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John's Blog

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day....Teach him to use the internet and he won't bother you for weeks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

iObsess, iSpaz

So I seem to have hit a brick wall finding the urge to post, although the argument could be made that I've just had an epiphany and escaped another addiction. I can live with either explanation, and will probably post when the mood hits me, or if something happens that I feel the need to share. Neither of those conditions have occurred much recently.

I've been spending far too much time obsessing over my recently acquired iPod Touch. After stalking The Apple Store daily to see if they had them back in-stock, they finally possesed the object of my tech-lust yesterday. I rushed over to the store and bought one, then raced back home and plugged it in all set to sync my music to it. But the iPod just sat there taunting me with the icons telling me to connect it, while my iTunes was just sitting there telling me that there were no devices connected. After reading the instructions, I noticed that it required a more current version of the OS than the one I had been running. So it's back in the car to buy a copy of Tiger, which will be obsolete when Leopard is introduced within the month.

So now I've upgraded the OS and I'm all set for the moment of truth. I click on the iTunes icon, and now I'm greeted with an error message telling me that iTunes is not compatible with this version of the OS. I was momentarily overcome with a sense of déjà vu and thought I was working with Microsoft products. Rather than stepping back from the problem and breaking it down rationally and analytically, I just hit the old panic button and ran off to The Genius Bar. Cooler heads prevailed there, and once the OS updates were added in, every thing worked just fine.

A pretty slick little toy, once up and running, although it does have a few shortcomings. Not really liking the absence of a dedicated volume control, but that's not as hard to deal with as I had feared. Cover flow navigation is awesome as well as the wireless iTunes store. For some reason, I've found this particularly addicting and potentially expensive. Being able to purchase music and surf YouTube while on the can is something that could be life-changing, although this may qualify as TMI.

And who wudda' thought that surfing the internet on an interface the size of a business card would be acceptable, but the pinch and drag Safari browser isn't that bad. Not gonna' replace a laptop anytime soon, but pretty good if you're on the road and need to check e-mail or are otherwise just going through web withdrawal.

The big downside is that it's a bit buggy, which again is not something I would expect from an Apple product. I've had to do several restores on it in the short time I've had it, which isn't something that you should have to do. I'll be visiting The Genius Bar again soon. Maybe this is one time I should take the extended warranty?
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"To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."
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Shady Stuff

Gotta love the sick mind of The Perry Bible Fellowship's Nicholas Gurewitch. And this weeks' strip The Unforgiving Tree doesn't disappoint.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Can Post Secretz?

Take two of the more popular internet memes, the always fascinating PostSecret and mash it up with the ever popular LOL Cats, and voilà: you'e got lolsecretz!
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"Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies, for example."
John Ruskin
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If Only

A look at a retirement party via College Humor if it went the way that the typical internet comments thread develops. Still, an improvement over most of the meetings I attend.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Some Bargain!

They say the best things in life are free, but in this case they just seem rather reasonably priced. I drove past this sign twice today in Chinatown, and wanted to whip out my camera phone to document it. But with my "inappropriate filter" locked safely in place because we were there for a funeral, I had to behave and keep all my smart-assed remarks to myself. But no longer. I really don't have a clue what they were really offering, but I can hope that my first instinct is correct.

Most of my weekend involved maneuvering through both the streets of Lower Manhattan as well as the customs and practices of a very traditional Chinese funeral. Needless to say, I spent much time lost and confused, so this sign was just one example.

We spent several hours on Saturday folding joss, which is thin paper with foil embellishments that after being folded and rolled resembles money. It is then burned to provide the deceased with money to spend in the afterlife. Personally, I wanted to take a few of them and fold them into a paper ATM which I felt could be helpful, but once again the "inappropriate filter" kicked in and I kept the thought to myself. But apparently my idea wasn't all that wacky, since I found out that there is joss paper available that represents "MP3 players, planes, boats and even paper condoms, paper prostitutes and Viagra".

