Friday, July 28, 2006

Portable Fight: Old Apple Beats New Wintel

I've never used an Apple Newton, so I'm not one of its rabid longtime fans. And I realize that CNet UK's comparison between a 1997 Apple Newton and the brand new Samsung Q1 (via Slashdot) is more of a troll-baiting puff piece than a real review.

But I still think it's interesting that, even in a tongue-in-cheek and fairly dorky story like this, they can come to the conclusion that the ancient relic from Apple actually beats the shiny new Wintel portable. (To illustrate how long ago 1997 was in Computer Land, the top of the line PCs that year were sporting 233MHz Pentium IIs.)

I think the pro-Newton guy sums up the moral of the story in "round 6", while talking about reliability and viruses.
Though it's easy to argue the Newton has security through obscurity, you do have to question whether it was wise to bring all the overheads of Windows to a small portable device like the Q1. An operating system designed for a desktop computer will rarely shoehorn well into a portable device, yet that is exactly what Samsung has tried to do with the Q1. Very little consideration has been given to the differing priorities of desktop and small-form computer users. Windows is a one-size-fits-all solution, whereas the Newton OS is very specifically built for the efficient use of a small screen and stylus.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Kittenwar logo

War, war, war. War here, war there. Giant wars you've never even heard about. It's enough to ruin your whole day.

But wait! Via a Slashdot story about being mean to people who leech off your wi-fi (yes, more meanness in the world, though much less mean than genocide, and actually pretty funny in this case), a link to a war that I for one can support: Kittenwar!. Cuteness and an elegantly simple web UI all in one.

(To any who have said before or will say now that this blog has jumped the shark, I say: Shark? What shark? I never even got to the shark.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Onion Vol. 42 #30

Back from reruns, a fresh new Onion today.
  • Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence
    "On July 25, 1256, delegates gathered at Comerica Park to sign the Declaration Of Independence, which rejected the rule of the British over its 15 coastal North American colonies," reads an excerpt from the entry. "Little did such founding fathers as George Washington, George Jefferson, and ***ERIC IS A FAG*** know that their small, querulous republic would later become the most powerful and prosperous nation in history, the Unified States Of America."

  • U.S. Soldiers Ask Rumsfeld If They Could Get Surprise Visit From Loved Ones Instead
    "As great as it was to get a visit from the commander in chief, given the choice, I'd rather see my mom," said Army Cpl. Emilio Salazar, who is serving his third tour of duty. "Or my dad, or even my girlfriend. I'm just saying, they could fit a lot of people on Air Force One."

  • Sparrow Aviation Administration Blames Collision On Failure To Detect Pane Of Glass
    SAA Commissioner Vincent Stivolo said the crash was likely due to glass, a "common, yet not fully understood phenomenon" in which an area normally blocked by such barriers as curtains, blinds, or shutters suddenly appears to be an open passage to an indoor facility or an unobstructed extension of the outdoor environment.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Daring 8-Ball on Microsoft's Zune

John Gruber of Daring Fireball pulls out the Magic 8-Ball again, this time to get the scoop on the Microsoft "Zune", their forthcoming "iPod-killer":

Q: ...Is that not the epitome of metastatic corporate bureaucracy? One division within Microsoft spending $100 million or more to launch their own closed media player system; another division charged with lining up “partners” for the PlaysForSure platform that Microsoft’s own media player division deems not good enough.


Q: Isn’t that like inviting guests to your home for dinner and serving them hot dogs while you yourself eat a steak?


Q: And so now that Microsoft is abandoning the licensing model (or at least deprecating it) in favor of a closed model that they completely control, will all those pundits who’ve been predicting doom for the iPod for the last four years declare that Microsoft, like Apple, is now making the same mistake with Zune that Apple made with the Macintosh in the 1980s?


Q: Jackasses.


