Thursday, June 30, 2005

 

Assorted rants....

Since I'm about to spend the next six and one half hours on conference calls, it's time for a quick commentary just to let you all know I'm still breathing (occasionally....)

The Sulzberger Entity reports this morning that MSFT is in negotiations to buy Claria. In Claria's defense, I'll concede they haven't adopted overly obnoxious countermeasures against removal (it's more along the lines of sly wording and "pretty please with sugar on it", so it merely gets the Frankly Unctuous award, named after my favorite crooner) so they're not to be classified with Aurora or Cool Web Search, however, the implications boggle the mind. The boys in Redmond owning the tracking technology and databases is scary enough, and if the marketing types (Sales and Marketing being somewhere in the general vicinity of moral fiber of the Sturmabteilung) decide that they should embed this technology in the OS, it's BOHICA time. It won't be removable except through major surgery (ever try uninstalling IE?) if at all, and it could be not only embedded into the browser, it could be embedded into MS Office, Money, the whole shebang. Broadband Reports had the amusing yet frightening scenario of Clippy popping up with "You look like you're writing a resume. Would you like to post it on Careerbuilder.com?".

The Police Ineptitude Of The Week Award goes to the constabulary in Aruba. Seemingly channeling the JonBenet Ramsey investigation team or simple wussiness, they still haven't found that poor girl's remains yet. A New York City detective would've had a confession already. Says an awful lot about the mentality of the Euros (even though it's the Carribean) - it's not as if these thugs are going to swing for it, odds are they'd get a couple of years with weekends off given the typical European approach to criminal justice nowadays. Give her family some closure, dammit.

Probably no more posts until Tuesday. I intend to enjoy the holiday weekend. To all, my best wishes for a safe and sane Fourth of July.

Monday, June 27, 2005

 

Remember boys and girls - once the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend

RIP Paul Winchell. Rather interesting if you compare some of the real celebrity birdbrains to some of the old timers like Winchell, who had a ton of US patents and actually invented a prototype artificial heart (Hedy Lamarr was another smart one - she came up with the concept of sonar). James Woods is probably the only real smart one these days (and he also provided crucial evidence to the FBI about what might've been a dry run for 9/11 - good thing this guy is very observant). Winchell, well, everyone thinks of him as Tigger's voice, and those of us of a certain age think of him for his ventriloquism - certainly a lost art. His characters (Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff) were gentle and beloved by children. Thinking back, I think the revival of Winchell-Mahoney Time actually replaced Soupy Sales in NYC (then again it's probably just failing grey matter). Sigh. I wonder if Jimmy Nelson is still around (Nelson had a similar shtick, with Danny O'Day as the fast-talking puppet and Farfel the dog instead of Knucklehead as the slow-witted comic relief.

A minor problem involving character sets on my current project is threatening to snowball, so I'll probably be a bit quiet this week as well. We've got to get it resolved by Friday. It's actually very simple to resolve, a back-end database instance needs to have its data backed up, a simple ALTER DATABASE issued, and then restore the data, however, since this definitely constitutes a major change event (and who knows what systems that will impact). Change control, here I come....

Thursday, June 23, 2005

 

The AFI List of Best Movie Quotes

I couldn't resist.

1. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," "Gone With the Wind," 1939.
GWTW never did a lot for me. Too cliched.

2. "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse," "The Godfather," 1972.
Even though overused it's a classic.

3. "You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am," "On the Waterfront," 1954.
Ditto.

4. "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.
I've begun to run hot and cold with The Wizard of Oz, it's no longer that special occasion that it used to be to watch it. In small doses it's fine, but when it gets ubiquitous its oleagenous qualities come out.

5. "Here's looking at you, kid," "Casablanca," 1942.
I'm a sucker for Casablanca, so my only quibble is with the placement in the list.

6. "Go ahead, make my day," "Sudden Impact," 1983.
A personal favorite.

7. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," "Sunset Blvd.," 1950.
Not one of my favorite movies by any stretch. However, it is a great line.

8. "May the Force be with you," "Star Wars," 1977.
Dreadfully overused. Mel Brooks skewered it properly.

9. "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night," "All About Eve," 1950.
Ditto #7.

10. "You talking to me?" "Taxi Driver," 1976.
Dreadfully overused.

11. "What we've got here is failure to communicate," "Cool Hand Luke," 1967.
A personal favorite.

12. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," "Apocalypse Now," 1979.
Another big personal favorite.

13. "Love means never having to say you're sorry," "Love Story," 1970.
Never liked the movie.

14. "The stuff that dreams are made of," "The Maltese Falcon," 1941.
Great stuff.

15. "E.T. phone home," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," 1982.
Ghastly syrup.

16. "They call me Mister Tibbs!", "In the Heat of the Night," 1967.
Absolute dignity. Great stuff.

17. "Rosebud," "Citizen Kane," 1941.
Overrated.

