Friday, December 07, 2007

A Tale of Two Citidels

What do Microsoft's Windows Vista & Sony's Playstation 3 have in common? Probably the wish from both companies that they'd done a little more homework before releasing their wares. Now being sued for deceptive marketing, Vista cannot find it's way onto corporate desktops (EDS's new Dell lease machines were delivered with XP) let alone gain consumer acceptance. And Sony are currently running ads in US Today touting games for the supposedly outdated Playstation 2 as their latest model dies in the marketplace.

Monday, December 03, 2007

More Opinionated Posts

One leitmotif in the history of skating and the punk movement is the stark contrast between the real counter culture of the past and the pseudocounterculture of the present-a present where teenage rebellion is packaged and sold in a perpetual feedback loop of co-option and regurgitation. Youth movements are picked over the moment they surface, and everything is "edgy" and "extreme" to the point where these concepts have lost all their meaning. The quotes around those words tell the story, and the overwhelming mood around the adults who pander to young people is one of calculated cynicism and hypocrisy.

Jocko Weyland - The Answer is Never

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Las Vegas

Is a place I cannot understand. It's where the complete moral & social bankruptcy inherent in US corporations rises to the top. A dirty, money grabbing town covered up with glitzy wrapping paper. I've always found it an inherently sad place full of people trying to convince other people that they're all really having a great time. The major hotel chains who tacitly condone the hoards of underage prostitutes working their lounges and bars. As long as it brings the drinkers & gamblers in, then it's OK I guess.

My biggest wonder is what the average visitor sees in the place? Are their lives really so meaningless that this carefully manufactured world appears to be real & enjoyable? When you blow your savings at the tables or sell your body on the strip does what happens in Vegas really stay in Vegas?

The local neighborhoods show a different side of the town. Away from the gated communities is the biggest collection of thrift shops and other stores catering primarily to those on the poverty line that I've ever encountered. With the wrapping paper off, the gift isn't that nice.

Monday, October 01, 2007

From a King to a Jack?

After narrowly surviving the price-drop fiasco it seems as if Apple has more image problems on it's hands. Don't the folks at Cuppertino realize that these days it doesn't take much for a company to go speedily from starlet to dud? Just ask the folks at Jet Blue.

The latest iPhone update basically disabled (apparently for good) all iPhones hacked to run on different networks. It also left considerable doubt about the long term viability of 3rd part applications and considerably roused up the Apple community (normally noted as solid Apple apologists). There's even a spoof video based around Apple's "Misfits" campaign.

Steve, here's the scoop. There's a huge wave of discontentment around locked in technology right now. Your exclusive with AT&T had already fanned the fire and your latest deeds are playing straight into itchy Senator's fingers. Consumers are unhappy in general with the state of play & you seem determined to paint yourself as the Wal-Mart of mobile services. Time to think different again old boy.


Thus says the LORD the God of hosts:
Woe to the complacent in Zion!
Lying upon beds of ivory,
stretched comfortably on their couches,
they eat lambs taken from the flock,
and calves from the stall!
Improvising to the music of the harp,
like David, they devise their own accompaniment.
They drink wine from bowls
and anoint themselves with the best oils;
yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!
Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile,
and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.

Scary how a 3,000 year old text can make you squirm isn't it?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fire When Ready Sir!

Those lovable villains at The Pirate Bay are hitting back at 10 of the major media companies who've been campaigning to sink the Swedish Torrent ship. After sifting through e-mails leaked by Media Defender and aggregating data from their own web logs they believe they have enough evidence to file hacking, spamming & DDoS charges with the Swedish authorities.

Serious charges indeed and with the rise of the Pirate Party influence in their home country, not ones that law enforcement will dare to take lightly. Particularly in light of the last debacle surrounding TPB.

Why can't those Euros just play nice? These good corporations pay big money to politicians & lobbyists so they can be protected from Euro-trash like this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

One Laptop Per Politician?

I love the idea of the One Laptop Per Child Project. Right now you can order one at $399 and a second unit gets sent to a needy child or school worldwide.

