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June 26, 2003

Who's Right for You?

Thanks to Vince for posting about this little presidential survey. Check it out. Here are my results:

1. Kucinich, Cong. Dennis, OH - Democrat (100%)
2. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (87%)
3. Green Party Candidate (85%)
4. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (85%)
5. Leahy, Patrick Senator, Vermont - Democrat (80%)
6. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (79%)
7. Feingold, Senator Russ, WI - Democrat (75%)
8. Gephardt, Cong. Dick, MO - Democrat (73%)
9. Biden, Senator Joe, DE - Democrat (72%)
10. Lieberman Senator Joe CT - Democrat (71%)
11. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (70%)
12. Jackson, Cong. Jesse Jr., IL - Democrat (68%)
13. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol IL - Democrat (65%)
14. Graham, Senator Bob, FL - Democrat (62%)
15. Socialist Candidate (59%)
16. Feinstein, Senator Dianne, CA - Democrat (52%)
17. Kaptur, Cong. Marcy, OH - Democrat (50%)
18. Libertarian Candidate (40%)
19. Bradley, Former Senator Bill NJ - Democrat (37%)
20. McCain, Senator John, AZ- Republican (16%)
21. Bush, George W. - US President (15%)
22. Hagelin, John - Natural Law (10%)
23. Buchanan, Patrick J. – Reform/Republican (8%)
24. Vilsack, Governor. Tom IA - Democrat (-3%)
25. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (-5%)
26. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (-8%)
27. Clark, Retired Army General Wesley K "Wes" Arkansas - Democrat (-8%)

I'm going to say the same thing Vince did about Kucinich, which is that he doesn't come across as a statesman, which is, in my opinion, a very important attribute to have as president. Furthermore, I think Dean's mobilization effort so far has been nothing short of inspirational. He's the one I see focusing the political energy of people like myself. In any case, I felt pretty good about Dean being right up there. If anything, I can at least tell myself that I'm not deluding myself.

PGP Signed Entry

June 24, 2003

On Patriotism

Americans need to become conscious of the fact that love of country does not equate to carte blanche agreement with the policies of the government. The least patriotic of us are the ones who attempt to silence dissenting voices.

In other words, you do not have to agree with President Bush to be patriotic, and agreeing with President Bush does not, in itself, make you patriotic. I would, in fact, argue that true patriots should be vehemently disagreeing with President Bush on many issues right now.

PGP Signed Entry

Trust Amid Lies

The general media is just now beginning to challenge President Bush on the falsehoods he and his administration used to justify the invasion of a sovereign nation. There are even some media outlets going so far as to decry the administration for outright lying to the American people, foreign governments, the United Nations, Congress... everyone.

But the real abomination to me isn't that the administration lied. It's that a vast number of Americans, arguably a majority, supported the invasion without questioning the information presented to them. I believe one of the greatest weaknesses of our American character is the overly unquestioning trust in certain sources of information, and the automatic distrust in certain others.

What makes a source credible? I would argue that credibility in this age has very little to do with truth. What makes someone credible to Americans is whether they look credible. That's why CNN can boast that they're the news source most trusted by Americans. Because hey, who looks more credible than CNN? I don't think CNN lies to us, per se, but I do know that CNN presents a very establishment-centric program of news. The administration knows that most Americans' daily news intake begins and ends in the first five minutes of Headline News. They were, and are, able to take advantage of this situation to further their agenda. The administration knows that Americans will pay attention to the sensational headlines without much regard to the details behind them. If it means that they have to resort to using fear to get their point across, they have had no problem with using that. It's part of human nature, and in a world with ever-increasing demands on their time, people naturally want to get on with things, so they focus in on only those few things that catch their attention. What better way to get your attention than to scare you?

I don't mind the fact that people don't delve more deeply into the five-second soundbites. What I do mind is that these people are basing their beliefs and opinions about potentially very important world matters on these five seconds. They don't even think about the fact that they're not getting the full picture, so the thought never occurs to them that there's information they should investigate further.

The only way our republic can pretend to be one "of the people, by the people, for the people" is for the people to educate themselves about the issues, and for the people to hold their elected officials accountable. Because we live in a republic, it is easy for people to forget about the issues between elections. But it is not only possible, but essential, that our voices be heard during our elected officials' tenure.

It is impossible to obtain unbiased news from a single source. Instead, it is the responsibility of the individual to obtains news about a given topic from multiple sources. In the past, this was nearly impossible to do in real time. However, one of the reasons why I believe the Internet is the most important human advancement of our generation is because it makes this news gathering easier.

Certainly, the establishment is trying very hard to exert its control over the Internet. But the Internet is the closest thing we've got to "of the people, by the people, for the people." This is a medium that allows independent voices to reach a poentially limitless audience. The establishment is just another voice on this medium. It is a voice that appears very loud, but this is not due to any intrinsic property of their presence on the 'net. It is a property of the trust that too many people give to them.

