Wednesday, December 22, 2004

NPR should bittorrent/RSS their newscasts

In recording things, especially morning edition, their 45min limit on their audio streams is killing me. I guess they cut the streams short during 9/11 due to their servers being overloaded. I can understand that kinda, they do have to pay for all that bandwidth but I propose a solution, bittorrent.

Yeah, yeah, I realize that they sell some of their stuff like Fresh Air and Car Talk, I think that stuff should be available for download but that might be another post, this is more another means of sending out content and saving money.

I think BBC is already kind of doing this (Adam Curry said they haven’t been advertising the fact but he has found some mp3s in their RSS feeds). NPR could easily start doing this by putting out their 5 minute summary as a bittorrent. With all the people that listen to NPR online, especially as the idea of time-shifting catches on, seeding a bittorrent should take the brunt of the bandwidth load off of them. They could do it in AAC files (or something like that, not sure about all the DRM stuff, I hate the crap but considering that I only listen to a cast once then toss it, it would be fine if they DRM’d it).

Monday, December 20, 2004

The English Language… Amazing

Well I was talking to a German friend of mine who, in some random conversation, thought that the English language had something like 400,000 words (I think that is what he said), and I thought it was more. Today I took a peek at my beloved wikipedia under its entry for “The English language”, damn, pretty extensive.

Turns out that there are 800,000+ words and counting, the page (it’s a link from The English Language page on Wikipedia) states that its an estimate, and is not exact, but hey close enough. The Wikipedia entry touches on just about everything you could think of relating to English plus some. One of the things it mentions a few times is its Germanic and Latin roots (though the entry seems to say it is more Germanic than Latin, interesting).

I have a fair number of German friends so I hear German quite a bit when I am around them and of course pelt them with questions. Myself, not being anything close to a master of the English language (still learning, refer to my grammar/writing skills) I am always interested amused when I learn new German and Latin words, and how lots of English words can be explained through either German or Latin.

Then I think about Japanese and Chinese, whoa, talking about night and day difference, especially writing. I hear lots of Germans saying that English is way easier than German, and I am inclined to agree but it doesn’t hold a candle to Japanese or Chinese.

Bangkok Baby!

Yep, not in Rome anymore, on to the land of warmer (bloody hot!) climates, and hot (burn the hair off your legs hot) food! The postings will probably be a bit more spurratic due to adjustment internet access etc. So far i am liking it, i live in a very Thai area (no expats running around, and i am somewhat of a novelty where as in some other parts of town i would just be a nusiance) and most people have been very nice and extraordinarily tolerant of my almost non-eistant (except counting) Thai... oh boy, steeeeeep learning curve ahead.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Out'a Here!

Ok Kiddies, For all (3?) of you reading; I will be heading to Bangkok (Yeah Bangkok Baby!) so until I get situated there probably won't be many posts. But until then!

Direct correlation between...

... Between my postings and how much NPR/Tech broadcasts I listen to. I have been basking in ripped NPR newscasts, don’t worry NPR, haven’t traded/sold/kept any of them but God its nice to be able to listen to them when I want/where I want/how I want. I’ve been taking advantage of the sped up option on my iHP-120 and soaking in a 2 hour episode cut between my to and from commutes (about 45min each way).

I have also noticed that I end up with more “thoughts” on stuff other than tech, I have rarely been able to get into reading about politics current events etc (well I can a bit but hardly when compared to tech reading). Now more than before my postings directly correlate with amt of tech and NPR audio I hear. I still read as much tech as time allows, but magazine tech articles seem years behind and seriously out of touch compared to the online stuff, but podcasts quite often are as up to date as the online stuff the difference being that I can take them on the subway/bus/walk… nice. Thanks Adam and NPR (but NPR didn’t exactly make it easy).

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Part 5: Ideal Computing setup and Mind Mapping (the comparison)

Screw it, I have been trying to remember to save an html version (here is someone else's example) of what I did and bring it to work (no home net access [yes a piece of me is dying daily]) but I keep forgetting, whatever.

Anyway, I tried brainstorming using mind mapping software FreeMind. The learning curve wasn’t too bad but having to right click for everything (or memorize hotkeys [which I love if I use the app all the time]) was kind of annoying, hopefully they will be adding some menu customization so you can put buttons on the menu instead of awkward right clicks and convoluted right click menu navigation.

Anywho, other than the right clicking (and yes, I did use hot keys for the most common functions, mainly add a node) it was pretty nifty. It did take more time for me to come up with a mindmap than it did to just write it down but then again that was the first time I had ever used the software. I liked the bubble? (looked like a cloud to me, if you want an idea you can go to the java applet example, but it will take some serious bandwidth) option to group stuff together, quite nice. I would have liked a better way to attach larger chunks of text because in this situation for some of the hardware stuff I listed I forget why I wanted it (dumb-a*s I know) so I want to make a note as to why I wanted the feature in the first place (the whole “if you can’t remember it then it couldn’t have been that important” is just not true).

Well, considering its free, I have to give it a thumbs up, its nothing like Mind Manager (they have a demo available) which has tons of features but perhaps more than you need.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Firefox still not Opera

First, yes I am an Opera die hard, 2nd my biggest qualm with Opera is that it doesn't work with as many webpages as FireFox but... qualms:

First, the thing I like about FireFox, extensions, they are nifty, easy to install, and people are writing new ones every day, but it almost ends there.

That is not to say that FireFox doesn’t rock, it does, and is many orders better than M$IE, but it is, for lack of a better word, simplistic. Now I realize for many that is what makes it attractive (and in preaching Opera like I used to [installing it on friend’s computers] I have discovered that unless you are a browser nerd you won’t use half of the features that Opera has to offer, sad but true), and its not as simplistic as IE but when compared to Opera it just pales in comparison.

I think IE is, like M$ (I know “Duh!”); but FireFox is like MacOSX; and Opera is like Linux/Unix. That is to say, IE doesn’t work that great, you can’t get into its guts, etc. FireFox, is of course open source (yeah!) so you can get way into its guts *but* (and now that I think of it my analogy is breaking down) only at a programming level, superficially it is a bit harder to make really cool changes. Then you have Opera, admittedly not open source, but usability wise you can change sooooo many things, bookmarklets, change menus, adding/making buttons, viewing pages using different CSS pages you have made, load pages w/o graphics, billions of mouse gestures and hot keys, small program, super skinnable, fast, and the list goes on (a really good site to visit to get a better idea is

I know there are those out there that say that FireFox kicks Opera’s ass, but I really haven’t seen much of that. It seems to be more that they both rock, and neither are IE.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Granddaddy of the P2P

Just ran across an article that had a link to; this article, from 2000, announcing the “new” P2P client, Gnutella!

Nice, that was the beginning of the 2nd generation (in my mind) P2P apps (Napster being the 1st), non-centralized p2p. I am not quite sure what the 3rd generation was/is; I think it should be the rise of more anon p2p clients. Some have been around for awhile like FreeNet but most have been pretty slow to pick up steam which is odd to me considering the litigious nature of the RIAA and now the MPAA.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Godfather of Slackware

Just got word that the Slackware Godfather (Patrick Volkerding) is not doing well. He has been the maintainer (and creator?) of Slackware Linux, one of the oldest distributions of Linux and far and away one of the most stable/secure Linux distributions.

He has been posting updates on how he has been doing, seems to be heart related. I can say this guy is really nice, met him in person, no; but way back (like 1996?) when I installed Slackware he helped out with a few problems; considering the amount of mail he probably got (and no doubt still gets) I was quite grateful. The staying power and popularity of Slackware (almost always in the top 10) is also testament to its core linux goodness. Hope he gets better soon.

