In the 'no suprise to anyone' category, we have this news story. It's now official. Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote address at Macword San Franciso on January 10, 2006. No doubt, this is the day he announces the first Intel based Macs...
See the link for this blog entry for a good article on Emacs.
Emacs is one of the 'big two' text editors in Unix. The other is VI. I personally prefer Emacs.
Sed is a Unix command line tool for doing string substitutions in text files. It is VERY handy when searching for referer spam in your access logs. The article for this blog goes into great detail on how to use it.
I'll write a detailed blog on how to locate referer spam in the future...
Man, that was a close call! Why is it that whenever it rains, everyone gets really stupid on the roads?
Today, I'm driving back to work after my lunch break. I am approaching the traffic light, which is green. All of a sudden the car in front of me stops, despite the green light. I hit the brakes and stop, without hitting him. Then, behind me, in my rear view mirror, I see the massive chrome grill of a Hummer coming closer and closer to me... I'm just sitting there thinking, "Oh crap, that thing is gonna hit me." Luckily it stops. I then think I'm ok. Then a moment later, I see the Hummer in the rear view mirror bounce. It turns out that several cars ahead of me, someone decided at the last second to change lanes, thereby cutting off the car that was two cars in front of me. This causes the car that was two cars ahead of me to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the car that cut him off. He stops, but the car behind him doesn't. The front two cars collide. I manage to stop in time. Then the Hummer coming up behind me notices my sudden stop and manages to stop in time without hitting me. Then the car behind the Hummer slams on the brakes and rear ends the Hummer.
When all is said and done, I'm parked in the middle of a five car collision and I'm the only car that didn't get hit! I felt bad leaving the scene with the other four cars having to call the police and report the accident! :) What an experience.
"The Boondocks" is an cartoon that runs on Cartoon Network's 'Adult Swim' block of shows. What is Adult Swim? It's a block of animated shows that are geared towards an adult audience. These shows are not for kids! They often contain extreme violence and language. "The Boondocks" has both. It is also one of the funniest shows I've ever seen. I've been a fan of South Park for many years due to it's edgy, adult feel. This show is the same way. The Boondocks is the story of a pair of black kids from the streets who move out to the white suburbs with their grandfather. The show is all about the relationships between blacks and whites and about black culture in general. It is based on the newspaper comic strip of the same name. What is interesting is that the show is written by a black man, but it criticizes black culture heavily in every episode. The last episode had me laughing so hard I couldn't see!
If you have a Tivo or a VCR, record this show! You'll like it.
Wednesday, the company let us out early (at 3pm), so I went home, changed, fired up the iPod, and took a 6 mile walk, in order to squeeze some exercise in before dark. That evening I met a friend of mine at the gym and got some MORE exercise. I did my 30 minute interval program on the treadmill (alternating 1 minute of walking and 1 1/2 minutes of running for 30 minutes). Unfortunately, I think breathing in all that cold A/C in the gym caused me to develop a nasty cold Wednesday night. I was very congested that night and didn't sleep well. Fortunatley, after that the cold seems to have mostly died off. I'm down to just a few sniffles and a slight cough now.
I went down to my parent's house on Thursday to join them and my brother, for Thanksgiving dinner. For the most part, things went well. No bickering or fighting between me and the bro. The meal came out pretty well. Turkey was a bit dry, but still good. Unfortunately we didn't have any dinner rolls because the oven managed to die mid-way through cooking the turkey. I'm looking into the oven and asking my dad, in a suspicious way, "Dad, why is the oven sparking?". The heating element inside the oven seemed to have developed a hole in it and was sending a shower of sparks flying out all over the oven as the turkey cooked. Not good. And their oven managed to die only a couple of days after their dishwaser died! Everything breaks down at once. Of course, my dad, being the incredibly efficient person he is, has already fixed the oven and ordered a new dishwasher! Fortunately, despite the 'fireworks', the turkey cooked fine (perhaps a bit overcooked). Dinner proceeded and was good. I ate way too much food (shooting the diet all to hell for a day). Oh well. I have my weight under control. I can easily work that little extra weight off. That doesn't bother me.
