Monday, June 30, 2008

Netflix relents, account profiles to stay. I'm relieved I won't have to follow-through on my threat to go down to the one-out-at-a-time plan.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The applications are in from the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas class action settlement: 2,676 claim to be offended. Personally, I printed out a settlement form, because I was in the class covered by the lawsuit, but I decided it wasn't worth the loss of self-respect that would come from lying under threat of perjury and claiming to be offended. Of course, I was only getting $10; had I somehow been able to find my receipt and could have collected $35, I might have gotten over my reservations.

My favorite part of the article is on page two, talking about the depositions of the game-buyers who did claim to be offended. Brenda Stanhouse, negligent mother, claims to have not been aware that the game features prostitutes, or that you can kill said prostitutes and steal back the money you paid them for sex acts. "I'm aware that there is killing in the game," she explained, "I wasn't aware of the stealing." Good god, stealing, you say? Next, they'll be dancing!

According to the article, a lawyer is trying to get the settlement thrown out. And I wish him good luck. The part I object to was having to affirm that I was in fact offended. If I bought the game, I should get the money. Just leave it at that.

I wonder if Brenda Stanhouse's son got GTA: IV.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A fourth Helix High sex scandal emerges.
A collection of photographs of Twin Peaks filming locations, then and now. Which reminds me: since the second season came out on DVD, I've repeatedly said I'm going to watch the series from beginning to end, and usually get distracted by a shiny object or something about four episodes in. I'll have to give that nother go.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What killed the semicolon? Paul Collins suggests that the telegraph didn't help, as it priced the semi-colon at $5 a use. But the Semi-Colon will always have a place in my writing: Collins notes, "The semicolon allows woozy clauses to lean on each other like drunks for support."

In any event, I'm just grateful this blog's semicolon label is getting some use; I'd hate to think I created it for naught.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Netflix eliminating user profiles September 1st. In other news, I will be changing to the one-out-at-a-time plan September 1st. I added my mom to my plan a month or so ago, a sort of Mother's Day present, and she really enjoys getting movies in the mail and picking out stuff on her list (she's making her way through Nero Wolfe right now). And now they forced me to go in the other room and break my invalid elderly mother's heart. For shame. If I wasn't so fond of the "Watch Instantly" service, I would cancel entirely and use the library and BitTorrent for all my movie needs.

So I'll be going to the one-at-a-time plan. And, of course, being on the one-at-a-time plan will make me more conscious of time, and the need to return movies promptly. As things stand, I am rather lax about returning movies; I recently watched Mutiny on the Bounty (on HD DVD), after it had sat in my den for two months. Sundays in the Park With George has been here almost as long, as I haven't been in a musical mood, I suppose. But now, it'll be all about the turnover. I'm confident I'll cost them more money, but my monthly fee will be halved. Great business plan, Netflix.

And to add insult to injury, I was just informed Mom's Nero Wolfe DVD is defective. My goodwill towards Netflix has evaporated overnight; if that was their goal, congratulations, mission accomplished..

Monday, June 16, 2008

FCC censorship dashes plans for Bloomsday. I suppose I should read Ulysses one of these days...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, dead at 58. He is survived, of course, by Big Russ.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Drive-in Theater turned 75 this week. Finding a functioning Drive-in may be getting more difficult, but it's easier than finding a functioning automat, the first of which opened 106 years ago today. Don't know why I long to experience the automat; I've had a similar experience, eating sandwiches from highway rest stop vending machines, and that was about one step above drinking out of the toilet. It's the architecture, I suppose.
Bob Dale, San Diego broadcaster, dead at 83.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Video released of hit-and-run of elderly pedestrian. It is interesting to watch and see in action the bystander effect we learned about in my psych class this quarter, but I think the inaction of the witnesses, as discussed in the extensive media coverage, is being exaggerated. The cars that witnessed the accident and drove away deserve scorn, of course (and I wish nothing but suffering on the two cars that caused the accident, passing on a city street, and whose failure to stop may well bring them a murder rap, should the victim die). But it appears to me that the pedestrians did what they could. They reacted in horror, some apparently called the police, as police arrived in approximately 60 seconds. Sure, they probably should have directed traffic around her, but they saw how effectively traffic circumvented the victim; I can understand their hesitancy to leave the curb. It's not like there's any first aid to administer, as the fact that you shouldn't move a victim of this sort of trauma is well-known to just about anybody. Besides, the video itself is difficult to watch; no doubt witnessing the accident in person was quite traumatic. Under difficult circumstances, people did the best they could, as imperfect creatures. And given that, as I said, help arrived in about one minute, it's hard to see how any different actions could have made a difference in Angel Torres' prognosis.

