12.19.2007

Mind = Blown

I just stumbled on to a website/film project about stuff. Namely The Story of Stuff.



While it didn't really tell me anything that blew my mind, it was very interesting. The film is about 20 minutes long and pretty much lays things out. The ideology isn't in your face. It isn't pinko, commie bullcorn, but it talks about sustainability and the need for a better system.

Honestly, I feel like there is just too much money at stake for people and corporations to just let go of this brand of consumerism. Speaking as someone who frequently succumbs to techno-lust.

SWAT Raids the Wrong House

SWAT team's mistake leads to terror for Minneapolis family - Nation

This is crazy.

12.17.2007

I'm Batman

One of the perks of going to see I Am Legend at the IMAX theater was seeing the extended trailer for the upcoming summer blockbuster Batman: Dark Knight.

The trailer was nothing short of amazing, and really has me excited for the release. Now, another trailer has been released on the Internet.

Find a link to it: here.

The trailer makes everything look great, and living in Chicago, I can't help but nerd out about all the buildings and street corners that I recognize.

The only thing that has me concerned is the scene where you see Lt. Gordon smashing the bat signal (in the extended trailer this scene was much more prevalent). I'm just really hoping that they're not going to villainize Batman...again. I can understand if police corruption causes Gordon to cave under pressure and no longer use the Bat Signal, but if we're going to see another plot line where Batman becomes public enemy number one (ala Batman Returns) I think I may be a tad disappointed. We've been seeing this over and over in the Spider-Man trilogy and it's just not original or appealing. Albeit, Batman is a much more ambivalent and dark character who could easily be mistaken as a villain it's just so cliche for comic books vigilantes.

Anyway, the writers for Batman Begins were immensely talented and did a fantastic job. If Dark Knight retains that same writing team then I'm sure it will be great.

In other news, I Am Legend was decent. The "vampires" were CG and as a result not as scary as they could have been. Will Smith did a great job, but purists who revere the book will be disappointed by the meddling of the writers and the retooling of the ending. End of the World/post-apocalypse enthusiasts will have a lot of eye candy in one of the best visions of decaying urban space ever depicted on film.

You can find a review that sums up most of our thoughts, here.

12.12.2007

Punched!

I never saw the original SNL episode that this was on, but I am kicking myself now. Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island crew are the best thing to happen to SNL since Will Farrell. Look out for the Double Punch and the Jovi Punch. Oh yeah and there are zombies too. A little something for everyone!

11.29.2007

Why I'm Not a Reporter

I have a BA in journalism, and here is a list of rules entitled 'Journalism 101' that explain perfectly why I am a librarian and not a reporter.

Here are some highlights:

3. ...During wartime journalists must be patriotic and not write anything that might undermine the government or the war effort or lower morale. Wearing a flag pin on one's lapel is a good way to demonstrate [this]. Reporters should always remember that they are Americans first, journalists second and human beings third.

11. ...Just as Catholic priests give up sex, journalists should give up their right to participate in the political process so that they will not have to think too much about whether one side or another is correct. Thinking too hard threatens their objectivity.

12. Journalists should not censor a story unless the government or a big advertiser asks them to.

16. Reporting on people's personal lives should be avoided unless the Drudge Report or the National Enquirer has already written about it, in which case you can report that they reported on it, which is not the same as reporting on it yourself.


Click here for the full list: Journalism 101

9.18.2007

iTunes WiFi Music Store without podcasts?


In a few weeks, Apple, Inc. will roll out a new service to users of its iPhone and iPod Touch. For the first time, these WiFi enabled devices will be able to access the iTunes Music Store from any wireless hotspot on the globe.

The other day, I found myself in an Apple store (that iPhone rebate was burning a hole in my pocket!) and I decided to check out the new line of iPods while I was there. To my surprise, I found that the iPod Touch already had an icon for the WiFi store (something iPhone users have yet to see) and much to my devastation I found that podcasts were not included in any of the iTunes listings. Searching for popular podcasts like Maniacal Rage or NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!" yielded mo results and when browsing by category there was no option for podcasts.
While the iTunes WiFi Music Store will definitely be able to satisfy any "I-gotta-have-it-right-now" urges that I may have in the future (for music), what really had me excited me was the idea of being able to download updated podcasts on the go. I listen and watch a lot of audio and video podcasts and one thing that has always been a bummer is waiting until I get home to download, update and sync new episodes.

Obviously it could simply be the case that the version of the iTunes WiFi Music Store that I played with on the iPod Touch is not the finished version and that podcasts could very well be included when the service is officially launched.

Also likely, however is the possibility that podcasts will be excluded from the store. Due to the free nature of podcasts and the fact that they are generally exponentially bigger than your average music single, it could make sense from a bottom line perspective not to include them in the WiFi offerings since they would hog bandwidth and not generate any cashflow. Apple has already decided not to offer their movies and television shows through the wireless store (and considering the ridiculously bloated compression schemes they use, I don't blame them).

On the otherhand, it's called the iTunes WiFi Music Store. It's not like this data would be moving over AT&T's EDGE network. What does it matter whether you're downloading your podcasts to your computer or your phone/iPod over a WiFi network? They're all sharing the same type of connection.

Regardless, more light will be shed on the situation as it's made available to the public and even if podcasts are not initially offered through the wireless store, it's always possible for them to be added in the future.

9.02.2007

Harmonica + Beatbox

I heard a lot of harmonicas this weekend, oddly enough. This one was certainly the illest.

8.30.2007

The Quest for Pants

In the last two months I have spent close to $400 on trousers.

I'll let that sink in for a second. Four. Hundred. Dollars. After spending that kind of money, just guess how many pairs of pants I now own. I'll give you a second to do the math. Ready? The answer: 2. How many of two pairs of pants I came away with actually fit? 1. How many of the pants that fit that I came away with fit well? 0.

What's going on here? Why, that's exactly what I would like to know. Before I continue I should point out that I did not pay $200 per pair. I bought several pair from several different stores and ended up with only two, returning the rest. One of which was a custom tailored pant (that didn't fit) and therefore couldn't be returned. Admittedly, I am being picky. I no longer settle for pants that physically fit. I want pants that fit well, and this seems to be an impossibility. I feel as though I may have angered a higher power or something as I have opened several packages to find trousers with tags that read the correct size, but when compared to a pair I already own, resemble some sort of cruel joke at my junk's expense.

What's the deal? In short, I'm a freak. To big for regular people, too small for big & tall. My experience has left me wondering how normal people can just go about their lives in legged bliss while some of us wander this Earth clinging to the only stitches of trouser-dom that actual fit decently. I just want to channel George Costanza and scream "HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY?!!!?!! SERENITY NOW!!!"

Seriously, you may take it for granted, but I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be able to walk into a store, pick a pair of pants up off the rack, pay, leave and wear pants.

I end up on the Internet, filtering results, trying to figure out how a 300p x300p picture will translate into 4D and eating a lot of shipping costs. Sometimes I wish that I weren't so tall. Maybe I could get bone graft surgery or something, but then I think of all the short people I have made fun of throughout my life and I realize that karma can be a bitch.

It's not just me though. The quest for pants is a tale older than anyone can remember. Trousers have been a prominent reoccurrence throughout the history of the world. Scots vs. English? Pants vs. Kilts. Some say, Napoleon's ability to find pants off the rack in any store helped him to develop the confidence and cavalier attitude needed to lead a million troops to war. Benjamin Franklin, was recently revealed to be quite the ladies man and anyone who has handled a one hundred dollar bill can attest to the fact that the man was fugmo. The secret to his successes, then? Tight pants.

In recent years, several wars can be blamed on pants or the lack thereof. And most notably, even Superman, the man of steel himself has been documented as being unable to find a pair of trousers worthy of his might. It's a well-known fact that Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, was originally to be called Superman IV: The Quest for Pants. In this version, Superman, tired of saving the world time and time again, decides to become Clark Kent for good, but cannot find a pair of pants that can contain his... er, super ...physique. Instead, the trouser angle was scrapped and replaced with something about nuclear power and Dolph Lundgren being evil.