Unfortunately, the busy agenda didn't leave us enough time to visit one of my favorite spots for take-out, The Big Wong Restaurant. It's not the food I like, but their plastic containers make for some great lunchroom conversations when I reuse them to take food to work.
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"Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."
Alan W. Watts
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Familiar Territory

A few familiar Internet People and a catchy ditty to perk up your day.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dark Clouds

Sometimes you stop to take a breath, meaning to finish a sentence but change your mind midstream, and you create an awkward silence. So it's been with blogging recently. At first I was just busy and exhausted, but then the convergence of several sad events and my increasing ambivalence towards blogging left me with no time or motivation for updates.

One of those dark clouds rolled in last week. Far too many times we read headlines like Man shoots ex-girlfriend, then kills himself that we've become almost jaded to the horror and pain that an event like this entails. Thankfully, it isn't often that it happens in your own back yard with you knowing the person responsible, even if you didn't know them as well as you thought.

Making any comments at all risks trivializing a tragic and unexpected event. But one reaction I've heard surprises me greatly; those who are looking at the event and trying to find some logic to his action. These aren't the behaviors of a person who is thinking and functioning rationally. It's hard to imagine feeling the total absence of possibilities, that this would allow this to be an option. Probably not what the framers of the Second Amendment had in mind at all. The bottom line is that without easy access to guns, things like this wouldn't occur so frequently.

I wish I could say this event was the source of my blogging malaise, but it probably isn't. We'll see if there is a reset button floating around to be found, or if this is a full blown case of Ted Barlow's Disease. Sometimes a little "time-out" refreshes the spirit.
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"Chaos is the score upon which reality is written."
Henry Miller
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Running Thoughts

Since it's largely another "I got nuttin' day" for blogging, a few observations from todays' run:

  • I've got to make sure I time it so I don't run into the 80 year old crossing guard, who stops traffic for me and makes me feel like I'm 9 years old.
  • Saw some interesting things that have potential for a photo-blogging entry, but I was too lazy to stop and whip-out the camera phone. Maybe next time.
  • Now that school is back, the old men have returned and reclaimed the tennis court in the park. I much preferred the MILFy group that was there in the summer months.
  • We are barely out of August, and the township has already placed those flagpole type attachments to the fireplugs so that the snowplows don't run them down. Nice bit of buzzkill to remind us that summer is over. But we are set if we get one of those infrequent September blizzards.
  • How desperate are you if you stop and ask ME for directions? Not only one, but two people made this tragic mistake today. Even before GPS, I couldn't really give directions too well since I'm primarily landmark driven and don't really know street names. But my frustration today was that after I gave the 2nd guy directions he asks me "Is my truck too heavy for that street?" Great, NOW I have to know not only directions but municipal regulations as well!
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    Craig Listed

    Tom Tomorrow points out the hypocrisy at the center of the Larry Craig scandal in the current installment of This Modern World. But again staking out a wide stance, he may not go gentle into that good night. Till then, a catchy tune to pass the time.

    And is it news to anybody other than the NY Times that Prostitutes Turn to Craigslist?
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    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
    Mark Twain
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    Some Light Transit

    A popular metaphor we us at work is "Are you on the bus?" That is, of course when we aren't throwing someone else under a presumably different bus. But here are a few Painted Buses you may or may not wish to avoid.
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    Trouble With Trekies

    Just a few of the Things that have never happened on Star Trek:

  • The Enterprise runs into a mysterious energy field of a type that it has encountered before.
  • The Enterprise goes to check up on a remote outpost of scientists who are all perfectly all right.
  • The crew of the Enterprise discover a totally new lifeform, which later turns out to be a rather well-known old lifeform, wearing a silly hat.
  • An enigmatic being composed of pure energy attempts to interface to the Enterprise's computer, only to find out that it has forgotten to bring the right leads.
  • A power surge on the Bridge is rapidly and correctly diagnosed as a faulty capacitor by the highly-trained and competent engineering staff.
  • The Enterprise ferries an alien VIP from one place to another without serious incident.
  • The Enterprise is captured by a vastly superior alien intelligence which does not put them on trial.
  • The Enterprise separates as soon as there is any danger.
  • The Enterprise gets involved in an enigmatic, strange, and dangerous situation, and there are no pesky aliens they can blame it on in the end.
  • The Enterprise is involved in a bizarre time-warp phenomenon, which is in no way connected with the 20th century.
  • A major Starfleet emergency breaks out near the Enterprise, and some other ships in the area are able to deal with it to everyone's satisfaction.
  • The shields on the Enterprise stay up during a battle.
  • An attempt at undermining the Klingon-Federation alliance is discovered without anyone noting that such an attempt, if successful, "would represent a fundamental shift of power throughout the quadrant."
  • Picard doesn't answer a suggestion with "Make it so"!
  • Picard walks up to a replicator and says, "Coke on ice."
  • When Worf tells the bridge officers that something is entering visual range no one says "On screen."
  • Wesley saves the ship, the Federation, and the Universe as we know it, and EVERYONE is grateful (including the Net).
  • Guinan forgets herself, and breaks into a stand up comedy routine.
  • The Captain has to make a difficult decision about a less advanced people which is made a great deal easier by the Starfleet Prime Directive.
  • An unknown ensign beams down as part of an away team and lives to tell the tale.
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    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    Silly &/Or Fun Products

    Not everybody can pull off the wet t-shirt/cold day look like Pam Anderson without some additional help, although it would be silly not to acknowledge that Pam has had a bit of help along the way. But if you want to garner the same kind of eye-popping attention, these Fake Nipples may just be what you were looking for to make a point. Although I'm tempted to paraphrase Ralphie's father in A Christmas Story and warn, "you'll put an eye out, kid!"!

    And this might be a stretch, but there are those would would argue that this Archie McPhee Shower Curtain could be viewed as a product worthy of inclusion as a semi-related product. It's at least equally as silly.
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    I continue to spend entirely too much time looking at the rumors concerning the release of the new iPods, but apparently I'm not alone as this video of new iPod mockups suggests. I've got to keep telling myself that the announcement on the 5th might not be the one I'm hoping for, and most certainly won't allow me to stroll into the Apple store the same day and walk out with product. But I can hope.

    Since I've still got my money on the wide screen, touch control iPod, I reviewed the songs I've got in iTunes to make sure the cover art is there for the expected "album flipping" feature. I discovered two things, one is that I've got quite a few that didn't have cover art, but the bigger surprise was to find that there were a quite a few that had the wrong art.

    Apparently when I said yes to the generous offer from iTunes to look for missing cover art, I never noticed that it made some bad choices. Many times, it grabbed an import or live cover, which doesn't cut it on some classic albums. So after many Google searches later, much of the problem is resolved. The big problem is that I couldn't find a way to change the entire album at once, but it has to be done in a laborious one song at a time fashion; not kind of the user friendly feature I'd expect. Apple, don't disappoint me twice in one week!
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    "In the early days all I hoped was to make a living out of what I did best. But, since there's no real market for masturbation I had to fall back on my bass playing abilities."
    Les Claypool
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    Raiders of the Lost Arcade

    Iconic video game persona Pac-Man makes an unexpected appearance in this old Futurama clip. But just recently, Pac-Man was used by live action scientists to gauge how subjects react to danger.

    The game when first rolled out was entitled Pakku-Man, which changed to Puck Man, and was quickly changed to Pac Man out of fears that arcade vandalism would make the name a bit more vulgar. But its' simple and addictive design soon became a phenomenon unseen in gaming, laying the groundwork for the current state of video game addiction.

