what's different now?

The End.
~ scott @ x:xx PM [link]

Malcolm Gladwell's writing makes my brain feel good. This article on talent vs. results is a bit old -- heck it focuses on Enron -- but still grandly done. As I get into Phase 2 of my own startup here, it's cool to think about these things as they apply to my army of one. Apparently, I have to avoid coddling the "star" persona in my schziophrenic inner drama, if I hope to have any success.
~ scott @ 8:26 AM [link]

OK - let's get started.
~ scott @ 8:29 AM [link]
Three Years Blog

Today marks my third continuous year as a Blogger. I really wasn't sure if I'd be interested in keeping at it this long, but it looks like I have.

I usually have at least 2 offline sketchbooks/notebooks going, but there's something different about keeping this public, digital one. I like typing without it being email, the friction-less ability to quickly cast an idea onto the web, the personal archive of my ideas in an easily browseable format.

I wish Blogger had categories, so I could have some statistics on what I've written about most -- my brain's perceptual slavery to quantifying with numbers. I wish I wrote longer, more substantial posts more often; I wish I wrote more about the world from my perspective, the story no one else can tell - instead of so many random links and one-liners. But I guess that's part of the fun, that it can be any and all of those things.

I think Kottke gets it right with a different format for things he's just linking to and longer posts. But I also admire to no end a blog like Izzlepfaff, which is always stories, almost always hilarious, and never just lazy links or quotes. Do we define our blogs, or do they help define us?

I'll commemorate the 36-month-a-versary with a two week trip to Ireland, in which there will be complete silence here and, as usual, I plan to come back with very little of interest that I'll actually take the time to say. Three years - why start changing now?

Consistency! Hobgoblins!
~ scott @ 12:01 AM [link]
Die Cutie, Die

I've been overdosing on the band Death Cab for Cutie lately, particularly their last album Transatlanticism, and am just now watching their tour film Sleep Well, Drive Carefully. It proves that my faith in their brilliance has not been misplaced.

Lest you doubt this for yourselves, observe: they play the song "Why You'd Want to Live Here*" which is a blastingly accurate depiction of what's wrong with Los Angeles, at a show in L.A. The front-row audience -- I kid you not -- is just standing there numb, not even mouthing the words. There's some sporadic clapping, but not enough to fill the room, and probably just because they rocked out near the end. Then Gibbard says, with great mock sincerity, "I hope you guys didn't take that personally. It's just a love song." Classic.

In the extras is a three-song semi-acoustic set that's great. My favorite sounds of theirs is the quieter stuff with pianos and harmonies, strange background noises; not that the rockers aren't great too, but something about his voice over soothing layered noise that does it for me. It's shot in b&w, but kind of shaky handheld. If it's fan footage that's one thing, but if it was the documentary crew, for god's sake use a tripod.

I was hoping to see "Blacking Out the Friction" and "Passenger Seat", but sadly no. Ah well. More interviews would have been cool, but I'm weird like that -- hell, I even submitted a request to Charile Rose last week to have them on, cuz I'd like to hear anyone with song names like "Prove My Hypothesis" talk about being musicians for an hour.

Still on deck, and this is really great for me, is their latest album Plans. I've heard it just a time or two thus far, but plan to freaking kill it in the studio when I get back from Ireland.

* Bonus: it's even got the word entropic in it's lyrics.
~ scott @ 3:56 PM [link]
1 Day

"Farewell, and hail. I'm off to seek the holy grail."
~ scott @ 5:01 PM [link]
I'll Take Windows As A Mac App

So the Mac running Windows idea continues to get more interesting with the possibility of emulating it on "native" Intel hardware using some tricks to work around incompatibilities like the BIOS and device drivers. This seems to have far more potential to shift the landscape than just dual-booting for geeks. If it can run with similar stability (ha!) and speed (likely) as we're accustomed to, that'd be the ticket. Some even suggest that it would increase Apple's market share:

"All the borderline cases where people aren't sure about a Macintosh because of their requirements for Windows applications and games will all of sudden be more willing to accept the Mac."
~ ZDNet.com

Coincidentally enough, that's me!
~ scott @ 9:55 AM [link]
Great Band = Funny Blog

"Nick has this idea that someone needs to start a new sitcom starring Jennifer Aniston called 'Friend'. "
~ Death Cab For Cutie site
~ scott @ 1:44 PM [link]
Consistent Hobgoblin

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day."
~ Emerson: Self-Reliance
~ scott @ 3:47 AM [link]
Digital Distribution Makes Better Music