Regardless, I shall persevere, and when I find the perfect pair of pants I will buy the company that makes them.

8.27.2007

File This Under 'No One Cares'

I was watching Minority Report on my iPhone today and I noticed that the retinal scanner makes the exact same noise that the iPhone makes when you connect it to a power source.

You can hear for yourself in Chapter 5 of the DVD at about the 25 minute mark when Anderton (Tom Cruise) passes through the retinal scanner.

Is the iPhone taking retinal scans through its ambient light sensor? Is Apple stealing sound effects from Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks? Does anyone beside me actually give a crap?

Musical Chairs - Part 2

Picking up where I left off last time (see here), with so much new music coming my way this summer, here's another quick round up of some more great tracks that are really tripping my trigger this season.

UNKLE - War Stories
Unkle featuring Josh Homme - War Stories


The slick glossy orchestrations of Never, Never Land have given way to a grainy and driven bout of fuzz-rock. UNKLE's music was never exactly "uplifting", but War Stories is much grimier than their last two entries.

War Stories treads that line of 'not quite a rock record, not quite an electronic record'. The sound is organic, but inconsistent. Some songs sound like epic throwbacks to Never, Never Land with complex rhythms and strings. Other songs sound almost indie rock. A surfeit of guest singers harkens back to Pysence Fiction but also seems unecessary given the addition of singer/songwriter Richard File to the group. The collaboration tracks, however, remain some of the strongest.

The iTunes version of War Stories includes two bonus tracks previously only available in Japan, one of which ("Buying a Lie") makes the purchase worth every penny. CD purests won't be disappointed though as the physical disc comes with some highly praised packaging and bonus materials (but not the two bonus songs).

Stand Outs: "Keys to the Kingdom (feat. Gavin Clark)", "Burn My Shadow (feat. Ian Astbury)", "Twilight (feat. 3D)", "Buying a Lie (feat. Lee Gorton)"[iTunes/Japan only].


Silverchair - Young Modern
Silverchair - Young Modern

It looks like Heath Ledger and Jason Lee have formed a band... wait, those are the boys from Silverchair, all grown up and back with their newest studio album in 4 years.

With the magnum opus that was Diorama behind them, it seems that Silverchair has reached the Yellow Submarine phase of their career. Bizarre and goofy meets engaging and catchy. The trio has lost it fantastically.

Young Modern deconstructs the band's signature sounds from the past couple albums and pushes their own boundaries even further. One thing is certain: no one is making music quite like this right now.

Stand Outs: "Straight Lines", "If You Keep Losing Sleep", "Those Thieving Birds (Part 1) / Strange Behaviour / Those Thieving Birds (Part 2)", "The Man That Knew Too Much".



Nu:Tone - Back of Beyond
Nu:Tone - Back of Beyond


If you like Drum'n'Bass (aka Jungle) you're doing yourself a disservice by not listening closely to the music coming out of U.K.-based Hospital Records. The label has a ridiculously strong stable of artists, and has recently released jaw-dropping albums from London Elektricity, Cyantific and Logistics. Now, with London Elektricity's Tony Coleman back in the studio working on his upcoming album and silencing his podcast for the summer we can fill the void with Back of Beyond.

For those of you familiar with the aformentioned Hospital Records' weekly podcast, you may actually recognize quite a few of the tracks on Back of Beyond. Coleman has been playing them in preview form for quite some time and it's great to finally be able to get a hold of them.

Back of Beyond is a bit more subtle and subdued when compared to other Hospital artists. He is the older brother of Logistics and there actually is a recognizable comparison of sounds. Back of Beyond may not be as flashy as Logistic's Now More Than Ever or Cyantific's Ghettoblaster, but it is rock solid. Like running a marathon, the production never falters, Back of Beyond is over an hour of enjoyable, dance-able, extremely-well-put-together drum'n'bass.

Stand Outs: "System", "Missing Link", "Take Me Back", "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye", "Beatnik", "Up and Down", "Jet Stream".


Singles

Timebomb - Beck - C'mon, it's Beck. If you need more than that, Beck describes this song as: "a song for bonfires, blackouts, and the last hurrah of summer." Yep.

Future Calls the Dawn - Felix Da Housecat For those of you who wish they were in Ibiza, Spain right about now, this is a great summer track. How can a song be both epic and subtle at the same time?

Beautiful Life - Gui Boratto Straight off of the 2007 release of Chromophobia Beautiful Life sounds a lot like a Chemical Brother's song (and that's a high compliment) and is just in time for the summer dance season.

LoveStoned / I Think She Knows (Tiësto Remix) - Justin Timberlake I'm not a J.T. fan, but Tiesto took an utterly craptastic song and remixed it into something far more fun and engaging.

Crazy World (feat. Kathy Brown) - J Majik & Wickaman Another great drum'n'bass song for the summer with a great hook (however repetitive, but still fun).

Carry Me Away (feat. Emma Hewitt) - Chris Lake One last great dance track for the summer. Kind of cheesy, but it's got a good breezy house vibe.

8.17.2007

Death Metal Office Drumming

I'm putting in an app to work at this dude's office.


One thing that has always bothered me about my work place is the lack of totally extreme death metal. It's in my face!

Check out this guy's blog at www.pud.com. I think I have a new hero.

Happy Friday, bitches!

8.15.2007

Go-Go Gadget Go Bag

What's in Your Go Bag? Lifehacker.com put out a call for submissions on Monday to ask that very question.

Here's my response. What's your's? Go to Lifehacker.com on Thursday to see the 'Show Us Your Go Bag Screenshot Tour'



The Librarian's Go Bag. Liberated from a group of bags designated for our library's laptops. This is my new go bag, replacing the one I had in school with something a bit smaller.

Included:
  • Sunglasses ($14 Target variety) + case
  • 20GB iPod (to plug in to speakers at the office)
  • Metra Schedules
  • notepad
  • iPhone (usually resides in pocket, but replaces the digital camera I carried in my old go bag)
  • Random library materials (this week it's Bulllitt on DVD and a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy audiobook)
  • Mini-Umbrella
  • Mini-Maglite
  • 2GB Flash Drive
  • chapstick
  • my trusty Parker pen (great click action)
  • a little fresh breath control
  • iPhone cloth
  • headphones (usually reside in a cargo pocket)
  • (Not pictured: my old, beat up eye-glasses case w/ cleaning cloth)

8.07.2007

Review: The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night

The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night The Chemical Brothers - We Are the Night


Not writing a full review of We Are The Night would really be doing The Chemical Brothers an injustice. I have been following the Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands as The Chemical Brothers for almost 10 years now and they remain one of my all-time favorite groups. I have been hotly anticipating their new CD ever since I heard the single "Saturate", known as "Electronic Battle Weapon 8" in single form, back in February. Judging from that single, however, I fully expected We Are The Night to be another brazen step forward for the duo, turning away from their established sound and trying something new.

Much to my delight, I found instead that the new album was a compromise that brought new ideas and a fresh sense of humor to the table as well as a conjuring of memories of the older sounds.

After giving We Are The Night my undivided attention and listening to it a couple times through, I have formed the opinion that the album can be listened to as a bridge between 2002's Come With Us and 2005's Push The Button.

Come With Us seemed to be the pinnacle of the signature psychedelic Chemical Brothers sound. Vast and lush swirling soundscapes endlessly moving forward by the prodding of massive concussive beats. Push The Button seemed more of an exercise in collaboration. It had more of a pop-sensibility about it in terms of its tracks being concise and independent of one another. I dare not use the word formulaic but Push The Button was much more straight forward and different from the bulk of The Chemical Brothers other works.

Exit Planet Dust, Dig Your Own Hole and Come With Us were a cohesive whole. They very much gave the impression of a symphony with different movements. Surrender and to a greater extent Push the Button had much more disparate content. The individual songs on those albums did not seem like they belonged to a single structure. Hodgepodge would be the derogatory word. Eclectic would be its complimentary counterpart.

