy my vote and you will have twice the power in the upcoming election!!!!" proclaimed an Ohio man desperate to cover his medical bills. He said he didn't know that this was illegal, but his eBay auction was taken down 12 hours after it was begun.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:21 AM
The Natural History Museum in London has begun using flesh-eating beetles to clean up animal carcasses before they are treated for display. These bugs are vicious enough to eat their own eggs if they aren't stored in exactly the right environment, so I'd imagine they do a good job getting every last bit of unwanted meat from the bodies.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:17 AM
Wednesday, August 25
This is note The Onion... a guy actually took a live cow into a Dairy Queen to take them up on their offer to provide free coffee drinks to those accompanying bovine livestock.
It's a new drink called a "Moolatte," DQ's version of a latte, and Skip Hougland was the only person to take them up on the offer.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 2:02 PM
This is awesome... the BBC are staging their own "flashmob." Flashmobbing is usually an Internet-coordinated event in which a group of people "agree to converge in a public area and join in a seemingly random act."
The BBC's flashmob is different, though... they're staging Flashmob - The Opera at an unnamed London railway station, using pieces of music from actual operas. Apparently they're trying to make the concept of opera much less foreign, and more attractive, to the masses -- especially young people.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 1:59 PM
Monday, August 23
Well, I actually decided to post a journalish-sort of thing today. I don't really know what to talk about, so it'll be a stream-of-consciousness sort of thing.
So... the Olympics. Kinda interesting to watch, I guess. I enjoyed the diving last night, but the commentator was horrible. I kept watching all of these really cool dives, and she just kept coming up with everything the divers did wrong. My wife wondered how she can keep finding 30 seconds of negative criticism for one second of action. She had a co-commentator, too, but she didn't let him get a word in even if it was folded, compacted, shrunk, AND edgewise. Personally, I've pretty much just been riding it out and waiting for Last Comic Standing 3 to start up next week.
Ah, Last Comic Standing. The best thing ever to come out of the whole "reality TV" fad. I particularly liked the 2nd series because I'd actually seen one of the guys live before he ever was on the show. He's from Massachusetts (Gary Gulman, if you saw the show), though, so I figure he was already selected to be in the first on-TV group and was just warming up for it when I saw him here in California. He was opening for Dane Cook at the Improv when we saw him, and that was actually when my sister-in-law and one of my best friends had their first date. My wife and I were kind of setting them up, but they both knew it at the time. It seems to have turned out pretty well... a few more months and they'll have been together a year.
One more thing: I just caught a quote today that I really liked and wanted to post here. It comes from partyingmypants.blogspot.com, one of the random blogs I got sent to when clicking on the "Next Blog" button in the new Blogger NavBar at the top of this page. It was posted there a couple of weeks ago:
"George Bush has done a lot to remind the rest of the world that America has a very long fuse, but at end of that fuse is a [gigantic] bomb." --Dennis Miller (I cleaned it up a bit, since my mom reads this)
Posted by augmentedfourth at 12:47 PM
To show you what an equal-opportunity blogger/computer nerd I am, here is a Microsoft story back-to-back with an Apple story. It seems that SP2 is rolling out rather well, despite the repeated delay.
In another article I read, university IT departments are complaining that the update came out at a bad time, as the network bandwidth is being taken over by students and teachers alike who are downloading the 250MB monstrosity of an update right as they're gearing up for the start of the fall term. Besides that relatively minor issue, Microsoft really seems to have covered its bases.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:33 AM
Apple is gaining marketshare with its laptop computers, especially among students who are already enamored with their Apple iPods. Go Apple!
Wow. An experimental procedure to transplant mismatched-blood-type hearts into dying babies has proved a monumental success. Of course I don't need to reprint the whole science behind it right here, so go to the article for an amazing story and a nifty new scientific innovation.
How cool is this? A church in Tustin subsidized a $1.67-a-gallon gasoline day at a Shell station near their campus. No 'catch' was involved (though they did hand out tracts and pamphlets to those interested); they were just acting to "bless the community," according to one of the volunteers.
Over 12,000 gallons was pumped into an estimated 600+ cars over the course of the day. The church repaid the 40-cent difference per gallon directly to the station's manager, who is also a Christian.