Lease to own Über Gizmo store?

You can lease to own houses and cars right? But those are for money purposes, how about for trying something out? I am constantly scouring the net for reviews on products I am interested in, and it is not uncommon to find conflicting reviews (its mostly subjective anyway). Plus, when I actually get my hands on something I will find quirks myself. Now the brick and mortar places are good for checking something out but #1 you only get to try it out at the store, #2 they have limited selections. What about a Amazon sized gadget place that let you lease to own (and if you don’t like it then whatever) gizmos, you can do all the net research etc narrow it down then get the gizmo, and then lease it to try it out and see if you like it, if you do then viola! You buy it!

I am sure there are all sorts of details that I am not thinking of but the theory sounds good right?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Gimme and NPR podcast!!!

Oops! I forgot about this one, i wrote it then saved as a draft but never posted it, well i have since figure out how but there might be some useful/interesting links so i went ahead and posted it.

This whole podcasing thing really makes me want to figure out how to setup NPR for it. Since some of the NPR shows are being sold (itunes link) I doubt they will be podcasting any time soon… so I figure that somehow I can get some system of recording mp3 streams from some of the member stations… we shall see. It would be too cool if there was something like RadioShark for internet streams (real player, mp3, etc)… The whole time shifted radio programming just couldn’t be sweeter… if I can figure it out. If anyone out there is aware of something like this then let me know (I think "AudioJack" is but haven’t gotten a chance to play around with it that much).

Über Cameras, Why bother?

What is the point of these über cameras (yes I love that word, über. über, über, über, über!) that people have if they don’t take advantage of the resolution? I am a sucker for extra rez (though limited finance has helped bridle that love for pixels) so I have a nice 256Mb SD card that I either take full rez/highest quality JPEG pix or go all out with full rez TIFFs, but I seem to be the minority among my non-techno-weenie friends. In many case they have cameras that make mine look like the Sony Mavica floppy disk cameras of yore with 5 mega pixel, 5x zoom, 512Mb mem, etc (all I gots is a little Minolta Xt, love the size/ speed, and pix are ok [barely] but are mediocre for inside shots). Not sure how obvious it is but I love travelling and try to get pictures etc, and when with friends we all snap off pictures whenever but then when we get around to swapping pictures I get these gimpy 640x480 or 800x600 pictures?! The rez problem is exacerbated with bad shots (which I seem to be taking a lot of with my camera… grunt), you can’t Gimp/Photoshop them because they use some jpeg quality of 50% or less with a 640x480 resolution so touching up is (for me) impossible.

Come on people, the price of memory is dropping pricipitusly, you can now get a gigabyte of memory for under $70, you could store butt loads of RAW or TIFF files on something like that and it probably doesn’t cost 1/3 of what you paid for that camera!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Tech N’ Travel

Well I didn’t look around much for tech stuff (not sure what I was thinking??!) and in London about 2 weeks ago nothing jumped out at me but in Germany I noticed a few things. I was in Hamburg and Düsseldorf, at schnitzels, bratwurst, currywurst, a (bad) pretzel (probably a fluke), Maultauschen (think German Ravioli [but better])... you can’t tell I like food can you?

Well two things, both kinda techish. One clockwork, and German precision (I guess that’s the right word, sorry, I’ve never said I was an English Master). Of course most people would say things in Germany work really well, and German products are good as well, but I was consistently amazed how the trains (at least the ones I took) were on time give or take about a minute, amazing. Not only that but being in Italy I have noticed that the Nokia 3310 seems to be the standard (baseline) phone but in Germany this Siemens (don’t know the model, but it is about half the weight and 2/3rd the weight of the Nokia) phone is the “baseline” model, its just nicer and many Germans seem to dislike it, like it was a pinto or something.

A side note, in talking to my (well traveled) friend, she mentioned how most Germans don’t really think about (appreciate?) how well things work there but once they go other places they see. Amusing.

Anyway the second thing was Saturn, I have never seen one before but apparently it’s a pretty big electronics store in Germany. The selection of notebooks they had was pretty impressive, especially considering that they seemed to be at least as many as Best Buy or CompUSA in the US. The thing that I really noticed was the ultraportables, I just don’t recall seeing that many in the US, usually one or two Sony Vaios but that’s it. Here they had the luscious Sony X505, damn that thing is only a few hairs thicker than my Treo90?! It was just fun to look at (behind glass, Damn it!) but some other computers were out as well, including some JVC computers that in a way are a bit more practical. Computers like the JVC MP-XV841US have a screen, decent rez, and as much as a DVD-RW, impressive. For a notebook the things I require the most are gobs of disk space a optical drive, and a keyboard I can type on... that last part is a sticker. I don’t need much processing power (save that for the desktop), a huge screen would be nice but unrealistic (for now) if trying to save weight, but the keyboard. I have owned a nice little IBM series X 240, it’s a tough little thing but with hands my size (maybe slightly larger than average) I would always screw up trying to type. The day they come out with something like the Sony X505 with an optical Drive and at least 80 gigs of space I am so getting it, regardless of the 2nd or 3rd mortgage I might have to take out on the house.

Part 4: Ideal Computing setup and Mind Mapping

Ok, this mind mapping software stuff got me thinking, I sometimes wander off into lala land and think about whatever, this time, the “ideal” computing setup. I think this would be perfect for mindmapping software so I thought I would write it up in a wysiwyg word processor first then re-do the brainstorm in something like freemind (which I had trouble installing at first, didn’t see I had Java already installed, will work on that).

The Setup
Server: about 4 drives with mirroring, butt loads of memory (running multiple apps/OSs) and drive space (movie/music jukebox server, and holding two OSs), can skimp on the processor, quiet, wireless/wired router (gigabit? For multiple simultaneous media streams),Slackware with XP running on top via vmware

Workstation: über processor, petabytes of memory, lots of HD space, huge LCD or Plasma screen (+21”), wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, RF remote (maybe use PDA as RF remote), kick ass shielded speakers with shielded wire (none of that mystery humming crap), perhaps wireless game pad (for my NES rom collection), big honking L shaped desk, RAID level 1 with bare minimum 7200rpm 8mb cache hard drives,

Combination Laptop/Tablet: tablet, small, under 3lbs, have huge amts of hard drive space, have reasonable sized keyboard, have at least DVD reader drive, blue tooth (for wireless mouse), Wi-Fi, can sacrifice speed if I can nuke having a fan,

Phone/PDA (Smartphone): Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (VoIP, etc), plug-in ability for GPS (would be a god send here in Rome), nice 1 megapixel camera (minimum, also nice to have app that adjusts screen brightness using the camera), 64megs of memory minimum, SD-IO slot, backlit tactile keyboard, memory that retains info even with zero power, can charge via USB,

Ok, lets hope I get FreeMind working tonight.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Proud of the Ukrainians…

I have been listening to multiple NPR broadcasts and seeing on Google news tons of bits about the upheaval in the recent Ukrainian Elections. I can say I am proud of them (well some of them) for standing up to what were obviously unfair elections. When I was working in Moldova (Yes, I know Ukrainians aren’t Moldovans but there are similarities) I was usually quite frustrated with politics there (the younger generations are working at it a bit but are far and away the minority, and still have a long way to go) and the political naivety and/or apathy. To see Ukrainians stand up to Russia is almost refreshing, not because I hate the Russians (well, I’m not fond of the government but love the people) but because many of the former Soviet republics are willing puppets of the Kremlin; not too much unlike many countries being puppets to Bush (notice I say “Bush” and not the “US”; I hate the shmoe) in a way they don’t have a choice but in a way they do. It boils down to “be yourself”. I know there have been demonstrations in support of the existing government (which has worked very closely with the Kremlin) but notice many of those are close to the boarder and where there are large concentrations of Russians, which makes total sense. In my experience Russians are fiercely proud people, I met many in Moldova who lived there their whole life but didn’t speak Romanian (the national language), not wanting to taint their “Russian-ness”, appalled me but also made me admire them a bit more…

Regardless, Ukraine, along with just about any other country, need to be its own country and not the puppet of some larger power.