We Are The Night brings back the over-arching psychedelic melodicism from Exit Planet Dust, Dig Your Own Hole, and Come With Us, while combining diverse individual tracks like Surrender and some of the collaborative, pop sensibility of Push The Button.

The end result is an album that should appeal to anyone who has ever enjoyed The Chemical Brothers.

Opening with "No Path to Follow", We Are The Night instantly establishes itself as an audio journey. Find cushy chair and a comfortable pair of headphones with a lot of bass. "We Are The Night" launches you forward on a ride through the stars with twinkling highs, a chugging beat and a train-like bass line.

"All Rights Reversed" hammers at you with reverberating echoed beats while the Klaxons wail hauntingly. "Saturate" builds and falls, inflates and deflates, crescendos and then spikes to dizzying heights. Layers of melody and a killer drum fill make you want to turn the volume up past the limit.

"Do It Again" was initially disappointing. It seemed very boring almost dull. However, with a melody like blinking LED's and a repeatable mantra-esque chorus/verse it becomes enjoyable though sparse. "Das Spiegel" on the other hand is lush and inviting. Initially, it sounds almost like a George Clinton groove, but as the guitars start strumming, the song begins to call to mind Push The Button's "Marvo Gling". Happy and warm like flying in a dream.

One thing that The Chemical Brothers have never explicitly included in their music is comedy. "The Salmon Dance" featuring Fatlip tears down that barrier with a hilarious song that evokes the brand of humor found in Mr. Oizo's music video for his song "Flat Beat". For some reason, "The Salmon Dance" makes me think of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

"Burst Generator" generates memories of songs like "The Private Psychedelic Reel" from Dig Your Own Hole. It's introspective, driven and its melodies seem to stream by like pinpricks of light rolling on ribbons of sound. Back to space again.

Coming down out of orbit, in the upper atmosphere, floats "A Modern Midnight Conversation" with dipping and rising melodies and a breezy chorus. "Battle Scars" touches down in the middle of a desert with Willy Mason singing a cowboy song while surely riding on horseback. If Jim Morrison were still alive, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine he'd be making music much like this. Twinkling pianos, and a plodding beat make this track a true stand out.

"Harpoons" pulls the sound underwater, deep, where there are no beats. Only bubbles of inverted sound and an ambient vocal current to guide us to our final destination. "The Pills Won't Help You Now" give the sad impression that the whole trip was just a dream. A quiet, and mournful track reminiscient of work from The Flaming Lips, Midlake helps The Chemical Brothers close the album out with a bittersweet song that inspires that empty feeling you get after the hangover is gone.

In the end, We Are The Night is an experience. Unlike most albums of this nature, the songs can be enjoyed individually but when listened to together become much more.
For more information about We Are The Night click here.

8.06.2007

Musical Chairs - Part 1

With so much new music coming my way this summer, I find myself hard pressed to review each record separately. Instead I have put together a round up of sorts of the tracks that are really tripping my trigger this season.

The Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up
Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up

One of my biggest gripes with 2004's To The 5 Buroughs was its lack of the trippy, funktastic grooves that made 1992's Check Your Head my instant favorite of the trio's 7 studio albums.

The Mix-Up fills the void left by To The 5 Buroughs by supplying a solid 40-minute instrumental groove. If the two had been released closer together it could have made an amazing double album with straight-up rap on one side and straight-up funk on the other. If you were a fan of The Beastie Boy's compilation album from 1996, The In Sound From Way Out you will love The Mix-Up.

Stand Outs: "B For My Name", "Suco De Tangerina", "Freaky Hijiki" and "Off The Grid".


Mark Ronson - Version
Mark Ronson featuring Daniel Merriweather - Version

Chances are, even if you haven't heard of Mark Ronson, you've probably heard one of his songs. Producing for Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and many, many others over the the last decade, Mark Ronson has made a name for himself in the U.K. as a mastermind behind the scenes.

Now, he's stepping into the spotlight with Version, an album built by his collaborations with numerous and noteworthy artists like Ol' Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan, the aforementioned Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, Robbie Williams and Kasabian, as well as his smooth, organic soul, funk orchestrations. Version is a party album. Something to nod your head and tap your fingers to and most importantly, something to dance to.

Stand Outs: "God Put a Smile On Your Face (feat. The Daptone Horns)", "Oh My God (feat. Lily Allen)", "Toxic (feat. Ol' Dirty Bastard & Tiggers)", "Inversion", "Diversion" and "Outversion".


Lily Allen - Alright, Still
Lily Allen - Alright, Still


In early November 2006, the iTunes single of the week was a happy little track called "Smile" by a relatively unknown Lily Allen. Now, an SNL and Coachella appearance and the release of her critically acclaimed album Alright, Still later, Allen has taken the U.K. and a good chunk of the U.S. by storm.

Thanks in part to the always stylish and hip production efforts of Mark Ronson, Alright, Still is a witty, biting, irreverant and downright funny album that can still cause spontaneous dancing.

Stand Outs: "Smile", "Knock 'Em Out", "LDN", "Everything's Just Wonderful", "Take What You Take", and "Alfie".


Linkin Park - Minutes to Midnight
Linkin Park - Minutes to Midnight


With the release of the group's second album, Meteora, Linkin Park proved to be a little less than worthy of the band's cliché reputation.

Meteora played cinematically and had fantastic art direction in both the liner notes and subsequent music videos. The music itself had excellent and meticulous production values.

While not perfect by any means, Meteora felt like another massive step in the right direction for the group both artistically and sonically.

Minutes to Midnight, on the other hand initially comes off not as a step backward, but rather wandering away from logical progression and down a meandering path. That, however is just the initial impression.

What do you get when you combine Linkin Park & U2? Minutes to Midnight. While that comparison is a bit unfair, the band's sound has matured and thus, gotten a bit boring from a superficial perspective (although if mash-ups were still "cool" the first DJ to mix "Shadow of the Day" with "With or Without You" would be sitting on a gold mine).

In the end, it doesn't really matter (sorry). Regardless of what fans expected from Linkin Park, Minutes to Midnight is here and we can either accept it or reject it. At it's core, it is a very good album. A very different, but good album.

Stand Outs: "Wake", "Leave Out All The Rest", "Bleed it Out", "What I've Done", "Hands Held High", "In Between" and "In Pieces".

7.31.2007

It's Just Art

No explanation necessary. It's just Art.



Meridians from matt owens and Vimeo

Thanks to Beautiful/Decay for the find.

7.29.2007

In Search of News That Doesn't Suck

Nobody watches the news, right? Why? It has been suggested that the reason is because people are apathetic toward politics, current events are too hard to understand, people's attention spans have shrunk, and because the news is too depressing.

If you ask me, I would suggest it's because the news sucks. Broadcast journalism is in the toilet right now and is steadily growing worse as more and more people move away from television news while broadcasters scramble for relevancy and attempt to cash in on the viral video on-demand sensation started by YouTube.

Last year, an online newsletter called Activate started sending out weekly updates as to what was going on in our world. Culled from newspapers, services and wires from all around the globe, Activate is an informative and sorely needed weekly re-cap of world news.

Print journalism is one thing, but a picture is worth a thousand words and so I decided to attempt to find the video counterpart to Activate.

I don't watch much television and I am typically either not home or not willing to watch the national evening news when it airs each night. I do, however watch a lot of podcasts. I am a huge proponent of digital distribution of on-demand video. I was already aware of a few news services that made their broadcasts available online and so the search began for the best daily podcast that contained hard, informative WORLD news.

Unfortunately, it seems that the News Hour with Jim Lehrer doesn't have a podcast (which used to be my hands down favorite broadcast as a journalism major in college). However, there is still quite a bit out there, available now for free.

Here are the highlights of what I found:

ABC World News Webcast

ABC World News Webcast


First up is the ABC News.com Webcast which is probably my favorite of all due to its length and the fact that it is one of the only podcasts that takes advantage of simple technologies that make viewing a lot nicer.

