g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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 1/13/2003 -  1/19/2003
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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 9/23/2002 -  9/29/2002
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  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
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 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
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  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, August 24, 2007
16:25 - Remix nation

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So far, in several months of hearing the so-called POP-ular music on the sound system at the gym late at night, I've heard modern remix covers of:


• "Do Your Ears Hang Low" (a hip-hop song called "Do Your Chains Hang Low")

• "Breakfast In America" (also hip-hop, with lots of new lyrics added)

• "Stand By Me" (a tender pop ballad called "Suicidal")

• And now, as of last night, the "Girl and Goatherd" song from The Sound of Music, now in hip-hop guise.


Truly, we live in a Golden Age.


13:08 - For the record

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The end-credit music for the Discovery Channel show Rogue Nature is an electric version of the theme from Brokeback Mountain.

Just puttin' that out there.


12:51 - I'm sure it's all just hype
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,294334,00.html

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Seeing ads for phones like the new Helio Ocean (or whatever the new model is that's "built by Samsung, powered by Helio," and advertised precisely like an iPhone), I get the sense that the market is soon to be flooded with iPhone-respondent products. Not that I mind this: we all like competition, and if the iPhone makes phones in general better, then awesome.

But this (via JMH) doesn't sound encouraging for the first volley's chances:

The Nokia N95 costs $750, even more than the iPhone, and is jam-packed with features like a high-resolution camera, radio receiver and satellite Global Positioning System receiver.

There are 13 buttons on its face, and that's before you slide the screen out to reveal the keypad.

Two of the N95's buttons take you to a top menu. But each button takes you to a different top menu.

The menus navigate differently. The first doesn't have all the options of the other, the second has all the options but hides some of them. How am I supposed to remember which menu has which option?

This wouldn't have bugged me before using the iPhone. But the iPhone has a way of opening one's eyes.

After using its beautiful, logical touch-screen interface, I get the feeling that if an Apple designer had said "Hey, let's give it two top menus! Give the user more choice," Chief Executive Steve Jobs would have demanded not just his resignation but his left pinky finger. Just as a lesson.

Who'll lead the second volley? One guess...

(The latter via CapLion, who has a link to something else interesting...)


12:46 - Working some rough chuckles these days
http://m.assetbar.com/achewood/one_strip?b=M%5ea11f09b8576e606bcb5038dfdb92fb821&u=h

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I just discovered the "discuss" links on recent Achewood strips. These commenters rule.

"Philippe's square face walking around is like a horrorshow version of Sweet Cuppin' Cakes."

"There are two cuts of Phillipe: Face and Not-Face."

"I remember having little kid fears. The strangest things freak you out. When I was a kid and that old commercial came on with 'OOOOLD MAAAAAN WIIIINTER' on it I would dive behind the couch and piss myself and cry hysterically because I thought he was going to encase me in ice.

Probably, every waking moment is like this for Phillippe."

And to think I thought yesterday's strip was legendary...

Thursday, August 23, 2007
19:10 - Best vanity plate evar
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dratz/1045336659/

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Hands down.

UPDATE: Sam did it already...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
13:47 - Quarter Pounder with Cheese
http://awesome.goodmagazine.com/transparency/006/trans006weights.html

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I'm sure I've bitched about this before, but... speaking as an engineer and someone with a very expensive hard-science education at a school where one's HP 48GX was as precious as one's spindly right arm and making-taped glasses, I bristle at statements like this, from Gruber:

Good Magazine on the history of the official definition of the meter. Includes this humiliating nugget: “There are only three countries that do not use the metric system: Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States.”

Humiliating, eh? Why, because we're just too stupid to see the obvious merits of metric? Can't be because we have good reasons not to adopt it, can it? Nah.

