Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-30

  • It's almost time to end the Jets' season… Let's go Steelers! #
  • Oh no… not Pouncey! #
  • Woo-hoo! Nice drive, fellas! #
  • What a first half for Mendy so far! #
  • Good job with the goal line stand, D! #
  • Well that sucked. #
  • Here we go… here we go… PITTSBURGH'S GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!!!!!! #
  • Jack LaLanne has died and I bet even now he can do more pushups than I can. #
  • Fun fact: this is the first Super Bowl in history in which neither team has cheerleaders. #
  • Dear Adobe: Your "download manager" needs to DIE IN A FIRE! Thanks! #
  • "After was all gendarmes and dick stitches". Oh how I missed you, Sterling Archer! #
  • Charlie Callas was still alive? And was only 83? #
  • Mmmmm.. Roast beef, Red Leicester cheese, onion and horseradish sandwich! #
  • Yesterday's shopping: Hot & Spicy Cheez-Its, pepperoni, banana Twinkies, Fritos, fun-size Almond Joys and a giant chocolate bar. Not high. #

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Quote of the Day

“I don’t know what to say, really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives. All comes down to today, and either we heal as a team or we’re gonna crumble. Inch by inch, play by play. Until we’re finished. We’re in hell right now, gentlemen. Believe me. And, we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb outta hell… one inch at a time.

Now I can’t do it for ya, I’m too old. I look around, I see these young faces and I think, I mean, I’ve made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I, uh, I’ve pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror. You know, when you get old, in life, things get taken from you. I mean, that’s… that’s… that’s a part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losin’ stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches, so is football. Because in either game – life or football – the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don’t quite catch it.

The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the fucking difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying! I’ll tell you this, in any fight it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know, if I’m gonna have any life any more it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch, because that’s what living is, the six inches in front of your face.

Now I can’t make you do it. You’ve got to look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes. Now I think you’re going to see a guy who will go that inch with you. You’re gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team, because he knows when it comes down to it you’re gonna do the same for him. That’s a team, gentlemen, and either, we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That’s football guys, that’s all it is.

Now, what are you gonna do?”

– Al Pacino as Tony D’Amato
Any Given Sunday

The Thursday News Roundup

– There’s a meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion going on in Dublin this week. Sort of. Primates of the Global South made it clear to the Archbishop of Canterbury that they would not attend if Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church in the US, was invited. She was, so they boycotted. This post at the Anglican Communion Institute has a Pac-Man like graph which shows, in one simple picture, how the boycotting primates hold all the power in the Communion.

– Speaking of The Episcopal Church, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (of which the Church is a member) has been strangely silent about the sickening case of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor indicted recently on eight charges of murder. Gosnell was the doctor of choice for women who wanted late-stage abortions… very late stage abortions. In fact, Gosnell didn’t really perform “abortions” so much as he’d give women huge doses of labor-inducing drugs, deliver the babies and then jab a pair of scissors into the base of the babies’ necks and cut their spinal cords. What’s worse is that few of the machines in his clinic (i.e. EKGs and respirators, etc). were functional, and even if they worked, they were rarely used. Hygiene was found to be almost non-existent. Many of his staff had attended medical school, but most were drop-outs. Even more vile: although his clinic routinely aborted 25-30 week-old fetuses during the week, he’d sometimes secretly open the clinic on Sundays to perform abortions on even later term babies. There’s a PDF at the linked article, but you really don’t want to read it.

– On a lighter note, Glee creator Ryan Murphy appears to be a bit of a dick. The short version of the story is that Kings of Leon didn’t want their music used on his show, so Murphy went on a rant about how the band is (somehow) taking music education away from children. Whatever.

– Paul Allen has died. No, not the co-founder of Microsoft and current owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers. I’m talking about Paul Allen, an Englishman and one of the few professional jousters in this world. Allen was killed when a wooden lance fragment went through his face mask, pierced his eyeball and punctured his brain. Allen was filming a segment about jousting for the popular British TV show Time Team when the accident occurred.

– TripAdvisor has released their 2011 list of the Dirtiest Hotels in America. If you have some spare time, check out the reviews for these places… they’re sadly hilarious! And it’s nice to see that NYC’s Hotel Carter made the list, although it fell from #1 last year to #4 this year.

