Android Market… in Spanish?

This one has a long setup, so bear with me:

I was watching the Pro Bowl (football) game the other night, but had several other things going on at the time. I paused the DVR several times to do this or that, and ended up falling way behind “real time”. I wanted to use the NFL 11 app on my phone to check the score, but the app crashed upon opening. Several times. I figured that the app had been updated, and that was somehow causing a problem with the old version on my phone.

But I just couldn’t check the Market app to look for an update: for some reason, the NFL app is “not available on your carrier” (and no, I’m not talking about the NFL Mobile app that’s Verizon-only). For some reason, the NFL (or Google) doesn’t want me to install their free app on my Virgin Mobile US phone. So I’d found the apk on a message board several months earlier and side-loaded it (for newbies: Android Market keeps track of your apps and offers to update them when such updates become available; side-loaded apps aren’t tracked by Market and therefore must be updated manually).

But then I had a thought: I logged out of Google on my phone’s browser and searched the Market website for the app. I found it, and clicked “Install”. I logged in, and amazingly, the app downloaded and installed! But there was something odd: the Market was in Spanish! And it remained in Spanish the next day, too! As usual, Google support was little help, basically coming down to “check your language settings in Chrome!” even though I was using Firefox and IE on my computer.

So I tried using the following address to access the Market:

This reset my Market language to English, and I haven’t had a problem since. People who use the Market in a language other than English can substitute the proper ISO 639-1 code for their language in place of the en in the address above. For instance, use de for German or fr for French (assuming Google has a version of the Market in your language, of course).

As to why that happened in the first place… I have no idea. A quick look through Google’s support forums suggests that the Big G might be using some type of IP geolocation, as there were many complaints from English speakers in Puerto Rico about getting the Market in Spanish, and English-speaking Canadians getting the French version whilst in Quebec.

Top 10 Tunes

From the home office in London, here’s the Top 10 song list for the week ending January 29, 2012:

1) Saint Etienne – “Tonight”
2) Ladyhawke – “Black, White and Blue”
3) Marsheaux – “Thirteen/True”
4) Freezepop – “Pop Music is Not a Crime”
5) Cloetta Paris – “Secret Eyes”
6) Ambra Red – “It’s Just a Dream”
7) Marsheaux – “Stand By”
8) Katy Perry – “The One That Got Away”
9) Marsheaux – “Eyes Without a Face”
10) The Sound of Arrows – “Into the Clouds”

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-01-29

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iTunes not updating play counts

iTunes is supposed to keep track of the songs you play on both your computer and on your iPod. Unfortunately, this feature seems to break early and often for a lot of people: songs played using iTunes on your computer will update their “last played” dates and “play count” totals, but songs played on the iPod simply do not.

Frustrated users at the Apple Support message boards report that this is a persistent and intractable problem. Folks there say the problem happens on both Windows and Mac, so it’s not OS-specific. Every version of iTunes seems affected, although version 10.x seems worse than others. It can happen on any model iPod, although Nanos and Touches seem to be the most affected. This started happening way before Apple released iTunes Match, the cloud-based service which backs up your songs (and complicates the play count process, since plays can come from multiple sources). Users have uninstalled and reinstalled iTunes, gone back to previous iTunes versions, and reset their iPods. A couple of people even went out and bought new iPods to see if that would fix the problem. But sadly, nothing seems to fix the issue.

But board member MVLaing came up with (what appears to be) a solid workaround… and it’s bizarre that it actually works! He (or she) suggests that before you sync your iPod to your computer, briefly play anything (on your iPod) that’s not a song, such as a podcast or an audiobook. 30 seconds is enough. Then connect your iPod… and be amazed that play counts are updated! Hooray!

Try it out and tell me what you think!

And lastly, a bit of a rant here. I went to several message boards looking for help with the problem, and was surprised by the amount of ridicule directed towards people who asked for help. Many responses were along the lines of “OMG! What a moran! Why do you even care when you last played a song! Your a tight-ass! LOL!!1!11!!”.

Well, Internet Tough Guy™, I can give you two good reasons why people care about play counts.

