Monday, May 04, 2009

Money money

Stocks are good! Even Ocean Freight is up today. If you look around it seems that the economy is done collapsing. Now is the time to survey the wreckage and take a piece for yourself. The next generation of wealth is being created right now.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Astronomers Astonished by 'Monstrous' Star Explosion

Astronomers Astonished by 'Monstrous' Star Explosion:
The newly detected ‘king’ of supernovas might be evidence of a new way massive stars die.

Ugh, a month and no updates. But this one's still a good read.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Top 21 Tech Flops

The Top 21 Tech Flops:
Excerpt
PetManimal writes "Whatever happened to Digital Audio Tape? Or Circuit City's DIVX program? Or IBM's PCjr. and the PS/1? Computerworld's list of 21 biggest tech flops is an amusing trip down the memory lane of tech failures. Some are obvious (Apple Newton), while others are obscure (Warner Communications' QUBE). Strangely, Y2K didn't make the list."
Yup, this is the stuff that we like to watch die. Most of it died by demand. Thankfully.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Review: Apple appalls where Xbox excels (AP)

Review: Apple appalls where Xbox excels
(AP)
:
This undated screen shot shows Heath Ledger in a scene from 'The Four Feathers' from Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, played on an Xbox 360. Screen shots of details from the movie “The Four Feathers” demonstrate the difference in sharpness between a movie from Apple’s iTunes service, played on an Apple TV, compared to the same movie from Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, played on an Xbox 360. The movie has the same nominal resolution, 640 by 480 pixels, on both services. There are also high-resolution versions of some movies available on Xbox Live. The movies were displayed on a 46-inch LCD TV, to which the Apple TV and Xbox 360 were connected with component video cables. The screen resolution was 1080i. (AP Photo)AP - Apple Inc. has graced the public with another smooth, white, exquisitely designed gadget, this time aiming at making it easier to play iTunes movies and songs on the living-room TV set.

This ended up being a really good article. I also agree, the itunes videos look horrible when you scale up the res because they are barely (and even arguably) dvd resolution. Why in the WORLD did Apple even BOTHER with the pitch that the AppleTV was a high def device when there is NO HD content?

Then they move on to the Xbox 360's Xbox Live Video Marketplace. Long name, but the quality is great. Fantastic actually. Even the pilot episode of MacGyver was encoded with minimal grainy artifacts. The files are not gratuitously large and the video is as crystal clear as they could make it, both in HD and SD. For any tv shows available via the 360, that's my choice over iTunes any day. I'll stop chattering and vote with my wallet.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Say NO to DRM! Go EMI music!

EMI ditches DRM on iTunes

Bravo bravo. Kudos, especially to the EMI folks who made this deal happen. I for one am hugely excited by this and will promptly upgrade all my EMI tracks once this is available. I will also be encouraged to buy more music.

You should be too. This is one of the "Big 4" music companies that has had a change of heart that was VERY positive for consumers. The quality increase and lack of DRM is a great step. I will support further steps like this with my $$. Let the dollars speak for you too, buy EMI music!

This was a great announcement, and great coverage from Engadget too.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

News: Remember a Previous Life? Maybe You Have a Bad Memory

News: Remember a Previous Life? Maybe You Have a Bad Memory:

This is a fascinating article that combines information from a few studies and evidences that people who remember "past life experiences" are in actuality distorting a bad memory somehow.

Excerpt:
In other words, people who believe they had previous lives are committing a source-monitoring error, or an error in judgment about the original source of a memory. (In this case, they are misremembering the source—themselves—of nonfamous names.) This is important because source-monitoring mistakes are the first in a sequence of events that psychologists believe lead to false memories.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Halliburton provided contaminated water to Soldiers [video]

Haliburton managed to extort billions of our dollars from this country. Only to turn and high tail it back to Dubai once the political situation became too unfavorable. Talk about unpatriotic, patriotism would be throwing the Haliburton executives through the meatgrinder over issues like this.Very sad video, mainly because it just illustrates with no doubt that we are allowing a truly horrible evil to take place.



read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Report: Flaming Piece of Space Junk Misses Airliner

Report: Flaming Piece of Space Junk Misses Airliner:
Excerpt:
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Pilots of a Chilean commercial aircraft approaching the Auckland airport in New Zealand spotted flaming pieces of a satellite falling past their jet, the LAN Chile airline reported Wednesday.