The English system of length measurement is based on the number 12. Not 10. Why? Well, how's this for starters: 12 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. That means you can evenly divide up the length of a piece of wood with just a few brief mental calculations. 12 is based on natural divisions of items you can hold in your hand—a dozen marbles or a dozen nails can be swirled around and portioned out evenly with a finger or two. 12's factors appear all over nature: halves, thirds, quarters, sixths, like you see everywhere from honeycombs to graphite molecules. But 10? 10 is based on nothing in nature but the fact that the human hand has five fingers on it. Really. The only reason 10 is special to us is that that's what we can count to on our hands. And for that dubious benefit, we've sacrificed the ability to divide our goods evenly into thirds or fourths at our discretion—just so that we can raise their number by a power by merely adding a zero. If you think that's a win, talk to the carpenter who has to measure lengths down to the 0.625.

Liquid measure is equally hobbled by the insistence on the Mighty Ten. Time was that we had a system based on powers of two: divide a gallon into fourths to get quarts, then divide in half and in half again for pints, cups, and so on. True, the names are quaint, but look past the names and you'll see a system optimally designed for the very purposes you need liquid measurements for: dividing liquids evenly so you can dilute them or apportion them, whether in chemistry, brewing, or serving food. When you insist on a 10-based liquid measurement system, you find yourself juggling numbers like 3.125 and 0.15625, and for what? So you can congratulate yourself on the fact that a cubic centimeter of water is the same thing as a milliliter, and that it weighs a gram?

What people love to point out about the metric system is that its measures are based on fundamental units taken from the natural world; but really, that's hardly an argument at all. What good is it that the meter is supposed to be the circular length from the pole of the Earth to the equator with the decimal point moved over a bunch of times? Some French guy thought that the dimensions of the Earth should for some reason be the basis for all length measures, and by doing a bunch of number-juggling he found that he could get it down to an almost usable length, something we'd been calling a "yard" forever, but which was formerly made up of three of a much handier unit: the foot, which describes something you can hold in your hands and divide up with your fingers, not something you have to measure with a stick that you have to keep in your closet or behind your desk. What, in the real world, does that have to do with how far it is from the North Pole to the equator on this lumpy, imperfect sphere of rock we live on, anyway? Why do we have to work with wonky units like "decimeters" if we want something that kindasorta resembles a hand-holdable length unit?

And for that matter, who cares if a cubic decimeter of water is a kilogram? Is that really any easier to remember than any other arbitrary conversion, or any easier to calculate? I remember having to refer to the table of decimal conversions in the back of my science books to figure out just how many places to move the point left, and then right, in order to arrive at the answer—and trying oh-so-hard to convince myself that the very act of trundling up and down that chain of powers of ten somehow proved how much easier the metric system was to grasp in the human brain. I wish I'd realized at the time just how far from that "ideal" the reality really was: that I could have saved plenty of time and space in my brain by jettisoning those useless "shortcut" decimal conversion factors and simply doing the appropriate multiplication or division operation. Or, better yet, using one of those newfangled calculator dealies we were all taking to carrying around. Funny how we never made decimal-place errors when we were multiplying things by 5280 instead of trying to remember whether we were supposed to move the dot up 8 or 9 places.

And let's not even get into the matter of Celsius versus Fahrenheit. "Oh, but it's based on water!" friends will tell me. "Zero is freezing and 100 is boiling! It makes perfect sense!" Yeah, if you happen to live your life at STP, I guess. Meanwhile, as it turns out, the scale of 0-100 Centigrade has very little relevance to humans, whose comfort levels are between... um... zero and 100 Fahrenheit. Because it was a medical scale. Imperfectly defined, to be sure, but again, it's not like we all live at sea level and 1 atmosphere of pressure where water freezes at exactly 0°C either. But now we have a scale with less resolution (my Audi's climate control has a whole extra digit of space so you can use Celsius mode and set the temp to 0.5-degree increments) and much more prevalent pain-in-the-ass negative values. For what? So we can wave our hands agitatedly and make vague, pompous, incoherent claims about cubic measurements of water changing temperature within standardized units of time that we never use in real life anyway?

Finally, purely on aesthetic grounds—which of these two statements do you prefer?

