Wednesday, May 31, 2006

10 flagrant grammar mistakes that make you look stupid

I may be guilty of some of these from time to time, but here's a pretty good list of the top grammar mistakes made while writing emails, letters, (ahem!) blog posts, etc.

Warning: PDF Link (via Digg)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Good news for consumers

It's not official, but it looks like the major Hollywood studios are working out (or have already worked out) a deal that prevents movies from using the Image Constraint Token (ICT) in Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs. For the uninitiated, the ICT is a digital flag that movie studios can use to "protect" their movie content. When used, the high-resolution picture can be restricted to players that are connected to TV's using an encrypted HDMI connection (also known as HDCP). People connecting their Blu-ray or HD-DVD players to their TV's using standard analog connections, like composite or component video, wouldn't be able to view their DVD's in their high-resolution glory. Likely they'd be stuck with an current DVD generation quality picture.

Finally, it seems that the big wigs up top have come to understand the backlash that would ensue if customers were forced to upgrade their brand new HDTV's to play the new DVD's. Enforcing the ICT this early could effectively kill any demand for the new technology for the average customer, leaving it in the realm of audio- and video-philes. If true, this "grace period" would hopefully give the market the time they need to upgrade to a compatible TV. Personally, I don't like the fact that I'm going to have to buy a new TV, but at least now I have four years to do it.
The move would allow owners of analog HD sets -- not to mention gamers who pick up Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD drive or Sony's non-HDMI junior Playstation 3 -- to watch their discs in full HD format, rather than being forced to endure downgrades to 540p. Of course, even if the unconfirmed agreement exists, after 2010 all bets are off. But, by then, you will presumably be ready to pick up a new HD set (or Xbox 720 or PS4). And, if we're lucky, the format war may be over by then as well, so you'll actually be able to buy an HD disc player that will be useful for more than a few months.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mapping Digg Traffic

Sean Hogan, my latest hero, has set up a handy little application called Geo Visitors, which uses geolocation to track where website visitors are coming from. It then takes that information and plots it in Google Maps. Cooler yet, he's making the tool freely available to the public. Now I have another tool to see how few people actually visit my blog (during the past 24 hours at least). See how pathetically unpopular I am by clicking on the "GEO VISITORS" badge on the right-hand side of this page.

Click through to see what this map should look like after you get a front page story on Digg.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

BBC's case of mistaken identity

Apparently, the BBC mistook a cabbie waiting outside the BBC Television Centre for an expert on the online music industry. While waiting for a client, a studio manager made the mistake:
Confused but co-operative, he agreed to follow the manager to a studio, where he was promptly fitted with a microphone and placed in front of a camera.
As you'll see in the clip below, he was more than a little surprised at being introduced as online music expert Guy Kewney, but he managed to play along well enough. Meanwhile, the real Guy Kewney watched with disbelief from the reception area. Apparently this shouldn't have been an easy mistake to make:
[T]he stocky black man with the strong French accent bore little resemblance to the picture on the expert’s website, which showed a slim white man with blue eyes and blond hair.
According to the Times Online, the cabbie though that the interview "was OK, but I was a bit rushed."

Update: Apparently this guy wasn't a cabbie, but another guy named "Guy" who was applying for an IT position at the BBC. It's still pretty funny, but an easier mistake for the studio manager to make. One wonders if he got the job.


Rodney Mullen [Video]

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

R.I.P. Boardwalk Casino [Video]

The old Boardwalk Hotel & Casino on the Vegas Strip was demolished today. Here's the video:


World Flood Maps

Alex Tingle has put together some cool world-wide flood maps using Google Maps and NASA elevation data. It looks like my place would be underwater if the oceans rose about 14 meters.

Link (via Digg)

Mike Metzger jumps the fountains at Caesers Palace [Video]

Mike Metzger jumps the fountains at Caesers Palace, landing himself in the Guinness Book of World Records. Evel Knievel was the last person to try this, and he ended up breaking nearly every bone in his body and put himself into a coma.

Link (via Sean Hogan)

Monday, May 08, 2006 E3 Wish List is posting some E3 coverage of its own to try to keep the spotlight on Microsoft during the expo. The article "Your E3 Wish List" has got me thinking. Will we see all of the items mentioned in this post during the show? A lot of these have been rumored, and others have been "confirmed," but I find it interesting that all of this would be mentioned by an "official" source.

Are these purely musings of the forum crowd, or is a teaser for what we should expect in the coming days?

Game info:
  • Halo 3
  • Gears of War
  • Huxley
  • NCAA Football
  • Dead Rising
  • Unreal Tournament 2007 (!)
  • Viva Piñata
  • Dreamcast game library
  • Retro XBLA titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Golden Axe or Double Dragon
  • Xbox 360 camera
  • HD-DVD add-on
  • Wireless headset
  • Larger capacity hard drive
  • Is MS making a handheld?
Xbox Dashboard Upgrades:
  • DirecTV blade
  • Increased friends list capacity
  • Dashboard integration with forums
  • MSN Messenger-like interface in the dashboard (this one was highlighted in the post)
Update: Yeah. Pretty much all of the above was talked about save for UT2007, Dreamcast XBLA titles, the larger HD and handheld. DirecTV wasn't mentioned as far as I can tell either. Of course, I wasn't there, so I wasn't privyy to any backroom conversations. Then again, I probably wouldn't be privyy to those conversations even if I was there.


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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The conversation that never officially took place

Stephen Speicher, a contributor to the weekly opinion column, The Clicker has some interesting musings about Apple's intentions in the Media Center space. Word on the street as of late has indicated that their Mac Mini machine coupled with Front Row could turn into a mean home entertainment center that could compete with Microsoft's Media Center Edition PC.

Although the Mac Mini looks promising, Apple's got some work to do before it can be a worthy contender. Most notably, it needs a TV tuner and some DVR capabilities. I have my own opinions about whether or not Apple will ever do this considering the revenue streams coming from iTunes, but Stephen makes an proffers some intriguing food for thought in the form of a conversation between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates that never took place.

...Or did it?
You could all but see the gears turning in his head as he pondered the statement. "Clearly," he thought to himself, "I've misheard. He can't seriously be saying what I think he's saying."

"Excuse me?" Bill replied assuming that he would hear something different the second time around.

"That's right. Apple wants to build a Media Center PC."
I guess we could always ask the NSA. More after the jump.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Feds Go All Out to Kill Spy Suit

On January 31 of this year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a California class action lawsuit against AT&T accusing it of complicity with the National Security Agency's (NSA) alleged wiretapping program. They assert that the company violated federal law by providing the government with access to "two massive databases that included both the contents of its subscribers' communications and detailed transaction records, such as numbers dialed and internet addresses visited" (Wired). In this case, massive is an understatement, as one of the databases is known to contain 312 terabytes of call records dating back to 2001.

The government has since stepped in, invoking state secrets privilege in an attempt to quash the case:
That privilege allows the government to tell a judge that a civil case may expose information detrimental to national security, and to ask that testimony or documents be hidden or a lawsuit dismissed. That extraordinary executive power was established in English common law and upheld in a 1953 Supreme Court case involving the fatal crash of a secret bomber.
According to Wired, this type of request is almost always agreed to, as judges often take such secrecy claims at face value. According to William Weaver:
"There has never been an unsuccessful invocation of the state secrets privilege when national security is involved. The (EFF) suit is over."
A spokesperson for the Justice Department denied that the government is trying to cover up any wrongdoing:
"When we file certifications of the state secrets privilege, it is because it is felt that certain disclosures will be injurious to the country[.]"
Link (via Digg)

All quotes from the linked article except where otherwise noted.

Colbert wasn't that funny?

I watched the videos from Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner (WHCD), and I have to say that I'm not impressed. I hate to say that since I'm a big fan of the Daily Show, and while I wasn't immediately taken with The Colbert Report, it has really improved over the past season. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Noam Scheiber from the New Republic writes:
Colbert's problem, blogosphere conspiracy theories notwithstanding, is that he just wasn't very entertaining. Most of the funny lines had been recycled from his show; the new material was all pretty tired--including a way-too-long video presentation whose big joke was that ... Helen Thomas is old and batty.
I read the transcript of the performance before seeing the video, and have to say that I was pretty impressed. Ok, perhaps "excited" is a better term. After seeing the video, I felt let down.

Right now, Colbert is being held up as a hero for his "virtuoso" performance. Why is that? Scheiber goes on to suggest that the response in the blogspace may be "evidence of a new Stalinist aesthetic on the left--until recently more common on the right--wherein the political content of a performance or work of art is actually more important than its entertainment value."

Is that true? Are we more wrapped up in the message than the quality of the delivery? Are we falling victim to the cult of personality accompanying our champions? Time will tell, but it seems likely that this performance will be hailed as one of the great "fuck you's" to the right of recent times, akin to Jon Stewart's infamous appearance on CNN's "Crossfire" or his rounds sparring with Bill O'Reilly from Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor."

I don't think that this performance is worthy of being compared to those moments. I do think that Colbert has it in him, but he just missed it this time. From Scheiber:
Jon Stewart often says he hates when his audience cheers; he wants them to laugh. My sense is that, had most of the bloggers complaining about the WHCD been around Saturday night, there would have been lots of cheering but not much more laughing.
Link (via Romenesko)

More press:
Ignoring Colbert: A Small Taste of the Media's Power to Choose the News (The Huffington Post)
Ignoring Colbert, Part Two (The Huffington Post)
The Report on Colbert: Unfunny (The Huffington Post)
Colbert, Still Digesting His Correspondents' Dinner Reception (The Washington Post)
WH Correspondents Dinner Organizers Brush Off Criticism (Editor & Publisher)
Journalism's Broken Windows (The Huffington Post)
The New Bush Twins: Double Dubya (The Washington Post)
The truthiness hurts (

Update: Even more press:
Harry Taylor v. Stephen Colbert

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert roasts Bush at White House press corps dinner

Stephen Colbert, in the guise of his character on his Comedy Central show The Colbert Report, roasted Bush and the press at a press corps dinner at the White House. His speech came up last and left Bush and company a little uncomfortable by the time he was through. Here are some choice moments:
Turning to the war, he declared, "I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."


Observing that Bush sticks to his principles, he said, "When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday - no matter what happened Tuesday."


Addressing the reporters, he said, "Let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know--fiction."


[Q]uite a few sitting near him looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting--or too much speaking "truthiness" to power.
These moments were captured in all their sarcastic glory on C-SPAN, and as per usual, here are the YouTube videos for you to enjoy:

Update: It looks like the YouTube videos are down, so here's a Google Video link.

Video Link #1

Video Link #2

Video Link #3

Link (via BoingBoing)