This is just wild, space barely misses the airliner. Seems to be from a Russian satellite.

Fix health care. Raise taxes? Are they insane?

Fix health care. Raise taxes:
Excerpt
John Edwards says we need to raise taxes to fix health care, and you can bet that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will eventually say so too. Their red-blooded Republican foes will counter that raising taxes is always and everywhere evil, because it hurts the economy.

*Cringe*

ARGH! No do NOT raise taxes to fix healthcare. If anything LOWER taxes, reduce entitlements, and move the government OUT of healthcare. Many providers are challenged by the increased entitlements given by the Medicare program due to one simple fact: Medicare often reimburses providers less than the costs of the services, and they have to take outrageous contract adjustments to meet the contracted rates. Thus HURTING the providers that participate. Now Edwards wants to make the problem worse!

Simple fact: Hospitals and Doctor offices that accept Medicare subsidize the losses taken by Medicare accounts across the rest of their accounts. The electric bill needs paid, the nurses need paid, the coding staff need paid, the maintenance guys need paid, and of course the doctors need paid. If all they got was paid by Medicare/government, the money coming in would not be enough to cover the bills and salaries. The solution is to reduce the ability to serve patients and gut their staff to a bare minimum overworked skeleton crew.

The way it works now is that everyone can get paid by the sources that DO pay. This is why your health insurance premiums are going up all the time, our wonderful Medicare and Medicaid systems.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers

Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers:
That this is news is really surprising. Having worked in the health finance field for a few years...I can attest to the FACT that prices are not rising with premiums. That and denial reasons have multiplied. Many maternity benefits now require notification within the first trimester or the insurance will not cover any claims associated with the pregnancy. Four years ago the majority of health plans only required notification of the child for dependent care within 30 days after birth.

Excerpt:
Many long-term-care policyholders say that years of premiums have resulted in only excuses about why insurers will not pay.

South Park Studios: No Walk in the Park

South Park Studios: No Walk in the Park:

This is actually a neat article on Apple's website about the South Park studio. It talks about how they moved from construction paper to SGI workstations. It also details the obligatory "Mac's are great" mantra of moving from SGI workstations to Macs using Maya, Photoshop, and Motion to basically do the entire show in about 6 days.

Excerpt:
Keeping it fresh is critical at long-running Comedy Central favorite South Park, where regular 120-hour work weeks and a studio full of Macs allow just-in-time delivery of over-the-top satire.

Flying the Airbus A380

Flying the Airbus A380:

There was one interesting factoid of an otherwise very good read and video that I gleaned from this story. The A380's cabin pressurizes to an atmospheric equivalent to 5000'. This is a much higher pressure than the usual 8000' that most cabins pressurize to. Since I've lived at 6000' for many years, this means that flying the A380 would actually be a treat, no jet lag or dehydration, and my ears would pop minimally.

Looks to be a very nice flight, but mainly for international purposes at this point. It doesn't seem any domestic routes will be using planes the size of the A380 for a very long time.

Spammer That Sued Spamhaus Now Sued for Spamming

Spammer That Sued Spamhaus Now Sued for Spamming:

There is justice after all....

Excerpt:
Dave Q. Lintard writes with a link to The Register's coverage of a suit against the spammer that sued Spamhaus. e360 Insight, as the company is known, is accused of using a botnet and compromised headers to get their 'advertising' into the mailboxes of the claimant. These are also the folks that tried to get the Illinois courts to suspend SpamHaus's domain registration when they wouldn't play by e 360's rules. 'e360 Insight sued Spamhaus after the anti-spam organisation blacklisted its domains over alleged spamming. In a default ruling made by an Illinois court in September 2006, Spamhaus was ordered to pay $11.7m in compensation to e360 Insight, pull the organisation's listing, and post a notice stating that it was wrong to say e360 Insight was involved in sending junk mail. UK-based Spamhaus did not defend the case and the ruling was made in its absence.'

DMCA Creator Admits Failure, Blames RIAA

DMCA Creator Admits Failure, Blames RIAA:

The DMCA, the piece of legislation responsible for limiting our digital freedoms to work with data and reverse engineer proprietary systems has been lamented by its very own creator it seems. Compaq entered the PC market and became a global force that drove our technology forward by doing something in its day that is illegal now. Hopefully the democratic congress can show some balls and repeal some of this garbage. However, the new congress it seems is spineless.

Excerpt:

An anonymous reader writes "DMCA architect Bruce Lehman has admitted that "our Clinton administration policies didn't work out very well" and "our attempts at copyright control have not been successful". Speaking at conference in Montreal (video at 11:00), Lehman lay much of the blame at the feet of the recording industry for their failure to adapt to the online marketplace in the mid-1990s."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rant on the transfer of wealth. Economics

In reading that article about the Pfizer CEO profiteering from slitting the throats of his workforce I just have to rant a little on the economics of this type of fiscal policy.

Someone at Digg by the name of "SaSpurzFan" made the great point that this type of transfer of wealth is bad for society. I wholly agree.

Let's break it down into two categories of money. You have what are called utility dollars. This is the money circulated by the working class. It pays for food, energy, healthcare, and basic homeostasis for the average family. It is often seldom that after the utility dollars are spent there is very much for "low utility dollars". This is money spent on entertainment, recreation, and things like vacations.

The basic business practice of a major pharmacology company is the removal of wealth from utility dollars and converts that into low utility dollars for their shareholders.

I'd like to take the principle even further. Doctors should not make the money that they do on the basis that their conversion in lump sums of utility dollars into low utility dollars is a huge detriment to America. A physician uses their buying power to go far above and beyond basic homeostasis at the large expense of a major portion of a working class income. The reason this harms the economy is because the working class further resorts to more conservative fiscal spending to compensate the loss of utility dollars toward other basic needs. With low utility dollars being less utilized.

This is why the consumer confidence index is lowered and the markets centered around consumers spending low utility dollars have a generally more difficult time.

The other problem with this is that we continue to act as stilts for the few privelaged. It's turning into a truly bifurcated and uneven society. The few privelaged are not "trickling down" in their spending, instead they hoard it or it becomes a circular support system between themselves and other wealthy in the form of our stock system. It's more and more an aristocracy of an organized few with a self propagating support structure. The problem is also that it's continuing to be at the expense of basic needs choices for many of us.

$11 Million salary, 36% raise and 10,000 fired employees.

This just irritates the hell out of me. When a patient goes on chemotherapy, those $20,000 per month drugs are not going to R&D as much as they say. If you look at how much the executive officers and employees in the upper eschelons of the company make, you're paying for greed pure and simple. No nobility exists whatsoever in these companies and this just proves it.



read more | digg story

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Giant Pool of Water Ice at Mars' South Pole

Giant Pool of Water Ice at Mars' South Pole:
Mars is unlikely to sport beachfront property anytime soon, but the planet has enough water ice at its south pole to blanket the entire planet in more than 30 feet of water if everything thawed out.

This is actually a pretty cool read.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

An idea for physician accountability.

When you go to a car dealership and get a car your contract is usually pretty cut and dry. When you sign you can see all the fees and terms of your purchase. Now go to a hospital for a surgery and what you sign doesn't agree to any set fee. Granted the human body is subject to many extenuating possibilities than a car, you should still have everything laid out for you.

A doctor needs to own what is done. He or she needs to be accountable easily for what they do during a surgery and explain and be held accountable for it in a way that indemnifies the patient against crooked physicians or just blatant CYA services so that a physician can feel better about the chances of malpractice lawsuits happening.

