Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What CAN'T Google Do?

Google Labs is introducing a web accelerator. What is it? It's an application that uses Google's global computer network to make web pages load faster. All you have to do is download and install it, and from then on many web pages will automatically load faster than before.

How does it work? To make your web pages load faster it sends your requests thru machines that are dedicated to handling accelerator traffic, it stores copies of pages you look at a lot, it only downloads updates of pages you have visited, it manages your internet connection to reduce delays, and it compresses data before sending it to your computer.

Alas. It's only for Windows right now.

http://webaccelerator.google.com/

Monday, January 29, 2007

Joost (click on title for link)

I have a few friends who are pretty obsessed with TV and can't figure out why I don't pay for DVR or TIVO to watch what I want when I want. Here's the deal. I spend $20 a month on cable - YES. That's IT. I spend an additional $25 or so on Netflix, b/c what I really want to watch is movies. I would like to watch whatever little TV I want more efficiently, and not have to rush home to see, for example, my beloved Earl, as 7 p.m. is impossibly early to watch a show.

I ask the obsessed, do you watch more TV b/c of video recording, and they answer... Honestly, yes. I do not want to watch more TV. So, to spend more money to watch more TV seems to be counterproductive.

And now the people who brought us Kazaa and Skype are bringing us Joost. First, free music, then free phone, and now free TV.

Joost will let viewers watch TV for free over the Internet. The service will feature channels that users can flip between to find shows and a keyword search function so viewers can pull up programs on demand. Joost will also let users chat among themselves as they watch Internet TV. Joost says it wants nothing less than to merge the best of television with the best of the Internet.

Not as great news for people who do not want to watch tv on their computers - BUT, Joost promises to eventually move this service to TV sets through set-top boxes. Apple TV is already doing this, but the programs have to be on iTunes to be on the TV.

Joost works on a peer-to-peer basis like Kazaa, so it will take some time to get the shows you want when you want them, and it will still be easier to watch TV during "prime time". But it is a step in a positive direction.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Want a fortune cookie?

My Fortune Cookie told me:
Where there are visible vapors, having their prevenance in ignited carbonaceous materials, there is conflagration.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Most exciting discovery in ages

Click on the title to go to a program that lets you save and convert any YouTube video to 8 different formats, including MP4 video for your iPod. YES. That's RIGHT. And I just tested it and it works.

You just put in the URL for the video you want to download and convert, select the format you want to use it for, and click Start. It does all the steps for you. AND it downloaded automatically to my desktop, then I just dragged it over to the iTunes library, and then into the iPod.

Seriously - that's IT. It took about 4 minutes for a 10.5 mg video, which happened to be Marah playing with Bruce at Giant's Stadium. A grainy video, still looks good.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Message from God?

I have been getting these at work. It only happens when I'm in certain programs.I suspect human intervention.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Snow in Phoenix (click for article)

Teresa's daughter Tara during a snowfall in East Mesa, last night.

Last reported snowfall at Sky Harbor:
Dec. 6, 1998

Last measurable amounts of snow recorded at Sky Harbor:

0.4 of an inch

Dec. 21 and 22, 1990

Total official snowfall in Phoenix from 1896 to 2007:
3.7 inches

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Nasty Bits


Thanks to whomever sent me Anthony Bourdain's new book!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Music

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
-- Berthold Auerbach

"If you learn music, you'll learn most all there is to know. "
-- Edgar Cayce

"You are the music while the music lasts."
--T. S. Eliot

"We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it. "
-- Jerry Garcia

"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossile to be silent."
-- Victor Hugo

"Music is spiritual. The music business is not. "
-- Van Morrison

"In music the passions enjoy themselves."
-- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Music should never be harmless."
-- Robbie Robertson

"The best music... is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with. "
-- Bruce Springsteen

"Most of us go to our grave with our music still inside of us."
--Unknown

"I believe in the power of music. To me, it isn't just a fad. This is a positive thing."
-- Eddie Vedder

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Stats and a List

I really want to blog about why certain companies don't celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day in Arizona. Did you know that Super Bowl XXVII was originally scheduled to be played at Sun Devil Stadium but that the NFL yanked it because our illustrious then-governor Evan Mecham had rescinded the holiday? Yup. It didn't pass as a holiday here until - check it - 1992 - even though the majority of states had passed it in 1986.

So now it's a holiday. But is it really a holiday when we are still required to work? But I'm not going to blog about that because I am trying to learn not to bite the hand that feeds me. However shaky that hand is.

And another thing people are writing to me about today is the Time magazine article about the majority of women being unmarried. I have a lot of issues about this reportage, and want to blog about it, but because most people realize that these are government stats, are all self-reported, and are massaged according to the mood of the analyst that day, I won't bother. And are we ever going to evolve in this country to a point where we don't categorize people? Like I said, another time, another blog.

What I really feel like doing is making a list of my favorite songs released in 2006. So here we go. No particular order, b/c obsessions depend on the day.

Oh Mary Don't You Weep - Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band
This River is Wild - The Killers
When You Were Young - The Killers
Doesn't Remind Me - Audioslave
Worldwide Suicide - Pearl Jam
Steady as She Goes - The Raconteurs
Stadium Arcadium - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Tell Me Baby - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Something by Gomez - can't remember the name (helpful huh)
Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
Supermassive Black Hole - Muse
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens

Perhaps Muse and Stevens came out in 2005. Oh well.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth (click for site)

After seeing this film, even hearing a little bit of the soundtrack (a wordless lullaby hummed to the young girl who is the center of the tale) is enough to make me incredibly sad. At the same time it brings to mind some of the most imaginative and incredibly rendered imagery I have seen in a long time.

"Pan's Labyrinth" is the story of a young girl who travels with her pregnant mother to live with her mother's new husband in a rural area in northern Spain, 1944, after Franco's victory. The girl lives in an imaginary world of her own creation, but this world is so vivid and so seamlessly interacts with her real world, that part of you wants to believe it's true. It is easy to suspend disbelief when a grasshopper is sentient, and then changes shape. First you are drawn in by the magic of it, and then you want it to be real because certainly no child's life is so fraught with such dark anguish. You WANT her to be a reincarnated princess whose time on earth has returned.

This story is what Anne Frank's would have been if she had used allegory to describe her situation to the world. The young girl in the movie even looks like Anne Frank. I'm not sure if that's intentional. She lives in a world that despite her seeming freedom to walk around and to explore, unlike Anne, she is trapped in a tiny crawlspace.

The director manages to sustain a level of anxiety throughout the entire film. You have no idea what will happen next, you just know it's not going to be good. My only problem with it was the antagonist's 'monsterhood' - but if he were less violent and more subtle in his hatred of her and her mother, the girl would not have been forced to develop a second reality. And the violence... well, I didn't see a lot of it but it was constant.

There are so many themes and echoes of various cultural myths that I'm still unraveling them. It deserves its accolades and will win many prizes. But be warned, it is going to haunt you for a long time.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A common cultural currency (click here)

This was just posted on my David Foster Wallace list - it's a list put together by Roger Ebert last year, of the 100 movies one should have seen [in his words] "to have any sort of informed discussion about movies. They're the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat "movie-literate." I hope these movies are experiences we can all assume we share."

Now, I haven't bothered with a Roger Ebert review in a long time b/c I think he has grown more conservative and more enamored of mainstream blech as he has aged. But I am curious to know what people think of a list that someone else has put together to let you know what you need to see in order to discuss movies intelligently. I don't doubt that film is a common cultural currency, I just feel somewhat hinky about having an OWG (old white guy) tell me what I need to be seeing to participate in that cultural conversation.

And if you're sensing sarcasm you're right. On the other hand, he has the movies on that list that have most informed my sensibilities, and ones that I think are better than any. On the OTHER OTHER hand, E.T.? Halloween? So you see the problem.

So 2 questions: 1. Can someone else, esp an OWG form a list like this and claim to set a standard and 2. How many do you have to go???

No wait - 3. - What's missing from this list???

OK, I have seen 71 of them. There are some I know I "should" see but not b/c Ebert told me to. That's for another post.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

iPhone


OK - we have been having this conversation for a while - well, Claudia and I have been anyway - coming close to placing bets on when a newer bigger wider video screen would appear on the iPod, especially one with invisible buttons. I even posted a pic of a fake one a couple months ago. She went with a smaller video iPod, I popped for the big one. (Ok, it was a Christmas present, but I still fronted the cash...)

And of course, it's not just a newer better iPod, but the long-awaited iPhone. I just have to say super duper iPhone. It's so super you can't even take a screen shot of it. It's so duper that I have received no fewer than 7 separate emails telling me about it, none yet from Apple.

But here's the rub, or several rubs. Not out til June. Only on Cingular. The biggest one is 8 gig. AND - it's $600 w/ a two-year contract. Sure it's pretty (click on title link) and it's small, and when someone at work gets one I will feel the pull... but until then, I will just have to be happy with mine...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ring tones (click on link for abstract)


I stumbled across this essay on ring tones, which starts off with an abstract, b/c this person is seriously studying ring tones as a cultural phenomenon. It's pretty fun actually. But what I want to know is, what ring tones do your co-workers use? Do you have phone etiquette at work?

Where I work there is a predominance of funky ring tones - a couple disco, a Stevie Wonder (Superstition, I think), and even (not at all funky) The Macarena. It doesn't bother me - it cracks me up. I have to have a subtle, sort of slowly appearing (hearing?) ring tone or I jump every time. I recently switched from "New Slang" by the Shins, which slowly builds, sort of saying, "you know, you have a call, but it's no big deal, and really, you can just go on with whatever you're doing" to "Yellow Ledbetter" by Pearl Jam, which has been mistaken for The Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and "some guy who's practicing guitar". Yellow Ledbetter's opening notes sound like a guitar being played underwater at the South Pole. Perfect.

So anyway, here's the Abstract. The link to the whole paper is at the top. Just click on the title. Fun, huh?

Abstract
This essay attempts to provide a description of the global ringtone industry, to determine and assess the numerous cultural consequences of the ringtone’s appearance and development, and to situate the ringtone within the context of contemporary capitalism. At its broadest, my assertion is that the development of the ringtone is a powerful lens through which we might clearly view some of the dynamics of present day (or “late”) capitalist cultural production, including the development of new rentier economies within oligopolistic sectors of production and consumption, and a long–term shift in global productive dominance from North America to the Pacific Rim. The ringtone is also a remarkable cultural phenomenon that is demonstrating a high degree of popularity and is undergoing rapid transformation; therefore, its short, continuing lifetime already needs to be assessed historically.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Favorite flicks in 2006


What a great year for films. I still have a list to see, and would love it if I missed anything great that you would forward me those suggestions as well...


So here's the list - not really in order but The Fountain was my favorite of the year.

The Fountain
The Science of Sleep
An Inconvenient Truth (should be mandatory viewing)
Clerks II
Tristram Shandy
United 93
A Scanner Darkly
The 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Babel
The Proposition
Little Miss Sunshine

Still want to see
Volver
Pan's Labyrinthe (got a 99% on metacritic - unheard of)
The Painted Veil
The Departed
Island Empire
Children of Men