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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Friday, July 8, 2005
19:46 - Britishness

(top)
Let the hand-wringers wring; to the rest, though, there's work to be done:



Now that's a bounceback. Go Brits.

(Now watch: people will start claiming that the attacks were perpetrated by day-traders looking to create a buying trough...)

Thursday, July 7, 2005
17:42 - To have such problems
http://money.cnn.com/2005/07/06/news/newsmakers/stevejobs_ipod/index.htm?cnn=yes

(top)
This is what a social conscience will do to you:

Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs personally called the family of a 15-year-old New Yorker to offer his condolences after the teenager was killed last week during a fight over an iPod, according to a report published Wednesday.

The New York Times reported that Jobs and the victim's father, Errol Rose, spoke for a few minutes earlier this week after Jobs' assistant called the paper asking for Rose's telephone number.

"Some people talk to you like they're something remote. He was so familiar. After every word, he paused, as if each word he said came from his heart," Rose told the Times.

Calling him by his first name, Jobs asked how Rose was doing and conveyed his sympathies, the report said.

"He told me that he understood my pain. He told me that if there is anything -- anything -- anything he can do, to not be afraid to call him. It really lightened me a bit," Rose told the newspaper.

Christopher Rose was killed Saturday in Brooklyn after Rose and three friends were confronted by a group of teenagers who allegedly demanded that Rose give them his iPod. Rose was stabbed twice in the chest after he apparently resisted.

What must it be like, to be in the position where something you've created is so wonderful that people are killing each other over it? How do you be exhilarated and heartsick at the same time?

Not many people have ever had to be in that position, but Jobs seems to be working through it pretty well. Good thing, because that kid's dad seems to have really appreciated the gesture.

Via evariste.


14:02 - Epilogue

(top)
I got my car back today.

And I have got to say that I am thoroughly impressed by Bob Lewis' commitment to keeping my business.

Recall that the resolution to the month-old car debacle was that Bob Lewis would replace my faulty alternator and battery cables for free—a service they'd quoted (with some obvious markup) at $1000. I gave them the car on Tuesday.

Well, yesterday morning I got a call directly from the shop foreman, who explained to me that as it turns out the alternator was in fact fine... and the faulty charging of the battery that I'd been enduring for the past three weeks since the first service at Bob Lewis was to be laid entirely upon the battery cables, which were corroded and falling apart to the point that hardly any charge was getting through them.

Now, since Bob Lewis had already agreed to do $1000 worth of free service for me, the foreman—at Mr. Director Man's behest, according to the final paperwork—placed himself entirely at my disposal. He asked me whether there was anything I wanted replaced—any little things I'd wanted to get fixed for a long time and never got around to it? He'd take care of anything I could think of.

"Well," I said, "there are some interior pieces here and there—"

"You mean like the door pull on the driver's side door? Done."

Wow. "Okay.... well, then there's also the dome light assembly, which they once quoted me as being like a $200 replacement to fix the whole unit—"

"Done. Anything else?"

"Uh... the rear cuphold—"

"Done."

By the time I hung up, he'd volunteered to fix a laundry list of niggling little things I seldom even thought of, but that always sort of bugged me when I noticed them—and also promised to drive the car around for about twenty miles once everything was hooked up, ensuring that nothing whatsoever would surprise me on my way off the parking lot. They'd keep it one extra night to get everything taken care of.

And I picked it up this morning. As I was signing out the car and reading over the invoice full of repairs listed under "ALL GOODWILL", the shop foreman materialized at my elbow, shook my hand, and discussed everything he'd done—and volunteered further free stuff for me to bring the car in for before the Alaska trip, such as an oil change with good synthetic, realignment of the front wheels (they'd been wobbling a teensy bit), replacement of the stereo head unit, and anything else I find between now and then. "Oh, and we did a thorough detailing job, too—got everything all sparkly like new again. My card is in the center console," he said. "E-mail me, and let's be in touch."

I thanked him for all his attention to detail and willingness to help. "No problem," he replied. "I was happy to do it."

And I went out and sat down in the car—and he was right, it did indeed feel like an entirely new car. They'd Armor-All'd every interior surface to hell and back, and everything that had any scratches—from plastic door pull pieces to vent faceplates to the ignition key socket—had been replaced. They'd brushed down my seats so there was no lint clinging to them (as there had been since approximately ten minutes after I first bought the car). They'd fixed the dome light, the rear cupholder, replaced the winshield wipers—I popped the hood once I got back to work, and to my shock they'd cleaned up the engine bay to the same finish level as the interior, the VW logo bright blue again, the VR6 badge gleaming again like new. They'd replaced the broken connector on the MAF sensor. They'd cleaned off all the dust. They'd replaced and repaired the plastic housings around the battery, which had been sort of falling into a shapeless mass over the years. They'd clearly made this car their #1 priority for the whole past day, and damn if they don't want me coming back for service in the future.

And yes, the idle problem seems to have gone away now.

Driving back to work I couldn't help screeching away from the line a couple of times, like I'd done for months when the car was new, and grinning ear-to-ear, singing doggerel. Holy crow, how I do love this car. Even when it costs me money and time and makes me doubt my own sanity. I just can't imagine driving something else.

It'll be mine for at least another year or two. At least.

UPDATE: And yet, I do still plan to learn how to do some future repairs on my own. I've got this thing now, so I can pull out the spark plug wires and take off the engine cover. And then we'll see what's what.


