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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  4/4/2005 -  4/10/2005
 3/28/2005 -   4/3/2005
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 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
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  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
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 1/26/2004 -   2/1/2004
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  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
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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
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 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
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  7/7/2003 -  7/13/2003
 6/30/2003 -   7/6/2003
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 6/16/2003 -  6/22/2003
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 5/26/2003 -   6/1/2003
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 4/28/2003 -   5/4/2003
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 3/31/2003 -   4/6/2003
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 3/17/2003 -  3/23/2003
 3/10/2003 -  3/16/2003
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 2/24/2003 -   3/2/2003
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 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
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 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
Sunday, April 29, 2007
17:43 - Taskbars, and e-mail, and shortcuts, oh my
http://www.trappedbydogma.com/blog/promotional-windows-95-video-starring-jennifer-an

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It's the World's First Cyber Sitcom, starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry. In a promo video for Windows 95.

Why, how on earth did it come to be the last, too? They had such a winner of a concept on their hands.

And with the Seinfeld-esque bass licks and everything. Man, I'm sold...

(Still, it's good to know that some things don't change, I guess.)


13:09 - Glad I'm not driving today, though
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,269118,00.html

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Hell:

OAKLAND, Calif. — A section of freeway that funnels traffic onto the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed early Sunday after a gasoline tanker truck overturned and caught fire, authorities said.

The heat from the fire was intense enough to melt part of the freeway and cause the collapse, but the truck's driver walked away from the scene with second-degree burns.

But... I thought gasoline didn't burn hot enough to melt steel. Why, they've been telling us that ever since 2001 (as Lance pointed out)...

Anyway—that's the same general vicinity of the Cypress Structure, which collapsed in the 1989 earthquake and ruined the flow of one of the highest-throughput areas in the Bay Area traffic map. This is right in the MacArthur Maze, the Bay Bridge/80/980/880 interchange, which is even more crucial. I think I'll be staying away from the East Bay corridor for a few months...


04:47 - Not another lazy Saturday

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I'd go so far as to say that today was one of the most active, social, and content-filled days of... well, my life, as near as I can figure it.

Following my experience earlier this month renting a Lotus Elise for a weekend, I decided to try to hook up with the local enthusiast group, the Golden Gate Lotus Club, who had scheduled a run from downtown San Jose up the well-traveled west side of Mt. Hamilton to Lick Observatory, then down the more unfamiliar back side into the San Antonio Valley, and then north on Mines Road to Livermore. The club's site says that "Lotus ownership is not required, only a love for the Lotus marque"; and I figured that with camera in hand and tales of recent rental adventures and miscellaneous trivia learned in its wake, I'd at least be able to fake my way into a fun day of driving some twisty roads right in my neighborhood.

Well, let me tell you: I've never driven that hard or that fast before, and it took me a while to get into the groove. But once I did...

... But then I'm getting ahead of myself. I did a lot of that today.

The meetup was at 9:00 at Santana Row, the swanky outdoor mall street near downtown San Jose, home of shoe stores with nothing but two curved white shelves with about ten total pairs of thousand-dollar footwear, sidewalk cafés that everyday peons shouldn't presume to eat at, and hotels with valet-parking circles that subsume the entire street. At the far end is a parking lot where I found a veritable parliament of exotic cars (or murder, or convocation, or whatever the collective noun is):



Not only was the Lotus club congregating there, so were the members of various other local exotic car groups, so that by the time I got there there were Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Lotuses, Porsches, and anything else you can name galore, including things like a GT40 continuation:



A Pantera:



And a Countach, doing the famous hanging-out-the-open-door reversing maneuver:



The Lotus group had published 9:30 as its departure time, though, so by 9:45 everyone was ensconced in his or her respective Elise and revving up. Now, my original plan had been that I would spot-befriend some random Elise driver in the parking lot and finagle my way into his passenger seat so I could take photos of the trip. But then someone pointed out that I'd have to get a ride back to San Jose somehow, and besides, hey, why not just do it in my A3? So I jumped in my car and got in near the tail end of the group, and the procession of Elises (and a couple of non-Elises) made its way out onto Stevens Creek and the 280 on-ramp.

