Oct 30, 2004

Playing with toys: impressions of the iPod Photo.

This morning, while going to the bank to pick up some laundry quarters, I stopped by the Apple Store, since I wanted to see if the new iPod Photos had arrived so I could put my greasy paws on them. I checked the relatively sparse racks for them (the mini-stores just have computers and iPods), and didn't see it.

Fortunately, the sales associate, concealing his disgust that I was obviously one of those cheap pricks that play with the tech toys but have no intention of buying them, stopped over. I asked him when the iPod Photo was coming in.

"Oh, we have them. Right here."

And there it was. It was so new that there was no identifying price sticker next to it, so that's what threw me off.

Anyway, impressions.

Well, it's pretty much a white iPod with its screen in color. It is a nice screen; when displaying photos it shows twenty-five in thumbnail view, which is impressive. When playing tracks, it will display album art if it is included (apparently you can download that crap from the Apple Store).

The slideshow feature was a pretty big selling point; the fact that you could hook it up to your TV and stereo and play it, I'd imagine, would make it attractive to DJs. Unfortunately, you can't have an iTunes Visualizer play on it, which would make it an instant rave tool, so I would not be surprised if there was an iPod software update down the road which would allow that.

FWIW, the games on it were color versions of Brick and Parachute plus Music Quiz (?) and Solitare. I played a little solitare, which was functional. Since I don't have an iPod the scroll-less wheel feels a bit weird to me.

Another drawback IMO is the inability to download directly from a digital camera w/out one of two Belkin adapters ($79 or $99). I guess you couldn't jam a USB2 port in the existing form factor, but I thought maybe w/the Dock you could.

Overall? Well, as I said, I'm a cheap prick, so I'm wouldn't have shelled out $499/$599 for an iPod even if it could make fettucine alfredo and perform emergency colonoscopies. Still, I can't help but feel that this is something ultimately more cool than earth-shattering in terms of features.

Then again, Steve Jobs is a billionaire who rescued Apple from the verge of bankruptcy in 1997, and I'm...not.

Oct 28, 2004

How to cheer yourself up, as long as you don't mind the possibility of looking like an insane idiot.

I can be, at times, a fairly melancholy sort, and I usually have days at work where my stomach produces enough acid that if it could somehow be used for etching semiconductors we'd all have $25 computers. However, there's a technique I use that almost never fails to bring a smile on my face, and I'd like to share it.

The downside is it may make you look like a nut.

It's pretty simple, and if you watch a lot of TV or movies you've probably already done it.

Repeat your favorite movie scenes to yourself. There are two catches.

1. You have to do it imitating the actors.
2. It has to be out loud. Whisper, mutter, or even mouth it, but it works better that way. At least for me.

Here are some of my favorites. You probably know them; hell, you've probably imitated them already.

Goodfellas. Well, obviously. My two scenes are "Now go home and get your fuckin' shinebox!" and "Spider, Spider, you know you're a stutterin', mumblin' prick?"

Casino. Again, obviously. The whole movie's quotable, but I fixate on the head in a vise scene.

Glengarry Glen Ross. Any scene. Well, except the boring crap with Pacino and Pryce. Ed Harris' throwaway "And what the fuck are you babbling about?" is also acceptable during after-work bitch sessions.

8MM. In this horrible, horrible movie, there's a scene where Nicolas Cage confronts the lawyer:

Lawyer: You want to know why?

Nic: Yes, WHY, WHY???????

with this twisted rictus on his face in such a cringing, mewling, whining manner that it never fails to crack me up. This one's admittedly obscure, and I do not recommend that you spend money to catch this line. Trust me. The movie's incredibly ridiculous.

Finally, I really like this Futurama line (it's clip #10). It's funnier if you have a dog. Especially a corgi (sorry, bro). For obvious reasons, I only do this one in the car.

There are others which escape me, but these usually equalize me long enough for sweet liquor to ease the pain.

Enjoy, and if you've got good quotes to share, by all means, add them in the comments!

