Moisture Farmers on Tatooine

10/06/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


Own up; you thought exactly the same when you read that news story too.


Extended Warranties

10/06/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


I don't really have an awful lot to add to the Washington Post commentary on extended warranties, other than highlighting the interesting sidenote that they're not always offered by the point-of-sale but by a third party.

Personal experience is that if the warranted item is going to fail, it does so in the first few months, and that's (almost) always covered by the manufacturer's warranty. The article correctly notes that where the extended warranties pay off is when they bundle something special into the deal, whether it's home service in the case of bigscreen televisions or cleaning and maintenance (in the case of projectors.)

The worst one I've ever come across? Soundsaround here in Calgary wanted $600 for a two year extended warranty on my $800 Sony DVD player. Quite a few years later, the DVD player is still going strong. I think Soundsaround is too, but I've not been there in a while to confirm that...


Entertaining concert riders

10/05/06 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


The Smoking Gun, repository of bizarre documentation and mugshots, has a rather amusing concert rider from Iggy And The Stooges. I'd hate to have received it.

Concert riders are notorious for having idiosyncratic, if not downright bizarre, requirements. Some of them were a bit more subtle though. To let the Wikipedia explain:

The hard rock band Van Halen's now infamous contract rider called for, among other things, a bowl of M&M's backstage, but with provision that all the brown candies must be removed. In one rumored incident, someone had not removed the brown M&M's, and David Lee Roth trashed the dressing room. The M&M's provision was included in Van Halen's contracts not because the band disliked the candy, but because it served a practical purpose: if brown M&Ms were found backstage, then it was probable that other much more important technical aspects of the rider had also not been fulfilled properly.

Snopes also has a good take on this one.


Yukon political pass-the-parcel

10/05/06 | by Adam | Categories: Canadian


This one completely passed me by until just now. Up in the Yukon territorial politics are incredibly fluid with sitting MPs changing party affiliations seemingly at a moment's notice. The CBC backgrounder makes for a fascinating read, particularly when I'm sitting in a province that rarely, if ever, changes its political stance.


Contemporary hidden rooms

10/05/06 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


I am in severe envy. Do I need a hidden room in my house? Absolutely not. Would I love one? Oh, yeah...


The strange story of Gizmondo

10/04/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


Wired Online has an excellent article on the very strange and circuitous rise and fall of the Gizmondo handheld. Fascinating reading.


Recovering from a bad demo

10/02/06 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

One of the things that stands out about Steve Jobs' ability to sell his product is his ability to recover well when things screw up during a demo. The link above is to a compilation of keynote screwups where Job's ability to roll with the flow is made very clear. I don't have an equivalent for Bill Gates at the various Microsoft demos but they never seem to be as smooth.


A descant of a different sort

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Music


I'd not heard of "presbycusis" before the BBC article linked above, but I am aware of the issue of the range of hearing deteriorating as one ages. In addition to giving me another word I can use while losing at Scrabble, the article describes a gimmicky song based, of all things, a cellphone ring tone which in turn is based off a very high-pitched anti-lurking teenager gizmo. The idea of deliberately using higher frequency sounds to add an extra melody to a piece of music that only some of the audience can perceive is a rather clever one.

At the same time there's something inherently annoying in knowing that I'll never be able to hear the full piece as intended should this concept ever be used on something other than a ringtone-based techno track.


How do you identify music without a title?

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Music

This is more of a general musing. Recently a song came on my MP3 player. The song, recorded on tape from the UK's BBC Radio 1 sometime in the late '80s, is not by any artist I know of. There are no phrases that show up in any of the lyric searches. I've never come across another copy of it while downloading tracks by bands I've never heard of.

All in all, it's a great song and one I'd like to buy a better copy of. The problem is how exactly does one find a track with no distinguishing characteristics other than that you like it? I'd post it here but no doubt that would violate somebody's copyright and I don't particularly want to get Ritchie sued.

I have no idea whether it's even possible, but I certainly would love to have some sort of central repository where a piece of music can be uploaded and then identified by experts in musial esoterica. It's not really a computer recognition thing. Could it be?

Full story »


World's largest bug

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


Apparently the VW Beetle wasn't good enough for Germany.


Great sentences to start a post with

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh


Bugs, how I love them ... I love hunting them down and killing them. Hunting down and killing the developer who caused the bug would be just as much fun if it weren’t illegal in every country in the world, that and programmers would probably be an extinct species if every programmer who had a fix a bug killed off the guy who created it ... and of course if they introduced the bug … well you get the picture, it's not pretty.

It comes from one of the initial posts in the group blog from the Mac Business Unit (MacBU) over at Microsoft. One of the interesting things about the MacBU is how focused on the Macintosh they are -- they're the closest I've seen to the old Amiga users in terms of enthusiasm and interest. That they're at Microsoft at all seems like an anomaly. With the ongoing migration over to OSX as my primary operating system it's nice to know that even in Redmond there's a future for the system.


All true wisdom begins with Cecil

09/26/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly


I'm a sucker for trivia sites. The best I'm aware of is "The Straight Dope" which has the most entertaining bits of patter about the oddest set of questions.

To person who swore that baked potatoes should always be wrapped in tinfoil with the shiny side out, please follow on the above link. If you don't feel like clicking the link, the summary is this: it really doesn't matter which side you use.

Ah, the internet. Home of all that is good, as well as those evil, eeeeevil nasty spambots.


Your regular DRM update

09/21/06 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright


Want to see why I'm moving away from Windows? OSX may not be better in the long run, but at least so far it's not moving in this direction.


Trackbacks gone again

09/19/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

After a brief attempt to enable trackbacks on the blog, I've disabled them again due to the incredible spam load. Some people do seem to be doing their darndest to hobble the more interactive aspects of the web.


The most insane laptop ever

09/18/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


Normally I'd say that Dell was smoking something particularly potent when they created the monstrous XPS M2010 but I know at least one person personally who would probably buy it.

The scary thing is that it actually has a battery and runs for about three hours on it.


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