Friday, August 20
Thursday, August 19
I don't have much time to spend blogging today, so here are today's news stories I thought were cool enough to link here:
Cyber Brawls Spilling Into Streets
America's Sweetheart Dumps U.S. For Some Douchebag (note: from The Onion = THIS IS SATIRE)
Porn Star Tells Military 'Bullets, Not Boobs'
Posted to rec.humor.funny.reruns. This is pretty good.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:36 AM
Wednesday, August 18
Yeah, right... a new technology hopes to shove DVDs out of prominence. That's never going to happen, except for the weirdos who wrote this article who got excited that the high-capacity "Blu-ray" disc would be able to hold the "entire sixth season of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'"
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:39 AM
Pamela Anderson -- a "former gymnast" (I guess before she got the balloons inflated) -- wrote a check and started a foundation to help American gymnast Mohini Bhardwaj get to the Olympics. Bhardwaj was deep in debt, and she's very grateful for the help, but she mentions no plans to become a famous slut later in life.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:36 AM
Tuesday, August 17
Or, "32 Ways to open a Gaffel bottle." Gaffel is a beer in Germany.
It's not surprising that it's a group of Germans who took the time to take videos of various ways to open a beer.
Also, for those who want it all explained, "jetzt abspielen" means "play now." "Nochmal abspielen" (appears after playing once) means "play again."
Posted by augmentedfourth at 11:22 AM
Monday, August 16
A "best SF ever" list that only has 3 Asimov books on it? Pshaw...
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:38 PM
Well, Finale 2005 has finally been announced. The new features look pretty cool (though some, of course, are marketing fluff). I hope the OS X version has some speed increases... even though it's not *too* bad as it stands, it could always use some optimization.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 1:32 PM
Friday, August 13
I would call myself a conservative (or at least leaning more in that direction than the other), but this "bedtime story" book is just a bit too radical, even for the most right-wing nutjob...
Oh yeah, go here too: jibjab.com.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:33 PM
Awww... Kilborn is leaving the Late Late Show. He's pretty funny, but usually if I'm stupid enough to be awake at 12:35am I'll be tuning in to Conan O'Brien on NBC's Late Night.
The cool part is that they're considering hiring Conan to replace Kilborn (after the last 16 months of his NBC contract run out, that is). If Conan takes the stage in LA, where the Late Late Show is currently filmed, I might actually be able to go to a filming some time.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 1:00 PM
Thursday, August 12
Finally... I can't believe it took six months for the courts, who were against the idea of gay marriages from the get-go, to officially ban them. That's called "due process," folks.
The headline says it all. But the first sentence of the article is even funnier: "A retired Italian man could face up to a year and a half in prison if found guilty of killing his six pet hamsters and one guinea-pig by throwing them off his terrace into passing traffic."
He "accidentally" swept the animals off the terrace; one landed on a car, damaging its windshield. Police found the man's apartment "by studying the trajectory of the pets' bodies."
Wednesday, August 11
This article explains the major shortcomings that affected the spread of last fall's wildfires, as well as briefly describing what is being done to minimize the future impact of such disasters.
Windows XP Service Pack 2 has finally experienced its long-awaited final release. I haven't been able to try it yet; I'm on a Mac here at work, but I'll get it this evening on my Windows machine at home. It seems the biggest thing is the new Windows Security Center, and according to early reports it does a pretty good job of keeping things tight.
Tuesday, August 10
Windows XP SP2 - finally!
Though apparently the security patches have wreaked havoc with a few software programs... IBM has even asked its employees not to install the update.
Monday, August 9
I like this story, as I was following it long before it became national news. Radio hosts John & Ken (who can be heard throughout Southern California at 3-7pm weekdays on AM 640) are accusing Republican congresspersons from California of not acting in the public's interest in matters regarding illegal immigration. They've been hosting what they call the "Political Human Sacrifice" Summer Reality Game Show to oust one of them from office. They created a list of 13 Republican congresspersons in relatively safe districts, and by listener vote they whittled it down to 5 "competitors."
Read the article for more specifics, but it is worth noting that the link goes to the Washington Times, the #1 competitor to the liberal Post that also reports in DC.
In unrelated news, this is the 100th post to my blog! All hail Herr Theoretiker!
This is pretty cool. Koko (you know... the gorilla that learned sign language) was able to communicate her intense pain to her trainers, and as a result she was treated by a barrage of doctors. Since they had to use anaesthesia to extract the tooth that was the source of the pain, her first full medical examination in about 20 years was performed while she was unconscious.
Saturday, August 7
Thursday, August 5
Further proof that you should never use software whose basic functions you don't understand: Many people with P2P (peer-to-peer) file-sharing programs like KaZaA are accidentally sharing private documents.
Learn what the heck you're doing, and don't just click buttons!
Wednesday, August 4
Monday, August 2
Here's a much calmer, more level-headed look at the Apple/RealNetworks feud I brought up last week. It's still a problem, but Apple isn't portrayed in such a knee-jerk reactionary light this time.
