Anyone else noticed Microsoft sucks?

MSIE, although better than Netscape Navigator, is an infuriating piece of software.

Why, after 5 years, does IE still not support the progressive JPEG standard, yet proclaims itself to be a standards-compliant browser?
Why, every third web page or so (totally random that I can tell), does my font setting revert to “smaller”, a size I have never purposely set for any reason?
Why is Opera so much better and yet so much smaller a download? The absolute largest Opera download, including all bells and whistles such as email and ICQ messaging, tops out at 9 megs. The smallest MSIE download is about the same. Now, to get all the functions of Opera, you’ll have to download ICQ (3 megs) and an email program (anything but OE which is just a security hole – 3-5 megs).

Ah, the imponderables of the world. But, I’m sure MS didn’t abuse its monopoly power in any way. After all, the best product always wins, right?

New Stats

As promised (threatened?), I have a new, prettier stats page now.

Noticed another peculiarity: What the heck “browser” is Jennybot? Is Jennifer Ringley sending out her robotic minions? hehe
current_music: So I Married an Axe Murderer

C2I2 sucks

OK, that’s it. I officially have the worst ISP ever. Their DNS servers seem to respond randomly. Now, the virtue.nu server is not found, but it was there this morning. I have a policy of supporting local ISPs, but I’ve never had one that SUCKED before.

Oh, Earthlink…


Yep, Earthlink works. Actually getting a 56k connection on it too, unlike C2i2’s “56k” lines which ran at 28k when they connected at all. Whew. Much better.

Ephemeral Web addresses

OK, so I decided to completely WASTE the day surfing old journals and following whatever links I may find.

Alas, so few people have discovered the usefulness of URL redirection services, it seems. Lots of broken links, all over the place. I guess I’m just feeling lucky that I gave folks the Bigfoot redirection URL before I got my own domain. Shit, the domain fees are due soon. 2 years so soon…

Yes I am a geek. So?
current_music: Limp Bizkit – Rollin’ (Airraid Vehicle)

Sluggy’s Cool

OK, you absolutely have to go to Sluggy Freelance this week. He’s got some great Madlibs-looking stuff going on, with custom graphics and everything. I know Darkmoon has been playing, but today’s is the biggest yet.

Here’s my version. Gotta hate it when the spiny anteaters bite your gardengnomes off. hehe
current_music: The Offspring – Conspiracy Of One
current_mood: silly

Wayback machine

I’ve totally reverted to my behavior from 15 years ago. Cool Ranch Doritos, Mountain Dew, and a computer. Back then, 64 k of RAM and a 270k floppy drive, now 384 M of RAM and a 20gig HD, but still the same online fetish and randomness. 🙂
current_music: Shaggy – Keepin it Real

Animal Past

Yep, the random test stuff has finally made it impossible to resist…


Turtle

Come on out of your shell – in your former life you were a turtle name Gifford. The details are a bit sketchy, but we do have a brief summary based on public records: You were born in a small pond beside a saloon. Despite having an exceptionally athletic father, you seemed to prefer sunbathing and mud baths to more active pursuits. Contrary to the rumor, your favorite color was never green, but actually blue. Few people knew that you were a talented poet because most of your work was destroyed during a flash flood that swept away not only your library, but your entire community. Fortunately you had the pluck to survive, settle down, make some eggs, and live happily ever after with your wife Melinda and your 20 offspring.
current_music: The Tubes – She’s a Beauty
current_mood: silly

Useless Website updates

OK, how’s this for a completely pointless website update?

I’ve put my webcam back up, now that I’m done moving. The room that I’m using for my computer zone, though, is rather dim, so I end up with a weird-looking capture.

Naturally, I’m interested in how many people have gone to my stats page since I put it up. I’ll run a new batch of statistics this weekend, with a more graphically interesting Analog, and see.
current_music: Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar on Me

Synchronicity

Every meeting with his so-called superior is another humiliating kick in the crotch.


