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
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Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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  4/4/2005 -  4/10/2005
 3/28/2005 -   4/3/2005
 3/21/2005 -  3/27/2005
 3/14/2005 -  3/20/2005
  3/7/2005 -  3/13/2005
 2/28/2005 -   3/6/2005
 2/21/2005 -  2/27/2005
 2/14/2005 -  2/20/2005
  2/7/2005 -  2/13/2005
 1/31/2005 -   2/6/2005
 1/24/2005 -  1/30/2005
 1/17/2005 -  1/23/2005
 1/10/2005 -  1/16/2005
  1/3/2005 -   1/9/2005
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
 11/8/2004 - 11/14/2004
 11/1/2004 -  11/7/2004
10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/18/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/11/2004 - 10/17/2004
 10/4/2004 - 10/10/2004
 9/27/2004 -  10/3/2004
 9/20/2004 -  9/26/2004
 9/13/2004 -  9/19/2004
  9/6/2004 -  9/12/2004
 8/30/2004 -   9/5/2004
 8/23/2004 -  8/29/2004
 8/16/2004 -  8/22/2004
  8/9/2004 -  8/15/2004
  8/2/2004 -   8/8/2004
 7/26/2004 -   8/1/2004
 7/19/2004 -  7/25/2004
 7/12/2004 -  7/18/2004
  7/5/2004 -  7/11/2004
 6/28/2004 -   7/4/2004
 6/21/2004 -  6/27/2004
 6/14/2004 -  6/20/2004
  6/7/2004 -  6/13/2004
 5/31/2004 -   6/6/2004
 5/24/2004 -  5/30/2004
 5/17/2004 -  5/23/2004
 5/10/2004 -  5/16/2004
  5/3/2004 -   5/9/2004
 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
 3/15/2004 -  3/21/2004
  3/8/2004 -  3/14/2004
  3/1/2004 -   3/7/2004
 2/23/2004 -  2/29/2004
 2/16/2004 -  2/22/2004
  2/9/2004 -  2/15/2004
  2/2/2004 -   2/8/2004
 1/26/2004 -   2/1/2004
 1/19/2004 -  1/25/2004
 1/12/2004 -  1/18/2004
  1/5/2004 -  1/11/2004
12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
 12/8/2003 - 12/14/2003
 12/1/2003 -  12/7/2003
11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
 11/3/2003 -  11/9/2003
10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
 10/6/2003 - 10/12/2003
 9/29/2003 -  10/5/2003
 9/22/2003 -  9/28/2003
 9/15/2003 -  9/21/2003
  9/8/2003 -  9/14/2003
  9/1/2003 -   9/7/2003
 8/25/2003 -  8/31/2003
 8/18/2003 -  8/24/2003
 8/11/2003 -  8/17/2003
  8/4/2003 -  8/10/2003
 7/28/2003 -   8/3/2003
 7/21/2003 -  7/27/2003
 7/14/2003 -  7/20/2003
  7/7/2003 -  7/13/2003
 6/30/2003 -   7/6/2003
 6/23/2003 -  6/29/2003
 6/16/2003 -  6/22/2003
  6/9/2003 -  6/15/2003
  6/2/2003 -   6/8/2003
 5/26/2003 -   6/1/2003
 5/19/2003 -  5/25/2003
 5/12/2003 -  5/18/2003
  5/5/2003 -  5/11/2003
 4/28/2003 -   5/4/2003
 4/21/2003 -  4/27/2003
 4/14/2003 -  4/20/2003
  4/7/2003 -  4/13/2003
 3/31/2003 -   4/6/2003
 3/24/2003 -  3/30/2003
 3/17/2003 -  3/23/2003
 3/10/2003 -  3/16/2003
  3/3/2003 -   3/9/2003
 2/24/2003 -   3/2/2003
 2/17/2003 -  2/23/2003
 2/10/2003 -  2/16/2003
  2/3/2003 -   2/9/2003
 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
 12/2/2002 -  12/8/2002
11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
 11/4/2002 - 11/10/2002
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
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
18:36 - Clippy's been de-res'ed!

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This is what happens when you run Microsoft Office and that Matrix screensaver on the same Windows machine, and they fight for the same piece of memory:



Now if only I could simply stretch out my gloved hand and decompile Clippy into a vertical stream of unidentifiable amber ASCII characters, and hold him there until I squint behind my little oval sunglasses and with a barely perceptible gesture I break the loose bindings that hold his virtual entity together and he dissolves into the digital continuum...