Though I still don't like their unwillingness to share the technology market. The thing that has made technology (and all science for that matter) great is the willingness to collaborate and not to hoard; to share and not to exclude.
But what do I know? I'm just a 23-year-old guy sitting behind a desk at a company hardly any non-musicians have ever heard of.
There they go, down the line...
They're neck-and neck...
Wait, the deadline has passed... but they're still going!
And, ladies and gentlemen, WE HAVE A BUDGET!
Also, read this article to see one of the most egregious grammatical errors I've ever seen in a Reuters publication.
Merriam-Webster is including a lot of new words in the annual update to its Collegiate Dictionary. Among them are terms such as "MP3," "DSL," "Information technology," and even "pleather."
Usually it takes 20 years or so of common usage before a word is added, but the Internet and the high speed of change in the modern world has pushed these terms through that early stage of adoption.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:19 AM
Quite an interesting story. I agree with the premise, even though I would be prohibited from dining in this restaurant. They just don't like to have "screaming or crying children" and "irresponsible younger drinkers" in their establishment.
I'm not saying that I would be one of the second group, but I've known (and known of... just read the news) plenty who would fit there. Sure, it's discrimination, but it's plenty legal and it helps those who do patronize the esablishment to have a better time.
Friday, July 30
What's the point of getting married if he's in Fallujah and she's in San Diego? Though this is a cute story, it's essentially pointless.
They won't be 'Biblically' married (and yes, marriage was created by God in the Bible) until they can consummate their union, and that's obviously impossible until they're together. I don't understand this long-distance wedding thing. Maybe she wants to be able to say she was married to a Marine just in case he dies in battle, or she wants to be able to draw some sort of military-wives' pension if that happens, but I just think it's silly.
I have nothing to say about this.
This is funny... people at Microsoft keep talking about searching "beyond the Web." The local drives aren't "beyond the Web;" if anything, they're "back home"!
Further proof that employees of M$ don't think before they open their mouths.
Thursday, July 29
I was really wanting to get this game for my PC, but since the Windows version will be way different from the console version advertised in trailers and commercials I may not even bother.
However, a PS2 or Xbox might be cool...
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:32 AM
There are at least 5 different stories on this subject today, so I figured I should post one of them. Apparently, RealNetworks has (according to Apple) "hacked" their way into communicating with the iPod. The newest RealPlayer software is capable of downloading songs to the iPod, which was originally only able to communicate with desktop computers by way of Apple software such as iTunes.
I think universality is a good thing... I hate being forced to use one piece of software. Making the "iPod sync" code available to be used with other products only enhances the usability of the music player, in my opinion. If somebody never gets an iPod because they (for some godforsaken reason) love RealPlayer software and can't sync it to the device, now there is a path to purchasing and using the Apple product.
However, according to Apple: "We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real's Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods."
Read this as: "You're going down, Real. Nobody messes with Apple and provides competition on our own turf!"
Dr. Francis Crick, of the Watson & Crick who discovered the structure of DNA in 1953, died yesterday. His former partner, James Watson, said, "Being with him for two years in a small room in Cambridge was truly a privilege."
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:14 AM
This guy wanted to get his property rezoned from agriculture to business, and his request was denied. To retaliate, he put a sty with 17 hogs in the yard. Neighbors are now irritated, and the property owner says he'll increase it to 500 pigs if his request is rejected again.
Wednesday, July 28
The show is still going strong in the ratings, but the 'Ken' season just ended last Friday. I thought that the reason for his going home was that he finally lost to somebody, but I guess it was just because they were finished filming the season. Can't wait to see him come back on the show whenever new episodes start running!
Tuesday, July 27
Ha! This is pretty funny. I got this sent to me at work. The guy who sent it wants a finder's fee since I'm posting it here... riiiight.
Speaking of security at the DNC, a friend of mine is a Demolitions expert with the Air Force, and he was a part of the team that scanned the convention site for bombs before the event was set up. I thought that was kinda cool, even though he was in effect working for the Democratic Party.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 6:15 PM
This just makes me laugh, but it seems that the story is pretty serious. Apparently, in the Sydney 2000 Games, every competing athlete was given 51 condoms as soon as they got there; still, more had to be ordered when supplies ran low.
Odd. It cost about as much to make these counterfeit bills as their face value implies. They were used in vending machines, because the counterfeiting is obvious to human eyes. It fools the reader inside some older vending machines, though: "Police suspect a techno-maniac is involved."