My question is, how are these going to be kept out of the hands of corrupt officials and military officers? Like so many good natured offerings from the West sent to the developing world, these items of value rarely reach their intended recipients & are intercepted & sold on the black market or traded for drugs & weapons.

Secondly, once in the possession of a poor household, won't they become a target for thieves? Children are murdered for much less than the value of a laptop, even here in the US.

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much

Ooopsy! Looks like Barbie & her parent company Mattel are having to do a little poopy scooping. After playing holier than thou with the missteps from their Chinese suppliers they are now having to apologize to them. As blogged here before, although 2.8M toys were recalled due to excessive levels of lead in the paint, over 21M were recalled due to a defective magnet design that had nothing to do with the Chinese subcontractors. This Mattel design flaw has caused numerous toddler trips to the OR, no such direct injury has been reported from the tainted paint.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


As in my new blog Cheapskate Studio. Designed to be a source of information & ideas for the audio studio & recording enthusiast with more sense than money. Enjoy

Friday, September 21, 2007

2nd Horseman of the Apocalypse

Or at least the apocalypse as far as the MPAA & RIAA are concerned.

The good comrades at MP3 Fiesta just circulated a little questionnaire via e-mail, asking members their opinions on a proposed video & movie download service. Here is the text from that mailing -
Dear User!
The MP3Fiesta Team is planning to launch a new project – downloading films via Internet.
In this regard we kindly ask you to answer a couple of simple questions, so that we could arrange our new service in the most convenient, useful and attractive way for you.
We highly appreciate your time, that’s why, having answered the questions, you’ll receive a pleasant bonus from MP3Fiesta Team.

Seems as if they're considering a variety of compression formats from iPod to DVD. I'm not sure how the controversial Russian ROMS loophole applies to movies though. Not many other details but the pleasant bonus was a $3 credit which is about 3 albums worth on this site!

Finely Tuned Customer Service

Mark of the Unicorn - they've been around since MIDI & audio made it to the (Mac) computer. They also have superb customer service with phones answered by real human beings who know & understand the products. These phone numbers are clearly published on their support pages. Actually all support pages should look like this -

Transferring a license (normally akin to getting a root canal) took 1 call and about 45 seconds. They pulled up my account, pulled up the new account & made the switch. Guess where I'll be shopping again?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blog Finds

A running commentary on the NYC single speed bike scene plus hilarious critiques of the fixed gear gallery submissions. It's laugh out loud good. And I thought I was the King of Sarcasm? Nay good sire, I am but a mere Page in this court.

My BIG Idea... for a credit card issuer to introduce the No Marketing card. In other words, they promise not to send you anything but your monthly statement. That's right, no 25% APR checks, no "Free Vacations", no "Special Offers From Our Partners" and absolutely no phone calls. Peace & tranquility all around.

Count me in for one right now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sell Out?

On tonight's ABC tribute to Elvis, Toby Keith performed live with Joe Perry (Aerosmith) in front of a huge Ford truck grille. Really, how far have we come? Rock and Roll used to be about sticking it to the man. Now it's only about selling his crap for him?

Before you C&W fans get on your high horses, I believe there's a line been crossed here. Licensing your music for use in a commercial is probably an acceptable career move. Playing a sponsored instrument is OK too. Parking your live butt in front of an automobile is not. I just can't see Johnny Cash doing it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fossett Search Finds Several ‘Total Nobodies’

National paparazzi are complaining that the Steve Fossett air search keeps getting side tracked by the constant discovery of the wrecks of complete nobodies.

“You get your hopes up for a celebrity corpse, and then have to settle for somebody’s father or husband,” said an LA-based photographer. “What’s the profit in that?”

The National Transportation and Safety Board has assured the Tabloid community that these non-entities will not be followed up on until after Fossett is found, dead or alive. “We understand People Magazine has deadlines” said one NTSB spokesperson.

Google also announced it is not paying for a single non-celebrity satellite photo.

Richard Branson has said no rewards will be paid for any ‘regular people’.

credit : my pleasantly unbalanced friend Eric F.

Fun & Games with the USPS

Or...if it wasn't so tragic it could be funny!

