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



Cars without compromise.





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 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
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  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
Saturday, April 16, 2005
20:27 - If there was a law, it'd be against it
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=15481_The_Stickers_of_Kos&only=yes

(top)
I've seen some very pleasant, tasteful, creative iBook/PowerBook body-modification jobs.

This one meets none of those criteria. I'd think any Mac-head with any sense of aesthetics at all, quite apart from political grounding, ought to be offended to the very core at this.

But I know that's wishful thinking, as we're talking about Daily Kos here. What kind of computer did we expect he'd use? Not the platform of the Man, surely. Apple's a romantically alternative and underground company based in the Pure Land and run by a Clark-supporting vegan. If you're a moonbat who needs Photoshop, there's pretty much one choice.

I'm not with these people. (Nor, however, will I boycott Apple because their products are in their hands... a tactic that when we were kids was called a "tantrum".)


15:48 - Bug massacre

(top)
Holy crap! They fixed my freaking bug!

Hold on while I hyperventilate for a second.


...Okay, there we go. Now then:

Safari. The TEXTAREA rendering bug. The one I submitted months ago and was told it was already being worked on. The one where the final CR/LF character at the end of text in a TEXTAREA field gets stripped off every time it's rendered.

Sound trivial or obscure? Well then: Picture, if you will, a blog composition or message board composition screen where you can type a body of text, then click the "preview" button to see how it's formatted, and at the same time get your textarea back so you can continue editing.

Imagine that every single time you do this, a CR/LF gets stripped off the end... so every time you submit, you have to scroll down to the end of what might be a huge essay and add another return.

You'd think that final CR/LF would be unimportant, wouldn't you? Well, it is... except it isn't. Mostly because of external behaviors that depend indirectly on how it works, like software that's triggered by actual end-of-line characters (that wouldn't be present in this case), or blogs that render a certain amount of fixed line spacing after the customary return I put at the end of my blog posts and the comments I leave elsewhere. In any case, it's true that it shouldn't matter—but that's all just justifications for not treating stripping off the final CR/LF as the bug it is.

And now it's fixed. Woo-hoo! As is the other similar bug where if you were scrolled down in a long textarea, went to a different tab and then back again, you'd end up back at the top.

Now let's see if they've fixed the bit about how if you're editing text in a pre-rendered textarea, the text-insert cursor is invisible as you zoom around with the arrow keys...

...They did! Huzzah!

UPDATE: One negative: Google Maps has broken. Well, not the actual mapping part; but the text to the right of the map, with all the examples and the "Try it" links, is now rendered as a big run-on sentence without formatting. Some kind of weird CSS thing Google was doing that coded to an old standard of Safari CSS handling? They're still in beta, after all, and they're as likely to be at fault as Safari is.

UPDATE: As of 4/19, Google Maps has already been fixed. Well, we knew Google was full of Mac geeks...


15:37 - The anti-Metallica
http://www.nin.com/current/index.html

(top)
We've known for a while that Trent Reznor is a Mac guy, but I certainly didn't expect this: Nine Inch Nails has released one of their new songs in GarageBand format for fans to play around with. If you ever wanted to hear what the Doom soundtrack would have sounded like with banjo loops in it, now's your chance!

Between this and this, I guess it's safe to say that GarageBand is really catching some people's interest in high places. It's tough to say from my perspective how successful it's been—for me it's very much one of those "play with it obsessively for about a week after it's released, then give up" sorts of things—but then, I'm not a musician. For all I know, there are a zillion actual garage bands out there cutting new albums on it as we speak.

If only there were something similar for comic creators. Oh, wait...

