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Pop Songs '89

I wonder if I'll ever fall out of love with R.E.M.'s Green album? As a high school senior, that pretty well set the foundation for my future sensibilities in music - everything from Nirvana and the Pixies through Whiskeytown and The Postal Service.

Thank god something like it came along to overwrite my thirteen-year-old fascination with Men at Work.
~ scott @ 10:29 AM [link]
No One But The Fool

Every institution needs a Jester. If your company, PAC, book club or school has more than about 5 people, give it some serious thought. Here's what a modern-day Jester can do for you:

a. Tell the truth
b. Make fun of power
c. Get people to laugh at themselves
d. Wear ridiculous clothing
e. Dance around, rhyme couplets on the fly, carry a sceptre
f. Minimize groupthink, bureaucractic nonsense and agenda bullshit
g. Question habit, process, dogma and dumb ideas

Man, that'd be a sweet title: Company Fool.
~ scott @ 3:36 PM [link]
More Mac Funkiness

Two other items of interest in the It Just Works category (by which I mean, of course, that It Just Doesn't):

1. I plugged my 1st generation iPod into my 3 yr. old iMac over the weekend and tried to load some Protected AAC files bought from the ITMS. (This was brazonly revisiting the vile waters of my last attempt.)

It seems I was successfully authenticated to access the files this time, but now iTunes isn't happy with the freshness of my iPod. A dialog box appeared indicating that the my iPod software was out of date, and prompted me to go to (no link provided) to fix it. So I dutifully open Firefox and go to the Apple site. Unsurprisingly, there's nothing about iPod software on that page, so I hunt around for a while in the Support section. To their credit, the iPod Updater claims to support the original version - I think. Since these things get a new, non-sequential name every six months, I have to parse the list to make sure I'm not downloading the wrong thing. (Yay - more work for me.) Somewhere in there, I got confused/bored/tired and walked away from it. I may have started the download, maybe not. So I'll take some of the blame.

But when I came back to the machine, Software Update popped up and reminded me that there were about 2GB of items it wanted me to want. Right at the top of the list? iPod Updater 2006. So I uncheck the 19 other recommended updates and let it do it's thing for a bit. "Software Update ran successfully." Great. So it'll "just work" now, right?

Nope. No installer file on the Desktop or in my Documents. No idea if it actually did anything. Dead end. So I restarted iTunes. Plugged and unplugged the iPod a few times. Did it all again with my toes crossed. Nada. Realizing that I was now mildly pissed and getting completely sidetracked, I gave up again.

I suppose I'll find the compute cycles to sort this out eventually, but here's the problem with making music so complicated: you want to hear it when you want to hear it. I went all day without hearing Weezer, and I blame Steve Jobs personally. Hell, isn't my musical experience more important than playing corporate raider at Disney?

Is it possible that Apple has some motive to making life with - gasp - an older piece of their hardware highly difficult? Is it mere coincidence that the URL provided by iTunes goes to a splashy ad for all the new iPods, instead of the support site for the old? I think not.

Update: So I did the software update for my antique iPod, and can now load Protected AAC files from the iTMS. Good enough. Sorry for all the carping. OK, not really.

2. Later, on a different machine, I watched a .mov video in Firefox and was prompted to download a new version of QuickTime. Feeling lucky, I started the download. Then, lo and behold!, the setup file is called "iTunesSetup.exe". First, hunh? And second, WTF? I thought this was supposed to be a seamless user experience; i.e. minus the logical disconnects of every other software package in the known universe.

(Apparently not).

It ends up that the iTunes 6.0.2 installer is now "Including QuickTime 7", so, effectively, they are now one and the same.

Going back to the Apple download site, I now see that it's labeled "QuickTime 7 with iTunes 6 for Windows 2000/XP" - a slick reversal of terms - and apparently there is no way to get the QT browser plugin without all of iTunes. That's like a little Trojan Monkey riding the back of a big Trojan Horse! Apple must know/fear something about the future of digital video distribution* to go to such extensive, alienating lengths to get the front door of the iTunes Store in our faces.

These are not good human/computer interface guidelines. They are marketing subterfuge and obnoxious crap that dearly makes me wish for an alternative. "Welcome to the digital music revolution," indeed!

* Perhaps that Google is preparing a pre-emptive nuclear salvo?
~ scott @ 10:18 AM [link]

Design by committee is a really good way to get a platypus; the bigger the committee, the bigger the platypus.
~ scott @ 8:13 AM [link]

Good artists never retire;
they just die trying to make next month's house payment.
~ scott @ 7:43 AM [link]
Apparently, Google Thinks The DOJ Is Evil

"The Justice Department stated that Google had refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for one million random Web addresses from Google's databases as well as records of all searches entered on Google during any one-week period.

The Justice Department said on Friday that America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft had all complied with similar requests."
~ scott @ 11:34 AM [link]
You, Cringely

"Google is going to let the telco and cable companies burn their capital building out IP-TV, knowing that Google will still be the only game in town for the crux of the whole thing: the ability to show every viewer the specific ads that companies will pay the most to show him at that specific moment... Google wants to SERVE EVERY TV COMMERCIAL ON THE PLANET because only they will be able to do it efficiently. Only they will have the database that converts those IP addresses into sales leads, only they will have the servers and disk space close enough to the viewers to feed the ads. Only Google will have the chops to run a constant, real-time auction for the next ad every consumer is about to see, and then serve that ad at the moment the program goes to commercial."
~ I, Cringely - A Commercial Runs Through It
~ scott @ 5:05 PM [link]

I hate lost creative energy; not the ideas so much - hell, I've got enough ideas for a decade - but the energy required to act on them. Even when its the ill-considered, random, coffee-inspired variety, it just kills me to feel the creative impulse drain away unrealized.

And that's the thing: when the impulse arrives and I act on it, its possible to sustain it long enough to see results; to ride the wave*. Thinking of it like this -- a force bigger than myself that, with practice, I can learn to use -- is quite compelling. And, to extend the analogy a bit, every wave you miss is one you never get a second chance at**.

So. There's an assumption here that these bursts of creative drive are valuable (i.e. not just a bad night's sleep or an unfortunate meal), and that they're unique as well. Factoring in all the possible variables to motivation/inspiration, I think this makes sense. Act on it this morning, and you'll get a different result than if you wait for the next one tomorrow. It follows, then, that unrealized creative possibility = sad.

* Yes, you're absolutely right - that is a ridiculously cheesy surfing analogy, and what's worse it's coming from a California kid who never learned to surf. So, news flash, I am lame and may have no idea what I'm talking about.

** There's also a built-in reaction mechanism at work here: the more constraining the circumstances, the more I crave breaking through them. I want to shout my Yawp ~ chop things up, organize, destroy, sort, decorate, form from emptiness. Every format and material seems exciting and bursting with promise at once. Is it just a trick of perception? Who am I fooling? Why can the desire to make things seem as powerful as the survival instinct?
~ scott @ 12:08 PM [link]
More Music of O-five

Here's another view of my listening habits in O-five; my top ten tracks of the past 6 months at

1. Coldplay - Speed of Sound
2. Ryan Adams - Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)
3. The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
4. Elliott Smith - Alameda
5. Peter Gabriel - Powerhouse At The Foot Of The Mountain
6. lou shoes + sweaters - Longing to Stare
7. Violent Femmes - Prove My Love
8. David Gray - This Year's Love
9. Peter Gabriel - Passion
10. Death Cab for Cutie - Blacking Out the Friction

~ negentropic's
~ scott @ 11:37 AM [link]
Hold the F*ing Phone!

"Maybe the most interesting news to come out of Macworld is Apple's quiet confirmation that you'll be able to install and run Windows on its new Intel-based computers."
~ Rough Type

OK - my decision on whether to buy a new Mac or Dell just got a lot more complicated.

Being able to dual-boot both on the same machine could be the best of both worlds. My hangup with going Windows is giving up on Apple's great audio and video editing software. My hangup with going Mac is giving up games, utilities, and anything else that's Windows-first. This could solve the dilemma, and convince me to shell out the extra cash for Mac's top-flight hardware.

Yet: How much tweaking to make it work? How stable will it be? How much better than Virtual PC?

Update: ZDNet FAQ on running Windows on an Intel Mac
~ scott @ 1:58 PM [link]
Yay, More Software

"What's revealing about Gates's vision of the future is that it is completely devoid of direct human contact. It's a geek's paradise."
~ Rough Type

I watched some excerpts of the Gates presentation and was put off by them, particularly his idea of tracking your family's movements and having a 96" monitor on your desk. But this post gets to the real problem: the same old Microsoft insistance that it's all about software first, and users and the stuff they want to get done second.
~ scott @ 4:23 PM [link]
Steven Johnson Interview

"We've grown weary of fake things."

"Something radical happened. It has really become about users creating content as much as the professionals."

"This leaves open the possibility that smarter television and video games are also creating smarter, more violent perverts."
~ scott @ 8:42 AM [link]

Amidst the usual slew of announcements, Jobs said that last quarter Apple sold over a hundred iPods every minute, and that the iTunes Store will sell song number one billion this year.

That's a lot of Pod people, and a whole bunch o' DRM for the masses.
~ scott @ 2:39 PM [link]
Making A List, Checking It Twice

"Most people are atheists when it comes to the thousands of gods that mankind has believed in in the past (how many of us believe in Zeus?). Modern day atheists just add one more god to the list."
~ Attributed to Stephen Dawkins
~ scott @ 2:23 PM [link]

There's an article in this month's Wired about "click fraud" and how it effects Google and Yahoo's pay-per-click advertising systems. One stat jumped out at me: last year Google made 99% of it's revenue from advertising(!). This suggests that when Google is finally beat, it won't be by a better search engine, but a better ad engine.
~ scott @ 1:17 PM [link]
We're All Gonna Die!

"We have even taken bets from people who think everyone in the world will die on a certain date."
~ William Hill bookmakers, BBC News
~ scott @ 2:52 PM [link]

Today's crisis is tomorrow's forgotten memory.
~ scott @ 8:52 AM [link]
Enoch Rooticon/ Neal "Baroque" Stephenson

"...any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic (or a plot hole)."

"And where do 'you' go when you go to sleep? What if 'you' woke up somewhere else. Would you still be 'you'?"
~ John Deighan: What's up with Enoch Root?

Lots of other good ideas there. Clearly, I'm already jonesing for whatever comes after The Baroque Cycle. (Determined Google searches returned freaking zilch on this idea).
~ scott @ 3:19 PM [link]
Steve Jobs Plans iDVD

"Jobs... walked up to a whiteboard and drew a square. This is the program, he said. Users will drag their movies here to create DVD menus. Then they'll click 'burn.' That's it. 'I don't want to hear anything about drawers or pop-out' windows, he said."
~ Mac News: iPod : The Universe Inside Apple's Core
~ scott @ 2:54 PM [link]
Funny Google Money

In 2006 Google will unveil "a new product called Google Money, basically their version of Paypal with a twist, they will also invent a new currency called The Google, which trades against the dollar, the euro, the yen and the yuan. Many small countries in Africa, Latin America and south Asia adopt the Google as their national currency. The Google money website,, will list the current Google stock price expressed in googles, of course. They will stop reporting sales and earnings, instead reporting Gross National Product and trade surpluses and deficits."
~ Dave’s Wordpress Blog » 2006 predictions*

* Bonus comment: "BTW, I think you forgot the Skype-eBay module that automatically scans everything in my house and puts it on auction."
~ scott @ 3:03 PM [link]
If You're Going To Be A One-Trick Pony,

it had better be a damn good trick.

"[Pittsburgh coach] Bill Cowher, when we played them, he had to laugh," Dungy said. "He said they had an extra day, because it was Monday night, and they had all this extra time. 'But you guys only have one defense. We couldn't even utilize it.'"
~ The Tampa 2 Defense

Good lordy, I love football.
~ scott @ 9:09 AM [link]
Other People's Problems

It's good to know we're not alone with our nightmarish, bureaucratic technical problems and the companies that so lovingly dump them upon us: Midphase Blows Goats
~ scott @ 4:53 PM [link]
Poor Planning on Your Part...

The next time someone says to me, "I really needed this yesterday," I think I'll reply, "Well -- now it's today, so looks like that's not gonna happen, huh?"
~ scott @ 10:18 AM [link]
My Best Albums of 2005

Not released in '05 per se, but realized for the first time:

1. Wheat - Per Second Per Second
2. Jimmy Eat World - Futures
3. New Found Glory - Catalyst
4. The Postal Service - Give Up
5. Weezer - Make Believe
6. Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
7. Sting - Sacred Love
8. Ben Folds - Songs for Silverman & Speed Graphic & Sunny 16
9. Grant Lee Phillips - Virginia Creeper
10. Elliott Smith - Either/Or & XO
~ scott @ 11:20 AM [link]