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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 3/28/2005 -   4/3/2005
 3/21/2005 -  3/27/2005
 3/14/2005 -  3/20/2005
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 2/28/2005 -   3/6/2005
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 1/31/2005 -   2/6/2005
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 1/17/2005 -  1/23/2005
 1/10/2005 -  1/16/2005
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12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
12/20/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
 12/6/2004 - 12/12/2004
11/29/2004 -  12/5/2004
11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/18/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/11/2004 - 10/17/2004
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 5/17/2004 -  5/23/2004
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 4/26/2004 -   5/2/2004
 4/19/2004 -  4/25/2004
 4/12/2004 -  4/18/2004
  4/5/2004 -  4/11/2004
 3/29/2004 -   4/4/2004
 3/22/2004 -  3/28/2004
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  2/9/2004 -  2/15/2004
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 1/19/2004 -  1/25/2004
 1/12/2004 -  1/18/2004
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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
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11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
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10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
 10/6/2003 - 10/12/2003
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 9/22/2003 -  9/28/2003
 9/15/2003 -  9/21/2003
  9/8/2003 -  9/14/2003
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 8/25/2003 -  8/31/2003
 8/18/2003 -  8/24/2003
 8/11/2003 -  8/17/2003
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 7/28/2003 -   8/3/2003
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  6/9/2003 -  6/15/2003
  6/2/2003 -   6/8/2003
 5/26/2003 -   6/1/2003
 5/19/2003 -  5/25/2003
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  5/5/2003 -  5/11/2003
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  4/7/2003 -  4/13/2003
 3/31/2003 -   4/6/2003
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 1/27/2003 -   2/2/2003
 1/20/2003 -  1/26/2003
 1/13/2003 -  1/19/2003
  1/6/2003 -  1/12/2003
12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
 12/9/2002 - 12/15/2002
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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
 10/7/2002 - 10/13/2002
 9/30/2002 -  10/6/2002
 9/23/2002 -  9/29/2002
 9/16/2002 -  9/22/2002
  9/9/2002 -  9/15/2002
  9/2/2002 -   9/8/2002
 8/26/2002 -   9/1/2002
 8/19/2002 -  8/25/2002
 8/12/2002 -  8/18/2002
  8/5/2002 -  8/11/2002
 7/29/2002 -   8/4/2002
 7/22/2002 -  7/28/2002
 7/15/2002 -  7/21/2002
  7/8/2002 -  7/14/2002
  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
 6/17/2002 -  6/23/2002
 6/10/2002 -  6/16/2002
  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  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
Sunday, August 17, 2003
05:26 - WE INVENETED TEH INTERWEB!!!11!1`

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In the San Jose Airport:

"Whenever you see these symbols, connect using a laptop powered by Intel® Centrino™ Technology™!"



No, thanks, I think I'll continue connecting with AirPort, the way I've been doing it since three years before Intel came up with "Centrino".

God, what a great way to start off this vacation. Right under thirty-foot banners advertising the manufacturing house that makes the Xbox, too.

Friday, August 15, 2003
19:10 - Are there bits in de wall?

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I just got word that our T1 has been installed.

A good thing, too, because I was about to cease my Good Cop routine and loose the full Bad Cop fury of Lance on the ISP for breach of contract. Recall, after all, that this line was supposed to have been installed prior to July 1.

But today, apparently, there were hours upon hours of people calling on cellphones from the job site (e.g. my house) and from cubicle to cubicle as they squeezed tiny incremental pieces of information from XO, each one accompanied by a whoop of success. When I called for the status report today at about 3:00, it was a very haggard-sounding voice that answered the phone.

And after hearing that, and his nigh-tearful admission that it's out of his hands and wholly in XO's court and there's nothing more he could do until they got the line switched back via XO, and after having read Lileks' spookily well-timed admonishment to ply my telephone handset with honey rather than with vinegar, it was all I could do to muster the gruffness to threaten to nullify the contract if a more favorable deal could not be negotiated, especially in the face of what turns out to be considerably better deals from other T1-grade ISPs in the area.

But he said, "I read you loud and clear," and I felt like an awful heel and a virtuous consumer at the same time. And lo, the bits did begin to flow these thirty minutes now.

There'll be some router machinations later tonight-- because of an unrelated matter, they've got us on a temporary alternate subnet until they reboot their main switch panel and the router we're on for some reason-- but evidently we're on a full T1, not the half-T1 that we'd been budgeting for. It's only $220 extra per month. And hey, what's that between the two parties who are merely the mutual victims in all this, namely the customer and the ISP?

Thank you very much, Pac Bell/SBC. You've made it a hell of a ride. And now we have brand-new sidewalk panels in front of our house, which we wouldn't otherwise have had. Yep-hh.... mighty fine sidewalk panels they are indeed.