UPDATE: Here's Trent's included Readme message:

Hello all-
For quite some time I've been interested in the idea of allowing you the ability to tinker around with my tracks - to create remixes, experiment, embellish or destroy what's there. I tried a few years ago to do this in shockwave with very limited results.
After spending some quality time sitting in hotel rooms on a press tour, it dawned on me that the technology now exists and is already in the hands of some of you. I got to work experimenting and came up with something I think you'll enjoy.
What I'm giving you in this file is the actual multi-track audio session for "the hand that feeds" in GarageBand format. This is the entire thing bounced over from the actual Pro Tools session we recorded it into. I imported and converted the tracks into AppleLoop format so the size would be reasonable and the tempo flexible.
So...
You need a Macintosh and you need GarageBand 2.0. If you have a newer Mac, you already have the software. The more RAM you have the better. I did this on a PowerBook 1.67 w/ 2G RAM but it has been running on far less powerful systems.
Drag the file over to your hard disk and double click it. Hit the space bar. Listen.
Change the tempo. Add new loops. Chop up the vocals. Turn me into a woman. Replay the guitar. Anything you'd like.
I gave this to my crew and band to test out and all work effectively stopped for a while - it's fun to mess around with. I've now heard a country version of the track as well as an abstract Latin interpretation (thanks, Leo).
There are some copyright issues involved, so read the notice that pops up. Giving this away is an experiment. I'm interested to see what comes of it, what issues are raised and what the results are.
Have fun-
Trent Reznor
April 15, 2005

Sweet. (And the EULA notice in question mostly just says "Do what you like with this, just don't try to make any money off it.")

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
19:00 - It's all in the vocabulary
http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/04/13/16OPcurve_1.html

(top)
Via evariste—people have been trying to explain how much of a chance Linux has on the desktop for a while now, but nobody ever ends up convinced, because the arguers are always coming from completely different camps of computer usage. Tom Yager of InfoWorld seems to have a model that lends some clarity to it, though:

No one is so foolish as to make what can be acquired cheaply or free; it's wiser to pick one from among hundreds of platforms and modules that fill in the holes between open source Unix and your applications.

In contrast, Windows fills in all the blocks between the hardware and your apps. It does it in ways that you can't alter, but which you can use in different ways. You can code with the tools of your choice and in the programming language of your choice, and unless you stray too far from the rule book, everything you create will interoperate with everything others write for Windows. An operating system is a rack into which device drivers and APIs are inserted. A platform is a rack into which applications are inserted.

Linux and Windows don't compete. Sun Microsystems (Profile, Products, Articles) sees this as an opportunity and has struggled mightily to position the combination of Solaris and Java as a platform. It almost makes it. I'd choose J2EE and Solaris over Linux for nonuser-facing server applications in shops that have expert administrators. But, similar to Linux and other flavors of Unix, Solaris is a nonstarter on clients, and that's enough to hurt its capability of competing with Windows. There is only one platform that can stand toe-to-toe with Windows, and that's the combination of OS X and Java.

"Stay tuned; I'll tell you all about it," he concludes. Well, he's got my interest piqued.

Monday, April 11, 2005
22:27 - Stop Stealing My Money, You Thieving Government*

(top)
What wonder should I behold upon opening my online bank statement today but that my federal tax return check, written in the amount of $489 and spelled out in longhand as well and proper, had been cashed by the IRS in the amount of $989.

This coming on top of having to pay no less than $3400 combined federal and state estimated payments on the advance for the current book (from which nothing was withheld, and all of which I received in the first quarter, and they don't allow you to spread it out over the whole year) made for an ugly-looking number in my checking account, with a little horizontal line in front of it. Not pleasing to me was any of this.

Oh, I called up the bank and had them put things right. I acknowledge that my 4's sort of look like 9's. But you'd think the IRS would check the longhand version of numbers like this, to avoid "understandable" errors that somehow always fall in their favor...?

...Oh. Right. What was I thinking?


* Apologies to Frank J.


16:37 - Can't fight City Hall

(top)
As much as it might be fun to dream about this, much uglier and stupider stories like this make it clear how futile such hopes probably are.

Dang, that's a nice proposal, though, as I've said before.


15:23 - A strong case for the Nomad Zen
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/11/politics/11letter.html?

(top)
Would you use the MP3 player and music store that Hitler used? Would you?!

First, Mr. Bush's iPod is heavy on traditional country singers like George Jones, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. He has selections by Van Morrison, whose "Brown Eyed Girl" is a Bush favorite, and by John Fogerty, most predictably "Centerfield," which was played at Texas Rangers games when Mr. Bush was an owner and is still played at ballparks all over America. ("Oh, put me in coach, I'm ready to play today.")

The president also has an eclectic mix of songs downloaded into his iPod from Mark McKinnon, a biking buddy and his chief media strategist during the 2004 campaign. Among them are "Circle Back" by John Hiatt, "(You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care" by Joni Mitchell and "My Sharona," the 1979 song by the Knack that Joe Levy, a deputy managing editor at Rolling Stone in charge of music coverage, cheerfully branded "suggestive if not outright filthy" in an interview last week.

Mr. Bush has had his Apple iPod since July, when he received it from his twin daughters as a birthday gift. He has some 250 songs on it, a paltry number compared to the 10,000 selections it can hold. Mr. Bush, as leader of the free world, does not take the time to download the music himself; that task falls to his personal aide, Blake Gottesman, who buys individual songs and albums, including Mr. Jones's and Mr. Jackson's greatest hits, from the iTunes music store.

Mr. Bush uses his iPod chiefly during bike workouts to help him pump up his heartbeat, which he monitors with a wrist strap. The strap also keeps track of calories expended for the intensely weight-focused president, who has recently lost eight pounds after eating a lot of doughnuts during the 2004 campaign. Mr. Bush burned 1,300 calories on his bike ride on Saturday, Mr. McKinnon reported.

As for an analysis of Mr. Bush's playlist, Mr. Levy of Rolling Stone started out with this: "One thing that's interesting is that the president likes artists who don't like him."

The NYT then goes on to state matter-of-factly how it's no wonder that the WPod doesn't have Fogerty's "Fortunate Son" on it, because "As the son of a two-term congressman and a United States Senate candidate, Mr. Bush won a coveted spot with the Texas Air National Guard to avoid combat in Vietnam." Which I guess has attained the mantle of fact now, Rathergate or no Rathergate. Ah well. At least Bush's personal iPod-loader buddy has this stinger to add:

Mr. McKinnon, who has downloaded "Castanets" by Alejandro Escovedo and "Alive 'N' Kickin' " by Kenny Loggins into Mr. Bush's iPod, said that sometimes a presidential playlist is just a playlist, nothing more.

"No one should psychoanalyze the song selection," Mr. McKinnon said. "It's music to get over the next hill."

And yet I'm sure plenty of people will use it as ample reason to go get their music from Napster instead.

UPDATE: But not if you're an investor. Apparently, according to Forbes (and via Steven Den Beste), Apple has jumped 320 spots in the past year to become the 442nd biggest company in the world. I guess Dubya knows where the smart money is, maybe...

UPDATE: So does Jeeves. I've seen iPods in the "generic music player" context elsewhere too, such as in Best Buy ads (that "You can control the Black Eyed Peas" one)... becoming "kleenexed" is perhaps the ultimate achievement in marketing, and yet a mixed blessing as the brand inevitably becomes diluted and escapes the company's control. I don't think Apple's complaining, though.


13:42 - Still got it
http://www.caltechvsmit.com/

(top)
Wow. Looks like "That Other" Institute of Technology still has that ol' fighting spirit.

We decided that the Academic fair would have the largest concentration of prefrosh, so at 1pm we unloaded 800 shirts reading “MIT” on the front and “…because not everyone can go to Caltech” on the back, and casually walked in through the open loading dock in the back of the building with nine boxes of shirts. Within the first twenty minutes we handed out nearly 400 shirts. No one noticed anything because the shirts were individually wrapped in plastic bags. However, It was only a matter of time before one of the prefrosh opened the bag and decided to put on the shirt. When one of our shirt distributors noticed this happening we picked up the boxes and were gone in a minute. Looking behind us we saw the room filled with campus police all looking for us. A couple of us went to the Athletics fair through the front entrance, nodding to the door monitor who knew us as prefrosh, with a few boxes of shirts. We were able to pass out shirts for ten minutes before the door monitor stormed up to us and asked “Who told you to hand out those T-shirts?” to which we replied, “I think he is somewhere over there,” then picked up the boxes and bolted.

I'm proud of the little whippersnappers.

(I was always pleased that Caltech, by the way, was about one of the most apolitical campuses one could ever hope to find... the way things are going these days, it really is going to be a bastion of sanity in more ways than one.)

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© Brian Tiemann