My Birthday Playlist

Here’s the playlist I put together for my birthday party, in case anyone wanted to take a gander:

1. The Puppini Sisters – Walk Like An Egyptian (2:44)
2. Pet Shop Boys – Love Etc. (3:32)
3. Saint Etienne – Method Of Modern Love (4:23)
4. Saint Etienne – Everything I Touch Turns to Gold (3:30)
5. Lady Gaga – Just Dance (4:03)
6. Bloc Party – Signs (4:39)
7. Mates of State – Now (2:39)
8. The Fratellis – Flathead (3:17)
9. The Clash – Janie Jones (2:06)
10. The Pixies – Gigantic (single version) (3:13)

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iPod Shuffle Update

Last week I wrote a nasty missve about the new iPod Shuffle. Much of what I said was based on incomplete information. Sadly, fresher information is actually making me like the new Shuffle less, not more.

I noted (as an update in the comments) that Apple will be making an adapter available for third-party microphones. What’s news is that adapters must now be chipped. That’s right – to use a different pair of headphones or to hook a Shuffle up to computer or car speakers, you now have to buy an Apple-approved accessory that has an Apple-approved chip inside. So your days of buying $1.99 iPod adapters off eBay are gone.

Third-party “Apple approved” headphones are now appearing, with the average price being $49. The latest estimates for the price of an adapter alone are in the $19 – $29, with $29 looking more realistic with every passing day. There again, why shell out $79 for the new Shuffle if you’re going to have to pay $49 for additional headphones? Why not just buy a Nano that doesn’t have that stupid requirement?

Also, word is that the new Shuffle’s battery actually has less capacity than the 1G or 2G Shuffles. Apple’s official specs for the 2G Shuffle were 12 hours per change, although 18 hours was actually more common in practice. Apple says the new Shuffle only gets 10 hours, and early reviews have indicated that it struggles to meet even that low standard.

Lastly, the new Shuffles simply don’t represent a good value. Paying the “iPod tax” was OK when the 1GB Shuffle was $48 and the 2GB was $68. But it’s just silly to pay $80 for a 4GB media player in this day and age (to say nothing about the now- needed accessories). You can buy a 4GB USB stick for $10 almost anywhere, and if it’s a flash-based player your after, there any dozens of other fish in that sea.

There’s a camera in his eye!

BRUSSELS – A Canadian one-eyed documentary filmmaker is preparing to work with a video camera concealed inside a prosthetic eye, hoping to secretly record people for a project commenting on the global spread of surveillance cameras.

Rob Spence’s eye was damaged in a childhood shooting accident and it was removed three years ago. Now, he is in the final stages of developing a camera to turn the handicap into an advantage.

A fan of the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man, Spence said he had an epiphany when looking at his cellphone camera and realizing something that small could fit into his empty eye socket.

via | Smile, you’re on eye-socket camera.

Moe’s on East hit again

Holy cow!

CHARLOTTE, N.C.– One person was shot Sunday night at a popular restaurant in Dilworth.

Police say 2-3 men went into Moe’s Southwest Grill near closing time in an attempt to rob the store.

The store manager was shot in the incident but it is unclear if she was shot at directly or if she sustained her injuries from an indirect shot.

Two years ago two people were shot and killed at that same restaurant.

Jeez – you folks stay away from the Moe’s on East Blvd, okay? Seriously!

via | Local News.

The Saddest Song Ever Written

Bloc PartyMy string of hearing great new songs on TV shows continues!

At the end of this past Monday’s episode of Chuck, Sarah and Chuck have a long conversation about their relationship. This awesome song played softly in the background. It had some dreamy synths and a glockenspiel in the background, and it sounded really cool.

I found out that the song was called “Signs” and it’s by Bloc Party from their 2008 album Intimacy. I must admit, however, that I was completely gobsmacked when I looked up the lyrics for the tune. When I saw it on Chuck, it just sounded like any other sweet song about a relationship. When you read the lyrics, you just might agree that it’s one of the saddest songs ever written. But, in my mind, that only makes the song more beautiful.

Have a listen, and be sure to check out the lyrics after the jump:


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The new iPod Shuffle is STUPID

This is Apple’s newest iPod Shuffle:

ipod_4g_shuffleIt certainly looks sexy, and the fact that it comes with 4GB of storage is pretty cool too. But wait… where’s the “click wheel” that older iPod Shuffles come with?

I’ll tell you – it doesn’t exist any more. Apple has moved the Shuffle’s controls to a tiny controller embedded in the headphone cord. So you can no longer use a Shuffle with some other brand of headphones, nor can you hook it up to your computer speakers for a party, nor can you hook it up to a cassette adapter to listen in your car. You can only listen to it using Apple’s headphones, period.

