Saturday, December 29, 2007

Science and Faith Flow Chart

This greatly amuses me. Please click to enlarge.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Ultimate Sudoku Marathon

At work today, I figured out how many years it would take to complete every single possible 9x9 soduko puzzle if you did one every 10 minutes (which is optamistic for most people) non-stop; and the answer is:

126,919,782,192,181,760 years (About 127 Quadrillion Years) To put that in perspective, that's roughly 9.7 million times the age of the universe.


And this is only taking into account the 6,670,903,752,021,072,936,960 (6.6 Septillion) possible solved puzzles, this does not figure in the seemingly infinite number you could arrive at if you figure in the combinations of different puzzles created by alternating blank spaces.
Imagine if I figured out 12x12 puzzles. Maybe I'll save that useless fact for next time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm a such a nerd

10 nerd points to anyone who gets the gag here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Interesting article about "viral" videos

Viral videos aren't always viral...

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/22/the-secret-strategies-behind-many-viral-videos

Dawkins (Hearts) Jesus

This was too amusing to pass up posting. This is Richard Dawkins, scientist, friend of athiests the world 'round, author of "The God Delusion" and my all time favorite book "The Selfish Gene".

Monday, November 19, 2007

Updated Feed

To all of my MANY MANY subscribers, please update your feed to http://feeds.feedburner.com/trevormckee

Friday, November 16, 2007

Open Source & Free Software

Over the last few years, obtaining pirated/cracked versions of expensive software has become less and less worth my time. I've got too much to do in my life these days that when I have free time, I don't like spending it either tracking down a key generator, a crack, hack, workaround, or just trying to get a pirated version downloaded via bittorrent to work properly.

As such, I've been weaning myself off of the name brands and slowly migrating over to free and open source alternatives. These programs that I use are of course free, and often times are just as robust, and most of the time, more stable than their $300 counterparts.

Alternative to Microsoft Office: Open Office.org
Open Office does all the things MS Office does, it supports MS Office files (both reading and writing) and is smaller, sleaker, faster, and more stable.

Alternative to Photoshop: The Gimp

Alternatives to Windows Media Player (Although technically free, WMP is an extremely bulky pain in my ass): VLC Media Player, Media Player Classic (My Favorite, even more basic and easy to use than the popular VLC, great for simple, quick dvd playback)

Alternatives to Nero: Infrarecorder
I just found this last night. Free, extremely lightweight and fast. I may never use nero for basic cd/dvd buring again.

Check out more at Osalt.com (Open Source as Alternative)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sicko, It'll Make You Want to Barf on People

I unfortunately didn't have a chance to see this in the theaters, but I just saw it on dvd. Go rent this right now. It'll piss you off, but it a good way. Perhaps the best point he makes in the movie is not about the American health care system, but how afraid we are to rock the boat when we're being exploited and stepped on.

Why They're Striking

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Season 7 Cancelled

Because of the writers strike, Season 7 of 24 will not actually premeir untill september of 08.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Slowtastic

Comcast has been acting like turds lately, and it's high time something was done about it.

"An investigation by the Associated Press caught Comcast secretly inspecting online communications and crippling users' ability to share information with one another.

This is a gross violation of Net Neutrality -- the longstanding principle that ensures a free and open Internet. Free Press has filed a legal complaint demanding that the FCC take action to protect the Internet's free flow of information. By sending the letter you join the fight to stop Comcast and other gatekeepers. "

Translation: Comcast has been prioritizing certain Internet traffic and de-prioritizing other (such as bittorrent) traffic. This would be like if your city's police department decided to re rout your car on the way to your work so that other, more important people wouldn't experience as much traffic on their way.

Fill out this form to send a letter to the FCC.

Monday, October 29, 2007

As Much as I Love Digital Media, This News is Comforting

From Wired:

As counterintuitive as it may seem in this age of iPods and digital downloads, vinyl -- the favorite physical format of indie music collectors and audiophiles -- is poised to re-enter the mainstream, or at least become a major tributary.

Talk to almost anyone in the music business' vital indie and DJ scenes and you'll encounter a uniformly optimistic picture of the vinyl market.

"I'm hearing from labels and distributors that vinyl is way up," said Ian Connelly, client relations manager of independent distributor alliance IODA, in an e-mail interview. "And not just the boutique, limited-edition colored vinyl that Jesu/Isis-style fans are hot for right now."

Pressing plants are ramping up production, but where is the demand coming from? Why do so many people still love vinyl, even though its bulky, analog nature is anathema to everything music is supposed to be these days? Records, the vinyl evangelists will tell you, provide more of a connection between fans and artists. And many of today's music fans buy 180-gram vinyl LPs for home listening and MP3s for their portable devices.

"For many of us, and certainly for many of our artists, the vinyl is the true version of the release," said Matador's Patrick Amory. "The size and presence of the artwork, the division into sides, the better sound quality, above all the involvement and work the listener has to put in, all make it the format of choice for people who really care about music."

Because these music fans also listen using portable players and computers, Matador and other labels include coupons in record packaging that can be used to download MP3 versions of the songs. Amory called the coupon program "hugely popular."

Portability is no longer any reason to stick with CDs, and neither is audio quality. Although vinyl purists are ripe for parody, they're right about one thing: Records can sound better than CDs.

Although CDs have a wider dynamic range, mastering houses are often encouraged to compress the audio on CDs to make it as loud as possible: It's the so-called loudness war. Since the audio on vinyl can't be compressed to such extremes, records generally offer a more nuanced sound.

Another reason for vinyl's sonic superiority is that no matter how high a sampling rate is, it can never contain all of the data present in an analog groove, Nyquist's theorem to the contrary.

"The digital world will never get there," said Chris Ashworth, owner of United Record Pressing, the country's largest record pressing plant.

Golden-eared audiophiles have long testified to vinyl's warmer, richer sound. And now demand for vinyl is on the rise. Pressing plants that were already at capacity are staying there, while others are cranking out more records than they did last year in order to keep pace with demand.

Don MacInnis, owner of Record Technology in Camarillo, California, predicts production will be up 25 percent over last year by the end of 2007. And he's not talking about small runs of dance music for DJs, but the whole gamut of music: "new albums, reissues, majors and indies ... jazz, blues, classical, pop and a lot of (classic) rock."

Turntables are hot again as well. Insound, an online music retailer that recently began selling USB turntables alongside vinyl, can't keep them in stock, according to the company's director, Patrick McNamara.

And on Oct. 17, Amazon.com launched a vinyl-only section stocked with a growing collection of titles and several models of record players.

Big labels still aren't buying the vinyl comeback, but it wouldn't be the first time the industry failed to identify a new trend in the music biz.

"Our numbers, at least, don't really point to a resurgence," said Jonathan Lamy, the Recording Industry Association of America's director of communications. Likewise, Nielsen SoundScan, which registered a slight increase in vinyl sales last year, nonetheless showed a 43 percent decrease between 2000 and 2006.

But when it comes to vinyl, these organizations don't really know what they're talking about. The RIAA's numbers are misleading because its member labels are only now beginning to react to the growing demand for vinyl. As for SoundScan, its numbers don't include many of the small indie and dance shops where records are sold. More importantly, neither organization tracks used records sold at stores or on eBay -- arguably the central clearinghouse for vinyl worldwide.

Vinyl's popularity has been underreported before.