Monday, July 26
I just updated the Links on the left of this page:
Finale 2004 is my music notation software of choice; you should know that if you read the first few posts to this blog.
Real Life and PvP are webcomics that I read daily. If you like the kinds of articles I post in my blog, they might interest you as well. I recommend reading the full archives before attempting to read the daily strip; these comics reference their past quite a bit.
The HHGG movie site is still up, but I removed the link directly to the blog. It was cluttery, and I didn't need two links to the same thing.
Magrathea is the most up-to-date and factual page with information that pertains to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and other Douglas Adams (DNA to his diehard fans) books/radio series/etc. It's run By MJ Simpson, author of the most complete DNA biography around. Currently on the news section of the site, you can download the teaser trailer for the upcoming movie, due out next summer. The new pic in "About Me" is a cropped still from that trailer.
KoL is a free MMORPG; but if you've read much of my blog you already knew that.
I knew these were coming, but Bavarian designer rosner just came out with the MP3-playing, Bluetooth-phone-connected, clothing item. It's a jacket designed in conjunction with German chipmaker Infineon.
Looks cool, but the price is still too high and the concept is still too futuristic for it to be embraced by the public.
Well, I didn't end up seeing "I, Robot" this weekend after all. The projector at the theater we were in broke even before the movie started, so we sat around for half an hour before being herded out.
We decided that it would be foolish to try to catch the next showing of the Asimov-inspired film, because we'd have to try to find a seat in a crowded theater filled with fellow disappointed moviegoers as well as original ticket purchasers. My wife and I, along with a friend, went over to see "The Bourne Supremacy" instead.
It was an awesome movie! The story was as good, if not better, than the first one. Seeing No. 2 actually provides quite a bit of insight into the events depicted in the original Bourne film; some facts that were slightly hidden in "Identity" were forced into the light through the course of "Supremacy."
The only thing I didn't like was the cinematography and the directing. Paul Greengrass apparently really likes the shaky hand-held-camera look, and he jumps back and forth from shot to shot in the style of a confused fistfight throughout the movie. I got used to it after a while, but it was still pretty annoying. I really would have preferred seeing Doug Liman handle the Bourne thriller again.
Despite its few shortcomings, though, it was an excellent film. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Friday, July 23
Well, these two may both be coming out this weekend, but I'll be seeing "I, Robot" on Sunday instead of either of them.
They both look pretty good, but I'm much more hyped up for the Bourne movie than for Catwoman.
Wednesday, July 21
I searched Google for "Herr Theoretiker" today, and my blog is the #1 hit! Even without the quotes! Also, on a search for just "theoretiker" I'm above the fold (with a desktop resolution of 1152x864, anyway).
BTW, for those not in the know (i.e. probably my mom if she reads this), "above the fold" is a newspaper term meaning what the consumer will see on the top of the front page, before he ever picks up the paper. On the Internet it means whatever you can see on a web page without scrolling.
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering... "Herr Theoretiker," my online name, is German for "Mr. Theorist." "Ich bin," for those of you who have never heard of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is German for "I am." I consider myself a music theorist (in some sense), and I speak a bit of German (and an even smaller bit of Spanish, too, but that's beside the point), so there's the enigma of my page title all done and explained.
As long as I'm explaining some things about my Web presence, I might as well let non-musicians know what my subdomain name means. An "augmented fourth" is an interval in music that is considered to be the second-most-dissonant sound you can get out of two tones. However, I love the sound of it, and most of the music I've ever written uses it pretty prominently. Huzzah for the Diabolus in Musica!
A 400-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger.
A New York taxi driver.
A seven-room apartment.
What do these things have in common? A bizarre news story about a guy who kept a tiger in his apartment in Harlem. "I never thought I put the public in harm's way," he said. Deranged? You be the judge.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:15 AM
This story is from THE ONION... so DO NOT take it seriously!
I just like the picture. It reminds me of the dairy farm that my wife grew up on. Err... the dairy farm on which my wife grew up.
I told you I was anal.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:10 AM
I feel slightly connected to this story, since once I met a guy that works for Lindows (I mean Linspire) at a party. I actually went to college with him, too, but I never knew him at school.
The cool bit is that MICROSOFT is paying LINSPIRE $20 million as part of the settlement. Of course, the makers of the Linux-based OS have to go through all of the corporate restructuring of the name change, so I think it's justified. I actually drove past the Linspire building the other day (my wife works in La Jolla, not far from their headquarters) and I seem to recall that they've already changed the name on the outside of the building.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:09 AM
Cellular broadband, which is what this idea boils down to, is an awesome innovation. It doesn't say how fast the connection will be, but if it will stream video it has to be at least mildly speedy.