Q: The “leaks” about Zune strike me as rather comically transparent. The gist of their origin seems to be that Microsoft has been making the rounds to various “partners” — which in this case means the entertainment industry and iPod peripheral makers — to line up content and peripheral support for the Zune, and that it’s these “partners who’ve been briefed by Microsoft” who are leaking the details. My guess is that it went something like this: some guy from Microsoft showed up, delivered his spiel, and then gave a big wink and said something like “This is all top-secret stuff, so whatever you do, don’t go and blab about all these details to Engadget and Gizmodo! And for god’s sake don’t send them this photograph which I’m emailing a copy of to each of you right now! Can you see that I’m winking? Winking is a social cue that you use when you say one thing but mean the opposite!”


Monday, July 24, 2006

Neil Young/Al Gore Video: After The Garden

Living With War Today
Via Atrios, news of a new Neil Young video. It's for the song "After The Garden", and the video footage is from Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth"

Available from YouTube, or downloadable in QuickTime and Windows Media from

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Conservatives and Neoconservatives

Glenn Greenwald has another good post: Neoconservatism and the White House -- Still Married. Probably won't make you feel good, mind you, but it's good to know nonetheless.

Paraphrasing the neocon worldview:
There are bad people over there. The Enemy. And we need to attack and kill them without restraint, regardless of the cost or consequences or alternatives or what might come after that. And anyone who doesn't agree, or who wants to negotiate with the Enemy, is weak, an appeaser, someone who likely is even on the side of the Enemy. That is the crux of our foreign policy at this point.

Then he goes on to talk about some of the grim realities in the Middle East. Too bad the Bush "administration" doesn't put much stock in reality.
And the supposed Middle Eastern allies we do have -- the ones who issued the terse anti-Hezbollah statements which neoconservatives have been parading around -- are not democracies, but instead, are the tyrants, dictators, and emirates whom we support and prop up. Conversely, the democratically elected governments in the Middle East beyond Iraq -- such as Lebanon, the Palestinians, and one could even add Iran -- are on the other side of this conflict. And two Middle Eastern democracies, Israel and Lebanon, are at war with one another.

All of this is the exact opposite of the glorious neoconservative promises that invading and bombing countries and bringing democracy to the Middle East will foster pro-U.S. alliances and ensure peace. And literally, the only thing which neoconservatives seem to want to do in response to all of this patent failure is bomb and invade more and more countries because that's worked so well so far.

In another post, Greenwald reviews "Conservatives Without Conscience", by John Dean. He says these are the book's two central points:
First, that what is currently described as the "conservative movement" bears virtually no resemblance to Goldwater's conservatism, and has nothing to do with restraining government power or preserving historical values. Instead, it has transformed into an authoritarian movement which largely attracts personality types characterized by a desire and need to submit to and follow authority.

Second, because those who submit to authority necessarily relinquish their own conscience (in favor of serving the conscience of their leader and/or their movement), those who are part of this movement are capable of acts which a healthy and normal conscience ought to preclude. They can use torture, break laws, wage unnecessary wars based on false pretenses, and attempt to destroy the reputation of plainly patriotic and honest Americans -- provided that they are convinced that doing so advances the interests of the authority they serve and the movement of which they are a part.

Greenwald is also providing a 1000-word excerpt of the book, if you're interested.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Becoming a Fan of Real Football

I miss the World Cup, don't you?

I really enjoyed that glimpse into the world of soccer, and I think I'm hooked. To help me deal with post-World-Cup withdrawal symptoms, I've been looking into other teams. Did you know there is a pro soccer league right here in the U.S.? Me neither. It's called "MLS" (that's Major League Soccer, not Multiple Listing Service).

What's more, there are two MLS teams right here in Texas: FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo. Picking which of those to root for was easy: I went with the one whose city isn't an armpit (that means Dallas, just in case you're not familiar with Houston). So I'll be dragging the family to a game at FC Dallas' shiny new soccer-specific stadium (regrettably called Pizza Hut Park) in the next month or two.

Meanwhile, I found out via this guy's marketing advice to U.S. Soccer that Bill Simmons, ESPN's Sports Guy, has found a lot to like in soccer, too. He explains in some detail in his column, Why I Loved The World Cup.
These games feel like life or death. No, really. When the Colombian defender was murdered after 1994's World Cup, the stakes were set: Screw up and you may die. You can see it on everyone's face. After Argentina's OT goal, the shell-shocked coach of Mexico looked as if he'd gotten a terminal diagnosis from his doctor. I half expected him to start hastily scribbling a will. For most of the countries involved, soccer is the equivalent of baseball + football + basketball here, if those sports came around only one month every four years.

Then, in a recent reader chat a reader said, "I loved the World Cup, and am thinking about continuing to follow soccer through the English Premier League. How can I pick a team to root for and remain a somewhat-principled sports' fan when I know nothing about England?" He replied:
Intriguing question, I have been wondering the same thing. I was thinking about just picking the team that Michael Davies hates the most, just for comedy's sake, but that's too easy. If anyone wants to make the case for an English premier team for me, e-mail me. I might make the leap. Soccer's growing on me, you don't have to pay attention, it's easy to follow, no sideline reporters, no commercials, no annoying announcers, the crowds are fantastic ... there's a lot to like.

After that offhand statement, he received more than 4,000 emails full of advice of who to pick (or who not to pick), and he embarked on an extensive research project of his own. He summarizes his findings and decision-making process in this enormously long column. I won't ruin the surprise for you - you'll have to click through to the second page to find out his selection.

And with all that research conveniently done for me, why not pick an EPL team, myself? Okay... let's see. Here we go: despite what Simmons says ("Someone from America can't casually become a Liverpool fan") I'll casually become a Liverpool fan. The main reasons: first, we liked Peter Crouch on the England national team (according to Simmons, Crouch is their "goofy-looking, 6-foot-7 striker... who's nicknamed "Bambi on Ice" and does the "Robot" after goals"), and second, Echo & The Bunnymen - my wife's favorite band (where "favorite" means "absolutely all-consuming obsessive love that hits about 11.5 on a scale of 1 to 10") - are from Liverpool and are therefore of course huge fans, too.

FC Dallas, and Liverpool - I'm in!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mega Megapixels

Well, this is pretty cool. I came across it while searching for a new desktop picture. Here is one of those rare occasions where Flash is okay - almost useful - instead of just being used to push hideous and super-extra-annoying web ads.

This photographer has taken ridiculously enormously gigantically big digital pictures, and used something called "Zoomify" to make them clickable, zoomable and pannable. It works a lot like Google Maps, but for a photograph instead of a map.

The first one I saw was this one, a 222 megapixel photo of the ruins of Machu Picchu. Be sure to click a time or two, to zoom in.

The only other one I found on the site was a beautiful 117 megapixel picture ("12560 x 9296 pixels") of Bryce Canyon.

Oh and by the way, their Wallpapers section had just the picture I was looking for, for my desktop.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Interesting Drink Review Sites

Is that, "interesting sites that review drinks" or, is it "sites that review interesting drinks"? Yes to both! (It is not, however, "sites that drink interesting reviews", because that doesn't make sense.)

First up is Mike And Kate's Summer of Soda. This is a temporary project, found via the link on A Tiny Revolution's homepage. Their mission at Summer of Soda:
To drink one non-standard soda per day for the entire summer, and report our findings without fear or favor, drinking as much of the grody ones as we can, while always keeping in mind the grodiness is in the tongue of the be-taster.

It's kind of interesting, though it has its shortcomings. For one, I don't understand why there are so many sodas that they don't have a picture for. It looks like the pictures they do have are from a digital camera, so - why not take pictures of all of them? Even worse, despite a claim to drink "without fear or favor," including "the grody ones," there are quite a few days when Kate is "spared", or "AWOL", or "a conscientious objector". Hmph.