And it also means I can blog from home again. So I'll be heading there shortly.

Except that I'm going to be on vacation starting early Sunday morning. So I only get to enjoy the bandwidth for the duration of tomorrow, until I head into the barren and blacked-out Northlands, where there may or may not be a functioning airport terminal to receive me and my tired bones.

Followed by what's sure to be, among other things, a week of baldfaced criticism of the Nazi nation in which I live, the bristle-skulled Epsilon-minus bodybuilder about to seize power in my state of residence, and the dung-and-poison-tipped-nookular-missile-throwing simian occupying the Oval Office.

Just the kind of vacation I need. Yay!



10:19 - Welcome to 2003
http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html?uc_full_date=20030814

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Is it just me, or is this not the most tired, well-worn old Vietnam-era canard that's ever been floated in political wartime humor?



This and the whole recent Doonesbury story thread, in which the troops in Iraq are in fact fighting street to street against hardened militia forces holed up in civilian homes, supported by an irate populace intent on nothing so much as driving out the hated invaders.

I know there are bloggers who are actually in The 'Raq right now, who know better, and could e-mail Mr. Trudeau in the hopes of enlightening him, in case there's a chance of his realizing what year this actually is. The reality that I've been hearing from almost all sources is entirely at odds with this desperate fantasy that Trudeau seems intent upon carrying out to its bitter end: why, after 'Nam, and after The Mog, how could this possibly be any different?

I guess there's the possibility that this is tongue-in-cheek, but considering the kinds of things this strip has been focusing on lately, I doubt it.

"Pinned down". For God's sake.

Thursday, August 14, 2003
17:43 - Ah, the mysteries of life
http://members.optusnet.com.au/white_gold/

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A friend pointed me at this a little while ago, and I've been reading through the entries day by day in astonishment, sucking up a few pages each night through our meager shared modem line multiplexed out into 54Mbps AirPort Extreme (there's a parody of modern technology if there ever was one). My eyes get wider and wider the more I read.

"Enter the Cow-Orker", the site is called. It's the three-year-old-and-counting journal of an unnamed office worker somewhere in Australia, drearily holding his own at some kind of software clearing-house firm, endlessly scourged by an absolutely insufferable excuse for a fellow human being in the next cubicle. The Cow-Orker. Scott Adams' coinage. And Adams himself has evidently given the site his vote of hearty approval.

My only question is, My God-- how in the name of all that's sour can this woman still have a job?


17:36 - Ve haf vays uff making you pronounce correctly

(top)
Back in March, I commented on the new Nestlé ad campaign for their caramel-filled Twix (or whatever it is). They had an ad in which two city dwellers sit on some steps and argue about whether it's pronounced caramel or carmel.

I wouldn't have been annoyed by this, except that then the ad scene gave way to the close-ups of the candy bar itself and the youthful announcer talking about the rich, creamy carmel inside. Apparently that famous resort town is not only rich, which we all knew, but creamy as well. And Nestlé's official position is thereby revealed: after giving equal cred to both pronunciations in the presentation of the scene, with the two guys arguing, they themselves came down on the side of the two-syllable edition. Much to my dismay.

So the ad runs its due course and vanishes from screens. Until just a few days ago, when it came back. The city-steps argument is the same, the visuals are the same, everything appear to be unchanged, including the announcer's voice-- except that now the announcer clearly says caramel instead of carmel. Almost unnecessarily sharply and distinctly, too. Rich, creamy care-a-mel.

So what could this sordid tale be? Was the original ad yanked for quality-control reasons, the unapproved pronunciation making it past the ad quality testers? Did they force the twentysomething voice actor back into the sound studio, stick a gun in his back, and hold up big placards behind the plate glass directing him to pronounce it the three-syllable way if he ever wants to see his Xbox again? Are they doing some kind of "Lime Skittles or Sour Apple Skittles-- You Decide!" kind of promotion, whereby through grass-roots consumer appeal Nestlé plans to set in stone forevermore the accepted pronunciation of sticky sugary goo? Will there be two different Twix packages sitting side by side in every candy aisle-- the fast-selling caramel version and the ever-vandalized carmel version, or vice versa, depending on region?

Bring 'em on. I can't wait to see them duke it out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003
11:01 - That's just mean

(top)
So I guess lots of people have probably seen the BuyMusic.com ads that have been airing recently.

It's no secret that they're direct parodies of the iTunes Music Store ads. One of them (I've seen two) features various people rocking out against a white background, like in the Switch ads and the iTMS ads, holding big clunky MP3 players that fill their whole palms while the ads spew promotional text over them. Music downloads for the rest of us! crows the copy. Hey, I'll even give them points for invoking Apple's old "computer for the rest of us" line that they used to sell the original Mac.

