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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Sunday, May 15, 2005
01:49 - Blood on the pages
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1116217489.shtml

(top)
Dean is right: Newsweek is squarely to blame for all the deaths and injuries and intimidations that have resulted and have yet to result from their eager repeating of an anonymous report of Guantanamo Bay guards flushing the Koran down the toilet.

The only thing Dan Rather hurt in his fake-news scandal was George Bush's reputation, which is about like saying he's responsible for harming the popularity of 8-track players. But Newsweek has gotten people killed.

Something they would have known if they'd spent more time reading LGF instead of thinking up new ways to belittle religious people or misinterpret technology news is that a whole lot of the Islamic world already believes that Americans are responsible for nonstop crimes against Muslims that are just getting hushed up by the Zionist media; this is simply a long-awaited and long-expected "documented" case of it. For Newsweek to tell the real story now—that the Koran-flushing incident in question was a prank by an inmate trying to clog up the toilet with the only flushable thing in his cell—would be an exercise in futility and more fuel on the fire, whereas if they'd told it that way originally it would only have gone unnoticed. (And they'd have sold less copies, probably, so there you go.) And just as the Egyptian experts examining that EgyptAir crash a few years back where the black box showed the pilot muttering prayers just before sending the plane into a deliberate dive into the ocean insisted that the pilot would never commit suicide because Muslims just don't do that, there will be nothing Newsweek can say or do to make the people who believe their original story was accurate change their minds. They know the truth; any attempt to deny it now would just be a cover-up, and further proof of the Americans' nefarious complicity. Especially if they had the audacity to try to say that Muslims—Muslims—were the ones desecrating the Koran. It'd just make them madder.

If Newsweek had any sense of the stakes involved in the global PR campaign that is the War on Terror, they'd be steering clear of these matters where they're clearly not qualified to treat sensitive news with the delicacy it deserves and requires, and spending their writers' precious time instead on more lavish cover stories about how Y chromosomes and bottled water cause cancer.

I sure am glad I let my subscription lapse a few months ago.

UPDATE: Well, yes, perhaps the bigger problem—globally speaking—is that we have to be this careful about stuff like this.

It's the 21st century, and we did away with anti-flag-burning laws. Your turn.

UPDATE: So according to Glenn and one of Austin Bay's on-the-scene correspondents, Newsweek has managed to turn what has been by all accounts a spectacular political success in Afghanistan over the past three years into "a total disaster"?

I'm starting to want to see some hangings for treason here. I wonder if we can get Newsweek to foot the bill for the Afghanistan campaign to date, since they don't seem to have cared about pissing it all away in the name of scoring some cheap points in yet another flagrant abuse of the freedom we give the press in time of war these days.

Friday, May 13, 2005
17:49 - Daily profundity

(top)
You know, I don't think there are many better-conceived words in the English language than "waive".

Regardless of its unrelated etymology, one just can't help picturing a guy waving his hand dismissively at some piece of paper full of fine print and going "Ehhh".


...Okay, you make more sense. I'm tired.

Thursday, May 12, 2005
03:17 - Homer sleep now

(top)
Just finished uploading the last chapter of the new book. The one I got the green light for about three weeks ago.

And a whole weekend ahead of schedule, too.

I think I'll go to bed early tonight. (According to UPS, there might be a lens waiting for me when I wake up...)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
20:25 - "We should look for all manner of diversity"
http://www.nytco.com/pdf/siegal-report050205.pdf

(top)
What's this? The New York Times is out-and-out admitting that there really is a liberal media, and they're it?

Have Jon Stewart and Ian Maxtone-Graham seen this?

Via Cold Fury.


16:34 - Video killed the audio star

(top)
It turns out that the big news with iTunes 4.8 is that you can now add your QuickTime movie files to the Music Library and fill out info tags for them just like any song file; double-clicking on any video in the Library plays the video in the Album Art pane in the lower left (if it's open), or in a separate window or full-screen (as selected in the Advanced Preferences pane). There's a new "Full Screen" button along the bottom left for switching in and out of full-screen mode, which may placate those who (rightly) loathe the QuickTime Player's lack of a full-screen playback feature in the unregistered version.

People have been predicting a video-organizing iTunes for a long time now, and I've pooh-poohed the idea; I guess I may have to eat some crow, especially if (as it seems) the purpose is ultimately toward a video-playing color-screen iPod (Apple seems to be phasing out the "iPod photo" branding on the color-screen iPods, according to the "EncycliPodia" pamphlet available in Apple Stores that spends more time talking about "iPods with color displays" than "iPod photo" models). I haven't seen such a thing as comprising a sensible business model for Apple. Yet here we are.

It appears that the impetus for this change, though, is not feature films or news reports, as many imagined (and I continue to doubt), but music videos. It's all part of the iTunes Music Store's continuing expansion of the brand, which now includes all kinds of multimedia stuff that comes with many albums—"digital booklets" in PDF form, "box sets" of downloadable music, and now QuickTime videos that augment albums for a nominal extra fee (another 99 cents for a video—or free, with a paid album, like the four free videos with the Gorillaz single—not bad). The videos now get organized into your iTunes Music folder along with the music, and iTunes happily plays them right in-line with the songs they go with.

This seems to be sort of an afterthought, in any case—it doesn't look like the kind of thing Apple would have had planned all along. There's no DRM in these movie files, obviously. Presumably they don't care about file-swapping of videos, if only because there are so few of them compared to music files, and they serve primarily as marketing agents for the songs themselves (the audio quality is never as good, the file size is much bigger, and watching a video is an active thing that requires you to sit and look and pay attention, as opposed to the passivity of music that you can play while you read or drive or ski, all things that turn video-watching and -sharing into a much different dynamic).

I still have a hard time imagining people downloading entire Hollywood movies onto their iPods to watch on the little bitty screen, or even hooking them up to a TV to watch them there—I mean, come on: there are much better, cheaper, and more convenient ways to watch movies on your TV. But to show a friend the latest three-minute video from a favorite band... well, if it helps to grow the brand of the Music Store and the penetration of QuickTime, perhaps Apple determined that there was really no compelling reason not to.

UPDATE: And I suppose if the QuickTime videos Apple wants to send people are going to be encoded in H.264, then hey—let's do all we can to get it going. I was skeptical, but now I've seen Jeff Harrell's side-by-side Sorensen vs. H.264 comparison, and I gotta say I see the light. That's damn good. Seriously. Go see.


13:42 - Let's Fighting Love

(top)
Okay, I know I'm really asking for it here, but I've just got to get this off my chest:

Why is it that there's not a single anime show out there that has a comprehensible English title?

Sailor Moon. Yu-Gi-Oh. Dragon Ball Z. Big O. Trigun. Fullmetal Alchemist. Even the ostensibly "best" shows suffer from this odd obsession with language that sounds almost, but not quite, entirely unlike English: Cowboy Bebop. Neon Genesis Evangelion. Love Hina. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to just leave it in the original Japanese, even if that means giving up a rare appropriately translated title like Case Closed in favor of one that renders literally as "Story of the boy with giant glasses who solves mysteries" or something.

I understand that all the little colloquial nuances of English aren't the easiest thing for a non-native speaker to get a handle on, but there are ways to absorb information like this if you're going to make a living off it, especially in developing copy for an English-speaking audience. If Yoko Kanno can do such marvelously perceptive and inventive things with Western-style jazz, there's just no excuse for a title like Fruits Basket.

Sometimes it seems like they're trying to come up with a clever pun, like Disney's capable of doing with their translated anime names, like the well-crafted double-entendre of Spirited Away. But more often than not, anime producers/translators seem to go crazy with their puns and mix way too many metaphors, ending up with insane zombie titles like Wolf's Rain and Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex. It's really like they're trying way too hard. The impulse is admirable, but the result is merely that an excellent show gets saddled with a bewildering and weird name. Tartakovsky gives us Samurai Jack. The anime world gives us Samurai Champloo.

I mean, what's the huge problem with coming up with anime titles that are not instantly and obviously recognizable as being anime titles?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
16:07 - It's officially mainstream when it encompasses the esoteric
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPlayListsPage?fcId=62768434&pa

(top)
Jeezum crow! Look at this latest exclusive at iTunes: all the Final Fantasy soundtracks. All the way back to the 8-bit ones.

Nice presentation, too.

(Ooo! New Gorillaz album too. Oh, and videos that require iTunes 4.8. Wonder what that has?)

UPDATE: Aha: they finally rolled Contacts and Calendars syncing directly into iTunes, instead of making you configure it through iSync. Tiger-only feature; now that they've decoupled .Mac syncing from iSync, they can also move the iPod out and into iTunes. No more having two different things launch whenever you plug in the iPod.

Funny how I just finished writing the chapter on syncing contacts and calendars LAST NIGHT and submitted it this morning...


13:05 - Corn Dog

(top)
So it turns out that Banzai likes corn-on-the-cob.



He even pulls the kernels off in neat little unexploded rows, like I do.

UPDATE: Sorry about the underexposure in the first picture, and the overzealous cranking of the saturation to eleven in compensation.

As though to thumb my nose at the gods of photography still further, I'm celebrating my getting my final checks for the Tiger book by buying this. Alaska mountain panoramas, here I come! And dog photos where I don't have to stand ten feet back to get a two-foot puppy in frame.

Monday, May 9, 2005
13:32 - Good thing all scientists are apolitical

(top)
Well now, hold on here—perhaps this new documentary (via LGF), in which thousands of scientists from all over the world denounce the scientific basis of the global warming theory, actually is "not of broadcast quality", as the Canadian broadcasters' screening board determined. Maybe it's really disingenuous and full of obvious untruths, or maybe it's just shoddily done.

...Hmm. Okay, well, looks fine to me.

Maybe they can get it shown here, in between publicly sponsored showings of The Day After Tomorrow and Fahrenheit 9/11.


13:20 - I want my HDTV
http://www.shapeofdays.com/2005/05/h264_changes_ev_1.html

(top)
Jeff Harrell says that "H.264 is going to change everything".

So while over-the-air broadcasters are stuck with MPEG-2, cable and satellite companies are fascinated by MPEG-4, particularly H.264. Whereas MPEG-2 needs 20 to 25 megabits per second per channel for HDTV content, H.264 can do a superior job with as little as eight megabits per second, allowing providers to carry three times as many channels as they could with the older encoding technology.

In fact, satellite TV provider DirecTV just last week launched Spaceway F1, the first of four new satellites that will carry H.264-encoded high-definition content to subscribers' set-top boxes. (Yes, you will need a new set-top box.)

So H.264 for HDTV is clearly a very big deal. I haven't even mentioned yet how it's a part of both the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc next-generation home video specifications, or how Europe's reigning standards body approved H.264 for over-the-air use last fall, or how the government of France has not merely approved but actually mandated the use of H.264 for their over-the-air HDTV broadcasts. . .

Sounds pretty rosy, but I'll wait until I hear non-Mac-type people gushing about it like this. I'm sure the Windows crowd have been penning articles of this nature for years now, about Windows Media...

Via evariste.

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