The challenge to each and every one of you is to delve more deeply into each story you see on CNN, and recognize that CNN is only one source of information in a world of sources--that it can be trusted no more than any other. Don't take the establishment's--or anyone's--word for anything without exploring more deeply what it is they're saying. Only thus can you develop a more complete understanding of the issues. Only thus can you begin to recognize lies when they are told to you, and only thus can you hope to unravel them.

Stop believing that the administration has your best interests in mind, just because they say they do. Take a look at what they're doing, how they're voting, how they're portraying our country to other countries. How they're using a color coded chart to spread fear and uncertainty. Is this in the country's best interests? Whose interests are these actions really benefitting?

This country was built on far greater principles than fear and lies. But if we do not take action, these are the principles that we will devolve into. The great nation (what is a great nation? this is a topic for another entry) that we could have become will be betrayed so that power mongers can advance their agenda.

PGP Signed Entry

June 23, 2003

Jet for Dean

As much as I would have like to have joined Vince at the Howard Dean fundraiser in Chicago this weekend, the timing wasn't right for me. I do, however, feel that Howard Dean represents me more closely than any other major presidential candidate since I began voting. Like Vince, I've decided to put my money where my mouth is, and today, after reading his candidacy speech, I made a contribution to his campaign.

This is a first for me. In the past, I haven't been a particularly politically active individual. Sure, I voted, and sure, I looked at the issues and listened to the soundbites and watched the news. This campaign, though, is different. The upcoming campaign is a major turning point in the history of this nation. Howard Dean stands for the nation that I want America to be, and the world that I want to live in. Never more so for our generation, one person and his values can make a difference to the entire world. We must take our country back.

PGP Signed Entry


Well, one of the primary reasons I Switched to Mac has started to manifest itself. As I think I've mentioned here before, I find the Mac more conducive to creative endeavors, be they writing, painting, or designing. Yes, I know that Word is pretty much the same for Mac and Windows... Photoshop too... Painter, yup... vi is vi whether on Terminal or PuTTY. Like I said before, this isn't really about the rational stuff. The Mac makes me want to be creative. It inspires me.

Yeah, say what you will about the "new toy" factor, and you're right, that's part of it. But somewhere deeper, there's something less tangible. Something else I can't quiet describe about how I feel. It's manifested itself in my strange streak of waking up excited about life, despite all the uncertainty that abounds. It's almost like this uncertainly is actually the most welcome thing in my life right now. The feeling that life is once again a blank slate... with endless possibilities. the uncertainty of what this slate will contain is very exciting indeed.

So now that I've gotten a lot of the configuration and reacquaintance period on the new computer out of the way, I've started to use the machine in earnest. And I'm still loving it. I've been writing creatively the last several days now, and it feels great. I'm also finally starting on putting together the elements of my new website. And finally, I tried doing some random drawing tonight. I'd post the results, but I don't want to embarass myself into seclusion just yet.

PGP Signed Entry

June 22, 2003


As part of my explorations on The Next Step, I'm debating whether I should make the next move "clean."

In other words, leave most of my possessions behind when I make my next move, either by giving them away or selling them. I thought about doing this the last time I moved, because I realized at some point during my travels that I could easily enjoy myself with just a couple suitcases with clothes and stuff I need to clean myself, etc., plus a bag for my laptop and some computer stuff. I came to realize that all the stuff I had at home was pretty much auxillary to my life, and I could not only live without all of it, but I wouldn't really miss it all that much either.

Certainly, it would make moving so much simpler. I mean, pack up a couple of suitcases and my laptop bag, and I'm off! Part of the appeal of this is that it would enable me to explore more fully my self and identity outside of the context of such arcane concepts as material possessions. I'm not saying that I'm going to go live off the land... but I think a reduction in the sorts of influences that cause me to buy things that I don't need is definitely called for.

Right now, this is just an exercise in rhetoric, but I'd like to know what everyone thinks of this idea. I'm not saying I'll follow your advice, but honestly this isn't something that most people go and do during their lives. Which is why everyone's grandparents end up with a house full of junk. I totally don't want to be there. So what are your thoughts?

PGP Signed Entry

June 20, 2003


I haven't been having very vivid dreams lately, something I blame on the fact that I haven't been getting to sleep at a reasonable hour and to the fact that although I'm getting about 7 hours of sleep per night, on average, I just haven't been feeling totally refreshed when I wake up. The thing is, I'm actually excited about being awake, and I get out of bed right away. I used to find every excuse to not get out of bed until I absolutely had to, and I'm not sure which way I like better.

In any case, I haven't had many dreams I can recall of late, but this morning I had one. And it's a pretty boring one, but one that was prompted by what is happening in my life in the waking realm. I dreamt, quite simply, that I visited the website for the IMSA Class of '93 ten-year Reunion, and on the classmates page, which lists all of the people we've contacted, there were only a handful of lost people left. Imagine my disappointment when I woke up and found this to be untrue.

PGP Signed Entry

June 19, 2003


Why aren't gun manufacturers and sellers shut down by the government? And car manufacturers, for that matter.

If the courts can shut down Napster and impose restrictions on peer-to-peer file sharing via coersion of ISPs, then why aren't these two entities eradicated from society? Peer-to-peer file sharing is not illegal. Making tools that enable P2P is also not illegal. Likewise, making a car or a gun is also not illegal.

What is illegal is shooting someone with that gun, running them over with your car, or copying copyrighted materials with the P2P network.

The strategy that the RIAA has persued in the courts has been to go after these totally legal operations in an attempt to stymie their use in breaking the law. Without even going into the greater issue of these laws and how they came about so that an industry could manipulate artists and consumers into dollars, let's assume that people are actually illegally downloading material using these networks.

That doesn't mean we should shut down the networks any more than we should ban guns and cars. The hypocrisy oozes like fat from bacon.

PGP Signed Entry

Game Idea

This is an idea for a video game that I came across by driving to the mall.

Sunday Drive: Reciprocity

This game is for all those drivers out there who get cut off by that cell-phone yakkin', e-mail checkin', baby diaper changin' idiot, and your first thought is, "man, I wish I had a rocket launcher on the front of my car..."

Here's the scenario: you're just going for a Sunday drive, say, to the mall. You start off from your house, pull out into the street, and go about your merry way. Along the way, your journey is beset on all sides of the inequities of the idiots and tyranny of foolish drivers. People will cut you off. They will veer into your lane because they are talking on their cell phones instead of driving. They will pull out in front of you. They will be going 20 in the left lane. Trucks will drive side by side for miles, blocking off your passing lane. Tourist drivers will be lost and swerving maniacally in search of whatever it is they're in search of. Minivans and SUVs will attempt to run you off the road. You will become annoyed. Endangered by fools. But in real life, there's nothing you can do except maybe lay on the horn. Not anymore.

In Sunday Drive: Reciprocity, you'll be able to arm your dual machine guns and put some bullet holes into that SUV. Get enough money, and you'll be able to afford rockets, heat seeking missiles, better armor for your car... etc.

The more idiots you blow away, the more money and reputation you gain. When you get to a certain level of reputation, you'll catch the attention of the local vigilante driver group, who will begin to enlighten you in the dark world of the Idiot Drivers Conspiracy. You've had the thought before: while driving, all the idiots seemed to be conspiring against you. Well, now it's confirmed. With your newfound driving buddies, you'll engage in missions to seek and destroy the worst offenders, drive protective detail for the leader of the vigilantes, and of course, run smokescreen jobs so the cops don't catch on to your mission. Your auto insurance will be revoked at some point, and you'll have to start paying for the damage to your car, but sweet revenge will come later when you are able to take out the insurance company's fleet. You'll be able to work your way up in the vigilante group, and gain money for new cars, weapons, and armor. You might have to pay off the cops too, at some point. At some point, you'll discover that the conspiracy goes far beyond just a loose band of idiots. It delves deep into the ranks of society, business, and government. Yes, they've all been conspiring against you, and you'll have to fight back. Maybe at some point you can take out an army base and drive a tank, a la, Vice City. But remember, the core of the game is that all you were trying to do was go to the mall or get to grandma's house, and your whole life gets turned around by a bunch of idiot drivers.

Oh, and the action begins before you even get into the car. How many times have we been coming out of the mall and nearly gotten run over by some idiot in the parking lot? Well, conveniently, you'll be carrying your shoulder fired missile launcher...

There'll be multi-player action. Cooperative as well as adversarial. Up to 16 players could link 4 consoles together for maximum fun. You can have up to 4 cars in a convoy, with a driver, shotgun, and two rear passengers in each vehicle. Each passenger is armed with their choice of weapon, which they can wield from the comfort of leaning out their window. Grenades. RPGs. Bazookas. Online gaming. Whatever... this game will have it all.

Now, the car companies can't possibly sponsor a game like this, so the artists will have to make car models that are eerily similar to real cars we see on the streets, but which have different names. It'll obviously be rated M.

PGP Signed Entry

June 18, 2003


Okay, we've all heard about the SCO lawsuit against IBM and their claim that Linux stole code that SCO owns the rights to.

I'm going to take a step back here and not address the legal issues at all. I don't care what the law says in this case, because as far as my legally untrained ass can tell, the law is being manipulated for profit.

This whole case just stinks of a group of greedy bastards buying up some decrepit piece of code a couple of years back with the sole intent of suing everyone they could to make a quick and tidy profit. That seems to be SCO's (formerly Caldera) entire business plan. I mean, they certainly weren't any good at actually making and selling software.

