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October 2001
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because ... well ... why the hell not ...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Tuesday, October 30th


Another Brief Episode of the Semi-Occasional "Tuesday Morning Miscellaneous Awards":

  • The award for "Best Button seen at Last Weekend's SF convention" goes to:

    "It's just rocket science, it's not something hard like getting a date."

  • The award for "Poorest Excuse for a 'Frequently Asked Questions' Page" goes to:

    Advanced Micro Devices Inc., for any of their Athlon FAQs, e.g.,

    Q. What level of performance will the AMD Athlon MP processors deliver?

    A: The AMD Athlon MP processor offers a high level of performance for servers and workstations, building on the award-winning desktop version of the AMD Athlon processor. The AMD Athlon MP processor can power a highly responsive system capable of meeting and exceeding business needs.

For some reason, I keep going to AMD's site [ ] when I'm trying to find out information on their products. I'm not really sure why I keep doing this, maybe it has something to do with their being the manufacturer.

To be fair, the actual spec sheets on their products still contain useful details like physical dimensions and power consumption (yes, a typical Athlon now consumes fifty-five watts all by itself), and AMD does have the longest step-by-step guide to how to install a heat sink without destroying the Athlon chip [ ] which takes no fewer than twenty pages to describe the official AMD-approved procedure.

But apart from such minor aberrations, like 3Com and many other high-tech companies, AMD has taken to heart the two overriding principles that guide most high-tech business website design today:

  1. Carefully sift through all material that a customer or potential customer could see, remove any and all hard data or information that is at risk of being useful or meaningful. Replace and expand with only MBA-approved jargon devoid of any meaning.
  2. Find out what annoys one's customer base and either expand on it or adopt it. In this case, AMD's new "Quantispeed Technology" which is not actually technology, but merely a trademark. The idea of renaming all one's processors with names that sound like they should be the clock speeds (but aren't) isn't a new idea. Cyrix tried it with their "P-rating" and it was annoying then just as it was now.

But I will give AMD credit for one thing: at least their webpages aren't all named "New Page 1" or "untitled." Not that "HOME_DEFAULT" is a big improvement, but at least it's different.

Tuesday, October 23rd


Random useful link-of-the-moment:

Projector Central's online Projector Calculator [ ] Besides having the most extensive and useful database of LCD, DLP, and DILA projector specs of both current and discontinued models, Projector Central has a form that lets you pick the projector of interest and fill in either the screen size or the distance between the projector and the screen, and it'll tell you the workable range of the other parameter for that particular model.

(I've been setting up several projection systems lately, including one I donated to a local nonprofit community theater, so this was a cool site to run across.)

Thursday, October 18th


Packing the house:

Yesterday I paid a visit to the duplication plant where the VHS copies of Dragon and the Hawk are being produced and prepared for distribution. Here's a shot of the newly assembled videotapes and packaging coming out of the automatic video-into-box-stuffing machine.

the videotape assembly line

pallets of tapes

At the time I dropped by the plant, it was just a few hours into this production run, but you can see that they've already filled several pallets with assembled tapes, ready to be boxed and shipped out.

I don't think I'll drop by the plant that's doing the DVD pressing and assembly, however. That's being done by the same company that does CD replication for Inferno Music, which most likely means that all the action will be taking place in Korea.

not actual size

Which is a little amusing, when you consider that Julian has a strong Korean fan base (he's from Korea and was their national Tae Kwon Do champion before getting into the movie biz), so some of those DVDs and CDs are likely to get made in Korea and then shipped to the US so that the distributors can ship them back to Korea.

Maybe it's a mark of our society's level of technological advancement and sophistication that this is still the most cost-effective way to do it. Or something. But, then, when I try doing a traceroute to another site on the internet that's physically less than ten miles from here, it usually goes by way of California and/or Chicago, so maybe videotape distribution is just being modelled after modern-day internet routing.

Okay, so that's not a very good theory, but it is a theory, nonetheless.

Friday, October 12th


An unfortunate flicker:

As mentioned below, just a week ago, Michelle Grove's selection as one of Olympic Torchbearers for the 2002 Winter Olympics was officially announced. Michelle teaches martial arts at Warrior Quest International [ ] and as an Olympic torchbearer, you have the option of purchasing the torch you carry to keep, otherwise you have to return it after your run. It's not cheap, but how often do you get a chance to collect a memento like that?

After learning the above, Michelle's students put together a collection to get the torch for her, each contributing a part of the total, which they'd placed in an envelope labeled "Olympic Torch Fund" (subtle, eh?) and left in the Warrior Quest office to give to her.

Yesterday, one week after the International Olympic Committee's announcement, one of the windows of the dojo was smashed, the display cases shattered, and numerous objects stolen--including Michelle's olympic torch fund.