But the other BuyMusic.com ad that I've seen goes just a bit beyond the limits of good taste. It's nasty. I know I'm always a bit gleeful when Apple produces ads that poke fun at the Windows side, and I can't resist reveling in the occasional cheap-shot. But Lord strike me dead if Apple ever produces an ad that's as downright ugly and offensive as this second BM ad.

It starts with that same beautiful cherrywood guitar that's the symbol for the iTunes Music Store. On a stand, against a white background, in silence.

Then, this long-haired, unkempt, aging hooligan type-- probably someone I should be able to identify, but looking like an early-80s hair-band member of the type who sings against a backdrop of fireworks and explosions-- comes leering into shot from the side, shuffling like Gollum, grinning madly at the camera. He jumps around the stage a bit, then goes to the guitar, picks it up by the neck, and starts smashing it against the ground. Just like they did in the good ol' days of 80s rock. Whooping and screeching, he trashes that gorgeous instrument, reducing it to splinters as he looses primate screams into the white soundstage.

Then the screen goes white for the copy:

BuyMusic.com.
Music downloads for your
PC

I don't see a lot on TV that gives me that physically heartsick feeling, the one where you feel like someone's got his hand in your chest and starts squeezing. But this ad does that. Vindictive, bitter, petty, thoroughly nauseating.

And not for any reason more than the fact that millions of customers, wholly oblivious to the licensing and pricing stupidities of BuyMusic.com's service, are reacting to this ad with cheers and applause.

That's what just makes me quiver. Seeing Apple bring out product after product, service after service, every one the first and best in its field, solely to serve their customer base and give them compelling reasons to be Mac users. And then, without exception, the Windows side brings out a shoddier and cheaper version of the same thing, with a lot of dissonant fanfare from dented and out-of-tune trumpets, mercilessly ridiculing Apple for daring to stick its neck out.

BuyMusic.com would never have been able to get the labels' buy-in without Apple's doing all the uphill negotiating and all the design work around what such a service should be. But now, rather than focusing on making themselves a better service, they're cashing in on the easiest gold mine in the industry: making fun of Apple.

I know nasty competitive ads are not unusual; just look at the satellite dish/digital cable tennis-match of barbs. But-- I just have a problem with people who ruthlessly lash out at an innovator because they're unworthy to shine its shoes.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Kris has written a full-featured web browser in a single line of code, using the Xcode development kit. Remember when Ratbert accidentally authored a web browser when he was trying to introduce bugs for Dilbert to fix? Well, now it's actually possible.

Let's find a way to mock Apple for it.

UPDATE: Stephen informs me that the character in question is Tommy Lee of Motley Crüe.

UPDATE from Kris:

Actually, I wrote no code. The only thing I typed on the keyboard was:
- the program name: "TenStep" (ten steps to create a web browser).
- naming the buttons: "Back" and "Forward" (I wouldn't need this if I used icons for the buttons).
- 3 times holding the control key down while clicking to link the URL text box and buttons to the display pane.

And I used the current release of the Apple developer tools as I don't have XCode, yet.

Press the build button and presto - a browser which handles web sites with frames and javascript.
Doesn't handle pop-ups or target window links... bummer. I'll need code to handle that.


10:32 - Marketing Genius
http://www.tacobell.com/gas/

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You know what I think is just completely awesome?

This promotion at Taco Bell. The one where you can win free gasoline for a year.

So let me get this straight. If you eat at Taco Bell... you might get gas?



Can this be knowingly tongue-in-cheek? Do I dare hope?


10:25 - What is wrong with these people?

(top)
On the way home yesterday, I heard some top-of-the-hour KCBS newbot talking again about the latest Windows worm. He read off his little card cheerfully, peppily, like he was reading sports scores. And he prattled off the following line:

Many users are finding themselves vulnerable to this worm because they do not use Windows to update their computers.

Uh, no, actually I think the problem is that they do.

The guy was clearly trying to read someone's copy who had a clue about the situation, who had written a line about using Windows Update to update their computers. But this vapid, bubble-headed anchor, who probably happily opens Anna Kournikova viruses every morning, hasn't the slightest clue what he's talking about, and instead has delivered a piece of information that's worse than worthless. "What's he saying-- more people should be using Windows?"

They say that because you always find at least one error in the reporting of any event that you have personal knowledge about, just imagine what that means for all the news you hear.

I think I'll switch back to NPR. They may be slanted, but KCBS is just stupid.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003
17:04 - Yawn
http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/internet/08/12/windows.worm/index.html

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What's that you say? Another Microsoft security hole that nobody's bothered to patch, even though Microsoft "nipped it in the bud" weeks ago? And now it's spreading like wildfire, making headlines and crashing computers left and right?