The first is It’s a website that keeps track of which songs you play, and offers streaming radio stations based on that info. It can also hook you up with other users who have similar music tastes, and you can see what music they listen to. It works so much better for me than either Pandora or Spotify. In fact, neither of those services have ever offered me a single new band that I liked. Not a one. has introduced me to 14 new bands in the last month alone. And guess what? The whole thing stops working if play counts aren’t updated.

Secondly, there’s “Smart Playlists”. iTunes has a nifty feature where you can create a playlist consisting of (for instance) “every song I’ve added to my library in the past 60 days and played more than three times in the last 30 days”. And such playlists are dynamic, so they automatically update themselves as time passes. And guess what, Internet Tough Guy™? If iTunes isn’t updating the play counts on songs from your iPod, then this feature doesn’t work, either!


WordPress: Internal links to your blog

WordPress, the software that powers this site, was originally intended to be a blogging platform. Readers come to a WordPress site and see all the posts listed in descending chronological order. However, given WordPress’ ease of installation and use, and the huge selection of themes and plug-ins available, a lot of people have started to use WordPress as a “regular” website for their small business or band or what have you.

Which brings up an interesting question. While it’s easy to have WordPress use a page as a “home page” instead of displaying your most recent posts… how do you then link back to your blog posts?

Let me give an example: say you want to use WordPress to create a website for your band. You create a page called “Home”, and additional pages called “Music”, “Videos”, “Reviews” and “Shop”. But you also want to have a “News” page which contains timely posts using the blog system WordPress is famous for. But how do you link to that? WordPress doesn’t offer an intuitive way to do this.

Thankfully, the solution is pretty easy.

The first step is to create and publish a blank page. You’ll probably find that WordPress won’t let you publish a completely blank page; if so, just click the HTML tab in the text editor and type


This is a non-breaking space, so the page will look empty, but will contain a tiny bit of code so WordPress doesn’t complain about it being blank. Give this page a title like “News” or “Blog”, then continue with the next step.

Log in to the admin portion of your site if you haven’t already. Then click Settings > Reading:


If you’re running in standard “blog mode” the top radio button will be selected (“Your Latest Posts”). Change this to “A static page”, and choose “Home” as your front page (or whichever page you want as your home page) and then choose “News” (or whichever blank page you saved in the previous step) as your posts page.

Assuming you have a normal setup where all pages are included in the page hierarchy, you’ll then see a “News” link on your home page. Here’s a link in the default Twenty Ten theme:


Visitors to your site can simply click “News” to see all your blog posts, in reverse chronological order as you’d expect.

Cool Stuff

I have a big list today, so let’s just get right to it:

– So I’ve fallen in love with the Greek synthpop duo Marsheaux. Their Twitter feed is run by member Sophie Marianthi, who posts a lot of links to cool history and science items. She recently posted a link to this 2006 article, about a song discovered in the “ancient Syrian city of Ugarit” in the 1950s. Originally written in “cuneiform signs”, it was converted to modern music notation in 1972 by Professor Anne Draffkorn Kilmer. Dating to 3400 BC, it’s the oldest song in the world, and you can hear a MIDI version of the tune at the link.

– I always joke that the meals Lisa makes taste better because “they’re made with lovin'”. Well guess what? Psychologists from the University of Maryland found that food made by loved ones really does taste better!

– You’ve probably heard that school cafeterias across the US are ditching “junk food” (which kids like) for “healthier options” (which kids do not like). Schools in freedom-loving Los Angeles [ha ha!] have even banned chocolate milk because it’s not “healthy” for their precious lil’ snowflakes. But guess what? Researchers at Penn State found that the “junk food” served in school cafeterias does not lead to childhood obesity. In fact, schools that served “traditional” favorites like pizza and tater tots had lower obesity rates than schools that serve healthier options like salads. Researchers aren’t entirely sure why this is, but the obvious reason would be that kids forced to eat “healthy” foods at school simply go home and gorge themselves on junk food, while kids eating “traditional” foods are less likely to do so.

– Speaking of food, check out these amazing cakes! I’m especially taken with the bucket of beer and seafood boil cakes!

– Quick: Name the largest American-owned brewery. It’s not Anheuser-Busch (which is owned by a Belgian company) or SABMiller (which is owned by a South African\British company). It’s not even Boston Beer, which makes Sam Adams. It’s D.G. Yuengling & Son, which recently passed Boston Beer to take the title.

– For decades, a mysterious man wearing all black (and a white scarf) visited the grave of Edgar Allen Poe on the author’s birthday and left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac. Known as the “Poe Toaster”, the man first appeared sometime in the 1940s and perhaps even as early as the 1930s. Some suspect that the original Toaster died in 1998, as a note left in 1999 said that the “torch had been passed to a son”. But now it appears to be all over: for the third year in a row, no one showed up. Perhaps this might be related to the Toaster’s 2006 visit, in which onlookers tried (unsuccessfully) to detain him… or her.

– You know the Airbus A380? The giant new plane that was supposed to replace the 747? Yeah, well, inspectors are already finding cracks in the wings, despite the planes barely being four years old. Awesome!

– Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute has written this interesting piece about the Internet, SOPA, piracy, and how the whole thing is an awful idea. It’s not a long piece, and it starts off kind of dry, but it really picks up and is worth a read.

– And lastly… speaking of piracy… Grantland is a sports blog. Grantland is owned by ESPN. ESPN is owned by Disney. Disney supports SOPA and similar laws that protect their moneyed interests. However, according to Deadspin, Bill Simmons, one of Grantland’s biggest contributors, has posted at least 98 possible SOPA violations in his articles on the site (hit the link for a complete list). Oh, the irony is delicious!

Top 10 Tunes

From the home office in London, here’s this week’s Top 10 song list!

1) Marsheaux – “Thirteen/True”
2) Katy Perry – “The One That Got Away”
3) Ambra Red – “It’s Just A Dream”
4) Blouse – “Videotapes”
5) Teddybears – “Cobrastyle” (feat. Mad Cobra)
6) Marsheaux – “Summer”
7) The Raveonettes – “Hallucinations”
8) Marsheaux – “Breakthrough”
9) She & Him – “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”
10) Marsheaux – “Exit”

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-01-22

  • Eat dirt, Flacco! #
  • Drywall anchors… the bane of my existence. #
  • OMG! That was totally a fumble! #
  • Choke Pack Choke! Bwhahaha!!! #
  • Fine. I'll reboot. #IhateAdobeReaderUpdates #
  • I'm a Steelers fan, but it's time to #FireBillLeavy #
  • How long before Google looks like this? #
  • Who's excited for the season premiere of #Justified tonight? I'm about to pee my pants I'm so excited! #
  • My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Marsheaux (40), Blouse (16) & Lana del Rey (14) #
  • The #Steelers have new throwbacks for next year? Please God don't let it be the Batman unis! #
  • Web Goes On Strike: Jan 18th! All-out blackout 2 stop #SOPA #PIPA. Petition @twitter and other sites to join us. #
  • @bobpetesarah Embarrased to admit, my first single was Steve Martin's "King Tut". 🙁 #
  • Your failed business model is not our problem. #
  • Woh- the internet is rising up to #StopSOPA #PIPA and #InternetCensorship Write Congress today: via @fightfortheftr #
  • If SOPA passes, you could get 5 years in jail for sharing a Michael Jackson song. That's 1 year more than Conrad Murray got for killing him. #
  • BIG NEWS: Windows NT lead developer now a part of the Xbox team – #
  • @erinkarpluk Yes, really! #
  • @marsheaux Yes, more rejected demos, please! 🙂 #
  • @Nigella_Lawson I think we don't use kettles over here because of the 110v power system – it's almost as fast to use the range. #
  • @winemedineme I love mine too. But I had to research to find a GOOD one (a Bodum). The junky Walmart ones ARE slow. Electric range here too. #
  • @weezmgk Yeah, the Brit ones seem to be MUCH FASTER than the US ones, even my good Bodum kettle #
  • @weezmgk It's a Bodum 5500 (the cordless model). It's 1500w. Contrary to Amazon reviews, mine is 5+ years old and works fine. #
  • @weezmgk link: #
  • @Marsheaux Just wanted to say I've fallen in love with your music the way a 14 year-old boy falls in love with the pretty girl at school! #
  • @Deanoandrews Nice! Seems odd to see you with "modern" hair though! :p #
  • @homeohsexyouall Tea isn't nearly as popular as coffee in the US, so most people and offices have coffeemakers instead. #
  • @homeohsexyouall Also, most homes and offices use microwaves for non-coffee uses (ramen noodles, hot chocolate, etc.) Or the stove (hob). #
  • @petzilla Amen, dude! (the smoking bars, that is…) #
  • @petzilla No, sir you are not. Maria Zyrianova *IS* hot! Somehow hotter in the blonde wig, though. #
  • I'm at Walgreens (6802 Wilkinson Blvd., at Park St., Belmont) #
  • I'm at Old Navy (3692 E Franklin Blvd, Gastonia) #
  • I'm at Sam's Club (3540 E Franklin Blvd., Gastonia) #
  • I'm at Jack In The Box (3618 E Franklin Blvd., Gastonia) #
  • I'm at Point Wylie (Belmont, NC) #
  • Why is FAKE football on my TV?!? #
  • Piers Morgan is the worst person on the planet. #