Police are investigating--apparently the perpetrators were very thorough where it came to leaving fingerprints over almost every level surface in facility--but, unfortunately, many of the items taken were not necessarily of any great monetary value, but irreplacable in their personal and sentimental value (awards, items from another instructor's wedding, etc.).

one of the empty display cabinets at Warrior Quest

Thursday, October 4th


Carrying a torch:

It's finally been officially announced--Michelle Grove (pictured at right, sans torch) has been selected as of the Olympic torchbearers for the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics; we've known about it for a couple of months now, we just weren't supposed to tell anyone before the Olympic Committee released their announcement.

Michelle Grove at the Cherry Blossom Festival

Originally, the Olympic Committee had scheduled their official press conference for ten AM, September 12th, in Battery Park, New York City.

You probably know why that particular press conference didn't happen as planned.

But now the secret's out, so if you're in the Denver area come this February, be sure to keep an eye out for a torch-bearing Michelle running by....

Tuesday, October 2nd


With "patriots" like these, who even needs terrorists?

In the wake of the September 11th disaster, Clear Channel Communications [ ], sent the more than 1,200 radio stations nationwide a list of songs their DJs should avoid playing, lest they offend any listeners concerned about the continuing existence of free speech in this country.

Just in case you hadn't seen it, here's the list:

AC/DCShot Down in Flames
Shoot to Thrill
Dirty Deeds
Highway to Hell
Safe in New York City
Hell's Bells
Ad LibsThe Boy from New York City
Alice In ChainsRooster
Sea of Sorrow
Down in a Hole
Them Bone
Alien Ant FarmSmooth Criminal
AnimalsWe Gotta Get Out of this Place
Louis ArmstrongWhat a Wonderful World
BanglesWalk Like an Egyptian
Barenaked LadiesFalling for the First Time
Fontella BassRescue Me
Beastie BoysSure Shot
BeatlesA Day in the Life
Lucy in fhe Sky with Diamonds
Ticket to Ride
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Pat BenatarHit Me with Your Best Shot
Love Is a Battlefield
Black SabbathWar Pigs
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Suicide Solution
Blood, Sweat, and TearsAnd When I Die
Blue Oyster CultBurnin' for You
Brooklyn BridgeWorst that Could Happen
Arthur BrownFire
Jackson BrowneDoctor, My Eyes
BushSpeed Kills
Chi-LitesHave You Seen Her
Dave Clark FiveBits and Pieces
Petula ClarkA Sign of the Times
The ClashRock the Casbah
Phil CollinsIn the Air Tonight
Sam CookeWonderful World
Creedence Clearwater RevivalTravelin' Band
CultFire Woman
Bobby DarinMack the Knife
Skeeter DavisEnd of the World
Neil DiamondAmerica
DioHoly Diver
DoorsThe End
DriftersOn Broadway
Drowning PoolBodies
Bob DylanKnockin' on Heaven's Door
EverclearSanta Monica
Shelly FabaresJohnny Angel
FilterHey Man, Nice Shot
Foo FightersLearn to Fly
FuelBad Day
Peter GabrielWhen You're Falling
Gap BandYou Dropped a Bomb on Me
GodsmackBad Religion
Norman GreenbaumSpirit in the Sky
Green DayBrain Stew
Guns N' RosesKnockin' on Heaven's Door
HappeningsSee You in September
Jimi HendrixHey Joe
Herman's HermitsWonderful World
HolliesHe Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
Buddy Holly and the CricketsThat'll be the Day
Jan and DeanDead Man's Curve
Billy JoelOnly the Good Die Young
Elton JohnBenny and the Jets
Rocket Man
Judas PriestSome Heads are Gonna Roll
KansasDust in the Wind
Carole KingI Feel the Earth Move
KornFalling Away From Me
Lenny KravitzFly Away
Led ZeppelinStairway to Heaven
John LennonImagine
Jerry Lee LewisGreat Balls of Fire
Limp BizkitBreak Stuff
Local HBound for the Floor
Los BravosBlack is Black
Lynyrd SkynyrdTuesday's Gone
Martha and the VandellasNowhere to Run
Dancing in the Streets
Dave Matthews BandCrash into Me
Paul McCartney and the WingsLive and Let Die
Barry McGuireEve of Destruction
Don McLeanAmerican Pie
Steve MillerJet Airliner
MegadethDread and the Fugitive
Sweating Bullets
John MellencampCrumbling Down
I'm on Fire
MetallicaSeek and Destroy
Harvester Or Sorrow
Enter Sandman
Fade to Black
Alanis MorissetteIronic
MudvayneDeath Blooms
Rick NelsonTravelin' Man
Nena99 Luftballoons / 99 Red Balloons
Nine Inch NailsHead Like a Hole
Oingo BoingoDead Man's Party
Paper LaceThe Night Chicago Died
John ParrSt. Elmo's Fire
Peter and GordonI Go To Pieces
A World Without Love
Peter, Paul, and MaryBlowin' in the Wind
Leavin' on a Jet Plane
Tom PettyFree Fallin'
Pink FloydRun Like Hell
Mother P.O.D.
Elvis Presley(You're the) Devil in Disguise
PretendersMy City was Gone
QueenAnother One Bites the Dust
Killer Queen
Rage Against the Machineall songs
Red Hot Chili PeppersAeroplane
Under the Bridge
R.E.M.It's the End of the World as We Know It
Rolling StonesRuby Tuesday
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit WheelsDevil with the Blue Dress
SalivaClick Click Boom
SantanaEvil Ways
Savage GardenCrash and Burn
Simon and GarfunkelBridge Over Troubled Water
Frank SinatraNew York, New York
SlipknotLeft Behind
Wait and Bleed
Smashing PumpkinsBullet with Butterfly Wings
SoundgardenBlow Up the Outside World
Fell on Black Days
Black Hole Sun
Bruce SpringsteenI'm on Fire
Goin' Down
Edwin StarrWar
SteamNa Na Na Na Hey Hey
Cat StevensPeace Train
Morning Has Broken
Stone Temple PilotsBig Bang Baby
Dead and Bloated
Sugar RayFly
System of a DownChop Suey!
Talking HeadsBurning Down the House
James TaylorFire and Rain
Temple of the DogSay Hello to Heaven
Third Eye BlindJumper
Three DegreesWhen Will I See You Again
3 Doors DownDuck and Run
TrampsDisco Inferno
U2Sunday Bloody Sunday
Van HalenJump
Dancing in the Streets
J. Frank WilsonLast Kiss
Yager and EvansIn the Year 2525
YoungbloodsGet Together
The ZombiesShe's Not There

