January 26, 2005

Another Secretary Goes Cuckoo

CNN.com - Education secretary condemns public show with gay characters - Jan 26, 2005

Irony abounds:

The nation's new education secretary denounced PBS on Tuesday for spending public money on a cartoon with lesbian characters, saying many parents would not want children exposed to such lifestyles.

So... which is it that the Secretary of Education finds worse: a) that a show for kids shows gay and lesbians, and that a parent who's parked their kid in front of the TV might expose their kid to worlds that they don't live in, or b) that government money was spent to do so?

People have got to realize, just because you don't like a "lifestyle", doesn't mean no one should hear of it. And people have to realize, just because you put some money into the government, doesn't mean you own the whole thing.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cleaning out the Amazon Wish List

Recently I started using Netflix, after years of hearing recommendations and then, finally, when my parents started using it. Can't have the parents be more tech-saavy than I, just wouldn't do.

You'd think the biggest bonus is being able to rent cheaply. But not really; I can rent cheaper from the local video store. Nope, the biggest benefit is that I can put movies I want to see on the list, and then not have to think about it. I get a recommendation for a movie, see or hear something that reminds me of a movie, and then I don't have to think about it. Centralization of my movie wishlist, and someone to auto-send me stuff. Niiice.

So, after a total of 3 weeks, my parents have a combined 50 movies, and I'm over 200 (including TV shows extending over 6 or more CDs, admittedly, but there you go.) This also removes some of the more "experimental" and "reminder" items off of my Amazon wish list, which I use as a catch-all for things I like to use. Now, it's really a wish list for DVDs, at least. If it's on there, I want to buy it, not see it someday to see if it's any good.

Which got me to thinking, what else can I remove off my wish list?

Books, that's always a problem. I'd love to get books from the library in this way, but first, I live in Atlanta, a place where "library" seems to be synonymous with "waste of taxpayer money" or "place where evil things lay in wait for children" -- so they're very underfunded (Except in the outer burbs, where they're funded well, but are under the "responsive to the customer" philosophy, and I'm not interested in John Grisham, Stephen King, or romance novels.) Second, for whatever reason, no one's realized that current search technology, wishlist technology and libraries could be combined.

The second one is easily solveable with Jon Udell's Library Lookup -- you can lookup a book, and from there it shouldn't be too hard to extend the process of creating a wish list, even if the list is held on your computer. Not as good as a web-based one, but it would work.

Actually, now that I think about that, that's a really good idea: create an account, pick the libraries, it holds your accounts, you pick the libraries you want to pick stuff up with... could be neat.

This also means I have to go to the library -- a disadvantage, but one that's easy to overcome with time.

One really nice example of a commercial "book rental" service is O'Reilly's Safari service, which I can't recommend higher. Tons of tech books, I can switch them out once a month, and 20 slots (each book remains in a slot for 1 month, so you can rotate them in and out) costs about as much as 5-8 tech books. Considering I own... too many... that I've read once, then don't use (I don't even use Red Hat, why do I have a copy of "Learning Red Hat Linux"?) it's a great deal for me. But it's only tech books.

Another good service is Audible.com, which does audio books. I was not into audio books before this, but once I tried a couple, I was hooked. $20 bucks a month

So, what about CDs. And so I ask -- why not a CD rental ? Evidentally, Japan has such services, which is interesting; and another one has appeared, but has literally around 40 CDs only, 4 of which are Shania Twain and another 4 are Brittney Spears. At $260/year.


Which then goes to the question: why is this not something common? Turns out, it's illegal. You can do this with things other than audio recordings, and that chances are likely that Ongo Bongo is illegally operating.

No wonder iTunes is taking off -- it's the cheapest and easiest solution available, aside from P2P services. Which is not to say it's that great; but it's there, and it's cheaper than buying a whole CD and then finding out you hate the band. But iTunes doesn't have a wishlist, either.

Well, that's at least cleaned out my Amazon Wish List some, and given me a few new projects I can work on.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

Typewriter to Keyboard Conversion

the typewriter-keyboard conversion

Amazing. Someone's taken a Smith-Corona typewriter and converted it into a USB keyboard. It's well worth a look for anyone who's into steampunk or wants a really nifty keyboard.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Alien/OS CERT Advisory

Alien/OS Vulnerability

In case you suddenly find that you are in an invading party to an alien planet, please read this CERT advisory.

If it doesn't make sense, rent "Independence Day" afterwards.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

RCX Controller using Applescript

Robot Controller 1.7b3 - MacUpdate

This looks neat: an Applescript-based RCX controller. The RCX is the heart of Lego Mindstorms, which was built around Windows. Programming it on the Mac is possible, but not always fun. If you can use an RCX and attach it to Applescript, think of the interesting fun that you could have....

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Programming Microprocessors using Apple's Xcode

MacDevCenter.com: Embedded Development with Xcode

Interesting article; definitely not for the beginner, though. It's talking about using the Xcode IDE to program embedded systems, but it gives little in the way of basics. If anyone knows of a basic "how to program microprocessors using Mac OS X', I'd love to hear of it.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

Hacking Coke Machines

Hacking Coke Machines - Taking Advantage Of Technology

Oh, joyous day... as Coke machines become more flexible, they involve computers, and those computers become hackable. You can't get free Cokes or cash without the door being open, but it can't be far from soon that it will happen.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bunny Suicides

Bunny suicides

It's sick, but it's a fantastic set of cartoons. Look out for "Electromagnets 'R Us".

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2005

Jenna Bush Hails Satan

Salon.com News | Norwegians confuse Bush salute with hailing Satan

It's always good to know that President Bush is still out of touch with reality. Yes, in a move reminiscent of every mistranslation joke in the world, President Bush was caught giving the universal sign for the devil, thinking it just had to do with University of Texas' football team.

And for a t-shirt of this event, hop over to Boing Boing's story on this.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Configuring X11 On Mac OS X

Configuring and Running X11 Applications on Mac OS X

A nice article on runing X11 on your mac... cinluding remotely running X11 with the Mac OS X desktop.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dan Rather's Bizarre World

RatherBiased.com | Main | Bizarre via Metafilter

Dan Rather has had a bizarre life. Take a look at some of the highlights of his career, including some amazing quotes like...

"They say California's the big burrito; Texas is a big taco right now. We want to follow that through. Florida is a big tamale." --Election Night 1996
"...but that's not going to happen. You can sooner expect a tall talking broccoli stick to offer to mow your lawn for free." --Dan Rather, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, March 28, 1996.

and one of the most bizarre, his drug experiences....

"I had someone at the Houston police station shoot me with heroin so I could do a story about it. The experience was a special kind of hell. I came out understanding full well how one could be addicted to 'smack,' and quickly."

"I've tried everything. I can say to you with confidence, I know a fair amount about LSD. I've never been a social user of any of these things, but my curiosity has carried me into a lot of interesting areas."
--Dan Rather in Ladies' Home Journal, July 1980 edition.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Slider Romance

Indianapolis Area White Castles Offer Candlelight Dinner

Nothing says romance like a candle-lit dinner, followed by a really long bathroom break.

Indianapolis Area White Castles Offer Candlelight Dinner

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

Conservatives Attack... I Can't Believe I'm Saying This... Spongebob Squarepants.

The New York Times > Washington > Conservatives Pick Soft Target: A Cartoon Sponge

This has got to be one of the goofiest things since Jerry Falwell accused one "Tinky-Winky" of being gay, because he carried a purse. Evidentally, the "We Are Family Foundation" created a video expousing multiculturalism included Spongebob, and the founder of Focus On the Family. The founder of Focus on the Family has since accused the We Are Family Foundation of supporting gays, and his appearance on the video is part of a greater conspiracy:

"We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," [ Paul Batura, assistant to the founder of Focus on the Family] said. "It is a classic bait and switch."

Even worse is the video's creator:

"The fact that some people may be upset with each other peoples' lifestyles, that is O.K.," Mr. Rodgers said. "We are just talking about respect."

Um... "upset" about a lifestyle kind of indicates a lack of respect for that lifestyle. Just to note.

The only one making sense? The lawyer for the We Are Family Foundation:

Mark Barondess, the foundation's lawyer, said the critics "need medication."

Well said.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

A Few New Weblogs

Found a few new weblogs lately: one for fun, Jim Romenesko's Obscure Store and Reading Room. And a couple for artwork: Ward-o-matic, Cartoon Brew and Seward Street. Interesting stuff on animation.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

E-mail Strategies on your Mac

MacDevCenter.com: How to Use mutt, FastMail, and Mail.app Together on Your Mac

Nice article on using mutt, FastMail and Mail.app. I've heard this before, but using the Mac itself as the SMTP server, rather than an external service; something I'm a little loathe to do. This is an interesting approach instead, using an external SMTP service.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

Article on Hayao Miyazaki

The New Yorker: Online Only

One of the best animators ever, this is a short article on Hayao Miyazaki, best known in the US for "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke". He's an amazing artist, whose films harken to both Japanese history and British childrens' literature. It's amazing work. For more information on Hayao Miyazaki, check out nausicaa.net.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 03:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2005

Ruben Bolling Interview

Salon.com Books | The mystery man behind "Tom the Dancing Bug"

How cool; a great interview with Ruben Bolling, the man behind "Tom The Dancing Bug". It's a great strip, I've been reading it for years, and this one is good.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

THIS Is What You're Spending Time On?

CNN.com - Bush uses new nickname for senator - Jan 14, 2005

Oh, for chrissakes.... No wonder the Democratic party's going through a crisis. And for that matter, no wonder the media is getting overwhelmed with bloggers.

Sen. Ben Nelson finally has succeeded in getting President Bush to stop calling him by the nickname "Nellie." ... Nelson disliked the nickname and had asked the president to stop using it.

Senator, if he calls you s@$#head, exactly as I'm going to call you from now on, do what you learned in the third grade and IGNORE IT. You've got bigger problems.

Speaking of which, I found this on CNN's front page. THE FRONT PAGE. If you're going to claim moral superority over bloggers, you might not want to post something so INCREDIBLY STUPID as this to your front page.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

Mac mini

Apple - Mac mini

A couple of people have asked me for my reaction on the Mac mini. It's a big announcement, it's considered huge by many Mac pundits, and I'm a Mac guy. A sub $500 Mac? How cool -- what's the reaction of the biggest Mac guy I know?

To sum up my reaction: "Eh."

First, i'm not comfortable with a Mac that's not upgradeable. I've always paid more for my Macs than I care to think about. It's an investment, really; I keep my Macs for long, long times, often past the time they're useless. So something that's got one memory slot, has a laptop hard drive, and has no upgrade path, well... for me, it's a fancy console, not a computer.

As a console, it would be good in three areas: as a cheap server, as a home entertainment piece, and as a kiosk/stand-alone box. It falls short as a file server, because of the lack of hard drive space. I've got a 80GB filled on one computer already. Filling one of these could be measured in hours, not years. As a web server or an external server, it might be good, though.

As a home entertainment piece, it's missing some elements. For me, radio and audio are my main things; again, filling up that 80GB is way too easy; but external attachable storage might be OK for storage. But for video, 80GB is way, WAY too small -- as small as a Tivo -- and for playback 80GB is just pitiful. Plus, then you have to buy something like an Elgato EyeTV. I tried the Elgato EyeTV 200 a while back... it's not pretty for anything but basic analog cable (although I heard they released an upgrade for the 500 that allows digital cable, no sattelite recievers yet. And I'm not going to deal with both the cable company and the phone company; one evil monopoly in my life is enough, thank you.) If you've got cable and don't mind paying a premium for getting Mac compatability out of the box, then it's an interesting option, but not for me.

As a stand alone box... I only can think of a couple of things I would need a stand-alone box for, and that would be a home phone system, a system in the kitchen for a combination recipe/food catalog system, or, as I said before, an audio system. That's me, a bachelor; as a parent, I could completely understand someone else wanting a cheap system for the kids... but there are other, better options, like used iMacs and such.