First off, there are no commercials, aside from the occasional promo for an ABC News related program. Each webcast starts with a recap of important headlines and then goes into detail on some (but not always all). Charlie Gibson is the anchor and the show usually starts with news from the Middle East and the Iraq War.

Unfortunately, there are fluff pieces and human interest trife, but these are usually located toward the end of the show. What's especially nice about the ABC News webcast that sets it head and shoulders above its competitors is a "click the screen for more" feature which does excactly that. Viewers can click on the screen during certain stories and a webpage will open in the background with additional information regarding that particular news item.

My favorite, however, are the chapter marks. Chapters are an extremely simple concept, but also extremely useful. Just hit the "next" arrow on your media player to skip the current story and go to the next one. It's so useful, and seems like a no-brainer, but ABC is the only one doing this at the moment. This also makes the fluff and the human interest stories bearable because you can easily skip right past them.

In total, the podcast runs between 17-19 minutes on weekdays and between 2-5 minutes on weekends.
Score: B (marks off for inconsistent quality of news stories)




Nightly News with Brian Williams


MSNBC has stepped up to handle the duties of all of NBC's various news shows. If you like debates, it really doesn't get much better than Meet The Press which is also available via podcast. In terms of news, the Nightly News with Brian Williams definitely boasts the best theme song of all the competitors (penned by none other than John Williams). The contents of the webcast is on par with what is offered from ABC, however it lacks the bells and whistles that ABC boasts.

No chapters, no click the screen for more, and there are commercials. The commercials are typically "The More You Know" style public service announcements, but they occur half way through the podcast and there are no chapters to use to skip them. If you're on your lunch break or riding a train and time is short, this just seems like a nuisance.

If you like Brian Williams or the NBC theme song you might go with this one, but the lack of chapters and the addition of the "commercials" puts it behind the ABC webcast.
Score: C+ (marks off for inconsistent quality of news stories, commercial interruptions and lack of chapters)


CBS Net News Cast

CBS Podcast


Say what you will about Katie Couric (the few episodes of the podcast I tuned in to, she was on vacation so I didn't even see her), the nail in the coffin on CBS' Evening News podcast is pounded in by its' poor video quality. As a viewer, I ideally want to be able to watch these broadcasts on my portable media player my computer or my television, and regardless of which screen I'm watching it on, CBS's podcast looks bad. Like the poorest of the poor YouTube quality, the video is also glitchy and scrubbing through (fast forwarding or rewinding) can crash or freeze your player.

As far as the news is concerned, it really isn't very hard. There is a surprising amount of speculation involved in stories as well. The podcast is 20 mins which (can be good for some but) is bad for me. Especially considering there are no chapters. In essence, the CBS Evening News feels like local news. Almost half the broadcast is fluff.
Score: D



Mosaic


Mosaic is hardcore. This is no-nonsense news, reported on in a straight-forward and trustworthy manner with no commentary and no pundits. It's exactly what I was looking for. Only one problem. It's only Middle Eastern news. Mosaic is extremely comprehensive, covering the entirety of the Middle East, it contains no fluff and clocks in at a walloping 30 minutes (actually a bit too long for me). If you are trying to keep up with events in the Middle East this is an absolutely mandatory download. If only there was a counterpart that covered the rest of the world as well.
Score: B (marks off for being Middle East-centric only)




BBC News


Most people, myself included, view the BCC World News as one of the gold standards of broadcast journalism. Unfortunately their podcasts don't fair as well. For starters, there's no world news-only version of the podcast, so there is a lot of local British news mixed in. At first, I didn't feel like this would be a big deal, but after sitting through a few discourses on British politics, I realized that I needed a World news-only feed.

Also, the podcast does not download through iTunes. Which isn't the end of the world by any means, but can be a pain if you're on the go and time is a factor. You'll neeed to subscribe to the podcast via RSS and when a new edition is available you'll download it through your web browser. Once it's finished downloading you'll have to change the file extension on your download because for some reason it defaults to a .txt file. Then import it into iTunes. While this isn't a huge deal, it's also not something you will want to do for a DAILY podcast.

Ironically, their webpage has numerous pictures of an iPod and uses the term podcast liberally, yet, no iTunes support. Maybe it's availble in the iTunes U.K. store, but not here.
Score: C-




CNN Daily Podcast & Anderson Cooper 360º


CNN has definitely gone the way of MTV in recent years (remember when they actually used to play music videos?). It seems like it's been a while since I last saw real news on CNN.

In terms of video podcasts, CNN doesn't have much. I was really hoping for a podcast verson of The Situation Room with
Wolf Blitzer instead we have to settle on the CNN Daily Podcast which is just "okay". It's short, usually clocking in at 10 minutes or less. There are occassionally short commercials at the beginning although I've been watching for a few weeks now and haven't seen any lately.

The content is hit or miss. Somedays the news can be all fluff, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and kittens stuck in trees. Other days, there can actually be something worth watching. It doesn't help though that the shows anchor Tony Harris is a d-bag and his female counterparts rotate seemingly everyday. There are no chapters and the "news" generally just seems like a variety of YouTube/America's Most Daring X-Treme Car Chase Rescues videos.
Score: C

Anderson Cooper 360º

360º is very U.S. centric, but the Iraq correspondent, Michael Ware, is very good. No-nonsense, surprisingly honest, but just a tad over-dramatic. Cooper does a good job of tackling hard issues, I just wish the show were a little less U.S. centric. Also, playing against its success is the political correspondent Tom Foreman, who is a supreme tool and lovingly plays the role of the stereotypical broadcast journalist hack.

Cooper's show comes with the least amount of fluff, however the show ends each day s with the "clip of the day" which is basically just pulling up whatever YouTube video made the crew laugh that day. It's generally totally lame and seems like a waste of 5 minutes. The show ends up feeling as if it's trying a little to hard to be hip, edgy and relavent to today's youth. Pandering transparently to a demographic of college students, and recent grads.

All in all, however, Cooper has one of the more solid shows. It's a bit on the long side, clocking in around 27 minutes, but if it had chapter marks it would probably be my favorite of the lot.
Score: B

7.26.2007

Coined: Christbringer

Christ-bringer. adj.

This word is generally used to describe an event or action so powerful, important or noteworthy as it would single-handedly return Jesus Christ to Earth.

Dude #1: "Hey did you hear that [insert completely unbelievable event here]?"
Dude #2: "Holy crap. That's a Christbringer if I ever did hear one."

7.24.2007

Happy Charles Webster Day

Well, I missed out on iCal Day but I can see that and raise with Charles Webster day.

Yes folks, a day dedicated to Webster's 2001 album Born on the 24th of July is the only album he ever released. So if you haven't heard it today's the day to find it and if you have heard it, today's the day to dig it out again.

Okay, actually the album isn't all that great. It's decent downtempo techno that I usually listen to when I'm trying to get to sleep, but I recommend it if you see it somewhere for cheap. His track 'Ready' is pretty excellent for gettin' down with the ladies, if you know what I mean. *wink* *nudge*

Another important development on the 24th of July is the release of a new trailer for the new Wes Anderson movie! You can check out the trailer for 'Darjeeling Limited' here. The trailer looks hilarious and the movie will be coming out in late September according to the website, so that is definitely something to look forward to.

If you're not sure who Wes Anderson is, he's the guy that directed Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. And while there's no mention of Bill Murray in the trailer I'm still hoping for a cameo. Regardless, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman should be hilarious together.

7.02.2007

Settling A Bet

Well, John asked me if it was possible to post to blogger on an iPhone and what better way to show than by doing. Of course to be fair, I was already able to post from my previous phone by sending an email with my post in tow to a super top-secret e-mail address, but this right here is the real deal, baby!

Putting on the HTML tags by hand is a bit difficult so I think I'm going to just skip all that for now but I should be able to turn the wysiwyg editor on on the back end so as not to have to deal with that problem.

Anyway, I don't mean to be a jerk. I hope everyone is well. Expect a real update from me soon.

6.23.2007

On Trains and Drum & Bass

Over the years, I have met many people who don't like electronic music. One sub-genre in particular I have noticed is especially hard for newcomers to appreciate is drum & bass. It's an extremely polarizing style of electronic music. You basically either love it or you can't stand it and there's not much middle ground.

One of the reasons I think that is so, is because it's just so overwhelming the first time you listen to it. You almost have to train yourself on what to actually listen for.

In that regard, I equate listening to drum and bass to riding on a train (or a car for those of you who don't ride the rails). If you look out of the train as your riding, or if you're riding shotgun staring out the passenger window of a car, you see the landscape whizzing by you very quickly. If you focus on the details in the foreground your eyes are going to be overwhelmed and your head is going to start to hurt, you might get nauseous and you're not going to enjoy the view. Same with the hyper fast signature beat of drum and bass.

Admittedly, not all drum & bass is created equal and when I speak of the genre which is rife with it's own deluge of sub-genres, I am generally speaking of what has become known as 'liquid' drum & bass, best exemplified by the music being put out on Hospital Records. Although, Tony Coleman and company over at Hospital would probably be dismayed to see me pigeonhole their music so, in the end, Hospital records is a brand and their distinctive sound acts as that brand's identity.

Anyway, back to the subject, the beats behind drum & bass which generally run in the 120 bpm range are typically the biggest hurdle for new listeners to clear. It can be overwhelming, overpowering and stifling. Of course, with some songs, that's the whole point, however with others, it's more of a backdrop.

As with a train ride, the beauty of the landscape is not found in the up-close details but rather out on the horizon. Rather than focusing on the foreground we let it whizz by unnoticed and focus on the bigger picture. With drum & bass, the principle is the same. Let the beat become a backdrop, a set pattern, and then focus on the minute variations in that pattern. That is the point at which the artistry of drum & bass becomes apparent. Many people believe that electronic music is devoid of such virtuosity, and they are entitled to their opinions, but it shows great skill for a DJ or producer to manipulate the layers of a track deftly enough to become evocative, energizing or contemplative.

Well that's enough philosophizing, how about some train videos?

None of these actually feature drum & bass music, but they're still good. The first two are mine (not my music though) and the third is a pretty awesome music video by Michael Gondry.








6.21.2007

Working is for Losers

me: today was the wrong day to wear a black shirt

Brooke: i am wearing black too

me: hopefully you are not covered in dust

Brooke: i am sure someone there has a lint roller

me: it's no big deal. I will be down here for the rest of the day

no one will see my shame

Brooke: in your dungeon?

me: ye3s

Brooke: i am not ashamed of you, but your brother is

what are you doing now?

me: trying not to inhale

when do you start getting vacation time?

Brooke: i think in Jan

me: ok

that sucks

Brooke: why?

me: I want to run away!

working is for losers

Brooke: lal

you want to run away on vacation time?

me: as Pete and I used to say back in high school: Jobs are for sucks

yeah I figure at least then we could get away with it
and still be able to come back in 3 weeks to get more money

Brooke: so running away is not permanent

me: well it depends on how you look at it, I guess

Brooke: we could just become bank robbers

me: that would be cool

Brooke: like in point break

me: no way, I don't want to die

we gotta do it like the cat burglar dudes that never get caught

Brooke: ok, we won't die

or we could be like the couple in pulp fiction

me: yeah because they seemed to have such a high success rate

Brooke: and we are definitely smarter than they are

me: all it takes is one badass motherfucker and your day is ruined

Brooke: but i am the bamfer

me: no sam jackson is

Brooke: well, if he is not there, then i am

i called it 1st

me: fine

Brooke: cheer up

me: it's cool I'll be the suave sophisticated one

and I'll always dress better than you

Brooke: what?

you wish

me: yeah bad ass mother fuckers don't get to wear cute shoes

keep that in mind

Brooke: yes they do

uma thurman did in kill bill

me: dammit

good point

Brooke: i know

that is why i am the bamfer and get to do all the talkin

me: no the bamfer never talks

Brooke: you stand there and look intimidating

me: no that's your job

the bamfer is the intimidator

you gotta learn the rules

the suave sophisticated one does the talking

Brooke: maybe i'll just be both

me: fine

I'll wait in the car

Brooke: and be the driver?

me: no

Brooke: or will i do that too?

me: I'll just pick the best CDs

Brooke: ok sounds like a plan

6.18.2007

Stolen: Swiggity

It appears that I am too late! Someone named Davidissimo has gone back in time four years and coined my new word right out from under me!

As I try to figure out how he was able to construct a time machine able to read my thoughts and then travel back to the year 2003 and post them on the Internet, I will go ahead and post the word here, anyway.

(Actually, I was already aware that this word has been around for a while, I can't really remember when I first started saying it, probably somewhere around 2003 or 2004 when I was a senior in college. So I take no credit for its invention, but I love it nonetheless.)

Coined: Swiggity
usage: adjective or interjection.

Slang or abbreviation for "sweet". As Davidissimo points out, it can be used by itself or in conjunction with the word sweet.

examples:
Dude #1: "Hey did you see that Sony is thinking about cutting the price of the PS3?"
Dude #2: "Oh, that would be swiggity sweet!"

Dude #1 (upon finding a 5 dollar bill in the couch cushions): "Swiggity."

6.14.2007

Blog Like It's the End of the World!

Well, it looks like June 13th - National 'Blog Like It's The End of the World' day was a huge success.

I have to admit I had no idea about this phenomenon until yesterday morning. It took me by surprise and I just got caught up in the act. I judging by comments on My Elves Are Different, that happened to a lot of people. I think it's kind of funny how blogging about a false zombie attack swept the internet and 'infected' people just like a zombie plague. Albeit, a plague that only seemed to effect geeks and English majors (I got my degree in Journalism, thank you very much ;).

If you missed out on the fun, be sure to stay tuned next year. It sounds like we will be trying for June 13th again. It should be awesome because June 13th is a Friday!

6.13.2007

R.I.P. Mr. Wizard

You can read Mr. Wizard's final interview here.

At least the zombies didn't get him, I guess.

I made it

By the power of grayskull. I made it. Obviously, since you're reading this. I freakin' made it!

It was seriously messed up though. I was about to leave when I figured I'd try to take a look out the window. See if the coast was clear. Stupid, I know. I saw 28 Weeks Later and it went down just like that first scene. I pulled back the blinds just a little bit, but it was already, like, right there. Hand came through the window, catching on the broken glass, punching through my screen just a bloody claw. It scared me so bad I jumped back, tripped and landed on the couch. Just sitting there, mortified, like I was watching TV. Watching the hand recede scraping off flesh from its arm and make a mess of my favorite lamp which was situated under the window.

I just sat there for another moment. It was outside moving around, trying to find another way in. I got that feeling like when you see a spider. It scares you at first, but then you just get pissed. You realize that you're better than it is and you know you can take it out, but you just don't want to.

Luckily, I have a back entrance. I still have to sneak around back and go past the zombie, but it might not see me.

Quietly (or at least as quiet as I can be with heavy boots and a backpack full of crap) I open the back door, and head out. For some reason, I locked it behind me. I guess I thought that if this whole thing blows over it'd be nice to come back for some of my things.

I came out into the alley behind my building and crouched behind my dumpster. It smelled awful, but I'm sure compared to zombies I was getting off light.

I spotted two at the end of the alley across the street. Dammit. I decided to cut back around to the front of my building and take my chances with the single zombie that may still be outside my window.

Just as I came around the corner it lunged at me. Tried to grab me by the shoulders and bite my neck. It was shorter than me. I pushed back and it fell on its' ass. I was about to take off running, but I stopped and looked back. It was my upstairs neighbor's kid.

He was a senior in high school, just graduated. Good kid. Something came over me. I don't know why, but I turned back. Hammer in hand, he was on his feet again. I got closer and he lunged at me, I stepped to the side and brought the hammer down right on the back of his head. Poor kid. His body convulsed a little bit on the ground.

I took a look around to see if any others had spotted me.