An adaptation of this that I'd love to see would be car stereos that can play Internet radio stations in Real, Windows Media, and MP3 streams. That way I could get BBC7 in the car even though I'm nowhere NEAR Broadcasting House. Of course, I'm not even on the same continent, so proximity almost ceases to be an issue.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:01 AM
Tuesday, July 20
Whenever I recreate my Firefox preferences (it's now my default browser in both Windows and OS X), I have to navigate to this site to pick up the code to make a user.js file that allows me to click the Throbber, the little progress-animated icon in the top-right, to activate BlogThis!. Just so I have it in an easy-to get location, here it is for my own personal reference:
// Throbber Location point to Blog This:
If any readers (ha! do I really have readers?) want to use this code for themselves, copy it into a plain-text file called user.js, minus the hyphens above and below the code. Then, copy the user.js file into your profile directory. If you can't find your profile directory, search your system for prefs.js and place the file in the same folder. User.js is not created for Firefox by default, but it will automatically recognize it once it is placed there.
Monday, July 19
This is pretty cool; a London-born scientist who invented the World Wide Web has been knighted by the Queen of England. He was given the rank of knight commander, the second-highest rank in the OBE.
For those not in the know, the WWW is the system of interconnected Web pages styled with HTML. Before the WWW, information was almost purely text, and navigating and downloading things on the Internet nearly required a degree in Computer Science.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:20 AM
Though it looks like it won't be quite up to par with the first Jason Bourne espionage thriller (2002's "The Bourne Identity"), "The Bourne Supremacy" will definitely be a must-see for me.
For a more in-depth look at the movie, read the article. I need to get back to work, and there are two other articles I want to post this morning.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:16 AM
Despite bleak predictions, "I, Robot" managed to draw quite a large audience this past weekend. The (so far only projected at the time the article was written) take was $53.3 million, surpassing "Spider-Man 2" and Will Smith's previous best of $52.2 million in 2002 with "Men in Black II." I'll definitely be seeing "I, Robot," though probably not for a while as my wife has some great birthday plans for me this coming weekend.
She got tickets for us to see Harry Connick, Jr., at the Hollywood Bowl. That'll be awesome!
In other news about me, I finally saw "Spider-Man 2" this weekend. It was a GREAT movie; in my opinion, even better than Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man flick. That's saying a lot; I really liked number 1. Also, Danny Elfman's music was awesome; but that's kind of redundant. Danny Elfman = great music, from Spider-Man to Batman to even The Simpsons.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:08 AM
Friday, July 16
This review paints the movie as a pretty feeble picture. Of course I'll go see it, since I'm a huge Asimov fan, but I'm a bit disappointed already. I was wondering how the I, Robot short story collection could be made into a decent movie, and it seems that it hasn't been.
Oh, well. At least Asimov finally made his way to the screen.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:53 AM
Thursday, July 15
Ken Jennings, a software developer from Salt Lake City, has been walloping the competition in Jeopardy. Last night he won his thirty-first game, and his streak is inspiring a following that has increased the ratings of the always-popular trivia quiz show. Since the shows were filmed back in February and March he's back at home already, but because of non-disclosure agreements he can't let anyone know how long he lasted or how much money he eventually earned.
I've been watching Jeopardy! pretty consistently since he started playing, and all I can say is that I'm amazed at this guy who has such immense knowledge over such a broad range of subjects. Part of it is his strategy, though. If he is familiar with the category, he will buzz in almost immediately every time. Then he does his thinking during the few seconds he has to come up with his question.
I can't wait to see how far he goes, but I'll be incredibly disappointed when he loses.
This is an interesting idea... in England's Science Museum (London), hook up the museum's restrooms to generators. This sort of excrement-processing is already done with cow manure, but I admit it's kinda weird to think of doing that with human waste.
Tuesday, July 13
Interesting... iPods are now considered risky because of their huge hard drives and their USB communication. Apparently, when properly configured (read: hacked into) they can quickly plug into a computer and siphon information from it... without even having to log in with a password to the system!
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:59 AM
This just in! People are still swapping files via the Internet!
Like that's a breaking news story...
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:56 AM
Weird... Paramount is thinking of remounting The Ten Commandments again. I wonder who they'd get to play Moses this time... French Stewart? Ted Danson?
Of course those "suggestions" are tongue-in-cheek, but I would hope that any remake of that story would be at least as good as "Prince of Egypt." Though animated, I think that Dreamworks has produced the best telling of the story I've seen so far.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:55 AM
Will Smith has decided to play a greater part in international politics... though he stresses that any work he does will be from the private sector. He actually called Kofi Annan and offered his services.