Oct 26, 2004

My local hospital is not part of the reality-based community.

I received yet another hospital bill yesterday; last February a neighbor's dog mistook my hand for a Pup-peroni and took a little chunk out of it. No permanent damage, three stitches, my distraught neighbors covered everything insurance didn't and it's all fine.

Except the hospital keeps sending me bills for the ER treatment, despite the fact that my insurance paid them already.

And I would give them the benefit of the doubt, except I faxed them a copy of the bill last month, and still, still, STILL they claim it hasn't been received.

I know, in the total perspective of the universe this is pissy and nit-picking, and it will definitely get resolved. It occurred to me though that this experience is similar in nature to how Democrats must feel when seeing that polls indicate a close election at best, and a Bush lead at worst.

Somewhere, there is a fundamental disconnect between the American people's perception of the current administration, and the reality that our nation is being run into the sewer.

I wish I could explain it. But instead, I'm making copies of my bills in preparation for next month's hospital phone call.

Oct 24, 2004

On second thought, this could work...

While I was browsing my local Target yesterday, I went out of the way to check out their books section to see if they carried America: The Book unlike their gutless competitor. They did, but I saw something that caught me off guard: a pop-up adaptation of Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

The more I think about it, though, the more it makes sense. First, if you're going to pop-upify one of SK's novels, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a pretty good choice (I would've picked Eyes of the Dragon myself). Second, what with Lemony Snicket and the consistent underlying horror that plagues our lives these days, a King book for toddlers is probably not that horrifying in the global scheme of things.

Still, I'd like to see them try it with Lovecraft.

"And with a wink of his three-lobed burning eye, Yog-Sothoth cast the unfortunates in the beyond-eternal soul agony of The Hell Of A Thousand Bleeding Screams.

Pull here to watch the souls writhe in torment."


Oct 22, 2004

I guess Toby Keith will answer THIS, too...

Just heard that A Perfect Circle (the Tool side project that keeps its songs to regular lengths) is releasing a new album, eMOTIVe (sic) on November 2nd, a date that seems oddly significant, for some reason. It'll be mostly covers (the first single is an...um...interesting version of John Lennon's "Imagine"), but with a couple of original songs.

I think there's a subtle political statement within the album, but you can judge for yourself; they've also posted an animated video for one of the new tracks...

...called Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums.

Oct 21, 2004

Steve, you sure about this?

In my review of the new Apple Store that opened on Saturday in my local mall, I made mention of the special cashier stations and how they looked like something out of 1970s science fiction. Turns out I was slightly off; those cashier stations were self-service.

Perhaps the most interesting element of the new store is the two self-service check-out stations about half-way back into the store, mounted in either wall. The stations are intended to allow busy customers to simply grab their merchandise off the shelf, scan the barcode, and use a credit or debit card to complete their own purchase.

However, during the grand openings, the stations weren't available for customer use, since the necessary touch-screen software hadn't been installed. So, store employees used the "easy pay" stations to process purchases during the grand opening, leaving the promise of self-service for a future time.

Jeez, I'm not sure about that. They seem to be taking out all of the self-service cashier stations in my neck of the woods; I clearly remember the local Kmart and A&P had them, then got rid of them (I'm guessing for security and/or technical reasons), which pissed me off because I would've definitely used them to buy the more embarassing personal items.


So, I'm not sure if these are the best things for software.

Then again, they are in the back of the store, and I would imagine you'd need an employee to get you started.

Besides, if you wanted to steal software, you could just download it off the Internet(s)...

Oct 20, 2004

And for another ten bucks, we'll take off the tracks from Rattle and Hum...

There's going to be an Apple event with U2 next Tuesday, where Apple is expected to release a special limited edition U2-branded iPod. They're not calling it the uPod, as far as I know, and all I can say about that is that, well, they should.

So, what will you get with it?

Sources close to the group say the U2 edition of the popular digital music player will come preloaded with the band's new album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, along with portions of the Irish supergroup's 25-year catalogue. The iPods will be black and will be made available the same week as the band's 11th studio album, which is slated to be released in the U.S. by Universal Music Group's Interscope Records on November 23.