I didn't want to run if I didn't have to. Too much noise, and I'm not fast enough. I got low and tried to take a look around. In the middle of the circle was the Early Childhood Center. Little kids. We're talking preschoolers. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn't see any, but the idea of zombie toddlers was far worse than zombie adults.

Trying to regain my composure. The Beastie Boys started going through my head. Slow & Low that is the tempo... I looked down at my hammer and saw a chunk of scalp in the claw. I almost dropped it. I shook it a bit and rubbed it on the bushes to get it off. I couldn't remember the rules. Touch be blood and your infected? Is it the plague thing? Better play it safe.

I kept down moving from cover to cover. I flashed back to my childhood playing 'Guns' in the backyard. Made it to the street. Do I cross or take the long way around.

I heard a train! There's no way I can get to platform in time to see if its actually being operated by humans (besides it was headed toward the city and I'm sure that was a real fun-house right about now), but the noise would cover up my movements as I cut straight through to the library.

I ran.

I think the last time I ran that hard, was fifth grade. Trying to get the best mile time for the Presidential Fitness Award.

Looking over I could see a zombie-mom. She had been slumped against her SUV, now she was following. The two zombies I had seen at the end of the alley had spotted me and were moving in my direction. Were these fast-zombies? I couldn't tell yet. I had been looking around so much that I hadn't been watching were I was going and across the street a little girl was running toward me.

I started to run toward her, figuring I could scoop her up and keep running. She looked to be 5 or 6 years old, wearing a little yellow sun dress. Closer. She was a zombie. I tried to turn away from her, but she was running... why the fuck was she running? Romero, Boyle make up your minds! Fast or slow!?

She was almost on me. I kicked. The way you do when you're shooting a goal in soccer. Full body, leg up behind me, step, BAM. I swear to god she flew, like, 15 feet. She hit a parked car. That did not just happen.

I kept running. It had hardly broken my stride. Looking back she was up. Something broken, she was following but not running anymore.

I looked forward, the fire station was ahead. The doors were open, the fire engines were parked. I saw a head poke out from behind one of the engines. Fuck me sideways. Goddamn zombie firefighters. This is not happening.

The front doors of the library won't open with my electronic key fobb. I need to get to the back door. Fastest way is between the fire station and the library. I'm not going that way.

I take the long way around. More zombie firefighters are coming out to see what all the commotion is. The train is gone now. I'm making a lot of noise.

Running the long way 'round the library, I see a few more of them around the other side of the circle. Across the street though, dozens. All by the train stop. I slow down to get a better look. Looks like some people had run to the train stop to flag down the passing train, I see one guy get taken down by 3 of them. I stand there watching with morbid fascination. Seems safe from 70 yards away.

The windows of the parked car I'm standing next to explode outward. Glass shards everywhere, it knocks me to my knees, but I'm up again trying to figure out what just happened. The apartment complex next to the library has balconies. Looks like one of them was up there. Saw me. Fell over the railing landed on the car.

Time to leave.

The firefighters are coming around the corner now. I gotta head towards them to get to the door. I run full blast, almost to the door but the zombie is closer. It worked on the little girl, I'll try it again. I put my foot into his chest. I feel his rib cage give before he's flung backward knocking down the others. I veer right, unlock the door, slam it closed and press my back up against it.

Alarm is going off. What a great way to compliment my day, I think to myself as I try to remember the pass code. Takes me a couple tries, but I finally get it off. Or should I leave it on? No. Off. Definitely off.

It dawns on me that I'm safe. If the alarm was on that means no one came into work yet. The motion detectors would have triggered the alarm too if anyone had broken in.

I take a couple deep breaths. Think about throwing up a little bit. I haven't eaten anything today except coffee.

I can hear the firefighters outside. Time to leave.

Up on the roof I've got some food from the staff fridge. A laptop, Internet is still working for now (obviously). I even found a foldy lounge chair. Awesome. I pull out my cellphone. I think it's finally safe to start calling some people.

I call my girlfriend.

"Hey baby, how are you?" she answers.
"I'm pretty good. Are you surprised to hear from me?"
"Yeah, I took you for a goner. I'm not gonna lie."
"Great, thanks. I can see you were real broken up about it too." I said
"Where are you?"
"I'm on the roof of the library."
"Ooooh, nice. How was the trip over?"
"Uh... it was intersting"
"Did you kill any of them? Have you been bitten?" A mixture of concern and disappointment in her voice.

"No, not a scratch. I'm good. I killed like 2 and a half." I said.
"What? What's this half shit? You either kill them or you don't."
"Yeah well, how many did you kill?"
"More like how many haven't I killed? I've been preparing for this since... hold on."

...

"Sorry, one of the people I am with got bitten earlier and didn't tell anybody. I just took care of it." She said.
"Wow, I'm surprised you're with people. I thought you said when the zombie invasion starts it's everyone for themselves?"
"Baby, don't say the 'Z' word. It's totally scary!"

"My bad. I think I'm going to let you go though for now. I need to call my family and see how they're doing. If they're alive maybe I could steal a car and we could drive out to their house in the country?"
"So this is what it's finally going to take to get you to drive a car?"
"Whatev." I said. "I'll talk to you later."
"Okay, I love you."
"I love you too. Stay safe."
"I will."
"Bye."
"Bye."

So that's been pretty much everything up until now. It's a nice day to be up on a roof. Kinda hot. Wish I had packed shorts. I guess the zombies won't object if I walk around in my boxers. But I see "_blank">Obvious has commented on my last entry and it seems that there is some hope.

Sweet. Looks like I'll just hang out here. Wish I had some beers.

BLITEOTW

It's happening outside Chicago too

Just outside Chicago in Elmwood park.

I woke up this morning like every other morning. Alarms blaring, hitting snooze over and over again until 7:30 rolls around. I stumbled out of bed like a zombie, made the coffee opened the blinds, turned on my computer for e-mails and feeds.

In retrospect, I can't believe I made it through the morning. I live in a basement apartment, so I can see people's legs when they walk by my building. I noticed more people than normal out and about around my building this morning, but I really didn't think that much of it.

I never noticed anything out of the ordinary until I sat down and checked my feeds. Sifting through stuff about Apple's keynote and 'summer-movie' round-ups I ran into a post from Geeks of Doom about a zombie outbreak.

I figured it was about a movie and actually skipped right past it, but my girlfriend loves zombie movies so I figured I read it and forward it to her.

I thought it was just some great fan fiction when I read it until I clicked on some links to others in San Francisco and around the world. I checked CNN and there was a splash page up, like they had when 9-11 occurred. Zombies.

I got that cold chill of realization and it finally dawned on me how quiet it was outside. All I could hear was the birds. I hadn't heard a train horn all morning. I could still hear jets taking off from O'Hare though.

It's about 9am now. I've been sitting in my apartment for too long. It's a basement apartment so I'm not safe here. One window pops and a zombie needs only fall in here and I'm screwed.




Like I said, I can't believe I made it through the morning. I ran the coffee grinder, for chrissakes.




So now, there's no time for a shower. I need to get out of here. I work at the Library just around the circle shaped drive, I have to get there. If the electricity is still on, I can get through the electronic locks, I can get on the roof. I don't know what time the library opened but if this shit went down while the doors were still closed there should be nobody in there.




The only problem is I have to get around the circle and the circle is the hub of Elmwood Park. I'm bound to see at least 20 of them. I have no weapons, save for some kitchen knives and a hammer.

I close the blinds to my windows. I don't want any of them to see me moving inside. I'm trying to stay calm and think rationally. I grab my biggest backpack. Load it with a change of clothes, my camera, cell phone... ARGH, what am I doing I can get all this stuff at the library! We have digital cameras, laptops, food it's all there, I don't need to bring it with me, it will just slow me down.

Ok.

Fuck. I never read the zombie survival guide. I don't know how to deal with this shit. That was my girlfriend's thing!

Ok. So I think what she would do. But I have no idea. I'm wasting time.

I rummage through my closet and grab my tent. I may have to camp out on the roof? I don't know, it seems like a good idea.