18. "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!", "White Heat," 1949.
Another great personal favorite. Although my personal favorite Cagney performance is in another film ("One Two Three") this is perhaps the best gangster film of all time.

19. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!", "Network," 1976.
Aged badly.

20. "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," "Casablanca," 1942.
Casablanca. What else can I say....

21. "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti," "The Silence of the Lambs," 1991.
Best line in that movie, but the rest of it wasn't that great.

22. "Bond. James Bond," "Dr. No," 1962.
Fuckin' A. The epitome of cool.

23. "There's no place like home," "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.
See #4.

24. "I am big! It's the pictures that got small," "Sunset Blvd.," 1950.
See #7.

25. "Show me the money!", "Jerry Maguire," 1996.
Never liked the movie.

26. "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?", "She Done Him Wrong," 1933.
Classic stuff. Great attitude.

27. "I'm walking here! I'm walking here!", "Midnight Cowboy," 1969.
Not one of my favorites by a longshot.

28. "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By,"' "Casablanca," 1942.
The line from Casablanca.

29. "You can't handle the truth!", "A Few Good Men," 1992.
Not one of my favorites.

30. "I want to be alone," "Grand Hotel," 1932.
Classic, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it.

31. "After all, tomorrow is another day!", "Gone With the Wind," 1939.
I've already expressed my opinion of GWTW.

32. "Round up the usual suspects," "Casablanca," 1942.
The reaction shot and Claude Rains' delivery make this one of the best moments ever on film.

33. "I'll have what she's having," "When Harry Met Sally...," 1989.
One of the best one-liners ever. Brilliant casting of Estelle Reiner.

34. "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow," "To Have and Have Not," 1944.
Still smoking after all these years.

35. "You're gonna need a bigger boat," "Jaws," 1975.
Although the movie's aged badly, I still like the line.

36. "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!", "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948.
Yeah, it's a cliche, but I love it.

37. "I'll be back," "The Terminator," 1984.
I suppose this one's going to be in the same category as "Rilly Big Shew" eventually.

38. "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth," "The Pride of the Yankees," 1942.
How can any baseball fan watch this without choking up? The recent book shows that Eleanor Gehrig didn't get along at all well with her in-laws, so I'd rather just remember Lou this way - besides, Teresa Wright was a babe. Ludwig Stossel and Elsa Janssen are favorites from Casablanca as well.

39. "If you build it, he will come," "Field of Dreams," 1989.
A bit overused.

40. "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get," "Forrest Gump," 1994.
OK, I guess.

41. "We rob banks," "Bonnie and Clyde," 1967.
A classic. Haven't seen it in years.

42. "Plastics," "The Graduate," 1967.
Great line.

43. "We'll always have Paris," "Casablanca," 1942.
Casablanca. Needs no elaboration.

44. "I see dead people," "The Sixth Sense," 1999.
Not one of my favorites.

45. "Stella! Hey, Stella!", "A Streetcar Named Desire," 1951.
Cliche.

46. "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars," "Now, Voyager," 1942.
Not one of my favorites.

47. "Shane. Shane. Come back!", "Shane," 1953.
I had an overwhelming desire to scream this at the end of "Pale Rider".

48. "Well, nobody's perfect," "Some Like It Hot," 1959.
Good line, but it's not my favorite Billy Wilder movie by a long shot.

49. "It's alive! It's alive!", "Frankenstein," 1931.
Great stuff, even if overacted.

50. "Houston, we have a problem," "Apollo 13," 1995.
Perhaps not eligible, as it's taken directly from what happened. Still an inspiring film - I met Gene Krantz a few years back, and he's a top-notch guy still - very inspiring.

51. "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?", "Dirty Harry," 1971.
Great stuff.

52. "You had me at 'hello,"' "Jerry Maguire," 1996.
Yawn.

53. "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know," "Animal Crackers," 1930.
Why the first Groucho quote is all the way down at #53 is totally beyond me.

54. "There's no crying in baseball!", "A League of Their Own," 1992.
One baseball film I don't particularly like, primarily because of the presence of Mrs. Ritchie.

55. "La-dee-da, la-dee-da," "Annie Hall," 1977.
This film's loaded with great lines. This one isn't all that memorable.

56. "A boy's best friend is his mother," "Psycho," 1960.
It's become a cliche. Next.

57. "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good," "Wall Street," 1987.
Great stuff, especially if you work in financial services.

58. "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer," "The Godfather Part II," 1974.
Good stuff. Not great.

59. "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again," "Gone With the Wind," 1939.
I've expressed my opinion of GWTW too many times already.

60. "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!", "Sons of the Desert," 1933.
And why the heck are Stan and Ollie so far down on the list?

61. "Say 'hello' to my little friend!", "Scarface," 1983.
Never liked this version.

62. "What a dump," "Beyond the Forest," 1949.
Ehhhh.