"Wow, that thing must be a mile long!"
"Wow, that thing must be a kilometer long!"


Friends from Caltech tell me stories... like the one where two grad students in a research team, one from France and one from Germany, who had never experienced anything but the metric system, came to the U.S. to do academic work. At first they were horrified at our backward system. But within three or four months, they were sold on it. Practical experience and exposure to the kind of work that the English system was created for gave them a whole new outlook and appreciation for decisions made hundreds of years before they were born, by people who were every bit as smart as a couple of European grad students in a lab, if not more so. Sometimes the things we inherit actually do make sense. Our ancestors were not all crazy. And if we eventually do adopt the metric system and the English units drop from our collective consciousness, I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone rediscovers it—or recreates it—a century from now, recognizing that there are ways in which the metric system could be greatly and materially improved.

Humiliating? Hardly. Call me a backward provincial hick if you want, but I'll wear my inches and feet and quarts and degrees F as a badge of honor.

UPDATE: And just what, pray tell, was wrong with pounds and shillings and pence?

... Okay, just kidding.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007
01:27 - And just like that, the Hipster was gone
http://www.woot.com/

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It's hard to permalink Woot pages [update: here], so get this one while it's hot:



As she reached for Tom Fleischenschwetzer’s Visa, she realized something: the Hipster’s hand was no longer on hers. He was gone. His caramocha latte, his DFW book, his shoulder bag: gone. She ran outside to find the Vespa nowhere in sight. Somehow, nobody’d seen him go. Nobody knew where he went. And Becky, well, she never got to thank him.


"Compatible with Windows only - big surprise." And only $150! Such a deal. Better step up to meet the steep demand curve...

Via Chris.

Monday, August 20, 2007
18:58 - The perfect meeting
http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/announcements/gizmodo-commentards-before-the-iron-banhamm

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Because the only rules on the Internet are the ones we invent for ourselves, right? So clearly this is the way we would ideally want things...

(NSFW language warning.)


11:19 - Bring some new bathwater... and a new baby

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I haven't played around much with the new iMovie, but reading some of the horror stories and cautionary tales about it has prompted me at the very least to go download the old version in case they have a change of heart and try to eradicate it from the world of the living.

But that said, there's apparently a lot to like about iMovie '08 (uh, is this the first time Apple has given in to the much-maligned practice of naming a product after a year that won't begin for another six months?). Damien Del Russo e-mails:

I've read a couple of the reviews of iMovie '08, about people complaining about lack of volume control, lack of explicit timeline, etc. And those are valid, it will be nice to have them again.

But DUDE. Real time scrubbing of every video in your library? Real time dropping of transitions? Real time "Ken Burns" over photos? That is SO MONEY! I was making a video this weekend, and it was so sweet to be able to scrub back and forth and just jump around to all the videos in our library + photos. No more waiting.

Now I'll admit it did crash about 5 times on me. But I think it's because I was working SO FAST. I love it. Now I don't use Final Cut so maybe that's where the real action is or whatever. But for a basically free program, iMovie '08 is perfect for me. WAAAAY better to work with than the older version.

Note, this is largely because I cut a LOT of photos into my videos, and all those transition renderings used to really slow down the process.

Anyway, to see an example, I have one at my .mac: http://gallery.mac.com/ydelrusso#100000

I'm poking at it now, and it looks like the Great Big Idea that Apple had this time around was real-time thumbing through audio-visual content as you drag the mouse over a thumbnail of it; that behavior is showing up all over the place, in iMovie, iPhoto, iWeb, the Web Gallery, everything. It's this year's "show a big translucent indicator of where you are in your Library as you scroll rapidly through it (which showed up everywhere from iPhoto to the iPod to GarageBand). Admittedly, it's very slick. Indeed, it's fun. Even if I'm not producing anything, it's fun to play with. But Apple's been doing that since the IIgs, so it's nothing that novel for them.

What I find hilarious, though, is this:



Egad! They finally found a practical use for the Genie Effect!

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© Brian Tiemann