Part 3: Personal Organization Applications

I am not necessarily talking about PIMs (personal information managers) but that is defiantly a part of effective organization, something like “mind mapping” software. I haven’t really used them much, mostly because until recently I haven’t been able to find any that I could afford but I have lately come across a few forms of (free) mind mapping/organization softwares that I want to try out like Freemind, Thinkgraph, VYM, outliners

The more things I cram into my life the more important organizing my life becomes. Agendus is now a basic part of that but also organizing things such as projects more effectively (that can be anything from work to building the idea personal server, etc) saves time which allows me to do more things.

While I am thinking about it, a tablet would be ideal for mind mapping software, or it seems like it would be. Or better yet one of the tablet/notebooks (kind of like the Toshiba Portege M200 tablet PC [but that is not ideal mind you]) more on that later.

Interesting, while I was thinking about this (and flipping back and forth between different webpages [god I love tabbed browsing in Opera]) I saw a Slashdot/economist posting relating to organization/complexity that seems to relate closely if not directly with what I have been talking about.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

More of the same…

I read an article before of how 2nd term is an opportunity for presidents to do as they please, not having to please their constituents etc (refer to Regan actually befriending the USSR in his second term after spending most of his first term bashing them). I don’t foresee bush doing *anything* different. He is out to pursue his “my way or the highway” policies.

His latest (the shmuck doesn’t waste much time) unfathomable move was re-refuting the Kyoto protocol/treaty. There is even more evidence now that the greenhouse effect is causing/exacerbating global warming

You love me, you really love me!

Well I had gotten a wee bit behind on my podcasts, its almost kind of nice, I get to sift through all the stuff and listen to what is most interesting to me and chuck the rest (I wish I could append like a show TOC in the ID3 comment tag of the NPR rips). Anyway, I was listening to the “can’t miss shows” (Engadget, SlashDot Review, Daily source code) and while listening to the SDR I heard this site mentioned, as well as The Digestible Aggie! I almost fell out of my chair! Never mind that he slightly misquoted TDA and mutilated my name (I am amazed when I hear any non-Japanese speaker actually pronounce it *correctly*, so *no* worries) I got a plug from the SlashDot Review! Not only that, I added a sitemeter counter, and my RSS link is via feedburner (two subscribers [amazed you blokes bothered, thanks!]) so I have a grand total of two feed subscribers and am averaging about 3 hits a day, dinky? Yeah it is, but considering that I didn’t think I had *any* readers 3 is better than 0. Since only my old site shows up in Google I have no idea how you people are finding me (using the Google link option), if you can take a few seconds pleeeeeeaze let me know how you found this site by just putting a quick comment.

Part 2: Elaborating on the fitting more stuff into a day…

I was talking to a friend of mine, she is Sicilian, i.e. more Italian than Italians are (arguable of course but that is from an outsiders point of view). I was expounding on the virtues of the net and how you could “live a fuller life” (I don’t necessarily believe that mind you). After all my preaching she jokingly referred to me as an “internet monster” which (I hope) was meant more as “you are a slave to the net”. Later we talked about time and using time, I dare say Italians are the chill masters, sit at a café, sip on a nice wine, munch on biscotti or a panini and talk about whatever… and belive me, I can totally get into that, but… there are times (Americanized?) when I feel like I am wasting time, I could be doing more. At the moment “doing more” consist of soaking in podcasts during down time (metro, non-pleasure-walking from point A to B, etc), I really enjoy the news, but don’t feel I have much time to listen to it; podcasts offer an excellent opportunity to fill in the time gaps with useful info.

No this isn’t to preach about podcasts, its more about organization. I am pretty disorganized but unlike some disorganized sloths I do not pretend like I am content with my system or that it works, it’s a constant process.

In high school I would write notes to myself and keep them in the brim of my hat (got that idea from Abe Lincoln) so I wouldn’t loose them, and they would be easily accessible; problem was I couldn’t always remember to look at the notes that I wrote to remind myself, well it was the best I could come up with at the time.

Later on in college I got my hands no a Handspring Visor PDA, that little thing along with Agendus rocked hard core! It had “Springboard modules” that you could plug into it for more functionality, well the module I swore by was the little vibrate option since I am constantly listening to music when I am not with someone; but then it got ganked in Amsterdam. Anyway, my “productivity” went up, I wasn’t forgetting things all the time, I could take notes and elaborate on them later, remember appointments, take notes on contacts in my address book, all sorts of stuff.

Next I got a Handspring Treo90, that thing had a ton of goodies (of course it lacks a vibrating feature which is something I sorely miss), including a keyboard so it was easier to take notes, edit, etc while riding (not driving of course) or walking. I could put .pdf documents, maps from mapquest, on it, even word documents which I could edit on the fly! I still have it, not because there isn’t better out there but because I just haven’t come up with the dough yet (still a student ya know).

I have looked at a few other options for the future, the next organizer will definitely be a smartphone, it would be nice if it (and my mp3 player, or if it could be my mp3 player) could vibrate and beep via my player for appointments etc… actually the “could be PDA” should be saved for another post.

What the hell was the above about? It was a lead-in to personal organization applications, which I will try to write about later.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

My undying love for Wikipedia

Not sure if people (person?) actually click on the links I post, but if you actually do then you will notice that many of the links are to entries on the Wikipedia.

I could of course link to some website that has stuff about the subject but hey; most wikipedia entries are combinations of definitions, history, and include lots of links (which are frequently updated).

Not only that but the online love involved in people altruistically taking the time to make entries is just great. ;>

Part 1: Squeezing more info into a day

Ok, I recently had a bunch of thoughts that #1 was too big to put into one post, and #2 Well I was too lazy to write it all up at the same time so I will put this "thought" up in parts as I feel like it. The premise of it is essentially, efficiency/time management/etc.

Anywho, this part is kind of about podcasting, but more about getting more out of your podcasts. Some of these guys like Doc Searls and Adam Curry amaze me, they seem to get a billion things done in a day (have you seen Doc Searl’s Blogroll?!?!) and still have time to do blogs and podcasts, while I aspire to be that efficient I don’t think I will ever get there, however, a good starting point is to speed things up.

I wish I could speed read, I can recall there being a course in speed reading at the community college in my parents town but alas, never did it. You can’t really listen to live broadcasts quicker because, well, they are live. But you can speed up recorded stuff.

I remember seeing something for some sort of DVR, it allowed you to play video (I think the advertisement used the poor example of movies) back faster, so you could watch a 2 hour movie in about 1 hour and 30 mins. I’m not sure about you but when I watch a movie I do it to relax; speeding up news/informational broadcasts never occurred to me at the time.