Tell me I’m in the Twilight Zone here. Had to go talk to an HR-type today, who almost instantly talked to me like I was 12, totally condescending and basically calling me a liar. I’m a damned Mensa member, and I’m apparently so stupid that I have forgotten something from 2 weeks ago, while this 800-year old bird has a razor-sharp memory? C’mon! Either of us could have been misremembering whether I actually got this magic piece of paper (not remotely unique either). Turns out, I looked in my stack o’ stuff later, and I did not have it, but that’s irrelevant.

She whined to her boss (regional manager type guy), who called me and told me to play nice with others. Um, I just refused to be treated like a child, and now I’m the one with a reputation for a temper. I’m the most calm person anyone has ever met. Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

Really, the entire thing is a tempest in a teapot and required nobody to be chastised for any reason. BFD. But, now my team leader thinks I’m a troublemaker, and the big boss is sure of it. All before I’ve even received my first paycheck. Lovely.
current_mood: angry

Pretension

Why do so many people sound so unbelievably pretentious in their weblogs and homepages? Get over yourselves, people.

I suppose that this is all a common failing among the young, and most online folk tend to be youngish (sorry Rill). Stop trying to sound like the second coming of Yeats and just live a normal life.

Of course, that’s just my opinion, but I’m usually right. 🙂
current_mood: self-righteous

Style pitfalls

OK, that experiment didn’t work. Apparently, if I’m logged in, I see the different views of “People” vs. “Community”, but if I’m not logged in, then the “filter” shows everything. Grrr…

So, to protect innocent eyes (like any of them read my journal), I’ve stopped monitoring the naughty groups. You may now resume your perusal of my friends.

Work

Possible trip to Melbourne this summer (I suppose winter in Oz). Probable trip to Florida in May. Still haven’t produced anything at work of value and they’re paying me. Woohoo!
current_music: 10,000 Maniacs – More Than This
current_mood: tired

Urinal Etiquette

I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend at my new place of employment. There are a few men there who are disregarding proper urinal etiquette. We have 3 in a row, and a few times I’ve entered the restroom soon after another gentleman. He looks at the three possible options, and stops at the center one.

Now, all men know this is inappropriate behavior. For the women in the group, you must, when possible, leave an open urinal between you and any other man. You must not make eye contact, and you shall not speak while peeing. This is the law of the urinal.
current_music: Apache Indian – Chok There
current_mood: annoyed

LJ update

In order to avoid folks “accidentally” finding something surprising on my Friends page, I’ve changed the style to link to either “people” or “communities”, rather than the all-inclusive “friends”. So, feel free to click on People at work, not much smut there. hehe

RIAA

Saturday

bq. Sorry if this isn’t 100% coherent. I just realized I’ve got thoughts about the RIAA, Napster and other music-related things spread out across too many sites to follow. Here’s a relatively complete posting of what I think about the whole mess.


Those silly silly people running the music "industry" (like there are factories and stuff?) just can’t figure out how to not blow themselves up. Napster offered them 200 million dollars per year for the next 5 years, if the RIAA would just not try to destroy Napster, and maybe even try to play nice with them.

The RIAA, being the old greybeards they are, couldn’t bring themselves to approve such a scheme, so they’ll probably end up winning the court battle and shutting Napster down. Of course, since Fanning and Co. have a deal with BMG records, they’ll stick around as the front end for ONE record company’s electronic distribution system.

Meanwhile, the other companies in the RIAA are working on their own systems, which they’ll probably screw up royally. Anyone else remember the awesome Personics systems from the 80s? You could go to a record store kiosk, choose your personal favorite songs from the playlist, and have a cassette created with only music you wanted, with a nice laser-printed jacket and labels. The record companies made royalties, and the consumer got a product they truly wanted. Of course, the industry let that system die from lack of attention, and it was too late anyway, with the CD revolution in full swing.