I grab my winter coat. I have a sturdy pair of boots too. Jeans, extra socks. I'm remembering some of the war books I read in high school.

A few minutes go by and I think I might have everything. Wait... sunglasses. Yes.

Outside, I can hear a lawnmower. I peek out the window and see the mower go by under it's own power. Just gliding over the lawn and sidewalk until it's out of view again.

Knives. Screw the knives. I don't know how to stab anything. I opt for the hammer. I'm a big guy I should be able to club a zombie pretty well, but I don't know. I haven't been in a fight since grade school.

I've got my gear. I think I'm ready. Wait. Take one more look around. I may never see this place again.

I grab some stupid personal mementos.

Time to go. If you're reading this, I'll try to post again when I get there. If the power's on and the Internet is working.

Who am I kidding. No one ever reads my blog anyway.

BLITEOTW

5.31.2007

Coined: Junk Farmer

Junk Farmer (noun)

A Junk Farmer is slang for those individuals that drive around in old beat up pick-up trucks searching for scrap metal, old appliances and just generally junk in general.

These trucks are usually recognized by their extremely poor condition and the insane amounts of "junk" piled in the back, which often requires special rigging and/or improvised side-rails to contain it.



Dude #1: "Don't follow that junk farmer too close or you may end up with a washing machine through your windshield."
Dude #2: "Good call. Those junk farmers are crazy."

5.29.2007

Update

Almost a month after my last blog entry, so much has happened. So here's the lowdown:

  • I graduated. Got my Masters degree in Library Information Science.

  • I got a job. My library hired me fulltime as their Technology Librarian. I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do and couldn't be happier



Okay, well that's about it for the big changes, but isn't that enough?!. No, in all seriousness, though after graduation I took a little mental vacation. There was a whole lot of laziness going on for about a week as I tried to unwind and figure out my next move.

My next move, of course was accepting an offer to work fulltime at my library. So, of course, working fulltime has left me exhausted by the time I get home and not much in the mood to blog. Things are still crazy at work, but they are slowly calming down... maybe that's just wishful thinking. More accurately, I'm just figuring out how to handle the extra workload, I guess.

In other news, my girlfriend moved to a new apartment, my best friend and his wife left for Costa Rica for the summer (but not without first stopping by Chicago to say goodbye) and I have started to spend the money that I have yet to recieve from my new job (which is awesome and scary at the same time).

I had a pretty good Memorial Day weekend. I hope all of you did. I had a weird thought though as I was sitting out on the deck grilling burgers for my girlfriends friends. Rather than taking Memorial Day to remember the past, I felt like I needed to remember the present. The month had whizzed by and brought so many changes that I felt a pressing need to take stock of the moment and really enjoy it. Life is good and I am thankful.



Anyway, I have more updates on the way this week. I have a few blog entries I have been putting off for a while and a number of reviews to write.

4.30.2007

Procrastination



I am six days away from graduation.
I have two assignments left to complete.
I am loosing my mind.

WARNING: MATURE/BIZARRE/F***ED UP CONTENT

4.24.2007

Power Point

I had to teach Power Point to my computer class on Saturday. So this strikes me as being extra funny. Man, do I hate Power Point.





Legiticorp: MMO Pitch

4.21.2007

A Little 'I told you so'...

Let the record state that I was completely right about April being the craziest month of the year.

And I don't even have to mention the other big story. Now kids want to be able to carry guns around campus to make themselves feel safer?

I don't want to get into a whole big thing here. I have my opinions, but with all of the media overload that's been going on, I have no desire to add to the din.

I'll simply state that I can't wait for April to end

4.20.2007

Holy Poop

Words. Fail. Me. All I can say is, turn up your speakers.

Neil Peart drum solo (Buddy Rich Memorial concert)


4.17.2007

Review: Ozomatli - Don't Mess With The Dragon


Ozomatli - Don't Mess With the Dragon


Don't Mess With The Dragon!

Ozomatli is all about the party. Or at least they once were. The L.A. ensemble noted for their fusion of hip hop and salsa were always blending styles, instrumentations and even moods, from party jams to somber ballads to conscious hip hop. The band's previous album, Street Signs, was a solid release but reflected more of the ballads and conscious hip hop mentality with much less "party".

Don't Mess With The Dragon, however, is a return to form. Afterall, Ozomatli is the name of the Aztec god of dance, fire, and music, and this new record reflects all of these things. While all of Ozomatli's records have been wonderful in their own right, this is the first that is readily comparable to their first release, Ozomatli, which is widely regarded as being their best. An alternate title for 'Don't Mess With The Dragon' could be 'How Ozomatli Got Their Groove Back'.

It's evident from the moment you press play and are greeted with a rump shaker called 'Can't Stop' that Ozomatli is back in top form. This song alone is like a microcosm of their signature sound, mixing Latin beats with electric guitars, DJ Spinobi's ambient accents, a hip hop interlude and inspirational vocals about "seizing the day" and having "faith in love". In a nutshell, this is Ozomatli.

'City of Angels' keeps the tempo going with a funky beat-infused cowboy anthem about L.A. The rap flows on this track are the most solid since Embrace The Chaos featured De La Soul on '1234' and Justin Porée and Kanetic Source on 'Lo Que Dice'. 'City of Angels' marks the moment where MC's Justin Porée and Jabu come into their own and start to move out from under the shadow of previous MC, Chali 2Na. The addition of The Fred Martin Singers also helps to give the band a soul boost.

Not enough can be said for the laidback, simplicity of 'After Party'. This is the type of song that you wish would start playing on your iPod as your walking down the street on a sunny afternoon. It also shows that lead singer Raúl Pacheco can evoke emotion even when he's just singing about finding a good party.

The title track to 'Don't Mess with The Dragon' is downright infectious. I would like to know the meaning behind this song. Superficially it seems very funny. With a goofy repeating chorus like 'Don't Mess with the Dragon' and someone making monkey noises in the background alá Ben Stiller, it's surprising to read the lyrics and find them to be fairly depressing. But the vibe is upbeat ska with some Far East flavor.

'La Gallina', 'Here We Go' and 'Creo' are almost reggaeton (a genre this reviewer doesn't have much love for) but with enough Ozomatli-ness to make it work. Also, Jabu and Justin seem to be on-point throughout all three, especially 'Creo'.



'Magnolia Soul' is an interesting entry because it's almost completely straight funk. Not much dilution, just straight hip hop infused funk similar to The Breakestra or Quantic Soul Orchestra. The track is inspired by New Orleans with overt references to Katrina.

Rounding out the album is 'La Temperatura' a blast of a song, all about having fun reminiscent of 'La Misma Cancion' or 'Mi Alma' from previous albums. 'When I Close My Eyes' answers the question of what an all ska/punk Ozomatli track would sound like (hint: not bad). 'La Segundo Mano' acts as one last push of hip hop with Jabu shining a little brighter still. And 'Violeta' starts out as one of Ozomatli's signature somber ballads, but ends up with a fun sing-along chorus:
"¿Y tu mama que dice? / Tu hermano y tu papa, / ¿Que dicen? / ¿Tu hijo y tu marido que dicen? / Los nietos, tu abuela, / Dime que te dicen."


'Don't Mess with the Dragon' is a must-have for anyone who has listened to Ozomatli in the past. It's also an excellent starting point for those unfamiliar with the group. It's fun, irreverent and most importantly it's all about the party.

4.15.2007

Warm Fuzzies

After just declaring April to be Cyberpunk month, it's only fitting that this little video makes its way down the pipeline. It's an advertisement for Intel, but not for any product that they have available right now. This is one of those daydream commercials where a company tries to impress us with stuff that have not even produced yet. I'm not sure how that helps sell existing products or justifies making a commercial, but it's cool any how.



Reactions to these types of commercials are kind of funny. A lot of people see something like this (myself included) and get really excited about how cool the future is going to be in terms of useful, unobtrusive technology. However, if you're like me and you sit back and think about it for a second you realize that a lot of this stuff already exists right now. It's just a matter of bringing it all together into seamless integration.

