SONGS I LOVE: “Down In The Park”

Tubeway ArmyIf you know any 80s music at all, you’re probably heard British artist Gary Numan’s single “Cars”. To be honest, I don’t care for that song very much; it’s one of those songs I only marginally liked back in the day, and now that I’ve heard it a million times, I’m just friggin’ sick of it.

However, before Numan became a solo artist, he led a modestly-successful band called Tubeway Army. Their first album – Tubeway Army – was guitar-heavy and sounded like most of the other “Britpunk” that was around at the time. By the time Tubeway Army’s second album, Replicas, was released in 1979, the band had changed.  Numan had changed his name from Gary Webb, and had gotten heavily into synthesizers. What had been your basic three-chord punk band had been transformed into an early synthpop band, and a dark one at that. Numan seemed to be trapped in a paradox: on the one hand, he was readily embracing new technology in his music; at the same time, it seemed to scare him. Just like Simple Minds’ “Real to Real” (another “Song I Love”), Numan seemed to be deathly worried about machines taking over the world and removing humans from the equation. And no song illustrates this better than “Down In The Park”.

Lyrically, the song is completely dystopian. It tells the story of a world where androids called “machmen” rape and kill humans for sheer entertainment – much like like the days of Roman gladiators… only this time humans are pulling for the machines to win. The humans have numerically-named android friends (“Down in the Park, with a friend called Five”) that accompany them to a club called “Zom Zoms” to watch the carnage. If it sounds to you like something straight out of a Philip K. Dick novel… well, you’d be right. The whole atmospheric feel that the song evokes is just creepy. It’s like an entire Sci-Fi movie in one three minute song. Have a listen for yourself and tell me what you think:


Photoshop Basics: “Tinting” Photographs

For the past couple of years, I’ve put together my own version of Madonna’s Ray Of Light album. It included the full album, as well as a few B-sides and outtakes from that era.

Recently though, I downloaded a disc of Ray Of Light demo tapes. I decided to create Ray Of Light: The Ultimate Collectors Edition. The thing was, I wanted something special for this new 3-disc set… something distinctive. So I decided to change the artwork.

The original album art:

Ray of Light, original cover

My version:

Ray of Light, edited cover

“Tinting” a picture like this in Photoshop is amazingly easy and only takes a couple of minutes. To do it yourself, just follow these simple instructions:

Continue reading “Photoshop Basics: “Tinting” Photographs”

DOWNLOAD: Georgia Tech 2007 Schedule for Outlook!

For years, I’ve been putting the Pittsburgh Steelers football schedules on the Internet for anyone to download and import into their Outlook calendars (this year’s schedule is here). This year, I decided to branch out and make a Georgia Tech Football 2007 Schedule for Outlook too!

All you’ve gotta do so is:

  1. Download the file to your desktop and unzip.
  2. Open Outlook and select “File” > “Import and Export” > “Import from another program or file”, then click “Next”.
  3. Choose “Comma Separated Values (Windows)”, then click “Next”.
  4. Use the “Browse” button on the next screen to select the gatech_2007.csv file you just unzipped.
  5. On the next screen make sure to select “Calendar” as the destination then click “Next” and “Finish”… That’s it!

The schedule is compatible with Outlook 98 or later (I tested it with Outlook 2007 and it worked fine for me).

All times in the calendar are for the Eastern (US) time zone. A reminder is scheduled for 8:00PM the day before each game; if you wish to disable the reminders, open the CSV file in Excel and change the value of “reminder on/off” (column G) to FALSE for each game BEFORE you import the Calendar into Outlook.

Fans of other (lesser) teams can also download the file and use it as a template to create a schedule for their favorite teams using any version of Microsoft Excel.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of 08/31/07, many of the kickoff times are listed as “TBA”, so those games have a “start time” of 8:00 AM and an end time of 08:15 AM in Outlook.

Georgia Tech 2007 Football Schedule
(4KB, zipped)

Microsoft Killed Autopatcher! You Bastards!

AutopatcherFor almost four years now, the folks over at Neowin have offered an awesome free utility called Autopatcher. In a nutshell, it was a program that installed all the latest patches and updates from Microsoft.So if you wiped your hard drive and reinstalled Windows from scratch, Autopatcher allowed you to install all the available updates from a CD, rather than having to download them directly from Microsoft. On a brand new system, this could save you lots of time, and Autopatcher was especially handy when you were reinstalling Windows at a friend’s house that was still on dial-up.