Went to the Post Office today to mail a package to my niece. I didn't have a bubble-pack envelope but know I could buy one there. So being the smart dude I am, I show up with the wrapped gift & a printed address label. I get the envelope, find some tape on the counter, stick my address label to it, fill in the customs forms & then the fun and games began.

The Night of the USPS - A Play in 1 Act
"sir, you can't use that tape, it's labeled priority mail and you're not shipping via that service"
"oh, it was lying on the counter over there with the supplies, I just you have any other tape?"
"no that's all we have"
"do you have a pen I can use to write directly on the envelope?"
"try this one"
audience - "hahahahaha"
"er, this pen doesn't write on these envelopes that I got from your rack, do you have another one?"
"no sir"
audience - "hahahahaha"
"so you don't have tape I can use or a pen? What am I supposed to do"
"You should have come more prepared"
audience - ROFL

I guess coming more prepared means I should have bought my shipping supplies at Staples rather than supporting the retail operations at the USPS.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bullets & Paint

Today Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) opened a series of hearings related to the toy industry's recent lead paint scare and their Chinese suppliers. Obviously protecting children is an important and laudable goal. However, if this is Mr. Durbin's actual agenda shouldn't he be talking to the gun manufacturers, the NRA & gun lobby?

I could find no reference to any child's death or injury directly attributed to lead poisoning (I'm sure it's happened, just not enough to garner coverage). Yet in 2002, 60 children under 14 were killed by guns and over 800 required hospitalization for gunshot wounds. If you raise the upper age to 19 (though obviously not playing with Thomas trains at that age) the statistic goes to 8 deaths per day!

Makes the China paint pursuit look a little hypocritical don't you think?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Let's Kick The Corpse

Once again the music industry has shown itself to be completely staffed by morons. The latest proposal to save tanking CD sales is the Ringle, a genius idea if I ever heard one. The Ringle will be a physical disc containing (gasp) a hit song, a couple of B sides and a ring tone and the plan is to retail these for $6.98! Apparently the labels haven't realized that you can download legal versions of the song for 99 cents (and dubiously illegal versions for 10 cents) and create your own ring tones for free. Maybe they're hoping the teen target market hasn't figured all this out yet - Right! Just when you thought they couldn't be any more stupid they come right out and surprise you.

Horrible Apocalyptic Photoshop

From the Ikea US home page, believe it or not. I can't figure out if the horrendous Photoshop job is supposed to be the Budweiser Clydesdales or 3 of the 4 Horses of the Apocalypse sans riders, stopped by for a chat? Either way it takes photo editing to a new low, even more so since the host prides itself on clean, functional design.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Hmm, a quandary. I'm looking to replace my 2ndG iPod. I already have a Nano which I love but wish I could have my entire music library (60+GB & growing) with me for longer trips. So today Apple announced the new iPod range, a redesigned Nano, a touch screen iPodtouch with Wi-Fi & Safari & a larger drive version (160GB) of the pre-existing iPodvideo. Problem is, the features I want are not available in any single device.
  • the iPodtouch is very cool but only goes up to 16GB & lacks a mic in jack for Skype'ing
  • the iPodvideo 160 has the capacity I want but looks pretty lackluster when compared to the touch
The touch should have the 160GB HD and the ability to do VOIP (already possible on my Nokia N770). This is a seriously bad move on Apple's part, one which I think will haunt them over the holiday period. I guess I'll be sticking with my 2ndG for awhile longer.

iPhone Price Drop

I felt like getting flagged on Craigslist today!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Real Recycling

We have a great informal, unregulated truely recycling program in my neighborhood. Once a month there's "Bulk Trash Week" where homeowners can put pretty much anything out front for city pickup. Entrepreneurs cruise the 'hood before the official trucks arrive looking for anything of value. Case in point; on beaucolic Old Pond Drive today there was a stair-stepper machine, an elliptical machine & an old office chair (put out by me). By 3pm, all had disappeared. No fuss, no waste, no mess. We get rid of junk, they make a few dollars, everyone wins.


I love Google maps.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Bavarian Ingenuity

From the land of great beer & great cars comes the definitive answer to all those Me-Too flash based music players. Genuine Leederhosen with a built in mp3 and controls on the thigh!