    There are those who say that "Computer games don't affect kids, since if Pac Man affected us as kids, we'd all run around in a darkened room munching pills anda listening to repetitive music." Feel free to make up your own mind on that.

    And if you are really a big fan of the game, then I'm sure you'll want to get one of these attractive Pac Man carpets, which will only set you back about $2031! For the rest of us, we can rely on YouTube to satisfy our Pac-Man fix...

    Japanese Live Action version
    More Live Action Pac-Man
    Pac Man: The Movie
    Pac Man in Tetris world
    Even Chimps Play Pac-Man
    Team Pac-Man
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    Sunday, September 02, 2007

    No Holiday Picnic

    Giving us a taste of his upcoming book Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich did a wonderfully insightful piece on his blog the other day. He took the time to ponder What Happened to Labor Day?:

    A young person asked me not long ago -- only half in jest -- whether Labor Day was named in honor of natural childbirth.

    Most young people today have no memory of a time when Walter Reuther of the UAW and John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers were household names, when presidents jawboned labor to prevent agreements from causing wage-priceinflation, when productivity gains pushed wages up, and when more than a third of the American workforce was unionized.

    Now fewer than 8 percent of America's private sector workers are in unions, median wage gains have fallen far behind productivity gains, and for most of us Labor Day means a long weekend.

    What happened? Some say it started in the early 80s after Ronald Reagan fired the nation's air-traffic controllers for striking - something they had no legal right to do - and thereby legitimized a wave of corporate union busting. Others blame it on a more pervasive "greed is good" aggressiveness that engulfed corporate suites starting right about then.

    There's no question that,ever since, and with ever greater alacrity, companies have fired workers for trying to form unions, even though that's illegal, and have used or threatened to use permanent replacements if workers go on strike - which is legal but was rare before the 80s.

    But don't blame Ronald Reagan or corporate greed. Blame us - you and me. You see, starting about 30 years ago and with increasing efficiency, technologies have given us consumers a world of choice - low priced goods and services that often depend on low wages here and elsewhere.

    Four-lane federal highways and long-haul trucks linking non-unionized manufacturers in the South to the rest of us. Container ships and cargo planes linking us to foreign producers. Big-box retailers using computers to find the best deals anywhere around the world. And now the Internet letting us find the best deals for ourselves from anywhere, too.

    In other words, we as a nation have traded off lower priced goods and services, in place of a unionized workforce with the bargaining clout to get higher wages. So now, a lot of us get good consumer deals and lousy paychecks.

    No one trumpeted this choice. It's happened gradually. But is it the right choice? That's what we ought to be asking ourselves -- at least once a year, on Labor Day.
    And the NY Times previews the book and some of his suggestions of how we can break the stranglehold created by corporate lobbyists with their lack of social responsibility.
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    No Sirs, YOU Suck!

    I'm sure by now most people have heard about the high school football prank gone wrong. In an ingenious and carefully executed plan, Kyle Garchar, a high schooler from Ohio spent twenty hours preparing placards for fans from a rival school to flash to show support for their team. But much to their surprise "WE SUCK" was the actual message.

    A three day in house suspension followed, but now he's been suspended from all extracurricular activities for the rest of the year as well. If you're as outraged as I am with this heavy-handed overreaction, be sure to drop a line to the school administration ( & and give them a piece of your mind.

    A similar bit of shortsighted overreaction came from supermarket chain A&P who fired two students for making a mock rap video Produce Paradise Rap on the premises. The story should end there, but some public relation genius decided that to would be a good idea to sue them over the vegetable video! No emails necessary on this one, I'll just vote with my wallet and shop somewhere else.
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    "Life is a succession of lessons enforced by immediate reward, or, oftener, by immediate chastisement."
    Ernest Dimnet
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    15 Minutes And Counting

    I thought the fifteen minutes of fame over the Miss Teen NC map snafu had long ended. But let's keep the clock ticking just a bit longer to allow us to view this Miss Teen Noir video.
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