63. "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?", "The Graduate," 1967.
Perhaps my favorite line in the film.

64. "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!", "Dr. Strangelove," 1964.
A real classic.

65. "Elementary, my dear Watson," "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," 1929.
Basil Rathbone was so freaking cool as Sherlock. And someone should tell the AFI that it came out in 1939, not 1929.

66. "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape," "Planet of the Apes," 1968.
A favorite.

67. "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine," "Casablanca," 1942.
Casablanca. Great stuff.

68. "Here's Johnny!", "The Shining," 1980.
Too pat. Sorry.

69. "They're here!", "Poltergeist," 1982.
Too cutesy.

70. "Is it safe?", "Marathon Man," 1976.
One of the reasons I avoid the dentist like the plague.

71. "Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet!", "The Jazz Singer," 1927.
Historically important. I never liked the film.

72. "No wire hangers, ever!", "Mommie Dearest," 1981.
It's become a cliche.

73. "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?", "Little Caesar," 1930.
Great stuff.

74. "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown," "Chinatown," 1974.
Aged badly.

75. "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers," "A Streetcar Named Desire," 1951.
Yawn.

76. "Hasta la vista, baby," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," 1991.
Arnold should be very grateful.

77. "Soylent Green is people!", "Soylent Green," 1973.
Eddie G's the redeeming feature of this film.

78. "Open the pod bay doors, HAL," "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.
A great personal favorite.

79. Striker: "Surely you can't be serious." Rumack: "I am serious ... and don't call me Shirley," "Airplane!", 1980.
Funny indeed.

80. "Yo, Adrian!", "Rocky," 1976.
Cliche.

81. "Hello, gorgeous," "Funny Girl," 1968.
Anything with that horrid woman in it is going to get a negative reaction from me. End of discussion.

82. "Toga! Toga!", "National Lampoon's Animal House," 1978.
Not my top choice from Animal House, but the film is definitely a personal favorite and the archetypical slob comedy.

83. "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make," "Dracula," 1931.
Great stuff. Bela was very cool.

84. "Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast," "King Kong," 1933.
Classic.

85. "My precious," "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," 2002.
A great realization of Tolkein's vision.

86. "Attica! Attica!", "Dog Day Afternoon," 1975.
Not one of my favorites.

87. "Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!", "42nd Street," 1933.
I never liked the Busby Berkley type of film.

88. "Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it. You're going to get back on that horse, and I'm going to be right behind you, holding on tight, and away we're gonna go, go, go!", "On Golden Pond," 1981.
Not one of my favorites.

89. "Tell 'em to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper," "Knute Rockne, All American," 1940.
OK, it's a cliche. It's still great.

90. "A martini. Shaken, not stirred," "Goldfinger," 1964.
Another Fuckin' A for Mr. Connery.

91. "Who's on first," "The Naughty Nineties," 1945.
The entire routine should be enshrined.

92. "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac ... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!", "Caddyshack," 1980.
Another personal favorite slob comedy.

93. "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!", "Auntie Mame," 1958.
Eh.

94. "I feel the need -- the need for speed!", "Top Gun," 1986.
Uh, yeah.

95. "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary," "Dead Poets Society," 1989.
Never liked the film.

96. "Snap out of it!", "Moonstruck," 1987.
I don't like the rest of the film, but this line is great.

97. "My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," 1942.
Not my favorite Cagney film.

98. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," "Dirty Dancing," 1987.
The food is terrible, and such small portions!

99. "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!", "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.
Perhaps my favorite line from "Wizard".

100. "I'm king of the world!", "Titanic," 1997
Although the film wasn't as gruesomely schmaltzy as I thought it would be, remember one thing. Everybody knows the boat sinks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

 

R.I.P. Leon Askin

I've just been made aware that Leon Askin has passed away a few weeks ago. Most folks remember Askin as the nasty General Burkhalter, who was Colonel Klink's nemesis on "Hogan's Heroes" (when he wasn't trying to marry him off to his ghastly sister Gertrude), but I remember him fondly as the absurd Russian Commisar Peripetchikoff in "One Two Three", one of my top three funny movies of all time. Askin suffered greatly from the Nazis, escaping just in time, and having to deal with the pain of having his parents killed in the Holocaust. G-d bless him, he was still going strong until just before his passing.

 

I don't want to tell you how much insurance I carry with the Prudential, but all I can say is: when I go, they go too.

A Jack Benny quote is most appropriate for today's missive. My friends will tell you that I'm usually a pretty generous guy and I rarely squawk about matters financial (other than my utter contempt for Respected Employer's remuneration policies over the last few years) but every once in a while my cheapskate streak kicks in and brother, did it kick in today.

