Archive for February, 2006

coldstone creamery sings its last

February 23rd, 2006

The local Cold Stone Creamery franchise has folded up shop; after falling for the pre-opening hype of their first week in Northampton, I gladly dropped by to purchase a jumbo-sized bowl of ice cream. Halfway through attempting to eat it, I felt the pull of the Lord, drawing me home. A deep diabetic coma set in, and when I awoke years later, the doctors that encircled my bed informed me I should feel blessed enough to have kept most of the leg, above the knee.

For others, however, I believe the deal-breaker of Cold Stone Creamery was not the self-preservation instinct borne by legitimate health concerns, but instead the uncomfortable mandatory employee-sung songs after anyone left a tip. I have seen the face of ennui, and it is the downcast face of a sullen Northampton indie-kid as he mouths the words of an ice-cream themed public domain jingle in a ritual of forced camaraderie and faux gratitude.

Most importantly — now Steve Herrell can sleep easy on his giant bed of money, petting his solid gold dog; secure once again in his position as the area’s one and only iron-fisted ice cream impresario. Line up, Northampton! Moo!


twenty years of zelda

February 21st, 2006

Wow, I still remember riding my bike down to Kay-Bee Toy and Hobby and picking up a copy of Zelda. It was a little more expensive than the other NES cartridges, but it was gold and I read in Nintendo Power* you could save your game — no more writing down stupid long codes like in Metroid and Kid Icarus! It was accompanied by a TV ad with a guy in a black turtleneck screaming incomprehensibly about something.Hard to believe that was twenty years ago.


* oh, and I wanted to be a Nintendo Game Counselor so bad, too. Imagine! You’d get paid to sit around in a tracksuit, play NES games all day, and then talk on the phone to children! But in the cold, hard light of twenty years later, there’s no way in hell I’d take a job where I’d have to work up tips n’ tricks for “Chubby Cherub” and “Blaster Master”, both of which I swear to God I beat.

frequently asked questions about dial tone checking

February 21st, 2006

…copied from the F.A.Q. at

Q: I think I might have a dial tone. Do I?

A: That can only be determined by a qualified dial tone professional.

Q: When I plug a phone into the wall, I hear a tone. Is that a dial tone?

A: Hard to say. It’s best to let a seasoned dial tone technician make the call.

Q: Let’s say I have a phone at my home or place of business and it’s been working for years. Should I get it checked for a dial tone?

A: Yes, and right away.

Q: I’ve been picking up objects from around my desk (coffee mug, clipboard, desk calendar) and checking them for dial tones — so far no luck. What am I doing wrong?

A: That is a common mistake novice dial tone checkers make. Our dial tone checkers are state-certified to be up-to-date on all the most recent dial tone checking technologies.

Q: I’m using a phone right now to call “Jeff’s Dial Tone Checking Emporium Dot Com”. By the simple and inherent nature of this telephone call, I must have a dial tone, right?

A: Maybe so, maybe not. The only way to be certain is to get your dial tone checked by one of our qualified dial tone checkologists. Otherwise, there could be a fire.

Q: Your service certainly is way fucking expensive. But travel expenses must be included in the cost, right?

A: Not even close. The extensive equipment needed for dial tone checking requires that we all drive around in a crazy cool old antique ambulance with a sun roof like they used in “Ghostbusters”, and those things guzzle gas like you would not believe. Blame Bush!

Q: Are you available to check my dial tone today?

A: Oooh, today, yeah — not so good for us. Maybe later in the week, around 3-ish? We’ll have to get back to you.


household enthusiasms

February 21st, 2006



can I get an amen

February 21st, 2006

Can I Get An Amen? is an audio installation that unfolds a critical perspective of perhaps the most sampled drum beat in the history of recorded music, the Amen Break. It begins with the pop track Amen Brother by 60’s soul band The Winstons, and traces the transformation of their drum solo from its original context as part of a ‘B’ side vinyl single into its use as a key aural ingredient in contemporary cultural expression. The work attempts to bring into scrutiny the techno-utopian notion that ‘information wants to be free’- it questions its effectiveness as a democratizing agent. This as well as other issues are foregrounded through a history of the Amen Break and its peculiar relationship to current copyright law.

… this comprehensive documentary on this infamous 6-second loop is fascinating to me, as during college in 1998, I created a bunch of fairly popular Mac OS 9 soundsets*; one of which, entitled “Jungle2Jungle” was based entirely around the “Amen Break”. It was cool.

Watch/listen to the video here.


* …the most inexplicably popular of which was the Mac OS 9 “Howler Monkey” soundset, which triggered the horrible, horrible sounds of Howler Monkeys every time the user clicked a window or opened a menu. The best feedback I got was an email from a man who lived deep in an actual jungle who doubted the veracity of my howler monkey samples (and rightfully so!) because “he heard howler monkeys… all the time… every day”.

radio shack announces free TV downloads

February 21st, 2006


PR NEWSWIRE 02/2006 — Not to be outdone by recent free downloadable network television programming from Apple, Yahoo, and Google, retail giant Radio Shack Corp. (RSH) announced today that they are offering free streaming network television to any and all North American customers using a push technology they are calling ‘antenna’.

“Our ‘antenna’, when positioned just right, will allow viewers to pick up a wide variety of network and local programming,” said Radio Shack CEO Leonard Roberts. “We can deliver hot new television shows such as ‘Lost’ and ‘Skating With Celebrities’ via wireless technology — and using the very same ‘coaxial’ connection that our customers are used to connecting to their cable modem and VoIP systems.”

Roberts went on to hint that in addition to just-in-time streaming delivery of live or near-live content, additional technology will be available to time-shift the streamed content using cheaply available archival backup tapes, with three levels of quality: LP, EP, or SEP. “And of course, all of this equipment will be branded under the ubiquitous and well-respected ‘Realistic’ brand name that our customers have come to associate with the very highest of high-tech consumer goods”, Roberts said.

As of press time, Radio Shack had not decided whether to use the smooth-fitting coaxial connection or the incredibly tedious screw-on kind, but sources close to the company offered that “they were leaning towards the tedious kind”. Additionally, Radio Shack is proud to announce that they have that weird button battery you need, and that RCA cables are now available in lengths of 3′, 6′ and 9.5′.


how i learned to stop worrying and love the fusion

February 19th, 2006

First, an apology to Jeff. 

Jeff – I’m sorry.  The Gillette Fusion is your baby, and I’d about to swing by in a windowless van and snatch this little baby out of your arms.  So I whole-heartedly apologize.  That said, here is the grand review of the Gillette Fusion, carefully formulated to provide a large amount of information with little or no actual useful content.  Impressive.  I know.

I want to be upfront about something else.  I don’t want to like the Gillette Fusion. In fact, I very much want to dislike it.  Every time Gillette comes out with a new product, the price goes up, and I want feel like the razor mafia is coming by to collect insurance. I’m poor.  I can’t afford this sort of extortion.  ….but I can’t afford to not have the best shave money can buy, can I?

I have a special need for this 5-headed hydra beast.  As you can see here, I’m beginning to show early signs of baldness.  (Thanks Mom and Dad. That’s right Mom AND Dad)

As a result, I eat Mach3 blades for breakfast.  With a little milk and brown sugar, they are delicious. I shave my head about once a week or so, and it is guaranteed eat a blade.  After a solid head shaving, I’m left with a dull stump of a blade, the “moisturizing strip” is paper white, and all dried up.

So how does this 5 headed affront to the lord hold up?  Take a peek.

So the end verdict – the Fusion does in fact achieve the all important “creepy baby skin soft” that will cause strangers and coworkers alike to grope my head in inappropriate ways.  My head is remarkably blood free in the aftermath, and there was enough of an edge left to shave my face.

It looks the like Gillette Mafia will be getting another four bucks a blade after all.

dapper drake

February 19th, 2006

Check it out: Ubuntu Linux is just getting better and better. It’s coming complete with more and more applications that combine to form a complete user desktop, and each release has a more polished user interface than the last. With the addition of Xgl and compiz — a eye-candy rich graphics system that rivals what Mac OS X and Microsoft Vista can offer — Ubuntu Linux has come a long way. If you want to try Ubuntu on your machine without losing everything you own, download and burn a Live CD which you can boot off of just to check Ubuntu out, without formatting your hard drive or modifying your existing OS in any way.


a scanner darkly

February 19th, 2006

Oh, I want to see this so bad. Comes out July 7th, 2006.


crystal AU

February 19th, 2006

Directions on how to get the really cool and free Crystal analog synth Audio Unit working with your copy of GarageBand 2 or higher:

  1. Download the DMG, run the installer.
  2. Fire up GarageBand. Create a new project, key of C.
  3. Get Info (command-I) on the default track (“Grand Piano”). Click on the little triangle next to “Details” to expose the Generator and the Effects. The “Generator” is the source of the sound, the “Effects” are what post-process the sound — think of them as guitar pedals and you’re not far off.
  4. Select “Crystal” as the generator. If you don’t have a USB MIDI keyboard (and really, why don’t you?) turn on “Musical Typing” (command-shift-K) and play that funky sawtooth. Hello, “Logan’s Run”!
  5. Now select one of the other 127 totally excellent presets by using the drop down next to the “Crystal” generator drop down.
  6. When/if you get bored of those, make your own by clicking the tiny little pencil all the way to the right. Good luck.
  7. Save your patch at any time by selecting “Save Instrument”. This will save the generator and any effects you’ve applied.


mind the gap

February 19th, 2006

Cool graph representing world progress regarding child mortality, which I grant you doesn’t inherently sound that cool, but the creators of this presentation have simply utilized a cool way of visualizing and presenting the data involved. Check it out: please note that the Flash presentation talks to you a bit (in a pleasing accent), so turn your volume down if there are others about.



February 18th, 2006

Hey, kids, remember “Surge”? Of course you don’t — or not very well, at least. Much like Vault, the new “energy soda hybrid” from Coke, Surge was an undifferentiated, lackluster conglomeration of sugar, citrus and caffeine meant to bite into the mysteriously popular EXXXTREEEME yellow-green soda market.

Nice try, Coke, but I have known Mountain Dew MDX; Mountain Dew MDX is a friend of mine; and you are no Mountain Dew MDX.


howto: build your own mac os x trojan

February 16th, 2006

In 13 easy steps:

  1. Start up XCode; if you don’t have the Mac OS X Developer Tools installed, sign up and download them from ADC.
  2. Select “File -> New Project…”

    Read the rest of this entry »

feelin’ busy

February 16th, 2006

FedEx shirt

Yeah, you’re sooo important.

getting system stats via php

February 16th, 2006

phpSysInfo is a nicely done, easy to install PHP interface for getting system information on hardware, network, memory, and file system utilization.

Even though their site approaches a level of bad in line with some of the worst, the software is still worth a try. There’s a sourceforge page and it’s corresponding download page.

It even comes with a set of templates, including one called “aq” that mildly resembles the most awesome desktop operating system of today.

Instructions, for anyone who might need them, to follow.
Read the rest of this entry »