This article also talks about the "I, Robot" movie premiering this Friday. It is a definite must-see for me... actually, since I first saw a preview, I've rediscovered Asimov and have read something like six of his novels (and counting).
Does anybody else think Will Smith looks a bit like Ray Charles in that picture? I'm sure it's mostly just the hat, but it's weird.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:50 AM
Thursday, July 8
Heh. It seems that a new Broadway show, called "Spamalot," is set to run in Chicago this winter before it hits the "big" stage. It's being billed as "the musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture, 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'" What's really interesting to me is the fact that David Hyde Pierce (Niles Crane!) will play Sir Robin.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:21 AM
Monday, July 5
Gmail is awesome. I really like it, and I will probably make it my full-time email address soon. There's no way I'm going to post my gmail address here, but if you want it and you know how to get a hold of me through other means, I'll give it to you.
There are a few things I think gmail needs (please send in feature requests if you've got a gmail account too!):
1. The ability to have multiple email addresses for the same contact.
2. Separate "First Name" and "Last Name" fields, and the ability to sort by last name.
3. A Palm conduit! It could be like an AvantGo-meets-IntelliSync kind of thing. I would gladly pay money to get software that would do this, and I would use it on both OS X and Windows XP.
4. The ability to browse the Contacts list to add email addresses to the To: field. This would include the ability to put a check mark next to multiple contacts and click a "Send to All" button.
5. Labels for Contacts, like the email labels. If #3 were implemented, these Labels would sync with Palm "Categories."
6. Search contacts. You can search emails, Google is a search engine, why not?
1. Gmail should have the option (actually, it should have had it from the beginning) of displaying all emails with a fixed-width font. People who use or view ASCII art in email messages (many people use it in .signatures; not that I condone this) see a VERY skewed version of the "text picture" if the columns do not line up.
1a. Once gmail includes fixed-width fonts when viewing, it should also include fixed-width fonts during email composition.
2. Along with fixed-width email composition, gmail should (like Yahoo!) allow a fixed number of columns in the "Compose" box. This would make cleaning up replies and/or forwards a lot easier, as you will be able to see how long the line and its accompanying ">" mark will stretch.
2a. Even better than a fixed number of columns would be support for format=flowed emailing, like Mozilla Thunderbird and Mac OS X Mail.
I know this is a long list, but I have sent all of these in as feature requests. If you agree, please tell Google that you want these added features as well. If you are unsure how to send in feature requests, just go to gmail's Help, find a Help article about something related to the feature you're requesting, and click the "contact us" link at the bottom of the article.
Thanks for reading this... if we all ask for the same things, we can make gmail even better!
Posted by augmentedfourth at 10:00 AM
Friday, July 2
Guinness published its first "tech record," the 92-terabit router from Cisco. I think that this might speed the pace of tech development if the newest and greatest and fastest hardware start getting put in THE record book. Time will tell...
Spider-Man 2 gets the opening-day record (set by Spider-Man 1), and shatters the opening-on-a-Wednesday record (set by LOTR: Return of the King).
It hasn't yet hit the most-in-a-single-day record (set by Shrek 2), but predictions for a $50 million day this weekend could very well be realized.
I'm glad I didn't try to see the movie on Wednesday...
Thursday, July 1
Good news for Bush supporters: based on all kinds of factors, from foreign policy to economics, political science smart-guys have created a model that predicts a Bush victory this November. They have been fairly accurate in the past, but they cite the 200 election as a breakdown in the soundness of the predictions.
However, the predictions only count the two-party vote. I think they were probably pretty close in the 2000 predictions, since Nader took a lot of votes that Gore would otherwise have gotten. Not that I'm lamenting this fact...
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:46 AM
Wednesday, June 30
This is cool. The Make A Wish foundation asked this kid what he wanted, and instead of asking for something like a week at Disneyland or a cruise in the Bahamas he asked that a video game be made for cancer patients. He met with Eric Johnson (of "Loom" and "Monkey Island" fame) once a week for six months and developed a game that "is now a staple in the children's chemotherapy ward."
Posted by augmentedfourth at 11:33 AM
Tuesday, June 29
Monday, June 28
What's this? A serious political news item in my blog?
Anyway, this link goes to a picture of a note Condoleezza Rice sent to President Bush. Paul Bremer symbolically left Iraq two days earlier than originally planned, apparently in a attempt to stave off "celebration terrorism" from local insurgents.
So now we get to see how a newly-formed democracy works. We haven't been able to do this in quite a long time!