Needless to say, a lot of enterprises are looking for new revenue streams, and when I opened what an AT&T long distance bill I noticed several new fees tacked on(service charges and such), retroactively applied that added a solid thirty bucks to the tab. Needless to say since Vonage arrived we haven't done anything with any traditional landline carriers for LD, so I'd imagine there'll be some bills popping up over the next few months with some insane monthly inactivity fees. A great example of the old adage that it takes a long time to get a customer, and only moments to lose a customer.

Since there's a lot of choice in the voice game, I have little inclination to brood over the matter other than to bemoan the needless spending of thirty bucks (I've spent far more on crummy entertainment and meals that should probably irk me more), however, I don't particularly have a lot of choice in the toll facility game. Say what?

I opened my E-Z Pass statement yesterday and found a yellow slip inserted into the envelope. Said slip begain "In order to maintain the high level of service...." at which point the BOHICA reflex kicked in. Needless to say there's a few points here which bear dissecting.

One egregious little point is "including providing tags to customers at no cost". True you don't pay for them, however, there is the small matter of the deposit on them which you have to pay in order to get a tag. Lots of $25 deposits on these tags, let me tell you. Then there's the simple matter that every account is prepaid, so someone's earning the float on all of those account balances and deposits. Not to mention the recent toll increases (For some reason it utterly galls me to pay four bucks to cross most TBTA bridges - a 1600% increase over their original tolls) that subsidize everything in creation besides than keeping the bridges maintained. Not to say they aren't keeping the bridges maintained, there's ample evidence of that as the Triborough, Whitestone and the Throgs Neck are all being worked on simultaneously, with the concomitant problem that there is no alternative route to accommodate midday traffic. I did want to note the work on the Whitestone in particular, as they've removed the stiffening trusses from the bridge in favor of making the deck more aerodynamic. The interested layman that I am, I note that the trusses were put on the span after the infamous Tacoma Narrows collapse in 1940, for the simple reasons that both bridges were stiffened with plate girders instead of trusses at the time, and that the designing engineer for both spans was one Leon Moiseiff (also known for the Manhattan Bridge). The Tacoma collapse couldn't be attributed solely to Moiseiff (after all, aerodynamics wasn't as exact a science in those days), it was also partially the fault of under-financing (the only anticipated traffic really was for the Navy installations on the Gig Harbor side of the Tacoma bridge - it really wasn't thought that the bridge would be a financial success. Contrast that to nowadays, the replacement span is overcrowded, and a new twin span is being built next to it)


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

 

Yet Another Greatest List That's Worthless

Spin Magazine, one of those rags that I usually only open if there's an excessive line at my local Borders has put out it's idea of the 100 Greatest Albums of the last 20 years. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised at the Top Ten, with Radiohead's "OK Computer" taking the top slot. I should note that I rather liked Radiohead's "The Bends", not that there was anything that hummable or memorable on it, but it was a decent piece of guitar rock at a time when there was precious little of it out there. "OK Computer", well, I think it's just the same "bleep blorp" stuff that European music has been descending into since Kraftwerk and Klaus Schulze were in their heyday - the "life is getting too mechanical so why not protest it by locking us into incessant beats and spacey sounding riffs" shtick is getting old fast.

That said, I think Radiohead could be a modern day Roxy Music - all of the elements are there (save of course those great album covers) if Thom Yorke would simply get it - Bryan Ferry knows when to be pretentious and when to head for the pelvis.

I was completely surprised at not seeing any U2 albums in the top ten. As much as they can be a touch pretentious, there's been a lot of great music out of them, far more so than anyone in the top ten, and the only other album in the top 10 which can even come close for staying power and influence is Nirvana's "Nevermind". And of course another egregious omission is "Appetite For Destruction" - the only album in the last two decades that said, yes, it's OK to play a Les Paul through a dimed Marshall.

As the list isn't fully available yet at this point, I can't do a line item dissection. I understand about 20-25% of the list is in the rap/hip hop classification, which'll earn a simple abstention from me (it's simply not my groove, a lot of it turns me off, and rather than expound on something that's tough for me to relate to, I'll leave it to the cognoscenti).

Monday, June 20, 2005

 

I had a wonderful experience on the golf course today. I had a hole in nothing. Missed the ball and sank the divot.

Many conference calls, and added duties are consuming my bandwidth for posting, so it's going to be a bit of a slog for the next couple of weeks. Something had to give, and unfortunately it's the blog, however, I'm still with it, it'll be back in force come July.

The listen du jour is the Flamin' Groovies "Jump In The Night", a 1979 effort that's quite retro for its time, reminds me a lot of its contemporaries, The Records "Starry Eyes" and the Seachers' reunion album. Lots of jangly electric 12 string work, and of all things, a nifty, respectful cover of the Beatles' "Please Please Me". Interestingly, Amazon refers to the Beatles cover as "Please Please Girl", a track the Groovies recorded years before, which sounds nothing like the Fabs' tune nor does it reference it. Nice cover of "Absolutely Sweet Marie" as well - in a lot of ways that's my favorite Dylan song (the fact that George H covered it at the Dylan 30th anniversary show didn't hurt with that choice either). The vocals are a bit nasal and the recording, well, it ain't exactly Glyn Johns turning the knobs.