Friday, I returned to work. I work for a credit card company, so I expected that 'Black Friday' would be a completely insane day. It turned out to be exactly the opposite. It was one of the most dead days ever at work. Half of the company was out and they ended up letting us out a little bit early. I went out and braved the stores during my lunch break to pick up a few things. Turns out that the parking lots were packed but the stores were almost empty, oddly enough. I went through the several stores and picked up most of what I was looking for. I couldn't find a few things though. I went back to work after that and when they let us off early, I headed from work to another couple of stores to pick up the items I couldn't find at lunch. I found them at the second group of stores without any problem. Once again, the parking lots were packed but the lines were surprisingly empty. Odd.
Saturday, the cat dragged me out of bed early (8am). I got A LOT done that day. I put up my Christmas lights around the house, did some lawn work, ran some errands, did the laundry, put together the fake tree (and chased the cat away from it several times), took all the ornaments out of their boxes (I have a lot of Hallmark ornaments), watched the FSU/Gators game (what a horrible game), ate dinner, and watched some stuff on the Tivo.
Sunday, I slept in a bit later (930am), got up, ate breakfast (ALWAYS eat breakfast in the morning! Never, never, never, skip breakfast if you want to lose fat!), and did some stuff around the house. Then, I decided to get some exercise and I set out to make my longest walk yet. I fired up the iPod and sent out and made a walk of over 7 miles. That took a couple of hours. Unfortunately, due to the location of my house, it's difficult to make a long walk without walking most of the way along the street. This means that the noise of the wind and the cars going by largely drowns out the sound in the iPod. This makes it largely useless. :( I then came home, showered, went out for lunch, came home, read the newspaper (which I bought on my long walk), and then went for my weekly Sunday dinner with the family. I visited with the family for the rest of the evening, came home and went to bed.
There you have it, a long, busy, tiring weekend... Hope you all had an enjoyable weekend.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
On Friday night, I went out and saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. As expected, the theater was packed, but with not as many kids as I expected. It seemed to be mostly adults and teenagers. I was pleasantly surprised by this. I don't have anything against kids, it's just that when there is a large number of them in the theater, they tend to make a lot of noise and interrupt the enjoyment of the movie. After seeing that movie, though, I'm glad the kids weren't there. It was a very dark and scary movie. If you have young kids, do NOT take them to see this movie. It will scare them!
The movie was a lot darker than I expected. Goblet of Fire was the first really dark story in the series, but I didn't expect the movie to be this dark! It starts off at night in a spooky graveyard that was dark, full of fog and even some scary looking tombstone decorations. This would surely scare the kids. The movie then takes off from there. This movie sure doesn't waste any time getting to the action! Almost from start to end, this movie was constant action and a lot of special effects. There were a lot more special effects than I expected in this movie. It was a very entertaining movie. I thought this movie did a much better job of capturing the story than the last one (Prisoner of Azkahban) did. The previous movie was the longest story up until that time and yet it was the shortest movie! Explain this! How can you tell a longer story in a shorter movie? The previous movie felt badly 'chopped up'. The story jumped around alot and you generally got the feeling, especially if you'd read the book, that a lot of was missing from the story. This movie was different. It was 2 1/2 hours long. While a lot of subplots were left out of this movie, it did a MUCH better job of capturing the story, and doing it in such a way that the movie didn't feel like it was missing anything. This movie had a different director than the previous one. Keep this director! Make him do the next several movies! It's always been a pet peeve of mine when a movie is short. If a movie is less than 2 hours, especially if it's based on a LONG book, then the movie is no good, in my opinion. Why? Because there is no way you can properly condense a 700 page book down into a movie in under 2 hours. You end up having to chop out so much to fit it in the time alotted that the movie just doesn't compare to the book. That's why I was very pleased by this movie and by the Lord of the Rings movies. They were long enough (2 1/2 hours for this movie, over 3 hours for each of the Lord of the Rings movies) to properly tell the story. I've always felt that considering how it costs $8.75 to see a movie these days, anything less than 2 hours worth and you aren't getting your money's worth. I feel ripped off I have to pay that kind of money for a movie that's only 90 minutes or less. This movie was the first movie in a long time that I actually paid full price for. I usually don't like paying $8.75 for a movie because most movies aren't worth it. I knew going into this movie that it was a 2 1/2 hour movie, so it fit my 'over 2 hour rule' so I decided that it might be worth the money. It was!