Posted by augmentedfourth at 11:58 AM
I'm getting more excited every day about 'Spider-Man 2.' I've read several reviews, and I'll be seeing it as soon as I can after it comes out on Wednesday.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 11:55 AM
Thursday, June 24
This just makes me laugh. How many people need a computer in their SURFBOARD?!?
And even though "it has a wi-fi antenna for access to the Web," how on earth are they going to get a base station or a hotspot close enough to the waves to make it at all useful?
Posted by augmentedfourth at 9:54 AM
Tuesday, June 22
Finally! This freeway has been sitting there, unfinished, for (according to Mayor Murphy) over twenty years, but this summer it will finally be done!
I wonder if this has anything to do with the Indian casino bill that Schwarzenegger just signed. It is supposed to bring the state $1 billion this year, and the Governor said that it would all be used on transportation projects.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:49 AM
Monday, June 21
Intriguing experiment - Italian devices which scramble cell phones during exams, so that eCheating (yes, I made that word up) is not possible. They're even thinking of having the devices installed in schoolrooms permanently.
Awesome - the first commercial space flight. Since the flight-tester was merely a civilian and not a government-trained serious astronaut, he describes his trip with the "amazing" feat of spilling a bag of M&Ms in a weightless environment. Pretty sophomoric, but SpaceShipOne is still a great scientific feat.
Now the builders have their sights set on the X Prize - $10 million for the first team to send TWO manned flights, less than 2 weeks apart, the 62 miles straight up it takes to get outside of the Earth's atmosphere.
Friday, June 18
Now this looks interesting... advertising within video games. And, apparently, not just logos of the game developers that show up every time you start the game.
Due to the decreased TV watching of young males, advertisers are seeking a new way to get into their heads to peddle their products. Though it seems like a crackpot idea at first, it just might work... or it might turn guys off to video games, too. Or at least the ones with advertising content. If this is going to work, it must appear in ALL video games, or the ones with blatant ads will not get any play-time.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:58 AM
Even though this review says the movie is not as good as it could have been, given its subject matter and rife opportunities for satire, I still think I'm going to go see it. Come on... Rip Torn throwing wrenches at people? Who wouldn't pay to see that?
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:54 AM
Thursday, June 17
Monday, June 14
This looks like it'll be a very interesting movie! The trailer looks great (I've seen it twice, both times before showings of 'Shrek 2'), and I'm looking forward to seeing the film after it comes out on the 18th.
While I'm on the topic, other films I'm looking forward to are:
Spider-Man 2 (6/30/04)
I, Robot (7/16/04)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (6/3/05)
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:50 AM
This article describes a new software product, developed in Oz (Australia), that allows musicians to play their instruments into the computer and perform with top orchestras. It appears to be in a video-game sort of format, but it gives feedback regarding intonation, rhythmic accuracy, etc. Looks like fun, and a great application of newly-available technology.
Though I was involved in a much more school-related application of this sort of technology in a project in the very recent past, this particular piece of software is in no way related to the software I recently helped to develop.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:41 AM
Friday, June 11
Tuesday, June 8
This is a very interesting study... it finds that young children who are exposed to a computer generally are much more prepared for school and have better fine motor skills.
They admit the study is not all-encompassing or exceedingly precise, but their findings make plenty of sense to me. The flip side is that *no* benefit exists in having video games in the home. This isn't very surprising either...
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:43 AM
Monday, June 7
Friday, June 4
Not quite as much cardboard as you'd think -- but still pretty impressive in my book. It seems as though it's really a high-tech electronic keyboard encased in a cardboard exterior. "It sounds almost like the real thing," the head of the development team says, but digital reproductions of acoustic instruments are still quite a long way off from sounding with the properties of real-live instruments.
"Cheaper -- and lighter" seem to be the biggest features, but it's not a consumer item just yet. I don't think it would be a replacement for a full piano, but it's at least an interesting concept.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:27 AM
New worm - be on the lookout for Microsoft's June security bulletins, and hopefully a patch to fix this vulnerability.
That is, if you're using Windows. Though my home computer currently runs XP Pro, I am definitely waiting around to buy one of Apple's G5 PowerBooks with OS X 10.4 after they come out.
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:22 AM
Tuesday, June 1
So it seems that there might be some new high-level Internet domains out there. This would be a good thing, especially for easy blocking of sites you don't want to see, or ads you don't want to display.
However, who's going to get the webmasters to change their domains? There are so many (for example) porn sites on the Web that moving them all from .com, .net, etc. to .xxx would be either a) prohibitively expensive or b) impossible to regulate.