I guess we can all sleep more soundly with the knowlege that Clear Channel is doing their part to protect us from being exposed to the dangers of music by Louis Armstrong and Simon and Garfunkle.

At least they haven't tried to go after my record collection.



The closest anyone's gotten so far has been the people protesting Mark Steven Grove's appearance on the cover of the Colorado Free University [ ] Fall 2001 course catalog which came out back in August.

If the reasons behind this particular uproar aren't obvious to you yet, take note that Mark (pictured at left) teaches martial arts and swordsmanship at Warrior Quest International [ ]

If you look closely, you'll note that he's using a katana, which has a slightly curved blade; he's also wearing a martial arts uniform. Pretty suspicious, no?

Okay, I didn't think so either, but in the words of one irate protester: "I picked up the latest copy of the CFU (schedule). I am frankly offended and appalled at the cover. When I first saw the piece in the newsstand, I thought it was a terrorist publication."

Another angry caller said he planned to bring the cover featuring a hostile "Arabian soldier" to the attention of U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and said, "I'm going to protest your college until you don't have no more college students going to your college,"

My personal guess is that these impassioned protesters aren't too familiar with what a university is all about, free or otherwise, but CFU has said that it's going to see that all remaining copies (more than 100,000 course catalogs have already been distributed, so this is not a small task) are picked up and replaced with their new, almost-guaranteed-not-to-offend version, which has flowers on the cover instead. At least people won't be mistaking flowers for Arab terrorists encoded in the flowers.

We can hope, anyway.

I'm heading off to the grocery store myself; think I'll pick up a few more copies of the CFU Fall 2001 catalog before they're all gone. You never know, it could become a collector's item....

Monday, October 1st


Some things are just plain wrong:

I'm hoping that the "when in doubt add a spoiler; if doubt persists, repeat" philosophy of automobile styling has reached its peak because I think car designs are leaving "cool" well behind and rapidly approaching "Irish Elk" status. Besides, some cars simply are not meant to have spoilers; Volvo station wagons, for one example; little front-wheel drive pickup trucks, for another. Just trust me on this one.


of these we can be certain:

The usual saying is that only two things are certain: "Death" and "Taxes."

That's probably meant just for people, though, and when it comes to other subjects, you run into different duets of certainty.

If you're looking for product support or documentation for any kind of IT, networking, or semi-specialized computer equipment (basically, any kind you'd actually want support or documentation for), there are really on two things you can count on:

  1. The manufacturer cares deeply enough about the World Trade Center tragedy enough to put American flags on each and every one of its pages and
  2. The manufacturer has a page stating that the product is Y2K compliant, even if it wasn't even designed until 2001, and even if it's an entirely computer-circuitry-free product like a sticky note.

... despite the fact that the only thing I've ever run across that had a real Y2K problem was a tub of cottage cheese which had sat neglected in the back of the fridge since April of 1999.

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