Monthly Archives: July 2004

Leonard Snerdly About Leonard Snerdley: Reviews

With thanks to both Ars Techica and Waxy I’ve discovered the brilliant criticism of Leonard Snerdly. His reviews of both Fruit of the Loom t-shirt and the Easy Bake Oven, to give just two examples, turn ordinary product reviews into a new literary form. I’m not quite sure what it is, but man, I have a feeling the Novel is in for quite a run in today’s post-literate hyper-consumerist age.

What I want

I want to be able to set up “subscriptions” that will automatically download new audio content and que it on my iPod. I want my iPod to have playlists that will mirror these subscriptions, automatically noting the items I’ve listened to so I don’t hear them again and purging and/or archiving the files i have listened to.

Most of the pieces are in place.

1. The playcount attribute in a smartplaylist will allow me to set things up to only listen to a piece once. I’m not sure though if I have to resync for things to drop off the playlist.

2. iTunes automation should make it possible to script addition of files and creation of new smart playlists.

3. MP3 blog aggregators should simplify content capture. Unfortunately most of the stuff I want probably isn’t in MP3 format ( ie NPR ), nor is it presented in an RSS feed (though strangely searching for RSS on NPRs site brings up terms and conditions pages that mention their RSS feeds).

Solving these problems could be a fun “learn python” project for me, but the audio conversion piece is going to be kludgy, which turns me off. I’ll have to try to script Streambox VCR (which hopefully has command line options) to pull down the streaming feed and then automate (if possible) Streambox ripper to convert it. Since both of these are unsupported and hard to find software, its not exactly something I could hope to find wide adoption.

Maybe someone else has solved these problems for me. Time to start looking.

Update: It’s 2006, doesn’t this post seem quaint now?

“The best secretary of defense this country has ever had”

Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
“The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking,” the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was “a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher.”

Hersh describes a Pentagon in crisis. The defense department budget is in incredible chaos, he says, with large sums of cash missing, including something like $1 billion that was supposed to be in Iraq.

“The disaffecion inside the Pentagon is extremeley accute,” Hersh says. He tells the story of an officer telling Rumsfeld how bad things are, and Rummy turning to a ranking general yes-man who reassured him that things are just fine. Says Hersh, “The Secretary of Defense is simply incapable of hearing what he doesn’t want to hear.”

Unusual choice of leader | Deseret Morning News Web edition

Hatch draws the line
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch told the Senate on Monday that same-sex couples should be able to live together like married people, should have insurance and estate benefits like married people, and should be able to visit and care for each other in hospitals like married people.

The text above, no more, no less, appeared as the leader first story on the home page of the Deseret News, Salt Lake City’s Mormon church leaning newspaper. Clicking through, we learn that Hatch went on to say that they shouldn’t be able to marry. It’s interesting to me, because out of context, the leader seems to be an endorsement.

Firefox aggravation

I installed the latest release of Firefox (0.91) a few days back, and its really frustrating me.

The biggest annoyance is that its now insisting on opening links from other apps, like SharpReader, or Thunderbird, in an existing window. This is bullshit behavior if you ask me and there isn’t any goddamn UI for changing it, unless you count using about:config and setting the obscurely named advanced.system.supportDDEExec to false, which is what I did with the last version. Guess what, the option is still set, but Firefox is ignorning it.

I’m also annoyed by the fact that there isn’t good UI for re-allowing cookies. Mozilla lets you use a menu item to allow or block cookies from the currently displayed site. Its much harder to get to in Firefox. You have to dig into the options dialog and find the site in the long list of sites with blocked cookies and then you can’t dismiss the dialog in the intuitive way because Firefox doesn’t think you’ve changed anything.

Blocking popups is similarly less-simple than under Mozilla. I also think that they should just unify the list of sites for image, popup and cookie blocking and let you toggle each bit separately. Back when I used separate privacy software, I ended up duping most of the block image and block cookie settings.

I’d say something nice, but the window reuse behavior is really annoying me.

Canned bullshit – Military on alert for Coke’s chip contest – Jul 2, 2004

Specially rigged Coke cans, part of a summer promotion, contain cell phones and global positioning chips. That has officials at some installations worried the cans could be used to eavesdrop, and they are instituting protective measures. […]

Asked if Coke would curtail the promotional campaign because of the security issues raised, Martin said, “No. There’s no reason to.”

I think he forgot to add: “Not when we paid a PR agent to drum up all this flack for the publicity value”