This isn't a business plan. It's bullshit.

It's bullshit enabled by our overly litigious society, and its system of justice. SCO needs to be put in its place, and its executives put in jail for wasting our time and creating a media sensation out of bullshit.

I mean, here's the thing: even if all of SCO's claims under the law are true, I still hope they lose big time. Because where is this code going to go if SCO wins? No where. Absolutely NO WHERE. They're not going to develop it, they're not going to make anything but money for their greedy bastard executives. SCO must lose this case, regardless of the legal fine print.

Hail to open source. Sic semper tyrannis.

PGP Signed Entry

An Advertisement

Well, it had to happen at some point, and why not now?

I am selling my beloved Dell Inspiron 8000 now that I've made the Switch to Mac. This machine served me amazingly well for almost two years, and is in excellent condition. Readers of my blog are going to get first crack at it, and if it remains unsold in a week or so, I'm going to put it up on eBay. Here are the full specs:

Dell Inspiron 8000
  • 1GHz Pentium III Processor
  • 384MB RAM (1-128 and 1-256 MB SODIMM)
  • 40GB IBM/Hitachi Travelstar Hard Drive (brand new, under warranty)
  • 32MB nVidia GeForce 2 Go
  • 15" UXGA Screen (1600x1200 native resolution, one pixel stuck on red near the upper right corner of the screen; usually ends up where a scrollbar is; I rarely notice it)
  • DVD-ROM drive in the fixed bay
  • CD-RW drive in the multipurpose bay (yes, there are two optical drives on this laptop... you will get those second looks on the plane when you pop open both drives)
  • Built-in 10/100 Ethernet and 56kbps modem
  • Floppy Drive (replaces the CD-RW drive in the multipurpose bay)
  • S-Video/Composite Video/S/PDIF output dongle
  • Dell Power Supply
  • Battery is one year old, replaced by Dell last July

There are some accessories that I no longer need which I'd like to sell with the machine, if only to make unloading them easier on me.

For readers of my blog, I'm selling this for $600, plus shipping. This offer is good until I decide to put the machine up on eBay. If you're interested, drop me an e-mail at my current public e-mail address, 0306fet@jetlin.com. Questions can of course be directed to the same address.

PGP Signed Entry

June 16, 2003

Quotes from Long Ago

I have been taking some time to retrace some of my past steps in order to better understand what I want from myself in the future. One manifestation of this process has been the Switch. I was looking through some of my old stuff on the second CD-R I ever owned (and the first I burned myself). The creation date of this CD was 10 December 1995. I found a file of quotes that had been on my website back then, and I thought it might be amusing and perhaps even poignant to see what I thought were quotes worthy of sharing back then...

Here are some quotes that, in one way or another, have moved me to tears,
to laughter, to sadness, to glory, and to reflection...

Si jeunesse savoit; si vieillesse pouvoit.
--Henri Estienne

Dieu n'est pas pour les gros bataillons, mais pour ceux qui tirent le mieux.

Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possibles.

On resiste a l'invasion des armees; on ne resiste pas a l'invasion des idees.
--Victor Hugo

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is the most fatal.

When a man has pity on all living creatures then only is he noble.
-- Buddha

A little help at the right time is better than a lot of help at the
wrong time.
-- Tevye

"The secret of being happy is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does."
--James M. Barrie

"Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value."
--Albert Einstein

Stop day dreaming about success. Go out and obtain it.

We may not return the affection of those who like us, but we always
respect their good judgement.

You know you're in trouble when:
"I'd love to go out with you, but my favorite commercial is on TV."

Seen on a sign outside a food mart of a gas station:
"Eat here and get gas"

The First Commandment of Frisbee: The most powerful force in the world
is that of a disc straining to land under a car, just beyond reach.
This force is technically called "car suck".
-- Dan Roddick

Heh, heh, let's burn something...

Yeah, that would be cool. Huh huh.

Written on a desk in a U of I Lecture Hall:
"If I had one hour to live, I would spend it in this class
because it would last forever."

Skinner's Constant (or Flannagan's Finagling Factor):
That quantity which, when multiplied by, divided by, added to,
or subtracted from the answer you get, gives you the answer you
should have gotten.