Finally the economics of the music industry start favoring the bands that can put out consistently good music:

"'I have to ask my artists to make better records... I need at least four singles. We lost a lot of fans over the years because we gave people average albums, with one or two singles and the rest of the album was trash.'"
~ Talent manager Michael "Blue" Williams

The beast deserves to starve to death so it can be reborn as something else.
~ scott @ 9:13 AM [link]
15 Seconds

Hey, I've been kottke'd! That's how it's done - just gotta be accidentally 8 hours ahead of the New Music Tuesdays email blast.
~ scott @ 4:01 PM [link]

A variation on Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle applies to bureaucratic systems:

Bureaucracies can know:
a) What they are doing
b) Why they're doing it

But not:
c) Both at once
~ scott @ 2:44 PM [link]
Billions and Billions

For all my carping and whining, the fkrs at Apple sure know how to market: iTMS Billion Songs Countdown. The cascading column of album covers with the live counter are awesome.

Now, I'm not saying it's gonna happen, but I'd have to revise some of my previous criticisms if I scored the grand prize*: an iMac, 10 iPods and a $10,000 gift card. That's a lot of songs.

* No purchase necessary to win; limited to 25 entries per day
~ scott @ 4:37 PM [link]
Fonder and Blonder

Today I'd like to address a sad oversight: the general lack of appreciation for the fine album The Bottle & Fresh Horses by the late, great Refreshments. Granted, 1997 was long ago, but I keep coming back to this album and loving it more each time. If there's a bone in your future corpse that likes the rock and roll music, it'll rattle for this one. Really. It's juvenile and honest and heroic in all the right ways, and almost never fails to make me air-guitar through the solos in each song.

It's also one of those albums where I can't listen to only one song; each one suggests how fun it'd be to hear more and I usually just cue up the whole damn thing.

I think The Refreshments get knocked because Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy, their major label debut, was an overproduced, too-poppy version of it's phenomenal indie precursor Wheelie. Since the original went out of print and is a rare find, Fizzy's relative success helped the general public file them under teenie-bopper rock and then largely ignore Bottle & Horses. The tragedy here is that it, their 2nd major album, went back to their strengths, has great songwriting and enough of their original gritiness to be great.

Surely my love of this band stems in part from my year in their hometown of Tempe, AZ at the height of their powers. Ah... man I loved 1995. Wheelie was the classic local recordstore discovery, back when the WWW was still too new to be really useful for finding music and you actually had to go to a store to seek out new stuff. It was playing over the house speakers at the shop right around the corner from the art building and within about 5 minutes I thought "who the hell is this?!" Sold! Naturally, the punkish young woman behind the counter sneered at me when I asked "who the hell is this?!", since in her world they'd probably jumped the shark 15 minutes earlier.

The band split from their label and each other after the release of Bottle & Horses, but happily one half went on to form Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, who've retained some of the same good stuff_____.

"Who said absence makes the heart grow fonder?*"

*Apparently it was one Thomas Haynes Bayly. Seems he also wrote gems like "Tell me the tales that to me were so dear/ Long, long ago, long, long ago" and "Oh pilot, ’t is a fearful night!
There’s danger on the deep".
~ scott @ 10:45 AM [link]
Don't Steal My Song Title:

Randolph Farmer dies in storage bin.
~ scott @ 2:42 PM [link]

Early Retirement: "Retirement forces you to stop thinking that it is your job that holds you back. For most people the depressing truth is that they aren't that organized, disciplined, or motivated."
~ scott @ 4:01 PM [link]

I've been thinking about perfect songs lately, and this one is just stuck in my head today - Clarity, by Jimmy Eat World.

It rocks, it rolls, and it's peppered with astoundingly good lyrics:

Say what I know you'll say and say it through your teeth.
Now in the deep and down, I don't know how but I know I want out.
Pull one excuse from another.
And with pride keep every failure in.
And with pride hold on to your thinking.
~ scott @ 10:04 AM [link]
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 apple.com/ipod (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."
~ Reuters.com:
~ 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 Last.fm:

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 Last.fm
~ 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."
~ Nerve.com
~ 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, money.google.com, 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.'"
~ espn.com: 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]

I've decided that if Cindy and I ever have a kid, we'll name him or her Starbucks and seek corporate sponsorship for life (diapers, college, health care). It works great for either gender, has a nice ring to it if you add on some permutation of O'Dell-Cooper, and as former English majors we can always claim we got it from Moby Dick, not the global caffiene empire.
~ scott @ 9:29 AM [link]
Notes From the West Coast

In California, people in the grocery store manuever their carts like their cars: fast, aggressive, with purpose. It can be 87 F on Dec. 21st. Dirt trails through native scrubland are replaced with housing tracts placed on man-made terraces of earth.

There are gated communities to seperate the new multi-million-dollar houses from the old million-dollar houses. An 800 square foot house on a quarter acre lot built in the 30's can go for $700,000. They've made a movie star with no qualifications Governor.

I picked tangerines from a tree in my parents' yard on the shortest day of the year. So much for the dead of winter. There are eucalyptus trees shed of bark, standing tall and narrow in pale winter flesh. They grow so fast that the landscape is subtly altered each year.

There are cast-concrete fences moulded to look like wood, with texture and "imperfections" on the posts and rails. They're quite convincing when one is going past at 40 miles an hour, but at pedestrian scale they're simply bizarre.
~ scott @ 10:08 PM [link]
More DRM

I'm still pretty hot about how enormously fubar the iTunes DRM business is (in the wrong circumstances) and how dumb I was to go for it in the first place. The digital downloads were just too good to resist, and I squelched my initial reservations with big doses of curiosity, technolust and good faith towards Apple.

Here's a quick rundown of all the things wrong with buying music from the iTunes store:

1. DRM
2. 128kb resolution
3. $9.99
4. You lose it, you (re)buy it
~ scott @ 9:02 AM [link]
Damn Resolution, Music (DRM)

Just this minute I've committed to a third New Year's Resolution: no more purchases from the iTunes Music Store.

I'm at home, on my iMac and cue up a song I'm jonesing to hear that was originally purchased on another computer. So iTunes wants me to unlock it with my Apple account. I enter my password. Nope. I'm sure it's right, but what the hell? Even though I've got better things to do, I'll play along. I click the forgot password link and am routed to the Apple site (automatically firing up Safari - which I NEVER use - along the way. Thanks - that's helpful when I already have 6 Firefox tabs open!). I go the send by email route, waste another 48 seconds of my life reloading my inbox, then follow the link in the email back to the Apple site (again, in Safari. Naturally, I'd closed it.) I enter a new password, twice, and get an OK.

Back to iTunes, where I try to play the song again, even though by now I'm hardly hot to hear it anymore. Again the authorization box, which I seem to complete successfully this time, only to get hit with this:

"Additional security information is needed... etc, etc." So, yep, back to the Apple site - good thing I've got DSL now, eh? - where I have no choice about providing my country, preferred language, birthday and a password retrieval question for next time. (What? Sending it by email is allowed only once?) So I'm from the US - since that'll probably break something if I say Pakistan; and my language is English, since there's no way I could navigate these obscure error messages in Swahili; and I just enter some random junk in the question and answer box. Hit Enter. Result: "There's been some kind of hoo-ha error, probably your fault, and the only thing you can do about it is go back and try again. We're not even sure which form field caused the error, or if we are we're not telling you about it, so good luck with that." Or something to that effect.

So after some genial swearing and closing of certain applications, I get curious enough to try again. ("This could be a blog post!") Back to iTunes, back to extra security info, a real question and answer this time (Q: Fuck me? A: You already did.) This seems to past muster, then I'm sent to my all-time Apple rap sheet with fields for more personal info than I actually know. Remarkably, I'm able to skip most of this and just click "OK". This time, I think ahead and leave Safari open.

Back in iTunes, I try to select the song again, having nearly forgotten what it was and now realizing that, at this rate, I could die here without ever hearing New Found Glory play it again. This looks momentarily promising until: "This Apple ID has not been used with the iTunes Music Store. Please review your account information." Naturally, the "options" are: a) Review or b) Cancel, which I take to mean: a) Return To Our Horrific Online Account Maintenance System or b) Give Up On Ever Hearing That Song You Foolishly Paid 99c For Again, You Pathetic Loser. Gamely, I choose a).

I pause for a moment to recall this: I've bought at least a hundred dollars worth of music from the iTunes Store in the last year, so this account has most definitely been used before. Furthermore, until I "upgraded" to iTunes 6.1, this sad little iMac was authorized to play these songs. So I'm having all this fun because - yes - Apple wants to sell me protected copies of last night's free TV shows.

So I chose "Review" and waited for Safari to pop up. Guess again! This time, I'm taken to the iTunes Store within iTunes, and asked to create a billing account to go with my Apple ID. Huh? I Agree to the terms and conditions thing, knowing I'm now as completely screwed in a court of law as with all other software that I have the gall to attempt using, am asked to verify my County for billing purposes, congratulated for successfully setting up this account to work with the store (which at this point actually seems well-earned) and left with one option: clicking a button called "Done". Oh, Apple. Don't fucking tempt me like that.

I click it, thinking that Done is far more likely to mean my hard drive will now explode, sending white-hot bits of metal and plastic rocketing through my brain and putting me out of this ridiculous misery, and am greeted with: The iTunes Music Store front door. As if I'd just arrived there at my own request, looking to... uhm.. buy some more copy-protected music? Well shit. That Mariah Carey looks seriously tempting, folks, but I did just make a new resolution and all and even though it's still mid-December, I'm going to get an early start on keeping it and just go back to "my" Library and try to hear "my" "Purchased" music again.

(Is anyone else getting the irony that the song I want is called "This Disaster"? I know it's too good to be true, but I am honestly not shitting you about this.)

I click the song title, and can almost hear Safari warming up in the background. Mind you, I've now authenticated myself three times in the last 20 minutes and yet, predictably, this computer is still not authorized to play the song, so will I please enter my Apple ID and password to authorize it? (If I can't remember, there's a helpful "Forgot Password" button!). I type it in again, cringe, and hit "Authorize". Lo and Behold! A confirmation dialog box saying "machine authorization successful". I click to play the song: "This computer is not authorized to play the song "This Disaster". Would you like to authorize it?"

Oh yes, I would. I really, really would.
~ scott @ 10:35 AM [link]
Foul-Mouthed Brilliance

An angry, harsh, accurate roundup of church&state, Jesus' B-Day, historical precidents and FOX News, with a catchy title that you just can't forget: Fuck Christmas.
~ scott @ 2:00 PM [link]
Future Lyric Fragment

I followed you car
all over town
because it coughed out small,
perfect smoke rings
so fleeting but so nice
so nice but so, well,
~ scott @ 1:44 PM [link]
Dumb Automation

Sometimes those automated scripts don't run as intended... I got this email from half.com today:

Subject: Want $0.00? Sell your items on Half.com
~ scott @ 12:18 PM [link]
O Blockbuster, Why Do I Hate Thee So?

"Blockbuster scrambling to stay afloat. Store closings, job cuts planned as losses mount... Blockbuster said in its quarterly report that an acceleration of the payments could force it into bankruptcy."
~ MercuryNews.com

"...one has to wonder whether Blockbuster's creditors grew more flexible because they didn't want to force Blockbuster to file for bankruptcy by tightening the screws too hard. This latest activity came on the heels of yet another horrendous quarter, in which the struggling chain posted another loss on a dip in sales. An uptick in rental revenue wasn't enough to offset the slain late-fees cash cow."
~ fool.com

Yay! For some reason, I just want this company to be the big loser in our digital movie future. Viacom gave them the heave ho and they deserved it. Clearly they underestimated Netflix or just didn't get it soon enough to compete.

But I have to wonder if Netflix is the next casualty along the way? Here in Greencastle (of all places) they're rolling out broadband fiber connections to the home, which means the holy grail of Video On Demand can't be far behind, right? Surely they're not laying out all that infrastructure for email and telephone services alone. Yes, Netflix says they're testing the market, but what are the chances that a company built around the US Mail system could make that transition? I'd bet against them, what with Apple, Microsoft, Google and every film studio also in the running.

So - why my joy at seeing BB fail? Maybe it's the grudge I hold for that embarrasing summer's employment at the Rancho San Diego branch. Have I even admitted that to anyone beyond the IRS?*

* Geez, which was worse: that, Pizza Hut or delivering the weekly "Super Savers" psuedo-paper? I've sure had some sucky jobs.
~ scott @ 3:58 PM [link]
And Then I Wore Pants

It happens every year.

Sooner or later a day comes where the weather changes, our illusion of an summer finally gives way to fall, and I grudgingly make the transition: off with the shorts, on with the pants.

For a California boy like me this ritual is a tragic acceptance, much like fading youth. A sad confirmation that, for yet another year, I'll endure winter in snow country.

Today was that day.
~ scott @ 7:26 AM [link]

O Peanut M&M's, numbered E8 (so sweetly)* in the infernal quarter-sucking machine down the hall; why must Thou taunt me so; with your primary colors, clumped on the desk like some happy game, where you roll and frolick without end; until I've chewed the core out of each and every one; and gained the stale plaque upon teeth and gum that only more M&M's hast power to remove?

* A typical bag contains 23 spherules, for an average cost of 3.06 cents each.
~ scott @ 3:41 PM [link]