Just afew weeks ago (about a week before I heard about podcasting) I updated my iRiver iHP120; one of the new options was to play audio faster (it adjusts the pitch so the voices don’t sound like chipmunks, nice), at first I thought it was useless but now with podcasts it’s making sense to me. I can listen to more shows/podcasts per given amount of time than before, and as a promotional plug, on the iRiver I can’t tell it is playing faster unless I switch between the speeds, if I start it on a faster mode it sounds fine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

More PDA fanaticism

I wonder if there is a device out there that would allow my PDA to hook up to a computer and then the computer see my PDA (or at least the SD card) as a drive, sounds like a little thing but an example of its usefulness would be say documents. Documents to go is a pretty nifty program that allows one to sync and edit Word documents in its own format or in native word format, this could come in handy say if I have a document at home that I put on my PDA, edit whenever I have a inspirational brain fart, and then put on the computer at work to edit further (lets face it, scrawling more than notes on a PDA [even one like me trusty Treo90 that has a built in QWERTY keyboard] is cumbersome, especially for final edits), it would be like a CD/floppy/flash drive that I could edit/view the things on when I wanted… I am sure it exists but finding it isn’t always so easy.

Is the US becoming Russia?

With all the cabinet shuffling it is beginning to feel like what Putin has been doing (and has been denounced for), changing government to work your way, not necessarily the people’s way. While Bush’s changing of cabinet members wasn’t as drastic if you compare Russia’s government maturity to the US then perhaps Bush’s moves are bigger. He got rid of (yeah that’s debatable but in the case of Powell I heard it said that “yeah, he didn’t ask Powell to leave… but he didn’t ask him to stay either”) practically all the dissenting voices that I am betting he initially picked so he would be perceived as a more open man of the people, are now more or less gone; now he has surrounded himself with yes-men to blow sunshine up his ass every time he wants to declare war, watch out N. Korea!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Podcasting, the good, the interesting, and the give it up…

I have been trying out Podcasting, I love it. Actually I think this post is perhaps a bit after the fact since I have mentioned it in earlier posts but not expounded on it. Anywho, I have been trying out different episodes/broadcasts and have discovered that there are those shows that are good, usually done by people with an entertainment (reporters, writers, etc) background; those that may or may not have a reporting type background, don’t sound really professional but have *really* interesting stuff (Engadget); and those that sound like a bunch of pimply teenagers rambling between tokes. That is *not* to say any of the above should give it up (keep on tok’n fellas) the right to put your voice out there for ego inflation (Hell, that’s why I have a blog), or genuinely wanting to inform the public is fundamental. So far I have found about 6 shows I really like. Engadget, The Daily Source Code (by Adam Curry, the god father of podcasting and online broadcasting/blogging/etc), brainwagon, Future Tense, Jimmy Jett, Treo Podcast, Slashdot Review, IT Conversations, and Tokyo Calling. I am sure I will come across more but with time…

Sunday, November 28, 2004

WinAmp Lives?

Well, I'm confused, apparently winamp lives, the letter that they put up didn't sound really encouraging (the talk about being "slimmer" than they normally are). But anyway, they live, perhaps for another few versions (hopefully no 3.x repeats though)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Time Update...

Doh!! ok, just came across the option that lets you specify what time zone you are in... So i guess that previous post about time is now moot. I changed the settings, situation resolved (doooh...)


It just occured to me that the times that are automaticly posted are wildly off... or set for somewhere in the US, well i am the early to bed type and do not stay up to insane (ok, reality I am the minority) hours. At the moment, whereever you are, just think Italian time (for the time being, different day different place for some of us).

TV advertising, FCC, RSS, & bit torrent…

I recently found out about podcasting, I love it and as a result I have also found out about bittorrent and RSS (which kinda seems to be bigger than podcasting, at least in terms of applications). There was a lot of talk about legality, the FCC even had a recent ruling that would cover advertising (actually it could cover tons of things electronic) etc and how tv networks would start clamping down like the RIAA and MPAA are and suing downloaders. Now I don’t have a solution for the RIAA but the TV networks and MPIAA could just put more advertisements in the programming. This is done all the time in movies anyway, I notice it only a small fraction of the time, and for TV networks they get almost all their money via advertising so why not? They might even make more since they would be increasing the number of ways to get their programming out; why shouldn’t that work?

Friday, November 26, 2004

Tech Goodies in Florence

Just got back from two weeks of running all over the place (well it felt like it) the first of which was Florence (then London, then Hamburg, then Düsseldorf… whew), nice town, beautiful architecture… rip off prices. I think I have gotten spoiled with (kinda) knowing my way around in Rome and knowing good-for-cheap places to eat… argh.

Anyway lots to see there, about $9 to see David in all his well hung glory, but here I try to focus more on tech, and tech there was (though not when I needed it most, like running around with my friend while she shopped [for shoes/purses/jackets… no gizmo store for me]) at two of the exhibits.

I looked around on the web for a mention of these features but found nada (could be something out there in Italian, I used English).

Medici Palace meets Minority Report
There was a cool exhibit in an ok site the Medici Palace. It was a huge screen (something like 2x4m) that had a cone you stood under and about 2 webcam looking things pointed at you while you watched, the cool (at least in concept) part was that to pick something on the screen you wanted to listen to or to go to the next screen you used your hands, pointing at the option you wanted, kinda like Minority Report without the 3D holograms. It did work but not that well, i had to do a lot of waving around to get the desired result, perhaps it requires more practice…

3D of David
The second not-nearly-as-cool-but-what-the-hey thing was at the exhibit of David, they had 3D images of David which you could rotate around looking at every aspect of him (probably did more for the women and true art lovers than it did for me).

The Transition...

Its kinda sad, not like seeing WinAmp die, or having to use M$... well maybe like the having to us M$. Bloglines got me started with blogging, or I started with bloglines, not sure why I picked that over blogger the first time, perhaps the blogroll feature (but i mostly use my memory fades from minute to minute. But after using blogger, it is kinda nice, and seems to be more customizable than bloglines… so I find myself switching. No worries, for all two of you that read this with any regularity blogger has the option to set the date/time of a post so I will eventually transfer my stuff over to this site (blogger). Farewell bloglines, and thanks.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Just read an interview with the Skype CEO, its pretty interesting (Skype in general) but I liked his commentary on regulation of VoIP.

“The phone market was regulated so that customers get good service and also to enable fair competition in a monopolistic arena. Voice over IP should not be regulated because there is no monopoly. Today, millions of people and teenagers in particular aren’t getting land lines, they’re getting mobile phones and Internet connections. The phone companies are clinging to old business models rather than transforming themselves into services companies and reducing operational expenses by using the Internet. Soon, most of us will be using the Internet for voice communication, and the idea of charging for that makes as much sense as charging for email or for using a Web browser.”

Bravo! That makes sense to me, but then again I am not a telecom.

And now Siemens has come out with an adapter that has the skype software on it so you can hook up their phone and use skype via their phones.

Peace Corps in the Middle East?

I recently read a story about having the PC in the Middle East. Having suffered through 2 years of the PC myself (most of the real suffering came from asinine PC exclusionism [of local staff], in-country and Washington bureaucracy, and American staff protecting other American staff [that should have been jailed]) I am sceptical at best. The main mission of course is to help teach English, business, environment etc but they told us all the time that another large component was helping people know “Americans”.

Not sure how much it actually helps though. Here, in Italy, the perception of many Americans is a bit skewed, and I think the Italians are pretty nice about it. A case in point happened to me the other day; I was having problems with a database search so I went to the librarian/it department in fisheries to see if I could get some help. They had no idea why I was having all the trouble, even after watching me do it. I grumbled “its some sort of divine conspiracy” and on of them said “well, your American” my weak retort was “and I didn’t even vote for Bush”, his reply was “It doesn’t matter”. That was a bit sobering; he was joking but as a Moldovan once told me, “there is a bit of truth to every joke”. Most people in the world will see me as “American – one of those that support Bush” when in truth I voted and put the word out to purge Washington of the Bush dynasty (a lesson in manic frustration).

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Death of WinAmp

Today was kind of sad, I saw an article about the downhill slide of Winamp.

