Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Always good for a five-second read.

Oath

Jul sent this to me today. I swear to God, these should have been our wedding vows:

1. When you are sad — I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

2. When you are blue — I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile — I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.

4. When you are scared — I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

5. When you are worried — I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

6. When you are confused — I will use little words.

7. When you are sick — Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don’t want whatever you have.

8. When you fall — I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.

9. This is my oath…. I pledge it to the end.

‘Why?’ you may ask; ‘because you are my friend’. Friendship is like peeing your pants: everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

Real Men friggin’ DO eat quiche.

In yet another attempt to be all responsible and stuff, Jul and I have recently decided to go ahead and try to learn how to cook. For us, cooking has long meant one of a few things:

  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Stuff I threw on the grill
  • DiGiornio
  • PBJs
  • A plate of random brown stuff

So, you can imagine our general shape. (The word you’re looking for is “lumpy.”)

Anyway, we’re going to try to cook better. That’s not to say my wife can’t cook. Quite the contrary, if she has time to do it well. Enough time to make, say Thanksgiving dinner and I assure you…her turkey kicks ass. But cooking a turkey the Julie Wayâ„¢ means rising at 6:15, also known as “way too fuggin’ early for me” to start the prep. You can imagine this doesn’t work for your average Thursday night meal.

Tonight, however, we tried something new: we made a quiche. And it was excellent. And it was easy to make, and didn’t take all that long, which is important when you don’t start making dinner until after 7 p.m. This may also explain our aforementioned lumpiness.

We have a lot left over, though. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, as two people can take several days to eat a whole pie, and four-day old baked Egg Beaters sounds like a good breeding ground for salmonella.

Microsoft Enters the Digital Music Player Arena

Tomorrow I’ll be getting my hands on a Zune. This is Microsoft’s new digital music player, their long-awaited *ahem* iPod killer. We’re looking at it, along with other mp3 players, for a show we’re working on.

On a side note, can you believe iPods have been around for five years already? The mind boggles. But I digress. And that’s why this is in a sidebar.

I don’t know how much I’m going to like the hardware. I’m sure it’s fine, and I don’t expect it to have the polish of an iPod, but it looks rather clunky to me. I hope it’s slicker than it looks. Sure, the first generation iPod was that way too. But Microsoft has had the benefit of watching five years of continuing iPod improvement. Granted, they can’t put a click wheel in their player because of those pesky patents, but they should have done better. The worst thing of all? They make a brown one. BROWN. And not a good brown, either. Insert your scatalogical jokes here.

The worst part about the Zune is the DRM (digital rights management) nonsense.

Microsoft has set up an store much like Apple’s iTunes store, which they call the Zune Marketplace. The Marketplace sells music files only for use on the Zune or in the Zune player on your PC – much like music and videos purchased on the iTunes store only play on iPods or in iTunes for Mac or Windows. But the two begin to diverge fairly quickly.

Apple’s model works like this:
You pay .99 for a song. You can choose to buy just one song from Apple, charge it to your credit card, and never go to the Store again. The song is yours to play forever (technically, you don’t “own” the song, you own the rights to play the song). You can elect to share that song with four more computers – each of which would have to be validated over the net via your Store login. You can load that file on numerous iPods. You can burn that song to an audio CD. You definitely should burn it to a data CD or save it to a hard drive somewhere on the change your computer’s hard drive dies, or you’ll lose your purchased song for good.

Zune’s, on the other hand, works like this:
You choose from one of two purchasing models. There’s a plan much like Apple’s, though you don’t use money to buy songs. You use “points,” which Microsoft sells in $5 increments. Songs start at .79 and go up from there. So if you only want the one song, you’re out $4.21. Okay, this isn’t a deal killer for me, since I’ve paid $70 to hundreds of dollars for stock music to use in client projects. But I’m surprised at Microsoft’s goofy points setup.

The other purchasing model is a subscription. Pay a monthly fee, and Microsoft will give you the right to download as many songs as you like – 10,000 in a month, if you like. Sounds like a good deal until you read the fine print.

These songs cannot be burned to audio CDs (those purchased with points can, I’m told). You cannot play them anywhere but in Zune player or on your Zune. You have the right to listen to these songs forever…as long as you keep paying that monthly fee. Stop paying, and the songs stop playing. I called Zune support today to ask a few questions about the device and the licensing agreement, and the tech came right out and told me the points system was a better deal for the consumer.

Screw Your Partner, Microsoft Style

Microsoft’s earlier attempt to define the online digital music business consisted of DRM called “PlaysForSure.” On their site, it’s marketed like this:

Choose your music. Choose your device.
Know it’s going to work.When your device and music service are compatible with each other, all you have to do is choose the music that’s compatible with you. Look for the PlaysForSure logo on a wide selection of devices and music stores.

Sounds great, right? As long as I buy music using Windows Media Player and the PlaysForSure system, I’ll be able to load it on most of the Windows-based music players. Right? Sure, as long as the player isn’t a Zune.

See, Microsoft hooked all their “partners” into adopting this DRM model. Then they decided to hop in with the Zune, but start using different DRM that only works with Zune.

This not only screws the music player manufacturers, it screws the consumer. If I had a Creative Zen or one of those ugly-ass Dell players, I’d have been loading it up with PlaysForSure music. But those songs won’t play on the Zune.

I realize Apple’s DRM is restrictive as well, and I know the RIAA has much to do with all these draconian anti-theft measures, and I’m certainly not surprised that Microsoft figured out ways to make it worse. Having rambled on this long, I’ll finish by saying that I’ll type some more after I’ve had a chance to play with a Zune tomorrow….

One of These Kids is Doing His Own Thing

My wife and I saw Nacho Libre last night which left us twenty bucks light and robbed us of two hours of our life we’ll never recover. Anywho, before the show started we endured the usual gauntlet of ads and previews until just before the main attraction (the end credits, yay! Just kidding) when they showed the Dolby sound bit featuring the talented kids from Stomp. Of course we’ve seen this dozens of times in the past but this time I noticed something odd. You’ve seen the piece, right? The brooms, the keys, the boots, the garbage cans: stompity stomp, left speaker right speaker, jingle jingle woosh woosh, above and behind, oooooh how do they do it, clickety clack boom boom, I’m so glad there’s dolby digital in the room. So yeah, it’s all there to show off the precision Dolby Digital enhanced audio performance you’re so glad you plunked down twenty bucks to see. But wait! Half way through this audial orgasm, one of the Stomp kids is on his feet leaning back and windmilling two garbage can lids about his head. No sound. Just the windmilling garbage can lids. To demonstrate the awesome Dolby Digital experience. I mean what the fuck? Didn’t someone tell him to make some noise? Was he given autonomous free rein to do as he pleased: to interpret the needs of the fine folks at Dolby as he saw fit? Off with his head! Off with his arms! Not necessarily in that order! And give us our twenty bucks back. Nacho Libre sucked (except for the part where he climbs the cliff to eat the eagle egg yolk).