That site by itself is not worth bringing to your attention, illustrious reader. But it's mildly interesting, and helps showcase this next site as the real gem it is. Found via Dooce's Links (for Monday, July 17), it's called Knowledge For Thirst. It is to drink reviews what The Filthy Critic is to moview reviews: entertaining even if you don't really care about the subject being reviewed. Examples:
  • Gaya Aloe Farm
    Yes it turns out aloe juice is delightful. Much lighter than I was expecting, and what’s more it’s clear–not at all semen-y, which is what I thought aloe looked like. (Possibly a negative for you.)...

    But man if this had awesome health benefits I would drink it all the day. Sadly there’s no clear science about if aloe is an important part of one’s diet or not. Wikipedia says it may be a remedy for things like coughing and cancer. I definitely did not notice any real coughing or cancer since I drank this!

  • Dr Pepper Berries & Cream
    That unique vibe [of Dr. Pepper] is almost entirely absent, and I’m all: Why exactly am I wasting my time with the knockoffs? Daddy wants the original. Sometimes I call myself “Daddy” when crushing a half-finished can of disappointing soda and throwing it, with vigor, at a loved one.

  • Ohana Raspberry Lemonade
    Anyways, shite state of affairs out there [in Indiana], I’m sad to report: there is fuck-all to drink. I know, big surprise in the land where Faygo reigns supreme. Did you know that if you are searching for a good beverage in Indiana, you will actually die of thirst? It is a true fact. This report is basically proof.

  • Black Cherry Vanilla Coke’s no shock Coke is totally junior prom-ing it with the BCV. What I dislike about drinks like this is that they pile on too many flavors: nothing makes a strong impression, it’s all just varying shades of aftertaste. I always feel like some sips are all black cherry, some are more vanilla than anything, and the Coke flavor is buried too far down in all the noise. I spend all my time picking flavors apart and analyzing when I should be chillifying.

    It’s too complicated. I can’t traffic with that nonsense, I’m a busy motherfucker. I just wrote “I’m busy motherfucking.” Ha ha. No but serious say hi to your mom for me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Israel Vs. Everybody Around Them

If you're paying attention to the beginning of World War III over there in the Middle East - and I'm not saying you should, though Jonathan Schwarz gives as good a reason as any to do so - I recommend adding Billmon's Whiskey Bar to your regular reading list. Here's a sampling of recent posts.
  • Failed States is clear to me that the Israelis, through their own actions (plus some help from their clueless allies in the Cheney administration) have put themselves in trap they can’t escape. They’ve reached a strategic dead end, one that doesn’t even leave them enough maneuvering room to turn and go back.

  • Punching Above Its Weight
    Hezbollah may have found the sweet spot in Fourth Generation War: It isn't a state and doesn't carry the political or defensive burdens of one, but it controls enough territory, commands enough popular loyalty and has enough allies to mount some fairly sophisticated military operations, using both conventional and nonconventional weapons. It's powerful enough to be successful -- and be seen as successful -- but not so powerful that state actors like Israel can fight it on equal terms. We may be looking at the New Model Army of the 21st century.

  • Military Hubris
    It's beginning to look as if the Israeli Defense Force (if not the entire Israeli political and military establishment) may be suffering from the same syndrome -- the disease of hubris. This isn't the army of '67, or even '73, which believed the country's survival was at stake and constantly worried that Israel's qualitative edge might be too narrow to outweigh the quantitative advantages enjoyed by its enemies. The years of U.S. largesse and bloated procurement budgets, the state-of-the-art tanks and fighters, the fascination with technology and push-button war, plus the pitiful state of the Syrian Army and Air Force -- Israel's remaining conventional front-line foes -- all appear to have infected the IDF with the arrogance and complacency that plagued the United States in Vietnam.

  • To Be Or Not To Be
    When hawkish pundits and politicians moan about Israel's "lost terrorism deterrent," this is really what they're complaining about: the decline in the Israeli public's sense of existential threat, which has made it progressively harder to maintain support for measures that at the least are cruel and degrading, and at worse constitute both de facto and de jure war crimes.

    In a war to the death, such things can be rationalized -- don't even need to be rationalized. But in a war viewed as conducted for political ends, as an instrument of policy (unilateral disengagement, smashing Hamas, keeping the Syrians cowed) they become increasingly difficult to support or tolerate.

    In the last analysis, as Max Weber liked to say, this may be the ultimate or at least underlying motive for the neocon campaign to hype the Iranian nuclear "threat." It tends to restore a sense of extreme vulnerability and fear, bringing Israeli (and American) public opinion back into line in support of the ruthless military measures needed to get Israel out of the strategic jam it finds itself in.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Colbert on Lieberman

Via Atrios, more piling on Lieberman, this time at the able hands of Steven Colbert. You can watch the video at YouTube, or you can search for the "Inquisition" clip on this page at Comedy Central.

Site note: I would have posted more recently, but nothing of any interest whatsoever has happened or been posted on the Internet since the day I heard about Harry and the Potters. And hey, they're a pretty tough act to follow anyway.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Harry And The Potters

Harry And The Potters
Via Mimi Smartypants, news of the next big band: Harry And The Potters.
The idea is that the Harry Potter from Year 7 and the Harry Potter from Year 4 started a rock band. And now, no one can stop the wizard rock.

They've just released their third album, Harry And The Potters And The Power Of Love, not counting an EP and a Christmas collaboration album. This newest includes these tracks:
1. New Wizard Anthem
2. Song for the Death Eaters
3. Flesh, Blood, and Bone
4. Save Ginny Weasley From Dean Thomas
5. Felix Felicis
6. Slug Club
7. Smoochy Smoochy Pukey Pukey
8. This Book is so Awesome
9. (not gonna put on) the Monkey Suit
10. We Save Ron's Life, Part 8
11. Hermione's Birds and Boys
12. In Which Draco Malfoy Cries Like a Baby
13. Dumbledore
14. Phoenix Song

You can listen to some of their songs on their MySpace page. (Uck, I can't believe I'm linking to a MySpace page. It's worth it though, just this once.) "Save Ginny Weasly" is my personal favorite. Hey wait, they have another MySpace page, with more songs. Working around a MySpace limit on how many songs they can post, I guess. (Yes, I realize I didn't even make it out of this paragraph without breaking my word about linking to MySpace "just this once". It's still worth it.) "Wizard Chess" is my favorite off that page, by the way.

They're on nationwide tour right now - coming to a library near you with their Summer Reading and Rocking Tour 2006:
It's going to be an amazing summer! Joe and I are putting together a summer reading list too! 6 books! 6 weeks! If you come to a show with a book report on one of our reading list books, we'll give you a free toothbrush. What a deal right?

They'll be in Austin on Aug. 10., with Draco And The Malfoys (those jerks). See you there!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Getting Lieberman More Rush Action

Apparently Joe Lieberman hasn't gotten much support via the "netroots" Democrat campaign donation site, ActBlue. According to Jesus' General, he's only gotten $359 from the site, compared to almost a quarter of a million dollars for his primary opponent, Ned Lamont.

Thankfully, the General has some advice for Joe on how he can leverage his $359 to get more coverage (so to speak) by Rush Limbaugh:
Fortunately, there is another way to get more play on Rush's show. You see, Rush has a problem getting laid. That's why he spends thousands of dollars traveling to foreign capitols of prostitution. Surely, he'd do anything you want if you could get him a little for free.

Now $359 isn't going to get you much. After paying for a room and taxi fare, I doubt there'd be enough left over for a hand job. You'll need to cut some corners. I suggest that you spend it all on a wig, a dress, a few boner pills and some fake breasts and do the job yourself. The beauty of this plan is that everything but the Viagra is reusable. You can use it all again to entertain the entire Fox News staff. You know John Gibson, Brit Hume, and Bill O'Reilly aren't getting any either.

Well, I hope you'll consider taking this advice. It might sound a little "out there" at first, but if you think about it, you've been servicing Our Leader in much the same way for almost six years now.