I don't want a job to live, I want to live for my job.
--Patrick Keenan

I've looked everywhere I can
Just to find a clue
Oh to get to you
And make you want me
And I've run circles 'round the sun
Chasin' after you
Oh but it's no use
Can't you see that I'm going out of my mind
Trying to find a way to get through to you
Oh you don't know how hard I try
And I try and I try
What do I gotta do

Do I gotta get water from the moon
Is that what I gotta do
To make you love me
Make you love me
Do I gotta turn the sand into the sea
Is that what you want from me
I've done everything that I can do
But get water from the moon

I've reached high up in the sky
Tryin' to steal the stars
Oh to win your heart
But even that's not enough
And I've searched every book I know
Just to find the words
Oh to touch your world and get some love out of you
I've already given all I can give
And I don't I don't know what's left to try
And I try and I try
What do I gotta do


Love me, how do I make you love me
How do I make you see that I'm goin' out of my mind


I try, and I try, and I try


--Celine Dion, Water from the Moon (Celine Dion, Epic)
Music and Lyrics by D. Warren

It's a dinglehopper!
--Scuttle, The Little Mermaid (Disney)

The wreckage of my past keeps haunting me
It just won't leave me alone
I still find it all a mystery
Could it be a dream?
--Ozzy Osbourne, The Road to Nowhere

Our two worlds met in strange surprise
I hid my love in thin disguise
I tried to leave, how could I stay?
What if my heart gave me away

I always thought I'd be prepared
But love just caught me unaware
You said the words and I believed
I fell so hard, I fell so deep

Love can't hide
Though it tries
Hearts catch fire
So has mine
Here's my heart

So true love triumphs once again
It always makes it in the end
And if you let your heart run free
It will return faithfully

Love can't hide
Though it tries
Hearts catch fire
All the time
Helpless love
Walks the line
Hearts catch fire
The hour is fine
Here's my heart

Woooo... oooooo...etc.

Love can't hide
Though it tries
Hearts catch fire
All the time
Helpless love
Walks the line
Hearts catch fire
So has mine
Here's my heart
Here's my heart
Here's my heart
Here's my heart

Ohhh. Hey hey hey...

--Pat Benatar, Here's My Heart

It must have been cold there in my shadow.
To never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine... that's your way.
You always walked a step behind.
So I was the one with all the glory.
While you were the one with all the strain.
A beautiful face without a name.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you're my hero?
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle...
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth... 'course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everytihng I wish I could be be.
I could fly higher than an eagle...
for you are the wind beheath my wings.

[Repeat, etc...]

--Bette Midler, Wind Beneath my Wings
(Written by L. Henley & J Silbar, 1982)

"Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there was a man fishing
with a rubber boot on his hook.
The man caught so many kinds of fish with that rubber boot.
However, there was a fish that he could not catch.
What's the name of that fish?

Koi. Koi is so elusive." --Youta Moteuchi, Video Girl Ai

Let's dance in style,
Let's dance for a while
Heaven can wait,
We're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best
But expecting the worst
Are you going to drop the bomb or not????
Let us die young or let us live forever
We don't have the power
But we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit,
Life is a short trip
The music's for the sad men
Can you imagine when this race is won??
Turn our golden faces into the sun
Praising our leaders,
We're getting in tune
The music's played by the madmen

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever
Forever -- and ever

Some are like water
Some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later, they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young?
It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth's like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever
So many adventures couldn't happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams swinging out of the blue
We'll let them come true

Forever young...
--"Forever Young"

"Could've been so beautiful"
--Tiffany, Could've Been (1987)

==>More Quotes on the Way. Last updated May 2, 1995<==

PGP Signed Entry

June 15, 2003

Thanks for Indpendent Programmers

I just wanted to write a wholehearted thank you to funkatron for the software that finally saved me from a loop of endless frustration, which I outlined in the previous entry. I am happy to report that LameBrain does almost everything I want in mp3 ripping and encoding. There is full access to the Lame command line options, as well as a polished GUI interface to the more important options, flexible filenames (and no stupid folder-based organizational structure imposed on the user!), freedb support... etc. The only two features that I find lacking are that only ID3v1.1 tags are supported (I hope there is an update to v2.x to support expanded information at some point), and the "Genre" field pull-down menu is populated with only freedb genres (which we all know are quite lacking). Free-form (or at least just more options) input to this field should be allowed.

So that's how this story came to a happy conclusion after all. Hooray for independent programmers, and hooray for open source! I am thankful that there are other people who believe there's a better way than the standard way, and grateful that they put in the time, talent, and effort to help make the better way possible.

PGP Signed Entry

Stupid Intelligent Software

Okay, my first legit gripe with the Switch came up today.

In the past few days, I've been methodically going through my CD collection, re-encoding them due to the iTunes debacle. Now, I put the blame on that incident on the RIAA rather than Apple because I could clearly see the hand behind the puppet.

But my new gripe with iTunes puts the onus solely on Apple.

I happen to like my mp3 collection filenames in the "Artist - Song Title.mp3" format. On the Windows side of things, this seems to be a fairly common way to name an mp3 file, and it's the way I've done it since I started encoding mp3 files back in 1997. iTunes imposes a directory structure based organization, which is useful if you know that the files will never be taken out of the context of that directory structure. I don't have that kind of faith in myself, in technology, and in future standards. I want the artist and song right on the filename. So instead of letting iTunes maintain its own library structure, I take the files out and rename them (thank goodness for batch prepend in File Buddy), and put them into one big directory.