I have been a winamp user for a long time; long long time. I was a bit frustrated with version 3.0 but up until version 3.0 it rocked and version 5.x is great (albeit much slower than the 2.x and earlier iterations). Now, they have announced that there will be no more major updates... that is sad, it was a handy bit of software. In truth I can’t think of a piece of software that has as much functionality as WinAmp. Of course there is iTunes but it only has a fraction of the options that winamp has (more than 75% of which I use on a regular basis).

I would be *really* interested to hear from anyone who has used WinAmp *and* another MP3 player and prefers the other player (that is, why do you think the other player is comparable) since I will probably be in the market for a new player at some point.

Doc Serl's commentary, sobering.

Its kind of an article within an article. Doc comments on an article, he disagrees with it but I found myself agreeing with both sides. Its not a bush bashing article per'se its more of a “this is what is wrong and why the Dems lost.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Give in to the dark side or No?

It comes down to BenQ PocketPC phone vs Treo650 vs HTC Blue Angel and yes, anything that has M$ stuff on it is part of the Darkside to me.

I have drooled over the Treo line for awhile, I have a Treo90 (antique by todays computer standards [and does not have phone capabilities]). Each generation keeps getting cooler and cooler… but the guys making PocketPC phones are catching up. For me one of the main selling points was the keyboard, after trying it out I now can barely tolerate graffiti (which I still have to do on occasion since the keys on my Treo90 are not backlight so I can’t “type” for sh*t in the dark). But the PocketPC guys are coming out with phones that really seem to trump the Treo600 (and its upcoming sibling the Treo650). I have used both OSs before and can attest that the PalmOS is just plain better suited to PDA/Smarthphone platforms than PocketPCbut while ease of use is big it ain’t everything. Functionality goes along way, plus, some of the applications I use the most (like Agendus is available on both OSs


  • Software availability? (I still think the PalmOS has a ton more software, and lots of freeware stuff)

Advantages of both of these PocketPC smarthphones over the newest (Treo650) are as follows (and if I am wrong please enlighten me):
  • WiFi
  • 1+megapixel camera (ok that’s only the BenQ phone)
  • Play media files natively (w/o having to convert them to some palm format)
  • Native predictive text
  • Faster/Beefier processor
  • More onboard memory

The processor beef, native playback/viewing of media files, and the WiFi are pretty big to me. Having to convert files over to some other format so it will play/view (PalmOS) sounds awfully Sony-esqe to me (though I believe there are technological reasons not the proprietary bullying/egocentrism that Sony suffers from). Softswitching between VoIP and regular calls (or even “hard switching”), along with using my smartphone as a remote from anywhere in the house are two big WiFi uses that I would sorely miss. Playing movies, loading up pictures, editing files etc, those require processor power and I am hurting with my Treo90 but I hear that the Treo650s processor will still be comparatively wimpy. Memory, yeah I could (and probably would) get a one or 2 gig SD card but geeze I would like to be able to keep the apps on the PDA and the docs/backups on the card, no techno-reasoning there, just personal preference.

Firing the godfather of public radio, Bob Edwards

I seem to be a “bit” behind; while I knew bob Edwards was going (has gone?) to XM radio (best of luck!) I didn’t know he was forced out of NPR! Its like firing Walter Cronkite!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

That can’t be right, can it?

Not that I have a problem with it but an Engadget article says that streaming music and video is a bigger motivation than sharing broadband connections for people considering setting up home networks? Most people I know can barely setup a network not to mention conceptualize streaming music/video to some other home device. Home automation ranked pretty high too, are we all turning Japanese? Oh well, whatever the reason, its all gravy to me.

Truth in journalism

Saw an article from a temp that is working for NPR, I have heard the kind of stuff she said over and over but for some reason this article made me want to scream; not because I disagreed but because it really resonated with me. It made me kinda understand more what Jon Stewart meant when he railed those fake news guys earlier. We don’t hear real news anymore, matter a fact much of the “news” we see and hear nowadays through traditional channels (TV/Radio) strikes me as crap, not because it doesn’t sound good, it actually sounds better (these *are* professionals) but because it is censored, streamlined, and generic-a-fied for the public. I also believe this administration is perpetuating the phenomenon with all its I-don’t-need-your-permission-or-approval/closed-door type actions.

I have been learning about podcasting over the past week, its pretty cool but one neat thing about it was how it is totally uncensored. The down side is that it can sound unprofessional (No, I am not referring to swearing, couldn’t care less about that) or be untrustworthy... though I am finding mainstream media to be just as untrustworthy.

Monday, November 08, 2004


This is a Ag meets Tech meets Culture thought. I was reading and article talking about monocultures in the Tech world, referring mainly to MS. I had never thought of it that way. Yes, I grudgingly admit that programs like Opera and FireFox have just as many bugs (security and otherwise) as IE but they aren’t nearly as obvious because they are the minority and minority flaws aren’t noticed as much/often because there just aren’t as many people using/hacking them.

The monoculture being “bad” (though cases can be made for it being good, personally think it is more bad than good but whatever) carries over into Agriculture as well. The huge animal production farms or crop places have problems with infections. If an infection sets in it spreads like wild fire because there are all [insert ag commodity] close together, it’s a pathogenic dream/nightmare (depending on if you are the farmer or the pathogen), if polycultures are done then the spread of infections are stemmed, and if some loss takes place there is still the other commodity (in polyculture systems) to fall back on.

And then there are cultures, or societies. I am probably a bit biased having grown up in the US but I was always amazed (much more in developing countries) at how culturally ignorant many people were, many times they were (for example) racist, basing their ideologies on movies. They absolutely would not accept any other foods and being tolerable (palatable) all of this made them less accepting of change (coming from outside influences); and to me change is inevitable, if you don’t learn how to accept/embrace it you will drown.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Americanization or Homogenization?

I hear complaints about the US all the time, imperialism, invasive capitalism, exportation of our culture etc all of which is feeding a fire of resentment against the US (whose flames are wildly fanned, by Gee Dubbya [more like fed with trash bags of petrol]).

But I wonder, is it all the US or perhaps, in part, a natural progression of modernization?

There are similarities between the expansion of many great empires. Aztecs, Egyptians, Chinese, they all came up with huge structures, writing (ok, not sure about
Aztecs for the writing part), art etc. now admittedly the structures were different, as was the art, and language but in a way they all became more similar as they modernized, even without influence from other cultures. Is it possible that as we become more and more modern we will become more and more similar? And that is not just one culture being invaded by another?

While I am sure there are about 100 ways my line of reasoning is flawed think about this: There are few instances where people are forced into taking on "American" lifestyles. Of course it could be said that there are all sorts of subtle ways that people are "made" to eat at McDonalds etc, ok, could be. But what about the copy cat places, those businesses that have come from American ideas (say Fast food) that are not owned by *any* American interests? We didn't start some of those fast food places, don't fund them, in some cases loath them (maybe for taking the idea?) but people are going to those places the same as they go to McDonalds.

Exporting our culture? In some cases yeah sure, record companies want to make more so they try to sell stuff over seas (though other countries try to do the same, its capitalism) but then the big supermarket, like PAM in Italy, I don't think it is American but I have been lectured by some Italians how we exported the big supermarket here... if the first large supermarket in Italy was American owned then ok I might believe it (and in truth I don't know one way or another) but until then.

PS I don't necessarily believe the above, but the thoughts crossed my mind, in truth I really just don't know.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Gee Dubya the pawn

The Bin Laden tape about how his plan was to bleed the US, with bush’s ignorance it won’t be hard for bin laden to succeed. It amazes me that people voted for bush based on his economic or “wartime leader” or “economic” platforms.

