January 2004 Archives



January 1, 2004

About Ken Edwards

Ken Edwards is a Fine Arts student at Bowling Green State University. While pursuing his degree, he has worked as the Internet & Database Specialist for Student Publications. Ken's work involves maintenance of the Mac-based network and technical support for Student Publications, as well as serving as webmaster for both Student Publications and The BG News. In addition to his computer work and class load, Ken Edwards is an editor for the online magazine, Blogcritics.org.

pdf_icon.jpg Ken Edwards' Resume (148kb)

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pixy.cz Web Resources

This site has a lot of good articles on CSS and a very nice color picker.
pixy.cz color scheme picker Fast rollovers, no preload needed 3-column layout, no positioning, no hacks Styling Form Fieldsets, Legends and Labels
The site has more stuff, I found these the most useful.

CSS Tips & Tricks, Wiki

The box model hack has been explained in great detail, and in a number of different ways. There are many different ways to hack the CSS box model, and this page does an excellent job of explaining them. The main site also has a mind boggling amount of links to other CSS tips and tricks, not to mention a wiki and a discussion list.

January 3, 2004

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (MP2) is a great game, and a great sequel! When Max Payne 1 came out I did not have a PC, and so I played the PS2 version. It was a horrid port, very bad. So this time since I have a PC, I decided to buy MP2 for my PC, reguardless of how much better the console ports faired this time around.

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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) is the best use of the Star Wars license yet, and is my vote for Game of the Year (GONY). I picked Morrowind to get GOTY honors, and it did, so we will see if KOTOR gets the same treatment.

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January 5, 2004

I (expletive) Hate Columbia House

I am in the Columbia House DVD Club. Who can resist? I have been in the BMG Music Club for years and have never been treated so badly. I got friggin' tired of having to log into their web site to cancel the stupid "Director's Selection" every month. Which is a lot nicer then having to send in the stupid cards or calling them. But still, it is annoying. At least 6 months ago I call them and ask if there is any way that I do not need to cancel the automatic horse manure they send out, the CD club allows you to do this, I know this to be fact. At the time I was told no. About 3 months ago I have had enough and I am about to cancel my account. I call to do so, and when I tell them why I am so pissed off about it, the person I talked to tells me that, yes, indeed they can set my account up so I do not have to deny the automatic horse manure every month. Wow! Imagine that. Ass Holes! Fine. I make the poor worker bee happy and tell him I will keep my account. A few days ago I get an email from Columbia House:
Subject: RE: Open immediately - important account information inside (VMVSCD3)
Gee, that doesn't look like SPAM now does it? Note to Columbia House, use better subject lines in your correspondence to customers. It got through POPFile, so I will look at it. Yep, its actually from Columbia House and is regarding my account.
DON'T LOSE YOUR NEW CLUB STATUS - ORDER TODAY! Dear KEN EDWARDS, You currently enjoy a special Club benefit: You don't have to respond to your Director's Selection or return your Order Card except to place an order. To maintain this benefit, you agreed to buy at least one DVD every three months from the Club. However, your initial three-month period has expired, and we haven't received your order. We don't want you to lose your new Club status, so we're giving you an extra chance to make your purchase. Order from your current magazine or choose from our complete catalog at http://www.columbiahouse.com . But be sure to do it right away! If you have recently placed an order, please accept our thanks and disregard this notice. And if you have any questions, just give us a call at 1-800-262-2001.
New club status? What? Excuse me? I agreed? Bull! I didn't agree to jack. They offered this "feature" and I said "It's about damn time" if memory serves.. That is it, that is the last straw. Nice one Columbia House. Way to make the customer actually want to be part of your club. I called Columbia House again today, and I chose to end my account (that would be 1 for english, 5 for more options, and then 5 again to terminate your account). I was impressed, the person I talked to did not harp on me about why I wanted to end my account. Must be one in a million. Of course he did try to sell me on the latest offer, buy one and get unlimited at half price, wow! then it is actually almost worth spending the money. But all in all he did do what I asked and did not waste my time. Its a shame I get the nice rep. on the way out the door, and not on the way in. It's there loss.

January 6, 2004

Almost Back in Order

Here is an update from Matt, he recently had surgery. Probably about another week until I can actually sit long enough to write a decent review. Still pretty tender. Anyway, be prepared for reviews of SWAT, Underworld, Out of Time, and maybe even a GBA review.

Boy Gets Stuck in Animal Game Machine

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - A 7-year-old boy had to be rescued with the help of a locksmith Saturday after crawling into a supermarket's stuffed animal game machine while his father talked on the telephone. "He was sitting right in there with the stuffed animals," said Shift Commander Mark Zittel of the Sheboygan Fire Department. He said the boy, whose name was not released because he is a minor, crawled through about an 8-inch-by-10-inch opening to get into the glass enclosure via a chute where the toys come out, but when he tried to get back out his way was blocked. Source: Yahoo! News

New iPod Mini

Steve Jobs said today at the Macworld Keynote that the $50 spent on the iPod Mini (the difference between then high end $199 flash based MP3 players) is the best $50 spent. Well hells bells! The best $50 spent is going from the $250 iPod Mini (4 GB) to the $300 iPod (15 GB). Or does no one else see that? I think, just like most Apple products, the $250 for the iPod Mini is too high. It is not worth buying at that price, especially since Apple has made the 15 GB iPod $300. Of course this is not the first time Apple has done this. They do this with the iBook and PowerBook line as well. It is rather obvious why they take this tactic. If the cost to get the "next better model" is a small enough margin, people will pony up the cash to get the next better model. That is just smart business. There is nothing wrong with that. I just wish that sometimes there was a bigger gap between the products, meaning the lower end products were a little cheaper. Don't you think the iPod Mini would sell better at $200? It might, but the 15 GB iPod will sell better because of the price point of the iPod Mini. While I am on the subject of Apple products being too expensive: Why the hell does it cost $60 for a friggin' one button wireless mouse from Apple? Hello?

January 8, 2004

Microsoft celebrates 20 years of Mac apps

Their relationship has seen its highs and lows, but this year Microsoft and Apple mark two decades of working together. The collaboration began with Word 1.0 in 1984 and Excel 1.0 in 1985, followed by a 1987 release of PowerPoint 1.0 that didn't ship for Windows until 1990. In the first half of this year, Microsoft plans to build on its previous accomplishments by shipping Office 2004 and Virtual PC 7. An article on Microsoft's Web site runs through the company's history on the Mac, complete with a timeline on a separate page that details important events from the past 20 years. Plenty of insights and anecdotes from Mac Business Unit employees are sprinkled liberally through the article. The piece also details all the new features -- such as Project Center, Word Notebook Layout View, compatibility reports, and others -- Mac users can look forward to in Office 2004, as well as a special promotion that offers a free copy of the suite to anyone who buys Office v.X from January 6 until 30 days after the new edition is released. Three versions will be available: Standard, Student and Teacher, and Professional, which will include Virtual PC 7 Source: MacCentral It is amazing how the core Office apps started on the Mac. I wonder why? :-P

HP to deliver iPod-based players

Apple's desire to see the iPod remain the leader in the digital music player market got a big push on Thursday when Apple and HP announced that they have formed a strategic alliance to deliver HP-branded digital music players based on the iPod. The news came at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. What's more, iTunes and the iTunes Music Store will be available to HP customers. Buyers of new HP consumer PCs and notebook computers will include iTunes software and a desktop icon to help them find it. HP said that the software will be pre-loaded on Pavilion, Media Center and Compaq Presario desktop and laptop systems. Source: MacCentral This is very cool, but I never thought I would hear of Apple licensing the iPod to any other company. Not only is iTunes and the iTMS part of this HP deal, but QuickTime is as well, which I believe to be the superior media file format. For those who do not know, iTunes requires QuickTime even on the PC. This is great for developers who create QuickTime content, and sites that produce QuickTime content. I really do not see how this helps Apple in a hardware selling sense. They may well see a higher market share with HP branded iPods' + the strong selling Apple branded iPods'. I think more important is iTunes on the desktop, potential iTMS customers, and QuickTime on the desktop. from ZDNet: "Apple will manufacture the player, which will not have the iPod name, but will have the same design and features as Apple's third-generation iPod players, Phil Schiller, senior vice president at Apple, said in an interview. Also, the HP music player will come in "HP Blue," he said. "The way we look at it, HP will be reselling an iPod device," said Schiller, who noted that the device will display the Apple logo at start-up and will work with all of the accessories made for the white-hued Apple varieties."

January 9, 2004

Apple seeks dollars in former freebies

Apple's decision to stop offering free downloads of iMovie and iPhoto is part of a clear shift by the Mac maker to try to recoup more of the dollars it invests in creating software for the Mac. Apple has been pouring resources into consumer software for years, but initially the company gave away the fruits of its labor. The giveaways were justified as a means of differentiating the Mac from its Windows-based rivals. More recently, though, Apple has been making the case to its customers that it needs to bring in revenue from its software efforts in order to keep investing in new development. Source: C|NET News.com I understand why Apple pulled iMove and iPhoto downloads off their site. Which I might point out, they did with very little fan fare from the press. They pulled the downloads a while ago. I do not mind paying $49 ($29 educational) for the new 5 applications (GarageBand being the 5th). iTunes should remain a free download, I do not think Apple would ever NOT have that as a free download. But if you look at iPhoto, iMovie, or for that matter iDVD and now GarageBand, they have committed a lot of resources into development. Software companies have a long history of giving version 1.0 away for free and then charging for version 2.0, but I think this is smart for Apple to do. You don't see Adobe giving away Adobe Photo Album. You don't see Ulead giving away their video editing software. Should Apple include iLife on every new Mac? Yes, its the reason you buy a Mac isn't it? Not only do you get iLife when you buy a new Mac, you get a rather nice bundle of 3rd party software including Art Directors Toolkit 3, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, GraphicConverter, Quickbooks, and Fax SFT, not to mention demos of FileMaker Pro and MS Office X. I admit I was a little upset at first that I could not download iPhoto and iMovie anymore, but Apple now ships these apps pre-installed (they did not before).

Apple drinks its own juice

Normally reluctant to discuss even what is served in the company cafeteria, secretive Apple Computer on Thursday offered a sneak peak into its data center. Trying to make the case that its products belong in large companies, Apple showed how it runs its own business using a great deal of Apple gear. The disclosures, offered by Apple senior IT director Dean Rally, came as part of a discussion on Apple's role in the enterprise during the "Mac IT" portion of this year's Macworld Expo. Source: C|Net News.com It is interesting to see the breakdown of the arsenal of hardware & software that Apple uses. But I do not think it is a big surprise that Apple uses its own stuff. Funny was the mention of MS Office X, and not AppleWorks, heh. AppleWorks was a great program a long time ago. It still is, but its just not as compatible.

Photoshop CS Adds Banknote Image Detection, Blocking?

I just saw this on The Screen Savers tonight, and they tried to scan a new and old 20, and Photoshop CS will not do it, giving you a dialog explaining that you cannot scan money. This is a total crock if you ask me! You should be able to scan anything, even money. PS is an image manipulation program, you should be able to scan money. I assume a way around this is to use the scanning software outside of PS, but still that is a pain. And what are they going to block next? From Slashdot.org: from the forgeries-be-darned dept. Phosphor writes "A visitor to the Adobe Photoshop-for-Windows Forum (registration required to post, can log in as guest) has described a curious 'feature' with Photoshop 8 (also known as 'CS'). Seems this latest version of Adobe's flagship product has the built-in ability to detect that an image is of American currency. Something has been built into Photoshop's core coding that can detect something in images of currency and will prevent the user from opening the file. Apparently it will also do this with Euro notes; info on other currency is pending." According to other online reports, the latest version of Paint Shop Pro has similar restrictions, also known about since late last year.

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Kung-Log turns into ecto

The public beta of ecto is out. I have been part of the private beta test, and I really like what I see. For those not familiar, Kung-Log is, IMO, the best desktop blogging app for the Mac. You should download it, check it out, maybe even make some suggestions. This is a major overhaul to Kung-Log, adding even more useful features. Here are some of the improvements:
1. Improved account management 2. Edit window make-over. Note that the tabbed view supports drag-and-drop. To drag-and-drop text from one field to another, drag to the tab the destination text field is part of. 3. Recent entries and draft make-over. Drafts and recent entries are all in one list. This list is sortable by id, title, date, blog, and status (local draft vs remote entry). A search function is also included. To view an entry in the main window, double-click it or press the Enter key. 4. Separate status message window. Due to most processes being threaded, a single status field in the main window has made place for a list of current network and file processes. 5. Improved HTML preview, including support for Textile formatting. 6. Address Book support in email notification list. 7. Most settings are now on a per-blog basis. To save the main window's settings as default, select Draft > 'Save Settings'.ecto does not remember last used settings anymore. 8. More preferences for advanced users. See preferences dialog. 9. Syntax-coloring does not slow down typing anymore when editing long entries. 10. Improved file upload. One of the new features is that ecto now maintains a history of uploaded items for reuse.

January 10, 2004

The Gift I Forgot

One of the Christmas gifts I got for my dad this year was the CyberHome DVD CH-300, the same DVD player I have, and have recommended to so many of my friends. Well guess what? I forgot it at home, and I even remembered I had left it sitting on my bed, next to the box of other gifts that I packed in my car. I came to this conclusion durring dinner on the 24th, when I got to grandma's house. And I was not about to make the 3 to 4 hr. drive back to BG to get it.
dvd-player.jpg
I have never forgotten a present at home like that, ever. I felt so bad. I almost printed a picture of it but did not have time Christmas morning. (For some reason the CyberHome site has been down for a while). I tried to find the DVD player, or one similar but found nothing. If I could have, I would have taken the one sitting at home back. Radio Shack, which is where I bought it, has been out since Thanksgiving, I heard the same from other people I recommended the DVD player to, as well) Oh well. So dad, the DVD player is in the mail, Merry (belated) Christmas!

January 12, 2004

PayPal Class Action Lawsuit

You will need WMP to view this. Source CBS 2 News I personally have had good luck with PayPal, and I have used it for years. No one I know has had a bad experience with the service, but I sure read of a lot of horror stories.

Its gotta be the Boots

Dad & Melody (my step mom) got me my favorite boots for Christmas this year. I have worn these same boots for about 6 years now. Every 2 years I have to get new ones, because the tread wears down to almost nothing. And considering I don't wear any other shoe, I would say 2 yrs. is great. I now have 2 old pair to wear as a back up, to paint in, etc. It is great to have the backup pair when these boots get soaked! People make fun of my blue boots, but I don't care, they are the most comfortable boot I have ever worn. L. L. Bean's Speed Guide Hikers are really an all season boot if their ever was one. I wear these in everything, even in summer, and they are not hot to wear. I wore these on a camping trip to Baxter State Park in Maine, including hiking up the 3 peaks of Mt. Katahdin, and these boots performed wonderfully. Since then I will not use any other boot. Since my knee surgeries about 10 yrs. my ankles are soft as mud, so I need ankle support. These boots provide that in spades.
From Backpacker Magazine, February, 2002: "After nine months of hiking on rocky trails in areas from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire, during which the Speed Guides repeatedly bashed up against rocks, sticks, and thorns, the boots still look like I just pulled them from the box...That's why I like L.L. Bean's Speed Guide Hikers. If something breaks on your trips, it won't be these boots."
Thanks dad & Mel for the best boots ever. And you know what I will be asking for in 2 yrs. :-P

Odd OS 9 Firewire HD Behavior

I must admit, it has been some time since I have used OS 9. I took my 250 GB Lacie HD to a friend's house who is not yet using OS X (shame on them). As I mentioned before, the Panther "Windows Format" does not work at all in Jaguar, but I was happy to see it does mount in OS 9. It wanted to rebuild the desktop, which is all too common in OS 9. I said OK, and I should not have! It could not rebuild the drive. When it got to the end of the progress bar it just stopped. So I had to cancel. Now there are some 3000 FINDER.DAT files on the drive, and plugging the drive into OS 9 and rebuilding was the only thing I did which could have caused this. All I can say is thanks to the folks at the Macworld forums and the terminal! Cuz this killed them all:
find /Volume/HDName -name FINDER.DAT -exec sudo rm -rf {} \;
So that is how to get rid of all those FINDER.DAT files that are supposed to be hidden (and not used in OS X if i recall). I think the big error was letting OS 9 try to rebuild a Windows formatted volume. That is the lesson for today. But then who uses OS 9? Apparently 60% of the Macintosh install base, based on Steve Jobs's Macworld 2004 Keynote.

HP CES Video

Here is a C|NET Video of the unveiling of the HP Digital Music Player (WMP) I still cannot believe HP is selling iPods, and HP branded iPods for that matter!

January 13, 2004

Canadian MP3 player tax challenged

MP3 player manufacturers, including Apple Computer, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, are challenging a recent regulatory ruling in Canada that would impose an extra fee of as much as $25 on iPod-like digital music players. The Copyright Board of Canada ruled in December that hard drive-based digital music players should be subject to fees aimed at compensating musicians, songwriters and record labels for copyright infringement. Similar fees are placed on blank audio tapes and CDs, and manufacturers typically pass on the costs to the consumer. A group of retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores and Best Buy, also is appealing the decision, which will be heard by a federal court. Source: C|NET News.com

Oscar 'Screener' Found on Internet, Academy Says

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood's greatest fear became a reality on Tuesday as film industry officials said a digital version of an Oscar "screener" was seen on the Internet after months of industry squabbling over whether sending out the videos to Academy Award voters would lead to movie piracy. A copy of Sony Pictures Entertainment's "Something's Gotta Give" that was sent to an Oscar voter was found to be downloadable from the Internet to a home PC, a spokesman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, said. "Sony let us know late last week that one had appeared on the Internet," Academy spokesman John Pavlik told Reuters.
Source: Reuters We all know the MPAA finally woke up, just like the RIAA did. I hate to say it, but what the MPAA is doing (stopping screeners from going out for voting) is not the solution to the problem. It is not going to stop screeners from appearing online. We are just hearing a lot of news about screeners because the MPAA finally got smart. The MPAA needs to take another note from the "lets act like the RIAA" handbook and sell movies online. And guess what? MPEG 4 has DRM built into it! We finally have a lot of options to legally get music online, we now need a legal way of getting movies online. How long will it be before the movie industry has movies available for purchase online? My guess? It will be a while. Thanks to dad for the link!

Post-it Software Notes

For those who do not know, the Mac OS has had this capability built in for some time now. Why M$ has not stolen this idea yet is beyond me. Post-it Software Notes is a great, free, utility that you should download. It is wonderful if you are like me, and are used to using Stickies on the Mac.

January 14, 2004

OmniWeb 5 looks like a Safari Killer

A good friend of mine, Mary Beth, asked me what my favorite browser was. She was a little shocked when I did not reply 'Safari!' My favorite browser is OmniWeb. I have been an avid user since Mac OS X Server (the first version, otherwise known as Rhapsody). I even own a license to OmniWeb 4, that is how much I like it. OmniWeb 5 is coming out, and it addresses the one thing Safari has that OmniWeb 4 does not, tabs. The latest version of OmniWeb, 4.5, uses WebCore and JavaScriptCore just like Safari does. The way tabs look in OmniWeb 5 looks really interesting, as if they decided to innovate instead of just copy. The Workspaces in OmniWeb 5 also looks like a great feature! I can hardly wait to get OmniWeb 5 because I love using OmniWeb 4.5 so much, but end up using Safari just because of the tabs - even though I can block ads in OmniWeb. OmniWeb 4.5 added support for PDF as well as Flash and Shockwave, some things that were really lacking. Of course I actually *like* not having Flash all the time. But the edition of Adobe and Macromedia technologies made OmniWeb a little less of a "fringe" OS X browser. If you have not taken a look at OmniWeb, check it out! OmniWeb 4.5 also handles CSS much better (then it used to), since it is now using WebCore. Another note: OnmiWeb 4.5 uses your Keychain, so if you added the passwords in Safari, your good to go with OmniWeb.

Thirteen year-old gets suspended for using a DOS command

Jake wrote about this, hell, MetaFilter, Fark, Slashdot and the Wall Street Journal wrote about it too. A thirteen year-old kid gets suspended for three days for using a DOS command (net send * "Hey!") to send a one-word message to all 80 computers on his school's network. What's even more disturbing was the fact that his teacher is obviously a complete moron. Full Story at Star-Telegram.com There's a follow up response from the kid who did it (with links and more comments -- the kid's parents are pretty cool about everything), that describes what exactly happened.
This is a bit harsh IMO. I remember the pranks we used to do in 8th and 9th grade, and it was much worse then using net send. I think this kid should educate his educators about disabling the annoying net send "feature" that is too often used for SPAM. The "hacker" part was a good laugh tho! Some computer teacher.

Gollum Gangsta Rap

Gollum Gangsta Rap (Flash). Too funny! I also found the lyrics: Gollum is Smegol King I is regal Basshead for the precious Smeagol fly like an eagle Precious is my bling-bling Precious gonna sing-sing Precious on my finger Nasty hobbits no sting-sting My pimp stick a missin' Redrum on a mission Don't fuck wit the Gollumses playa Playa we be fishin' Me wants it Hobbitses stole it Power to the Playa And the Gollum who controls it The Towerz are the Playaz The Towerz are the Playaz all Skills with the grooves Middle Earth have you heard the news? Gollum drop a beat that even Orcses even use Sauron and Smegol Kitty full of evil Jumpin' down to D-Town Smegol get medieval My drawers are hangin' light I'm stuffin' up my pipe Spliffin' and a splashin' I'm steppin' to the mic Gollum is Smegol King I is regal Basshead for the precious Smeagol fly like an eagle The Towerz are the Playaz The Towerz are the Playaz all

Gaming crash 2005

The end is near people. The end of it all. Well, at least for mainstream America. Apex, makers of those super-cheap DVD players is officially entering themselves into the realm of videgames with their very own console. Now, beyond the horrific name (reads like Ape-extreme to me), it's quite obvious that this is a direct replay of the first major gaming crash back in 1983. Companie have all seen how much money can be made and everyone wants a piece of it. Look at the current market: PS2, X-Box, Gamecube, Game Boy Advance (2 versions!), N-Gage, Tapwave, and the PS One (yes, it's still going). No, not all of these are major contenders, but when the next generatin of consoles comes around things are going to get real ugly. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are certainly going to be back. Apex is there, and the Phantom is good to go as it was shown at the recent CES. Don't forget the GBA which will likely get the usual upgrade withing a year or two. The only question that remains is how many of these the market can support at once. If history tells us anything.....not many. Starting with the 8-bit era, Nintendo and Sega battled for a while until Nintendo's marketing won people over. Sega, NEC, and Nintendo fought it out in the 16-bit era with NEC's Turbografx fading into obscurity, even though they were first with some new technology (CD-ROM adapter). The 32-bit era dawned with 4 competitors: The Jaguar, 3DO, Saturn, and Playstation. Guess what system dominated? Whats even worse is that mainstream America completely ignored the Saturn, arguably the console with the bext games of the era. The hardcore crowd was left in the dark and the majority of the outstanding games for Sega's short lived console stayed in Japan due to lagging sales of the console. Same thing happened to Sega again a few years later with the hardcore gamers preffered "Next-gen" console, the Dreamcast. Everyone waited for the PS2. No one seemed to care that the Dreamcast had some of the most outstanding games of this generation. Now mainstream America has another chance, possibly within the next year. There will be a ton of systems, countless games, and alot of money that will be waiting to be spent. It won't happen. Whenever something becomes too mainstream in this country, people seem to quickly tire of it. Case in point: The release of the outstanding "Beyond Good and Evil." Easily a candidate for the game of the year, it's price was recently slashed by Circuit City to $9.99, other storesaround $19.99. During the same time period, the GTA Double Pack sold (at minimum) a million copies on the X-Box. Yes, a shoddily coded port with minor upgrades and the same pathetic targeting system outsold BGE 10 to 1 (at least). How long will it take people to simply become bored? No one buys anything original anymore (I can also refrence Viewtiful Joe and Eternal Darkness) and rehashes and tired sequels can't cut it forever. The time is slowly approaching when the true fans of video games will be able to have their hobby back without interference from the outside. Simply put, I can't wait. I don't think any crash will be able to completely descimate this section of our culture, but a nice hard blow to everyone out there who decided to buy GTA III, Madden, and GTA again leaving outstanding titles on the shelves would be a welcome sight.

January 15, 2004

Bank Letter

I got this email from my dad:
The letter to the bank below is an actual letter that was sent to a bank by a 96 year old women  The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times.   Dear Sir: I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month.  By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it.  I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire salary, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.  My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.  My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate. Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.  Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete.  I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.  Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof. In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.  I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let me level the playing field even further.  When you call me, press buttons as follows:
1.  To make an appointment to see me. 2.  To query a missing payment. 3.  To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there. 4.  To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping. 5.  To transfer the call to my toilet in case  I am attending to nature. 6.  To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home. 7.  To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact. 8.  To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7. 9.  To make a general complaint or inquiry.
The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.  While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call. Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement. May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year? Your Humble Client

January 16, 2004

Judge rules Microsoft infringed on Eolas patent

I have been keeping a close eye on the Eolas thing, and here is the latest chapter: A Chicago federal judge on Wednesday upheld a $521 million patent verdict against Microsoft that could ultimately force major changes in many of the most common Internet software products. Judge James Zagel said he saw no reason to overturn an August jury verdict that said Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browsing software had infringed on patent rights held jointly by small developer Eolas Technologies and the University of California. Source: C|Net News.com

Microsoft Agrees to Stop Hijacking Music-Shopping

from the mozilla-all-the-way dept. CNN ,ABC , and others are reporting that Microsoft has agreed to fix Windows XP so that it no longer launches IE (instead of the user's chosen default browser) when the user selects the "Shop for Music Online" option in Windows XP. MS isn't admitting that it's a violation of the consent decree they signed to get the DoJ to drop the anti-trust suit against them, but threats to take them to court over it are what prompted the move. Source: Slashdot

The Moose Has Moved

Moose, otherwise known as Maury Mountain, a very good friend of mine, has moved hosts. I am now hosting his site. He was getting fed up with the uptime (or rather lack thereof) of his last host. I am now hosting enough sites that I can now get a larger reseller account, so I will be able to host even more sites. My host that I have my reseller account with is Cybrisk. At the time I signed up, they were running a sale, unfortunately they are not having that sale. Breaking Windows is closing in on one year old (yay!) and I started hosting here when Breaking Windows was born. I have since moved my other sites here, and I have been very happy. So if you are looking for a reseller host, I highly recommend Cybrisk.

January 17, 2004

Things to ponder, but not for long

1. Can you cry under water?  2. When I was young we used to go "skinny dipping," now I just "chunkydunk."  3. How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered? 4. If money doesn't grow on trees then why do banks have branches?  5. Why do you have to "put your two cents in"... but it's only a penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to? 6. Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity? 7. Why does a round pizza come in a square box?  8. How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage? 9. Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours? 10. If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing? 11. Why are you IN a movie, but you are ON TV? 12. Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground? 13. How come we choose from just two people for President and fifty for Miss America? 14. If a 911 operator has a heart attack, whom does he/she call? 15. I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothing. If I HAD any loose-fitting clothing, I wouldn't have signed up in the first place! 16. Wouldn't it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply press 'Ctrl Alt Delete' and start all over?  17. Stress is when you wake up screaming and then you realize you haven't fallen asleep yet.  18. Just remember...if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.  19 Why is it that our children can't read a Bible in school, but they can in prison? 20. If raising children was going to be easy, it never would have started with something called labor! 21. Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever

January 18, 2004

The Old Gas Station

image001.jpg The service station trade was slow. The owner sat around, With sharpened knife and cedar stick. Piled shavings on the ground. No modern facilities had they,   The log across the rill   Led to a shack, marked His and Hers That sat against the hill. "Where is the ladies restroom, sir?" The owner leaning back,   Said not a word but whittled on, And nodded toward the shack. image002.jpg With quickened step she entered there But only stayed a minute, Until she screamed, just like a snake Or spider might be in it. With startled look and beet red face She bounded through the door, And headed quickly for the car. Just like three gals before. She missed the foot log -- jumped the stream   The owner gave a shout,   As her silk stockings, down at her knees Caught on a sassafras sprout. She tripped and fell -- got up, and then In obvious disgust, Ran to the car, stepped on the gas, And faded in the dust. Of course we all desired to know What made the gals all do The things they did, and then we found The whittling owner knew. A speaking system he'd devised To make the thing complete, He tied a speaker on the wall Beneath the toilet seat. image003.jpg He'd wait until the gals got set And then the devilish guy, Would stop his whittling long enough, To speak into the mike. And as she sat, a voice below Struck terror, fright and fear "Will you please use the other hole, We're painting down here."

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles GBA Review

The (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) TMNT have been everywhere lately. Their recent surge in popularity brings Konami back into the mix for some more gaming goodness. While not on par with their 16-bit and arcade efforts, this recent edition to the GBA's library is a more than welcome return to the past. Unlike past efforts, the Game Boy Advance rendition mixes platforming and fighting, much like the first Turltes game back on the NES (just add combos). Each of the 4 amphibians has their own set storyline and their own set of 4 stages. Their stages are made to take advantage of their individual abilities (such as Raph's wall climbing abilities). At least one of the 4 stages presented before each character is a sort of mini-game including a nifty sewer surfing segment (Michelangelo), motorcycle racing (Raphael), on rails shooter (Leonardo), and a standard horizontal shooter (Donatello). This adds some variety to the otherwise mundane and basic beat-em-aspects. Once you have completed each of the Turtles individual stages, you'll have one more stage to conquer (unless your playing the game on easy). Any of the TMNT's can be selected for final showdown with Shredder, a vicisous level that throws EVERYTHING at the player. Sadly, unless your playing the game on it's hardest level, this is the only challenging segment. The short individual stages can be beaten in a matter of minutes and getting hit is only a matter of not paying attention. The harder difficulties only increase the amount of damage the enemy does, not the AI. The cinemas also drag on for far too long and the stories are far from compelling enough to warant reading everything. Still, with amount of moves and the battery backup, your sure to come back. The four heroes look fair on the small screen, but their animation is sure to pull the player in. The numerous combos you can perform with a bit of practice is sure to impress and everything looks ripped right out of the latest cartoon series. The intro takes still clips from the shows intro and puts it under a fully voiced theme song. Asthetically, this one is nearly perfect. Though I'm sure the hardcore crowd would've preffered an update to the classic "Turtles in Time," you really can't go wrong with this new addition. It's far from perfect, but it captures the spirit of the show (and to a lesser extent the comic) more-so than the majority of the other liscened junk on the GBA. If you can accept the relatively short length, your bound to get some enjoyment form this title.

Giving Product Recommendations

One of the hidden, unwritten rules of being a geek is giving product, and services reviews. It is great telling other people what they should buy, and why. I wish I got payed for it. Its also great when you are at a point where you can recommend products and services at work. More times than not I have had first hand experience, but I also make it a point of read multiple reviews. Giving this advice is more or less a ancillary effect to being a geek. A ripe example of this, stemming from a current consulting job, has to do with email. General Email Tips Use a bayesian filter for your email. SpamSieve is the easiest to use on OS X, POPFile works on all platforms (Mac OS X, Windows, Linux(s) etc.). Outlook 2003 has built in bayesian filtering, and it works great! Unfortunately Apple's Panther Mail's junk mail filtering is sub par. You would do better getting SpamSieve and turning off the junk mail filter. Turn of image viewing, or turn off HTML rendering all together. In Apple Mail you can turn off image viewing in the Viewing portion of the Preferences. You can turn of HTML preview in Outlook 2003, and you can hack 2002 to turn it off. The last thing I would do is turn off message preview. I like how Outlook 2002 and 2003 handles this, as it will display the first 3 lines of text from and email. That is just enough to tell if it is SPAM or not. You do not want to view SPAM, and by clicking on it and seeing it (even if you are clicking to delete it) you are "viewing" it. There is no 3 line preview in OS X Mail, but you can turn off the preview pane. Double click the resize handle in between the list pane and the preview pane. Some people might not want to go as far as disabling the preview pane, but to each his own. BTW, to re-enable the preview pane in OS X Mail, double click the resize handle that is now at the very bottom of the window. UPDATE I agree with Dave (see his comment) but only to a point. Using a whitelist is a great idea. Unfortunately it is not always implemented well. If you only allow emails from your whitelist you will be missing a lot of good mail. And this is a problem for more then just a business, as Dave points out. I have the same problem with whitelisting as I do with challenge-response services. They block legit email. What about the email confirmation for that plane ticket you just bought? I could come up with a number of other "what ifs" that whitelisting and challenge-response services would block. Apple's junk mail filter (if you use it) does have options to exempt address book entries from the junk filter. SpamSieve has this same type of option. POPFile uses something called "Buckets" which is a whitelist and a blacklist, but does the same as Mail and SpamSieve. This is the way to use a whitelist. You should not except ONLY the addresses in your whitelist. Going further here, I don't like making addresses in my address book exempt from my whitelist. This is especially true if you are a Windows user, as many security threats on Windows reck their havoc using your address book. But Mac users have to deal with this as well, mainly because of those Windows born viruses and trojans. A few months ago a couple viruses went through our university email system, and I "got" so much mail from BGSU contacts in my address book. Of course it was all spam mail generated from a Windows born virus. So I do not include my address book in my whitelists.

Bush in 30 Seconds Finalists

Bush in 30 Seconds Finalists. My favorite is "Child's Play"

January 19, 2004

Rights issue dogs CD protection

A dispute over royalty rights on copy-protected CDs and other types of music discs is helping to stall the release of some new music technology, and could result in record labels owing tens of millions of dollars in back payments to music publishers. At issue are "double session" CDs that include two versions of each song on a disc, formatted for playback on different kinds of devices. The most widely distributed type are copy-protected discs that prevent CD tracks from being copied to a hard drive, but that also include a digital version of the songs, often in Microsoft's Windows Media format, that can be transferred to a computer or portable digital music player. Music publishers and songwriters, who are entitled to payments of a few cents for every copy of a song sold, contend that since these double-format discs hold two copies of songs, they should be paid for both copies. They've been negotiating with record labels for months, but already hundreds of millions of discs have been released around the world, raising the possibility of huge back payments. Source: C|Net News.com

A look at secret new Apple computer

(Note: First published in the Mercury News in January, 1984) After two years of secrecy, brainstorming and sometimes zany company maneuvering, Apple Computer Inc. will unveil a new personal computer Jan. 24 that is the size of a stack of paper and, for about the same price, contains more power than the basic IBM PC. Known as the Macintosh and considered by analysts to be critical the the future of the company, the machine already is winning rave reviews from the dealers, software developers and industry analysts for its compactness and ease of use. Source: Silicon Valley.com

Worsening spam epidemic chokes the net

The scourge of junk email reached new proportions at the end of 2003 with nearly two out of every three messages sent worldwide being an unwanted advertisement. The latest statistics from UK-based email filtering company MessageLabs indicate that 62.7 per cent of all global emails sent during December were spam. The company scanned over 463 million messages. In November the figure was 55.1 percent and in October 50.5 percent. In some countries, for example Australia, more than two thirds of all December messages were junk. Source: NewScientist.com

The HP Bomb

John Gruber has some great commentary about the Apple/HP iPod deal, it is well worth the read:
And so what to make of the HP/Apple iPod deal? It’s a big deal for HP, and it’s a very big deal for Apple. I thought there were a bunch of big announcements at Macworld Expo — GarageBand, the iPod mini, the updated iLife suite, the new branch of mathematics that says 40 percent of Mac users on OS X means “the transition is over” — but the HP deal is much bigger. I’m guessing that Apple had in fact hoped to announce it at Macworld, but couldn’t because negotiations between the companies weren’t finalized until late Wednesday night, according to the New York Times . Why is it big? Well, for one thing, because HP is big. HP is a huge company; in the fourth quarter of 2003, HP reported nearly $20 billion in revenue , and over $1 billion in profits. Apple, by comparison, reported $1.7 billion in revenue and $44 million in profits in their most recent quarter.
Source: Daring Fireball

Movable Type Updates

Movable Type 2.65 was released 12.22.2003 and I rushed to install it, a lot faster then I got around to installing 2.64, thats for sure. Since I do not own a dedicated server, I cannot have one single MT install for all the MT sites I host. So I have to install the update on 6 sites. This is not something that gets done quickly. On 01.14.2004 2.66 and then 2,661 is released. The new features are all comment spam based, and I should upgrade. I just don't think I am going to get to it for a while. At least not on all the MT installs I am hosting. It has been less then a month, and both of these updates have big(ish) changes in them. And Six Apart is bating us with the release of MT 3.0 to boot. I have a couple things to say about 3.0: Nothing really spectacular. Comment registration is not the answer. I would never require people to register to comment. This is not a message board, this is a blog.

January 20, 2004

Freddy Adu first pick in MLS draft

14-Year-Old Phenom Set to Begin Professional Career in D.C.
CHARLOTTE, NC - With the first overall selection in today’s  2004 MLS SuperDraft  held at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, D.C. United obtained 14-year-old phenom  Freddy Adu . Adu will join the Black-and-Red in Bradenton, FL on February 9th as a part of the club’s preseason training schedule and will be available for selection in  United’s season opener , April 3, 2004 at  RFK Stadium . Kick-off for the match is set for 4:00 p.m. ET.

"I’m in awe of everything that has happened to me," said Adu. "Since I moved to this country, I’ve been a huge fan of D.C. United. That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of this organization and hope that I can help lead this team back to its winning ways."

Source: DC United The youngest player in modern professional team sports! Wow! I am not sure this will bring soccer to the masses in the states, but it should (I hope) give the sport a face and some much needed boost in popularity. I will surely have to get down to DC to see him play! I used to play soccer, from city rec. league up until middle school, then I had knee surgeries, that kind of slows ya down, ya know. I still love soccer though, it will be great seeing how Adu fairs.

Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft

Various news organizations are reporting that in August 2003 A 17-year old 'part time software developer' named Mike Rowe registered the domain mikerowesoft.com and printed stationary. Three months later, Microsoft sent him a letter requesting that he relinquish the domain for a $10 'settlement' fee. He responded and said he worked hard on his website and would take $10,000. Microsoft returned the volley with a 25 page package explaining how Microsoft's customers could be confused between the two sites. Source: Blogcritics & makeyougohmm.com

WebCalc

WebCalc has an insane amount of web based calculators, well over 100 are live. It looks like more will be added later, as some are not linked up. It is free for now, but looks like it will cost a fee in the future. I don't exactly agree with charging a fee for this, I would get out my graphing calculator before I payed for this. But everyone has to make money somehow. Until it is not free, it is a great set of equations you can have at your fingertips.

Best Client Quotes

My favorites so far is:
"i checked with a friend and they said there definitely IS a rainbow effect in photoshop, why did you tell us there wasn't one?"

"Can't we make the text blink?"

There are some really funny client quotes here.

January 21, 2004

Macworld/My Photoshop CS Review

At the core of Adobe's Creative Suite strategy is the unity, integration, and simultaneous release of its major design applications. Photoshop CS (version 8) is a broad and deep upgrade to the company's anchor image editor. Despite its low-key presentation -- its interface is almost the same as version 7's -- it has amazing new tools for Photoshop's traditional users. New features, subtly sprinkled throughout the program, dramatically enhance those users' capabilities and control over their images. Photographers, artists, graphic designers, Web designers, and video specialists will see significant improvements in their images and in the imaging process, but there's no burdensome learning curve....

Photoshop CS is an awesome upgrade for every type of Photoshop user. Its slick, user-friendly new features make a huge difference in both productivity and image quality. This version is too good to pass up.

Source: Macworld Great review! I couldn't agree more. I sure like this upgrade, more so then Photoshop 6 or 7, to be exact. I earlier wrote about the Adobe CS suite shortcomings, of which I need to add, but after using Photoshop CS for a little while now I have little to rant about. The last version of Photoshop I got this exited about was version 5 (for the history palette) and 5.5 (for the revamped text tool). Of course I can no longer scan bank notes. How stupid! What if I need to use a $20 bill in some artwork for a client? I guess that is why I have a CD with Photoshop 7 on it. My favorite new features of Photoshop CS: snappier then Photoshop 7 in OS X. Match Color is very handy, as is Shadow/Highlight. Text on a path is a nice touch, finally. The File Browser is much improved, and its got a bunch of new features that I find myself using more and more. Something else I have been using more and more is the Layer Comps palette, that thing is sweet!

Square-Enix Media Blitz

Note to the fine folks at Square-Enix: Stop. I figured it was just the Christmas holiday season, but it still continues. I cannont fathom why you are still spending the money. It's illogical, it's annoying, and for the record I will never buy another one of your games....ever. That's right, your TV and print ads have officially driven me to the brink of sheer insnanity and now have had the opposite effect. I must either watch every show in your target demographic or you are simply trying to mesmerize every 10 year old into your tired Final Fantasy series. Whenever I hear the words "I Know, I know," I immediately change the station. The rest of the words are unitelligable and the song is borderline infuriating at this point. During the Chritmas season, I was bombarded by ads for True Crime, Tony Hawk Underground, Max Payne, and your junk. I accepted it and nearly lived with it. It has now been a month and I still see the same stupid ad filled with misleading CG cinemas 10 times a day (and that's NOT an exaggeration). The other ads have stopped. Yours have not. If this wasn't bad enough, your 4 page ads clog up my magazines and in the worst cases, even take over the cover. I'm not sure if you think that their is at least one person out there who may have escaped your evil grasp, but anyone who wanted your game in the first place has it. Magazines are done covering it and moving on to the next chapter, so why are you still blasting me? I fully understand the rough market out there, filled with hundereds of games vying for consumer dollars. However, your game is Final Fantasy, a series that has been around for 15+ years. Anyone who knows about your RPG's knows there's a new game in the series. Mainstream America has never embraced RPG's and likely never will. Final Fantasy 7, arguably the most overly popular game in the entire series, sold billions of copies on about 3 advertisements total. So Square-Enix, if you can see my point (and I think it's pretty obvious), your not going to sell anymore copies by bombarding the airwaves and discgracing my otherwise fine magazine covers. I can never again look at Yuna like I once did as her image now completely disgusts me. Her voice is nausitating, the song irratating, and that 30 second clip of an already horrific pop song is now simply too much to bear. I used to respect you, but I am no officially disowning you for not only this generation, but all of them to follow as well. Of course, a second sequel to Chrono Trigger may change my mind....

January 22, 2004

iTunes Music Store RSS Feed Generator

Thanks to Eric for this link!
Apple's new RSS Feed Generator produces custom feeds you can subscribe to using RSS-enabled software. You're presented with a choice of genres, along with the feed type. Choices include New Releases, Just Added, iTunes Top Songs, iTunes Top Albums and Featured Albums & Exclusives. You can also adjust feed size from 5 to 100 tracks, and you can choose whether to show explicit content.
Source: MacCentral Great! Now the iTMS will take even more of my money now...

Detroit Auto Show 2004

Don't ask me why I have not gone to this every year I have lived in Bowling Green! It is all of 1.5 hrs. away. Anyway, I will surely go back next year! And next year I will plan on going two days (at least). Last Friday Mike and I went up to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to take photos (for Mike, it was for the Sentinel-Tribune, for me it was just for fun). I have 3 (one, two, three) photo galleries online, and one of the sights of Detroit. In one day we did not get to see everything, and it was packed so getting around the floor was a battle at time. The show was a lot of fun nonetheless. We saw a pop tent on the walk back to the car from the Cobo Center. It was in the snow next to the walkway next to the river. The tent dweller had a great view of the casino tho! Of all the cars/trucks/vans/stupid useless vehicles etc. there, the Subaru B9SC Concept was my personal favorite. That thing looks sweet! The Ford Shelby Cobra Concept comes in as a close second. The first flood did not have much at all, the only thing that stuck out (like a soar thumb) was the PT Coupe. I cannot decide wether it looks better or worse then the PT Cruiser. The second floor is where all the big displays were. The eye catching designs I notied: The Jaguar S-TYPE is different for a Jag. The Mitsubishi Sport Truck Concept does not screen "truck" to me. The Volkswagen Concept T "dune buggy" is ugly. Honda's first truck, the Honda SUT Concept (I can only guess that stands for stupid useless truck) has a lot of cab space, which I like, but has a very short bed. The Ford Bronco Concept is a real stretch for what we have come to know the Bronco as, I think it looks like a Lego(tm) truck (but so does the Jeep Rescue Concept)! MSN has a TON of photos of the show. (The "More Photo Galleries" drop down does not seem to function in Safari, go figure) Getting out of the car garage proved to be the most difficult part of the day. After paying the $12 for parking, the gate is supposed to open letting us leave. Well that did not happen. We paid the lady the money, and the gate did not open, and did not open, and still did not open. She had to call someone to come and unlock the gate an manually raise it. We must have sat there close to 5 min. all the while people were forming a line, probably a couple levels long, waiting to leave. Of course they were all honking horns, which just made it even funnier to us. After finally getting out of the parking garage it was rather easy to get back onto 75, easier then we thought it would be to find.

January 23, 2004

Free Keynote Themes, .Mac Review

I have been meaning to review the .Mac service for a while now. I guess now is as good as any.
Apple's latest promotion for members of its .Mac subscription-based online service rewards them with US$30 off Keynote, the presentation software, as well as seven free themes from third-party designers valued at $100.
Source: MacCentral I already own Keynote, so the discount does not help me out, but I do not own any of these themes. And these themes rock! I am a long time .Mac user. I used it back when it was free and called iTools. When they moved to the $99 pay for service, I did not take the $49 previous users price. At that time I did not think it was worth $49, much less $99, as you did not get as much as you do now. Sure, the staple of a .Mac account is the iDisk and the email account, but now it is so much more, and is well worth the price tag. Fast forward to 2003 when I bought my 1 Ghz PowerBook G4. There is a $30 discount with a new Mac, and Apple now offers a slew of extras other then just the virtual disk and email. I will admit I was skeptical for a while (even after I bought .Mac), but I am now convinced that it is well worth it, on so many levels. As a member I not only get a discount on Keynote, but on Macromedia Contribute, (as well as free Contribute templates) tons (1.7 GB) of royalty free Freeplay Music, ArcSoft PhotoStudio, 25% off Panarama Maker, discount on VersionTracker Pro, Virex, and thats just the 3rd party software. Apple training on OS X, iPhoto, iTunes, iMovie, and iDVD is nice. Backup 2.0 is a mature backup utility now. iSync my bookmarks, contacts, and calendars and can download all that data on another Mac. iSync is a huge, and very usefull feature of .Mac! I am now never without that information, no matter what Mac I am at. Publishing iPhoto galleries online is real sweet, as is publishing iCal calendars. If you are on the edge of getting .Mac, let me assure you, it is worth it. At first I thought otherwise as well, but I am now more then convinced that it is worth the $99 per year.

Pepsi iTunes ad to feature RIAA legal targets

This sounds like it will be a good ad, but it is not like Apple to let things like this slip.
According to USA Today's Theresa Howard, Pepsi's advertisement will feature 20 teenagers who have been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has accused each of them of illegally downloading commercial music from the Internet. The ad will reportedly feature a version of the Bobby Fuller Four classic "I Fought the Law" covered by pop-punk band Green Day. The ad shows a 14-year old Staten Island teenager who proclaims, "We are still going to download music for free off the Internet."
Source: MacCentral

Coca-Cola's music site has gone live

But this one must not be a competitor to the iTMS. Why you ask? Because I cannot seem to load the site in Safari, OmniWeb, Mozilla, Explorer, or Opera on the Mac. I am going to assume it is WMA based. I did get to the site in Windows IE, and only IE. It doesn't work in Windows Mozilla either. You have to buy "credits" which equate to money. Whatever, why not just bill directly to a credit card. The world needs another online music store like it needs another hole in the ozone, IMO. One annoying thing, if you have flash installed, you have to go through the home page which is only flash (no choice) and then a stupid popup window with an intro animation, then you get to the music store. HELLO PEOPLE, drop all that crap already! But by all means, please visting MyCokeMusic.com!

OOOH! The Nintendo DS

It's the same ol' Nintendo. Recently, Nintendo stated they would be bringing out a "revolutionary product" that would be "unlike anything else on the market." They also claimed it would not be a "game system." Liars. Now, within a day of the announcement, thousands of people screamed "Virtual Boy." Now, regardless of your thoughts on Nintendo's one major gaming console flub (one which I personally still find enjoyable), at least the VB had some positive press before it was unveiled. This "DS" thingy has had none. In an interview exclusive to IGN (which I can't find now), one of Nintendo's higher up's said the screens will be vertical in alignment. Huh? If the screens were side-by-side, I can almost see them being used for more than just gimmick games. Anyone who's gotten their hands on an N-Gage will tell you that while the screen pumps out a gorgeous picture, it's vertical alignment is a mess. Think about classic arcade games like X-Men or Ninja Warriors that used multiple screens, all together horizontally. They could even be used for a "widescreen" style effect. Think about a football game where you could actually see your wide receievers before the play starts! Nope, instead we'll be able to "zoom in on a specific player." Wow. Of course, with 2 processors (one for each screen!) and 2 large screens, how portable can this thing possibly be? Even with a rechargeable battery like the current GBA, I can't imagine something like this lasting more than a hour or two. In an even dumber move, the console won't be backwards compatible with any of Nintendo's other software. It will be completely on it's own. Almost everyone knows the Game Boy has been continually succesful mostly because of it's compatibility with previous editions. Note that this is NOT a replacement for the current Game Boy or the Gamecube, but a 3rd system tossed into the mix when we don't need one. Yes, I will most likely buy one when it's finally released at the end of the year (and that's if they stick to their release date which is a rare occurence). I'm a gamer, it's what I do. Does that mean that I have to be estatic about it? Not at all. I'm really not even that eager to see this thing when it's announced at E3. This one has gimmick written all over it.

Nintendo Dual Screen Concepts

This reminds me of all those fun Fark contests, this one is from GBAParty.

OmniWeb Suggestions - Updated 01/23/04

I like Command+Up to go to the top of the page, I assign this to the button above my scroll wheel, in OmniWeb 4.5 this goes to Previous Anchor. I think it would be better served to use this shortcut to Go To Top of Page. (or allow me to change the keyboard shortcuts). I think you should take a que from Safari and make the block popups preference a checkable option in the OmniWeb menu. This makes it great to turn it off for that one or two annoying times I need it off. I think Command+O should be Open File, it is Command+Shift+O right now. I use the Open File command a lot more often then I use the Open Location command. I think there should be a setting to set the text to 100%, or original size, whichever sounds better. They mean the same thing. I would like an option in the bookmarks preferences to be able to keep the bookmarks drawer open after I double click on one of those links.

January 24, 2004

New Sections & Special Thanks

Since I blog so much about Panther and the iPod and iTunes, they now have their own sections. This site is getting more and more organized all the time! I have a few people I would like to thank, for code snippets, and other help recently. It is mainly due to the fact that I am lazy and don't want to look up the code in the MT manual :-P. Thanks Jake (UtterlyBoring.com) for exporting my posts from when I needed refuge, mainly my rant about DVD playback in Windows. Thanks Andy Baio (Waxy.org) for the code snippet that allows me to have my own blogroll. If anything, I enjoy the shorter load times thanks to it not being an external include. And I can deal with not having it show the most recently updated blogs. I hope that Blogrolling.com does not get hacked again, but I am not going to be using the service since I can so easily create lists of links with the code from Andy. Thanks. You should have noticed by now that I have a "Breaking News" section in the right column that I will be posting things of interest, but do not have time to comment on. Thanks Philip (W6 and Blogcritics) for the code to improve my Recent Comments section, and for the tip on making it its own Index Template so it shows correctly on the entire site.

I Love/Hate Panther Mail

In 10.2 Mail, the only AppleScripts you could run were found in the system wide Script Menu (and that is only if you decide to "install" it) In Panther Mail, as in Panther's Address Book, there is a Script Menu next to the Window Menu. Handy huh? Panther Mail's AppleScript Dictionary is also even bigger then 10.2's Mail. Mail Scripts 2.0 (now final) are great additions to Mail's Script Menu. You should check them out if you have not already. Mail's Junk Mail Filter has grown a lot since 10.2. Although I highly encourage you to turn if off, and install POPFile or SpamSieve. Both of these products do a much better job at classifying the SPAM then Mail's Junk Mail Filter, it is ineffective in comparison to POPFile or SpamSieve. Mail might be bayesian, but it is of another flavor of bayesian. I personally think Apple should buy Michael Tsai's SpamSieve and incorporate it into Mail. But, if you do not want to install any 3rd party software to handle junk mail, at least use the Junk Mail Filter. Panther Mail adds a "trust junk mail headers" check box, which, BTW, can be manually added as a rule, if you know what the junk mail header looks like. But as Apple is great at making things easier to use, you now have that check box. Panther Mail also allows you to use your Address Book as a whitelist, meaning address in your Address Book are never spam. This can be hazardous in some cases, and I would be weary of using this option. Being able to block the loading of images is a huge improvement, and a very nice feature of any email client. As I said earlier, the Organize by Thread feature is wonderful. Being able to forward an entire thread is also cool. I know both Eudora and Mozilla Mail (all flavors, such as Thunderbird) will show a thread, it is nice that now Mail has this capability. Saving attachments out of Panther Mail seems a lot nicer. You can now save all items at once, instead of getting a save dialog per item. Since Panther has built in .zip processing, zipped documents are unzipped when saved from an email. I cannot remember if Jaguar Mail had a Previous Recipients window (in the Window Menu), wonderful to be able to add those to your Address Book. One thing I do not understand is the number label on the Mail icon (in the Dock and App Switcher). It only shows the number of new emails in your inbox. I want it to show me all my new mail, including the ones I filter into my other folders. I figured by the 3rd major revision of Mail that would be changed, but it still has not been. I am sure I am not the only person that filters incoming mail to another folder. Apple needs to beef up Mail's rules. I should be able to specify more then one action to take. Entourage does this, I am pretty sure Eudora does this, and I have no doubt that Bare Bones's Mail Smith does this as well. What I mean is I should be able to filter emails with a subject of "Delivery Status Notification" and move it to the trash, and make the subject line red. Currently I can do one of the two, not both. If you could perform multiple actions in one rule, SpamSieve would work even better in Mail. Weak filtering and weird (IMO) notification number labeling are not reasons for me to go to any of the other email client. I have moved from pine to Eudora to Entourage to Mail and I am not moving on any time soon. I seriously looked at Mail Smith but then decided I just liked the UI of Mail more.

Apple's Diplomatic Core - C|NET Special Report

Happy 20th Birthday Macintosh!!! Why not read about it at C|NET? This column has a good point - Apple no longer just makes its hardware and software available on the Mac. I am really glad for this to be honest, but having the iPod and iTunes on Windows is definitely something that is a difference in thinking at Apple.

Webshots Desktop for OS X

Webshots is a great service, and has worked on the Mac for a while thanks to a great app called SwapTop. SwapTop is not a 1st party app though. It does work very well however. Webshots has finally come out with a Mac version of Webshots Desktop. It is in beta, but it is nice to see a Mac version out for the public. After installing the beta I am asked if I want to delete SwapTop. I guess I have to do that to smoothly try out this beta. My dad says this beta crashes on him. I will wait to pass judgement. It is nice to have thumbnail views within the app (something that SwapTop does not have). Well that didn't take long. Webshots crashes System Preferences when you select Webshots Slideshow in the Screen Saver prefs. It crashes it every time. I had no problems with SwapTop's slideshow screen saver. The Webshots beta does not come with release notes (such as known issues) nor does it have any kind of uninstaller. I am not impressed. It is back to SwapTop for me. Webshots is a desktop picture subscription service that was available for Windows for a while until SwapTop for OS 9 came out. Thw Windows version of Webshots Desktop is much more advanced still, allowing you to add a calendar to the desktop as well. You can download 800x600 rez images for free, but need a membership to get 1600x1200 versions. You can even upload your own desktop images to share with others. Although I think their image restrictions are a little tight (no logos or company brands). the Webshots Desktop app also allows you to organize your non webshots images, as well as use them in a screen saver, etc. I got a membership because my dad used it for a while, and they are really nice desktop images. Be sure to read the comments on this post over at BlogCritics.

Another PayPal Scam

I do not understand why people can be fooled by this stuff, but from the amount of articles I have read, people have been fooled. Even with the authentic looking email, why would you even think that PayPal would email you asking to input your sensitive data again? That is just beyond me. This time the site was taken down before I got this email, that went something like this: Dear paypal user, We would like to inform you that we are upgrading our server to install a better protection software. So please click here and fill in the registration form again to renew your account. Paypal Administration. With a link that looks like this: http://www.paypal.com%01%01%01%01% ... @211.54.126.187/f/ Of with you get this: This site has been suspended by network administrator. If you are the owner of this domain, please open a My Website has been Suspended Support Ticket for further information. Please include the domain name which has been suspended. If you are a visitor, please visit this site again later. I am glad to see this one was down before the emails got sent out. Unfortunately this is not often the case. As a matter of fact, this is the first time I have seen the site down when I went to it. On a related note (related to Windows IE) we still don't have a fix for that 'phishing' bug that will allow a web page to spoof the URL. I think I read it will be in next month's bug fixes. That @ is what does it. I seem to remember CNN.com spoofing a few years back that did this as well. The thing is, the %01 is what is the bug in WinIE, so Outlook users would not know either, as Outlook uses WinIE to render the HTML in your email. Be sure to read the comments on this post over at BlogCritics.

Stuck Uhaul Truck

uhaul.jpg
This U-Haul van became stuck underneath the overhang outside of the Black Swamp Pub yesterday evening after students tried to direct the driver, an elderly woman, to Thurstin Avenue. The incident caused damage to the Union overhang. According to David Zelonis, student building manager at the Union, the woman took a wrong turn off of State Route 25 and began driving through campus on the sidewalks. Workers had to partially deflate the tires in order to free the vehicle. Campus Police did not cite the driver. No additional information was available last night.  To see other photos, you can download the PDF of Friday's paper.

Mirror Agent Logout Failure

This dialog shows up in the latest version of Panther (10.3.2). One of the new features in Panther is that you can keep a local version of your iDisk on your desktop at all times, and then sync it automatically or manually. This is great to not have to mount the iDisk every time I want to access it. In the initial release of 10.3 I used to get dialog boxes such as this one, but they were not as nice. Mirror Agent (the application that runs in the background to help with this iDisk feature, has cancelled my logout about 3 times. But before I was never given the choice to force quit the app. Now in 10.3.2 I can. I like that.

January 25, 2004

20 yrs. as a Mac User

Editors Note: This is by no means 'polished' and it probably will not get to that because of lack of time. My first experience with an Apple was the IIe and IIc. And then later the 128k Mac and Fat Mac (512k) when I was in 1st and 2nd grade. My experience was mainly due to the fact that my dad. I have never asked him why he chose to use a Mac over a PC (because the school had Apple II's), but I assume it had something to do with photography, as I have memories of going to football games when I was a kid and dad shooting the game (on 16 mm black & white film). I never really had an urge to use a PC when I was a kid, or at any point of my childhood. I came to know PC's as having ugly graphics and cryptic commands you had to type in. I remember in high school swearing up and down why I had to load mouse drivers before I loaded 3D Studio (before the Max). And more times then not I forgot to type in those stupid commands to load the mouse. I lived with my mom and visited my dad on the weekends, and my mom would not get me an Apple II (of any flavor). My mom was a teacher, and I was your standard teacher's kid, so I had plenty of access to Apple computers at school. I can remember in 1st and 2nd grade playing Sticky Bears, Q*bert, some math game I cannot remember the name of, Oregon Trail, etc, and text based RPG adventure games on the Apple II. The next Apple computer I remember using, which was an entirely new experience because of a different operating system, was the Apple IIgs. After all I had learned a little about programming Apple Basic for the Apple II and now there is this entirely new thing with a full GUI, a Desktop. I had seen the Amega by this time and the Apple IIgs was just a prettier Amega desktop. I remember the Amega having plenty more games (awesome games) but I liked the applications and the general user interface of the IIgs better. I cannot remember what year it was, but I was in middle school (I think) and my dad became the network administrator for Plain Local Schools. This meant, among other things, more computers to play with. Dad's school had the Internet, and all on Macs, and there was AppleTalk networking them all together. By far the first moment that solidified for me the reason I love the Mac came in my freshman year of high school. That reason was MacPaint, MacDraw, and shortly after this program called Photoshop. I also learned how to type on a Mac in high school, but of course I would open MacPaint or MacDraw and doodle more then type. In high school I was about the only person who had heard of photoshop, much less used it. I can remember using Photoshop 1.07 and was in heaven compared to using MacPaint/MacDraw. I started showing our high school photography teacher what the class could do once they scanned their negatives, and soon enough I was teaching photoshop in photography classes during my study halls. At the time the school did not have photoshop for Windows, and I seem to recall they could not get the scanners to work with Windows either, so we never used PCs for photography class. Our assistant superintendent was a big Apple fan, and we got in the Power Macintosh 6100's! 33 Mhz! Netscape 1.0N, that was the first time I had used a browser other then NCSA Mozaic. Photoshop was so much faster on the PowerPC chip, so much better then the 680x0 chip. I started to get into web sites and HTML. This was the time I decided I wanted to go to college for computer art, and mainly web related computer art. My mom never got me a Mac, but my dad always had an abundance of them. He had the Workgroup Server home once I remember, and used it at school. I am pretty sure that thing ran Apple AUX. I started reading this book "I Hate UNIX" to learn how to use the Workgroup Server. UNIX was really hard for a kid who did not grow up using DOS. But at this point I had experience using things such as telnet and gopher, pine, etc, so learning the commands wasn't that hard. The thing that was really challenging was learning about TCP/IP, which is a lot different then AppleTalk. By my senior year of high school I was really into this HTML thing, and had a lot of experience with Photoshop, so I started to help out with web site design for the school, as well as within the community. When I graduated high school I got my first Mac. A Performa 6400/200. MacAddict called it "the sexiest Mac ever" They were still beige at this time, but this thing did have curves (hense the 'sexy' remark). Through college I doubled the L2 cache on that thing and maxed the RAM in it, that computer served me very well. I did a lot of HTML and Photoshop learnin' on that machine. In high school I worked on the yearbook, so had a lot of experience and Aldus/Adobe PageMaker. So I volunteered to do graphics and layout on the yearbook my freshman year in college. This was my induction into Student Publications at BGSU, and I was soon heading up a web staff and putting The BG News online for the first time by freshman year. At the time we had a Windows NT 3.5 file server I had to deal with, and this was really my first experience with Windows. Friends tell me it was better then starting with Windows 95. In 1997 The BG News used a system called Intrepid, advertising used the same thing (they were 386 boxes running DOS). Production was using Macs though, just like the yearbook. In 1998 The News got Macs, and a couple years later we even moved advertising to Mac. We eventually got rid of the Windows NT file server and ran Rhapsody, and now OS X Server for our file and print server. I also had the chance in college to work at the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology, where I again, worked with people on HTML and Photoshop. The first thing I did for CTLT (even before I was hired there) was a 2 day, 10 hr. course on Dreamweaver. I had a friend that worked for me at The News, Maury Mountain help me out. I had never held such a course! Special thanks to Bonnie Mitchell for giving my name to Dan Madigan, the director of CTLT. In 2001 I bought my first Mac, a 500 Mhz PowerBook G4 (the first model, why, I don't know why). The AppleCare Protection Plan really payed for itself on that machine. I had a lot of fun working at CTLT. We had G3s and G4s. G4 Servers. I was in charge of technical duties when CTLT started creating digital video, Media 100 and then Final Cut Pro. In 2003 I bought a 1 Ghz PowerBook G4, but not untill after I bought a 3.06 Ghz Pentium 4 rig. The 1st anniversary of my first PC purchase is coming up soon, so I will have more on that later. Suffice it to say cheaper and more powerful is not better, and I am not using my PC for full time work any more. I don't think I would have gone to college for computer art without my Macintosh background. The things that Apple has delivered since Steve Jobs came back to Apple are the reasons I am such a Mac fanatic, evangelist, weirdo, geek, whatever you want to call it. I cannot wait to see what 20 more years brings to Apple and the Macintosh platform! Be sure to read the comments on this post over at BlogCritics. This has also been posted to HardwareGeeks.com.

January 27, 2004

Drunken elephants die in accident

Four wild elephants drunk on rice beer have been electrocuted in the north-east Indian state of Meghalaya, wildlife officials report. Source: BBC News

Italian court rules mod chips legal

A court in Italy has dealt a major blow to the efforts of the platform holders to crack down on mod chips, ruling that PS2 mod chip devices are designed to "avoid monopolistic positions." The case was brought over a seizure of modded PlayStation 2s by the Italian authorities some days previously, with the court deciding that this seizure was illegal and that modding consoles is a legitimate practice. Source: The Register Great! I will send my xbox to get a 120 GB HD installed!

Have RipDigital Rip your CDs to MP3

This service looks great! You send them your CDs, they send them back, plus MP3s, either on DVD or on a Maxtor HD. It cost a little over $1 an album, unless you have 200 or more. I think it is worth it, especially if you have a lot of CDs. It takes a long time to rip them, even if you have a nice app like MP3 Rage or iTunes to do it. Check them RipDigital!

EC draft ruling finds Microsoft guilty

Microsoft Corp.'s chances of settling its European antitrust case are fading, as competition officials at the European Commission circulated a draft ruling to colleagues that finds the company guilty of abusing the monopoly power of its Windows operating system, people close to the Commission said Tuesday. The draft ruling says that the failure to grant rivals access to Windows computer code, which runs on over 95 percent of the world's personal computers, is an abuse of Microsoft's dominant position, and it proposes ordering the company to reveal the code to rivals, said one person on condition of anonymity. The Commission is the European Union's (EU's) executive body. Source: MacCentral

Virginia Tech moves supercomputer to Xserve G5

Talk about conserving space!
Virginia Polytechnic and State University made headlines late last year as they raced to build a supercomputer based on Apple's G5 desktop processor. Now, just months after the 1,100-node Terascale Computing Facility was completed, Virginia Tech has made the decision to move the supercomputer to Apple's 1U rackmount server, the Xserve G5.
Source: MacCentral

Caps owner apologizes for scuffle with fan

The vice chairman of America Online, who also owns the Washington Capitals hockey team, has a reputation as one of the more fan-friendly chief executives in professional sports. But Ted Leonsis on Monday apologized to a fan following a physical altercation after the team's home loss here to Philadelphia in a National Hockey League game. Source: startribune.com Yea! Beat up your paying customers!

MyDoom Slows Web Performance

As the fastest-moving e-mail worm continues to haunt inboxes, it is creating some hiccups in response times on the Internet. But the real danger could lie in MyDoom's "time bomb" set to trigger a denial of service attack next month against the SCO Group Inc.'s Web site, experts say. Source: eWeek The amount of spam I am getting now is up at least 100%, but I am happy to say that POPFile is handling it all very well, also at 100% in fact.

ArsTechnica take on the iPod mini

The hefty price tag for the multihued player has left many scratching their heads and wondering what insane devotion to high margins could produce such a price point for a device that Apple is hoping grabs them another 20% of the market. People have been quick to point out that another US$50 will buy you an additional 11GB of storage with the 15GB iPod model. They are right. Compared with the current iPod offering, the iPod Mini is a disappointment in terms of price. However, those who make such comparisons are missing the point of the business card sized player. It is not meant to be an alternative to the iPod, but to the high-end flash-based and other small hard drive-based players. Let's look at some numbers. Source: ArsTechnica (This is a timely article, you may not find it on the main Ars Mac page for long) Great article, and as well as a nice price comparison chart.

Apple History At folklore.org

I saw this the other day, and meant to post, and as you know I am never busy :-P. There are some great reads here, fun stuff. The site even has an RSS feed! Andy Hertzfeld is one of the genuine titans of Mac history. Not only did he write an enormous chunk of the original toolbox APIs and a ton of innovative Mac software, but, by all accounts, he’s also a nice guy. And to top it off, he’s a great writer. His most recent project is Folklore, a web site about the development of the original Macintosh, written by the people who were actually there. (Actually, Hertzfeld has designed the software behind the Folklore web site such that it can host stories about multiple projects, but for now, the history of Macintosh is the only one.) Link via Daring Fireball

January 28, 2004

Still some surprises among Academy Award nominees

When Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, walked onstage with Sigourney Weaver to announce the nominees for the 76th Academy Awards, few thought that a low-budget and little-seen Brazilian film (“City of God”) would rake in two major nominations. Fewer still thought alleged shoo-ins Nicole Kidman (for her solid work in “Cold Mountain”) and Scarlett Johannsen (for her lovely turns in “Lost in Translation” or “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”) would get the shaft. And even fewer still, most of them likely being fired from Miramax Pictures’ marketing department, thought “Cold Mountain” would go without a best picture nod.

It’s an interesting list of nominees, with some glaring omissions (“Kill Bill”) and some terrific additions that add up to what could be one of the most intriguing Oscar races in years. Not since the mid-90s when pictures like “Pulp Fiction” and “Fargo” were considered viable contenders have so many smaller, low-budget films been recognized. That’s not say that the Academy has forgotten about Hollywood spectacle-“Return of the King,” racked up 11 nominations and “Master and Commander” scored 10-but even these pictures have a depth to them that typical Hollywood fare lacks. If anything, for all their massive battles, they are interior epics, more concerned with internal conflict than blowing shit up real good.

Does this indicate a shift in Academy taste? Most likely not, but it does bode well for a lot of smaller pictures to gain some much needed attention.

Here’s a look, with commentary, at the major nominations.

BEST PICTURE

  • THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
  • LOST IN TRANSLATION
  • MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD
  • MYSTIC RIVER
  • SEABISCUIT

Thanks to a huge publicity push by Universal Pictures, "Seabiscuit" swept in and picked up what Miramax probably considered a lock. In many ways "Seabiscuit" represents the "crowd-pleaser" slot that has been filled by the likes of "Chocolat" or "The Cider House Rules." Whatever the reason, it's a big moment in Oscar history as it marks the first time in 11 years that Miramax hasn't had a film nominated for the top prize.

So how to explain "Cold Mountain's" snubbing? The best bet is a Hollywood backlash towards Miramax. After Miramax earned a degree of infamy for its alleged dirty tricks campaign against last year's nominees, this may be a warning shot fired in the direction of Miramax's hardball tactics. Coupled with the release of Peter Biskind's excellent book, "Down and Dirty Pictures," which paints a highly unflattering portrait of some of Miramax business strategies, this could be a way of serving the company its just desserts or at the very least an attempt to ratchet them down a notch.

As for the other nominees, all are obvious choices, with "Return of the King" clearly the movie to beat after sweeping the Golden Globes on Sunday. While my affection for the "Lord of the Rings" films is lukewarm at best, they are grand achievements and impeccably made epics that have nabbed the zeitgeist. Still my heart lies with Sophia Coppola's remarkable "Lost in Translation," a deeply moving almost-romance. And Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" still retains its power as a poetic street-level opera about the cycle of violence and the scars it leaves on generation after generation.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Sofia Coppola, LOST IN TRANSLATION
  • Clint Eastwood, MYSTIC RIVER
  • Peter Jackson, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
  • Fernando Meirelles, CITY OF GOD
  • Peter Weir, MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD

Once again “Cold Mountain” was snubbed, with director Anthony Minghella being overlooked in favor of Fernando Meirelles of “City of God.” It is clearly the year’s most surprising choice, considering the picture barely received release earlier this year. I’ve yet to see it (it played theaters near 210 West’s central Ohio offices for under a week), but the word is overwhelmingly positive. Still, it doesn’t have a chance, but ultimately the attention it gains from this nomination will have to be reward enough.

As usual the director and best picture nominees don’t sync up, which means “Seabiscuit” won’t likely win best picture. The odds of it happening are rare, but not without precedent-Steven Spielberg took best director in 1998 for “Saving Private Ryan” while “Shakespeare in Love” ganked best picture and last year “Chicago” got best picture while Roman Polanski received best director for “The Pianist.”

Coppola will take the original screenplay award and the honor of being only the third woman and first American woman ever nominated for best director. Not only that, but her win will make her one of the great Hollywood success stories: scion of a Hollywood dynasty goes from acting infamy in "The Godfather, Part III" to well-respected writer/director in a little under 15 years. It's prime fodder for a Hollywood anecdote, and in this case, her work is more than deserving of the accolades.

This category boils down to Eastwood and Jackson. I think Jackson is about as close to a sure thing as can be. His work on the trilogy is almost unparalleled in Hollywood and it’s been pretty clear that by making “Lord of the Rings” the bridesmaid for the last three years the Academy has been waiting to honor the final film as a cumulative achievement. But don’t count Eastwood out. “Mystic River” is regaining momentum thanks to a successful re-release and his professionalism and craft on that film is superb and in many ways could be a factor in priming the pump for an upset.

BEST ACTOR

  • Johnny Depp, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL
  • Ben Kingsley, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG
  • Jude Law, COLD MOUNTAIN
  • Bill Murray, LOST IN TRANSLATION
  • Sean Penn, MYSTIC RIVER

After Bill Murray’s win at the Golden Globes he’s close to being the front-runner. His work in “Translation” is stunning, but all signs point to Penn taking the Award. Penn is an actor who has consistently given great performances and his work in “Mystic River” ranks as one of his best.

While none of the nominees are all that surprising, Johnny Depp’s nod is a bit unexpected. It is a brilliant comedic performance, and made the overlong, underwritten “Pirates” watchable, but Depp’s Oscar will come somewhere else down the line. The most glaring oversight is Paul Giamatti in “American Splendor.” Along with Penn and Murray it was one of the year’s best performances.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Keisha Castle-Hughes, WHALE RIDER
  • Diane Keaton, SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
  • Samantha Morton, IN AMERICA
  • Charlize Theron, MONSTER
  • Naomi Watts, 21 GRAMS

In the interests of full disclosure, I admit that of all the nominees I’ve only seen Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give.” It’s a stellar comic performance, and that will be its jinx, unless she triggers a groundswell of nostalgia.

All signs point to Charlize Theron and her transformation into serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster” as being the performance to beat. The nomination for “Whale Rider” is especially surprising, considering Castle-Hughes is only 13, which in some ways might work in her favor a la Anna Paquin in “The Piano.” And while it may seem funny to some, Uma Thurman deserved a nod for her graceful, hard-assed performance in “Kill Bill.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Alec Baldwin, THE COOLER
  • Benicio Del Toro, 21 GRAMS
  • Djimon Hounsou, IN AMERICA
  • Tim Robbins, MYSTIC RIVER
  • Ken Watanabe, THE LAST SAMURAI

Robbins has got the momentum after his Golden Globe win, and his work as the victim of childhood abuse in “Mystic River” is outstanding. His choice to play his character as a dead man walking, shell-shocked by violence was a wise one, and he has several moments that will break the heart of all but the strongest of souls.

Though a long shot, it would be great to see Baldwin take the Oscar for his ferocious work in “The Cooler.” Over the last decade Baldwin has slowly been finding his niche as a tough-guy character actor and superb comedic actor, and “The Cooler” is the end result. It’s a brutal, funny, and weirdly charming performance.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Shohreh Aghdashloo, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG
  • Patricia Clarkson, PIECES OF APRIL
  • Marcia Gay Harden, MYSTIC RIVER
  • Holly Hunter, THIRTEEN
  • Renée Zellweger, COLD MOUNTAIN

The supporting actress category is generally where the Academy surprises. Marcia Gay Harden pulled an upset when she was honored for “Pollock” a few years ago and pretty much everyone remembers Marisa Tomei’s unexpected win for “My Cousin Vinny.” It makes this category that much more difficult to predict, even if Zellweger seems to be the expected winner. That said, don’t be shocked if Aghdashloo or Clarkson walks away with the nod.

The most stunning omission is Scarlett Johansen’s subtle work in “Lost in Translation.” Odds are she split the vote with herself between her work in “The Girl in the Pearl Earring” and “Translation.” She may be out now, but she’s building the kind of career that gets its honors down the road.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS - Denys Arcand
  • DIRTY PRETTY THINGS - Steven Knight
  • FINDING NEMO - Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds
  • IN AMERICA - Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan & Kristen Sheridan
  • LOST IN TRANSLATION - Sofia Coppola

The surprising nods for "Dirty Pretty Things" and "Barbarian Invasions" aside, this is clearly Coppola's award. Her quiet, gentle writing for "Translation" wisely utilized silence and atmosphere and had an inherent understanding of the unnerving feeling of romantic and geographic displacement. And "Finding Nemo" is a well-deserved nomination as it was one of the year's most cleanly written and witty mainstream pictures.

The biggest rip here is Quentin Tarantino's writing for "Kill Bill" being passed over. Sure it was a Grand Guignol of grindhouse violence, but "Bill" is an elegantly structured work of B movie genius. Perhaps it's because Tarantino played Solomon and sliced his movie into two parts and the Academy is waiting to honor part two next year, but most likely it's because "Kill Bill" is such a unique piece of work that no one knows quite how to take it.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • AMERICAN SPLENDOR - Robert Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman
  • CITY OF GOD - Braulio Mantovani
  • THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING - Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson
  • MYSTIC RIVER - Brian Helgeland
  • SEABISCUIT - Gary Ross

Despite “City of God’s” other surprise nomination, the adapted screenplay category is “Lord of the Rings’” to lose. It’s nice to see “American Splendor’s” structural innovation recognized, and it’s clearly the best-written piece of all the nominees, but at this point, even with no acting nominations, “Return of the King” is a hobbit-powered steam roller that will take home pretty much everything it’s up for.

Copyright © 2003 - 2004 210 West, All Rights Reserved

New Godzilla DVD Reviews

Well, it's taken them well over 4 years, but US fans can finally own 2 of the latest Godzilla flicks on official US discs instead of Hong Kong bootlgegs. For the most part, Sony has done a fine job on both the "Godzilla vs Megaguirus" and "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monster All-Out Attack" discs, but there are serious issues that they need to fix for their upcoming release of "Godzilla X Mechagodzilla" in March. Both films take place in an alternate timeline ignoring all 24 Godzilla films coming before them. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus has the giant beast battling a dragonfly-like creature which finds it's way to Earth after a test of the Dimension Tide, a weapon devised by the Japanes to finally rid them of the Godzilla menance. Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah follows the same path by creating it's own timeline and is a very serious G-film dealing with the lost souls of the pacific war. These souls have congregated inside Godzilla who then attacks Japan and the guardian monsters are the only thing that can save the world. The films offer up some incredible kaiju action with Megaguirus being a bit more lighthearted in tone. The final fight between Godzilla and the full grown Meganuron is an outstanding battle, the likes in which Godzilla fans haven't been treated to in years. GMK on the other hand has a deeper meaning requiring some thought, though the monster action here is top notch as well. Be warned before rushing out and buying this one for your kids however: There's a ton of people shown being crushed and killed on screen by the creatures. No blood or gore, but the effect is very real. Both are oustanding films and GMK is a refreshing change back to the tone of the original film. Each movie is presented in it's original widescreen aspect ratio, something becoming a standard for Godzilla flicks here in the states. Both prints are gorgeous and the colors are fabulous. There are some very annoying scratches on both of the prints which really harms GMK the most. Both of the movies have some minor issues with darker sequences (again, GMK suffers the most since the entire final sequence is a nighttime battle) but this could also be from the abundance of GCI. For the first time, we also get the original Japanese 5.1 soundtrack included with the English 5.1 dubbed track. While a wonderful gesture (and one so depserately needed), the subtitles are NOT from the actual spoken Japanese dialouge but of the English dub. Some of the lines are so skewered, it kills the films meaning and turns them into the usual "bad rubber suit monster movie." The fight between Baragon and Godzilla in GMK is especially disheartening with cheesy professional wrestling-like announcers calling off the action regardless of which language you choose. There's still a reason to hang on to those Hong Kong discs after all. If things couldn't get much worse after the subtitle hack, the features are barren. Viewers get a couple of trailers for various (and completely unreleated) films including Tri-Star's 1998 American Godzilla (see, completely unreleated). There's not even a trailer for either of the feature films. The Japanese DVD release of GMk was a massive 3-disc box set filled with behind the scenes footage. Would it have been too much to ask to at least get ONE featurette for $24.99? GxM also had a nice DVD treatment in Japan, but the American fans get snubbed here as well. There are plenty of positives with these two releases. The video is outstanding, the 5.1 tracks are put to good use, and the original Japanese language track is a BIG step in the right direction. The upcoming G x Mechagodzilla is also supposed to have the Japanese track and hopefully the subtitles will be done properly. Regardless, these films are some of the best monster flicks to come out of Japan in a LONG time. GMK may be a bit different to some people, but Megaguirus is a blast that harkens back to the classic Godzilla movies of the 60's. Great stuff.

Radio DVD Review

I really wasn't expecting much from Radio. While I've enjoyed movies like "Remember the Titans" in the past, Radio seemed like another rehash, the typical Hollywood sports movie. It's not. In fact, it's one of the best movies released in the past year. The DVD is quite dissapointing, but the movie itself more than makes up for any issues with the disc. Based on a true story, Radio centers around the story of Robert Kennendy, known as "Radio" throughout the film. As the mentally challenged boy walks past a local high school football teams practice day after day pushing his shopping cart, a few of the players tie him up and toss him into a shed. Their coach, played by Ed Harris, infuriated by his players actions, takes the boy under his wing and the events that follow warranted a story by Sports Illustrated. Yes, it does have the usual array of up and downs, but the focus is always on Radio himself. There are very few characters in the story and their lives may be touched upon, but they never actually become a focus of the story. Sure there's alot of football in the movie, but even then Radio is the focus. Better yet, the team that Radio becomes a part of never actually wins anything like so many other cliche' sports films. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays the role of Radio believably, but you have to question his age. Getting close to 40 years old, it's hard to place him into the role of a teenager. Presented in it's original widescreen ratio, Radio won't win any awards for it's video quality. it's not a bad print by any means, but the majority of the scenes are hampered by heavy grain that gets seriously annoying, especially in a very serious sequence involving Ed Harris and his daughter late in the movie. The sound is also a bit of a downer, never really kicking in full force when it should. Granted, most of the movie is dialouge driven, but the football sequences are a major dissapointment. Special features are also unimpressive with NOTHING about the man the entire true story is based on. There's a nice little feature on the insnanity of the football sequences featured in the film, 6 deleted scenes (a few of the deletions are questionable), a 10 minute look at how the story was fleshed out for the screen, and the usual 21-minute "making of." The director also is featured on a commentary track, but how can so little credit be given to the man who inspired the film in the first place? The movie itself gives us a glimpse of the real Robert "Radio" Kennedy (still a member of the team after all these years) during it's credit sequence, so why not the disc? Excluding the weak array of features, Radio is one of those movies that's SO good, every conversation you start for the next month will have a mention of this movie in it. If the person your speaking to hasn't seen it, you'll tell them too. One can only hope for a nice special edition double-dip in the near future.

Yet Another Geek Quiz

You are 50% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.
Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at Thudfactor.com

LOL, some things are more truer then you will ever know! But 50%? Neil only got 5% and I know he is a Geek with a capital G! From the questions, I think it is more an "Are you a science/academic nerd" type quiz, but whatever.

Office 2003 Update Site; Word 2003 Update

Word 2003 users should download a patch that fixes more than 400 bugs (they must have been saving up!). Office now has an update feature that works just like Windows Update - probably worth bookmarking that and checking it regularly.

Government planning cyberalert system

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security plans to announce details of a cyberalert system on Wednesday, two days after a virus called MyDoom spread rapidly across the Internet. The system, which will be detailed by the department's National Cyber Security Division, could mimic the color-coded scheme the government uses to warn citizens and alert law enforcement authorities of terrorism threats, a source familiar with some details of the plan said. Source: C|Net News.com Great! I can get an email (CNN) telling how if its an orange day, or not! Yay! Is it just me, but doesn't the virus companies such as Sophos, Symantec, and McAfee do this job right now? It just sounds to me like the Gov't is doing something that is already available from other sources. It sounds to me like more wasted money and resources from Washington, IMO.

First Year of Profit for Amazon

Amazon.com reported better cash flow, increasing sales, improved operating income and its first full-year profit for 2003 during its fourth quarter results released Tuesday. But the squeeze on its margins isn't going to go away -- and that's all part of the plan, according to CEO Jeff Bezos. Source: Internet News.com Rock on Amazon!

January 29, 2004

New Explorer hole could be devastating

A security hole in Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer could prove devastating. Following the exposure of a vulnerability in Windows XP earlier this week, “http-equiv” of Malware has revealed that Explorer 6 users (and possibly users of earlier versions) could be fooled into downloading what look like safe files but are in fact whatever the author wishes them to be -- including executables. A demonstration of the hole is currently on security company Secunia’s website and demonstrates that if you click on a link, and select “Open” it purports to be downloading a pdf file whereas in fact it is an HTML executable file. Source: Info World Another one? Really? What I want to know is this: What WinIE hole/bug has NOT posed a serious security risk? When is the "phishing" hole going to be patched? That should have been taken care of BEFORE the new year!

Cain & Abel Password Cracker

They showed this off on TSS today. Its worth a download, it is free, after all. Check and see how secure your passwords are.

Full HTML Posts in RSS Feed

Something I have wanted to do for a while now, well over a month, is put my entire HTML posts into the RSS feed. It took Neil to IM me and even offer his RSS template. Well thanks Neil. Now you all no longer have to visit my site to read it :-D. I have also set it to include my entire post for my bloglet subscribers, all 10 of you. If I had more subscribers I would install that snazzy Dada list software that Jake is using, cuz it sure looks prrrrdy. I also have installed the Atom 0.3 feed, but I do not know if any reader actually supports this standard yet. I need to make a graphic for that. I will be taking off the RDF graphic (and feed) and putting up an Atom graphic sometime soon.

Xbox for $99? Xbox 2 in 2005?

For the past two years, Microsoft has established a reputation as a follower in the video game war. When Sony acted, Microsoft reacted – especially when it came to price cuts. Things could be about to change. Microsoft's Xbox may be on the verge of a substantial price cut, falling from $179 to $99 by Labor Day, according to P.J. McNealy, an analyst with American Technology Research. "It is our belief that the price on the consoles in North America could see a stepped drop this year, with both the PS2 and Xbox being cut to $129 between now and the May E3 trade show, with [Microsoft] then cutting the Xbox further to $99 in the late summer," he wrote in a research note released Wednesday. Source: CNN Money An XBOX as cheap as a Game Cube? I don't know if I buy that one. Maybe $129, but not $99. We will just have to wait and see.

MyDdoom Causes Havoc All Over

Not only did MyDoom have fun with our university's mail servers, but the mail servers of our web host, Digital Partners, were getting hit as well, slowing them down to a crawl, I hear. In a somewhat related note, Eric tells me that DP is looking into spam software to install of their mail servers. This is something I asked for some time ago because of the amount of spam we get to The BG News listproc. I am really glad they are looking into this, because it is getting to be an annoying problem that almost half the emails to the list are spam.

Google Asks Booble To Cease And Desist

The folks at Search Engine Journal have the low-down on a cease and desist order that Google has sent to the porn search engine/Google parody Booble . It seems that, although Booble is claiming to be a parody (which is protected under law), Google is flexing its muscle because of the marketability of the parody." Search Engine Journal makes the reasonable suggestion: "Recent rulings may favor Google in the case, since Booble may be trying to profit from the marketability of the parody. Source: Slashdot I would agree, they are trying to profit from the marketability of the parody. But come on, this is just FUNNY!

January 31, 2004

Music Rebellion.com

Talk about low prices on digital music! This site sells music based on popularity. The more popular the song/album, the more it costs. It is a shame its WMA based, but why would it be anything else? So if you are a Windows user, this might be something to check into. They do have independent music in MP3 though. They have a rather extensive FAQ page to read though. The site has a couple ways of paying, interesting is the option to use a PayPal account. My only question is this: Can you burn these WMA tracks out to CD as a red book audio CD? I am not familiar at all with using Windows Media Player. I am a Mac user and have an iPod but would love to pay on average 30 cents a track for my tunes. Does anyone burn audio CDs out of Windows Media Player? Here is an price comparison: I would consider OutKast to be "popular" especially with "Hay Ya!" From the iTMS it costs $19.98 for the Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 2 disc set. I know this because it is the latest thing I have bought from the iTMS. From MusicRebellion.com the same album costs $11.20. The song "Hay Ya!" is a mere 34 cents! Music Rebellion only has the edited version, but thats a difference of $8.78. Music Rebellion does have many albums that have all the swearing in them, just not in this example. What I find odd is finding artists like Metallica who are not on the iTMS at all. I wonder if there are any other such discrepancies. Be sure to read the comments on this post over at BlogCritics.



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