March 11, 2007

This is no longer the blog you're looking for

I'm in the process of moving over to a new (and all my own) domain: and I'll be using different blogging software. The new blog address is:, which ought to be easy enough to remember.

It'll take a bit for the posts to get over, as it seems you can't import the new blogger with Wordpress, which is annoying. At least it'll give me something to do.

March 10, 2007

HDR Saturday Sunday

Yesterday I was occupied by work and then playing 1830, and I lacked the time to do an HDR post. Here's an extra picture for the delay:

This image would be significantly more striking if the vignette effect was lessened, or removed entirely. I love that the blue of the cables and the muted blue of the sky are the only colors, but the darkness at the edges makes them too prominent, almost making them the only interesting features of the picture, rather than the most interesting.

This is another that I don't really like. The water looks really crisp which leads me to believe that this really isn't true HDR, as I understand it. Anything in motion captured at different times will, when a composite image is formed, look blurry. This image looks to be an HDR composed of one photo, whose exposure levels have been played with, rather than multiple photos of different exposure. Also, it's more than a bit boring, even with cliffs, water and the potential for imminent doom.

I love the blurriness of the tree branches in this one; they lend a wonderful sense of the ethereal, and make for a nice contrast to the placid, mirror-like water. All the reds in the lower right draw my eye, even when I'm focused elsewhere, making me feel that there's something across the lake that I'm not supposed to know about.

I love how the black and purple clouds with the couple hints of dark blue behind. A really neat, striking, eerie image.

March 07, 2007

What I did today

A while back I made a database of my CD collection and I sent out a pdf to my friends with all the pertinent information, and a promise to loan them anything they might want to listen to. Some of them, I knew, would have little idea about some, or most, of the artists. Blithely, and it seems stupidly, I figured they'd ask me about the ones of which they knew nothing.

So today, with a lot of help from the source code of Mike Kozlowski's booklog, I started writing up a page with some recommendations. Of course my total lack of knowledge of how to write a great decent looking web page made this a longer process than I had envisioned. I got as far as getting the template down, and I learned a lot about how IE is broken, and how Mozilla and Opera are Very Nice Indeed.

Anyway, the page is here. I'd appreciate any feedback, even if it's along the lines of "stop copying! you're an untalented hack."

Internet Radio Royalties to Increase

Later this afternoon a congressional hearing regarding the new decision by the Copyright Royalty Board, part of the Library of Congress, to raise the "performance" rates for songs listened to over the Internet. I admit straight out that I know little of the full spectrum of the situation, but this bit from Broadcast Law Blog is more than a might bit chilling for anyone thinking about setting up any form of online radio station:

In a 100 page decision, the Board essentially adopted the royalty rate advanced by SoundExchange (the collective that receives the royalties and distributes the money to copyright holders and performers) in the litigation. It denied all proposals for a percentage of revenue royalty (including a proposal that SoundExchange itself advanced)emphasis mine

A bit later in the same article, it's noted that there's a minimum $500 fee per channel, but that the exact definition of a channel is not provided. With that (lack of) information, I can see why Pandora founder Tim Westergren sent out an email to Pandora users asking them to call their respective congressperson to "save internet radio." Say, for instance, that every person is allocated one "channel" on Pandora (it could be worse, each station a person has, I have five, could be listed as a channel), therefore, each person who has a Pandora account is costing Pandora $500 per year, even if only one song is listened to.

This isn't just a problem for Pandora, and the like, it's a problem for any person with an idea for how to make more music more accessible to more people. It raises the barrier of entry for anyone who would like to try sharing, legally, and for short times broadcasting music with anyone who might enjoy it. Even though I don't agree with the idea that a "Free Market" is the ideal way to handle every interaction of society, culture, and business, a move to impede the entry of new ideas into the market certainly is not in the best interests of those who the market, and the government (whose job it is to make sure that the market is indeed free, like speech, not beer, serve.

Business ultimately serve us. Our Government serves us. Remind them.

March 04, 2007


Once again, my favorite webcomic featuring math and an unrelenting fear of velociraptors absolutely nails it:

Half Price Books and Records

One of my greatest pleasures is nosing about in a bookstore. It even becomes an affordable pastime when the store in question has, features even, used books. Today I found Half Price Books where I bought eight books for about $30, and I put at least three books back on the shelf because I knew that a)I'd be back sometime and b)I really didn't plan for any sort of spending spree, so my wallet would look at me in askance if I lightened it too much.

The store doesn't have the charm of Myopic Books in Wicker Park, but the selection of SF seemed to be stronger and in less space. When I was last at Myopic, they didn't have any John M. Ford, Debra Doyle & James MacDonald, or Sean Stewart; books of all those authors were among those placed back for later pick-up. In the case of Ford and Doyle & MacDonald, I was already buying novels from then, and for Stewart, well, I own three of his already and read three others besides. I am thoroughly pleased, except for the niggling feeling I get whenever I shop at a multi-state chain store, which this place surely is.

March 03, 2007

From the Music Library Vol 1

In order to best avoid working any further on Trig, I present the first in a continuing series of navel-gazing with the assistance of my music library. First up: the 10 most played songs as recorded by Winamp.

1. The Dresden Dolls - The Jeep Song
Play count: 168
Best Moment: The riff on Paint It Black where Amanda sings "I see your red Jeep and want to paint it black."

2. Smoking Popes - Need You Around
Play count: 141
This song absolutely nails the way you can feel helpless when you want someone when they don't want you, but without all the horribly mopey music that those songs generally have.

3. The Dresden Dolls - Half Jack
Play count: 135
I don't know how this song crept up so high. It's good, but it's not the second best song on the album, a distinction I'd give to Gravity, followed shortly by Good Day. And the fact that it's the longest song (nearly six minutes) in my top 10 makes the placement a bit surprising, too.

3. The Postal Service - Nothing Better
Play count: 135
A delightfully bouncy bit of music paired with a very nicely done duet and Ben Gibbard's usually outstanding lyrics. Best line: "I've made charts and graphs/that should finally make it clear/I've prepared a lecture/On why I have to leave"

5. The Dresden Dolls - Gravity
Play count: 134
This is the song that really got me listening to the Dresden Dolls. The vocals start with an entrancing rhythm and it's performed with a wonderful sense of theater and a modulating chorus, a feature that gets me pretty often. Best line: "If I could attack with a more sensible approach/obviously that's what I'd be doing"

6. Anna Waronker - John & Maria
Play count: 120
This has a similar feel to Nothing Better, but with a more plaintive air and a bit more experience. The opening "I wish this was my first time/I wish this was true love" hooks me.

7. The Mountain Goats - Your Belgian Things
Play count: 107
John Darnielle is hands-down awesome. So is "I shot a roll of 32 exposures/my camera groans beneath the weight it bears"

8. Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Play count: 105
This song and Liz Phair's Perfect World are my two favorite songs where you can hear the sliding of fingers on the strings during chord changes, an effect that adds intimacy and heartbreak to the songs. With clever lyrics the whole song through, only the relative newness of the song kept this from being higher on the list.

8. Magnetic Fields - I Looked All Over Town
Play Count: 105
That this is the first Stephin Merritt song is surprising for two reasons. 1) I'd have figured the Magnetic Fields would have a higher spot on the countdown and 2) that this and not All My Little Words or Busby Berkeley Dream is the first appearance. Still though, a really good song and it's about sad clowns.

10. Future Bible Heroes - Kiss Me Only With Your Eyes
Play Count: 103
The biggest surprise of the list, because I've had it for the least amount of time by multiple months. Also, for the reasons stated for my surprise regarding I Looked All Over Town. It is just about the perfect song for Claudia Gonson, and belongs with Come Back From San Fransisco and Reno Dakota as songs that just work for her voice.

Honorable Mention: Magnetic Fields - All My Little Words (play count: 100)

A girl that I never got to date figures rather significantly in this list, having introduced me to the Smoking Popes and, by not dating me and having a rather identifiable car, giving The Jeep Song a lot of resonance. She also gets a portion of the credit for All My Little Words being the only song out of the top 10 to crack 100 listens; the sheer awesomeness of Stephin Merritt gets the rest of the credit.

Super HDR Saturday

In order to generate something vaguely like consistent content, I'm going to implement at least one weekly feature: Super HDR Saturdays. BoingBoing has posted a couple of times about HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, where an image is composed of multiple shots whose only variance is the amount of exposure allowed. The effects are astounding. Every Saturday I'll post three of my favorites.

March 01, 2007

There's a reason to live in Texas, even for an avowed Cowboys-hater such as I, and that reason is Austin. Even more specifically, SXSW (South-by-Southwest), a nine day event of movies and music. Just trying to read through the list of bands made my eyes glaze over, and had my (non-existent) tail wagging.

I'd love to go one year. Hell, I'd live in Austin year-round just so that I'd not have to make a special trip to Texas to go to this. Happily, they've just released a bit of promo material. 3.05 gigs worth. 739 songs. Seriously. This is just the first bit of promo material. It looks like the next bit will be movie snippets, which is of far less interest to me. But seriously, 739 songs. For free, most likely unladen with DRM.

The torrent file is here

Bliss. Well, delayed bliss. Stupid Ameritech.

February 26, 2007

February 25, 2007

Latest CD Round-up

There's nothing like getting a tax return to spur me onto purchase more CD's. Here's the latest batch.

From Disc Replay, Bloomingdale location:

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Honey's Dead
The Be Good Tanyas - Chinatown (I've had another album of theirs on my eMusic Save For Later, come March I'll pick it up)
Hem - Funnel Cloud (another eMusic Save For Later)
Evanescence - The Open Door (Yes, I'm a trifle embarrassed to own both albums, but "Call Me When You're Sober was on q101 as I was headed to the store, and I said "Self, if that album's there for less than $7, buy it." It was $4.99. Also, well, Amy Lee.)

Downers Grove:

Cat Stevens - Matthew & Son
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (Dude, I'm so cool now. Wait. Damnit, I'm not in eight grade anymore.)
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
ABBA - Gold Greatest Hits (Who doesn't need more uptempo Swedes in there life?)

From Reckless Records in Wicker Park:

Charcoal - Flowers in the Cement (Bands like Radiohead and Interpol were referenced on the Reckless sleeve. Names like that are catnip.)
Old 97's - Fight Songs
Robbie Fulks - Country Love Songs (Along with the Old 97's [for whom I have a deep and abiding love] in the "Insurgent Country" section and marked as "funny." Funny is why I listen to Alt Insurgent Country, so insta-buy.
Matthew Sweet - 100% Fun (I almost bought this at Downers Grove on Friday, but didn't want to pay seven bucks for it. Three dollars was paid instead, tonight. Awesome.

February 15, 2007

An interesting remix

You know you've been reading too much BoingBoing when: you wake up from a slightly charged dream involving Creative Commons licensing and boobs.

February 03, 2007

An Open Letter to Mouse Manufacturers


Let me take a moment of your time by listing what I want out of your products.

First, I want a wireless mouse, and y'all seem to be doing a bang-up job of that with the four types of wireless has available to sell to me. Good job.

It also needs to be optical at a minimum. My needs aren't yet sufficiently advanced to require the dpi offered by the higher end laser mice, but it's nice to see that you're ready for me when I want it. So again, good show; you're on a roll.

I only need three buttons: right, middle (mouse wheel) and left. If your contract with the Mice Button Producers of America, Canada and Dubai require you to add more than those that I need, please, for the love of apple pie, strippers and Tiger Woods, only add one more. When it's late, I'm drunk and playing games online, I really don't need to be confused by lots of Pressing Options. Really. Honest.

Lastly, and a far larger deal breaker than buttons, make the damn thing rechargable. In. Your. Own. Cradle. I do not want rechargable AA batteries; I could use those in my current mouse. I bought it about 5 years ago.

I'd like a new mouse. Mine's a bit aged and I'm a bit tired of having to pop in new batteries or to make sure I have some rechargables all charged up and ready to direct the Night Elves to victory or make a chicken do my bidding. Or whatever. The future is now, and I can't let dead mouse batteries keep me from seeing if someone's put bacon on a cat lately.

I'd like to give some company money for a new mouse, but not one company that I can find puts my four criteria to work in one simple package. I know it wouldn't be leetz0rs, but neither are most computer users. Screw flying cars, I want my damn dream mouse.

January 25, 2007

Book Round-Up #2

Someday I'll get the hang of writing entries for individual books. Someday.

What to Eat by Marion Nestle (via Chris King

A very good walk down the ailes of grocery stores, explaining labeling, pricing and positioning. Some of the things she writes about are pretty basic: sizes are inconsistent and you have to do your own calculations, processed foods are not healthy choices, soft drinks are empty calories. Others she had covered in Food Politics, so I had encountered them before: supplements are (largely) unregulated, baby formula is, for the most part, not necessary, and the government agencies are held in abeyance by corporate interests. There wasn't much that I hadn't previously encountered, but the explainations such as Natural vs. Organic meats were clear and enlightening. Highly recommended for anyone who purchases food.

Wildside by Steven Gould

What if there was a gate to an Earth where neither humanity nor any other human-conscious analouge evolved? What if this gate was in the control of a just-out -of-High-School Texas youth? The resurrection of passenger pigeons would occur, of course. A fluffy book that made for a good night's read, Gould touches on climate change and new areas potentially open for exploitation, but does so quickly as the book's on the slimmer side. Worth reading once, but Jumper and Reflex are more worth the time.

Finder by Emma Bull

I don't have too much patience with urban fantasy for reasons that I've never bothered to explore. Maybe it seems a little too much like LARPing to me. Whatever. This is the story of Orient, a human who has the ability to find things that are known to exist by either him or the person asking him to find. Over the course of the story he finds a motorcycle, some drug users, some answers. Also, love. I liked this book a decent bit, mainly because Bull is a good writer (see War for the Oaks and especially Freedom and Necessity, co-written with Stephen Brust)

January 23, 2007

I'm going slightly mad

I've never enjoyed being wrong so much. I don't know when I'll turn on ESPN and not randomly proclaim "Bears!" Hell, I don't know when I'll not decide to randomly chant "Bears" to myself. All I remember of the '85 Bears is an episode, seemingly late at night with loud bangings of pots and pans and knowing in the way a child of four can that our guys did good. I know a lot about that team, but not so much with the personal remembrance.

Other than the occasional decrying of poor officiating, I seldom yell at the television when I'm watching football (I do, however, constantly tell the announcers to shut up. They don't.), so I was rather surprised to notice that I was getting a tad bit hoarse near halftime, and that scratchiness was threatening to take up permanent residence in my vocal repertoire. I also don't watch games in bars often, so maybe this exuberance has more to do with atmosphere than a previously unknown facet of my personality. I don't care.

Super Bowl. Bears! Awesome.

January 21, 2007

Quick Football Thoughts

I've tried to forget that the Bears are still playing football, because my productivity would suffer otherwise. Thank you Australian Open. You rock.

Anyway, there are two results to today that I'd be happy with. Sadly for me, both require the Bears to win. I haven't been confident in the defense since Tommy Harris went dow. There's too much room 8-15 yards down the field too often for the Bears to be dominant, and Mark Anderson and Tank Johnson don't provide the same up the middle pressure and versatility that Harris did. This will be a problem today.

Image from

I agree with the ESPN experts on the Bears chances (snowball:hell, Iraq:mess), but I expect the Patriots to be in Miami in two weeks time, and Manning ending up watching the game from home. Again.

I hope to be wrong about the Bears, and either AFC result, provided a Bears win, is fine with me. Rematch of Superbowl XX? Bears v Colts, both teams I watch every single chance I get? Awesome. Either way, I'm happy.

January 19, 2007

Friday Food Blogging take 2

This entire photo set makes me really hungry for cupcakes and Settlers. I know I haven't reached my RDA for either of those things in a long, long time. Seriously Awesome

Friday Food Blogging part 1

The past two mornings, I've made the Most Delicious Cream of Wheat Ever. There are no pictures because, well, it's Cream of Wheat, but if tastes could be transmitted via ftp, http or even gopher I'd have set some aside.

The best part about this, it's easy.

Step 1: Make Cream of Wheat per box instructions.
Step 2: Dice 1/2 to 1 apple per serving
Step 3: Heat apple pieces in pan over medium
Step 4: Add a Kahlua and a little water to keep the apples from sticking
Step 5: When the apples are soft, and there isn't an abundance of liquid with them, add it all to the waiting Cream of Wheat
Step 6: Profit Enjoy.

There's no need to add any sugar, the apples have plenty and the Kahlua adds a nice little bit of unusual yet delicious flavor to the entire thing.

January 11, 2007

The Catch-up

I've intended to keep a book log for a bit more than a year now, and that road's nicely paved by now. What's kept me from actually following through is a combination of laziness (shocker!) and not knowing where to start. Hopefully, by doing a quick recap of what I've read in the past few weeks, I can get a little bit of inertia.

So for now, here's the (very, very brief) recaps:

The Forever War and Camouflage by Joe Haldeman

Both are quick reads dealing with war, violence and communicaion. If it weren't for a rather male oriented view of women in military service, The Forever War would be a signifcantly better novel, entirely due to the ambiguity at the end of the war. As it is, every time the problematic part of The Forever War came up, I focused on it a little too much, especially considering it had little to do with the plot of the novel.

1491 by Charles C. Mann

An overview of current thought on the Indian civilizations in terms of population size, and technological and cultural complexities before and slightly after Columbus. Well researched and very clearly presented with nice rhetorical touches, this is a really excellent book.

The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney

The title says a lot about the book, but Mooney's pretty balanced in his approach to the topic, noting instances of Democratic abuses of science and scientific phrasings. Plus, he talks about doing shots. Party on, Chris!

Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut by James Marcus

A light, entertaining read. Marcus seems to be trying to make his time at Amazon a little bit more literary, or possibly he's using words and phrasings that he knew wouldn't fly too well in short reviews, because the book is peppered with nicely erudite sentences that try just a little too hard. Fun though.

Jumper by Steven Gould

This is the precursor to Reflex which I read about a year ago. Davy Rice discovers he can teleport ("jump") when he's 17 and awainting a whooping via his dad's belt buckle. The story then traces his attempts to escape from the shadow if the trauma of his life. I very much enjoyed the book, reading it all last night.

January 05, 2007


Stolen from Uncertain Principles:

I'm a mess
I'm a Mindless Idiot
I'm a Wheel
I'm Always in Love
I'm Bound for the Promised Land
I'm crying
I'm Finding it Harder to be a Gengleman
I'm Getting Back into Getting back into You
I'm Glad
I'm Going Slightly Mad
I'm Going to Change the World
I'm Goint to Memphis
I'm Gonna See You
I'm Having a Heart Attack
I'm in Love with my Car
I'm John Kerry
I'm Leavin' Now
I'm Lonely (But I ain't that lonely yet)
I'm Looking Through You
I'm Not Angry
I'm Not Bitter
I'm Not Here
I'm Not in Love
I'm Not Sacred of You
I'm Old Fashioned
I'm On Fire
I'm Only Sleeping
I'm Sailin
I'm Set Free
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
I'm So Open
I'm So Tired
I'm Sorry I Love You
I'm Still Your Fag
I'm The Man Who Loves You
I'm Tounge-Tied
I'm Totally Not Down With Rob's Alien
I'm Waiting (Leeanne's Song)
I'm Waiting for the Day
I'm Waiting for the Man
I'm With Her
I'm Your Kind of Guy
I'm Your Man