"The Digestible Aggie" is up!

"The Digestible Aggie" is up!
Yeah that title took me awhile, I'm not that original and at first it was going to be the “Agricultural Digest” (while I am not creative I can't settle for regular names). I haven't seem many agricultural weblogs out there, not many ag sites in general, so I thought I would try to make an ag weblog myself, thus the birth of "The Digestible Aggie". There is a two fold purpose here: #1 To fill a niche in the blog-o-sphere and #2 To try out my account. Of course I could get bored with it and let it die but we shall see right? I have started to find a few and hopefully will make a Blogroll and a Session with all (and only; sot it doesn't get mixed up with my tech stuff) my favourite Ag sites/blogs so that might provide me with enough fodder to make a few postings a week. Wish me luck!

P2P downloading strategies

I was thinking about P2P apps. There are a few things that I think need to be taken into consideration, mainly speed, availability, and anonymity. For this I am thinking about apps like Sharazza, eMule Plus, Mute and Freenet. It is kinda hard to justify running all those clients but here is why I thought it might not be a bad idea (assuming there is someway to balance the bandwidth load to/from your computer, there has got to be a way I just don’t know how). You want some new Eninem (or a semi-classic like Bobby McFarrin don’t worry be happy [the RIAA doesn’t just look at newer files]) file, well two problems #1 there are probably a ton of dummy files out there, can’t help ya there, #2 the Riaa is out there and expecting you to DL it… that’s when something like Mute or Freenet might come in handy, they aren’t fast and don’t have tons of content *but* they probably will have this popular file, and you can get it almost anonymously (nothing is totally anonymous). Then there is the not so popular stuff, you have a bunch of choices now. Anonymity isn’t as much of an issue, you want it and want it *now*, well there is eMule Plus and Sharazza (or kazaa Lite). Here I have found Kazaa Lite and Sharazza to be the fastest (I think Kazaa is a bit faster but what do I know?) so give it a try, if you can’t find them then you try eMule Plus. Don’t get me wrong, I *love* eMule Plus, the interface and advanced user options amaze me (ok, the actual search options aren’t that great but the rest rox!) plus, it has *everything* you can find even the most obscure things… but they require patience, tons and tons of it. eMule Plus is *butt*slow* (read: months[sometimes]), and even though you may find some things listed it doesn’t always mean they will ever finish downloading… but hey, if it is that rare then chances are no one is keeping an eye out watching you DL it right?

Anyway, that is my 2cents, I am sure there are about a million holes in my line of reasoning but it makes sense to me and so I thought I would post it.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


The post election funk is lifting (its been a pretty bad week in general), part of the credit goes to Xiaoqing, she actually asked for my blog URL (that would take my known reader count up to a grand total of... 2). So I thought I would write a bit about things (other than tyrannical presidents) to take my mind off things.

Anywho, I have found a few feeds that I like, the only quirk I am having now is figuring out how to make ipodder not re-download a feed if I have already downloaded it once (then moved it to my iRiver MP3 player).

The “quasi” part comes into play with NPR, who doesn't have ipod audio feeds (and probably won't since many of their shows are being sold on places like iTunes). I am an NPR addict, who has been going through withdraw. I can’t get it here in Rome (without the European equivalent to XM) so that leaves me with listening to it online. Online wouldn’t be so bad but ipodder has kind of raised the bar so now (more than before) I really want to be able to listen to it on my MP3 player.

Since most of the feeds are in Realplayer or Windows Media format so I can’t just copy them so I have to use other means... there are apparently lots of programs out there that seem to be capable of doing this but when you want something that can do scheduling that tends to narrow it down quite a bit. I managed to narrow it down to Replay Radio and Total Recorder. Replay seemed to work ok (had a pre-made list of radio shows too!) but cost more than I was willing to pay ($30! Com’on guys, throw me a bone, like $10-$15 then I would totally get it). So I looked at Total Recorder Pro, it has a ton more features for the same price; ok that might work. I tried it out, it has a billion features/options, great for the techno-weenie/power user, but when I set it up to record every broadcast I got, 1 minute into the show, this crazy mad static, not sure if it is like macrovision for online broadcasts or what but it rendered every broadcast un-listenable.

Back to the drawing board, Ugh.

The broadcast that I tried was my hometown public radio/NPR station WFAE and they streamed using the windows media, perhaps if I can find an MP3 stream then I wouldn't have this problem. I posted something to that effect on a few news groups on Usenet (using Google Groups), hopefully someone will have some ideas.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Sad day

Today is a sad day for America and the world. The majority of Americans have voted for Bush. All great empires must fall, the US started its descent 4 years ago, and we chose to continue this year...

To those non-Americans out there, I apologize for my fellow Americans actions (past and sure-to-come) and can truthfully say that I am ashamed of them.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Adventures in Rome

I have recently gotten some emails from friends in my masters program about their internship adventures and for a moment it made me think that I am not having any sort of internship experience but with alittle reflection I have come to the conclusion that’s not true, it is just night and day different.

Getting emails (Silvia's [a friend working in Africa at the moment] was the one that finally made me "just write something") prompted me to scrawl out this message. I suppose I have a bunch of things to report but they seem petty compared to bombings and general upheaval that Mark [who is working in Nepal now] seems close to or the dire poverty of Tanzania that Silvia is seeing.

In Rome the food is not a worry but a constant delight. Not to butter up Silvia (who is Italian) but I think my favorite thing about Italy is the food, even the cafeteria in the FAO office is good (I thought "good cafeteria food" was an oxymoron until I came here).

Rome has had its ups and downs, mostly ups (and when the downs happen I just go to the nearest pastry shop, yes folks I will probably come back looking like some Save-The-Whales poster child [though no problems so far])

The first 3 weeks seemed to go ok, had some good housemates; a German/Panamanian Lawyer, Italian Physicist, Italian Lawyer, and me (can't I be in a household where I am *not* the intellectual gimp?!). It was all happy goodness until our landlord had a schizophrenic/psychotic episode (she was really nice at first) and tried to evict my housemates and I (swear to god we didn't do anything wrong). It seems to have started when the German lawyer wanted to read the contract and she got offended/mad (what kind of idiot is going to give a *lawyer* a contract and think he/she isn't going to read over it?!). Fortunately she wasn't too smart when she rented out the apartment because two of the four of us were lawyers, so she ended up paying us to leave (paid us two months rent plus 3 nights at a minimal bed and breakfast). Bizarre.

One of the Italians I lived with helped me find a place pretty quickly so now I am resituated with a new place with 2 months of rent ready to be paid out thanks to the ex-land lord, in many respects it is better than what I had before. Instead of the bus I now have a slightly longer walk but a much quicker overall commute on the Metro, geeze I feel so "cosmopolitan". I have been there about 2 weeks but don't feel I know the neighborhood like the other place, it is right off of a massive road and doesn't have the NY "block community" feel that the first one did, oh well, can't have it all.

I have done a lot of eating (no weight loss for me) and a lot of sight seeing. The history here is just unreal to a guy whose country is 200 years old. From my old apartment I passed by the Coloseum everyday, I sip on wine at 100+ year old wine bars (forget pubs, beer, and peanuts [never was a beer kinda guy]; I am loving the wine bars, wines, and antipastos [cheese and smoked meats]), and walk down 1000+ year old roads, incredible.

Work, yeah I guess I do a bit of that too. While just about everyone in my school program seems to be doing real work to varying degrees, I am the exception. I sit in the FAO headquarters spend half the time emailing, working on my weblog, and reading news feeds; the other half of the time I spend reading up about sanitation regarding fish feed.