16:13 - I'd like to return your so-called "Ultimate Belt"
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/03/1103/112603.html

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Lileks likes the LotR DVDs, quite a lot:

Whew. Just finished the first extended bonus-edition director’s cut LOTR movie. I’m watching both EBEDC LOTR movies to prepare for seeing the third installment in the theater. I have the same reaction to this movie as I did the first time I saw it: gratitude. And a certain amount of awe – there’s not a note out of place. Every works; nothing clangs. Every frame has some sort of beauty, be it bright or dark. When asked for my favorite movie I give the old standard reply – Casablanca, because it has everything I want in glorious Warner Brothers monophonic silvery-toned perfection. It’s a movie in the sense that LOTR isn’t. Short, self-contained, pop culture that effortlessly transcends its limitations (perhaps because it isn’t trying to do anything of the sort.) But LOTR may be the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen on the screen. I say this as someone who was utterly immune to hobbitry right up until the day I saw the movie.

Which I find very encouraging. Because as should be fairly plain, I've been a Tolkienista since grade school. I'm one of those guys who can recite the names of the Numenórean kings and queens in order. I published a manual on writing in tengwar when I was in high school. (I went to a high school where that sort of thing didn't get you beaten up.) I don't need subtitles when Arwen talks.

And I, and thousands of other incurable Tolkien purists, think Peter Jackson has done the impossible: he's made the ultimate purists' story into a series of movies that to a man they fawn over helplessly.

Jackson figured something out that previous directors failed to see: that in order to please the seriously hard-core fans, the secret is not to simply treat the book as the screenplay; it's not to reproduce every last dorky line of dialogue and every verbal pun that only makes sense in print. Rather, Jackson struck boldly out into new territory; he made a movie that, astonishingly, has almost no verbatim dialogue straight from the books-- it's all either subtly altered or completely synthesized anew. When we saw the first trailers for the first movie, Tolkien fans were in shock. Not nearly frightened enough! said Aragorn in one of the shots. What the hell? When did he say that? What have they done to the character? We awaited opening day with the dread of a train-wreck of which we had foreknowledge, standing in the railway cutting with the camera rolling and a lump in our throats.

And then the curtain went up. And after the first perfunctory background scene, the first two lines of dialogue happened, which appeared nowhere in the book, and were manufactured from whole cloth by Jackson and his writers:

Frodo: "You're late."
Gandalf: "A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to."
.... trying to keep a straight face... lips quiver... both burst out laughing...

An audaciously un-canon exchange, never envisioned by Tolkien, and introducing the characters in a mixture of mock formality that gives way to an overjoyed breaking of the silly façade and the embracing of two long-separated friends. Ralph Bakshi would never have contemplated such a departure from the original story-- he would have stuck religiously to the script straight out of the book.

And that's why Bakshi's movie was such a turd, and Jackson's shines so brightly.

Because in the Jackson film, that opening exchange-- those two superbly-delivered lines, replete with McKellen's picture-perfect facial reactions-- are 100% in character for both Frodo and Gandalf... and in fact seem more natural, even, than what's in the book. Two lines into the movie, and we already know these two characters. Jackson expertly conveyed their respective essences in ten seconds where Bakshi failed in ten minutes to turn either character into anything to which any audience member could relate.

And as soon as we'd all absorbed those two lines, all the purists in the audience, all the hard-core Tolkien geeks around the world, leaned back in their seats, exhaled, and said: Oh! I get it. That's all right then. And we let go of our jealous defense of the canon plot and dialogue; we put our trust in Jackson's hands, and let ourselves be carried off into a new envisioning of the story. One that, to our profound surprise, we all had to admit was even superior to the book version in many ways.

Sure, some characters and plot elements are dropped. But did we really miss Tom Bombadil? Before the first movie was released, Tolkien purists were scowling on message boards about the injustice of it all, the rape of Tolkien's vision that this fat Kiwi slasher-flick maven was committing. But by the time we'd all seen ten minutes of the movie, Tom Bombadil was the last thing on anybody's mind. By the time we'd seen Saruman (Christopher Lee had an understanding with his old friend Tolkien-- if there were ever to be a live-action LotR movie made, Lee was to get the role of Gandalf; but as it turned out, he was simply poured into Saruman's white robes, and he had a voice that the role seemed all but written for, far unlike the gecko with a sore throat that played him in the Bakshi version; and Lee acted as the primary story consultant on the set with Jackson) and Elrond (Welcome to Rivendell, Misssster Baggins) and old Tolkienian hand Ian Holm as Bilbo, we knew there was not the slightest thing to worry about.