Perfect for those Polka & Stein evenings, my only worry is that impromptu thigh slapping may interfere with the controls!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Bike Porn 2

The soon-to-be-released Fuji Obey courtesy of Cambridge Bicycle. I'm getting in line now!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Can We Get FHA Help Too?

From Bloomberg - Bush will announce at 11:10 a.m. in Washington that the Federal Housing Administration, which insures mortgages for low- and middle-income borrowers, will guarantee loans for delinquent borrowers, allowing them to avoid foreclosure and refinance at more favorable rates.

Dear Mr. Bush,

My wife & I are able to understand basic Time/Value/Money calculations. We are also capable of realizing that even our combined incomes will not be able to make payments on a $1M home (although Countrywide tried their hardest to convince us otherwise). We used to think these were positive traits, however we now see that we were so wrong in securing a fixed-rate mortgage we could actually afford. Please can we have your permission to switch to a Subprime so we can qualify for some nice lower rates as I don't think we're currently eligible? Oh, we have some crazily responsible friends who'd like to get some of these rates & guarantees too.

Yes, of course I'm sympathetic to people who are losing their homes. If they were duped by unscrupulous financiers & brokers than surely that's a matter for the criminal courts not an FHA bail out? Perhaps the Feds should have refunded the Enron investor's money too? How about a nice Federal refund if the auto dealership talked you into a silly finance deal?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Old Is New

Coke's gone all retro on us. Here's the new, simplified can against the old, bubbly, drop shadow design. Maybe they should bring back the pull ring while they're at it?

Worse thing Coke ever did was sub in corn syrup for sugar. Luckily, here in Texas we can get the "Real Thing" from our cross border amigos although some at corporate would like to change that.

Bringing Sexy (hatch) Back

Could it be possible that Ford is finally leveraging some of it's other auto properties and proposing a small car that is actually way cool? From comes news of the new Verve concept which obviously takes huge styling cues from Ford's own Aston Martin, and some of the most gorgeous cars in the world. Ford, you need to build this car.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Whoa Nellie!

Oops, starting getting 503 Proxy errors today (not this cute one though). Maybe it's time to reign in those network settings and start looking a little less like a DOS attack!


Don't all rush at once but I've got a bunch of junk for sale on ebay.

TV Gaffes?

I find it ironic that Miss Teen South Carolina has taken so much flack for her pageant bumblings. TV presenters who have their monologues ghost written and spend their lives reading prompters & cue cards seem only too happy to weigh in on this girl. So she said some meaningless things. And that makes her different from 90% of the stuff on TV in exactly what way? It all looks pretty mean spirited to me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Big Problems

From one of my favorite websites (horrible design, stunning content) comes this of the Pasha Bulker grounded on the beach at Newcastle, Australia. This is obviously shot with a telephoto lens somewhat shortening the foreground, however it still illustrates the vastness of modern merchant vessels. In the almost completely unregulated world maritime industry the increasing scare is who owns what and where? For further reading on this fascinating world within our World I recommend a copy of this.


China's net censorship was seemingly sporadic and haphazard. It was sometimes hard to know if you were being blocked or if the routing had just glitched. Not so in Dubai where they have it down to a science. Also blocked there are all the VOIP options such as Skype. Apparently someone in the royal entourage owns the phone company so I guess that figures.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sight & Sound In Concert

Back in the 70's the Beeb (BBC) used to do a Saturday evening TV & Radio simulcast called Sight & Sound In Concert. The idea was pretty revolutionary at the time, turn down the goggle box, turn up the radio and enjoy some great music. Best part was, each show featured an established act and a newcomer without the art-school navel contemplation of the Old Grey Whistle Test either. I discovered so many great bands through the show & would hook up my Akai tape recorder every Saturday night to capture the concerts. My favorite by far and away was Ian Dury & The Blockheads (yet to release their first album) opening for Dr. Feelgood. I remembered it as a rock solid groove with these shambling vocals laid over the top. Alas my tapes are long gone but listening to this I guess my memory served me well (not entirely work safe).

Sex Drugs Rock Roll Ian Dury
Uploaded by benoitbelote

EDIT : Actually if my memory serves correctly this clip is from the Blockheads return to S&S when they headlined. I'm thinking the opening act may have been Lew Lewis but it's been awhile!

The Indians Send Signals...

I think I wore the grooves clean off this record.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mac Must-Haves

Freeware/Donationware/Shareware no Mac-Head with a penchant for audio should be without -
  • Airfoil - stream audio from any application to your AirTunes network
  • AULab - from Apple, "test" Audio Units applications or use with Soundflower and hardware interfaces to create your own software based audio inserts
  • Carbon Copy Cloner - simply create bootable backups of your HD
  • Cyberduck - simple, fast FTP, includes a Widget
  • Flip4Mac - play WMV files in Quicktime
  • Handbrake - make, ah-hum, backups of your DVDs plus transcoding
  • iPlaylist Copier - export the contents of an iTunes playlist as audio files
  • Parallels - actually commercial software, allow the seamless use of Windows apps on your Mac without a reboot.
  • Soundflower - route audio from one application to another without leaving the computer
  • Switch - software from down under that converts from any audio file format to any other, including as a batch
  • Tubesock - download & decode virtually any Flash-embedded file, great for Daily Motion rips
Now get downloading!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Good, Bad or Ugly?

More from Shanghai, first up is pretty self-explanatory, then it's scary garden speakers!

Monday, July 30, 2007

N95 in China

So much for that plan! The N95 is about the same price (7,800RND) as the gray markets in the US.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Shanghai Update

Got past the blocking & can finally get a post up! Shanghai, home of the all-you-can eat Dim-Sum breakfast, Blade Runner-esque neons & the 45 minute, $6 foot massage. Apart from the 105 degree heat & 100% humidity it's all been grand so far.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

See No Evil

My blogs from Shanghai may be a little weird as due to the censors here, I can post to, but not view mine or anyone else's blogs! Oh yeah & I have to figure out how to get blogger to display in English.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

While Supplies Last

Good news for both fans of the NFL and the NDFL. Nike has great apparel for your kids to show their love of both sports and right now it's on sale! No word on quantities but I'd get in quick.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mobile Phone Wish List

or What I Want In A Mobile Phone
  • touch screen or QWERTY keyboard
  • browser
  • e-mail client
  • hi speed 3G connection
  • WiFi
  • Instant Messaging & SMS
  • GPS with spoken directions
  • decent camera
  • fits in my pocket
So the current version of the iPhone doesn't cut it for me. The Nokia N95 looks to have everything but the keyboard which will make browsing/e-mail an issue. What's a guy to do?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

They're Back

Like Mr. Arnie in Terminator, our favorite RIAA scourges have returned, apparently unbowed! Like a house cat at night, who knows where they've been, but it's nice to see them on the proverbial kitchen window ledge in the morning anyway.

UPDATE - It seems as if the original parent operation may have at least scored a temporary victory with Visa.

Texas or TX?

Hey Google Adsense, we were annexed in 1845!

Speedee Update

And the magic number is 18 lbs -EDIT, 17lbs, forgot I had the tool bag attached! Not bad for a Columbus SL, fully lugged frameset. Hmm, wonder what my Team Fuji aluminum would come in at as a single? Sub 14 lbs?

Added the Cambridge Cycles bullhorns & BMX brake lever. Waved goodbye to the rear brake and bolted on some $4.99 very-used SPD pedals. Now I can wear my ultra-comfortable Shimano MTB shoes. Final touch was some Cinelli cork bar tape and away I go.

Got about 10 miles on the finished product Sunday (it was mid-afternoon hot), fun = a 10 plus.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Currently On The Turntable

What's On Your iPod?

Cornelius - Point: Keigo Oyamada the man behind the Cornelius name weaves a complex web of disparate musical signatures. File under Eclectic and watch out for the unexpected.

Ellen Allien - Fabric 34: German musician, producer & DJ with the misspelled last name weaves a great mix of techno. Clocking in at well over 60 minutes it's a great album to get lost inside.

Shpongle - Tales of the Inexcusable : UK based Psych-Ambient. Combining middle eastern instrumentation, dub reggae, contemporary trance and flute Shpongle are hard to pigeonhole but not hard to listen to.