For instance with the first little vignette, we've already got mobile phone/watches being made, or about to be made. We've got voice activated software and I can get my Mac to read me any text on any webpage, e-mail or whatever, and Mac OS 10.5 should bring another leap to speech synthesis technology. As for syncing devices, we've got that with our iPods, but that will only get better as wireless technologies allow for real-time data syncing.

The second vignette is cool because it looks like some kind of advanced GPS application coupled with a mobile phone device. We are getting some of those now. But what's really cool to think about is it's possible that it's not GPS. If the Chinese guy is in a city with a metropolitan Wi-Fi network then his phone could just be communicating with the network to map out the streets. Also having the cellphone wirelessly change the settings of the car and act as the stereo is pretty sweet.

And as for the last vignette, well... what would the future be without a good rave?

This is one of the reasons why I like Apple so much, because of this kind of integration. Like I said, a lot of these types of products are already on the market, but they're not all going to work together the way they do in the video. Apple on the other hand gives me a glimpse into that kind of world. It's not just Apple though, Google is doing a fantastic job of bridging digital gaps. Letting PC's and Macs coexist, pushing your data into a central location (their servers) where you can access it from home, work, or on someone else's computer. Sony is another. I've often thought that if I weren't a Mac addict, I would have all Sony products. Being able to integrate my PC with my TV with my Playstation, movies, Walkman, and Sony Ericcson mobile phone is really exciting.

But that has traditionally been the downfall of these types of technologies; if you want to reap the full benefits of integration you have to sign up for the full package. You have to have all Apple products, or all Sony products or all Microsoft products. Mixing and matching brands is generally going to lead to problems. It's unfortunate, but somewhat true and I think of the big hurdles that we'll need to get over before the future in this video can become a reality. Although that might explain why Intel made this ad. As if to say, buy Intel products now because we've got a lot of cool stuff planned that you won't be able to take advantage of if you buy AMD.

Interestingly though, they don't show us any of the invasive technology that the future may hold. What William Gibson calls BodMod. Getting a wireless implant that can talk to your devices similar in fashion to RFID. Optical implants that show you a HUD (heads up display) that only you can see. Or forget about bone conducting headphones, why not just get the audio implanted into your ear?

Too freaky? Yeah, I agree. In the meantime, I'll stick with devices I can hold in my hand. Besides, what's the point of having these kinds of gadgets if your friends can't see them and get jealous?

4.12.2007

April is Cyberpunk Month

April: the calendar year's creepy next door neighbor.

If there is one month out of the year that I don't like (as ridiculous as it may be to declare disdain for an entire month) it would be April.

Why? Because I hate Spring and sunshine, and Easter bunnies? Of course not! I don't like April, because that seems to be the one month of the year where people go a little crazier than normal.

Think about it. The Branch Davidians in Waco? April. Oklahoma City bombing? April. Columbine? April. I'm sure there are more, but I can't think of any others at the moment. I guess I should be thankful for that.

As people who have had cabin fever all winter emerge from their homes and out into the rapidly warming spring air (although not around here; it's still frigid) they take a little of their crazy with them.

So I have decided to celebrate April by escaping the crazies and living in the virtual world of cyberpunk.

What this basically entails is having a month long film festival of sci-fi movies. Over the last couple years I have amassed a pretty serious collection of cyberpunk movies, but it seems like I hardly ever watch them. So now, having April as Cyberpunk Month gives me an opportunity to do just that.

So, if you're interested, here's a quick list of my recommended flicks:


  • The Matrix Trilogy (for the proper viewing order click and scroll down to Enter The SuperNerd)
  • Ghost in The Shell 1 & 2 or Stand Alone Complex (if you're feeling ambitious)
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Blade Runner
  • Gattaca
  • Freejack
  • I, Robot
  • Akira
  • Appleseed (2004)
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Lawnmower Man
  • Equilibrium
  • UltraViolet
  • Aeon Flux
  • Escape From NY/LA
  • Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis (2001)
  • The Returner
  • Strange Days
  • The Island
  • Vanilla Sky
  • The Thirteenth Floor


Each year I also like to watch a few that I haven't seen before so this year I am finally going to get around to watching the Robocop Trilogy and Tron.

Yeah, I know it's unbelievable that I haven't seen them yet. I've seen Robocop 1, but that was a long time ago and I've never made it all the way through Tron, but this is the year!

Also, if you're not into the whole 'watching movies' thing, there are a handful of books I can recommend too:

  • Philip K. Dick - pretty much anything by this guys is solid gold and he wrote the books and short stories that a good chunk of the movies listed above are based on. Definitely be sure to check out Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which was the basis for Blade Runner.
  • The Neuromancer Trilogy by William Gibson. Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Neuromancer is really the book that started it all. Although it wasn't the first, it nailed the concept and style and coined the phrase "matrix" and "cyberspace".
  • Snow Crash & Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. Snow Crash is genius. It has completely insane and over the top action sequences coupled with analysis of Sumerian mythology and metaphysical philosophy. This book inspired Second Life.
  • Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. I read this one last summer, it's basically a murder mystery, but the world that Morgan creates is different from anything else I've ever read, while still remaining oddly familiar. It's the first of a series.


Well, I think that's enough for now. If you're still reading this then you are a huge nerd... just like me.

Anyway, enjoy Cyberpunk month. Go try something new!

4.11.2007

Coined: Talk to the Blog

Talk to the Blog

An expression used out of exasperation after having spent hours crafting a lengthy, informative, and well-written blog entry. Generally used to respond to someone who asks a question that pertains to a blog entry you wrote that they have not read.

Could also be used in a situation in which one is unable to articulate his/her point after doing so exceedingly well in blog form.

Dude #1: "So, what did you do this weekend?"
Dude #2: "Are you serious?" *sigh* "Talk to the blog."

Dude #1: "So why do you think Macs are better than PCs?"
Dude #2: "Because! ... They've got... It's just... You can... ARRGH! Talk to the blog!"

[credit to Shawn Strecker]

4.03.2007

How to: Circumvent DRM... Legally.

With all this talk about DRM (Digital Rights Management) lately (see here), I think it's great that we may finally be on the verge of getting rid of DRM'ed music (despite the fact that I don't think we should have to pay extra to get it).

But what about all that music that you've already invested in? Surely, Apple and EMI would love nothing more than to have you download it all over again. But hold on! Before you go rushing off to re-purchase all of your songs, try this simple trick to get around DRM-addled tracks.

1. Find some music that you have bought from iTunes that is in a protected AAC format. If you're not sure if its got DRM "all up in it", then right click on one of the songs and select 'Get Info' to view the 'Summary' tab.



Under kind, it says "Protected AAC audio file". That's the culprit.

2. Put that whole album into a playlist of its own and burn it as an Audio CD.

3. Now, when the Audio CD is finished, leave it in your computer. If it automatically ejected, put it back in. Import the CD that you just burned. A message like this will likely pop up:



Click 'Replace Existing' and you will be prompted with this message:



Click yes.

Now, when you're music is imported, it will replace the existing files, but it will also inhabit and preserve their original metadata, such as Play Count, Album Art and which playlists each song belongs to. Check the results:



But "Wait a minute", you say. "Albums are easy! What about singles?" Well, for singles, you can use the same process, but I recommend using a CD-RW so as not to waste an entire CD on one song. Also, with singles, metadata can be a bit tricky.

The most common occurrence is that if you bought one song from an album it could be 'track 4 of 12', but when you burn a CD with one song on it, that song (regardless of track or album title) is seen by the computer as 'track 1 of 1' and your computer will import it as a different file.

The way around this? Before you burn the CD, change the track numbers accordingly. If you're burning the CD with just one song, change it to 'track 1 of 1'. If accuracy is really important to you (or you think you might go back and buy more tracks from that album later), you can change the that field back to the way it was after you re-import the song.

So there you have it. An relatively easy way to circumvent iTunes DRM and it's 100% legal. If you make a habit of doing this right after buying albums from the iTunes music store it just becomes second nature.