In short, go see this movie, but don't bring the young kids!
Last night, I ended up down in Hollywood listening to some local music . A musician friend of mine knew someone in the band and invited me to come down and listen. I'm glad I did. It was a great time! The band was really good and they put on a great show. It looks like they were really enjoying themselves when they played. I had come there to watch the guitarist play. I wanted to see how a more experienced guitarist plays so maybe I could learn a little bit that I could apply to my attempts to learn the guitar. It was an interesting site. He made it look so easy, as if he was hardly doing anything! The interesting thing though, is that I found that I was enjoying the harmonica playing much more. I really like that style of music. I've never seen a guy play the spoons before either. All in all, a very enjoyable evening! Good job guys!
I have mixed feelings about iTunes. I like it as a music management application, but I do not like it as a music store. Why don't I like the iTunes Music Store? Read on...
There are several problems with the iTunes Music Store (ITMS). The first is price. Yes, 99 cents a track is cheap. This makes it useful on a 'singles' basis. I firmly believe that buying single tracks from ITMS has become the new 'singles' market. In the old days you would go into the store and buy a single track on either CD or tape. That way you wouldn't have to spent the $10-15 on a CD if you only like one song. Now you just go to ITMS, spend a buck and you have the song. The problem is, what happens if you DO want the entire album? Whenever you buy an album on iTunes, all it does is basically buy all the tracks from that album at 99 cents a piece. Multiply 0.99 times the number of tracks on a CD and you can easily top $12-15 for a single album! The more tracks on the CD, the more expensive it is. This is completely opposite the way it works if you buy the CD in the store. These days, most CDs can be bought for around $10-12 in the stores. That price is no matter how many tracks are on the CD. It could contain 5 tracks. It could contain 500 tracks. It doesn't matter. It's the same price. This is where iTunes is lacking. I can kind of understand the need to charge 99 cents for a track if you are buying a single track. After all, you are buying these tracks with a credit card, and there are per transaction costs for processing credit card transactions. However, if you are buying an entire album, that is still a single credit card transaction. There is no need to build in that extra cost into every track on the CD. This is one reason, I am in favor of switching iTunes to a variable price model. If you are buying a CD, it should be possible to discount the price considerably. This discount should be relative to the number of CDs you are buying at once. If you are buying a single CD album, sell it for $7. If you are buying a 2 CD album, sell it for say $12. If you are buying a 10 CD audio book, sell it for say $30. Apple needs to undercut the music stores for prices of entire CDs. This move would greatly increase the already large number of tracks they sell. If they did this I might even consider buying CDs. As it is now, ITMS is more expensive than buying a CD in the stores. What's the point in spending more to buy something on ITMS when you get less? You don't get a CD (a convenient storage medium for the music if nothing else), you don't get the liner notes, (which often contain the lyrics to all the songs - a nice feature), you don't get a nice CD case. You even get a lower quality recording on ITMS versus the CDs you buy in the store...
This leads me to my other problem with ITMS. The music quality is greatly inferior to the music quality of the same song purchased on a regular music CD. Most ITMS songs are recorded at 128kbps. This is considerably lower than the recording rate of a music CD. I've had long discussions with a musician friend of mine. He doesn't understand why so many people would buy what is clearly inferior music from ITMS. The quality of the music just isn't there. I believe that the reason that ITMS tracks sell so well is that they are 'good enough' for most people. Most people, myself included, would not even be able to tell the difference between an ITMS song and a song directly from a music CD. A musician would. Apple needs to start increasing the recording rate on their tracks to at least 192kbps. I suspect that this would be relatively easy for Apple to do, on a going forward basis. As I understand it, Apple doesn't actually 'rip' all the songs to music files that it sells on it's service. Instead it provides software to all the music companies to do this. This means that all the music company has to do is feed music CDs to this program and it 'rips' the CDs to music files. These music files are then sent to Apple for posting on the site for sale. All Apple has to do is change the default encoding rate on their CD 'ripping' software to a higher bit rate and then ship this out to all the music companies. From this point forward, all new music would be ripped at the new, higher, default bitrate. I imagine something could be arranged to re-rip the old tracks too.