To make matters worse, Apple is now proudly announcing that the new Shuffle is “the only mp3 player that talks to you”. It comes with a feature called VoiceOver that can say aloud the name of the song and the artist – just hold down the controller on the headphone cord, and it’ll give you the info. Putting aside the fact that this isn’t the first mp3 player that can do that, it’s just a stupid feature that no one asked for. Plus, the actual voices the Shuffle uses… well, they sound like “robot voices” from a bad 80s German electropop band. If you want your mp3 player’s voice to sound like something off of a Kraftwerk album, Apple has you covered. If you’re looking for one of those voices that’s almost indistinguishable from a human voice… oh, how disappointed you’ll be! I also can’t wait to hear how it deals with non-English artists! I can hear it how: “El Chai-ah-yow-choe by Tie-toe Puh-en-Tee-tee”

You can also use VoiceOver to switch playlists, a first for the Shuffle. Multiple playlists for the Shuffle is pretty cool, and a feature that’s been lacking for some time. But again, using VoiceOver to do this is the wrong execution of the right idea.

I dunno. Maybe if I played with one of the new Shuffles I’d like it. But as it stands now, it looks like the next generation of iPod Shuffles are going to be a giant bucket of fail! I guess when my Shuffle dies, I’ll either pray that old versions are still being sold… or just get a Sansa Clip.

Read more about it at Engadget here (be sure to watch the video and also check out the thrashing it gets in the reader comments!)

Go Local, Honey!

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “food hippie”. I will never go vegetarian. I think the Kashi people are a bunch of left-wing America haters. I think organic food is mostly a ripoff. I don’t care how much carbon was belched into the air by airplanes delivering my British cheese or Chilean plums. And while I do agree that farmer’s markets are excellent sources of fresh, inexpensive, locally-grown produce, I frankly just can’t be bothered to wake up early on a Saturday morning to do my shopping.

There is, however, one “localtarian” thing I do agree with, and that’s honey.

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The Curse of the Colonel (Revisited)

In this History Blog post, I talked about the various “curses” in the baseball world, especially the “Curse of the Colonel”.

In a nutshell, Japan’s Hanshin Tigers baseball team always seemed to have the same “snakebit luck” as the Chicago Cubs. The Tigers just never seemed to be able to win it all, despite being a rich, major market team with many fans. Back in 1985, however, the team won the Japan Championship Series (Japan’s version of the World Series). In a fit of celebration, a swarm of fans ran to the nearest bridge. As the crowd screamed out the number of a player, a fan resembling him would jump off the bridge and into the river. But there was a problem: a big reason the Tigers won the Series was the bat work of an American player, Randy Bass. And there weren’t any Americans around to jump off the bridge when Randy’s number was called. A few fans took matters into their own hands and ran to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken. There they stole the fiberglass statue of Colonel Sanders that stands outside many Asian KFC restaurants. So when Bass’ number was called, the jubilant crowd heaved the statue off the bridge and into the water.

Since then, the Tigers have posted one of the worst records in Japanese baseball. Many were convinced that the Colonel had “cursed” the team. A few fans even pooled money to dredge the river in hopes of finding the statue. Alas, the statue was never found, and the Tigers continued to lose…

But now there’s hope! The statue has been found! You can read all about it at Yahoo! here, but the gist of it follows:

A diver checking for unexploded bombs from World War Two in the river as part of a clean-up found the Colonel’s top half on Tuesday, minus his hands and glasses but still sporting his trademark string tie and grin.

The Colonel’s smile might have widened if it could on Wednesday, when his bottom half was recovered and reunited with the top. “It’s only a statue, but I felt as if I was rescuing someone,” a worker told reporters after the lower half was found.

“When I heard the statue had been found, I felt that history had ended,” Yoshio Yoshida, 75, Hanshin manager at the time, was quoted by the Asahi newspaper as saying. “Recalling 1985, I’d like them to achieve the dream of being Japan No. 1 again.”

New football league wants Vick

How come I haven’t heard of the “United Football League” at all until now? Is this real? Who’s behind this? When did this happen?

The fledgling United Football League, set to play in four cities beginning in October, will officially announce its four head coaches at a press conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

In addition to former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel, who will lead the Las Vegas team, the UFL has hired Dennis Green as San Francisco’s coach, Jim Haslett for Orlando and Ted Cottrell for New York. All except Cottrell have been head coaches in the NFL.

It is also believed the league is trying to have former NFL quarterback Michael Vick play in its inaugural season. Vick is scheduled to be released from prison in May but faces a suspension from the NFL for his conviction related to dogfighting.

via New football league will try to sign Vick – Other sports-