The informational resources at FAO (and I guess UN institutions in general) are mind-boggling, the fisheries department has a library specifically for fishies! All I have to do is find the title, email the librarians and they find it (where ever it is, their library, the main library, interlibrary loan etc) and tell me when it comes in! I have never experienced a luxury like that before.

My advisor, while *really* nice, is really busy, and pretty much just helped me get in touch with a few select people when I came. This internship is apparently all me, that is, I have not been given anything to work on, pretty much said work on your project idea and I will help when I can. This is good and bad, not realistic in the work sense but allows me to read and read and read.

It has also allowed for reflection time and helped me to re-identify core interests within development, reading all the things I have and occasionally getting off topic when I find interesting stuff (feed efficiency & alternative feeds, fun fun don't you think?).

Reading some emails have made me appreciate where I am a bit more, be it Akiko's ritual daily slathering of 200% DEET to ward off the various life sucking mosquitoes in Cambodia, or Silvia's constant confrontation with dire 3rd world life/mentality in Tanzania. While I do feel a certain level of guilt in saying this I will anyway, I don't particularly miss those parts of development work. The adventure and money (I am sure I have spent more on 1 month of rent than most of my fellow interning students have in 3 months total) parts yes, but the frustration of working in the field is still fresh on my mind from Peace Corps (and that was for eastern Europe, seemingly easier than Cambodia or Tanzania).

Despite the lack of 3rd world adventures here there are adventures to be had: Getting lost in Rome while barely being able to speak Italian, fending off rabid landlords, gypsies, etc (pardon my seeming heartless but when you have seen conditions like what some PC Volunteers [or SID 2nd year'ers] are experiencing right now it makes you a bit less sympathetic), watching out for pick pockets, psychotic drivers/mopeds. The moped motorists are the worst; I unaffectionately refer to them as "moped morons". I have seen 3 of them get macked by trucks, cars, and even other moped drivers, and it ain't always the car/truck/other drivers fault. I have almost gotten hit twice by them weaving through traffic and driving on *sidewalks*, they are *everywhere*).

Anywho, if all goes well I will be going to Bangkok in early to mid December. I hope Amy (a friend of mine who has been living there already for a few months) is ready to do a wee bit of babysitting (I can feel the cringe as she reads this) because right now I know about 3 words in and one of them is profane (which won’t really help unless I want to get my ass kicked). Hopefully the NGO I will be tagging along with (doesn't look like they will have work for me either, I will just be accompanying them on site visits or that is what my advisor has lead me to believe) will be able to help some. I have never been to Southeast Asia, and some of Akiko's stories are not exactly encouraging but I gotta take the good with the bad I suppose.

For those who are interested I have put up a few (and will add more soon) pictures of my European/Roman escapades, take a look if you have the time (the first of the bunch is not vacation but art stuff, you can ignore that)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

End of an Empire...

That maybe a bit of an over-dramatization but it was still really depressing none the less. This article from made me want to cry. A school principal threatened (explicitly or implied, its still a threat) two students wearing Kerry shirts to a Bush rally with expulsion. It amazes me that educators are sinking that low and taking such almost criminal like partisan sides.

In general this election has become so fierce and fanatical that each side (Kerry too) is becoming blind. People are getting caught up in the “just because I hate Bush” or “just because I hate Kerry” sentiment that they aren’t thinking. This blind faith (or hate) is just not healthy, and is seriously corrupting the democratic process.

When I was in high school I had two (what I thought to be) extraordinary teachers… the rest were much less memorable. One of them was Mr. Aldridge (sp? Its been about 15 years, give me a break), I am not a history buff but his history classes were phenomenal. I have never, before or after, attended a class where the teacher so fervently loved his subject and conveyed it with the same passion. When we got to the part about WWII he would ask questions like “how can an entire country commit such atrocities, be so fanatical”, many people blow the Germans off as being almost insane then but I think that is totally unfair, it can happen to anyone. Mr. Aldridge showed us a film called "The Wave", once it was finished the whole class just sat in their chairs a bit dazed, even though the bell had rung. It has its goofy 60s (I think that is when it was done) elements to it but the message is pretty intense, made even more intense because it was based on a true story. Visit the link to get a better idea about it, it kinda reminds me of the mindless political faith/fanaticism that I see and hear (even being an ocean away) at home.

Flash Animations

I have been accused of having a fairly twisted sense of humour, other times I just get the silent “OHG did he really say that?!” treatment; to all you total stiffs, get a life. Flash animations have really let lots of people come up with the funniest things, stuff you wish you had seen earlier but would never make it into mainstream humour media (TV/movies/etc). Here are a few favourites, all in good taste (except maybe for the last one). If you are a late 20 something guy you will have to appreciate this, Remember “Sound Wave” the Decepticon transformer? Megatron’s right hand man? Well if so check this out.

And for those a bit older (early 30s), that remember tape loading computers, you will love this (catchy tune as well!)

And finally this one, it’s a bit bizarre, if you don’t know what bukkake (sp?) is then *don’t* bother looking it up… but its not as obscene as the name implies (actually its totally random, I like the song though, kinda indy-ish)

PS You might want to check out if you find the above stuff amusing, its a blog with tons of links to weird sh*t like the above.

Google Stuff

They have come out with Gmail, Google Desktop and are rumoured to be coming out with a browser.

They also have some sort of partnership with Picasa that lets you view photos but also lets you post photos onto your blogger/blogspot account. I also find linking to pages cached in Google as a nice way of ensuring a questionable link/page doesn’t disappear.

Google worship can be bad; worship of anything can be bad. While I can’t find the exact quote I seem to remember Linus Torvalds saying something like “the worship of anything can cultivate a closed mind”; very true very true.

And then there is the ever present Privacy Issue. Valid yes, but he seems to gloss over the fact that at least for the Google desktop, web/anonymous information options can be turned off (perhaps he glossed over it because it wasn’t the core issue).

And lastly lets revisit all the applications made to work with google stuff like the gmail pop access stuff. I finally gave them a try, the only one I really liked was the FreePops program. I tried it, worked quite nicely... until gmail started sending me warning emails saying my account would locked for 24hrs. Yikes! Well, needless to say I stopped pretty quickly but my account hasn’t been locked that I know of (I was logged in and haven’t logged out yet, that was yesterday). So kiddies, lesson learned (crap), the interesting news is that lesson wasn’t totally learned, this program also works for a ton of other freemail accounts like yahoo mail, tried it there, worked like a charm!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


A quote from Bill Maher really got me to thinking about the Nader factor. I was irritated by Nader’s self-righteous entry into the election before but this time it is infuriating. There is a lot to loose this time, and the argument that “there was hardly any difference” between Bush and Gore can now probably be dismissed. Maher said “Michael Moore and I, for example, two people who voted for him (Nader) last time. This time, you know, I have to say, I feel like a spoiled brat with that vote last time. It just showed me, people do not have the indulgence in most places in the world to vote for the lesser of two evils.” He couldn’t be more right (now).

Two Treo650 Posts in One! (Who says I am not a giver?)

Treo650 bandwagon
Ya know the PDA Treo650, I might have mentioned it a few (20?) times before, well Gizmodo now has a page that has links to all their articles covering the Treo650 thusfar.

More treo650
Tons of quick details on the new Treo650. yeah yeah yeah, the lack of real camera and miniscul amounts of memory are disappointing (the lack of Wi-Fi is puzzling at best) but in truth, unless it was going to go the route of the Samsung Phone/Camera and have serious memory (512+) those things don't concern me so much. For memory I would buy a SD card (a GB card can be gotten for around $70 now) since if I use extra memory I would use a lot of it (wikipedia, games, translation dicioanries, mp3s, videos etc). The Wi-Fi part is really disappointing though, not sure what they were thinking.