I witnessed a rather gnarly bicycle accident a few years ago, and I did stop. But had I not personally witnessed the accident, had I passed by after the fact, and had I seen people on the scene, I certainly would not have stopped. And had I been on the sidewalk in Hartford last week and witnessed this accident, I like to think I would have had some more composure, and gone out in the street to direct traffic, but I probably wouldn't have. And I probably would have felt ashamed afterwards, and lost some sleep over it. But it needn't be so, as I don't think the pedestrians did anything wrong here.

Oh, and I watched this tape about a dozen times, and waved my co-workers over to watch it with me. What does that say about me? It's probably more damning than the behavior of the pedestrians in the video.

UPDATE: On subsequent viewing, I realized that the car immediately behind the hit-and-run vehicle, who appears to drive away, actually stops at the intersection where the assailant turned, and is presumably trying to get a license number or description. So that's one more person off the shit-list. I'd say people's ill will would be put to much better use directed at the driver who actually crossed the center divide, ran over a 78-year-old man, and drove away.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Website offers to send post-rapture messages to friends and family. I've heard of similar services in the past, but this one has a new twist; users are encouraged to upload their financial data (bank accounts, passwords, etc.), so those left behind will have financial resources. I understand that "the victim was so stupid, they deserved to be ripped off" isn't a valid legal defense, but in the case of people who will give their bank password to a website because the owner says he's a Christian, I think it should be.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's been over two weeks since my computer died, and things are only just now approaching normalcy. Lots of hassles, most of which seemed to trace to Vista security settings. I did get Windows Media Center set up, so I could stream Netflix movies to my Xbox 360, which is a very nice thing to be able to do, so that made me feel somewhat better about upgrading to Vista. But lots of things were a pain in the ass. Especially recovering my music from my iPod, which was doubly frustrating as I had just recently had to do it on XP. I had trouble getting the recovery software to even find iTunes, and then the default location for my iTunes library kept arbitrarily changing. Only when I disabled security settings could I finally get it to work (had to do the same thing to get Media Center to work with Netflix). But even with such settings disabled, I had lots of trouble getting access to files on my old hard drive (I discovered my backups were a lot less comprehensive than I thought: Jungle Disk did not do a very good job updating files that had been changed, and Windows Live OneCare backed up a lot of random shit I didn't need, while missing some crucial files--whether these problems are due to flaws with the software or my failure to properly set up said programs is not yet clear).

Anyway, things are almost back to normal. A few programs won't work with my 64-bit version of Vista, but no huge loss. DVD43 won't work, but I'm thinking, now that I have a 750GB hard drive in my computer, I might use my 1TB external hard drive to rip DVDs to, then convert that raw data into a format most appropriate for my iPhone or Xbox. No point copying a film ill-suited to watching on a tiny screen to H.264, when I'd rather want to see it on my HDTV. This is especially an option now that my computer is not so painfully slow; converting one hour of footage off a DVD into H.264 used to take about 70 minutes, but now takes only about 10.

So, my opinion, now, with some hands-on time, is that, if you experience an equipment failure or for whatever reason now need a new computer, you might as well go with Vista. But if you don't need to, you'd be nuts to upgrade.

I should also note that, the weekend I first set up my computer, I was sick, Tanner got sprayed by a skunk--again!--and I found out, only too late, that the annual sea shantey festival on the Star of India was that very weekend (the highlight of my year, and I missed it!). The festival was moved from September to May, for some reason. I take some small consolation in that it was a very hot day, and there's not much shade on the boat. But a tribute was planned to mark the anniversary of Stan Roger's death, which I would have liked to hear. I suppose the wait will make next year's concert all the more sweet, but missing this year's was a bitter pill. All of which is to say, that was a crappy weekend.