Hmm, I'm looking at my site logs and for the last 3 days, I've noticed that the number of hits to my site has over tripled! I wonder what caused this? Was this my changing of the Spiderman 3 images to include my website URL in a watermark? Is it an increase in spammer activity? I do notice that a large number of hits are coming from blacklisted referers (i.e. spammers), but even discounting those, the traffic is up significantly. Maybe it's because I've been blogging more lately. Who knows?
*sigh* Life with a cat...
Yesterday, I happened to walk into my bedroom to see my cat Tiger running around excitedly and meowing loudly. He seemed to be really interested in my dresser, for some reason.
I came in to investigate and found my other cat Jewel, hanging behind the dresser, seemingly holding on for dear life. Now, she has a habit of going back there and sitting behind the dresser. I had noticed she was back there earlier and didn't think much of it. This time though, she wasn't sitting on the floor, she was hanging in the air behind the dresser. She seemed to be in trouble. That's when I noticed that she kept yanking one of her paws. It seemed to be stuck on something. I noticed that her claws had got caught in the vents of the fan on the back of the Tivo player that I have sitting on the filing cabinet next to my dresser. No doubt she had tried to climb up and gotten her claw caught in there.
After seeing this, I knew she was in big trouble. so I shoved all the stuff around the dresser out of the way (almost running over Tiger in the process). I reached back and pulled her up from behind the dresser. I tried to free her claw without much luck. It was stuck in that fan vent really well. Plus, the spinning fan inside was no doubt making it more difficult. So, I unplugged the Tivo to stop the fan. That helped a little but she was still trapped. I ended up having to get a pair of nail clippers and cutting her claws in order to free her. She wasn't happy about it, but I got her out. I examined her paw and it appeared to be ok, thankfully. This makes at least twice I've had to save this stupid little cat from doing something dangerous to her health.The moral of the story: Keep them claws trimmed!!!
I wrote previously about how other sites were linking directly to the images on my site from their pages without my permission. Yeah, I suppose I could just delete the images, but I figured I'd get a little free advertising out of it. I just updated all my images on the site to include a small watermark that contains my web site URL.
I mentioned briefly in my previous blog that I need to do something to mark my images with my website URL, so that when people link directly to my images, it shows my web site on the image. Credit were credit is due. The way you do this is by putting a watermark on the image. A watermark is a text overlay on the image. I found an app called ImageWell for OS X that looks like it will do the trick.
I'm going to fix those images tonight.
Hmm, I was just looking through my web site logs and I noticed that the images from my Spiderman 3 review are being directly linked to in a bunch of different sites without any credit to my site. I think people are finding these images through Google Image Search and just using them without giving my site credit. That has to change...
I really need to fix those images with a small overlay showing my site address, like so many other sites use...
Yes, I went and saw the movie with the dancing, animated penguins...
This past weekend I saw the movie Happy Feet. For the most part, I gotta say I liked it. The animation was fantastic. It has some of the best computer animated graphics that I've ever seen outside of a Pixar movie. It also had it's funny moments. The humor wasn't quite on the level of a Pixar movie, but it was quite entertaining. It also had some great musical numbers in it. It was also the first CGI movie that I've ever seen that was able to flawlessly combine CGI characters with real life characters. The only thing I didn't like was the ending.
The whole story of the movie revolves around a colony of penguins who are starving to death because something is causing all the fish they eat to disappear. It turns out that it's humans overfishing their environment that is causing this. One of the penguins sets out to find the cause of the loss of their fish, ends up locating the humans and follows them all the way from the South Pole in an attempt to stop them. He ends up getting captured and put in a penguin exhibit at the zoo. It's here that he gets the humans attention. Somehow they decide to send him home and after seeing a big dance number by the penguins, the humans are amazed and decide to stop fishing there. All the fish come back and they live happily ever after. Give me a break. Yeah, I know this is just a movie, but I found the ending absurd and at times a bit creepy.
If you removed the absurd ending and came up with something a bit more believable, I would have truly had no complaints. The movie is still worth watching, though, as long as you can ignore the 'environmentalist wacko' ending.
The more I think about this, the more this infuriates me.
It was recently announced that Microsoft will be paying Universal Music a flat fee for every Zune music player sold. There seems to be some disagreement on how much they are paying, but the general understanding is that it is $1.00 per Zune player. This is irregardless of whether or not any Universal Music owned music is actually on the player! Universal Music's CEO Doug Morris had this to say: We feel that there’s a great deal of music that’s [stored] on these devices that was never legitimately obtained. We wanted to get some sort of compensation for what we thought we’re losing. In other words, they seem to think that just because some Zunes might have illegal copies of their songs on them that everyone should pay for it! Where the hell do they get off thinking that their music is the only thing on Zunes and that if the music is on the Zunes it must be pirated? Surely they must be thinking that the only things that could go on Zunes (or iPods for that matter) is illegally copied music. Let's refute that theory, shall we?
Sources of Legal content on a Zune or other music player.
- CDs. I have a large CD collection. All of which I actually bought. There's lots of legal music that could be copied onto a music player.
- Independent Music. There are many places on the Internet, such as at Music.Podshow.com where you can get lots of free music from independent artists.
- Podcasts. Podcasts are freely available, recorded 'radio' programs that anyone can download and listen to for free. These are not produced by any particular artist or big name music company. They are produced by individuals. In fact, many of these podcasts can run hours long or contain video. Both things can take up a lot of space on a music player. In fact, many of these are licensed using the Creative Commons license. This license encourages copying of content. This is perfectly legal.
- Emusic. Emusic.com is another source of music, from independent artists, not represented by Universal.
- Myspace. Myspace.com has a huge number of independent artists who posts their music for people to listen to.
This belief that 'everyone' is pirating our music so we must be compensated for it is absurd. Even if that were true, how would you measure these things? One person could have one Universal song on their player, another person could have thousands. Does this mean that the 1 song pirate is paying more per song than the thousand song pirate? It doesn't make any sense. And if everyone is pirating Universal's music, then by that logic, everyone must be pirating music from every other music publisher out there, from the biggest, to the smallest publisher. Why don't we pay a $1.00 fee to every other music company out there to compensate them too for their assumed pirated music? Surely there must be more than 250 different companies publishing music, be it a large company or a small company. If we had to pay this tax to every company, then this could easily double or triple the price of the average music player. Who's going to pay $500 for a $79 iPod Shuffle, just because it might have pirated music? These fees would destroy the very market that is providing these companies with profit! This could easily spiral out of control. And how would the profits from this tax be distributed to the artists? Surely certain popular artists would be pirated more than certain less known pirates. But how would you determine this? How can you justify the payment to any artists, no matter how much or how little it is, if you have no idea how much profit is 'lost' in this piracy?
This 'Music Player Tax' sets a very dangerous precedence. If Universal can get away with this with the Zune, what's to stop all the other companies from demanding this of Microsoft and from Apple for the iPod? This could destroy the music player market as we know it.
On Thanksgiving Day I looked over the Black Friday ads. There was nothing much worth talking about in the ads. A few cheapo DVDs and that's about it. I'm not crazy enough to get up early to fight the crowds for a couple DVDs.
So on Black Friday, I slept in, woke up around 9:30AM and by 10:30AM or so, I decided to go out and watch the insanity. I got to CompUSA, looked around a bit, found a couple small things to buy and went to get in line. Of course I went in the shortest line I could find. Mistake! I was the 3rd person in line but I must have been in line for a half hour! The people in front of me were slow as hell. They kept fighting over prices listed in the ad. Granted, they were right to insist they get charged what the ad said, but it was still holding up the line and irritating me and the people behind me. Finally they put their order on hold and allowed me to buy my 2 small items and I was out the door.
From there I walked down to Circuit City and looked around. They had some good, cheapo DVDs but the traffic was nuts and I didn't want to deal with it, so I left. I then checked out Best Buy and of course that parking lot was the most nuts of all. I knew better than to attempt to drive to the different stores. They were all within a couple blocks of each other so I just found a parking space and STAYED there. After looking in Best Buy (nothing worth getting), I left.
I braved driving my car to Sawgrass and found a parking space pretty easily in the Wal-Mart parking lot. From there I looked around a bit in WalMart (again nothing) and then walked over to the mall. By this time, it was around 3pm in the afternoon. The mall was STILL insane, even that late in the day! Usually things die down by about noon, which is when all the big sales usually end, but this time, it was just as nuts late in the afternoon. There were lines going into the mall, cars parked on the medians everywhere and all in all general insanity. The inside of the mall was so packed you could barely move. It drives me nuts trying to walk in a packed mall like that. Everyone in front of you insists on strolling along very slowly and taking up ALL the space in front of you so you can't get by. Grr...
After fighting my way through the crowds I hit Brandsmart. They were literally so packed with people that they had to STOP people from going in, due to fire code violations! It's nuts! Since there was a big line at Brandsmart, I skipped them and went to Target. After looking around in Target (not too busy), I bought a couple DVDs and cheapo iPod clock radio. On the way out of Target I noticed that the line was moving to get into Brandsmart so I snuck in. I wasn't in there 5 minutes before I noticed the line snaking completely around the entire inside of the store, leading to the cash registers. One look at that insane line and I decided there was nothing I needed that bad, so I left.
So, when all was said and done, I ended my Black Friday with a cheap iPod clock radio and a handful of DVDs. No killer deals. Even Apple's online store didn't have much worth talking about. Yawn.
I spent Thanksgiving this year at my parents house, as usual. It was a nice day and a good meal. Thankfully, the oven worked perfectly this year. Last year it broke down in the middle of cooking the turkey. This time the turkey came out perfectly. One interesting difference this year though...
This year I did part of the cooking. God help us, Rick is cooking now! :) I told the parents that I would be providing the mashed potatoes. These would be fully organic potatoes and organic butter. About the healthiest damn mashed potatoes you can get. Of course seeing as how I've never made mashed potatoes before, I was paranoid about screwing them up. I managed to make them fine on the first attempt (10 pounds worth!) Why did I buy ten pounds of potatoes for 4 people? I didn't. I had originally planned to cook them for the company Thanksgiving party, (much more than 4 people) but someone else beat me to it, so had them left over. I brought them and they went over well. Of course I had A LOT of leftovers considering how much I made.
I also helped the bro with a problem with his iTunes. He was complaining that he couldn't play any music in the music library and that he didn't see any songs listed when he plugged in the iPod. I checked various things and couldn't figure out what the problem was, so I had him uninstall and reinstall iTunes. That didn't help. Same problems. Finally I figured out that his iTunes library was pointing to the wrong place. That's why it wouldn't play the songs from his library... It couldn't find them! So I had him empty the library and readd the files. That fixed the library problem. The problem with not seeing the music when he connected the iPod was a stupid problem that I should have known earlier. It was a simple GUI error. The new version of iTunes organizes things differently than it used to. Now, when you connect the iPod, it shows the iPod in the 'Sources' list on the left, but it shows it in a kind of tree structure. Apparently the iPod was coming up with the iPod 'tree' collapsed and that's why it wasn't showing the songs. All you had to do was click the little triangle to the left of the iPod's name, and it shows all the songs. Simple solution that I should have noticed earlier! You could argue that this was a poor design decision by Apple since it used the Macintosh style of tree controls (triangles instead of plus/minus signs) on a PC, but I should still have know this!
After the usual after dinner lying on the couch trying not to fall asleep and watching some football, I left. All in all a nice Thanksgiving.
Whew! That was close!
A couple weekends ago, I took my older cat, Tiger, in to the vet for his yearly checkup and shots. He behaved himself well at the vet and got his shots no problem. Last year he tried to jump off the table with a needle still stuck in him! Anyway, the doctor said he was in good health. I told the doctor that the only problem I noticed with him was that for the last few months he had bad breath. She checked him out and determined that he needed to have his teeth cleaned.
In order to clean a cat's teeth, it's necessary to anesthetize them. This means that I drop him off in the morning, they put him to sleep, clean his teeth, and then he wakes up and recovers afterwards. I would then pick him up in the evening after work. No problem there. But before I could do this, the doctor said it was necessary to take some blood and run some tests to make sure he's healthy enough to handle the anesthesia. I agreed and they took the blood. This means that the whole teeth cleaning would have to be delayed by a few days. I took him home and waited for the results of the blood work. A few days later they called me and told me that his blood work came out fine. This meant (I thought) that I could bring him in anytime for the teeth cleaning. Of course being the procrastinator that I am, it took me a week before I made the appointment. I had made the appointment for this past Monday to bring him in for the cleaning. That weekend prior to Monday I get a call from the doctor's office saying that his blood work had come up positive for heartworm antibodies. This means he *might* have heartworm (not a good thing!) Of course I was confused because one message says he was fine and the next said he was possibly very sick. I called the doctor back and she said that all the heartwork antibodies test shows is that he was *exposed* to heartworm at some point in the past. It doesn't necessarily mean he has them. Of course, when he was exposed is unknown. It could have been when he was a kitten before I even got him. They needed to bring him in for some more blood for a second test to confirm the existence of the heartworm.
I brought him back in so they could take the blood for the second test. They took the blood and I brought him home. On Friday of this week, they got the results of the second test and he turned up negative for heartworm! Whew! According to the doctor, this means either he doesn't have heartworm, or he has such a small amount that it doesn't show up in the test. Cats are a 'deadend life cycle' host for heartworms anyway, unlike dogs. This means that the heartworm cannot complete it's full lifecycle in a cat like it can in a dog. This means heartworms are less of a danger to cats than dogs, but they are dangerous. It was a huge relief to hear that he was healthy after all.
He now has an appointment for tomorrow to get his teeth cleaned...