You can find a more in depth review here.

Debating the Electoral College

I was listening to an NPR show that looks at both sides of
keeping the Electorial College
, it was quite interesting. Seems to me that it was created in a time when the little people (farmers and such) weren’t trusted to be able to take care of themselves through voting so the Electoral College was created to “help” the little guy (people and little states). The problem is that “Many times, though, the electors are simply important persons whose wisdom, it is hoped, would provide a better choice than a larger body”, a PC way of saying they try to make up our minds for us… I know I know, it is not that blank and white, but it is frustrating to me that when you boil it down, the person that gets the most total votes (from the people) won’t necessarily win (of course more frustrating because it put Gee Dubbya in office). Some more information on this can be found at Wikipedia and

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Finally “Smart” Cars in the US of A!!!

If you are a European (or Mexican) you will probably yawn at this but for us hapless Americans it should be interesting. Smart (A swatch Mercedes joint venture I belive) will release its little cars in the US. They are pretty cool, small enough to be “cute” (if you are of that persuasion), but definitely cool at 70mpg, 8ft long, and having the crash test ratings of a Ford Expedition. I have lusted over these since visiting my friend (who got one) in Germany. He is at least 180cm but still fits no problem in the car, and now I hear they have an SUV! (to sucker us Mad-About-SUVs-For-No-Good-Reason Americans into buying even more Smart vehicles... but GOD I’d love to see pix of it).

Personal Discipline

For my Blog, I tend to have thoughts and, having a memory that fades every few seconds, and then write them down on my PDA to elaborate on later in my Blog. Its funny but I didn’t have to “train” myself it just happens, kind of like my memory and music, I tend to remember songs, or useless facts with no book beating memorization involved. I am sure there are things we just remember and don’t even have to try… why can’t we do that with things we *need* to remember? I try to make myself use the dinky little expense program on my palm (which if I can get myself in the habit of using I can then justify buying quicken for the palm which would be even more useful) but alas, I keep forgetting to put in expenses; same goes with memorizing words, learning Italian is moving at a glacial pace and one of the big problems is memorization.

What is it in our heads that cause us to remember some things and totally forget other things? Having an interest in the subject helps, I tend to remember agricultural and computer things (though not so much the details) better than say stuff about fashion or cars… go figure.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Jon Stewart taking "Crossfire" guys to task

Jon Stewart was recently on the “CrossFire” TV show and pretty much held those guy’s feet to the fire kind of the same idea as the second half of my Hell Yeah Kerry! posting.

Reading that made me think. I had a deep respect for those like Jon Stewart, Denis Miller, and Bill Maher; and now I respect them even more. They are people who aren’t just funny guys (plenty of those), but have conviction (plenty of those too) and can make compelling, intelligent, political arguments.

Yeah Yeah, Bluuuuu-RAY!

Oh my god its Christmas already!!! Gizmodo just did a breakdown of Sony’s Blu-Ray disks, it made me all tingly just thinking about it. The disks are already a reality in Japan (albeit and expensive one) it has more/bigger backers, will be the Playstation3 media, and Sony just bought MGM (and presumably their archive of movies) so they will have plenty of stuff to publish. Not only that, there was an article floating out there about Blu-Ray disks that are partially composed of consumer-waste paper, and cheap to make... and for all those hard-up-for-storage types out there, Sony has already demonstrated that there could 200GB disks?!?!? Ohhhh, I need a cigarette... reality is getting sweeter and closer every second! Ever want something so bad that you’d be willing to sell your m… ahem. Its just that sweet.

More Gee Dubbya slamming (its not that hard)

I am not the savvy political type but I am constantly annoyed by Bush’s assertions that Kerry flip flops, for one I really don’t think that is such a huge huge issue, so Kerry is a political opportunist, show me a politician that isn’t and I will show you are shocked bush-hater.

But seriously he constantly slams Kerry for changing his views but bush has been doing the same thing about gays, economy, and of course the war. I haven’t wasted my time *trying* to find something to point this out but I saw the mention of it in my trusty Kinja news feed so I thought I would put it up, see how Kerry isn’t the only one that changes his mind and re-characterizes stuff.

Walking in Rome bad for you?

My friend was talking to someone (mind you this was from Belarusians I believe) and was told that walking in Rome is like smoking 6 cigarettes. That was a bit disconcerting if not vague. I don’t know where his buddy got this info-bit, or how long one must walk around, nevertheless it doesn’t make me feel particularly good about romping around this town. I can say that when I have to walk down Via Tiburtina (arguably *one*of* the biggest/busiest streets in town) my throat gets uncomfortably dry, very much like sitting in a small smoky bar… not fun.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Irony of some institutions

I am working in the FAO at the moment; it’s temporary but long enough for me to notice a few ironies. One of them, that also happen to be a personal pet peeve, is recycling. I am a firm believer in first reducing, then reusing, and *then* recycling... they do almost none of that here.

While in some schools and institutions in the US (Though I feel the US is really bad about it as well) we at least have recycling bins by the photocopiers... here, nada. I have yet to be able to find a place to recycle though everyone says places exists (they just shrug and throw it away).

It is a real shame, especially for an organization that is supposed to deal so closely with natural resources.


I watched "Apocalypse Now" something like 2 times in the last 15 years, it was a seriously disturbing film (though a masterpiece). So when I read Kevin Sites Blog (courtesy of and saw the “Apocolypse Now” reference it made me hate this war (And my president) even more.

Noooooooooo!!!!! (Sharp PDA)

Sharp joins the other Japanese wusses and pulls its sweet little Linux PDA off the American market. That was one of the first PDAs (the only big named one) to have Linux installed on it. It was powerful with all the gizmos a technophile could want and now they take it away from us... Those selfish Japanese, in truth I think it is an ongoing Japanese conspiracy to deprive American technophiles of their cool gizmos just so they can have the pleasure of saying “ha ha, I gots it and you don’t”, ARRRGH!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Trick out ANYTHING

I am not sure where I found this link (maybe, am too lazy to go look) but this site Trick Anything is really over the top.
I read (and occasionally lust after) various computer mods (modifications) but this site puts all those other things to total shame (you *must* check out the "super toilet").

Fiscal responsibility (or the lack thereof)

I was browsing through my news feed and came across this Washington Post article that said “Campaign aides of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kerry (news, bio, voting record) (D-Mass.) noted that Bush's 2001 budget anticipated the debt ceiling would not have to be raised until 2008. And, they said, the government has run up more debt in the past 17 months than was amassed under all the presidents from George Washington to Ronald Reagan". Alittle biased? Of course! But just think, if it is *half* that that it is still mind boggling.

That is amazing to me. Someone that talks so much about saving the American People money could help accrue such an unimaginably huge debt, wasn’t it just about 5-6 years ago we had a surplus?!

Now I am not the economics guru but I understand how alittle debt can be good in the grand scheme of things, giving out alittle interest and keeping money circulating through the world economy... but is it really worth the price (literally and figuratively) that we are paying?

With any debt comes interest, the bigger the debt the more interest is paid... who do you think is paying the interest?!?!? I can tell you that thanks to Gee Dubya’s tax plan he certainly isn’t paying his fair share. This monkey is helping (lets face it, its not all him, congress has been helping dig our fiscal grave and then piling the dirt back on top) sink us further and further into debt. Now, for your Bushies out there, saying Kerry won’t help (though I didn’t say he would), I have no idea. I can say I don’t think Kerry would do any worse.