"The Consumer Electronics Association said that only 100,000 turntables were sold in 2004. Numark alone sold more than that to pro DJs that year," said Chris Roman, product manager for Numark.

And the vinyl-MP3 tag team might just hasten the long-predicted death of the CD.

San Francisco indie band The Society of Rockets, for example, plans to release its next album strictly on vinyl and as MP3 files.

"Having just gone through the process of mastering our new album for digital and for vinyl, I can say it is completely amazing how different they really sound," said lead singer and guitarist Joshua Babcock in an e-mail interview. "The way the vinyl is so much better and warmer and more interesting to listen to is a wonder."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Amittyville Horror

Just the other night I was reminded that the Amittyville Horror remake is a horrid joke of a film. Don't ever...EVER, let curiosity about this movie get the best of you. EVER.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bad Rap Music Review: Oblivion with Bells

Underworld's new album has been catching a lot of undeserved flack. Critics are calling it not up to snuff with Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Second Toughest in the Infants, and Beaucoup Fish; calling it an unbelievable disappointment. They're lumping this album in the same basket as Hundred Days off; saying the band has lost something since Darren Emerson's departure. Of course, everyone knows that it's never cool to like a band's new album. Everything ways always better back in the "Hay-Day". And that's the other major point of this, there's much talk of Electronica's hay-day as well. To those people, I say wake up. Electronica, as you mainstream media types like to call it, didn't go anywhere or stop being good just because you stopped paying attention to it when the hype around it died down in the late nineties. Lets face it, the only electronic music you think is good these days is the stuff you hear on car and ipod commercials. Just shut up and go back to listening to Crunk.

Back to underworld, there's also a lot of critics who like write as if "Born Slippy" from the Trainspotting soundtrack was the only worthwhile thing they did and everything else is just background noise. Sure, even to underworld fans this was a hit, but by no stretch was it their only hit.

The new album, Oblivion with Bells, is right up there in quality with the rest of their work (Yes, including Hundred Days Off). There isn't a bad song to be found on this album. My only complaint might be that theirs only 10 songs, and a couple of those are short ambient segways into other tracks. I'm not going to go into details about the specific songs, but just remember it's pretty much never a good idea to listen to mainstream music critics (I'm talking to you Rolling Stone). Most of the time they write as if they hate all music and would rather be in a different profession.

Sammy at Cedar Point, Sandusky Ohio

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"In Rainbows" Update: Pirating Still More Fun

From Forbes.com:

That's one of the surprising discoveries to come out of an experiment by the British band Radiohead last week. On Thursday, the group made its latest album, In Rainbows, available for direct downloading from the Web at an unusual price: whatever fans feel like paying. Downloaders who want to pay nothing can enter "zero" in the site's price field and download the album for free.

But for hard-core music pirates, even free hasn’t been enough of a draw. According to music industry analysts, hundreds of thousands of Web users who frequent copyright-infringing file-sharing sites, including The Pirate Bay and TorrentSpy, have chosen to download In Rainbows illegally, distributing their contraband around the Internet just as they might with any other pirated album.

On the first day that Radiohead's latest became available, around 240,000 users downloaded the album from copyright-infringing peer-to-peer BitTorrent sources, according to Big Champagne, a Los-Angeles-based company that tracks illegal downloading on the Internet. Over the following days, the file was downloaded about 100,000 more times each day—adding up to more than 500,000 total illegal downloads.

That's less than the 1.2 million legitimate online sales of the album reported by the British Web site Gigwise.com. But Eric Garland, Big Champagne's chief executive, says illegal file-sharing is likely to overtake legal downloads in the coming weeks, given that many of those 1.2 million legitimate sales were pre-orders taken during the 10 days between when the band announced the album and its actual release last Thursday.

With popular album releases, illegal download volumes normally outstrip sales, says Garland. But more surprising is that fans chose to steal music they could legally download for any price they choose.

Garland argues that this kind of digital theft is more a matter of habit than of economics. "People don't know Radiohead's site. They do know their favorite BitTorrent site and they use it every day," he says. "It's quite simply easier for folks to get the illegal version than the legal version."
In Garland's experience, the store price of a new album plays little role in determining how often it will be pirated. Similarly irrelevant are the protective locks that recording companies put on files to try to stop pirates from copying and sharing them, so called digital rights management systems.


"Albums that are popular in retail are popular among pirates," Garland says. "In the big picture, if people want something, some will pay, and others will find a way to take it for free."
Despite the hundreds of thousands of illegal downloads, Radiohead's innovative online release could still be a smart fiscal strategy. By cutting out record companies, the band retains the full revenue stream of album sales, and monies from touring and merchandise sales.
The buzz generated by the band's pay-what-you-want publicity stunt may also boost sales. Radiohead's previous album sold only 300,000 copies in the first week—about one-sixth the number of copies of In Rainbows now in circulation.


An internal memo circulated at EMI, Radiohead's former record label, and obtained by Forbes.com, demonstrates the album's tectonic effects on the music industry.
"The recorded music industry … has for too long been dependent on how many CDs can be sold," writes Guy Hands, EMI's chairman. "The industry, rather than embracing digitalization and the opportunities it brings for promotion of product and distribution through multiple channels, has stuck its head in the sand. Radiohead's actions are a wake-up call which we should all welcome and respond to with creativity and energy."


But for Doug Lichtman, an intellectual property professor at the UCLA School of Law, the volume of piracy following In Rainbows' release erodes the success of Radiohead's innovation. "If the community rejects even forward-thinking experiments like this one, real harm is done to the next generation of experimentation and change," he says.

Lichtman speculates that users may have interpreted Radiohead's offer as a giveaway and so felt more comfortable downloading the album from other free sources. Fans may also have been turned off by the band's requirement that users register by providing their name and e-mail and postal addresses.

The ultimate lesson may simply be that it's hard to compete with free, Lichtman says. "Registration is a small barrier," he says. "Sadly, even that little bit of cost might be too much."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Raidohead "In Rainbows" 1.2 Million in 2 days.

If you haven't gotten this album yet, get it. And the best part is it won't cost you a dime if you don't want. Radiohead has chosen to sell their latest album online for whatever price you choose (I paid 2 bucks US). Since Wednesday when it was released, the band has reported selling more than 1.2 million copies of the album. And how is the album itself? I'll just say it's a bit creepy, and one of their best.

Al Gore, Nobel Prize Winner

Ok, now will you listen to him?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Clinton Assails Bush's 'War on Science'

By DEVLIN BARRETT Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton cited frustrated scientists and a comedian Thursday as she assailed President Bush's record on scientific study and pledged to rescind his restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
The presidential candidate also said she would bar political appointees from altering or removing scientific conclusions from government research without a legitimate reason for doing so.
"The Bush administration has declared war on science," the New York senator said. "When I am president, scientific integrity will not be the exception it will be the rule."
Her address to the Carnegie Institution for Science was a preview of what she said would be more detailed proposals in coming weeks on energy and environmental issues.
Clinton focused mostly on policy proposals, but she also drew laughs for paraphrasing the faux right-wing fury of Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, saying "this administration doesn't make decisions on facts, it makes facts based on decisions."
The speech was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Sputnik satellite by the Soviet Union. The launch, which caught U.S. scientists by surprise, helped start the U.S.-Soviet space race and led to the creation of National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The candidate said as a little girl she was fascinated by Sputnik, but that today's scientific challenges often come from political ideology instead of foreign powers.
"For six and half years under President Bush, it has been open season on open inquiry," Clinton said. "By ignoring or manipulating science, the Bush administration is putting our future at risk and letting our economic competitors get an edge in the global economy."
She said Bush's limits on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research amounts to a "ban on hope."
Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz countered that Clinton "manipulates basic mathematics in her attempts to explain how she will pay for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending."
On the campaign trail, Clinton has repeatedly slammed what she calls Bush's "war on science" and accused the administration of allowing conservative political ideology to interfere with research and scientific evidence. She cites administration officials who have questioned the scientific evidence of global warming and who have suggested a link existed between abortion and breast cancer.
As president, Clinton said she would:
- Expand human and robotic space exploration and speed development of vehicles to would replace the space shuttle.
- Launch a space-based climate change initiative to combat global warming.
- Create a $50-billion strategic energy fund to research ways to boost energy efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Blogging Tips

http://n3wjack.net/index.php/2007/09/23/pros-and-cons-of-hosting-your-own-site/

Here's a very good post over at N3wjack's blog about blogging and your best hosting options.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

117 out of 212

I found this on that wonderfully useful site the kids call "My Spaces" or something... I normally don't do these things, but I couldn't resist. I apparently if you've seen more than 100 movies out of the 212 listed, you're a loser, have no life, and what little life you have should be ended immediately. Copy and paste at will.

(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
(x) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
(x) Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
( ) Blazing Saddles
( x) Airplane

Total So Far: 8

(x) The Princess Bride
( x) Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
(x) Napoleon Dynamite
() Labyrinth
(x) Saw
(x) Saw II
(x) Saw III
(x) White Noise
()White Oleander
(x) 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
() The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Total all together: 17

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
(x) Scream 3
(x) Scary Movie
(x) Scary Movie 2
(x) Scary Movie 3
() Scary Movie 4
(x) American Pie
(x) American Pie 2
(x) American Wedding
() American Pie Band Camp
() American Pie Naked Mile

Total all together: 26

(x) Harry Potter 1
(x) Harry Potter 2
(x) Harry Potter 3
(x) Harry Potter 4
(x) Resident Evil 1
(x) Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
() Little Black Book
(x) The Village
(x) Lilo & Stitch

Total all together: 35

(x) Finding Nemo
(x) Finding Neverland
(x) Signs
(x) The Grinch
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
() White Chicks
(x) Butterfly Effect
() 13 Going on 30
( ) I, Robot
(x) Robots

Total all together: 41

() Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
() Universal Soldier
() Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
() Along Came Polly
(x) Deep Impact
(x) KingPin
(x) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
(x) Meet the Fockers
() Eight Crazy Nights
() Joe Dirt
(x) King Kong
Total all together: 47

(x) The Terminal
()The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
() Dumber & Dumberer
(x) Final Destination
(x) Final Destination 2
(x) Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
(x) The Ring
() The Ring 2
() Surviving Christmas
() Flubber
Total all together: 54

() Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
() Ghost Ship
() From Hell
(x) Hellboy
(x) Secret Window
(x) I Am Sam
() The Whole Nine Yards
( )The Whole Ten Yards
Total all together: 58

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
() Child's Play
() Seed of Chucky
() Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
() Just Married
() Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
() Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
() Coach Carter
() The Longest Yard
() Gridiron Gang
(x)The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
() Son Of The Mask
Total so far: 64

(x) Bad Boys
(x) Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
(x) Lucky Number Sleven
(x) Ocean's Eleven
(x) Ocean's Twelve
(x)Bourne Identity
(x) Bourne Supremecy
() Lone Star
(x) Bedazzled
() Predator I
() Predator II
() Alien vs. Predator
() The Fog
(x) Ice Age
() Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
(x) Curious George
Total all together: 74

(x) Independence Day
() Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
() Christine
(x) ET
() Children of the Corn
()My Bosses Daughter
() Maid in Manhattan
(x) War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
() Die Hard
() Die Hard 2
(x) Die Hard 3
TOTAL NUMBER: 80

(x) Transformers
() Cruel Intentions
(x) Old School
() The Notebook
(x) K-Pax
(x) Krippendorf's Tribe
() A Walk to Remember
( ) Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
(x) The 40-year-old-virgin
total all together: 85

() For the love of baseketball
(x) Hostel
( ) Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 corpses
() The Devil's Rejects
(x) Elf
() The House of Wax
() Wrong Turn
() Legally Blonde
() Legally Blonde 2
Total all together: 87

(x) Flight Plan
() The Tuxedo
() Step up
() stick It
() Night Watch
(x) Monsters, Inc.
(x) Titanic
() Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(x) Shaun Of the Dead
(x) Willard
Total all together: 92

() Bring It On
() Bring It On Again
() Bring it on all or Nothing
(x) Hulk
(x) Superman Returns
(x) Hook
(x) Chronicles Of Narnia The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
(x) 28 days Later
() Orgazmo
() Phantasm
(x) WaterWorld
total all together:98

(x) Kill Bill vol 1
(x) Kill Bill vol 2
() Mortal Kombat
(x) Wolf Creek
(x ) Kingdom of Heaven
(x) The hills have eyes
( )The Hills Have Eyes 2
() Reign of Fire
() The Last House on the Left
() Pulse
() Stay Alive
Total all together: 103

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars A New Hope
(x) Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks the caravan of courage
() Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total all together: 110

(x) The Matrix
(x) The Matrix Reloaded
(x) The Matrix Revolutions
() Animatrix
() Evil Dead
() Evil Dead 2
(x) Zoolander
() Phantom of The Opera
(x) Hannibal
(x) Red Dragon
(x) Anger Management
total all together: 117

Total: 117

: I saw 117 movies out of 212

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

24 Season 6 DVDs...Rediculous

"Season 6 will be released on a 7 DVD set, December 4th, 2007. Special features announced to date will include an exclusive Season 7 preview, deleted scenes, cast and crew commentaries, mobisodes, webcast diaries and an alternate Season 6 finale."

Are they kidding me with this packaging design? Seriously Fox, is this some kind of bad joke? Will I have to pledge allegiance to the flag before I can buy this?

Ridiculous.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cereal Will Never Be the Same


Yesterday, at the store, when asked what kind of cereal she wanted, Samantha replied excitedly, "Cinnamon Toast Crunk!" Ashley and I's amusement with this is never ending.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Perry DeAngelis 1963 - 2007

Perry DeAngelis of the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe has died. He's missed the last few shows due to being ill but still called in each week to give the weeks' skeptical quote. Apparently no one else on the show had fears of Perry being gravely ill, but I guess surprises happen. I didn't even realize it until I checked the site today for this weeks episode.

Here is the official statement from Steven Novella, Host of the SGU and president of the New England Skeptical Society (NESS):

"The Skeptics Guide is very sad to announce the passing of one of our rogues, Perry DeAngelis. Perry was the inspiration for the formation of the NESS and so we owe our existence to his vision. His distinctive wit and humor and his larger than life persona, which he lent to everything he did in life, helped forge the Skeptics Guide into what it is. He will be sorely missed.

Goodbye, dear friend. "

Perry was sort of the goofball of the show, and sometimes taking on the role of the straight man asking devil's advocate type questions. I always looked forward to his skeptical quote of the week, which he would end with the phrase "...of some note". My favorite example was when he gave a Thomas Jefferson quote and said, "This quote of was from Thomas Jefferson, a United States politician...of some note" The show won't be the same without him.

Here's a link to the condolences thread on the official SGU website.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fight School Site

We finally got our Fight School website up. Downloads section has a few free tracks for download or listen right off the site. Check it out: fightschoolmusic.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Over-Hyped Movie Review: Akira

After nearly 20 years of hearing here and there what a great, mind blowing movie Akira is, I finally had a chance to see it the other night. I'll start by saying that my mind was not blown. I kept waiting for my mind to be blown, but the mind blowing never ensued. I'm not sure if this says more about the movie, or if it just says something about all the people that insisted to me that it was some kind of religious experience. I'm not saying that this isn't a good film, I just don't feel that it rises above or stands out among other good Japanese Animated films.

Click here for the plot summary on Wikipedia

I'll start with the film's strengths; The animation is quite good. Doing a little research on Wikipedia informs me I'm not alone in this position and in 1988 when it was released was hailed as a major breakthrough in Japanese Animation and even animation as a whole. It raised the bar. Since then I've seen many animes that look better than this, but I can't say that I remember seeing any made before 1988 that look better.

The story is an interesting concept with multiple messages including evolution, ambition, power fantasies, and even a little coming-of-age-adolescent angst. Though I have to say I'm a little tired of seeing science fiction films with a "Man shouldn't meddle with things it doesn't understand" messages.

One of the weaknesses come in when the filmmakers try to make the plot more complex than it really is. At it's core, it's a very simple story, but at times it seems like they're just trying to fill out 2 hours of run time for the sake of it. The shame of this is that they could have spent that time explaining more to me about who the main characters of Kaneda and Tetsuo were. Instead, we're offered this very fuzzy framework of their friendship throughout the whole film, and the entire dynamic of their friendship is supposed to be explained at the very end with a series of flashbacks during Tetsuo's out-of-control psychokinetic rampage. The ending would have been more effective if going into it, we knew how deep their relationship was. The whole movie would have been more effective if we were presented with a more complete picture of who the characters were as individuals. Instead we're offered a series of awkwardly delivered lines from the main players, because each scene's dialog doesn't seem to be a natural evolution from the last.

At times, the story just seems like a vehicle to show off these cool powers that these kids have, much in the same way the matrix's story at times just seem like a vehicle for its' characters super-wow-awesome powers. I'm guessing the writers of the original Manga had the idea of these kids with these powers and simply used that to build the story's messages around.

All in all, a pretty cool sci-fi flick, but no where near the mind-trip it's been hyped as.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yet Another Reason Why Myspace Deserves Death

More 24 Production Delays

I'm starting to think season 7 isn't going to start until season 8...

"The seventh season of Fox’s Emmy-winning "24" is facing another production delay.

The real-time drama starring Kiefer Sutherland that was scheduled to start filming Aug. 27, will now begin shooting Sept. 10 so that the writers can complete enough scripts for the new seasonlong plot.

Production start on 20th Century Fox TV/Imagine TV’s "24" originally was pushed from late July-early August to Aug. 27 when the producers’ original set-in-Africa story line fell through and they went back to the drawing board.

There has been only one new casting on the show so far — Cherry Jones as the U.S. president — with a couple of other deals at different stages.

"24" is going through a major revamping this year after coming off a lackluster sixth season."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Family Portrait


(Garkee is my dorky amalgam of Gardner and McKee) Do yours at simpsonsmovie.com

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Belt Ceremony

Samantha's Choi Kwang Do belt presentation ceremony. She's now a White-Senior. (click for larger images)



Friday, July 20, 2007

It Hurts

I forgot how painfully bad Ernest Goes to Jail is. I was sitting in the living room in agony last night watching this with Samantha. This movie came out when I was 9; what exactly did I ever see in it?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Freak Out

I've been having a week long freak out and I think it's finally coming to a close. I've been freaking because I've been thinking that I'm royally financially fucked, and that we're never going to be able to afford anything. I just did what I should have done a week ago, which was add up all my outgoing expenses, and I'm not nearly as royally fucked as I thought I was. Turns out, I've got a little extra money that I can save. I was already doing this, saving money I mean, but for some reason I got it in my head that I wasn't nearly making enough money to save anything. I was putting money in the bank, it was being saved, and yet I ignored that fact.

Last night when I came home I wanted a drink of the alchaholic variety and I started to worry that I couldn't afford to ever have a drink ever again in my life. I don't even drink that much. I have one or two drinks a week, if that. I've been known to go 2 or 3 weeks at a time without even so much as a beer and yet I was worried that I couldn't afford to have a screwdriver. I tallied up the cost of that drink in my head and it came to about $1. Even that estimate is prabably a little high. 1 shot of Vodka and 1/8 carton of OJ that cost $1.99.

This isn't to say that I'm now relaxing about all of this. I still need to be making a bit more money to afford a new place. I still need a new job and I'm still applying. I still want to go back to school or at the very least get my MCSE certificate. I think I'm going to shoot for the later first, I just don't have the time to go school right now. Also, I don't want to incur any more debt at the moment.

Relax Trevor, smell the roses, and have a drink.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Music Reviews, Smashing Pumpkins and Justice

I've acquired a few very good albums recently. The first of which is the Smashing Pumpkins first new album in seven years titled Zeitgeist. It took me a few listens of this album for it to grow on me, but when it did, it really did.

This is Smashing Pumpkins mkII, sans D'arcy and James Iha however it sounds more like early era Pumpkins. If I didn't know better, I would have thought this one came out after Siamese Dream but before Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. That being said however, it still has a fresh never-before-heard side of the band that keeps them from sounding dated.

If you buy the Target edition (which I recommend) you get the bonus 13th track Zeitgeist that I'm disappointed wasn't included in the standard edition. The song delivers a nice closing 3 minutes to the album.

Other highlights of the album include the songs Doomsday Clock (which was in Transformers apparently), That's the Way My Love Is, Tarantula and Bring the Light. A track I didn't like was For God and Country. I was never sure if he was being sarcastic when he's says he'd die for it (god and country). If he was, or if it was a metaphor it wasn't very clearly conveyed. If he did mean it literally, it comes off as a little creepy.

The other album was Cross by Justice. I initially avoided this album due to the obvious Christian overture the band paints it's image (They also perform with a 3-story high light-up cross, so I've heard). But I decided to give it a shot and I'm glad I did.

I'll start of by saying that there's nothing Christian about the music, but also not to say that there's anything anti-Christian about it either. I quit listening to Gus-Gus for their Christy (thank you for that term, Bill Maher) lyrics. This begs the question of why they even bothered slapping Christian symbols all over their stage shows, albums and t-shirts. I understand that Christians think it's their job to spread Christianity, but you're not going to do it with secular music and a light up cross as a stage prop. If anything, they're alienating potential atheistic/agnostic/secular (or just non-Christian) fans. Trust me guys, you're not converting anyone, you're just making yourselves look like judgmental jerks.

All of that aside, I loved album. It very much picks up where Daft Punk left off at their height (pre-Human After All). It's no wonder either, since Justice is also a French group doing the disco-electro-house thing. Also present is Daft Punks' tendancy to uber compress the whole song seamingly pinching the music inward at the beats. It's a stylistic choice but it works well for this kind of music.

Another good album I recently heard was the latest from And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. But that'll have to wait for another day.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Amazing Toilet Phone

My Samsung cell phone fell in a public toilet, was fully submerged in nasty toilet water for several seconds and after just a few hours dry out time, was completely unharmed.

I'll be honest, I was nervous at first when nothing was working right, but one by one all functions returned to normal.

Samsung, I tip my hat to you; for making a toilet-proof phone.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Game Time

Sammy and I playing Super Gem Fighter Turbo

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Darkness Calls

Can someone please tell me whats going on in Hellboy: Darkness Calls? I'm on issue #3 of the mini series and I'm a bit confused. From what I can tell, some skeleton army is trying to stop hellboy from becoming king of the witches. I'm not at all sure why this other group of creatures wants him to be king of the witches.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Book Meme

From Integrating the Derivative

Grab the nearest book.

1. Open it to page 161.
2. Find the fifth full sentence.
3. Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.

Don’t search around looking for the coolest book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

Mine:

The nearest book to me was a comic book, so I didn’t have 161 pages. Instead I turned to page 16 of Exiles # 94 which in the 5th full line of dialog has an evil alternate-universe Sue Richards (Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman) saying:

"Stop it! The Both of You!"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ms. Marvel

In her current series, Ms. Marvel strives to push herself to be the best hero she can possibly be because she knows she can be the best in the world. Up until now, she feels she has been lazy and not living up to her potential. Am I pushing my self hard enough? Are any of us?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ask Your Prescriber?

I was watching The Closer on TNT last night when I got off of work (I used to make fun of Sedgy, but it's actually a decent show). A commercial came on for some new prescription drug.Usually, I'm used to hearing "Ask your doctor if is right for you", but this time, everywhere they would usually say Doctor, they used the term "Prescriber".

Eh, what?

Has the American public and drug companies finally given up on doctors having any kind of usefulness beyond giving pills to people? "Ask your prescriber" may as well be "Ask Your Drug-Dealer". Hey, why not just skip the doctor all together if we don't think he or she has any value and lets just ask our pharmacists.

America, let me make something clear. YOU DON'T KNOW SHIT ABOUT YOUR HEALTH OR HOW YOUR BODY WORKS. This is why we have doctors. See, apparently they have to go to school for 8 or so years before they can accurately decide if you should be popping a strong foreign chemical into your body for the betterment of your health. Neither you nor TV commercials should be making or even influencing that decision. Be thankful for your doctor's instructions, without them you'd probably still be using priests to exorcise colds and sticking leaches on your face to get rid of a case of the horribles.

(The picture of doctor Zoidberg was the only thing I could find on short notice that was medically related)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Shut Up

When I go to the gas pump, it's typically to buy gas, not to have a conversation with you over the P.A. welcoming me to your particular armpit station, so shut up.

When I go to a restaurant it's typically to order and eat food, not to learn the world history of everything on your menu and hear about how delicious it all is, so shut up.

When I go to the U-Scan at the grocery store, it's usually so I don't have to listen to the cashier tell me some meaningless story about how she also likes this particular brand of cottage cheese. I don't want to hear the U-Scan machine talk at me about what a wonderful store it is and how my business is appreciated and how I should now take these money saving coupons and how I should watch the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy.......so shut up.

Friday, May 25, 2007

WTF Creative?

I just upgraded my version of Creative's Zencast Organizer. Basically it's just a podcast aggregator. It jumped from version 1.0-something to 2.0-something, so I thought I was getting a pimp update. Not the case. It's exactly the same. I couldn't find a single difference. No new features, no new options, nothing looks different, nothing. Angry, I checked the Zencast website for an explanation, here's what they say has been changed:

"-Allows you to subscribe to Flickr® and Windows Live Spaces™ photo feeds.
-Allows photo channels to be displayed in Thumbnails view.
-Adds the option to transfer ZENcast pictures into your player's photo library."

Picture crap? Excuse me?

To Creative: There were limitations to version 1.0, for instance when transfering to my Zen it doesn't organize audio podcasts at all unless I convert them to video. You havn't even addressed that fundamental issue with this new release. Adding support for photo feeds IS NOT a 1.0->2.0 release jump. At best, this should be called 1.2. That would be like Microsoft putting out a whole new whole number version of Word because they added support for PNG picture files. Shame on you Creative. Fix your fucking software.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Microsoft's Asshole Complex

Further example of how whenever something good happens outside of a ruling/dominant party and they're not making money off of it, they'll do anything to squash it. This isn't about Sun supposedly stealing patented code, it's about Microsoft trying to kill any chance of free open-source software that works better than theres becoming dominantly popular.

May 15, 3:14 PM EDT

By JESSICA MINTZ
AP Business Writer

SEATTLE (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. cranked up the rhetoric against open-source software with new details about the ways it says free programs violate its patents.

While the world's largest software company said it prefers licensing deals to legal action, it also indicated it won't ignore what it sees as infringement.

"There is no reason why any segment of the industry needs to be exempt from intellectual property rules," said Horacio Gutierrez, a Microsoft vice president for intellectual property and licensing.

At the most basic level, open-source software is built by a community of companies and independent programmers. It's distributed, often without charge, to businesses and consumers and programmers to modify, build on, and distribute again - also for free.

While proprietary software companies like Microsoft make money by selling licenses for programs, open-source companies usually make money selling support services.

On Monday, Microsoft said open-source programs step on 235 Microsoft patents. The core of the free Linux operating system violates 42 patents. Open-source programs' graphical user interfaces, or the way menus and windows look on the screen, breach 65. E-mail programs step on 15, and other programs violate 68 patents, the company said. The patent figures were first reported by Fortune magazine.

Microsoft also said Open Office, an open-source program supported in part by Sun Microsystems Inc., infringes on 45 patents. Sun declined to comment on the allegation.

Microsoft's Windows is the dominant software on servers and desktop PCs, but Microsoft views the free or low-cost Linux operating system alternatives "with a great deal of concern," said Al Gillen, an analyst at the technology research group IDC.

"It's one of the few operating systems that represents a viable threat that Microsoft has a great deal of difficulty containing," Gillen said. Because open-source developers share their code, the challenge to Microsoft's products isn't limited to one company.

Instead, Microsoft has struck a number of patent-licensing deals with companies that use open source code, most notably Novell Inc. last November. In one aspect of the deal, Microsoft agreed to sell Novell's flavor of Linux, called Suse. It also agreed not to sue the customers who bought it, even though it claims the open-source software infringes on its patents.

"Microsoft could have chosen to litigate many years ago, but we have decided not to do that," Gutierrez said. Instead, in the interest of making sure programs that include open-source technology work with Microsoft products and vice versa, the company will continue to pursue similar deals.

Much of the open-source community was unhappy with the Novell deal, which it saw as a workaround to a widely used open-source license called the GNU General Public License.

More broadly, the free software movement saw the deal as an attack on one of its core tenets. Under the public license, once open-source code is incorporated into another company's technology, the new product must also be freely available. But the deal also required Novell to pay millions in "royalties" - an indirect admission that Suse Linux contained Microsoft intellectual property and can't be given away for free.

"Now it becomes possible to divide and conquer our community," said Eben Moglen, an attorney for the Free Software Foundation, the entity behind the GNU license. By making a pact with Novell, Microsoft also implied that anyone who downloaded or bought Linux from another vendor was doing so illegally.

The next version of the GNU license, currently in draft form, aims to stop similar deals. Moglen said the draft states that if a company like Microsoft distributes open-source programs protected by the GNU license, it forfeits any related patent claims.

Open-source proponents are frustrated by Microsoft's repeated allusions to patent violations because "they never say what patents being violated, never make any assertions, never put the evidence out there," said Larry Augustin, a technology startup investor who launched SourceForge.net, a prominent open-source development site, in 1999.

But Augustin also acknowledged that it's not in Microsoft's interest to do so: Open-source programmers could rewrite their code to avoid infringing on specific patents, or the courts could find that Microsoft's patent isn't valid.

An ongoing open-source patent case could indicate that it isn't easy for a software maker to prove infringement. The SCO Group Inc., a Utah-based company, sued IBM Corp. in 2003 for donating its proprietary Unix code to open-source developers. Late last year, a federal judge upheld a decision to dismiss about half of the claims against IBM, agreeing that SCO had failed to identify exactly which lines of code in Linux infringed on its patents.

Legal action by Microsoft could also kick off a massive patent war. An organization called the Open Innovation Network, funded by IBM, Red Hat Inc. and others, has amassed a vast number of software patents. If there is a Microsoft lawsuit against open source companies or customers, the OIN would retaliate in kind.

"We believe it's highly likely that Microsoft would infringe some of our patents," said Jerry Rosenthal, OIN's chief executive.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Fountain's Bad Rap

Time for another bad rap movie review. I don't have a lot of time so I'll keep it short.

The Bad Rap: The movie is pretentious, incoherent/hard to understand and emotionally monotoned.

My Defense: For those who say the movie is hard to understand, I respond by asking if they bothered paying attention to the movie or did they get up 8 times to get a refill on their coke and to subsequently drain the coke from their systems.

The film has 3 narratives, one taking place in the present, one in the future and one is a fictional account of a conquistador circa Spain 1500 (from a book written by the main characters wife). Some people get confused because they think that the narrative that takes place in the past is supposed to be this guy 500 years ago, but it's not, again it's a book his wife wrote and she based the character on him, hence why Hugh Jackman plays the part. And to be clear, the narrative that takes place 500 years in the future is in fact the same Tom that exists in the present. Each of the 3 narratives parallel each other in order to drive home a point; 3 different ways of looking at the same story.

Another similar misconception that I've read is that people think the 3 time lines are supposed to be 3 different people all together, played by the same actor. I have no idea why someone would think this, but it has happened.

It always makes me chuckle when a reviewer calls a movie pretentious because they've got the attention span and comprehension of a 5 year old. Anything that's ambitious is also called pretentious (you might recall my review of "Lady in the Water"). But you must also realize there are ambitious movies I strongly dislike; AI for example. Ambitious in and of itself does not a good movie make. However, it does increase it's chances of being shunned weather it's good or bad.

The Fountain is very much a science fiction/fantasy film that presents itself as a serious drama and perhaps that's where some people get mixed up. It requires you to accept certain things that are all but impossible in the real world, just as any science fiction film does. A tree that grants you immortality, a floating space-bubble used for inter-stellar travel are among these. Perhaps people are confused when they see true heartbreaking and believable drama in the movie.

As for the charges that it's emotionally monotoned I can only say that it's essentially a film about someone dying. This isn't a film where a lot of action and adventure happens and then through the circumstances of the story a major character dies. We are told right up front that this person is currently dying of a brain tumor, and is most likely going to be dead before the movie is over. Hugh Jackman's performance exactly matches this reality. Yes, Jackman is sad, depressed and distraught throughout most of the film, but this does not prevent him from giving a colorful performance in the least. To the contrary he fills out each and every stage of grief with completeness and amazing believability right up until the final frame of the film when he finally reaches acceptance.

When you see this film, actually see it. Pay attention to it and soak it up. If you do that it is not hard to understand or appreciate. Hopefully you will come to see that's great smart-science fiction in the vein of "Solaris" & "2001: A Space Odyssey".

Friday, May 11, 2007

Lost Set for 3 More 16 Episode Seasons

From Variety:

"In a potentially paradigm-shifting play, ABC has agreed to let the producers of "Lost" set an expiration date for the series -- three years in the future.

Skein will now wrap after the production of 48 additional episodes that will be divided into three, shortened 16-episode seasons. Final episode -- the show's 119th -- will air during the 2009-10 season.

In conjunction with the advance order, "Lost" showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have inked hefty new multi-year overall deals with ABC Television Studio to continue with the series until the end. Duo had made setting a wrap date for the show a condition for staying.

Lindelof and Cuse had wanted "Lost" to end after two more seasons. They're essentially still getting their wish: The 48 episodes they'll produce over the next three years is the same number the show produced during its first two seasons.

ABC execs, however, came up with a way to keep "Lost" on its sked for three more seasons. What's more, the 16-episode arcs will run without repeats (a la "24"), allowing the Alphabet to make the show more of an event.

"In considering the powerful storytelling of 'Lost,' we felt this was the only way to give it a proper creative conclusion," ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson said.

"I always said that we would allow the series to grow and give viewers the most compelling hour possible," he added. "And, due to the unique nature of the series, we knew it would require an end date to keep the integrity and strength of the show consistent throughout, and to give the audience the payoff they deserve. "

McPherson also acknowledged that getting Lindelof and Cuse to reup "was critical to me and the network."

ABC Television Studio prexy Mark Pedowitz shared that sentiment.

"We wanted to make sure we had the team responsible for its success in place for not only the run of the show, but so that each of their future series creations have a home at the studio after 'Lost,' " Pedowitz said.

J.J. Abrams, who co-created "Lost" with Lindelof, defected to Warner Bros. TV last year and has been focusing on a new slate of TV and film projects, including the revival of the "Star Trek" franchise for Paramount Pictures. He told Daily Variety that he fully supported the advance wrap decision.

"It is the right choice for the series and its viewers," he said via an email message. "It takes real foresight and guts to make a call like this. I applaud ABC and Touchstone for making this happen."

Lindelof and Cuse, who are putting the finishing touches on the third-season finale, released a joint statement praising what they termed "a bold and unprecedented move for ABC" and thanking McPherson and Pedowitz for making it.

Cuse added that he hoped more shows will be able to follow the "Lost" lead and declare an end date.

"I think for story-based shows like 'Lost,' as opposed to franchise-based shows like 'ER' or 'CSI,' the audience wants to know when the story is going to be over," Cuse wrote. "When J.K. Rowling announced that there would be seven 'Harry Potter' books, it gave the readers a clear sense of exactly what their investment would be. We want our audience to do the same."

Cuse confirmed that devising an exit strategy for "Lost" was key to reupping with ABC Television Studio.

"In making this deal, Damon and I had two priorities: defining an end point for the show and keeping the quality bar high," Cuse said. "To do that we are both fully committed to the day-to-day running of the show right up until the very end. It's also why the 16 episodes per year was key for us. Because our show is so mythological, and because, unlike '24,' we can't reset each season, we need the extra time fewer episodes affords us to really plan out the specifics of our storytelling."

Lindelof and Cuse made public their desire for an end date during the TV Critics Assn. press tour last winter (Daily Variety, Jan. 15).

Cuse and Lindelof also wanted an end date in order to mollify critics of the show who worried producers were simply spinning their wheels as they worked through the show's layer upon layer of mystery.

ABC execs had already been talking to the producers about the idea, but they seemed taken aback when Lindelof and Cuse made the conversations public.

Indeed, it would be understandable if ABC execs had been initially cool to the concept of an early end date.

After all, with major hits a rarity in the network game, the rule is to keep hits on the air until every last ounce of success has been squeezed from them (e.g., "ER" or "The X-Files").

And despite relentless media snarking this season -- and the fact that "Lost" has lost a chunk of its fall 2005 audience -- the series is still a top-15 hit that dominates its 10 p.m. Wednesday timeslot in key demos.

In its third season, it's still drawing as many young viewers as NBC's newer, more buzzed-about "Heroes" -- and that's not counting the roughly 2.1 million viewers who watch the show after its live broadcast or via free streaming on ABC.com.

ABC could be establishing a new formula by which nets find success through serving up skeins with more and more audacious concepts but shorter lifespans than the traditional network hit.

Already, the traditional syndie business model -- the one that required studios to produce 100 episodes of a show in order to recoup their investment -- seems to be fading away in an age of instant downloads and universal streaming.

That may be one reason, according to Lindelof, that McPherson and Pedowitz "never argued that the show should keep going and going. The issue has always been when it would end and how far out in front of that ending should we herald it."

Now that the end has been announced, Lindelof promised there would be no attempts to extend or continue the "Lost" mythology on air in some other way.

"There will be no extensions or enhancements. That number (48) is absolute," he said. And "once you begin to see where we're going, I think the idea of sequels and spinoffs will completely go away."

So if he, Cuse or Abrams suddenly come up with a killer plot thread that doesn't fit into the new timeline?

"We'll do it as a radio play," Lindelof quipped.

As for "Lost," show's end game is expected to kick into high gear later this month with the broadcast of the season finale. Details of the plot are under wraps, but a person who has read the script described it as a major shakeup to the plot.

"It changes everything," the person said.

Nothing's official yet, but ABC has all but said that the fourth season of "Lost" won't premiere until January or February of next year."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I've started a new blog/site related to my favorite music program in world, Buzz...

http://www.buzzupdate.net

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth-Like, Not Earth.

Scientists have found a planet approximatly 1.5x the size of earth. Temperatures estimated to range from 0-40c. Planet is thought to be either rocky, or covered in oceans.

Links: @ Bad Astronomy, @ Skepchick

Monday, April 23, 2007

Worst Theory Ever

I just recently became aware of this. Whoever dreamed this up had too much time on their hands, or was incredibly stupid. I'm supposed to find it amazing that that "20 - United States of America - 20" contains the characters needed (although we're subbing a zero for an O) to spell Osama ?

Admittedly I'm not sure if this was actually originally intended as a conspiracy theory, or if it was just someone dicking around and decided to post it online.

Here's a link explaining the whole thing in more detail.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Something you're writing may kill you...more at 11.

"Keeping a diary is bad for your health, say UK psychologists. They found that regular diarists were more likely than non-diarists to suffer from headaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems and social awkwardness."

This was taken from a 2004 article at NewScientist.com

Well, that must apply to blogging too because I have all those symptoms. Although a strong argument could be made that people with those symptoms are more likely to be come diarists or bloggers. Certianly the social awkwardness thing. " But she acknowledges that her experiment could not demonstrate which came first - the diary writing or the health problems."

The article also says that those who have had traumatic experiences in their life and write about it were even more likely to have health problems. Again, an argument can be made that people who have had traumatic experiences in their life are going to have stress and health problems and be more likey to write about traumatic experiences (...because they actually happened). Though I'll admit it says nothing about what percentage of people who have had traumatic experiences feel compelled to write it down.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Free 24

Hurray. Current episodes of 24 can now be viewed and pretty damn good quality at http://www.myspace.com/24

Friday, April 06, 2007

EMI Press Release

London, 2 April 2007 -- EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI's existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available. From today, EMI's retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates up to CD quality. EMI is releasing the premium downloads in response to consumer demand for high fidelity digital music for use on home music systems, mobile phones and digital music players. EMI's new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms.

Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group, said, "Our goal is to give consumers the best possible digital music experience. By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music.

"Apple have been a true pioneer in digital music, and we are delighted that they share our vision of an interoperable market that provides consumers with greater choice, quality, convenience and value for money."

"Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "EMI has been a great partner for iTunes and is once again leading the industry as the first major music company to offer its entire digital catalogue DRM-free."

Apple's iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) is the first online music store to receive EMI's new premium downloads. Apple has announced that iTunes will make individual AAC format tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29/€1.29/£0.99. iTunes will continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied. Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price. Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track. All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.

EMI is introducing a new wholesale price for premium single track downloads, while maintaining the existing wholesale price for complete albums. EMI expects that consumers will be able to purchase higher quality DRM-free downloads from a variety of digital music stores within the coming weeks, with each retailer choosing whether to sell downloads in AAC, WMA, MP3 or other unprotected formats of their choice. Music fans will be able to purchase higher quality DRM-free digital music for personal use, and listen to it on a wide range of digital music players and music-enabled phones.

EMI's move follows a series of experiments it conducted recently. Norah Jones's "Thinking About You", Relient K's "Must've Done Something Right", and Lily Allen's "Littlest Things" were all made available for sale in the MP3 format in trials held at the end of last year.

EMI Music will continue to employ DRM as appropriate to enable innovative digital models such as subscription services (where users pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to music), super-distribution (allowing fans to share music with their friends) and time-limited downloads (such as those offered by ad-supported services).

Nicoli added: "Protecting the intellectual property of EMI and our artists is as important as ever, and we will continue to work to fight piracy in all its forms and to educate consumers. We believe that fans will be excited by the flexibility that DRM-free formats provide, and will see this as an incentive to purchase more of our artists' music."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My Resonse to Steve Jobs

I read Steve Jobs' little diatribe about DRM that I posted the other day, and initially I was impressed by his openness about the subject and thought that he made some valid points. And then I thought about it a little bit more and found several holes in his tale of whoa about the corner that apple has been painted in with music-industry-required DRM. This all really came to light for me when I just recently bought a Creative Zen Vision M media player (pictured on the left).

You see, he makes claims that Apple's specific DRM and protecting it involves keeping secrets. He says that if they were to license out the DRM to other stores it would be harder to keep those secrets, the DRM encryption would be comprimised and the major record labels would pull out of the store. He cites their model of DRM as being comparable to Microsoft's Zune store, and Sony's store for their player. He says these companies need specific stores for their specific products because of this secrecy problem. The problem with this argument is that he completely fails to mention of the half dozen stores that support DOZENS of different players from a host of manufactures. One prime example being Napster. I signed up with Napster when I got my Zen, because first of all they gave me a free 30 day subscription, and secondly becuase of course the Zen was one of over 30 players supported by the stores' DRM.

Ok, so now I'll be completely honest about Napster, it's good, but's not great. I have the subscription service that advertised as being able to download anything from the store to an unlimted extent, the only catch is you have to maintain your subscription to have access to the songs transfered to your device. I thought-ok, I can live with that, I listen to enough music that this is a good deal. But I quickly found out that I don't have access to ALL the songs napster has in it's store, but about 90-95% of them. The remaining are "Buy Only". While with most albums this isn't a problem, I keep running into situation where I can download the entire albums except for 1 or 2 tracks and that drives me nuts. So i'm considering switching to yahoo or rhapsody, and I can do this, because I don't have an ipod (anymore). WMA DRM is used by several stores, so I have options. Apple's M4p DRM is used by one store, apple...so if you have an ipod and you want to buy tracks online, you gotta buy from apple, end of story. Steve also points out that music sales are still 90% driven by CDs, which are for the most part DRM free, so the argument that you don't have music buying choices is not valid. This is true, Steve, but if online music buying weren't such a hassle, that ratio would change in a heart-beat (also, illegal trading would drop even more I suspect). I personally don't want to buy cds anymore. To me, buying CDs would be like a personal who buys CDs all them time having to buy Cassettes because of frustrating music buying hurdles.

So the question becomes, why does the top online music download store, sell tracks that only work on one device? Steve wants you to believe it's because of the security reasons, but then why can Napster, Rhapsody, and Yahoo (amoung others) share a DRM model if it's soooo dangerous to do so? Why is it that apple itself only accepts 1 DRM model and mp3s? Apple's actions speak louder than Steve's words. It's all about driving IPOD sales with it's popular Itunes store, and driving Itunes song sales with their popular IPOD. They beleive they've got the consumer trapped in their vortex, and so far they have.

Sure, if everything was DRM-free life would be a lot simpler. But, things would also be a lot simpler if Ipods supported, WMA's or Itunes sold WMA's, or Apple licensed out their DRM model.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Steve Jobs' Thoughts on Music

Steve Jobs
February 6, 2007

With the stunning global success of Apple’s iPod music player and iTunes online music store, some have called for Apple to “open” the digital rights management (DRM) system that Apple uses to protect its music against theft, so that music purchased from iTunes can be played on digital devices purchased from other companies, and protected music purchased from other online music stores can play on iPods. Let’s examine the current situation and how we got here, then look at three possible alternatives for the future.

To begin, it is useful to remember that all iPods play music that is free of any DRM and encoded in “open” licensable formats such as MP3 and AAC. iPod users can and do acquire their music from many sources, including CDs they own. Music on CDs can be easily imported into the freely-downloadable iTunes jukebox software which runs on both Macs and Windows PCs, and is automatically encoded into the open AAC or MP3 formats without any DRM. This music can be played on iPods or any other music players that play these open formats.

The rub comes from the music Apple sells on its online iTunes Store. Since Apple does not own or control any music itself, it must license the rights to distribute music from others, primarily the “big four” music companies: Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI. These four companies control the distribution of over 70% of the world’s music. When Apple approached these companies to license their music to distribute legally over the Internet, they were extremely cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied. The solution was to create a DRM system, which envelopes each song purchased from the iTunes store in special and secret software so that it cannot be played on unauthorized devices.

Apple was able to negotiate landmark usage rights at the time, which include allowing users to play their DRM protected music on up to 5 computers and on an unlimited number of iPods. Obtaining such rights from the music companies was unprecedented at the time, and even today is unmatched by most other digital music services. However, a key provision of our agreements with the music companies is that if our DRM system is compromised and their music becomes playable on unauthorized devices, we have only a small number of weeks to fix the problem or they can withdraw their entire music catalog from our iTunes store.

To prevent illegal copies, DRM systems must allow only authorized devices to play the protected music. If a copy of a DRM protected song is posted on the Internet, it should not be able to play on a downloader’s computer or portable music device. To achieve this, a DRM system employs secrets. There is no theory of protecting content other than keeping secrets. In other words, even if one uses the most sophisticated cryptographic locks to protect the actual music, one must still “hide” the keys which unlock the music on the user’s computer or portable music player. No one has ever implemented a DRM system that does not depend on such secrets for its operation.

The problem, of course, is that there are many smart people in the world, some with a lot of time on their hands, who love to discover such secrets and publish a way for everyone to get free (and stolen) music. They are often successful in doing just that, so any company trying to protect content using a DRM must frequently update it with new and harder to discover secrets. It is a cat-and-mouse game. Apple’s DRM system is called FairPlay. While we have had a few breaches in FairPlay, we have been able to successfully repair them through updating the iTunes store software, the iTunes jukebox software and software in the iPods themselves. So far we have met our commitments to the music companies to protect their music, and we have given users the most liberal usage rights available in the industry for legally downloaded music.

With this background, let’s now explore three different alternatives for the future.

The first alternative is to continue on the current course, with each manufacturer competing freely with their own “top to bottom” proprietary systems for selling, playing and protecting music. It is a very competitive market, with major global companies making large investments to develop new music players and online music stores. Apple, Microsoft and Sony all compete with proprietary systems. Music purchased from Microsoft’s Zune store will only play on Zune players; music purchased from Sony’s Connect store will only play on Sony’s players; and music purchased from Apple’s iTunes store will only play on iPods. This is the current state of affairs in the industry, and customers are being well served with a continuing stream of innovative products and a wide variety of choices.

Some have argued that once a consumer purchases a body of music from one of the proprietary music stores, they are forever locked into only using music players from that one company. Or, if they buy a specific player, they are locked into buying music only from that company’s music store. Is this true? Let’s look at the data for iPods and the iTunes store – they are the industry’s most popular products and we have accurate data for them. Through the end of 2006, customers purchased a total of 90 million iPods and 2 billion songs from the iTunes store. On average, that’s 22 songs purchased from the iTunes store for each iPod ever sold.

Today’s most popular iPod holds 1000 songs, and research tells us that the average iPod is nearly full. This means that only 22 out of 1000 songs, or under 3% of the music on the average iPod, is purchased from the iTunes store and protected with a DRM. The remaining 97% of the music is unprotected and playable on any player that can play the open formats. It’s hard to believe that just 3% of the music on the average iPod is enough to lock users into buying only iPods in the future. And since 97% of the music on the average iPod was not purchased from the iTunes store, iPod users are clearly not locked into the iTunes store to acquire their music.

The second alternative is for Apple to license its FairPlay DRM technology to current and future competitors with the goal of achieving interoperability between different company’s players and music stores. On the surface, this seems like a good idea since it might offer customers increased choice now and in the future. And Apple might benefit by charging a small licensing fee for its FairPlay DRM. However, when we look a bit deeper, problems begin to emerge. The most serious problem is that licensing a DRM involves disclosing some of its secrets to many people in many companies, and history tells us that inevitably these secrets will leak. The Internet has made such leaks far more damaging, since a single leak can be spread worldwide in less than a minute. Such leaks can rapidly result in software programs available as free downloads on the Internet which will disable the DRM protection so that formerly protected songs can be played on unauthorized players.

An equally serious problem is how to quickly repair the damage caused by such a leak. A successful repair will likely involve enhancing the music store software, the music jukebox software, and the software in the players with new secrets, then transferring this updated software into the tens (or hundreds) of millions of Macs, Windows PCs and players already in use. This must all be done quickly and in a very coordinated way. Such an undertaking is very difficult when just one company controls all of the pieces. It is near impossible if multiple companies control separate pieces of the puzzle, and all of them must quickly act in concert to repair the damage from a leak.

Apple has concluded that if it licenses FairPlay to others, it can no longer guarantee to protect the music it licenses from the big four music companies. Perhaps this same conclusion contributed to Microsoft’s recent decision to switch their emphasis from an “open” model of licensing their DRM to others to a “closed” model of offering a proprietary music store, proprietary jukebox software and proprietary players.

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.

Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries. Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free. For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard. The largest, Universal, is 100% owned by Vivendi, a French company. EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50% owned by Bertelsmann, a German company. Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.