The trick arose as we got onto the freeway. I hadn't really anticipated just how fast these guys were accustomed to going, particularly on the open freeway. I also got stuck behind a slow car and a light, and within a minute I found myself alone on the road. Now, I knew that our first destination was Mt. Hamilton, but of the two routes to it the group might be planning to take, the Alum Rock approach (on the left) or Quimby Road (on the right), I couldn't begin to guess.



Nobody was using the FRS radios we'd been told to prepare, so I couldn't call anyone to find out which way the colorful line of Elises had gone. I was prepared to expect that I'd never find these guys again, and that I should go home, or at least put in a desultory solo run up the mountain and back... but then I decided that the chances were good that they'd gone up Alum Rock, the longer route (if higher-speed), and I might possibly be able to catch them if I went over Quimby. Or if not, at least they would probably be waiting at the top of Hamilton.

I went up Aborn and got onto Quimby, like I used to do back when I lived in that area; and climbed quickly up the switchbacks to the pass over the first ridge of hills immediately bordering the east side of Silicon Valley, where you can see down into the valley between that ridge and Mt. Hamilton, and I looked down to the valley floor, where I could see Mt. Hamilton Road strung along the bottom—and just as I looked, I saw a bunch of fast-moving dots, yellow and red, heading up the opposite side. With my windows down, I could faintly pick up that distinctive wail of high-revving Toyota engines.



Well, hell. Down the hill I went. Quimby becomes a one-lane road on the way down, and it's a pretty hairy descent; but I met no armed resistance, and soon I found myself on Mt. Hamilton Road per se, zooming up the flanks of Hamilton and dodging the intrepid bicyclists who'd picked this quite hot early summer day (temps in the 90s) to attack the mountain.



I must say that I've never driven this road quite so quickly, nor with quite so many moving, wheeled obstacles. I kept well out of their way, though, and found that the practice it gave me for avoiding entanglement with two-wheeled vehicles was to stand me in good stead later. I pulled into a turnout and asked a passing, puffing rider whether a bunch of Lotuses had just gone by a minute before. "They sure did," he told me. Great—at least I know I'm still behind them.

With my windows down, I could hear—for once—my turbo doing its thing, and it seemed to be working pretty hard. Coming up the last few switchbacks to the summit, I was practicing rev-matching and pulling out of corners quickly and under control:



And I arrived at the top just behind the last few Elises to pull into the parking lot, and while they all lined up against the Lick Observatory building in their accustomed runway-model configuration, I was directed to nose in against the opposite fence by the cop overseeing things at the top. Gee, way to make me feel like the odd man out. (Dude: I may not be in a Lotus, but I did catch up.)



Elise drivers overlooking Silicon Valley from the Mt. Hamilton summit. The air didn't look very clear today from the valley floor, but up here you could still get a decent view.



After some rest and swapping of Lotus tales (the expense of body repairs was a recurring subject), we hit the road again. This time I made sure to get in somewhere in the middle of the pack:



I followed the guy in this red Elan—the only non-Elise Lotus in the group, and the only non-Elise anything aside from me in my A3 and the leader in his Cayman—partly due to the luck of the draw and partly because I figured we front-wheel-drive types ought to stick together. Plus I could follow his line on the way down the backside of Hamilton, with its roundabout hairpins descending into San Antonio Valley:



Before the cars broke up into several smaller cliques of drivers coagulating at different speeds, the long line of Elises descending these roundabouts made for a picturesque view, and a photo that I'm really pleased with:



I'd never driven my A3 this hard or this fast before. The Elan driver ahead of me was being quite aggressive in low-speed corners, and his tires barked in annoyance on several occasions; keeping to his speed and angle through the curves, I found my tires squealing almost exactly as much as his, which makes me wonder if the A3's limit isn't that much different from the Elan's. Either way, it wasn't long before I was diving through the corners and opening up in the straightaways with the confidence that comes from being the lone econobox-looking car in a line of flashy sports cars, many of which were identical in model and color—surely a court nightmare for any ticket-writing cop. Soon I found myself hanging easily behind the Elan, while the Elise behind me had fallen back by a few curves.

Reaching the valley floor, the road turns sharply north, then follows wide open fields (still beset with many bicyclists) for several miles:



And soon it arrives at the Junction Cafe, where the group pulled in for a second stop.



The Elan driver was flustered by a mysterious dashboard light that had come on and was limiting his revs to 4000; I found that I could commiserate from first-hand experience, almost exactly the same thing having happened to me in my rented Elise on the second day, when the rev-limiter light came on, stayed on for a few hours, and then went away again for no particular reason. Just like mine, the Elan's light went away on its own the next time he started it (though it continued to come and go throughout the day). He said it caused him to hang back a little, but I saw him sticking pretty close to the Elise in front of him for the rest of the trip, so it couldn't have been cramping his style much.



Finally it was on to Mines Road, which continues on for 31 miles from the junction to Livermore. This stretch of road was as highly populated with bicyclists as the Mt. Hamilton climb was, if not more so; it seemed the whole population of Livermore had hopped on two wheels and headed into the valleys. Here we passed one of their staging areas:



There were two speed traps on this stretch, both of which we'd been warned about up at the Mt. Hamilton summit by someone who'd come up the back way; the first was just a bunch of motorcycle cops off their bikes, standing and talking, though we were sure to heave into sight at a ridiculously sedate pace so as to not give them a reason to hop on and come after us. The second was a more traditional cruiser with radar, poised to pounce; but our advance warning, and the speed-modulating effects of the watchful mother Cayman leading the pack, kept us in the constabulary's good graces. Soon we were zipping through the wide open canyon, where the road hugged the hillside far up from the narrow valley floor:



And at last, after several stretches of narrow road alternating with wide sweeping highway, we descended into the plains and entered Livermore. The cars clumped back together, and I noted with some satisfaction that it took the ones behind me a little while to come into view; soon I could frame the whole rest of the procession in my mirror—and how many times are you going to get a view like that?



At last we pulled into the ForcedFed shop, who had helped organize the trip and now provided us a barbecue lunch (as well as dyno runs for raffle winners and rides in their souped-up shop Elise). We all talked shop over burgers, and I found to my surprise that I had enough of a working knowledge of Lotuses, just from my recent casual research, that I could converse semi-knowledgeably with the many Elise owners about their cars and the finer points of keeping them running smoothly on a workaday budget.



Even more to my satisfaction was being complimented, out of the blue, on the fact that I'd apparently managed to keep up quite well in my A3 with all the new-hotness sports cars there. This was in fact my first time driving anything that hard, and my first time in a rally with experienced drivers to follow; I found that the fact that I'd held a competent line without even the benefit of a lightweight, rear-drive plastic car painted like a wasp seemed to gain me a fair amount of positive attention, and before long I was chatting away like I belonged there. Not a bad first impression, I daresay. Even if the A3's useful lifespan has been reduced by a few months. Money well spent, I have to say. Besides, what the hell: I did buy this particular car with the hopeful intent of doing more with it than occasionally stomping on the gas coming off a stop light.

Once all the food was eaten and all the Elise-bodywork-repair stories were told, and after more than half the group had left, I took my own leave and headed home—by way of another barbecue at a friend's place that lasted until deep into the evening. By the time I got back home, I'd already decided that this was one of those days I could credit as making up for whole armloads of insufficiently memorable weekend days past. And that wasn't, strictly speaking, even the end of the evening's happenstances, though the rest don't lend themselves to narration or photography. It was just in general one hell of a good day.

it's good to get hit with those once in a while. Even if sometimes the only way is to go out and stand in the road as they come screeching around the corner.

