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April 24, 2011

You think cause I work for a living that I'm a jerk?
I Kuan

Kabegami by Kumo
Click images for desktop size: "Kuomo 31" by Kabegami
I got robbed this week. No big drama and no excitement. I suppose, considering, that is a good thing.
Work normally quiets down after 6. I was sitting on the stool staring when a guy wearing a hockey Amazons Against Superman mask came through the door. He was kind of fat so he didn't move very quickly.
He came to the window and stuck his arms through the slot. He had a gun I guessed as a .25 automatic, real cheapo nickel plated saturday night special kind of gun, exactly the type that I think should be illegal to purchase or own. In his other hand he had a black gym bag. He said, "Put the money in the bag or you're dead!"
There's video of the whole thing and after he said that I take a long pause. The cops watching it said to me, "Thinking about taking him out, huh?"
That wasn't totally accurate, but close enough for small town cops. What I was thinking was, "I can't believe Antonio is robbing me and waving a gun in my face. Jerk. And shoving his arms through the window. That's insulting. I could stab him with this pen and he'd drop the gun quickly enough. Ah, hell. It's not my money and there's not that much of it anyway. We've had employees steal more than he's going to get and there are other people here and my wife would kill me if I get shot and my puppy needs to go for a walk. I'll just give him the money. I better not ask why he's doing this. He'd shoot me for recognizing him probably or shoot somebody else. That would be worse. Not really but it would feel like it was worse."
So I gave him the money and he left. Idiot strew money from the window all the way to his car.
Problem for him is that even with the hockey mask I recognized him pretty plainly and then there's video of him putting on the mask. Turns out he served 8 years for armed robbery already and he's got a court appearance in May on a drug charge. And he's not yet 30 years old.
Kill My Illusions by ClasixArt
Click images for desktop size: "Kill My Illusions" by ClasixArt
Problem for me is that he's a regular customer. That night he hung out in the store for 4 hours, probably waiting. He wasn't a friend. I'm not friends with any of the customers. But we were friendly. I'm annoyed that someone who I know and who knows me would rob me and threaten me. It shakes what little faith I have in mankind even more.
Of course I still had to deal with the concerns that I was hardly devastated or panicked over the robbery. I have to remember to say things but, for me, other than the way I took it personally, it had little impact on me.
If I'd gotten shot I'd think about it differently I suppose but no one was hurt, the warrants are issued to pick the guy up. What more is there to it?

It looks like I'm going to do a study which is not a trial. I've done trials. Trials are only good when the alternative is sure death.Another Man's Poison
This is a study. A trial is where they think this will work but they're not quite certain of how or what the side effects will be. A study is when the drug has been approved and is on sale. The study is to insure something that's important to the drug company.
This study is for a diabetes drug called Juvenita or something close to that. It's a drug that the doc's wanted to give me but it is too expensive!
The purpose of the study is to avoid getting sued in case the drug causes heart attacks.
It's a five year study, which I take as proof positive that I'll live at least another 5 years. That's scientific logic that is. Unless I get shot, that is.
I get sixty bucks a quarter and a free supply of the drug, unless I hit the study group in which case I get the placebo. Fifty-fifty shot on that. Of course I want the drug. It's supposedly very good and will drive down my daily insulin dosage etc.
Human Frieght Train by NFL FIlms
Click images for desktop size: "Human Freight Train" by NFl Films
I go this Friday for the blood tests. Cool.

I'm going to start to experiment and turn comments on. The spammers might hit it too hard but then, they may have all gone away! Yeah. Like that'll happen. I still average about 150 spam hits an hour but they seem to have different objectives. The spiders that don't obey, or respect, htaccess files worry me. But I miss comments. Like some fellow went through a lot of grief to reach me to tell me that I'd misspelled an artists name. And it was a major misspelling too, like I touch typed with my fingers on the wrong keys sort of thing.

April 17, 2011

Since you've been gone my guitar won't stay in tune
The Lolas

Airplane by unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Airplane" by Unknown
The world is in bad trouble. In the USA we've got a President who promised change but then turned in to George H Bush. In the mid-west we've got loonies hiding under the name of reverend going House of Whipcord around burning books that results in people getting killed and nobody condemns him or threatens to shoot him because he's against women having a choice, I guess that makes him alright.
Its dark and getting darker for the world: Climate change, the price of oil, the destruction of innovation by the lying politicians and their cold eyed assassins.
There's no way out so long as the poor, the middle class, the children and the puppies are the only ones getting hurt.
The National Visa Center sent me a letter today telling me that we'd been approved to proceed with our application. The sort of statement that makes sense only to government workers and bureaucrats of the 7th circle. The main point of it all seemed to be that I had to send them more money.
My puppy's annual physical is on Saturday. She should be fine. I plan to take photos. Since the separation from my wife (due to governments not personalities) I haven't been taking pictures like I'm used to. I keep trying to get enthused about it again but it's a hard go.
I remembered taking pictures when my puppy and I watched a fight between a crow and a squirrel. It was very interesting. And then about 1o minutes later we saw an opossum cross a busy street in front of us. It went hhhhhhh at us and didn't even attempt to fool us into thinking it was dead. We chaperoned it across the street but it was as ungrateful as it was ugly.
Yes, I wanted to take pictures of an animal fight and of something ugly. I think people would have liked them.
In the face of all this cataclysm and personality the only safe thing to do is think about and over analyze the trivial.

AppleTV vs WDTV Live

The first thing you have to understand is that the DVD is dead tech. The BluRay disk will be following it soon.
The future and now are media files: H264 mp4's and mkv's. They do to movies what mp3's, aac and Hawaiian Girls by Chris Sanders
Click images for desktop size: "Hawaiian Girl's Progress" by Chris Sanders
flac have done to music. And it's all a good thing no matter what the old fogies at the MPAA and the RAIA have convinced Obama and any other cash hungry government man.
With the means of production and now distribution falling into the hands of the creators there's a nice little well spring of music and books starting to flood over us, most poor but many good and a few great. All pretty much distinguished by the fact that without the new method of distribution we'd never have heard of them or been given a chance to decide what we love or hate.
Of course the people who are used to telling us what we like hate that. Choice sucks when you're intent on propagating mediocrity.
Mp3's were getting huge but it was the iPod, the hardware that pushed them to the top. And now there are plenty of cheap media players for video, all that scream to take me from the computer screen to the big screen, the screen in the living room. The first one I became aware of was the AppleTV 1. It was a sleek small silver box with a smallish hard drive. It was also totally cool evenAbducted Bride with its heavy heavy limitations and shortcomings.
I got a Western Digital WDTV Live because I liked their drives, the WDTV can read multiple HD formats and not just the usual Windows litany and I got it on sale for about $80. It addresses a lot of the AppleTV's shortcomings quite nicely. I can attach an external hard drive for unlimited storage and it can play almost anything, whereas the AppleTV only plays mp4 and then it has to be in iTunes.
The WDTV gui is ugly. It can be fixed and fiddled and be made to be more attractive but that doesn't change it's basic homeliness. It works alright though and that means something. The AppleTV gui is beautiful and well thought out. It is graceful and simple minded to comprehend.
I got an AppleTV 2 for my wife. It is even simpler than the 1 and smaller, lighter and fool proof to Sarah Walks by Marvel Comics
Click images for desktop size: "Sarah Walks" by Marvel Comics
install and run. More than it just works, it is just there.
The AppleTV is fun. The interface has enough things to do that you always feel you're onto some secret discoveries. With the addition of the, to me worthless, MLB and NBA channels and the potent addition of Netflix it really has become a full on entertainment center.
Netflix needs a digression. With it's new commitment to streaming only Netflix has become the first preview of all our entertainment in the cloud. The selection is pretty much like what you'd find in a popular video store just before closing on a Saturday night. It's all old movies and stuff you'd normally avoid. To me that's okay. I like that stuff.
If you want something more current there is, just two clicks away, the iTunes store with pricier rentals.
With the inclusion of podcasts, your own video libraries and music libraries you can fill up months of time and with a $99 MSRP what could any one complain about?
One caveat: The sound on the music is not as deep or full as the sound from most iPod docks. Most receivers have some sort of Compressed Music sound enhancement. Apple has long eschewed that. Big Foot It can be adjusted with some receiver based EQ but why?
The WDTV is not as much fun. In recent firmware upgrades it has added Flingo and Mediafly as a source of online media. It also has Facebook integration, although I've never gotten that to work so I can't comment. Facebook is not something I care about anyway.
Where the WDTV beats the AppleTV is all tech stuff. It will output 1080p as opposed to the 720p limitation put on by Apple. The WDTV will play anything. I've yet to find something it couldn't play, including camera mts files. AppleTV 2 will play only mp4's with H264 or X264 video encoding. It will finally handle High Profile encoding and CABAC encoded files but that is it.
The WDTV plays MKV files flawlessly and does a good job of steaming DTS sound. For me the DTS soundtrack is more important than the 1080p playback.
The WDTV also handles attached drives, so if you save your movies and music on an external drive it is nothing to attach the drives to your WDTV and have instant access to 2 TB of media. (And the WDTV is the only media player out there that can access any format on the drive - most demand the archaic Windows solutions for morons - a few European ones will allow Linus formats but that's about it.)
Apple still demands that you can only access movies stored on your computer and within iTunes. This keeps things simple but it is seriously limiting. (Even if its financial and designed to slow down piracy or reassure Apple's content providers it is a cheat to the consumer.)
The WDTV plays music well but it does not play the whacky Apple Lossless codec, while it handles FLAC just fine. Conversely the AppleTV plays Apple Lossless just fine but just ignores FLAC. FLAC is Virtual Girl by unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Virtual Girl" by Unknown
by far the superior codec.
I have 110 gigs of music so I actually like iTunes integration for various mundane and personal reasons. Hence I don't use the WDTV for music listening, preferring to use my receiver's iPod dock.
I like that I have access to my WDTV and my wife's AppleTV 2. If I had to choose I would have no problem saying goodbye to the AppleTV. The WDTV tries to be user friendly but it isn't. Still it makes more important things available to me. That no one else can easily access these things doesn't bother me much.
The AppleTV is fun and easy to use like an expert with nil effort. I could live with it easily if there was nothing else available.

I miss comments. I like hearing from people. Spam is still an ugly problem but in the near future I'm going to open them up again. Movable Type has improved their security again and I have hopes that it will sort the mess out. I still have over 300 malicious (spammer, hacker) hits an hour.