This past week, the RIAA started going after OpenNap servers, which are equivalent to Napster, but without any company to sue. Next, I’m sure they’ll attempt to sue the users of Gnutella, who are individuals operating out of their own homes. This is basically the music companies suing their own customers. I wonder how they justify that business model.

Really should have made that deal with Napster, RIAA. It was the best chance of getting any money at all without suing your own customers. This should be an entertaining year.


Just saw the RIAA representative talking outside the courtroom on CNN. She really sounds petulant. Of course, Napster can stop people from trading songs based on a simple filter. But, you willfully ignorant twit, that doesn’t mean people will not just rename files with funky characters to get around the filters. Here, try this example: Prinse n da rebolushun - Boyz und Girlz.mp3 would slip right by the filtering system, but would still be a pirated song. The latest info says the Napster folks will be using "fingerprinting" technology to check on songs regardless of filename. So, if I rip a song at 192kbps, is that the same fingerprint as someone who ripped it at 64kbps or one of the VBR algorithms?

Of course, the RIAA also claims they had a horrible 39% decline in CD sales last year, but it was actually a 39% decline in CD single sales. Um, who buys CD singles anyhow, especially with the ability to preview individual tracks at CDnow, Amazon, or Tower Records stores? Slashdot had a great story that tore apart the RIAA numbers.

Oh, and Courtney Love, after how record companies screw artists, is suing her record company for the indentured servitude forced on her, as with any other artist. But, she can afford to make noise about it. Cool.


According to this article, many car CD players will refuse to play new copy-protected CDs, as will all "multimedia PC" systems. So, let’s assume I’ve got my big Altec Lansing subwoofer hooked up to my PC, and it’s the only CD player I own (not really, but many of my friends in the army only have their PCs to play CDs on, to save space). Now, I can’t play any new CDs on this machine, because I MIGHT copy them? Well, I can’t even listen to them "wherever I like" so I’m not going to buy them either.

If I put this CD in my new RioVolt MP3/CD player (the only CD player in my car), will it cease to function? Now, I’ve got a portable CD player (RioVolt) that can’t play audio CDs of the new style, I’ve got a home audio system (MPC) that can’t play the new CDs. And, this somehow does NOT infringe on fair use?

I know plenty of college students and soldiers that don’t buy stereos, because they have computers. These happen to be the ages that buy the majority of popular music as well. I imagine the RIAA is not so smart on this one.


OK, here is MY EXPERIENCE with MP3s. I can’t possibly speak for everyone, but this is me. I am 30 years old, I was a soldier for 12 years, and I have been a computer geek since I was 10. I listen to MP3s, mainly from Usenet postings of unreleased albums. If I like the album, I buy the CD.

As an example, when the last "No Doubt" album was released, I was at the store on the first day of issue, so I could buy one. Three weeks earlier, I would never have imagined I would buy it, but it was a damned good set of songs. If I had not sampled it via Usenet, I would not have bought the CD. Seriously.

Another example is Metallica. Except for a track here and there, I’ve never been a huge Metallica fan. I grabbed about 3 or 4 tracks from the S&M album off Usenet, and then bought the double-CD set. Even Metallica has made money from MP3s.

If the RIAA would consider MP3s to be advertising, or radio-like, they may have a chance to make money off them. So far, the digital distribution schemes seem to involve charging as much or more for the privelige of downloading the tracks, rather than going to the store and getting cover art and a jewel case. Personally, I’d be very inclined to use an industry-approved download system, if they guaranteed quality-of-service (not an option with the P2P systems obviously), and if they charged LESS than the physical CD.

As it is now, I tend to listen to music from internet radio stations, check out random tracks from Usenet or Gnutella, and buy CDs from CDNow.

I buy a lot of CDs, and I burn many of them to MP3 format to listen to in my MP3/CD player, so I can have 10 or 12 hours of music on one disc. Makes those cross-country car drives much nicer.