It's a great idea in theory, but how feasible would it be in real life?
Friday, May 28
Wednesday, May 26
Tuesday, May 25
OK, just kidding about the 40 adventures being a drawback. I'm now Level 7, and I can buy all kinds of food and booze to add to my adventures. Also, joining a clan that has a calendar adds three more adventures per day, and building a Clockwork Maid for your campsite adds four more.
For help in building things, and to find out about the attributes of different items, you can go to this site. The game can be pretty confusing, especially at first, if you don't have a guide like this.
Wednesday, May 19
Kingdom of Loathing... a great game for disillusioned Kings of Chaos players. When KoC went into its second age, it got needlessly complex, and it was never *all* that much fun to begin with.
KoL is awesome! It's wacky, adventurous, and all-around fun. Its only drawback is that you get 40 "Adventures" per day (which rolls over at midnight Eastern) instead of getting a new adventure every half-hour, so you can spend just about 20 minutes per day on each player and you can't come play whenever you want.
There are three KoL "specialties," though each player has some of each of these attributes. Seal Clubbers and Turtle Tamers specialize in Muscle, Pastamancers and Saucerors rely on Magic, and Disco Bandits and Accordion Thieves are most proficient with Moxie. My characters are Ranton the Sauceror and Fargul the Turtle Tamer.
Play it! It's great!
Posted by augmentedfourth at 8:55 AM
Monday, May 17
Thursday, May 13
Work is interesting. I love my job (I'm a Music Editor and Engraver for a music publishing company in San Diego), but it can just get way too hectic sometimes. Like right now. We've had people coming in and out of the office, helping us look over what will soon be our newest offering to the school band community. Just a whole lot of busyness... productive busyness, but it's difficult to manage the volume of it all.
But anyway, that's just life, I guess. You may be wondering what exactly my job title means. Most everybody does when I first tell them. So I'll explain it here, in my third blog entry, so nobody will ever have the opportunity to wonder.
I actually have two jobs that can be construed as two aspects of the same thing. Usually, though, it's two people. Basically, when a composer submits a manuscript to our publishing company, it is first reviewed by all of the Editors on the staff so we can decide whose work we will agree to publish. Once the contract is done, we generally let the piece sit on someone's shelf for about a year before we get around to working on it (kind of kidding here, but it's happened!).
When an editor finds the time to work on a manuscript, he/she will look through it and correct all of the mistakes in "musical grammar": i.e. the distance between notes, the length of note-stems, the distance between noteheads and articulations, etc. It can get pretty technical, but it's not unlike what an editor does who deals with language.
After the editor has "prepped" the manuscript (or marked it up in red pen), he/she sends it off to the engraver. The engraver takes the music and the corrections and makes a professional-looking piece of sheet music. Most of the time these days, engraving is done by computer. I use a program, developed by MakeMusic! Inc., called Finale. It is basically a graphics program, set up to work with and control all of the fine details that go into music notation.
Once the engraver is finished with the first draft, it is sent back to the editor for proofing. A few rounds of corrections and proofing ensue, and finally the editor decides it's ready and hands it over to the Art department. The artists place the music on the page, insert all of the text in the fonts we use, and set it up to be printed. Our company has its own print shop, and it's pretty cool. I can't tell you a whole lot about the printing, though. I visited the print shop once, not too long after I started here, but that's really not my area of expertise.
Anyway, after the piece is laid out and printed it sits in the Shipping warehouse, which is in the same facility as the print shop. From there, it gets sent out all around the world to music dealers who sell our music.
And I'm there in the first part. I've edited some music (mostly college-level Concert Band works) and I've engraved some music (mostly high-school level Concert Band and String Orchestra works), but rarely have I edited and engraved the same piece. I've done this on two separate concert band tunes, but both times I've brought in another editor at the first-round proofing stage just to get someone else's eyes on it. Editing your own work can be disastrous, you know... it's good to give it to someone else you trust, from essays to term papers to music notation.
Well, I've spent about 15 minutes writing this, and I'm at work, so I should finish up my busy workday. Only 45 minutes left, and then only one more day 'til the weekend!
Posted by augmentedfourth at 4:13 PM
Wednesday, May 12
Greg writes regarding some REALLY DUMB spam he got with a To: field trying to look like it came from a domain that HE OWNS:
"Turds. If you're going to waste my time, at least waste it with an offer for male enhancement or mortgage rates or something."
Posted by augmentedfourth at 4:13 PM
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-
The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):
-----BEGIN GEEK CODE BLOCK-----
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+
------END GEEK CODE BLOCK------
If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.