Never mind that Aragorn doesn't spend his time reciting love stories from the First Age. Give me his interplay with the breathtaking Sean Bean as Boromir, and the latter's Best Death Scene Ever (a far cry from the ridiculous rotoscoped arrow-studded Viking against the red construction-paper background in the Bakshi movie), to say nothing of Bloom's appropriately light-footed Legolas and John Rhys-Davies' iconic Gimli, and what you end up with is a movie that succeeds beyond anyone's wildest expectations. No hard-core fan expected it to be perfect (and no, it isn't). But even so, all the hard-core fans on Usenet and beyond had their lists of "ideal casting choices" and demands for such-and-such proper treatment of such-and-such plot point. Nearly everybody who had such a demand was flouted. But what they got was so much better than what they thought they wanted.

This is why-- and if you don't want to hear about any spoilers, stop reading now-- I'm not worried when I hear about certain things being cut from Return of the King. We already knew that there'd be no Scouring of the Shire-- like Tom Bombadil, it's a device that works better in print than (likely) on the screen, mostly for reasons of timing (after all, the three movies break in slightly different places than the three books do). But it also means that Saruman isn't in the third movie either, though he does appear here and there throughout the third book. Jackson says that his role, as the primary antagonistic force in The Two Towers, is over now, and to add him into the third movie (from which his final resolution scene has been deleted anyway) would be confusing and pointless. Word is that he'll have a couple of scenes in the extended DVD, but in the theatrical version there's no Saruman to be seen. Pity, but... if there's anything we've learned by now, it's to Trust your Uncle Peter. He knows what he's doing.

Being a Tolkien fan used to mean petulantly correcting people who said, "Oh, Tolkien! You mean, like, The Hobbit, right? I read that in grade school!" and seeking out those rare like-minded fans on campus or, later, online. But now The Lord of the Rings is the biggest pop-cultural fantasy phenomenon we've seen since Star Wars, and those of us who have been so deeply entrenched in Tolkienism as to imagine ourselves honorary members of the Notion Club, or to gaze out our westward-facing windows in the hopes of seeing Tol Eressëa, are now in the decidedly unusual position of having had all our wildest dreams answered. No longer do we have to long for the real version of the story to be put up on the screen, for some good director to come along and film the books the way they should have been done. Nobody will ever be able to even attempt this project again, because Jackson has nailed it. A true die-hard fan himself, the strange little Kiwi has shown that it's not enough to simply be unwaveringly faithful to the original source material in order to make LotR into a successful movie. You have to be a master storyteller in your own right, bringing your own vision to the table.

And that's the difference between all the fans who assumed that Tolkien's original work couldn't be improved upon, and the people who weren't afraid to say that it could. Whatever stroke of providence it was that gave one of those few latter souls the wherewithal to make these movies, it couldn't have been better placed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003
17:23 - Mine would've sucked anyway
http://www.billnoll.com/g5/

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I've been meaning to post this link for a long time now, along with a bunch of supplementary photos of my own G5... but it's pretty clear by now that the latter just isn't going to happen. This last couple of months has really taken a lot out of me, and I'll be just as glad to have that vacation this week.

That said, check out these photos. They're really everything I could have hoped to capture, except for a few of the trivial and technical little details (which, who knows, maybe I'll fill in with some links later):
  • The Serial ATA connectors for a second hard drive-- the power connector, which has the same form factor as the typical ATA drive plug, is about three times as bulky as the Serial ATA data connector itself, and they're both tucked under the plastic housing and retracted out of the way until you get a second disk
  • the little round gray numbers for the PCI-X slots, inside on the motherboard
  • The removable fan module for the CPUs
  • The way the security latch on the back of the case snaps flush when you're not using it, but folds out and locks into place through a little hole in the latch so you can padlock the cover on
  • The power cord, which is at the bottom of the case, dagnabbit, like where it's supposed to be razzam-frazzam-nobody-else-ever-thought-
    about-this-consarn-it-so-it-doesn't-dangle-over-all-your-
    other-cords-dad-gummit, and how the plug is designed to fit flush with the back of the case
  • The way the CD drive drops vertically out of the way to let the tray come out-- beauty-ful

...Okay, so I'll have to get photos after all. Le sigh.

Monday, November 24, 2003
20:06 - Dum dum dum dum dum
http://www.southparkstudios.com/down/guide.html?id=712

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By the way... I'm sure quite a few people saw last week's South Park episode, and I'm sure that the lesson it taught-- in light of the "Let's Make Fun of Islam (coughandalltheotherreligionstoocough)" episode that caused all the furor a Thursday or two ago-- was not lost on them.

Namely, that this one made fun of the Mormons... for about 21 minutes. Then, in the final sixty seconds, Trey and Matt spun around and whapped the audience in the face with a two-by-four.

You've got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we appreciate South Park so much. Yeah, anybody can make fun of the Mormons, say the duo (I believe Trey was brought up Mormon-- and hell, he's done it before). But it takes being willing to shake up the audience and alienate the people who are lulled into that dum-dum-dum-dum-dum-stupor to turn around and point out the obvious, practical, real-world significance of whatever topic they're skewering this week. The lesson, as always, is quit being such a dumbass, get your head out of the clouds, and come join us in the real world.

And even without the turnaround at the end, in any case, I'd have a hard time imagining the Mormons getting up in arms over this episode. If they didn't do so over Trey's 1997 masterwork, they won't now.

Though if Trey and Matt ever go after the Scientologists, now...


13:29 - Now that's redwood

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Behold! The partially-finished deck.



It's already serving a gallant purpose: providing a clean, level surface at the same level as the kitchen floor, so one can traverse the six feet to the hot tub without walking through mud or going down and up steps. It's all Thompsonized, too, and the water seal brings out that deep rich redness all the more. This deck rocks.

It's going to rock all the more when the secondary, raised portion is done. All that's complete at the moment is part of the truss, but when it's finished, it'll be a quarter-circle jutting out over the planter box, where there will be a tree and lots of planted items. And it's 25 inches or so up off the ground. The vertical variation in this backyard is going to be what makes it cool. Especially once the sunken areas are done, with all their landscaping and flagstones and gazebos and things.

It's really taking shape now...


13:23 - I love it here

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Last night I finished the book and submitted the last five AR chapters.

And just as I'm ready to step blinking back out into the sunlight, I discover that it's November. How the hell did that happen?

Now I have to wear a jacket when I walk Capri at 2:00 AM. But as I pass the long open swath where the power lines are strung, I can hear the weird yelping howl of coyotes, howlign all night somewhere up in the Almaden Valley. If I listen, I can even hear them from my bedroom window.

Right here in the middle of Silicon Valley, and I can hear coyotes from my house.

November or not, I love this place.

Saturday, November 22, 2003
04:10 - iPod People amok
http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,61242,00.html

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It's becoming a social phenomenon:

"She walked right up to me and got within my comfort field," Crandall stammered. "I was taken aback. She pulled out the earbuds on her iPod and indicated the jack with her eyes."

Warily unplugging his own earbuds, Crandall gingerly plugged them into the woman's iPod, and was greeted by a rush of techno.

"We listened for about 30 seconds," Crandall said. "No words were exchanged. We nodded and walked off."

The following evening, Crandall saw the woman again. This time, she was sharing her iPod with another iPod regular Crandall had spotted on his walks.

Within a couple of days, Crandall had performed the iPod sharing ritual with all the other four or five regulars he sees on his walks. Since August, they've listened to each other's music dozens of times.

"It's very strange," he said. "It's almost like you're being a DJ for the other person.... It's very gratifying if you see someone dancing around to the music you're listening to. It's a great feeling to see other people enjoying your music, and my tastes are fairly bizarre."

Steve, Steve, Steve-- what have you done?

Thursday, November 20, 2003
22:51 - And the PC of the Year is...
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1383036,00.asp

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Well now. Heh.
Winner: Apple Power Mac G5

Graphic artists and content creators are rejoicing over the Apple Power Mac G5. In a dazzling display of disruptive technology and processor independence, Apple's top-of-the line G5 is the first dual—64-bit computer and the first desktop application of the IBM PowerPC 970 CPU. The vast majority of Macintosh apps run flawlessly on this brand-new platform.

The three PCI-X slots ensure fast I/O; the AGP 8X Pro graphics bus, FireWire 800 bus, and USB 2.0 bus are equally state of the art. Apple has also done a superb job of heat management, having divided the case into four thermal zones, each with low-speed fans appropriate to the load. The result is a commendably quiet machine.

The G5 performed significantly better than any previous Mac—and equaled or bettered the performance of Intel-platform machines—on our all-important graphics and content creation tests. As a 64-bit operating system and applications emerge, users will enjoy the dual 1-GHz front-side buses and rapid access to up to 8 gigabytes of RAM. The G5 is an important step forward in desktop computer technology and a vital cornerstone of Apple's future.

That's PC Magazine, for the edification of the crowd.

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© Brian Tiemann