So, don’t paint everyone with the same brush, but realize that at least some of us are really not just out to be thieves. YMMV


After a conversation with an old friend today, I revisited Gnutella. There’s a program called BearShare that acts as a frontend for Gnutella, and allows searches to be performed without the pain of a few months ago. Just played with BearShare tonight, looking for common and obscure tunes, including some George Carlin and Bill Cosby tracks. Great selection, which indicates that all the publicity that CNN et al have given Napster has raised awareness of such things to the point that Gnutella is actually useful finally. They have definitely hit the critical mass needed to be a decent search tool.

Even better, the RIAA can now only sue individuals, cuz there’s no server. So, the record companies are going to take their own customers to court? Hehe


As of the middle of April 2001, many (maybe even most) radio stations that stream their signal on the internet are silent. The AFTRA is demanding 300% more money for the stations’ sending audio outside their broadcast area. I don’t get how that makes sense, and it was obvious to anyone that the only result that such a threat would have is the complete shutdown of those streams, meaning that AFTRA members don’t make any money from them anyhow. I’d think you’d negotiate from a position that seemed at least close to reasonable? More here.


It’s not completely new, but I know not everyone reads and pays attention to the latest news from techno-geek lands like Salon and /. Anyway, there’s a new music distribution format that the RIAA (motto: we’re not an evil entity, but we play one on TV) actually likes for a change: Dataplay.

Basically, the DataPlay disks are 500 megabyte CD-R disks that are downsized to a miniscule 1-inch wide platter. BUT, what the RIAA wants to do with them is to put not 500 megabytes of actual CD-DA audio on them, but 500 megabytes of compressed audio, with most of it encrypted when you buy it. Say you buy the latest Madonna album on DataPlay disks (let’s call them DP for short :)). It may well include the Immaculate Collection on it as well as Like a Virgin. But, you can’t hear those other albums until you pay the label for them. You connect the DP to your computer, and send an electronic funds transfer to Warner Bros. In seconds, your DP has had a few more bytes written to it, and now you can listen to all three of those albums, from a disk the size of a quarter. Pretty neat, in my opinion. Obviously, with compressed music you get some lower sound quality, but not enough to hurt sales. After all, MP3 is amazingly popular, and you can fit about 8 albums in 500 megs with that format.

Here’s the deal, though: chicken and egg. When CDs replaced LPs (don’t complain, the vinyl record is as near dead as makes no difference), they had the benefit of being smaller and better-sounding, with no pops or hisses or crackles. They are also, of course, much more durable than vinyl. Although many don’t take care of their CDs very well, if you remember to put them back in their jewel cases instead of using them like coasters, they should last much longer than vinyl would under normal usage. Where are the players for the DP disks? If you look at the DP site, it seems that all the players are portables, and most are made in Korea (whatever that means).

So, is the rationale here that we would use CDs at home, and then burn our own DPs with 5-6 albums on them for our portable use? The RIAA makes money on the blank DPs, I’m guessing, just as they do on blank DAT tapes (a great format that the RIAA nearly killed 15 years ago). (They must, if the disks are going to cost 5-12 bucks each for blanks. Of course, remember when CD-R disks were that expensive?) Sounds good to the RIAA, and maybe it will even work out ok for consumers, so long as we can burn whatever we want to the DPs and not need permission for each file, etc. I’d hate to be strangled by Windows Media Player (wimp) or the abominable SDMI when I just wanted to take my entire Concrete Blonde collection on one disk when I went for a bike ride. Perhaps this is an idea whose time never quite came, and is long since past?

Keep an eye on the DataPlay format, it may turn out to have better legs than MiniDisc and DCC (anyone besides me remember that one?)

*sigh*

Is it possible to actually be without for 3 weeks? Where oh where is my woman…

Osprey

Yet another Osprey crash, again attributed to pilot error. So, either the Marine Corps is putting really stupid pilots in their newest, most high-profile aircraft, or the investigators are full of it. Which seems more likely to you?