The real issue is that physicians still do not put patients in the charge of their care. The legalities of it still entitle the patient to full control over their healthcare. The problem is that many doctors lose sight of what will best serve the patient and not what will best serve their liabilities. Many physicians' modus operandi is to manage risk with patient care an afterthought to this one priority. Patients need to manage the risk. It must be up to "us" to challenge things and have a clear understanding of the roadmap of treatment being prescribed to us. Many people do not question what a physician does early on in treatment because the physician paints this picture of a situation beyond the scope of their understanding. Partly true, you can still dig in and find the basics. Simplistically "If I go get this scan, what does it mean with either possible outcome? What test will come after that and what will those outcomes mean?". A physician typically operates off of a flowchart, we need to get that flowchart.

We must have the means to dispute whichever portion we wish.

Granted I understand there are plenty of cases where a patient is incapacitated and needs certain treatment in order to avert death. This is unavoidable and the nature of the business. However, what I'm getting at is physicians ordering frivolous tests or performing things that aren't required. I'd also like to take a stab at the inconsistency of physicians. They "just decide" stuff for no reason sometimes.

Well here's to you doctors living in your self created super star realities. We the people are coming after your lack of business ethics.

Chang'e 1: China Gears Up for First Moon Mission

Chang'e 1: China Gears Up for First Moon Mission:
China is ramping up for the launch this year of Chang'e 1, a lunar orbiter designed to set the stage for the nation's future Moon-bound missions.

I would just love to see China nudge the US out of its doldrums. Go China!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

i,

Halliburton's Dubai move -- a negative for the dollar:

Article reads:
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) - What's good for Halliburton shareholders, may not be good for the U.S. economy and the dollar.

Oh may not be good for the US?? May not be good?????

I think with just a smidgen of common sense, one can ascertain that a company assraping the federal budget and then high tailing out of the country as a primary business move would definitely be bad for the US.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Halliburton is Moving Their Headquarters from Houston to DUBAI

Oil services giant Halliburton Co. will soon shift its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Mideast financial powerhouse of Dubai, chief executive Dave Lesar announced Sunday.As one Digg commenter remarked "It really just sucks to have to stand by while they f*ck us in the ass. Rome is falling..."



read more | digg story

'Berserk' house cat sends owner to hospital

'Berserk' house cat sends owner to hospital:

"A house cat attacked its owner, sending her to the hospital by ambulance with more than 20 bite wounds."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yep...the french SUCK!

First Loss Ever at Airbus, and Profit Drops at EADS:
Profit plunged 94 percent at EADS after its main unit, the aircraft maker Airbus, reported its worst year ever.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Apple rumors - someone needs to get real.

I made this post solely to point out an old Digg story I saw. It was at Digg and I must say some very constructive comments came about there about how pointless it truly is to say Apple is coming out with product X when it's entirely conjecture that's unverifiable.

I bring up this rant because I saw I, Cringely's article about how Apple is supposedly going to launch hardware H.264. While this is entirely plausible, I really don't care. I might find it useful for doing video editing, but in all honesty my CPU's are plenty fast enough for the task. The other thing is that we have no idea where the author got the rumor. Hence I reference the aforementioned link about creating Apple rumors. Cringely may be using this as a ploy to generate traffic, or it may be true. Whatever the case it's asinine. Dell could just as soon launch such technology in a kneejerk reaction to Apple's speculated move (however unlikely...check that...VERY unlikely). So now we're going to see news sites link to this article saying it's news and in turn other news sites call it a verified story which has a high probability of fizzling in the end.

Stop giving this crap such attention, if Apple reverse engineers the entire human genome then great. This is tantamount to inventing a self perpetuated fraud case.

I guess Digg users truly do forget all too quickly, like goldfish.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

News: GDC: Intel solves speed problems with integrated graphics

News: GDC: Intel solves speed problems with integrated graphics:

This has been a long running gripe that the integrated graphics used in Macbooks and Mini's are simply trash. The update to GMA965 will help make the trash less trashy, so that instead of pure garbage it's just a turd.

Here's to hoping Intel will someday just blow our socks off with some revision of integrated graphics.

Giant dinosaurs were genetic pip-squeaks

Giant dinosaurs were genetic pip-squeaks:

This was an interesting read. T-Rex it turns out had no more complex a genome than a common bird.

News: Reports: Jury finds Vonage infringed on Verizon patents

News: Reports: Jury finds Vonage infringed on Verizon patents:
"A jury has found Vonage infringed three Verizon patents."

Yet another example of complete BS patent law in action. Patents are suppose to protect Verizon from someone looking at their service and saying "Hey, let's steal this idea." when the concept of voicemail forwarding is in reality one of the most common things we know.

Patent law in this case instead is trying to make people Verizon customers who don't want to be Verizon customers, but Vonage customers. Patent law is getting completely asinine and devastating to our economy. The common person who wants to startup a business cannot avoid the various bear traps of patent infringement. This needs to change.

News: Gates calls for new privacy law

News: Gates calls for new privacy law:
I thought this was an interesting news bit. Bill Gates is apparently trying to advocate privacy laws at a personal level for consumers. What's really funny is how he specifically mentions HIPAA as going too far and representing annoyance to consumers rather than service.

Well, working at a hospital, all I have to say is WERD homie!!!!! HIPAA has frustrated so many patients that walk into our doors, the initial reaction is that they think we've completely lost our brains with some of the asinine privacy protection we have to enforce on them. While I love the idea of privacy, I also love the idea of sensible privacy.

Here's kudos to Bill for speaking on this type of stuff.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Apple exec disses on Vista

"Apple’s CFO said Tuesday that Windows Vista is no threat to Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” and argued that the steep hardware requirements of Microsoft’s new operating system will give Leopard an opportunity to step in and grab more market share."How very true. If history is any indicator, old G4's will be able to take advantage of Leopard without a massive "tax" on the users.



read more | digg story

Credit-card debt rises at slowest pace in 10 months

Credit-card debt rises at slowest pace in 10 months:
This can only be good news. People are using less credit and getting into less debt.

GM's Electric Car Gets a Date

GM's Electric Car Gets a Date:
The Chevy Volt is an awesome looking car in addition to being cutting edge.

If GM continues this kind of development I will end up as a huge fanboy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Some more healthcare info.

I'm sure we've heard some about the stock options scandal now hitting United Health and their CEO resigning. As it turned out he was granted 1.1 billion in stock options that are highly questionable prompting him to resign. The problem that we the people should have with this is the inflated cost of healthcare premiums helping contribute to the earnings per share. Essentially, all United Health customers and all contracted providers helped him get a pretty penny. Fortunately the cosmic balance seems to be restored and he will likely now be penalized along with a few other executives.

The question we should have now is how many other companies has this gone on with? Specifically healthcare? How many megacorps under the umbrella of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield association have had this problem? How has the BC/BS Association compensated their executives?

Another really good question is, why is it that as healthcare expenses go up, insurance premiums seem to go up and in turn make more profits for the health insurers? Haven't we seen this sort of thing happen with oil? It's as though the price per barrel justification for higher pump prices is tantamount to the health insurance premiums we pay. With providers charging higher prices for services it's as though insurance companies are hiking up premiums, raking in some nice profit margins, and then placing the blame on "the industry"...just like the oil companies. If this is accurate, I would half expect the CEO of Pacificare to make a statement like "Use less healthcare" akin to the Exxon CEO's remarks on oil prices.

Just some musings, it sounds perfectly plausible given some of the news blurbs about Wellpoint's profit's going up. For the lay person, Wellpoint is the name of the parent company of a few Blue Cross plans in some states throughout the country.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Misc musings about the oil market.

The US has the potential to drastically reduce the consumption of foreign oil in a very short time. We can accomplish this not through reducing our consumption, not through drilling for more petroleum deposits domestically, and not through any existing environmental blockades. We can do this through oil shale.

A bit of a foreword. There is a good reason we aren't already going ape over oil shale. Especially if you are from western Colorado. From living here a short while I have seen an area that went ape over oil shale already in the past. As much as residents here would love the idea of massively boosting the oil shale extraction they do not want to see another oil crash so much in fact that they fear the experimental oil shale projects here for that very reason.

Oil shale right now makes sense. When Shell was looking at the prospects of oil shale production back in 2002 in Colorado it was a very wary of the oil market. Back then Oil was around $25 a barrel, and the cost per barrel of oil through this production method was around $27 per barrel. It made little economic sense, but they were thinking they could fine tune the process and turn a profit domestically. Now the price is at $57 per barrel and we're not going to see a huge drop anytime soon (but it would be nice wouldn't it?). This has gone from a very wary proposition to a very lucrative one in a very short time and any fine tuning they can do with the process now is just gravy.

Why are the communities here so leery of it? It's simple really, they've been through this before. Back in the 70's and late 80's was another very significant price increase of petroleum, oil shale was profitable and the energy companies jumped at oil shale. It's a huge untapped resource here and can be massively extracted, just around double the cost of regular crude reserves. When oil prices plummeted during the late 80's and through the 90's the energy companies took some losses and pulled out entirely leaving billions of development behind. The communities also lost their primary monetary and workforce source of income. These areas were economically devastated. They have recovered, but the potential "return of oil shale" is looked at very cautiously and some think the oil market could go bust again. These individuals are the jaded ones who actually fear petrol cuts in prices. They look at oil shale as only being feasible if the price remains high.

So while our enemies such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Kuwait seek to keep these terribly inflated prices high, they may actually be doing us a favor. If we can run their reserves dry and then simply revert to domestic oil shale extraction we would be effectively drawing to a close their foothold in world power. OPEC would simply fizzle into an unimportant and worthless organization.

I can hardly wait to see where we go with energy. For the most important reason, I want to see what we come up with that allows me to retain my purchasing power of other goods, energy needs to be cheap.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yeah death and all that, BUT WHAT ABOUT REISER 4??

With the death and possible murder by Hans Reiser of his wife, apparently some are more concerned as to what becomes of the Reiser project than the actual tragedy at hand.

read more | digg story

Monday, October 09, 2006

Battlestar Galactica iTunes users, read this about season 3.

This post is surely to be deleted from the BSG Scifi forums, but a user was intrepid enough to do some serious digging and found the person apparently most directly responsible for the absence of BSG season 3 going to iTunes.

I have copied the entire post as follows from this location. As in Terminator 2, "The person most directly responsible for the holocaust is"......

LiquidThinking
OK. I have done a little digging and Homework. Here is what I suggest...

First if you can not be diplomatic then do not read any further...

I have found the person responsible for the Digital Media for NBC. Her info is...

"BETH COMSTOCK
President, Digital Media and Market Development, NBC Universal

Beth Comstock was named president of Digital Media and Market Development in December 2005. She is accountable for driving NBC Universal’s digital strategy and leading the company’s content and distribution efforts to capitalize on new and emerging digital platforms. Her responsibilities also include strategic marketing, research, communications, and advertising and promotion. She reports directly to Bob Wright, vice chairman of GE and chairman and CEO of NBC Universal. " (NBC's website)

The phone number for NBC in California is 818-777-1000. Before you spin up your mouth's FTL drive, read the rest of this...

Ask for the Digital Media and Market Development Group. If they can't find it after just a few moments say "That's Beth Comstock's group". Until they catch on, you will be transfered right away, (I was transfered in less than 20 sec.). When you get a HUMAN BEING. Ask for Beth or her assistant. With Regards? "I would like to discuss the Digital Media and Market Development Group's intentions toward Apple iTunes and NBC's customers. I would also like an explanation for the current delay with regards toward the availability of Battlestar Galatica season 3 on iTunes. I would like to suggest that the video source for the current week's episode be sent to Apple iTunes for processing ahead of time so that it is available shortly after the final airing of BSG on Friday's Sci Fi Line-up."

If they can't help you ask for Bob Wright, (her boss and CEO of NBC), or someone better equipped to assist you directly in this matter because you, nor anyone else looking for assistance with this, has gotten a response from any NBC affiliates since the episode's expected arrival time on iTunes has passed sometime ago."

DO NOT BE IMPOLITE!!! Be as professional as possible and as calm as possible. Explain CALMLY why you can not view BSG on Sci Fi at it's usual time and why you rely on NBC to use the iTunes service. If the Digital Media Group can't help you, (which they should because its THEIR department), keep asking who you need to talk to to resolve this issue. Do not let them off the hook easily. Pin someone down for a suitable answer of some kind. DO NOT BE IMPOLITE. BE CALM AND PROFESSIONAL. If they give you the name of another person to talk to ask nicely to be transfered after you have written their name and number down.

At some point they will catch on and just stop answering the phones, rolling the call to voice mail. When this happens LEAVE A MESSAGE! "Hi, I am calling with regards to NBC's and Sci Fi's show Battlestar Galatica season3 on Apple's iTunes. (Do not abbreviate! Execs don't know what BSG means!). I am calling because I have written to the feedback sections of your customer service department several times and have not yet received a reply of any kind fron customer service for several days and have not seen a suitable resolution to the Battlestar Galatica Season 3 on Apple's iTunes situation. Please call me back with regards to this at (and your phone number). Thank you for your time and assistance."

Let's get as many people as possible to call Tuesday and Wednesday. If only 50 people call one assistant and get no where someone will hear that there is a ruckus that needs looking into.

Report your results here ASAP! Good Luck!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A look at economy inflation versus oil inflation...and OPEC's continued greed.

While I was reading some of the news regarding oil I was particularly irked by some of the statements coming from OPEC. Of note is this over at CNN Money
"OPEC is concerned about prices but the most important thing they are concentrating on are inventory levels," the delegate said.
They are concerned about price when just back in July prices were at $78 per barrel. Another snippet from this article irked me even further, from back when this horrible price gouging started to become its worst.
"The senior OPEC delegate said Saudi Arabia will reduce its production by 300,000 bpd from September's 9.1 million bpd, the senior delegate said, taking the kingdom's production to its lowest since May 2004."
In normal business you usually charge more because of a change in the product or an improvement in the quality of the product. If Intel, AMD, IBM, and Viatech slashed production of processors to justify an inflated price you can bet there'd be massive outrage. The justice department would get involved, mass lawsuits would be filed, and some people would probably end up in jail or severely fined.

How can they justify this? I don't see how other than despicable and grotesque amounts of greed. Let's look at this from a different angle. I did some thinking and it occurs to me that we should look at how this impacts inflation. With that in mind, thanks to Google handily returning some queries I found this nifty tool for figuring today's dollar against yesterday's. A brief foreword, the reason this shows 2005's figures is because we're not done with 2006 yet. With that in tow I decided to look back at 2002 just to illustrate where we've come in such a short while.

Google then lead me here (among a few other places). In April of 2002 the cost of crude oil per barrel was $21.47. Today it's hovering around $60. That's triple the price. According to this little graph we also show that unleaded gasoline was at $1.37. This is nearly triple the price. All of this is without adjusting for inflation. If we adjust for inflation we find that $21.47 is roughly $23.25 and $1.37 is around $1.55. What is today's prices against yesterday's dollar? $60 equates to around $52 or $53 and $2.75 was about $2.45 depending on the index you rate against. This is why so many people have experienced the "lowered quality of living" during 2006. It's only going to get worse too. When they say that the 80's were the worst it's ever been they are lying there as well. In some of the searching I also stumbled upon this URL, an inflation adjusted chart detailing peak prices and we're at the highest it's ever been.

What's my beef? Let's take a look at the timeline, the initial cuts were done back in 2004 when China was projected to have serious demand for fuel. The supply was already being hit hard and OPEC cut production on us. The motivation? %100 greed nothing else. They opened a freaking ski area in Dubai for crying out loud.

Now we have OPEC stating that they are concerned about prices and need to cut production. I'm afraid the only thing OPEC is concerned of is how to fatten their monetary gluttony even worse.

The oil is out there, the reserves are out there, and the energy companies continue to experience record profits. The only thing I'm surprised about is that we aren't rioting. If anything now I'm quite glad we went after Iraq and I'm that much more comfortable with the prospect of going to war over oil. Apparently that's what it's going to take. If Bush could just be honest about why we're going to war I'd have a much easier time supporting that decision. At the same time I would want every possible hindrance to getting alternative energy vehicles removed. Unfortunately we live in a corrupt country with corrupted motivations. It's up to "we the people" to understand and realize the facts.

Another popular hypothesis that's gaining ground is the actual origin of oil itself. As noted here oil reservoirs are refilling themselves. Now there's a depressing thought, that this price gouging is sustainable in the long term for many years to come...at least we probably won't run out of oil...we'll just be in a world where it's $100+ per barrel while economy inflation is far far behind...

Monday, October 02, 2006

The amphitheatre


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Originally uploaded by jacobsonster.
This is a picture I took from a trail at Trapper's Lake. This formation gives a neat amphitheatre appearance.

Violent Islam, cowardly europe

A cultural attack by Islam against the West is under way, to which Europe is responding with fear.

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DARPA Grand challenge, but this time in congested traffic.

This is the grand challenge again by DARPA, but this time the vehicles have to do things such as parking, obeying traffic laws, and avoiding moving obstacles. The course is 60 miles and designed to simulate things like a city street.

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OSX Myths

Having been on some forums and seeing people praise the decision by Apple to discontinue the "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" ads I see a lot of people baselessly denigrating Macs as a whole, specifically OSX. They say things like "the shortcuts are obscure and difficult to find" or "there isn't a wealth of software available like there is for Windows". Since these are pretty baseless assertions what else is there to do but revel in proving them wrong?

  • The keyboard shortcuts are limited in comparison to those Windows has, e.g. alt+F4
Not true. For one you can simply take a look at the various menu bar options that most programs have to see the keyboard shortcuts for almost every function. If you also want the window control shortcuts, a simple google search will get you very far. You will probably end up here.
  • Windows has far more software available than OSX.
Tell that to people who use fink or Darwinports. Not to mention the plethora of applications such as Garagesale, Ecto, Appzapper, or for example some of the file rescue tools available. For the experienced Unix/POSIX users you also have bash at your disposal. First I would like to point you to this very brief list of applications. This list barely scratches the surface as these are just some of many contemporary very well designed applications. If you have further doubts, check out this list of darwinports programs ready to install on your Mac. If you would like a different package management system there is also Fink with thousands of great applications available. Windows may technically have more applications, but I doubt you'll find a comparable ratio of useful apps as you would for the Mac.
  • OSX phones home just as Windows does.
Also not true. Some have contended that OSX started sending information to Apple starting with 10.4.7. The truth of the matter is that visiting Apple's homepage gives them more information than this new process does.

  • Apple copied Microsoft or Microsoft copied Apple in Vista/OSX/Windows in general.
The funny thing about this myth is that it's absolutely true. To throw you for a further loop, it's probably intentional. People have been quick to forget about this little announcement. The two companies basically agreed at this point to allow implementations of each others' intellectual properties. Thus you are wasting your breath or typing in arguing this point at all.

These are just some of the common myths, if you want to argue against the Mac, please make sure you're doing so without using any of these points. It's just not conducive discussion :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ripping and encoding your movies for iTunes


One of the things I really enjoyed about iTunes 7 was the movies obviously. While many other users have covered in great detail the aspect of buying movies, it also works just as well to rip a movie that you like and encode it into an mp4 file for itunes.

The neat thing is...iTunes will take an mp4 video and automatically categorize it into its movie section. From there it's just a matter of choosing some different album artwork for it and you can even enjoy the coverflow browsing. Nothing to it.

Ripping and encoding via MactheRipper and Handbrake was easy enough, iTunes even made it simpler to import the file.




Now you'll notice that it simply grabs the first frame and makes that the artwork used by Coverflow. While in this case it works, if your dvd collection consists of Columbia-Tristar movies you'll get the exact same cover artwork. Thankfully it's easy as can be to just grab a file of your choice.
As you'll see it's just finding your cover art, saving the file, and using the "get info" menu of the movie file to add your own artwork.
Then we have the right coverflow look...
And now we have the best Batmobile yet doing its thing. This is one of my favorite movies by the way.