And as a final kicker, it reminds me of the ill-fated Mac Cube. "Non-standard interfaces" and "un-upgradeable" are not things I want in my computer; "Flexible" and "maintainable" are. If I can't add a hard-drive, it's a wash of a computer to me. No matter how cute it is.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 12, 2005

Apple iProduct

iProduct.gif (GIF Image, 640x1050 pixels) via Blogdex

Announcing... the Apple iProduct. Please read when you're not swallowing something, or it may reverse direction.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005


PeerCast P2P Radio via Slashdot

Peercast does audio and video streaming via P2P, anonymously. Furthermore, each end-listener becomes a broadcast point, meaning the broadcaster doesn't eat up bandwidth, and each end-user can only tell of others sharing the stream, not who the source is. Linux, Windows and Mac OS X source available

Sounds like a cool beans enerprise....

Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2005

Girl Scout Top Seller

Wisconsin State Journal via Obscure Store

Every once in a while I find a story which just piques my interest, and gives me an image in my head of a full story... and this one is just one of them.

I can just imagine this innocent looking girl scout who's an insane genius behind the scenes, running a huge company, insanely talking to her pet cookie. Think James Bond evil genius, but with a girl scout as the lead.

And then in-between cookie seasons, she's supposed to act like a normal kid.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Understanding The Ohio Election Challenge

CNN.com - Bush carries Electoral College after delay - Jan 6, 2005

I'm sure a number of pundits will claim that this is a stunt by the Democrats, and even the Democrats who speak of it think it's a stunt.

I'm not as elegant as Kos, but I'm going to try to explain why this is not something that can be a lost cause, unless we're ready to give up any notion of a democracy.

To start with, one of the most fundimental principles of a democracy is citizen participation in government. The Constitution practically shoves it down our throat with the opening lines: "We, The People." We, the people decide who the government is. We, the people, decide who gets to make the laws, who gets to enforce the laws, who gets to judicate the fairness of the laws. Basic tenet of our constitution.

The only way that we can find out, fairly, what the people want is by asking (no matter how many people claim they know by divination of any kind). We ask, by means of voting. So, if voting is found to have been corrupted in any way, it's a direct shot at the heart of our country's values: we'd have a problem laying claim to being a democracy. We'd be the Ukrane, but with fancier booths and more cattle-like behavior.

The problem is, there's no -- I mean NO -- current way to challenge election problems on a federal level outside of congress. (The Federal Elections Commission, despite it's name, is about the financing of elections. Sad, really.) State level challenges aren't working: the people who should be complaining, are often the people *causing* the problems. So what's left? This so-called "stunt".

It's not a stunt, it's a death-rattle of democracy.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 03:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gonzales Testimony For Attorney General Position

Undiplomatic Immunity - Did Al Gonzales say the president can authorize torture? By Chris Suellentrop

Great... this guy couldn't be as big a wack-job as the last attorney general, but he's about as bad on the specifics of his job...

Pressed for an answer, Gonzales concedes, "I do believe there may come an occasion when the Congress might pass a statute that the president may view as unconstitutional," and therefore the president may ignore it

Um... no, he can't; let's review the basic structure of our country. Three branches, legislative, judicial, and executive. They, in order, legislate, judicate, and execute. The president's in the "execute" part, not the "execute if I like it, but can skip it if it's not something I'm interested in" part.

But even worse...

Then comes the question of the day: "Now, as attorney general, would you believe the president has the authority to exercise a commander-in-chief override and immunize acts of torture?" Leahy asks. That's "a hypothetical that's never going to occur," Gonzales says, because we don't torture people. He continues, "This president has said we're not going to engage in torture under any circumstances, and therefore that portion of the opinion was unnecessary and was the reason that we asked that that portion be withdrawn." Translation: Yes, I think the president has the legal authority to immunize acts of torture, but he doesn't want to, so I'm not going to bother with defending the idea.

Ah. So, since the president will always be a "good guy", forever and ever, it's OK to give him ultimate power.

Geez, where do they find these guys, through mail-order law school lists?

Posted by Ted Stevko at 03:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2005


Trying out Curio. What do you think?
Posted by Ted Stevko at 10:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Will Eisner Dies at 86

Welcome to Will Eisner.com

Will Eisner passed away yesterday. Eisner's been considered one of the best modern-day comic artists; his books "Sequential Art" and "Graphic Storytelling" are considered seminal works, and his comic book "The Spirit" is a riot. But his graphic novels "A Contract With God", "To The Heart Of The Storm", and others are some of the first and most amazing graphic novels made.

