Review: Griffin RocketFM

11/29/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Music, Reviews


Summary: USB powered low-range FM transmitter

As probably noticed in other posts, I'm not much of a fan of Calgary radio. This poses a bit of a problem as I like waking up to music and if my first reaction is that I'd like to strangle the DJ, well, it makes for a poor start to the day. I do however have a very fine collection of music in digital form that I like listening to. The obvious solution is to make my music collection what I wake up to.

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Sources of music recommendations

11/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Music

Wired News has two articles today on internet music sources. The first by Leander Kahney is about Rhapsody, a retailer in the vein of iTunes, eMusic and Napster. His conclusion: some good ideas, but not ready for prime time. The second is by Scott Gilbertson about music recommendation sites (Pandora, iLike, and Qloud.) His conclusion: any one will do.

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Ted Morton?

11/27/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Politics

Has the Calgary Sun become less conservative over time, or is Ted Morton really that spookily right-wing a character?

Dining on fabulous nosh at Willy's (and strangely, finding the owners had used turkey bacon as a substitute for bacon), I opened up the Calgary Sun and caught news of the leadership race of the Progressive Conservatives in Alberta. Now, the Calgary Sun has always been slightly right-wing, as far back as I can remember. If you take a look at their new "Words of Faith" page, it includes such not-usually-liberal luminaries as James Dobson and Billy Graham.

Yet they had an article which described Morton as a candidate who would steer the party to the right, and portraying it as a very bad thing.

Indeed, Bill 208 is one of those odd pieces of legislation he sponsored. Not against same-sex marriage per se, but definitely an anti-same-sex marriage sentiment. It would have allowed clergy not to perform such marriages (was that necessary?) as well as marriage commissioners (which is a bit odd), as well as letting kids skip the part of the class where they cover same-sex marriage (what curriculum is that part of?)

From his brochure:

Protecting Human Rights

Ted Morton’s record on human rights is strong. His Bill 208 would defend freedoms of religion and speech for those who support traditional marriage and a parent’s right to determine a child’s education.

His courageous stand comes in the face of heavy criticism and attacks from those who think new found access to same-sex marriage trumps everything else.

It's doublespeak like that which has me particularly worried, especially since, by all accounts, Bill 208 was a solution in search of a problem.

Morton is a member of the so-called Calgary School, which in some ways imports U.S.-side neo-conservatism here, though with a less onerous public face. Perhaps with a less onerous private one, but it's hard to say. He's not bringing up abortion as an election issue, but pre-election and post-election issues can be very different things, especially with voter-savvy true believers.

It's almost enough for me to go buy a party membership and vote. Maybe it is enough. Party memberships are $5 and as far as I've been able to tell, I can hold multiple party memberships.

If you want to find out where the nearest polling station is, look here.


Ze Frank

11/27/06 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


As a follow on from Ritchie's TED linkage, I thought I might point people at the full Ze Frank site. "Ze Frank" is a web comedian; he sticks up brief video skits on a regular basis which take the form of a face-to-face discussion with the audience.

It's great stuff. The link is to a description of the parallels between attending an American Thanksgiving dinner with invading a third world country.


Soundtrack, "Run Lola Run"

11/27/06 | by Adam | Categories: Music, Reviews

I frequently buy soundtracks to films I've never seen, nor have any particular wish to see. A few years ago, a friend from Germany sent me a track called "Wish (Komm Zu Mir)" but no other information. I thought it was great, in a rather German industrial way. However, I didn't follow it up. A couple of weeks ago, I came across a track by actor Franke Potente called "Believe" which I ended up leaving on repeat for a few hours.

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Michael Brook, "Cobalt Blue"

11/26/06 | by Adam | Categories: Music, Reviews

I first came across Michael Brook while listening to the soundtrack to "Heat" which included "Ultramarine", an echoey heavily processed guitar track. A bit later I encountered "Diffusing" which was a very similar piece.

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Universe in a Nutshell : Stephen Hawking

11/26/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Books, Science


I must admit, that apart from the pretty pictures, light humour and some interesting background on Einstein, I was pretty disappointed in this book. It starts out well, but holes appear in it later, not just the black kind, and a lot of space is spent on seemingly interesting things that go nowhere.

Many people loved the book, though, so I will justify my disappointment a little more thoroughly with a tour of the book and the things that I take issue with.

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Coolest Skeptic's Video Ever

11/25/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Science

This video of a talk by Michael Shermer is definitely one of the niftiest videos you may see about how your senses can be fooled.

He's the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine.

I must admit, though, I've bought the magazine before, and struggled to stay awake. I happen to own his How We Believe book, which is better than the magazine.

After watching the video, I think a documentary would be even better :)

Go ahead, rewind the video, too, if you think he was somehow playing different things. The reverse sound thing was particularly spooky. I'm disturbed that I can be primed that that.


Aurora, "Aurora"

11/25/06 | by Adam | Categories: Music, Reviews

This 2002 eponymous album from UK band, Aurora, doesn't fit terribly comfortably into the electronica/dance-floor genre that it was released into. It's rather better than most due to a combination of cover tunes and guest vocalists. You get Shakespeares Sister's vocalist, Marcella Detroit, on two tracks, a cover of "If You Could Read My Mind" and the rather better "To Die For"; Irish singer Naimee Coleman on the very pretty "Hushabye" and a good cover of Duran Duran's "Ordinary World"; and resident singer Lizzy Pattinson on the remainder.

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"Self Help" in Microsoft's Vista EULA

11/23/06 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright


Interesting article on the Register about the process of "self-help" wherein one party to a contract can unilaterally deprive the other member of the contract. In the case of Vista, the discussion is about Microsoft's ability to terminate the user's access to the software based merely on their say so.

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Use of abandonware legal in the US again

11/23/06 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright


Good to see the US's copyright law moving in the right direction for once:

it's now going to be legal to hack copy protection on computer software and video machines that are no longer available, including those that use hardware-based methods such as "dongles."


They Still Don't Get It

11/22/06 | by Adam | Categories: Games

Electronic Arts and Atari have been pushing their new downloadable games pretty hard recently.

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Locavore cuisine

11/22/06 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


Wired is on a bit of a roll with reporting the somewhat bizarre eating fads. First, it was Calorie Reduced Diets (BoingBoing has a good link to that bit of insanity) and now it's "Locavore" wherein one tries to eat only foods created in their entirety from within 100 miles. That means that not only does the end product have to come from within that 100 mile radius but also anything that went into creating, processing and distributing it. That includes nitrates and phosphates for agriculture, antibiotics for livestock, and fuel for heating and transport.

The premise is to demonstrate how much food we take for granted is from distant realms and how much energy is consumed to get it to us. It's an environmental message wrapped up in a typically obscure middle-class package.

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The director of "The Hobbit" will not be Peter Jackson

11/22/06 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


In one of those bewildering moves, New Line Cinema has opted not to employ Peter Jackson to direct the new live action version of "The Hobbit". we bring you breaking news as cited by cartoon strips.

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Concrete Blonde, "Recollection"

11/22/06 | by Adam | Categories: Music, Reviews


Concrete Blonde were an alt-rock band who appeared in the early '80s, hit their high point in the early '90s, and for all intents and purposes vanished a little afterwards. It's too bad. When good, they were very good.

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