And I still haven't finished "Francis The Talking Mute" yet. Too busy doing super-secret stuff with my test site. The background music is just my current computer-based selection, and given the DRM stuff that's on a lot of CDs, I'm reluctant to put the disk into my computer (and yes, I do have Autoplay disabled, but trust being a superfluous weakness in matters relating to entertainment I thought better of it).

VMWare Workstation 5 is here. Looking forward to playing with that.

Be patient friends, I shall be posting sporadically for a bit, but I'm not going anywhere.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

 

A building has integrity just like a man. And just as seldom.

The incessant parade of meetings continues unabated today, so little time for posting.

Took another listen to Mars Volta while in the car this AM, and there was some interesting stuff, sort of like a cross between King Crimson and Pink Floyd (albeit with one extremely annoying keyboard riff that sounded sort of like Daryl Hooper crossed with Keith Emerson - Hooper of course being the keyboardist for The Seeds, who used the "Pushin' Too Hard" riff in every other song they ever cut). One very interesting song sung mostly in Spanish, but the lyrics were pretty rough - I caught a line in there about "I'd like to kill you" and something about "my ass". I suppose I'll finish it soon...

Monday, June 13, 2005

 

Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death.

Seeing as how I've been busy getting a life and busy with work stuff, no surprise on the slowing down of posting, but since things are relatively cool, I have no major complaints. A rather interesting twist to my current project this afternoon has got me skulling out a very neat conversion of an existing solution to an Enterprise Service Bus scenario, which will keep me busy for the next couple of days doing a feasibility study. My kind of work, pure brainpower, lots of pretty Visios, and researching whether or not some half-baked idea might turn into something totally useful.

I anticipate a couple of PEBKAC problems this week, as I helped a couple of friends out (who are unfortunately as clueless as they come - one good friend ended up doing something very dumb, putting a P2P client on a work machine - said friend is the boss of the applicable business, so nothing to fear from management, but when I pointed out how vulnerable that thing was, said friend had a cow). Said friends are utterly competent in their professional endeavors, however, they haven't a clue about technology. Besides, why put a P2P client on anyway? Be a mensch about it and buy the damned CD if you absolutely must have it, or listen to the snippets on Amazon and make a decision.

Which brings me to the CD du jour, the Mars Volta's "Francis The Talking Mute". I got through the first track, about a 15 minute opus that reminded me of lower-case Dream Theater while in the car this AM, and while there are some interesting concepts there, it's also like Dream Theater for me in the sense that it's complicated stuff that is not what you want to put on just for a relaxing, fun listen. It's got that industrial rock thing going, which for someone like me whose idea of out there is King Crimson makes it a tough go. I will listen to the rest of it either tonight or tomorrow and report back. I do have to admit that I like the pun in the title - once I saw a couple of Francis The Talking Mule movies I never really liked watching Mr. Ed again (although Connie Hines was indeed hot).

According to CNN, Mr. Jackson has been found innocent as I write this. Someone's lack of erudition is showing (or is it perhaps a touch of bias?). No such thing as an innocent verdict - it's "Not Guilty". My natural assumption is that there will be a recycling of a comment often heard about the OJ Simpson verdict - "We the jury find the murderer Not Guilty". At this point, I can only hope that the jury felt that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I sincerely hope that this entire affair causes Mr. Jackson to reform his ways. Beyond that, it's all over but for the pontificating by the talking heads.

I suppose I'll probably go off on an Ayn Rand jag with post titles now.....

Saturday, June 11, 2005

 

Monotony, Bureaucracy, and Other Ephemeral Inconguities

Much ado at work, of which I have little energy to repeat today, save that it's a bit droning and repetitious. However, no huge issues save for bureaucracy, one which impacts me mightily, however, I have absolutely no control over it, and were it not for a simple bit of rational thought, it could be resolved in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, there are audit trail requirements involved (puhleeeze, we're talking soft dollars here - funny money) so the bean counters are insistent upon doing things in the least expeditious manner possible.

Took the young'uns to see Shark Boy and Lava Girl (at least that's what I think it was called) last night. I had a whopper of a headache from the 3-D scenes. The kids loved it, I was bored silly. Kristin Davis, who I found extremely annoying on Sex And The City, played the mother in the film. She managed to be only mildly annoying in this Spy Kids clone. Lots of kinder in the theater as one would expect, and they were quite loud. I kept expecting to see the brood sitting behind us plugged into Crown power amps at the volume they were commenting / cackling / cheering (not to mention a crossover set to extreme treble).

Found myself with an interesting problem yesterday - a friend's primary business application had been moved to another computer, and for some reason, even though the data files had been copied over (and were current), my friend was missing two years worth of transactions. Needless to say the "Oh shit" key was pressed, and I was called in, after the software vendor struck out. A bit of detective work found the correct file locations, and after a heart-stopping Btrieve moment (I can't believe they still make that thing!) my friend's data popped up. Unfortunately, said friend decided to copy the application to a personal laptop as a DR measure, and lo and behold, I got a call just as I was hustling the kids into the car for the movies to try to reimport the data. Needless to say my head for this sort of thing turns off sometime around 4pm on a Friday, so we left it for Monday AM to resolve. Sigh.....

Thursday, June 09, 2005

 

Thursday

A couple of conference calls today plus un exercise de feu Chinoise keep me from a long posting this AM. A hosting provider search is also in the cards (no I'm not moving this blog, however, I'm helping out a friendly site), so even though it isn't the obnoxious day yesterday was, there's enough to keep me thoroughly busy. The High Altar is acting a bit slow for no obvious reason - there was a false positive from Norton AntiVirus yesterday (I went into panic mode and did Housecall and a few other online scans and they reported the box as clean, so I'm OK on the malware front, but I do get antsy. Perhaps there's been some patch downloaded from MS Update - I can tell you that Norton's AutoProtect seems to be disabled upon login, and despite following all of the suggested steps from our friends at Symantec, it just seems that I'll have to reenable AutoProtect at each logon - one more thing pushing me toward blowing Norton off the High Altar and putting in AVG or Kaspersky). Between Norton and ZoneAlarm (on my Respected Employer's laptop) I'm ready to scream....

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

 

I'm From The Entertainment Industry And I'm Here To Help

The sad word came today that those solid citizens in the entertainment industry, you know, the people who endorse Hollywood's amorality and depravity as long as it keeps the analysts happy and we the sheeple buy their product have managed to shut down Lightning UK's DVD Decrypter forever. If you don't have it, Google's cache is your friend. Doom9.org seems to have it still, so grab it while you can.

This of course royally sucks moose, in that people who've nothing better to do than denigrate democracy invoke conservative principles when it suits them. Point blank, a kid can destroy a DVD or game console disc in a matter of minutes, then you're SOL. Are you buying a license, because if you're licensing the rights to play content as the industry contends, replacement media should be handled the same way it is by companies who play it fair. You lose the Oracle or OpenView CDs, give the license number to your rep and you'll have replacements. What's wrong with a replacement policy along these lines? The entertainment types don't have a huge marginal cost on duplication, so providing proof of a license should be enough to obtain replacement media at a reasonable fraction of the original license cost. Of course, their margins are slashed to the bone by the discounters (globalization you know, for all of those poor people who Barbra wants to help, but G-d forbid they should be anywhere near her home unless there's a leaf blower attached).

I really don't give a rat's ass who Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise is fucking. I really couldn't give a rat's ass about most of the movies I've seen in the last 20 years. I have no desire to watch network television, in fact other than news and talking heads, the occasional forays onto the Hitler, er History Channel and the Food Network the only TV show I actually want to watch is The Sopranos, and I've got the DVDs (which reminds me to order the fifth season - just came out today). However, the entertainment industry has taken it upon itself to dictate its weltanschaung to we the people, and that weltanschaung is of course take our liberal agenda, but don't fuck with us - we're capitalists when it's convenient for us. Of course, it's well known that the entertainment industry has put out bogus content onto file sharing networks in order to demonstrate its displeasure with file sharing, what do you want to bet that the marketers and the entertainment industry are behind some of the spyware / malware that's getting increasingly pervasive and difficult to remove. They're at war with us, gang.

Take a look at what a new band goes through if they get signed - the mathematics are inherently stacked against the artist (that little bit about taking royalties off because CDs are "experimental" technology is perhaps the biggest crock since Howard Dean first opened his trap). The entertainment industry is structured such that its favored few will be indulged to the tune of millions even if there's no hope of recovering the investment (Ms. Carey, Ms. Lopez and Mr. Jackson's recent albums come to mind), but heaven forbid that a Spock's Beard or Glass Hammer actually get airplay and distribution. They're not hip and "urban" enough.

Frankly, sooner or later I hope Eliot Spitzer or someone like him decides to turn his attention to the entertainment industry. There's probably quite a lot of stuff to base a RICO case against them. Even though Spitzer's a Dem, he seems to be a man of integrity (hey, they did have Zell Miller and Pat Moynihan, so there is such a thing as a Dem with integrity and honesty).

Today's not going to be fun. I'm pissed from the word go.

Finally, RIP Anne Bancroft. Both as Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Brooks she was part of our times.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

 

Yorick had it right....