– Speaking of New York, I’ve been spending a lot of time at ScoutingNY recently. It’s a blog written by a guy who scouts filming locations for movie and TV shoots in the city. If you like stories about urban architectural oddities, this site is for you! He has a few long posts in which he shows screen caps of old movies shot in New York (like Taxi Driver and Ghost Busters) and then takes photos of the same sites, so you can see what’s changed. But I especially recommend The Abandoned Palace At 5 Beekman Street and The Smallest Plot of Land In New York City to get started.

– American football was almost banned in 1905, a year when there were 18 deaths on football fields across the country. With President Theodore Roosevelt breathing down their necks, representatives of 62 schools met in New York City and approved several changes to the game. These included banning the “flying wedge” (a brutal, V-shaped formation that frequently led to injuries), creating the “neutral zone” between the offense and defense, and doubling the amount of yardage needed for a first down from five to ten yards. But their most innovative change – the one that would forever separate American football from rugby – was legalizing the forward pass. It might seem hard to believe with today’s pass-happy NFL, but the forward pass wasn’t popular at first. Check out this article at for the full story.

“Building Font Cache” in VLC

VLC is one of the best media players around, mainly because the app can play almost any video file you throw at it. However, it does have one strange quirk: after installing (or upgrading) it, you might see this dialog box when you try to open a video file:


The font cache is responsible for displaying subtitles in the VLC window. Which is fine… but sometimes the dialog box can hang, or the “less than a few minutes” can turn in to 20 or 30 minutes, or the box appears every time you open a video file. And all of those things can be annoying.

There are two routes you can take to fix this.

The first is to delete the cache and start over. To do this, type %APPDATA% into the Start Menu’s run box (Windows XP) or search box (Vista\7). Delete the “VLC” folder in the Explorer window that opens and try opening VLC again. The “building font cache” window will appear again, but (hopefully) this time the cache will be compiled correctly and you’ll only see it once.

If you’ve tried this and find that it doesn’t work for you, open VLC and choose Tools > Preferences. Look in the lower left corner of the preferences window and make sure that “All” is selected under “Show Settings”. Then click Video > Subtitles\OSD. Change the value of “Text rendering module” from “Default” to “Dummy font rendering functions” and then click “Save”. This will disable font caching completely.

Office Starter vs. Office Web Apps… fight!

“Everything old is new again”, or so the old saying goes. The current buzzword in IT is “The Cloud”, which, at its most basic, means “storing data on a server instead of a desktop PC”. In many ways, this is an idea as old as computing itself, and isn’t all that exciting.

However, today’s “New Cloud” is much more than that. It’s not just about storing data on a server, it’s about presenting that data, too. Companies want to write desktop applications that can access cloud data, but they also want to create webapps for remote users that look and feel like traditional desktop apps. They also want to create smartphone apps that allow executives and traveling salespeople to manipulate cloud data in a format that fits their phones.

Most analysts predict a war in the very near future… a war between traditional software companies (like Microsoft and Adobe) who have made billions off desktop applications, and between upstarts (like, well, Google) that will offer similar applications over the Internet. To give just one example, Google is hoping to vanquish both Microsoft Office and competitors like the open-source OpenOffice and IBM’s Lotus Symphony with Google Docs. Results, so far, are mixed.

But Microsoft isn’t going to just lie there and take it like a roofied-up sorority pledge. The company has created its own online suite – Office Web Apps – which includes capable versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. As webapps, they’re available to anyone with a web browser and an Internet connection. And, as of this moment, they’re free.

Continue reading “Office Starter vs. Office Web Apps… fight!”

News Roundup, AFC Champs edition

Wow… I’m just now coming down from the Steelers’ victory over the New York Jets in last night’s AFC Championship game. What can I say about it? The first half was simply an old-fashioned Steelers beatdown of epic proportions… and the Steelers D did just enough in the second half to secure the victory over Gang Green and their curiously slow offense. Kudos to the much-maligned Bruce Arians for his aggressive playcalling on the last Steelers drive; many other OCs would have run the ball, milked the clock and punted. But not last night. And now… the news:

– Contrast my joy with the Steelers’ win with the bitterness of the Atlanta Falcons’ defeat at the hands of the Packers a week ago. Long time Atlanta Journal sports columnist Mark Bradley has this piece about Atlanta’s sad history in pro sports: 148 seasons with only one title. Read it and weep.

– Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake bet Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl that her Ravens would beat Pittsburgh last week. She lost. Here’s the YouTube video she made per the terms of the bet, complete with Hines Ward jersey and the pronouncement that Pittsburgh has the “superior football team”:


– I certainly won’t be attending the Super Bowl this year. Why? Because face value of club seat tickets is now $1,200. This article at Yahoo! also notes that the NFL will charge you $200 to watch the game on a huge TV in the plaza outside the stadium, and $350 to watch the game in the standing room only section… it’s a bargain!