All this would be quite enough trouble to have to go through to do things my way. But to make it even more annoying, Apple renames the ID3 "Title" field when you rename the song. I haven't pinned down if this happens within the Finder, iTunes, or (Heaven forbid) HFS+. But I do know that whether I rename the songs in File Buddy or in the Finder, the next time I pull up iTunes, the Title field will have changed.

Now here's the thing. At this point, I can rename the ID3 tag, and as long as I don't mess with the file any further, neither will Apple. So in the end, I do get what I want... but it makes an already tedious process twice so.

But then what's even more frustrating is that there doesn't appear to be any way to remove this behavior. And what's even more more frustrating is that things are being done to my files without my consent. This is just NOT right.

Look, I am all for intelligent software. When automation is done right, it's awesome. I love it when my computer anticipates what I want, asks me if it's okay to do it, and then does it. What I absolutely HATE is when my computer (or hell, anybody, for that matter) tries to guess what I want, and then does it without teling me. This is really bad. Really, really bad. I cannot stress how bad this is.

If anybody out there at Apple reads this, PLEASE do something about this. I am really losing faith in iTunes big time after these two, in my opinion, HUGE setbacks.

PGP Signed Entry

June 14, 2003

The Evening's Conversation

I went out tonight with Kurtaaaro. It's been a little while since I've gone out on a Friday night, so it was a bit of a refreshing feeling. As he put it, all of the kiddies are gone for the summer, so it might actually be bearable. And indeed, it was. We ended up having a rather engaging conversation, some elements of which will keep my mind occupied for some time.

Some of these topics are things that I write about here, and which have some social, economic, or political bearing. A couple of days ago, I reserved a new domain name, directcurrent.org, as the next step in putting up a website dedicated to these more "serious" issues. I won't promise anything in terms of timeframe, but I'll make an announcement when that site is ready to go.

The main reason I'm doing this is because I believe there are some things that I would like to express, and some news and facts that I would like to provide in a more serious setting, without the distraction of the "personal" side of this blog. It was a difficult decision to go with this approach, because one of the things that I believe so strongly in is the need to develop a holistic understanding of everything that we encounter, not the least of which is individuals. Therefore, I felt it was important for me to write about as broad a range of topics as I could so that readers of my blog could, over time, receive a more complete understanding of my individualism. By separating the "serious" issues from the "personal" blog, I am putting my belief in the things that I want to address at directcurrent.org ahead of my belief that visitors to my web presence should be able to learn as much as they can about me in a single blog. But I feel this is an important step because I want to make sure that the messages and ideas that I am trying to convey at directcurrent.org aren't diluted by the more random ramblings of a personal blog.

So one of the first things that I'll be addressing over there is the conversation I had tonight with Kurtaaaro. Among the varied topics, we went over the future of privacy in the context of the greater society, and technology's role in this future. I hope to be able to elaborate more on this soon.

PGP Signed Entry

June 12, 2003

Languages Support

It's probably getting old reading about my honeymoon with the PowerBook and my reacquaintance trials and tribulations with MacOS, but I started this blog to write about stuff that I felt like writing about... you can always tune out... so I'm going to not worry about being overly single-minded in these entries.

Today's topic is support for non-English languages. Specifically, the absolute ease with which everything just works right out of the box on the Mac. I probably made only one or two adjustments to settings to get Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) and Japanese language input working. Having done this on the Windows side, I will say that it's not too much harder there, except that so many applications just don't support foreign languages.

The last time I had a Mac, they were still pioneers of foreign language input. I remember buying a product called the Chinese Language Kit to do my Chinese homework with. That was awesome at the time. Now, it's all part of the OS that comes with the machine, and the integration is far tighter. My hard drive is named "あまの愛" and foreign text can stand side by side with latin text with no problems just about anywhere. The one single exception to this was the Internet Preferences panel, which wouldn't save my default save location unless I renamed the drive using latin characters. Once I got it to save the location, though, I was able to change the name of the drive back and things still worked.

But the thing I'm really impressed with is that my foreign language songs automatically appear in their foreign language titles when I put in the CD and iTunes grabs the data from freedb. It's a thing of beauty. I was never able to get this to work on a multitude of CD rippers and mp3 players in Windows. Granted, I didn't try all that hard, but I was quite impressed when it just plain worked on the Mac... surprised even.

I should be getting Microsoft Office v.X tomorrow or Monday, so I'll be able to try out some more complicated things with language input at that point. So far, though, I am quite satisfied.

PGP Signed Entry

June 11, 2003

Damn the RIAA to Hell

Came across mongoosedog's entry about his unfortunate iPod experience today. I guess first, I should welcome him into the iPod secret society. Second, I should tell my own little story of iPod woe.

This entry is about the unfortunate convergence of circumstances that led to the demise of my entire mp3 collection. Prior to my purchasing the iPod a couple of months ago, my mp3 collection was mostly encoded at 128 kbps, with only stuff that I'd recently (in the past year or two) encoded being at higher bitrates or VBR. I had all of this old stuff backed up on CD-R, so when I got the iPod, populating it with music was pretty easy to do. However, with the purchase of the iPod, I decided it was time to get as much of that old stuff updated into VBR (specifically, I used Exact Audio Copy and LAME 3.92 with -v -V0 -b128 -q2 options). So over the past couple of months, I've been slowly but surely going through my entire CD collection. Mostly, it was a matter of putting in a disc to rip and encode while I did something else, so it wasn't like I spent hundreds of hours just sitting there doing this, but it did mean a lot of effort was expended.

So eventually, a few weeks ago, I finally got caught up with my entire collection. I had just over a thousand songs on the iPod, worth about 6 GB. When I bought the 5400 RPM hard drive for my Dell laptop and put the old drive into an external FireWire/USB2 case, I even backed up the entire contents of my iPod to the external drive. Life was good.

The only hitch was that I couldn't use the software that came with the iPod. I mean, Musicmatch Jukebox may be an OK media player, but it was an atrocious abomination of a shadow of a bastardization of a semblance of an interface into the iPod. So I ditched it almost immediately. Eventually, I settled upon EphPod, a fine piece of software for managing the music collection on the iPod. Having now used iTunes on the Mac for the same purpose, I will say that for iPod music management, no other piece of software comes close. Among the myriad of wonderful feature it incorporated was a feature that let you put all your music files into a single directory on the iPod, rather than the 20 directories that Apple spreads your files out into if you use either iTunes or Musicmatch.

Now I'm going to step aside here and get back on my music industry bashing soapbox. See, I know that the reason why Apple makes it such a pain in the ass for people to get to the music files and directly manipulate them is because the RIAA lit a fire under Apple in their holy war to preserve the record labels' profits. Note very clearly that I said "record labels' profits," not "artists profits" or "artists rights." One of the reasons why I feel so strongly about why the RIAA must fail is because I find it deplorable that they twist the nature of their efforts in the hopes that people will be blind to the underlying truth: the fact that this is truly all about stuffing record label executive's pockets full of money at the expense of the consumer as well as the artist.

So why did I just get up on that soapbox? And what does it have to do with my iPod?

Well, because of their asinine holy war, I had to resort to non-standard utilities and methods to manage my music collection on the iPod. When I made the Switch to Mac a few days ago, one of the things that I did without thinking about it was to hook up my iPod and try out iTunes.

Without telling me anything had happened, iTunes wiped my entire music collection from the iPod. I didn't find out about this until the next day, when I tried to play some music only to hear nothing as it went through each song in the database. See, it didn't wipe the database, so the iPod still thought that it had over a thousand songs on there, and all the title and track information were still intact too. Just that the files were gone.

Now some of you might say, "that's what you get for using non-standard software, blah blah blah" and I actually do agree with you. Most of the time, when I use non-standard software... or, heck, when I do anything in a non-standard way, I am ready to accept the consequences. I believe that the standard way is boring, that it is designed for people who want a standard experience. I don't. I want the Deluxe Experience. And I understand that with the Deluxe Experience sometimes come Deluxe Consequences. Fine.

But in this case, these consequences were brought about by a preponderance of ridiculous circumstances which existed solely because the RIAA is so overzealous in its litigious persecution of literally everyone under the sun.

So if you haven't been distracted by my soapbox rant, you are probably wondering at this point what happened to the backup that I'd mentioned on that FireWire external drive...

Well, in one last insult to the injury, that drive died not more than a couple of weeks after I took it out of the Dell. I'm happy that it didn't die while it was still my primary hard drive, because that would have been far more catastrophic than losing a bunch of mp3 files. But yes, it died. So I had no backup of the contents of my iPod when I started up iTunes without thinking about the possible consequences. I guess it was the honeymoon euphoria with my new PowerBook...

Oh well. Lesson learned: continue efforts to destroy RIAA.

PGP Signed Entry

June 10, 2003


As previously threatened, I performed the hard drive transplant surgery on my baby PowerBook tonight. The hardware portion of the procedure took nearly three hours. I hope this is the first, last, and only time I will ever need to see the insides of my PowerBook.

The good news is everything went perfectly, and I now have a 5400 RPM, 8 MB cache, 40 GB IBM/Hitachi Travelstar in place of the 4200 RPM, 2 MB cache Toshiba drive that came with the machine.

The bad news is that it took so damn long. When I replaced the hard drive on my Dell Inspiron 8000, it took about ten minutes. Now, I realize that Apple did not design the machine to have people replacing the hard drive. Certainly there are other manufacturers who design their laptops to have non-serviceable hard drives. But I expect more of Apple. You might say I expect perfection. I honestly don't think it would have been too much trouble to have designed this case to allow a hard drive replacement procedure involving only 6 to 10 screws (as opposed to the 30 to 40 I removed and cataloged as I went tonight) and about 15 to 20 minutes. My conclusion then, is that they purposely made it so that only a very meticulous electrical engineer would dare attempt the procedure. This is a real shame, especially because the drive they give you is so... nominal. You can't even order up a faster drive as an option when you order the PowerBook from Apple. I mean that I could at least understand, if not condone.

Anyway, here's a picture I took after the disassembly process -- right after I removed the 4200 RPM drive and just before I put in the 5400 RPM drive.

PGP Signed Entry

June 9, 2003

Timing is Everything

I gotta say... it feels great when you make a good stock decision, and the timing is perfect. The market retreated today after some pretty solid gains last week, something that I anticipated was going to happen. Now I expect that barring any major negative events it will continue to rise, with the Dow threatening 10,000 by year-end, but in the short term, I have to say that the timing of my sale last week was perfect. Add that to the perfect timing of the PowerBook price drops, and you have one happy me.

We'll see if this keeps up as I prepare to open up the machine for hard drive changing surgery tonight.

PGP Signed Entry

June 8, 2003


Why did I ever leave you?

PGP Signed Entry

June 5, 2003


I have decided finally to Switch back to the Mac.

Yesterday, I called my broker and sold a bunch of stock, the proceeds from which will go toward a new Apple PowerBook G4 12". The plan right now is to get the Airport Extreme card with the machine (at no effective cost after rebate from MacWarehouse), plus a 512 MB SODIMM, to bring the machine up to 640 MB total. I do not plan on getting the SuperDrive, because I honestly just don't see myself needing to burn DVDs in the next couple of years, which is how long I expect to use the machine. If someone wants to try to talk me into one, please feel free to do so. Just remember that I do plan on writing plenty of CD-Rs, which the SuperDrive burns more slowly than the ComboDrive.

Later on, when I can no longer stand 1024x768 (this could happen very quickly), I plan on getting a flat panel LCD monitor and do the dual display while I'm at home. This should solve the largest major concern I have with going with the tiny AlBook -- I'll have maximum portability for the road, and plenty of desktop real estate at home. Please feel free to offer suggestions as to which LCD flat panels I should look into. Minimally, I require 1280x960, and a VGA (analog) input. That's my biggest complaint to Apple on the 12" PowerBook: lack of a DVI output. Ideally, I'd like to get a 1600x1200 panel, but budget constraints may prove that out of reach.

It feels good to have finally made this decision. It's almost like coming home, coming in from the cold. I don't expect this is going to make my computing life easier or better, necessarily. This isn't really a technical decision, although I did research pretty meticulously what exactly I'd be gaining and what I'd be giving up. I believe the app I'll miss most will be Trillian; as far as I can tell, there is no chat client that remotely approaches the quality of this Windows app. Another thing I plan to do once I get the machine is hack it apart and void the warranty. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't make it easy to change the hard drive on their machine, and to boot they give you a hard drive any serious user would want to replace. So I'll be replacing the existing 4200 RPM drive with a 5400 RPM, 8 MB cache model as soon as I get it.

In the end, this decision wasn't really about anything practical. I expect that after a brief reacquaintance period, I'll be able to do pretty much everything that I do now in Windows just as easily. The decision really came down more to philosophy and emotion. Let's face it: the PowerBook 12" is the coolest looking notebook out there. It's ultra portable, and it'll do everything I want. And it makes me feel good about myself. Maybe something like trying to get back to a more innocent era... but let's not get too overly sappy and philosophical about it.

Also, this isn't really to say that I'm permanently abandoning Windows. I fully expect to continue using Windows at work, and I might eventually finally live by a philosophy I've preached for quite some time: the best of all worlds being having a Windows desktop for mad gaming, and a Mac laptop for to be suave and sexy on the road.

PGP Signed Entry

June 2, 2003

McDonald's Evil Empire

I have decided to stop eating at McDonald's restaurants as of today. I made this decision not because I find their food foul tasting or lacking in nutritious value, but because of a lawsuit they filed in Italy against a food critic.

They claim that this critic defamed them maliciously and in a purposefully inflammatory manner by claiming that their burgers taste like rubber and their fries like cardboard.

To me, this is a mega corporation trying to use its size and clout to suppress freedom. I, and anybody else, should be able to say whatever my opinion is of McDonald's food without fear of reprisal. Period.

Therefore, I can no longer support the McDonald's Corporation with my business.

PGP Signed Entry