Alas and alack, time constraints still keep me away from using the keyboard for more interesting purposes, however, I shall briefly expound on a couple of issues of regional importance. First is the stadium brouhaha in New York City, without which apparently there will be no Olympics in 2012 (or for that matter, skyboxes so that my favorite market data providing mayor can go to a football game without the ghastly necessity of crossing a river away from his beloved Manhattan). Needless to say the local punditry and spin doctors have been warning that failing to approve the stadium posthaste will destroy NYC's chances for the Olympics, something perceived to be of cataclysmic import by the stadium's promoters (obviously, there's little sympathy for the Jets since they vacated Flushing ages ago; then again, there hasn't been much sympathy for the Jets since the days of Sonny Werblin). Being totally honest about it, there is no logical reason for New York City to want either the games or the stadium in Manhattan. There is probable cause for replacing both Shea and Yankee Stadiums, however, the odds on the taxpayers or the markets funding either endeavor are pretty low. As far as the Olympics go, frankly, London and Paris' transport systems are a bit better laid out as far as access to areas where large events could be held (the nearest mass transit stations to the proposed Manhattan site are a long walk away from the stadium - about the closest would be the 8th Avenue and 34th street subway, which just happens of course to be one of the feeder subways for Penn Station). The gridlock in the area on event days would be phenomenal (ever see just how bad it is getting in and out of the Lincoln Tunnel, whose portals are mere blocks from the stadium?). And to be brutally honest about it, who needs the disruption? The Republican Convention was bad enough, with huge impacts to normal workday flows of traffic. The Olympics would probably impact things by a couple of orders magnitude worse than the convention. Finally, who needs the target temptation for the RoP? Let the Surete deal with it....

Next up is the not-unexpected format change of NYC's WCBS-FM from oldies to the so-called "Jack" format. "Jack" of course is the flavor of the month in radio, allowing on-air talent to be dispensed with for the most part (about the only time on-air talent being needed of course would be for news and station identification), a very attactive option to the penurious folks at Infinity. Most of WCBS-FMs on-air talent was locally famous, but nationally obscure (the only one definitely known nationally would've been Micky Dolenz, lately morning man, and the only other possibility would've been "Cousin Brucie" Morrow, probably only to Beatlemaniacs). The reason I thought the format change was not unexpected was of course the totally directionless playlist that had been implemented, sounding like the faceless suburban oldies stations, much more 70s content that I didn't like the first time around (I mean, come on, who really wants to hear "Billy Don't Be A Hero" again?), dropping some of the features that actually gave the station some personality (the late lamented "Doo Wop Shop" was perhaps the best deep dive into that genre ever) and just in general having a feeling of lassitude about the programming that was screaming "Impending Format Change".

Not that WCBS-FM was perfect, far from it. The program directors were absolutely criminal in their choice of playlist. Stuff like "Sugar Shack", "Mr. Lee" and "Take A Letter Maria" getting on ad nauseum, when the Stax catalog was ignored, no Yardbirds, Who, the Beatles choices were painfully obvious, likewise the Motown selections (a bit heavy on the Motown lately for my taste, but then again, I've always made it known that I prefer Stax). Sometimes they went a bit too far in recreating the ambience of the old AM stations, which were of course incredibly annoying - especially the Top 40 era of WABC - hearing Ron Lundy and Dan Ingram was fun for a few times, then it got stale, fast.

The interesting thing of course was the Arbitrons. WCBS was pretty high up in the Arbs from what I could see (#8 in the city overall, certainly way better than classic rock WAXQ, which was tied for #15). The only music stations that were besting WCBS-FM were urban contemporary, Spanish and adult contemporary, formats which hold no appeal to me at all). It really gets interesting when you compare it to WQXR, the city's classical music station (and herein lies a minor rant). WQXR is tied for #18, surely the equivalent of Purgatory in the advertising sales game, and has a demographic that skews in the general vicinity of Polident and Depends buyers. However, that demographic is also rich older Manhattan folks who tend to go to the opera, and hence if you are an opera fan, WQXR is the place for you. If you aren't an opera fan, listening to WQXR will give you an interminable headache. Puccini, Rossini, the Luftwaffe Serenade, all of your favorite screeching and shrieking. I utterly loathe opera (and I should state forcefully that I love classical and baroque music).

The question of course is how in any sort of rational analysis is WCBS changing its format when it's one of the only music two stations in the top 10 that isn't catering to the hip-hop demographic? Surely WQXR would be a better candidate for a format change, and if you listen to the longer programs, they tend to be sponsored by oil companies and such, outfits that underwrite this sort of thing as a feelgood community service kind of thing rather than actually advertising. I suspect of course that the reason WQXR stays in business is the fact that it is indeed the Radio Station of The Sulzberger Entity (as it so often reminds you in hushed pretentious tones), and that the Sulzbergers don't mind its drag as they probably feed advertising in from the paper's pipeline to subsidize the content (not to mention catering to their Upper West Side core audience). Unfortunately, anyone in the music business will tell you that classical is about the biggest money-loser out there (Slobbovian folk dances probably make more than classical), and if a classical record sells more than 5K copies, it's a bloody miracle. Funny how music with proven staying power has been marginalized to the point that it requires subsidies to air (and of course with those subsidies come the insidious viewpoints of the Sulzberger editorialists and the NEA types). Funny how even commercial music with proven staying power cannot survive in a commercial environment, unless it's wishy-washy dentist office stuff.

Ugh.

Monday, June 06, 2005

 

Born on the bayou....

In other words, stuck in a swamp. Much nonsense from work is keeping me hopping, and multitasking is the order of the day. I need to clone myself.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

 

I'd rather be in Philadelphia....

Much project nonsense has consumed my last two days, plus my right ear is numbed and cauliflowered from having a headset semi-permanently attached to it (my ear rings more after the end of a round of conference calls than after a loud band practice). I suppose I shouldn't say nonsense, as the project is relatively interesting, the people are friendly and understanding, and other than bureaucratic nonsense that impacts my project's critical path, I'm in a pretty good situation.

As much as I've wanted to finish reviewing "House Of Lies" I haven't had the bandwidth to sit and write the review it simply demands. While I have finished reading it, I do want to circle back and mark off some of the salient points for inclusion in the review (his glossary of consulting terms was dead on). Although some people might feel that there are exaggerated points in this book, in my experience, this book is totally accurate. The confrontational clients who feel threatened, the turning around of a hostile meeting with a simple "it's your business, you're the experts, what do you think?", the team dinner, and my personal favorite, eating from vending machines for a whole week during the implementation.

The annoyance this week is a scumware outfit called eXact Advertising. A friend of mine from the commuter train, one of the nicest individuals you'd ever want to meet, found her computer totally unusable due to a malware infestation. My friend is unfortunately totally clueless when it comes to computers, and she casually mentioned to me that her new computer had become totally unusable due to spyware. Once we sync'd up our calendars (there goes that consultant-speak again) I went over to her home and took a look.

The computer was a disaster.

I could see that there were many, many infestations of competing scumware, and IE had become totally unusable. No address bar was visible in IE, and the popups were completely out of control. I started out with SpySubtract in both real and safe modes, and got a bit of control over the box, then I went to Microsoft AntiSpyware. It took three hours, and at that point the box looked clean, but something didn't seem quite right. Another quick MS AntiSpyware scan confirmed my suspicions - eXact had a couple of entries in the registry. Back to Safe Mode, and HijackThis came out. A couple of suspicious entries stood right out, and I zapped them. Reboot, there they were again. At that point, I had to get back home, and left the machine with eXact running. In the grand scheme of things, eXact was less obnoxious than other things out there, popping up an ad when it recognized a keyword in the URL or page content (I wonder if they've gone after Firefox), and the pops did indeed close when the 'X' was clicked, but I loathe leaving a machine in that state.

A bit of Googling and asking around has gotten the cure for eXact, and I would like to get my friend's machine fixed, but a couple of observations are in order:

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

 

Justice, n. A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and persona

I suppose I've finally arrived. I got my first 419 e-mail yesterday. A quick look at the headers showed it came from Portugal, a somewhat unusual place for a mugu (I thought nothing ever happens in Portugal other than fleecing tourists in the Algarve) but since I'm a bit busy at the moment I don't have any huge desire to do a scam bait with him (thinking out loud, I'd have to adopt a persona, but I'd suppose any use of Milburn Drysdale or that ilk would be quickly Googled and the Ibo equivalent of "yebat mashu vat!" hurled my way).

I reviewed the Yellow Matter Custard CD back on September 13, and a recent note from Neal Morse's Radiant Records indicated that they had DVDs of the performance available (Mike Portnoy's site is the primary source for these, but since I rarely venture there, I had no idea about this DVD until I got the e-mail from Radiant). Good thing I ordered it when I did, as Radiant only had a few of them available. Overall, it's a pretty low-budget production, only two cameras, decent sound and editing, but I wouldn't say it's a great rendition of the show visually, as the camerafolk were clueless (focusing on Portnoy during guitar solos, that sort of thing). A couple of interesting tidbits that I didn't particularly realize from the recording - Morse was playing a brand-new (at least it appeared to be) Rickenbacker 360/12 for some numbers, Matt Bissonette was playing an Epiphone clone of a Hofner (which of course is a nice little irony, since the Hofner was probably originally intended as an el-cheapo version of a Gibson EB-1), and Paul Gilbert was playing a couple of pointy Schechters (he had both a 6 and a 12 string). Portnoy looked like he had Blue Oyster Pearl Ludwigs, close enough. I could pick out one Vox AC30 on stage (probably for Morse) and it looked like Gilbert was playing through a Laney rig. My comments about the performance still hold, a very nice effort, sounding just a touch off, though. It's forgivable in view of the effort and respect that these musicians put into the performance.

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