13:44 - Test of mettle

(top)
So now that London has been attacked, it seems hard to escape the speculation that the terrorists—if indeed today's attack was by the same people—are moving from country to country, feeling each one out to see which way it will jump.

They know now how the US and Australia reacted, they know how Spain reacted. Now they'll find out how the British will react.

We won't know for another couple of days; today, people are still giving speeches in the heat of the moment, and many folks are saying very encouraging things, including even Ken Livingstone. But time will tell whether that kind of ire will last as it has here, or whether the Galloways of the world—with their connecting the dots between the claim of responsibility citing Iraq and Afghanistan as the reasons for this "retaliation", and the necessity for Britain to withdraw from the War on Terror—will win out.

Many are claiming that the British Isles are made of sterner stuff, but I fear that the world has become so cynical by now that the hope for a muscular response is slim.

In any case. The main thing today is for our thoughts to go out to the victims, and that's where mine are.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005
19:17 - "Devastating urge to do good"
http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,druck-363663,00.html

(top)
Oh, man. I wonder what'll happen when the Koslings and DUers read this?

I mean, it goes against just about every accepted truth of global economics, charity, Western decadence, welfare-statism, independent achievement, and the transformative power of rock music that so many hold so dear. Hearing a Kenyan economist speak in such candid, eloquent terms, while the Der Spiegel interviewer sits there in shock and horror while his country's largesse is pushed away with pleading words—it's stunning.

...Wait, I know what they'll say. They'll turn to Bono's identification of Bush's commitment of world-leading aid to Africa, and use that as reason to blame America for ruining Africa with our filthy dollars. It makes perfect sense!

(Via VodkaPundit.)


13:06 - At the all-you-can-eat buffet, the food doesn't turn to poison after you leave the table ... usually...
http://www.blog.speculist.com/archives/000357.html

(top)
I've said it before, and it bears repeating: for some people, Napster's subscription-based, all-you-can-eat music downloading service is a better deal than iTunes':

The digital music player has to be compatible with Napster because every time you log on to Napster with your player, it reports your listening back to Napster. Napster then compensates the record companies and artists accordingly.

Bottom line: To fill an MP3 player with music today - and variety is what I want - I could spend $1000 for 1000 songs over at iTunes, or $15 per month at Napster. I'm going with Napster.

...But this post (via InstaPundit), which purports to be a how-to for listening to podcasts on Napster's client rather than in iTunes, touts the same line that Napster's advertising does, and for which it requires tiny little fine print to avoid lawsuits from enraged customers who didn't realize that the deal really was too good to be true.

Yeah, $15/month for unlimited downloads is pretty much "too cheap to meter". No downside, right? Well, sure there is. You have to "punch in" once a month with your Napster-compatible MP3 player and client program and report back to Napster every song that you listened to and how many times; if you don't, all your downloaded songs become unplayable. If you decide to stop using the service, sure, you've only paid $15 for each month you used it; but you have nothing to show for it, either. No ownership. Just useless files on your hard disk.

This is an apples-and-oranges comparison. It's not "two competing music download services, one of which is absurdly overpriced and one of which is wonderful and nearly free"; it's two completely different models of music enjoyment, one where you're forever tied to a central corporate mothership that has the power to revoke your music-listening capability any time, and one where you buy a song and then own it, forever. Sure, they cost the buyer differently. But for many—most, in fact, judging by the numbers—it's absolutely worthwhile to own music outright rather than rent it and send it back into the void after you've consumed it, moving on to new and greener pastures of yet-unlistened bounty (90% of which is, typically, you-know-what).

There's an interesting continuum developing these days regarding how people enjoy music. At one end of the spectrum, there's radio, where you have zero control over what a given station plays—"Let a professional make your next playlist," as Microsoft patronizingly exhorts. Then there's satellite radio, with a bit more control and certainly more communication to the user as to what's playing—the benefit of a digital medium. Then you get stuff like Napster, the subscription services, where you are expected not to own the music you download, but to buy only a temporary license to play it in the sort order you define and on the device you choose, and then let it slip away after a month, once you're sick of it. And at the far end is iTunes, where you buy music track by track and organize it into living, growing playlists structured around your personal listening habits, developing permanent and irreplaceable musical enjoyment pathways accreted over a period of years to suit your listening frequencies and personal ratings.

iTunes gives you total control, in other words, and that's what you're paying for. As you travel back up the spectrum toward traditional radio, the services cost the user less and less—but they also give you less and less choice and control.

People are free to pick where on the spectrum they're most comfortable. I know where I like to be, though, and I don't mind paying an arbitrary amount each month for songs I know I want to own forever, instead of $15 a month for the opportunity to renew the license for my favorite tunes for another thirty days.

Monday, July 4, 2005
00:44 - Explosions will find a way
http://66.135.33.181/~btman/Fireworks/Fireworks.html

(top)
Ahh, suburban California life.



These pictures were taken from a sidewalk a block from my house, pointing in all different directions as each pyrotechnic went off, each from any of at least ten different discrete locations within the residential sprawl. Backyard displays, in other words: pretty impressive ones at that. You can bet the people putting them on had smuggled the firecrackers in from Nevada or Arizona or Mexico, because they're sure not available around here. And judging by the people who kept walking by me alone or in pairs, with U.S. flag t-shirts and glasses of wine, and stopping to make small talk and enjoy the impromptu show that needed no organizers or traffic controls or announcers or (heaven forfend) fire control, one can hardly help but think that at least some people around here have that old-time spirit.

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