– One last sports item: the Utah Jazz mascot taunted a fan of the opposing team, and the fan got mad and punched him. Security began escorting the fan from the arena… but the fan wrestled away from their grip and charged the mascot one last time… something he probably ended up regretting:


– One Alabama law firm is suing Taco Bell, claiming the quasi-Mexican food giant is breaking the law by advertising “ground beef” in its products when it should use the term “meat filling”. It’s not a silly as it sounds: the USDA has a legal definition for ground beef which is “chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders”. Taco Bell’s “meat” products are said to include “wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, ‘Isolated Oat Product’, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate”, and thus aren’t legally “ground beef”.

– From the Department of Duh: Alan Penn, director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London, says that Ikea stores are purposely laid out like a maze to get you to spend more. Thanks for the tip there, Einstein!

– The £20 million home used as Geoffrey Rush’s home and office in The King’s Speech was also used to have “wild sex parties”, according to sources.

– Earth may (or may not) get a second sun this year. The star Betelgeuse is set to finally go supernova… and when it does, it will be so bright in our sky that we’ll have a second sun for a week or two. Don’t get too excited, though. As the linked article says: “Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, claimed yesterday that the galactic blast could happen before 2012 – or any time over the next million years” (emphasis mine).

Quote of the Day

In the 2009 Family Guy episode titled “Jerome Is the New Black”, Glen Quagmire doesn’t like Brian any more, so Brian takes him out for a steak and begs him to explain why he doesn’t want to hang out with him. So Glen says:

“Okay, I’ll tell ya. You are the worst person I know. You constantly hit on your best friend’s wife, the man pays for your food and rescued you from certain death and this is how you repay him? And to add insult to injury, you defecate all over his yard. And you’re such a sponge. You pay for nothing, you always say “Oh, I’ll get you later”… but later never comes! And what really bothers me is you pretend you’re this deep guy who loves women for their souls, when all you do is date bimbos. Yeah, I date women for their bodies, but at least I’m honest about it. I don’t buy them a copy of Catcher in the Rye and then lecture them with some seventh-grade interpretation of how Holden Caulfield is some profound intellectual. He wasn’t! He was a spoiled brat! And that’s why you like him so much, he’s you! God, you’re pretentious! And you delude yourself by thinking you’re some great writer even though you’re terrible. You know, I should have known Cheryl Tiegs didn’t write me that note. She would have known there’s no ‘a’ in the word ‘definite’. And I think what I hate most about you is your textbook liberal agenda, how we should ‘legalize pot, man’, how big business is crushing the underclass, how homelessness is the biggest tragedy in America. Well, what have you done to help? I work down at the soup kitchen, Brian. Never seen you down there! You wanna help? Grab a ladle! And by the way, driving a Prius doesn’t make you Jesus Christ! Oh, wait! You don’t believe in Jesus Christ or any religion for that matter, because ‘religion is for idiots’! Well, who the hell are you to talk down to anyone? You failed college twice, which isn’t nearly as bad as your failure as a father! How’s that son of yours you never see? But you know what? I could forgive all of that, all of it, if you weren’t such a bore! That’s the worst of it, Brian. You’re just a big, sad, alcoholic bore.”

Although hilarious, this quote pretty much encapsulates why I don’t watch Family Guy any more.

Button Gwinnett follow-up

In this History Blog post, I raged about people who misspell “Gwinnett”, the name of a county in metro Atlanta. It’s named after Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence.

In the article, I mentioned that Gwinnett’s signature is one of the most valuable and sought-after in the whole world. This is because there’s a group of autograph collectors who try to collect signatures from all the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Gwinnett’s signature is very rare, because he was practically unknown before the American Revolution and died in a duel only ten months after signing the Declaration.

Well, it looks like another copy of his signature has been found. According to the linked article, St Peter’s Church in Wolverhampton has discovered his signature in its parish register, from when Gwinnett married a local girl named Ann Bourne in 1757. Five years later, Gwinnett and wife would emigrate to the colonies, first to Charleston and later to a plantation on St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia.

The document, which has since been secretly moved to a bank for safe keeping, is expected to fetch over £500,000 ($795,550) at auction, a huge windfall for St Peter’s.

And, just to show you what a small world it really is, the current mayor of Wolverhampton, Malcolm Gwinnett, is descended from Button Gwinnett.