Saturday, September 30, 2006

Felicitous

I shouldn't watch Felicity reruns first thing in the morning. I get too worked up. It'll all end so badly, Felicity! You'll barely work after graduation, and Ben will be attacked by spandex-clad werewolves. Noel, who you've forsaken, will end up marrying Sydney Bristow, but, when he fails to get his movie made, will kill Julia Salinger's friends. Sydney will leave him for the hotter but still sensitive and attentive Michael Vaughn, breaking Noel's heart yet again. Then she'll leave him, inexplicably, for Daredevil and their baby will have a complex about not being as famous as Suri Cruise. Ben's best friend, meanwhile, will join the CIA, but after falling in love with a comatose zombie will get a job as a commercial pilot and be eaten by an unseen monster after crashing on a desert island, and eventually develop superpowers. And the Pink Ranger will never be heard from again, leaving Japan totally defenseless from giant low-budget monsters. See what you've wrought, Felicity???

Of course it's possible that I'm mixing up fiction and reality again.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Square Pegs

So we got a rug for the office to appease our downstairs neighbors. It seems to be the most problematic room for their noise issues (it's a bedroom for them, we have rolly chairs and a tendency to sit in them after midnight), and it's the room we care least about design-wise (it's sort of our catch-all, whatever-doesn't-have-a-home-elsewhere-goes-in-here room) so it's the best compromise for everyone. We got something very simple and plain, and, resistant to the idea as I was, I actually really like the way it looks in the room.

The room is a tricky size, and standard rug dimensions were making us unhappy for a while, but we figured out a way to make all the furniture work (nothing half off and half on the rug) with a border around the rug (yay, we can still see the wood!) and ordered something. So here's the thing: The room is 8 feet, 2 inches wide. The rug is supposed to be 8 feet wide. Only it's not. It's at least 8'5". Given the nature of the room, we're sucking it up and letting it curl up a little on one side. The edge of the rug comes right to the top of the baseboard, so it could almost look deliberate. I mean, in a fucked up world where people carpet their baseboards.

But it's the principle of the thing that pisses me off. Why on earth would you sell something with a size on it if it's not actually that size? Do they think these things don't matter? I mean, it has to fit in a room! 5 inches is a lot, all things considered.

I just hope those bitches downstairs appreciate all of this.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Little Boxes

I didn't think I'd enjoy watching video on the iPod. If there were a 40+ GB, non-flash-memory iPod without video right now, I would have bought it. I'd experimented with video on the PSP, and it was surprisingly good, but about as small as I thought I'd want to go. Especially since that has a wide screen and didn't require letterboxing, which would make things even smaller. The other thing is I refuse to pay to download television. I pay too much for cable as it is. I can see how it's a good option for a lot of people, but $2 a show for something I can catch on the DVR is too much for me. And if I want to own a movie, chances are I'd rather own the DVD with all the extras than just a download.

And yet....

There were some free shows on iTunes when I got my new 'Pod, and I was even interested in a couple of them so I checked them out, just to see what TV on the iPod looked like. It wasn't so bad. Not really good for anything dark (unless you're going to watch in a pitch black room) or anything really quiet (unless you're going to watch somewhere with little ambient noise), but for a sitcom or music video or something I've already seen, it was perfectly tolerable. What really put me over the edge was Weeds; I'd gotten hooked on the first season through Netflix, but season two is currently on and we don't get Showtime, so I had to download. Then I realized that a half-hour TV show is really 22-25 minutes, which makes it ideal to watch during cardio at the gym. NYSC has those little TVs but there's usually nothing good on, and I really like being distracted from the fact that I'm exercising. So just sit the iPod on top of the machine and bam, personal TV.

Once I realized I liked doing this, it was all over. I have a stack of DVDs I bought but haven't watched, and I started to rip them for the iPod. (I could have done this with the PSP too, but that only has 1 GB of memory, would mean yet another device to carry, and see above re: the gym.) The first project was Season 1 of The Muppet Show, which is ideal in every way for the gym. Who cares if I'm sweaty and miserable, who can be unhappy when there are muppets and 70s C-list stars? I've now moved on to movies, some with commentary tracks. Since I'm ripping things only for the iPod, the files can actually be quite small (as opposed to Apple's movie downloads which are meant to be watched - if you want to - on a larger screen), so I won't fill up my iPod or my computer. Though I'll probably delete most stuff as I watch it anyway, since the point is just to watch it on the go, not to have it in my pocket forever. Though I did put Star Wars on the 'Pod, just because I could.

I'm sure I had a point to this post when I started it, but it's been that kind of a day. Anyway, yeah, technology good. Muppets even better.

Blogging about blogging. How very 2004.

My third bloggiversary came and went unnoticed on September 7th. Unnoticed by me, I mean, I wouldn't expect anyone else to notice. Completely coincidentally, this is my 700th post, which boggles (bloggles?) my mind a little bit. When I started this I didn't think I had that much to say. (Some would say I actually didn't.)

I switched to the beta of the new and improved Blogger, primarily so I could add category labels to posts, something I've wished I could do for a while. So I've been looking at old posts as I go through and label the archives. A lot of it is better than I thought, if I do say so myself! It's also reminded me of the importance of keeping a journal offline too, since I keep coming across things I'd completely forgotten (I seem to have raved about several short-lived TV shows I no longer remember even existing), and it's nice to be reminded of things I did or thought or said.

All the back-editing has had the side-effect of artificially inflating my Sitemeter stats, because whenever you update your blog it gets put into the rotation of random sites accessed by the Blogger NavBar at the top of the screen. By editing old posts all day long, I'm apparently keeping it in there a lot. I got really excited for a minute when I thought I had 60 real hits in a day! Oh well. Hi to any new visitors, and thanks to the 5 or 10 regulars. I'd like it if more people read The JC, I guess. What's the point of doing this publicly instead of just emailing my friends if only my friends read it? Plus more hits are good for my ego. But I've learned in three years that I just enjoy the act of blogging, the excuse to write and teach myself some HTML, so I'm still here.

Speaking of HTML, and back to the Blogger Beta: they've added this cool new interface so that customizing your template and adding things to your sidebar is a breeze, and doesn't require messing around with code. Unfortunatly, I now can't mess around with the code (not sure if it's actually impossible or if it's just too new-fangled for me to understand), so I only have control over the things Blogger gives me control over. And as you know, I'm a control freak, so I haven't switched to one of the new templates yet.

I also can't get Haloscan comments to work in the new templates, so if anyone knows how to do that please let me know. I seem to lose a big chunk of my archives when I turn on Blogger's built-in commenting system (which didn't exist back when I started). Plus, I don't want to lose all the old comments anyway by ditching Haloscan. So that's a big thing keeping me from making the full switch.

You know me, I just love a new toy. And I'm temping, so having something to play with all day in front of the computer is a damn good thing!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tickle This!

This might be the creepiest thing I've ever seen.

I know I've long said that robots would take over the world, but I just figured they'd be more like Cylons and less like retarded muppets.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Yay!

I'm in the Blogger Beta! And what perfect timing, too, with my booooring temp job! Look for post labels to start appearing, and maybe I'll even switch over to one of the snazzy new templates.

God, I need a life....

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Netflix Stalking

During my time off I spent some serious quality time with my Netflix Queue, so I really enjoyed this article about Netflix Friends and wanted to share it.

My own queue (and my Amazon wishlist) is simply a repository for anything I might ever want to watch someday, and it's massive. When I read about something in Entertainment Weekly it goes on one of those lists. It's easier than remembering it later on. I reorder my queue all the time, moving the things I really want to watch to the top, so that a disc can sit at #10, patiently waiting for me to allow it to come home, for years.

I shudder to think what a casual observer might make of my Netflixation. But I always say yes to Netflix Friends because I want to see their queues too!

More iGripes

When you play podcasts via the Podcast menu on the iPod, it will play the single podcast you've selected, then jump back to the main menu. I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea. Most of my podcasts are less than 5 minutes long, and when I'm in the mood to listen to people talking instead of to music, it's for more than 5 mintues. Having to dig out the iPod, navigate back to the podcasts and find the next one while on a crowded subway, walking in the rain, washing dishes, cleaning the apartment, or at the gym, (or, I would imagine, driving), is highly inconvenient.

There was a simple workaround: Make a Smart Playlist in iTunes with all your podcasts ("Podcast is true"), perhaps eliminating some that you don't want to listen to in this manner ("Name does not contain ____" or "Album does not contain ____"), and you've got a playlist that the iPod treats just like any other, playing it through, shuffling it, whatever. When you sync, iTunes still knows you've listened to a podcast and updates it accordingly. (It's a Smart Playlist as opposed to a manual one, so that newly downloaded 'casts are added automatically.)

For those of you with older iPods, this trick will still work. Apparently, though, Tuesday's software update "fixed" it. My iPod now treats a podcast as a standalone track no matter where I source it from. So after two minutes of Bill Maher or thirty seconds of The Onion Radio News, I have to go find the next one, instead of it just playing automatically.

Why would they do this? And do any of you geeks out there know of a new workaround, or something in the settings I might be missing?

(Also, when is Blogger going to let me in to the Beta so I can start tagging posts and those of you who don't care about this can just start skipping anything marked "geek?")


Update: The old playlist apparently works if the iPod is not set to Shuffle. Not really what I want, since listening to many NPR podcasts in a row can get really tedious really fast, but it's something. Any track I select from the playlist with the iPod set to shuffle (either songs or albums) comes up as "1 of 1" and throws me back to the main menu when it's done. It's a puzzlement!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

iBleah

I'm hating the new version of iTunes. I hate that I can't view my entire Library (music, video, podcasts, etc.) all at once (I mean, not even multiple video types together?), I hate that the new headings take up so much space in the sidebar, and I hate the overall design - that baby blue background in the store, the weird overuse of capital letters ("EXCLUSIVELY ON iTunes"), all the fake shiny. What's with the new shiny glossy screen trend anyway? On things that are meant to be carried around and not used in places where one can control the lighting? The reflections off my iPod and PSP screens (not to mention the fingerprints) drive me nuts. Why has Apple decided to make iTunes mimick this on my wonderfully easy-to-read matte Powerbook? is this what we can expect everything to look like in Leopard or Ocelot or whatever?

The new iPod summary screen is cool, if essentially useless. Ditto Cover Flow. Sure, it looks neat, but what's the point? "You can flip through your digital music and video collection the same way you flip through CDs." Well, but not really, 'cause my CDs have spines and I can view many at a time. So, pretty but slow and with no real function. (Now Cover Flow in the store would be handy. Remember going to a used CD store and picking something up just because the cover caught your eye? Sadly, many of you probably don't. But I do. Hey Somerville kids, is Disc Diggers even still there?)

Oh, and look, here's a report from a very reliable geek of losing all his purchased music when he updated. Great.

I'll always prefer OS X to Windows (writing this in Explorer in XP only confirms that), but I guess I'm just tired of Apple "fixing" things that ain't broke. Meanwhile I'm still waiting for some better features in Address Book. I also wish their different departments would get together a little more. They work so hard to make everything look the same, but it doesn't function the same way. Letting us organize iTunes playlists and iCal calendars into folders? Brilliant. How about letting us do the same with Address Book groups and iPhoto albums? Holding down Option in Address Book highlighs any groups the selected contact is in. Why doesn't that work with playlists in iTunes? For my money, it's all better than the Microsoft alternatives, but why can't it be better still?

I had to upgrade my iTunes to keep using the Music Store, which also irks me - the lack of choice to just keep using what I was happy with. Is iTunes 7 slow because I don't have an Intel Mac? Probably. Will I have to buy Tabby to get updates to the bundled software? Definitely. Will it run slowly on my G4? Possibly. Will I be irritated? For sure. Will something shiny catch my eye and make me forget I was cranky today? Who are we kidding - of course!

(Yup, still on the cold meds.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Soup's Off

After three blissful weeks away from any sort of gainful employment, I was supposed to go back to Foreign Law Firm yesterday. So naturally, I woke up with a terrible sore throat and called in sick. Look, if my body doesn't want to go to work so badly that it got sick, who am I to argue?

The cold has migrated north a bit, so that I no longer fear air conditioning and can muddle through work with DayQuil, so today's crisis is that I'm craving soup. I never crave soup. I'm mistrustful of soup. I'm not sure why I fear drinking my lunch, but I do. I mean, you never know what's going to be in soup, do you? I ordered chicken noodle at Pax once and it had like ten different vegetables in it. Potatoes! You know what I expect to find in chicken noodle soup? Chicken and noodles. And I don't think my hatred of celery is unusual (it's not like I'm some freak who hates chocolate), so why do people think it's okay to just stick little stealthy bits of celery in things? This goes for tuna salad too! Anyway, I went to check out the soups at Daily Soup and there was something called "chicken pot pie." Because eating a pot pie with a knife and fork takes too much effort? You need it mushed up in a bowl?

I ordered the chicken noodle but I haven't tried it yet. It's looking at me funny, like it's up to no good. Shifty, I tell you!

Maybe it's time to lay off the DayQuil.

Monday, September 11, 2006

"It isn't a train wreck – it moves too slowly." –IMDB review

Months ago, a friend of mine gave me a VHS copy of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special (I don't ask where she gets such things), and it took me until now to muster up the courage to watch it.

The most offensive thing about it is not that it's almost entirely in wookie – essentially a very lengthy, fuzzy, pantomime. It's not the painfully dull sequences having nothing to do with the "plot," of wookies watching TV. It's not that each of those sequences features Harvey Korman, including one where he's a 6-armed Julia Child. It's not the recycled footage every time they need a shot of a space ship or Darth Vader. It's not the way the film's cast members were forced to whore themselves out with dialogue worse than in Episode I. It's not the tasty treat called "wookie-ookies." It's not the virtual reality musical/sexual fantasy Chewbacca's dad has about Diahnn Carroll. It's not that Bea Arthur plays the bartender and sings a Kander-and-Ebb-style number to the tune of the Cantina song. It's not that Bob Mackie did the costumes. It's not that I expect better from Bruce Villanch. It's not even Carrie Fisher's singing.

It's that Chewbacca's father and son are named Itchy and Lumpy.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Um, hi?

I wish Faustus would warn me when he links to me so I can write a good post for the top of the page.

Yeah, not so much.