It's getting worse, not better, folks.


16:59 - Crimes of omission
http://traffic2.bayinsider.com/news/2400932/detail.html

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The big flap on the KCBS news every ten minutes is that a repeat child molester, Brian DeVries, has been ruled by a judge to be no longer a threat to the community, and ordered transferred from the mental hospital where he's been kept for the last several years... into a trailer on the grounds of the Soledad prison.

Residents of Soledad are outraged, KCBS reports over and over. Money soccer-mom soundbite: "I'm very disappointed that the judge reached this decision, and didn't try to take any steps to protect the children of our community."

Other pithy quotes:

"This isn't the appropriate location for him," said Noelia Chapa, city manager for the Monterey County town of 13,000 along Highway 101. "He needs to go back to Santa Clara County. We don't want to be the dumping ground here."

"We don't want this guy in our town. This guy is sick," Gutierrez, 43, said. "He should go to a place in the desert where there's no kids around."

To hear the news report, well, hell, absolutely. Why would the judge act so irresponsibly? Why would anyone release this guy from the psych ward?

Why, it's because of one small, insignificant fact that KCBS seems to find it entirely unimportant to report:

To help demonstrate his intent to reform, DeVries was castrated in August 2001 -- a surgery DeVries said took away his ability to become sexually aroused.

Something tells me that most of the wide-eyed interviewees on the street that KCBS and other news agencies keep talking to aren't being made aware of this meaningless little tidbit.

It is as it has always been: just say the magic words To Protect The Children, and the throng will nod along to the beat.

Monday, August 11, 2003
13:57 - Corrupting vulnerable young hearts
http://www.kbtoys.com/genProduct.html/PID/2431939/ctid/17/place/aguc?_ts=y&ls=collec

(top)

"No, Junior! I'm not buying you any more of these awful violent toys. All they do is teach you a lot of bad values! Like treating the President as some kind of respectable figure that kids should look up to, instead of a mass-murdering war criminal who's just like Hitler except without the brains!"

Via CapLion. Y'know, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the product pitch meeting for this item...


13:16 - Weekend Update with Kevin Nealon

(top)
No photos this time; sorry.

Which I guess is good, because the front yard actually looks a little bit less kempt than it was last week-- on account of the fact that the edges of the gravel and the weed cloth it's on have all been rolled back so the SBC guys could dig six feet down and lay conduit.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, see, they went down under our gravel patch and prepared to burrow under our driveway. They unveiled their "missile", a five-foot-long metal cylinder that you could about wrap two hands around, fingertips touching. The stick it in the hole, horizontally, hook up a high-pressure air hose to the nether end, and it starts pounding its way through the ground. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! Or at least that's the theory.

Because when they started the missile under our driveway, it got about three feet in and then... stopped. They couldn't get it moving again. They dragged it out, and found that it had shattered into several bedraggled pieces.

So they came out the next day, with a bigger missile, one that presumably cost them even more digits. They dug down on the other side of the driveway, about where we'd dug our trench a couple of weeks ago; they sent the missile in going the opposite direction. It bammed away for an hour or so, then... stopped. They dragged it out; it was split from one end to the other like a hot dog you left in the microwave too long.

I dare not even contemplate how much money this job has cost SBC, in time, labor, and equipment. At least we don't have to pay for any of it-- oh wait, I guess we do. Now we know where all those mysterious fees and rate hikes come from. I guess everyone has me to thank. Ah-heh-heh. Ahem.

So anyway, they gave up and pulled up the driveway, and jammed the conduit in. That was late last week. Now I must call and find out why we're still not online.

Oh, and we planted those trees and shrubs in the front yard. The crape myrtle is now ensconced at the corner of the sidewalk and neighbor's driveway (we should have thought to drop it in while the contractors had their trench dug), and the rear line of the gravel area is lined with new flowering plants that we picked up. Not the azaleas-- thanks to a tut-tutting neighbor and her venerable Sunset Garden Book, we now know that azaleas find direct sunlight to be most distressing. So we moved those to the backyard along with some various birches for a corner grove, and in their place picked up a line of splendiferrus verilligata or something. With the help of my parents and grandma, who all came down to indulge in a bit of overdue-but-yet-premature housewarming, and with the sacrifice of my dad's back, the front yard is now planted. We now just have to wait for everything to take root, and then we can move the gravel back into place and think about irrigation.

So at any rate... I'd better get calling the network people. Though I'm finding it interestingly convenient that I don't have a real connection while I write; otherwise I doubt I'd be making any progress at all.

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© Brian Tiemann