Friday, April 27, 2007
12:26 - HEADLINES PLZ
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2121102,00.asp

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John C. Dvorak:

Not that many years ago, I described my tech vision of the future as a device that would fit into a cradle and serve as the basis for all computing. You could carry it in your pocket, and it would serve as your mobile phone, TV set, MP3 player, and handy GPS device. I would often discuss this imaginary device in public speeches...

So, why am I souring on the device? And why am I demonstrating the same characteristics I criticize others for exhibiting—namely, judging a product one way or another without ever having seen or used it?

Why? Why? Why?

Uh, because you've more or less explicitly stated that gratuitously anti-Apple punditry is good for business?


12:21 - What, again?
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2122241,00.asp

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Amiga's coming back? Again?

Virtually nothing was released as far as the new designs were concerned, other than the PCs will be based on the PowerPC architecture and hit two price points with two different machines: one selling for $500, and the other for $1,500.

The new hardware was announced after "months of designs and negotiations" between Amiga and its software partner, ACK Software Controls.

"I have been working on these designs with Amiga for almost 12 months and have been able to create two new designs that will fully support the needs and desires of today's Amiga user, while opening the doors for new users, said Adam Kowalczyk, president of ACK Software Controls, Inc., in a statement.

Resurrecting Amiga might have made sense back in the 90s when there was still an installed base and there were still companies making applications for it. But what's the plan now? Linux? What else will run on PPC that has any apps available for it? (And is licensable?)

It's either that or spring up into an Apple-sized software-and-hardware house out of the blue...

Thursday, April 26, 2007
13:42 - Apple, you crazy

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Chris sent me this shot of his inbox:



Heh. That's pretty funny...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
18:28 - Unclear on the concept

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The banner ad currently running on top of the Pandora player is interesting:



Bet you didn't know microphones gave off concentric compression waves, did you?

UPDATE: Here's my Pandora station, if anyone is morbidly curious.


13:22 - Music to my eyes
http://www.tuaw.com/2007/04/24/gracenotes-and-itunes-in-lyrics-talks/

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What's this? Label-sanctioned lyrics will soon be coming to iTunes?

If I'm reading this right, Gracenote/CDDB will be providing lyrics (submitted by the labels) to your iTunes at the same time that it sends you the track information for a CD you want to import. (I presume the lyrics will also be embedded in tracks purchased from the iTunes Store.) Interestingly, track info from Gracenote apparently remains an open and collaborative effort, depending on distributed users submitting their track info (and with newer, more accurate info superseding the first submissions hastily uploaded by the first buyers of a brand-new album); but the lyrics, which are protected by copyright in a way that the track info isn't, has to be label-approved and label-provided. So Gracenote isn't going "corporate", per se—but at least users will presumably be able to depend on the lyrics being authoritative and correct, because they're straight from the horse's mouth.

... Or, then again, maybe this will turn into another exercise in frustration, if the labels provide shoddy and typo-filled lyric files, and there's no wiki-esque collaborative mechanism for fans to correct them.

Either way, I'm guessing it'll be some time before we have true karaoke-style real-time lyric display in iTunes or on our iPods, which would have to involve an upgrade to the AAC format to allow the raw text of the lyrics field to be timecoded to the audio stream. But once the lyrics are there at all, then suddenly everyone will start seeing what potential for feature creep there is, and the pressure will build. Hurrah!

Monday, April 23, 2007
13:59 - Oh hell yeah
http://www.panic.com/coda/

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I've gotta get me a look at this: Coda, a web authoring app from Panic. Looks like iWeb without any of the template-driven restrictions.

If the app itself is even a quarter as cool as the website, with its awesome sliding-tabs display thingy, it's going to be well worth the $79 asking price and more. Steven Frank and Cabel Sasser can make HTML, CSS, styled text and images, and JavaScript sing and dance like few on the planet can, and buying Coda feels like buying the same guitar your favorite rock star uses.

Audion is ancient history. Panic might have a breakout hit on its hands here.
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