I first encountered Eisner's work in the late '80s, when I was doing an article on comics for the school paper. I'd read about them earlier in books which considered them classics, but hadn't seen one until this article. I won't say they changed my life, but they certianly changed my view on comic books -- until then, I'd assumed that they were filled with simplistic stories about men in capes. The Spirit had, for lack of a better term, spirit.

I'll miss him.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 01:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

Geek Fu New Year's Resolutions

My 2005 New Year's Resolution

In the year 2005 I resolve to:
Getting myself admitted to a mental institution.

Get your resolution here

Nothing like picking a resolution I'm bound to meet anyway... click on the link and get your own randomly generated resolution.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Searches

Google searches for today:
* Installing subversion on Mac OS X
* laptop locks
* The Center for Cartoon Studies
* Alpine USA

It's an eclectic start of the week.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Warren Ellis Moves Weblog


Warren Ellis has moved his blog from Die Puny Humans to warrenellis.com. Details are at both places.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Center For Cartoon Studies

Welcome to The Center for Cartoon Studies

Soon, there will be a school focused on the literary side of cartooning. Interesting article on it's mission in boston.com, via Obscure store

Posted by Ted Stevko at 05:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Podcasting Web Site

Podcasting News

Neat site talking about podcasting; complete with instructions on how to both create and how to download. Also note, Pod2Go now can download podcasts... talk about coolness.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



TinkerTool allows you to tweak your Mac OS X system to the nth degree. Freeware. Very nice. Just updated on 12/10.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 04:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 02, 2005

Poisoning The Well

PCWorld.com - Risk Your PC's Health for a Song?

A short article on downloads which contain spyware. Seems that people are sprinking sharing sites with, in essence, trojan horses, containing popups, spyware and malware. Downloading a file? Be prepared to find out if it can ruin your machine.

What sickens me is that this isn't the first time that someone's proposed putting malware on P2P services. Similar proposals were put up by the entertainment industry a while back. It's a poor way to deal with the problem of illegal file trading.

Start out with the fact that you're destroying someone else's property. Ever had a virus? Ever had it destroy your hard drive? Remember how much you lost in work, pictures, etc? I've had it happen a couple of times. Weeks, months worth of work down the drain. It's tragic, but it's preventable. Same thing happens with spyware and adware. It can destroy and kill your drive; few people back up regularly, even fewer use multiple drives. Enough spyware can ruin your machine.

$1000+ bucks gone over a $15 CD. Justice? Hardly.

Right as we speak, my dad's trying to recover from a 500+ item malware scourge. He's had to wipe his drive, reload his system, and start from scratch. Did my dad download something odd? Nope; he doesn't even use P2P software. He's just surfing. And his computer has to be wiped.

It's vigilante justice: disproportionate to the crime, and wreaks havoc on innocents.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 03:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 01, 2005

One Year On Mars, Already?

JPL.NASA.GOV: Mars Exploration Rovers

It appears to have been a year on Mars for the Mars Rovers: January 2004 was when they landed. I'd plum forgot about them. But they're still going strong, gathering information left and right. The above link goes to a flash/html site that goes over some of the highlights. Pretty sweet stuff.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And Japan Is In The Lead...

CNN.com - Japan raises aid to $500 million - Jan 1, 2005

I'm just waiting for Bush to raise the bar again because of this.

Posted by Ted Stevko at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

This is just now pathetic...

Nations vie to be top donors

Well, this has got to be the dumbest one-upmanship I've ever seen... all the "rich" countries are trying to compete for title of "who gave the most." Of course, this article doesn't mention the $350 million that the Shrub decided to pledge.

Um... OK, now I'm confused. I agree the $35 mil was a bit small, but 10 times that is, well, an awful lot. I guess I'm wondering a few things. Why so much? Where's the money going to come from? Why is it Bush just upped these things today? Was it to help, or to soothe a wounded pride?

Posted by Ted Stevko at 02:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack