Friday, November 7, 2008

Abhor en Mass




Wow, its been over year since I actually added a post here. So why now you ask? Well, it's because I am pissed and I need to vent. Even if not a soul reads this, so what.

So on Tuesday, as many of you know, we elected ourselves a fine new President. I couldn't be happier about that. But for many people in four of our wonderful states it was a pretty bitter sweet moment. For just a few hours after our new fantastic President Elect gave his awesome speech, noting how far as a people we have come, many families and couples received results on some other ballot measures in their given states that left them in tears and dismay. I think you know what measures I am referring to.

In one simple day, four states chose to set the march for equal rights and civil liberties back generations. In one simple day, millions of Americans found themselves staring in the face of a civil rights catastrophe. They had lost their rights to Marry. In one state, they even lost rights to adopt children. Florida and Arizona had overwhelmingly high numbers in favor of the Gay Marriage ban. I think, to most, this wasn't very surprising. But California? Surly they wouldn't pass something as strikingly and obviously absurd as this? Not California! But alas, they did. Due to a cleverly crafted and highly funded deceptive marketing campaign, 52% of the voting population sold their last ounces of decency and integrity on lies based solely on hate and bigotry perpetrated by the church. The same churches who profess to save families, do so at the expensive of cleaving others with such malice it defies reason of any kind.

Those of us who fall on the side of actually believing and embracing that "our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal" wonder what the big fuss is all about. I mean, they are people right? They certainly look like people. They go to school, have jobs, pay taxes, come from and have families, and have children. What sets them so apart from you and me? Because they some how have the capacity to love another person regardless of their sex? Somehow this is supposed to make them "less" in everyone's eyes? I honestly don't get it. Homosexuals design your clothes, create the art you look at, write and perform your favorite music, write produce and star in your favorite movies and TV shows. You know that pretty wedding dress you wore to the best day of your life? Very possibly designed by someone who is gay. But you would take away the right for them to have that same best day. They are part of all of us.

What kind of people are we that we would lay siege to our own flesh and blood this way? It oddly stinks of the 1909 America Eugenics Movement that was surprisingly based here in California and was backed and funded by you know who, the christian faithful. 99 years later, and it seems some of us have learned nothing. This isn't going to make gay people go away. This isn't going to stop homosexuality or even stifle it. In fact I honestly believe you, the church, has done more to damage your own cause by way of this behavior.

I came across this quote some place. I am honestly not certain where it prevails from, but it says a lot. I believe it speaks to those who would use god as a reason to do these kind of things to their fellow man.

"You cannot strip away the parts you do not like and only love what is left. You also cannot say that you just love them as part of God's creations, because if you subtract the parts you do not agree with, they are no longer who God created them to be. They become your creation. Taking away the parts you do not want to love is taking away from God, since He made us all who we are for a reason."

The fact of the matter is that god is not the problem. It's you who uses god as a rationale to single out those who you deem are unfit and impose your ideals of what is an acceptable person is and what is not, that is the problem.

Someone who will proudly declare aloud without shame or fear of retribution that they are gay, and proud to be who they, are braver, more courageous, and entitled to marry than all 52% of you combined.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My digital musique!


So today a jury found 30 year old Jammie Thomas guilty on 24 counts of music sharing. Exciting stuff. After reading a bit it was clear she really didn't have a leg to stand on. Her defense was that someone else used her system and IP address to share the music. I spose this is possible although I have never seen it. More likely she was one of the many retards of the world who downloaded Kazza Lite in hopes of getting free MP3s and didn't realize or wonder what it might be doing in the background while she was enjoying all those free tunes that were poorly ripped by 17 year olds with no aspiration for ever seeing the sun or touching a real girl. It's more likely that she ripped some tunes from a CD to her PC and Kazza grabbed them up like its known to do and shared them out. Too bad for her. But there's more than a few reasons Kazza is detected as spyware. So do I think she got what she deserved? Well.. yes and no. She tried to pirate music and she got caught. It happens. Do I think $220K in damages to Sony BMG is reasonable? Hell no. Do I think Pirating music is ok? No I don't. But that is actually a very convoluted issue these days.

I don't think its ok to steal, but I also don't think its ok to be gouged. And that is what the RIAA and the music cartels seem to be doing over and over. I personally am tired of giving the RIAA anymore money. Don;t get me wrong. I buy music. I buy it all the time. Most of it comes from independents. I buy CDs at shows, or from iTunes generally. But I can't honestly see myself buying a CD at Best Buy, Target, or god forbid WALMART. EEK! I just can't do it. The music industry just keeps screwing the public. They don't care about making a quality product what so ever. If they did, they would be signing any number of the millions of eclectic musicians around the world who produce fantastic music of all kinds. Most of them will never get signed because lets face it, they don't sound like the current band dujour. So they sign bands, shove crappy throw away music down our throats and then go onto the next. There's no sense of art or the musical experience. Just a product aimed at selling as many copies as possible as fast as possible. They cease to be artists and become product builders. And the RIAA isn't making things any easier. What with DRM, different digital file types, fly by night music subscription services, and what not. How can we continue to enjoy the music and not worry about all the BS that comes with it? And for that matter pay a reasonable (to the consumer) price for it? With all the restrictions they keep trying to impose on music to keep people from copying it, its pretty much turned into hell. They constantly blame the consumer for their reduced profits. Well duh! make a better product and price it reasonably and we'll buy it. It's that simple. The RIAA has their heads so far up their ass's they literally think the only way to get their profits up is to charge more money. Well that doesn't work for the consumer. So they turn to pirating cause lets face it, who thinks $17.99 for a CD is worth it for one damn hit song? So then the record cartels claim that all the pirating causes them to lose profits. So they run out and think up ways to stop it. All the while not focusing on the one important thing... Good product at a reasonable price.

Remember the Sony Root Kit/spyware fiasco? Software that rendered thousands of PC inoperable cause Sony used hidden software to stop people from copying CDs?
Sony got nailed to the wall big time on that. But they still think that even ripping a CD to your iTunes is pirating even if you already own it. In the case against Jammie Thomas, Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, was quoted as saying "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.' Making 'a copy' of a purchased song is just 'a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy." So basically according to Sony, we are ALL pirates. It seems they would have us rebuy every song we own again just to get the digital form. Talk about gouging. So now they go out searching for pirates and suing them as lessons to the rest of us. David Hughes, RIAA's senior vice president, called it "education through litigation." So we are all guilty and all pirates. I think you get the idea as to why I am so pissy with the Music Moguls. Back in the 80s when CDs came out. they were uber costly. Even though the music industry insisted they would grow cheaper, they did not. We know for a fact that a CD with jacket case and artwork costs around $0.80 to produce in quantities. And thats probably conservative. When asked what we were paying for, we were told it was for the art of the music. Well considering even back in the days when you could buy singles on one of those mix tape machines for $.99 the recording industry has pretty much pegged a song price around a buck. So where's all the extra money going? For a $17.99 CD thats $7 extra bucks. You can't have me believe that money goes to the artist, or the store selling the product, Shipping, packaging, marketing, yadda yadda. Is all just a sham to empty our wallets so stuffed shirts can have their Cuban cigars and fast cars. Well I for one am done with this garbage. I'll buy music from the cartels again when they actually treat their consumers like customers, not criminals. I am not advocating piracy, nor am I saying I am going to pirate my music. There are plenty of fantastic independent musicians out there that want our business. Lets give it to them

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dismembering Grimace

A while back I had several heated discussions with some folks over whether Grimace from McDonald's originally had 2 or 4 arms. Most claimed I was crazy for thinking he had four arms. I insisted I was correct of course having recalled eating way to many McDonald's cookies and that the cookie version of Grimace had four arms and I used to eat them off first.

First off, there is a lot of people who want to know what the hell is Grimace actually. Someone finally called McDonald's and asked and was told Grimace is actually supposed to represent the shakes at the golden arches. Back before 1975 or so "Evil" Grimace was actually a four-armed creature that found it fun to go around ganking everyone's great tasting milk shakes. I spose one theory could be that the Hamburgler had the corner on organized crime in McDonald land and Grimace honing in on he turf just wouldn't do and he was stripped of his arms in some barbaric "eye for an eye" type justice. Or more likely, McDonald's was actually involved in a lawsuit by Kroft, the creators of H.R.Puff n' Stuff who claimed he was rip off of one of their characters. Some creepy spider thing who I don't really remember. I just remember the flute... creepy. Anyway, it's not certain if Grimace lost his extra 2 arms because of the lawsuit or if McDonald's simply decided to adopt a nicer version of the big purple blob.


But to prove he originally had 4 arms, here is a picture from an Official McDonald's poster from the 1970s. If you look closely you can also see mayor McCheese who is now a lost character. I guess you can only be elected mayor so many times before you get sent away in a happy meal.


The Poem on the poster(for easier reading)

"The Evil Grimace Ronald knows
is round and purple and has big toes
He carries shakes in every hand
as he scurries through McDonaldland"


(Part of this was originally e-mailed out a while back to a few friends, i thought I would post it here for fun)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

To Burn or not to Burn


Is Burnlounge a scam?

I was out one night a year or so ago watching a show a local band I see often puts on. In their set, one of the guys mentions a few resources for acquiring their music. One of these being something called Burnlounge. I had not heard of it before so I asked him about it. He explained that it was this brand new digital download service like iTunes only better. And that they also had their own store on this Burnlounge thing. I immediately thought "What a great idea for local bands!" Of course that was before I had done some research on the subject. I had thought it was a place for bands to sell their music with out needing the "big 5" to sign them and such. Well it is, ... and it isn't. My friend encouraged me to attend a "webnar" to to hear all about the product. After a few moments of it was knew exactly what it was. YAMLMS. (yet another multi-level marketing scheme) I was bored of it and decided to do some research on my own. The information i found was not overly pleasing on the subject. Most everywhere I went I either found marketing fluff that was often outrageous or folks arguing over the validity of the service.

My friend asked me what I thought. I simply explained that it was not "my kind of thing" and I stated that I would watch the trends and see how well the service was doing and possibly revisit it later. Well I watched and researched and heres what I learned.

On the social side of it, I quickly noticed the huge amount of misinformation tossed about from both sides of the user/consumer community. Both pro and con points of view state facts that are blatant lies or have no supporting data for their claims whatsoever. Including those that claim they make $90K in just a few short months. Some posting information about the services lack of compatibility, others claiming they are making money hand over fist. Others claiming that all theses celebrities are partners/members. I always find it amazing the names people will throw around to give credence their point of view. Notably Rick Dee's. This is a man who is responsible for Disco Duck mind you. Last time I saw him he was in a commercial shaking his ass with 2 balloons stuffed in his pants. That doesn't exactly give me a warm Burnlounge fuzzy. They also sling about Justin Timberlake's name, who for some odd reason has lack of content on the Burnlounge store.
I also ran across a post where someone had said that they have their kids buying from their Burnlounge store. This puzzled me. I sure hope they are living on their own and generating their own income because it seems a tad ridiculous to give your kids allowance money made in part from your Burnlounge store just so they can cycle it back into your store. I don't really thinks thats income. Others post the typical "fluff" that most often seems like it was cut and pasted from a brochure. There also seemed to be an overwhelming number of users who complained about the customer service, problems downloading, missing passwords/ accounts during the upgrade, and bad quality of the music. Yet another not so warm fuzzy. This type of business model also carries way to many negative "vibes" for most people and Burnloungers will run into the same responses and treatment as those Amway folks get. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I wanna be known amongst my friends and family as the "Burn Guy."

So on May 1st, Burnlounge 2.0 launched. With out much fanfare mind you. The creators had announced that they would be making some changes in the business model including free stores and DRM free content. I'd imagine I'd be upset having spent close to $400 on an investment thats now free however stripped down it may be. I visited their site today. www.burnlounge.com redirects you to corp.burnlounge.com in which you are treated to a bunch of videos giving you all kinds of info however it seems to lack all the important stuff including a link into any burnpages or the ability to register or download the 2.0 client like the video shows. Interesting I think. If you click on their contact info, all you get is an address. No phone numbers, no email addresses. The press room section is somewhat of a joke. Most of the newer clips are to blogs that mention Burnlounge somewhere in their text or warnings of an impending iTunes take over. The frontburners section where they mention celebrities simply links you nowhere or in a circle. I actually had to make a guess at someones Burnpage in order to even find a download for the client software or be able to register. After looking at the tech pages and FAQs this only gives more credence to the idea that Burnlounge is not in the business to sell music, but relies completely on its consumers to bring users to the fold by trying to enlist them as store owners.

As for the non social side of Burnlounge, I think it will run its course just like all those MLMs selling power after deregulation did. Once unsuspecting folks been parted with their money and they have closed their stores and moved on to something else you wont hear much about it. Yes folks, it does work for some people, but the ethics behind it are an entirely different matter. Its a business model that will run out of steam leaving some people with a good amount of earnings and most others with nothing to show for it. Anyone who took a basics economics course can easily see why this business model is a horrid idea for folks who don't get in at the top level. Burnlounge will need to continue to twist this model to gain new users until it squeezes the life out of it. Oddly most of the pro supporters routinely post "wait a few months" and you'll see. Well I've waited over a year and haven't seen Burnlounge penetrate the digital market at all. Even the crappy Zune Market Place gets more exposure than Burnlounge. I don't see Apple or Microsoft quaking in their boots. Nor do I ever see Burnlounge mentioned at all in any articles that refer to the digital media services. I have seen no published data of earnings and market share what so ever. (this is your hint to post a link for me as I am seriously interested in seeing it)

All I know is that any business that says "get in now before its too late" realizes its own longevity as a business model and also understands that there will be a point when it no longer becomes profitable. Interestingly enough, my friend's band no longer mentions Burnlounge as a resource for their music. Hmm, wonder why that is?

So is Burnlounge a scam? Well thats that depends on your point of view. From a consumer who just wants music, yeah it is. It offers you nothing you can't get elsewhere for less hassle. But when you look at it as a whole, its doing exactly what it was designed to do. Make Stephen Murray rich, not you.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A castle is a castle?

As most of you know there are 5 Disney theme parks now. Disneyland being the oldest and Hong Kong being recently completed and open for business. I plan on visiting them all. Chase recently had this great idea to visit one Disney park every 2 years till we see them all. I can honestly say i was overjoyed by this idea. :) So I was thinking about the Disney castles at each park and decided to take a look and see who's castle is where. And I noticed something interesting. out of 5 parks, there are only 2 different castles but 3 different architectural styles. I always knew that the Castle at Disneyland was Sleeping Beauty's. Well, thats not entirely true. When Disneyland opened in 1955, the movie Sleeping Beauty was still in post production so for a very short time the castle was actually Snow Whites castle. As we all know, poor Snow White never had a castle in the movie. She lived with 7 creepy dudes in a hut made of mud. Personally I think she deserved a castle, but after Sleeping Beauty was released the castle was renamed.
Then in 1971 a second castle was completed in Disneyworld Florida. This Castle was Cinderella's. Sorry Snow White, no love for you there either. But lucky Sleeping Beauty got herself a second castle when Disneyland Tokyo opened April 15th 1983. This one matching the same design as the Florida castle. Again poor Snow White got the short end of the rampart.


In 1992 Le Ch√Ęteau de la Belle au Bois Dormant was completed in Paris France. This castle also belongs to Sleeping Beauty. It has a newer updated design. It is much larger than her first castle in Anaheim and is home to a sleeping dragon.
Snow White loses again. But she had yet another chance to have a castle to call home when work began on Disneyland in Hong Kong. Would she be lucky this time? Alas no. September 12th 2005 the park in Hong Kong opened with a 3rd castle dedicated to Sleeping Beauty matching the exact design of the first castle in California. Poor Snow White. Perhaps someday. But not today. I honestly think she deserves a castle. She was the star of the first Disney full length feature animated film Disney made, came back from the dead, had to live with 7 grubby midget miners each with their own unmedicated social disease, and got robbed of the castle in Disneyland! What did Cinderella do? Lost a slipper. Sure she had 2 crappy stepsisters, and dancing in glass can't be super comfortable, but at least she had a house, and a driving pumpkin. She didn't have it that bad. And what did sleeping Beauty do to deserve not one but THREE castles? Thats an awfully good haul for a teenager who's claim to fame was napping all day don't ya think? Sure an evil fairy was trying to kill her, and she'll never try to spin yarn again, but isn't that what servants are for? Well just so you know Snow White, I'm still rootin' for ya'. And a 6th Disney park would make a nice round number. And besides, it would probably be nice to have a castle that isn't a copycat of all the others. Maybe something with a few flying buttresses!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Yay for Cat Girls!


Cat girls, also know as nekomimi in Japan, seem to be a regular theme with a lot of Anime today. Cat girls date back thousands of years. Most notably but not limited to the Egyptian culture. Whats the draw to girls mixed with kitty's? It probably something along the lines of this small formula. Girls = Cute, Cats = Cute, Girls + Cats = Super CUTE! All I know is that Cat Girls are fun! If you wanna know more, Google it. You'll be overwhelmed with info you never wanted to know on the subject.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Apple TV


A few short months ago Apple Inc. announced its new toy, the Apple TV. I watched Steve Jobs keynote as he showed off its various features and quality. I was instantly in love with this new marvel. I had just updated to a TV that had a true HD input and I was starting to build a video library on my computer to watch and share. But until the Apple TV my only means of sharing my videos and stuff was via my hacked Xbox that I had turned into a media center. It worked well, but was a tad difficult to move videos to and from it. So when Apple announced they were shipping the Apple TV I pre-ordered that very day. It came a few weeks later in its pretty shinny little box. I opened it right away and hooked it via HDMI - DVI cable to a monitor I had in my office. It was awesome. Sharp graphics, simple interface, wonderful navigation. I didn't and still haven't had time still to fully appreciate the eccentricities of this fantastic device. But I wanted to share some of my first impressions of it both good and bad. So before you run out and buy one for yourself, give this a quick read.

You can read all the reasons that make this so great on the Apple site. So I'm going to try and stick to the Pro's from a truly geek point of view.

The Pro's..
Connects to just about any iTunes Library and lets you play the content. So long as the Video is MP4 H.264. Even though iTunes can play XVID and DIVX (if you ha
ve the codec installed) it will only show and play MP4. But thats not a problem since you can use Quicktime to export anything it plays to be compatible on the Apple TV. While I'm sure many "converters" will come out in the next few months you can get a simple "how to" here.

The hard disk is totally upgradeable by the end user with little effort! It ships with a tiny 40 gig drive for storing content locally from a "synced" iTunes library. I myself am looking forward to popping a 160 Gig disk into this as soon as I can. It will of course void the warranty. So I will probably wait a while to make sure the thing isn't defective. But there is a great guide here that tells you how to upgrade it.

It is basically just a PC thats tailored to run as a media center. The good thing about this is that its pretty much infinitely upgradeable by Apple to add countless features. Not to mention, we will see TONS of hacks and upgrades for the box. I honestly can't wait to see what the smart guys come up with. They already figured out how to make it play DIVX and XVID :)

The Cons..
So what don't I like? Well thats mostly glitches and software over sites. Lots of which will probably get fixed in updates over the next year. I do wish it was capable of steaming photos instead of just syncing them. But I suspect this is due to the design of iPhoto more than the Apple TV. Considering the numerous folks asking for this feature, its likely it will be added at some point. It has various bugs too. But I'm not too concerned about that as those will be fixed soon enough. There is however one thing that does bug me. I can live with out it being true 1080i for now and that it doesn't record. But my biggest issues is its inability to decode and play true 5.1 audio. I love my surround system and movies sound so awesome on it. its hard to go back to ProLogic from DTS/Dolby Surround. While the specs for the Apple TV says it plays 5.1, thats not exactly true. So I have basically ended up watching most things with just the TV's speakers as the stereo only shows the connections to be 2 channel stereo and my bass box never turns on. :( There is a good article here about what exactly 5.1 support means in the Apple TV. I can only hope this will be fixed. Until 5.1 is there. I'll stick to buying DVDs of my favorite films.

Over all I am super happy with my purchase and I look forward to using it. I don't see myself using this as my main way of viewing theatrical movies or TV shows any time soon. I am much more excited about the idea of being able to see all my photos and play slide shows and browse my music and play it with out needing to go back to my computer to pick a new album. I will use it to show home movies and short videos I get off the net. I have lots of fun plans for the Apple TV and I have already thought up some fun uses for it outside of its intended use.

Although Apple TV isn't perfect, it's a HUGE step in the right direction.