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Why “United”?

There are at least 16 English football (soccer) clubs with “United” in their name, including Newcastle United, West Ham United, Leeds United, Carlisle United, Colchester United, Exeter United, Hartlepool United, Peterborough United, Oxford United… and a little team you might have heard of called Manchester United. America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) even has one such team: DC United.

But why are they “United”, anyway?

Around 150 years ago, it was common for larger English cities to have multiple teams, usually named after the neighborhood they played in. To use New York City as an example, you might have the Gramercy Park Raiders, East Village Bulldogs, SoHo Wildcats and Battery Park Titans. Many of the oldest American football teams had similar beginnings: the Arizona Cardinals, for instance, were known as the “Racine Normals” for several years because they played in Normal Park on Racine Avenue. And the Chicago Bears began as the Decatur Staleys because they were created as a “company team” for A. E. Staley Manufacturing, a corn starch company from Decatur, Illinois.

At any rate, it was all very informal on both sides of the Atlantic at first. But as English football became more and more popular, teams would merge so that they could be competitive with teams from other cities. So the Gramercy Park Raiders, East Village Bulldogs, SoHo Wildcats and Battery Park Titans would merge to create “Manhattan United”.

But the unexpected bit of it is that the first “United” team was actually a cricket team.

By the 1850s, there were several cricket teams in the city of Sheffield. In many cases, these teams were borrowing each other’s grounds (playing fields), or using whatever ground could be improvised on game day. In 1854, a cricket enthusiast named Michael J. Ellison leased a plot of land from the Duke of Norfolk and built a cricket ground called Bramall Lane. Ellison urged several cricket clubs to merge and play at his grounds, and the result was Sheffield United Cricket Club. Sort of. The team didn’t go by that name, at least at first. “Sheffield United” was the name of the company that managed the team. They wouldn’t officially be known as the Sheffield United Cricket Club until 1895.

Continue reading “Why “United”?”

RIGHTING THE WRONGS: The McDonald’s Coffee Case

It seems like any time someone wants to point out a flaw in America’s civil court system, they have to bring up the case of the “old woman who spilled coffee on herself”. Which, at first, kinda makes sense. After all, coffee is usually served hot, right? Most people do, in fact, try to avoid spilling coffee on themselves, so what makes that old lady who sued McDonald’s so special?

Well, as you might guess, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. I don’t know if I completely agree with the decision in Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, as the case is officially known. But I do know that there’s more to it than “stupid old lady spills hot liquid on herself”. I also know that McDonald’s lawyers committed an insanely stupid error in the courtroom, a goof so bad it makes Bill Bucker feel better about himself.

But first… the facts of the case.

On February 27, 1992, a 79-year-old woman named Stella Liebeck decided to join her grandson Chris, who was driving his father (Stella’s son) Jim to the Albuquerque airport. On the way home, Chris stopped at the McDonald’s at 5001 Gibson Boulevard SE so that his grandmother could get a cup of coffee. They got the coffee, and Chris pulled in to a parking space so that Stella could add cream and sugar. Since the car had a curved dash and lacked cup holders, Stella put the cup between her knees and removed the lid. But, as she did, the cup fell backwards, burning her groin, thighs, genitalia and buttocks.

Continue reading “RIGHTING THE WRONGS: The McDonald’s Coffee Case”