Well, I'm just sorry that Apple and U2 didn't do this ten years ago, because I sure as hell would've shelled out the dough for an iPod that looked like a lemon.

I guess there's the potential for other band-themed iPods, but it would probably be too much trouble. The BjorkPod would probably be too unwieldy, you'd have to separate the BiggiePod and TupacPod, the FloydPod would only play an album every six or seven years, and so on...

Update (10/26): Here it is. You blew it on the name, boys...

Score one for the bumperstickers...

While driving to work this morning, I found myself staring at the bumpersticker of the Subaru Forrester ahead of me:


along with the website of the Greyhound Protection League.

Well, I hadn't really given it that much thought before, but that can't be right, can it? Greyhounds are taken care of in luxurious stables with fountains of water and hand-fed Snausages by PETA volunteers, and after the race apple-cheeked gnomes happily rub down their quadriceps while they rest on fine wool blankets.




The Greyhound Protection League has a lot more information, if you're interested, including an adoption hotline for greyhounds (1-800-G-HOUNDS).

So there you go. Undisputable proof that non-Rapture bumper stickers actually can promote their causes.

Oct 19, 2004

We'll find (most of you) a soulmate...

I currently subscribe to a couple of dating sites, and while I have met some very nice women and have had interesting conversations and fun times, nothing that could be called a relationship so far. So, recently I gave eHarmony a try. That's the site whose founder talks about their unique system of 29 dimensions of compatibility to find you a soulmate, the implication being that to not use their unique system will lead you to guaranteed heartbreak and misery.

"Honey, we've been married for years, but look, we only match 24 dimensions!"
"Twenty-four? God, we're wasting each other's time! I'll pack right now."
"OK, let's flip for custody?"
"Right, winner gets Rover, loser gets Junior..."

Anyway, since the signup and test is free, I signed in and started. The test is basically the MMPI in dating format. The first ten pages of the form list twenty adjectives each, to which you have to assign a rating of how the words apply to your personality. To my credit, I only had to look up one (gregarious). Still, not that much variety. Would've liked to seen lachrymose or eleemosynary. Why waste ninth grade vocabulary skills?

Next part was similar; rate accuracy of statements from a scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree.

I'm the life of the party.
I find it easy to meet people.
I enjoy beef jerky and the comedy stylings of Gallagher. No, wait...

The last part to me was the most interesting; within a group of four words, you had to mark which most and least applied to you. The instructions made clear you had to do this regardless of whether ANY of the words applied to you or not. So, if you had a group of, for instance:
Most applies     Least applies


unless you're lactose-intolerant, you'd have to put yourself down.

The entire test took about a half-hour, even with the instructions to finish it as quickly as possible. This includes a little part where you have to fill in info that is comparable to other dating sites (zip code, radius, etc.).

And then, when you're finished, you click a submit button to find your soulmate!

And I got this.

Unable to Match You at This Time

<Garrett Morris>Say what?</Garrett Morris>

eHarmony is based upon a complex matching system developed through extensive testing of married individuals. One of the requirements for it to work successfully is for participants to fall into our rigorously defined profiles. If we aren't able to match a user well using these profiles, the most considerate approach is to inform them early in the process.

We are so convinced of the importance of creating compatible matches to help people establish and enjoy happy, lasting relationships that we choose not to provide service rather than risk an uncertain match.

Unfortunately, we are not able to make our profiles work for you. Our matching system is not suitable for about 20% of potential users, so 1 in 5 people simply would not benefit from our service. We hope that you understand that we regret our inability to provide service for you at this time.

Well. That's a kick in the groin.

To their credit, they tell you up front, before you have to plunk down cash. But still, if I'm going to fill out a psychological profile where I'm forced to do some introspection, I'd like a little more in return besides a thanks but no thanks message. How about a dollar off a bottle of Colt 45? Or a free motivational message?

Oh well. C'est la vie. I didn't want to be part of your stupid dating site anyway. I'll be over here, looking at the ones where I'm currently subscribed.

And microwaving bagels.

Postscript: After posting my story, I found this article on eHarmony which includes this little nugget:

[Dr. Neil Clark] Warren says more than 350,000 people who have taken the personality test have been denied access to the service. He said people are rejected because the test showed they were not emotionally healthy, or because they tested to be especially "obstreperous,' the eHarmony description of a person who's difficult to live with. (emphasis mine --6doc)

WHAAAAATTTTTTTTTT???!?!????!?!? Up yours, Dr. Warren! I'm emotionally healthy! Why, as soon as I take off my ballerina uniform and finish my copy of Guns and Ammo, I'll give you a piece of my mind, I will...

Oct 18, 2004


With the exception of a few critical-darling bands either picked up by osmosis or via my cooler siblings, my musical tastes can be charitably described as terrible. Indeed, my library and tastes lean towards progressive rock, that bastard offspring of Beethoven and bluster that the other musical branches stuff in the gym locker and trip in the hallways.

Now, I thought I heard some jaw-dropping pretension before, but thanks to the wonder of iTunes streaming radio, I've now tuned into Progged Radio, which now runs through my earphones whenever my computer is on, and let me tell you, if you haven't started playing your MMORPGs to it, what are you waiting for?

People who think songs should be in one time signature and under five minutes should avoid this like a moldy pecan log, since the bands here make Rush sound like Cannibal Corpse. There's Symphony X, whose chorus from their twenty-four minute retelling of Homer's The Odyssey provides the title of this post. There's The Gathering, who was doing Evanescence's schtick in 1995. There's a few dozen bands from Norway, for some reason. And there's all 143 side projects of King's X (which pales in comparison to the 306 side/solo projects of Dream Theater members and ex-members).

I mean, where else can you hear the news that Queensrÿche is planning its long-awaited sequel to 1988's magnum opus Operation: Mindcrime to be called...wait for it...Operation: Mindcrime II? This more than makes up for the Buckaroo Banzai sequel we got screwed out of.

Why yes, I wear glasses, why do you ask?

Oct 17, 2004

4% of the computer market loves free T-shirts, too...

In what passes for high excitement for me, a new Apple Store opened in my local mall. So, at about 10 am, I shook off last night's poker game, made sure the cat had food, and off I went to make sure I was one of the first 500 for my free tee.

This one is one of six new "mini-stores"; the setup consists of iPods on one side, Powerbooks and the new iMacs on the other side, shelves with iPod and iMac peripherals (no printers, digital cameras, etc.) and software. Very bare-bones. There weren't even any cashier lines; the cashier "stations" were embedded in the wall, with the screens, touch-pad, and card-swiper poking out. Mmmm, high-techy! Well, in a Logan's Run kinda way...

Anyway, though it's fun to play with the tech toys, and I got my free T-shirt, ultimately I won't be spending money there in the immediate future. I'm still on OS 9, you see, and as Mac users are to PC users, OS 9 users are to OS X users and the available products for the platform are rare indeed.

Hell, it would've been nice if they'd carried Linux stuff, just to up the geek quotient...

"Hello, hello, hellooooooooo..."


I post as sixthdoctor on Kos and various sites, even though I look nothing like Colin Baker nor do I share his impeccable dress sense. I've finally decided that I can yammer consistently enough to start a blog, so, here it is (with a minor name change since I'm the last person in America to start a blog).

And there was much rejoicing. Yaaaaayyyyyy.

As to what to expect, well, I've thought of the following baseline:

Start with my brother's blog, 2+2=5.

Remove the corgi and Russian literature references.

Add origami in its place.

Increase the geekiness by about 75%.

Swearing remains the same within acceptable limits of standard deviation.

On second thought, make that geekiness increase to 80%.

Political content should remain close to the same, but exchange any sort of well-meaning debate and information with cheap jokes.

OK, then, onward into the void...