Sadly, Microsoft put the kibosh on the whole thing this week. Of course, it’s not entirely unexpected that Microsoft would want to protect its intellectual property; indeed, as far as copyright law goes, MS might have be forced to put the DMCA on Autopatcher. But the mystery is why Microsoft let this project go on for almost four years before shutting it down. Officially, Microsoft has said that Autopatcher was pulled because there was the possibility of malware being shipped with Autopatcher’s updates. Conspiracy theorists think it might have to do with Autopatcher allowing users to install patches with Windows Genuine Advantage. In any case, Autopatcher’s gone.

Hey Microsoft – why don’t you do something that will, you know, actually help your customers. You could whip up something like Autopatcher in what… a day? As someone that often has to reinstall Windows on crappy old computers, Autopatcher was a godsend for me.. why can you man up and make your own version???


There are tons of new bands and solo artists on MySpace. Many of these musicians are “too new” to have their songs on iTunes or even a P2P network, so your only option is to listen to their music using the MySpace player. And sadly, although the MySpace player has the built-in option to let users download songs to their hard drives, 99% of the bands out there disable the feature… which means that you can only listen to the band’s music while sitting at your computer with a MySpace page open.

Fortunately, there’s MySpaceGrab, a free website that lets you download songs from almost any MySpace page. It’s amazingly simple to use: just to to MySpaceGrab’s site, enter the external URL of the band’s MySpace profile (which is usually into the box on the main page and click the “MySpace Grab” button. When the next page loads, you’ll see a list of songs from the profile page on the right-hand side of the MySpaceGrab page. Just right-click any song title and choose “Save Link As…” and choose a destination. Once the download’s done… you have music!

Sadly, it isn’t always this simple. Many bands put their music on MySpace in FLV (Flash movie format) instead of MP3, so you’ll need to find a conversion tool if you want to burn the music to CD or use it or your portable player. Also, most of the mp3 files you’ll find using this tool are encoded at a sampling rate of 22,050 Hz and 96kbps mp3 format. You’ll need a tool like Audacity (it’s free!) to upsample the file to 44,100 Hz, which is the “Red Book” (CD) standard, otherwise your burning software or mp3 player might choke on the file. Upsampling won’t make the files sound any better, it’ll just make it compatible with your listening devices.

Crazy Japanese People…

You know “wave pools” – the pools that have a wave generator at one end? This is one such pool, somewhere in Tokyo, Japan. It’s hard to believe that all those people could cram into a pool – had this taken place in Detroit, someone would’ve been shot!

Logging In from the Command-Prompt

IT folks – ever needed to log in as someone else, but didn’t want to reboot (or log out of) the computer you’re working on? Maybe you’re working on someone’s computer and need to access a shared drive that only admins like you can access. Maybe you’re just lazy and don’t want to wait for an actual logoff.

Whatever the case may be, you can easily accomplish this using Task Manager and the command prompt:

1) Open a command-prompt window.
2) Open Task Manager (if you use CTRL+SHIFT+ESC you’ll need only one hand!)
3) Kill the EXPLORER.EXE process.
4) At the command prompt, type the following:

runas /user:RESOURCE\USERNAME explorer.exe

5) You will be prompted to enter the password for the user. Do so, and Explorer will reopen under that user’s account.

So – for example, you could enter

runas /user:DOMAIN\Administrator explorer.exe



runas /user:LOCALMACHINE\Administrator explorer.exe


to run Explorer as a domain or local administrator.

Remember that this is not a full logoff\login procedure, so the desktop\icons\installed program list won’t change as it would with a standard logoff\login.

SONGS I LOVE: “Lazy May”

The Essex GreenThe Essex Green is an indie band from Brooklyn, New York. The band was originally based in Burlington, Vermont, where they were known as Guppyboy. However, a couple of members left Guppyboy; the “core” of the band decided to move to New York and try again.

The Essex Green’s “sound” is hard to pin down, as it changes quite a bit. This is especially true because the singing duties are split between guitarist Chris Ziter and keyboardist Sasha Bell. So sometimes it’s a guy singing, other times it’s a girl.

On their second album – The Long Goodbye – they often remind me of a mix between Yellow Submarine-era Beatles and Guadalcanal Diary. But that’s just me. Have a listen of “Lazy May” – from that album, naturally – and tell me what you think: