March 2008

Album Cover: Sea Change

"How could this love, ever changing, never change the way I feel?"
Beck / Lonesome Tears

Ill Nino is Not Enigma

March 11, 2008 12:56 AM

Haha. I read my new music releases feed incorrectly tonight, thinking that Ill Nino was a new release from one of my favorite artists from the 90s, Enigma. I made my way over to YouTorrent and downloaded the album, only to find that Ill Nino is most certainly not Enigma. Have a listen, if you think you can stomach it.

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Life is...

March 10, 2008 7:58 PM

...the stuff that happens to me while I am listening to music.

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First Impression of Socialthing!

March 10, 2008 1:57 AM

Screenshot of Socialthing! Error Messages

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Gmail Accounts Accessed Through POP3 Disabled

March 10, 2008 1:37 AM

After signing up for FriendFeed the other night and Socialthing! (thanks to TechCrunch), I was told by both services that I'd been sent an email for confirmation purposes. However, the emails never appeared to arrive. Since they were sent to one of the Gmail accounts I'm accessing solely through POP3 via my main Gmail account, I got a little suspicious.

First, I tried to log in to the account directly via google.com/mail and my login attempt failed. I then got another chance, this time with a CAPTCHA, and after successfully logging in, I saw the following message:

Sorry, your account has been disabled. [?]

After following the hyperlinked question mark, I was presented with a choice between two options: "I'm a Gmail user" and "I'm not a Gmail user." I picked the first for obvious reasons, and was sent to a page that read:

To restore your Gmail account, please begin with these steps:

  • Sign in through our web interface at https://mail.google.com.
  • Enter your username and password.
  • Click Submit.
  • You'll now see a captcha (letters in a distorted picture).
  • Click Submit again.

However, once I clicked on the link in the first step, I was already logged in to my account and could see all my email. Seeing that, I then went to my main Gmail account to see if it was receiving mail for the account which had been disabled, but it was not. I went to the Accounts tab under Settings and saw red error messages in the "Get mail from other accounts" portion letting me know that email had not been fetched via POP3 for quite some time. I clicked on the "Check mail now" link and, surely enough, I was able to fetch mail from the reenabled account.

Although I was seemingly able to allay the issue for the time being, it's a bit disheartening to think that my accounts are being disabled like that for no real rhyme or reason. The only reason I can think of is that my mail is being retrieved via POP3 and never via the main Gmail interface, but so what? It seems like a perfectly reasonable use case for someone who intends on dealing with their email through POP3 only.

If anyone has had a similar experience or can shed any insight on why this is happening, I'm all eyes.

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Digital Short: The Mirror

March 09, 2008 1:01 PM

What the...

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You Don't Really Care for Music, Do Ya?

March 09, 2008 12:38 PM

After spotting this over at kottke.org, I read Hallelujah in full, only to find that one of my favorite artists, Imogen Heap, had recorded a cover of "Hallelujah" that aired on The O.C. at one point. I had to find that, so I started looking.

What I ended up finding was a treasure trove of "Hallelujah" covers provided by My Old Kentucky Blog. If you're a fan of the song at all, you've got to check this out. It has two versions of the song from Leonard Cohen (the original recording and then a later live performance), and then around 40 (!) covers, live and recorded, of the song by many different artists including the likes of U2's Bono, Regina Spektor, Bob Dylan, Damien Rice and many others, all available to download.

The music really breathes some life into the graph at kottke.org.

But you don't really care for music, do ya?

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Just Another Caturday

March 08, 2008 3:32 PM

Picture of Nala

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The Joys of Using a Comcast DVR

March 08, 2008 2:44 PM

A submission on Digg this past week pointed to an article from NewTeeVee titled Dear Comcast, Why Is My DVR So Dumb? The main point of the article was to complain about the fact that Comcast's DVR software appears to not be able to discern new television episodes from repeats.

What the article fails to cover, though, is the myriad of excruciatingly annoying issues from which the DVR and its software suffer (or more importantly, from which the user suffers). So here's a list of issues I've seen, after having used the Comcast DVR for over a year:

  1. Recording the same episode over and over again
    This is the issue covered in the article mentioned above, but Comcast's explanation is that they are at the mercy of their EPG data provider. Maybe so, but nothing stops them from implementing checks in their actual DVR software to see if an episode has been recorded previously. Funnily (or sadly?) enough, I've seen the same exact issue covered in the article, where episodes of Project Runway are recorded over and over again, whether they are new or not, and whether or not they've previously been recorded, watched and subsequently deleted. I smell some scapegoating going on here.

  2. Blowing away custom recording preferences
    Sometimes, when I want to make sure the DVR is going to record the right shows at the right priority level for the coming week, I spend a good ten minutes or so going through and telling the software not to record certain shows so that others will record instead. If I see shows that I know are repeats (see previous issue), I'll tell it not to record those as well. However, I've noticed that the DVR software, seemingly on a whim (or perhaps more realistically whenever it updates its guide data) loses those custom preferences and goes back to recording all the crap it decided it should record based on the default settings (and its bizarre quirks). This is really annoying when it happens, because it's basically time lost on my part.

  3. Fast-forwarding and rewinding woes
    It only takes about a couple days of using the Comcast DVR to realize that of the five fast-forward and rewind levels supported, the first level doesn't work worth a darn, ever. It will fast-forward or rewind for a second or so, and then it just gets stuck. So basically there are four supported levels, meaning an extra button click on the remote every single time you want to fast-forward or rewind.

  4. General unresponsiveness
    This ranks right up there with the most annoying problems with the DVR and its software. Often times, when you hit the "OK" button on the remote control, the DVR will take its time processing whatever it is you asked it to do, but it gives no visual indication whatsoever that it is doing anything at all! Because of this, I often find myself hitting the up or down arrows in an attempt to find out if the DVR is actually doing work, or if it simply didn't get my remote control command at all and is sitting idle. There is no excuse for this in software, and hourglasses and rotating thingy-mo-bobbers are a dime-a-dozen in the UI world -- get with the program!

  5. Crashes and resets
    The DVR and its software crashes and resets randomly. In general, I would say this is totally unacceptable in a production device, but I suppose I could allow for one crash a year, maybe. Unfortunately, in the past year I've had my DVR crash and/or reset more times than I can count on one hand (and no, this isn't isolated to a single DVR). Hey Comcast, ever heard of QA?

  6. Certain channels take several minutes to load
    When I sit down to watch television, I don't load a disc into a tray before doing so, so I don't expect my DVR to make me wait for channels to load as if I was playing Final Fantasy or something. Comcast, if your infrastructure can't handle all the channels you offer, how about offering me a choice of channels I care about and discounting me the price of all the channels of which I opt-out?

  7. Recordings go off the reservation, never to be seen or heard from again
    I've covered this issue before, but numerous times I've had recordings that either go black halfway through, that force me to delete them halfway through, or even that ask me if I want to delete them as soon as I start watching them. This is unacceptable. If a show fails to record completely, at least show some decency and make it disappear altogether, rather than teasing me with bits and pieces of it.

  8. On Demand, much like a broken clock, is only right about twice a day
    I can honestly say that a majority of the time I've spent using the On Demand feature of my Comcast DVR has ended with some sort of error message either indicating that the service was not available at the time, or even providing me with some obscure error code that I'm recommended to share with my friendly, local Comcast support representative. On Demand is great in concept; it's just a shame Comcast has implemented it so poorly.

  9. Remote control command queuing
    This one could almost fit in the "general unresponsiveness" category, but it's so frustrating that I felt it deserves a category of its own. Whenever the Comcast DVR goes out to lunch (which, again, it does more than a couple of spoiled BFFs), it continues to queue up any remote control commands you send its way. At first, this usually consists of normal commands you were planning to send. Shortly thereafter, it usually consists of angry and random button presses to vent frustration that the DVR is no longer paying attention to your commands. It then ends in a blaze of random, unpredictable glory as every single button stroke plays out before you and you realize you are now set up to record all episodes of The Golden Girls and your latest Breaking Bad episode is no more.

To see if I've missed anything important, I'd have to go over and actually use my DVR. As you might have guessed, I'm not really in the mood to do so at the moment. If you've had similar issues or know of others, please share them here. After all, misery loves company.

Oh, and if you're a "Comcast executive" and you decide that, again, you would like to help me with my problems, please don't bother. That $50 reimbursement you gave last time was way more than enough to cover the endless pain I've endured as a Comcast DVR user.

Oh, and you won't have to worry about hearing too many more complaints from me about Comcast's DVR or television service, because I'll be parting ways with both in the very near future.

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My Favorite Ghosts

March 08, 2008 1:23 PM

After originally posting about the release of Nine Inch Nails' latest album, Ghosts I-IV, shortly after it was made available, I've had more time to listen to the four acts of which it is comprised, and I have to say it's another great NIN release.

Of its 36 tracks, though, there are some obvious stand-outs in my opinion, so I've listed them below:

Album Cover of 'Ghosts I-IV'

1 Ghosts I
This track is a nice, moody intro, much like the album's last track is a nice, moody outro.

3 Ghosts I
The rapid plucking sound is awesome and there are even some Egyptian-like sounds thrown in around the two-minute mark.

The bulk of the rest of acts I and II consist of some almost country western sounds and some bells -- even some of the gritty distortion one expects from a NIN release. However, while the tracks are all good, they aren't stand-outs when compared to what follows.

20 Ghosts III
There aren't many tracks from any artist in which you get to hear one drum beat completely chomp on and devour another.

21 Ghosts III
This one has some of the aforementioned bells from acts I and II mixed in with evolving synth sounds. It transitions very nicely into...

22 Ghosts III
This track starts with a sweet (in the "aww" sense of the word) piano sound. It is almost too inspirational for a NIN track. It is then immediately followed by...

23 Ghosts III
Four words: gritty, up-tempo, powerful distortion.

25 Ghosts III
The successor to a track that sounds like old school NIN, this one sounds like aliens invading, really quietly.

27 Ghosts III
I love the siren-like wailing and the high-pitched guitar squeals.

32 Ghosts IV
This track has a great, driving sound with more of those plucked strings. I really like the way the song ends so cleanly.

34 Ghosts IV
The evolution of this track is quite haunting. This is one of a few tracks in which I swear I hear Trent's backing vocals.

35 Ghosts IV
The recurring "double squeak" (you like that?) and the killer, albeit short, guitar solo toward the end of this track make it one of my favorites on the album.

All-in-all, the biggest weakness of Ghosts I-IV is that there are no vocals, but that is also one of its biggest strengths -- you learn to appreciate the textures and various roles of all the sounds.

The great thing about this album is that it lets you in gracefully, gets a little unpredictable, and then gets really strong toward the end. It gets so strong, in fact, that I am anxiously awaiting acts V and beyond.

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Parkland Crime Map

March 08, 2008 10:35 AM

While reading a story about a messed up crime that took place in Parkland, Washington, it reminded me of a crime map of Parkland that I once saw on campus at Pacific Lutheran University. It looked something like this:

Mock-up of a Parkland Crime Map

Where the color red represents high levels of crime and the color green represents little to no crime. So what was up with the green dot? That was the PLU campus.

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Steve Gervais Hired by the Washington Huskies

March 06, 2008 3:34 PM

The Washington Huskies hired Steve Gervais as their new running backs coach this week:

Gervais was 244-87 in 31 years as a head coach. He coached at Eatonville for 16 years, winning three Class 1A titles (1985, 1990 and 1992), then spent two years at Gig Harbor, three years at Rogers of Puyallup and then on to Skyline.

What's so notable about this, you ask? Well, during one of those three years spent at Rogers High School, Steve Gervais was my high school football coach.

Steve Gervais is an awesome guy and I'm really happy for him. It'll be fun seeing him on the sidelines this fall.

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Thinking Ahead

March 03, 2008 4:35 PM

As my fiancée's and my wedding quickly approaches, we've been tying up some loose ends and getting our house in order (both literally and figuratively). We've also been getting more notifications about registry gifts and other things that remind us our big day is near. One notification in particular stood out, simply because it contained probably one of the most forward-thinking statements I've heard (or read, in this case). After informing my fiancée and I that we'd be receiving a gift in the mail, it contained a small reminder:

PS. Please keep us in mind for your future anniversaries (Especially your 50th).

I guess they're banking on the idea that my memory will still be halfway decent in 2058 ;)

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Some Sunday Night Ramblings

March 03, 2008 1:19 AM

March just keeps getting better. After reuniting with my friend Brian (the other half of Pleasure Unit) today after probably well over a year, I came home in time to catch wind of something stirring over at www.nin.com. After several hours of dealing with a web server that was being absolutely bombarded, I managed to download over half a gig's worth of brand new Nine Inch Nails music in FLAC format. I've only heard a few of the tracks so far, but I like what I've heard. Long live Trent Reznor!

In the midst of all that, I've been taking a bunch of our old Pleasure Unit CDs and ripping them to FLAC format. I've been meaning to do this for a while, simply because the CDs I have are one of only a few copies in existence, and the 128kbps mp3s I've got on my computer aren't exactly "high quality" (or anything near it). So now I've got a bunch of lossless copies of our stuff and can hopefully sleep a little better at night. As a side note, if you've ever listened to any of our stuff and are interested in getting your hands on a lossless copy of one of our songs, just shoot me an email.

Free agency has started in the NFL and already a couple of Seahawks have parted ways. Kicker Josh Brown and Linebacker Kevin Bentley are no more. I expect to bid adieu a few others before all is said and done, but that's football I guess.

I'm a little perturbed that the Sasquatch Music Festival folks haven't yet released on which days the various acts will be performing. Even though my fiancée and brother have both said they're not interested in going with me this year, I'm excited to go and see Death Cab and Flight of the Conchords, to name only a couple, and would like to know how much money and how many days it is going to cost me to see the acts I'm interested in.

Because the strange routing problem I blogged about a month ago still persists, I've resorted to using FoxyProxy and one of the random American servers over at the Open Proxy List to try and get better response times from the various sites hosted at my web host. However, proxies aren't the most intuitive things in the world (neither is the extension), and the one I've finally got working is somewhat hit-and-miss. Even in its slowness and quirkiness, though, it's much faster than waiting for the sites to respond when going directly from my IP address to my web host. I sure hope this problem sorts itself out somehow, 'cause it's a pain in the butt.

Tonight's episode of Breaking Bad was one of the best yet. If Bryan Cranston doesn't get an Emmy there's something wrong with this world.

With that said, I'm off to bed. 'Night all.

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New Nine Inch Nails Album: 'Ghosts I-IV'

March 02, 2008 8:16 PM

'Ghosts' Album Cover

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Quite a Day

March 01, 2008 5:33 PM

Today has been quite a day. It started off with a big come-from-behind win by my Tarheels, and then included a few rainbows (though it appears that March has come in like a lion this year). I also saw a white horse today, if you'll believe it, but I am pretty sure it wasn't a unicorn. It's nice to see that March, a month that will be a big one for me personally, is off to such a good start.

This was posted from my phone so I'll linkify and clean it up later.

Update: Linkified and cleaned up.

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A Good Month to be #1

March 01, 2008 3:17 PM

University of North Carolina Tarheels Logo

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