Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Greatest Show on Earth

They should have a channel that has round-the-clock footage of factory lines.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Freshly-Cut: Albums of the Month

(September 2005)

  1. Brian Eno / Ambient 2: The Plateux of Mirror
  2. The Black Keys / Thickfreakness
  3. Devendra Banhart / Cripple Crow
  4. Blind Melon / Nico
  5. The Velvet Underground / Peel Slowly and See (Box Set)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Yet Another Option: TimesSelect

So once again I find myself back-tracking. The Times has started an even newer service called "TimesSelect." For those of you similar to ESPN's Insider service, this is very similar. TimesSelect has material that is not normally available on the standard NY Times website.

Valuable material included with a TimesSelect subscription include:

  1. Access to 100 Times articles back to 1981 per month

  2. Breaking News and Award-winning Multimedia

  3. Daily News and Features from The Times newspaper

  4. Today's Headlines & Breaking News E-mails

  5. Current and Archival Movie, Theater, Book and Restaurant Reviews

  6. Online Classifieds

  7. Editorials and Op-Eds written by outside contributors

This service is web-based, so you can access this material from any computer with a web connection. The price is reasonable as well: $49.95 per year. I am currently trying their 14-day trial. If you want to try it out, beware that you will be automatically enrolled unless you cancel before the end of the 14 days. Tsk tsk . . . predatory behavior.

In comparison to the print edition or the electronic delivery option, TimesSelect seems like a better deal not only because it is cheaper, but also because you have access to their archives, which go as far back as the 1860's. I also like the idea of not just being stuck with the print edition's original layout. Instead, I prefer a webpage, categorized by topic, with each story containing links for background information or other related stories. In effect, TimesSelect is a much more efficient news service.

For more information on TimesSelect, see:

Update: New York Times Electronic Edition

The Times is offering much more competitive rates for the Electronic Edition now. A one year electronic subscription (7 days a week) is $150.00, which is 75% LESS than the home delivery rate.

If you don't plan on reading the weekend issues, then you should get a Monday-Friday subscription because it brings the price down to just $75.00 a year, which is really good for a daily newspaper like the times.

Friday, September 23, 2005

New York Times: Electronic Delivery

I have heard about NY Times' electronic edition for awhile now, but I never really got around to checking it out until today. You can try it out for free. Register and download today's entire NY Times issue for free.

I. What is the Electronic Edition

Obviously the NY Times is a daily newpaper that anyone serious about current events should be interested in reading. But buying the print edition is cumbersome. If you get it at a newsstand, you actually need to make the trip each day to pick it up. I used to get home delivery in high school, but I hated it because the delivery would never be on time, so I would be at school the entire day without seeing the paper.

Now, in the interest of "going paperless," the Times has basically scanned their entire paper and made it available for a daily download. You can read every page at your desktop at home, on a notebook or at work.

II. Installation and Downloads

In order to use the electronic edition of the Times, you will need to first register at NY Times' site: You choose a username and password (be sure to uncheck the boxes for getting advertisements and special offers). Next, you need to download required software, called NewsStand. Installation was a breeze. It took me five minutes to set everything up.

III. Usage and Features

NewsStand is your portal to the electronic edition of the Times. You simply click the "download" button and an issue of the Times will begin to load as you read it. For those of you worred about not having a constant internet connection, you have the option of downloading the entire issue of the Times at once. This is a much better option in general. An entire issue is generally about 45MB to download, which is remarkably compact for an entire newspaper.

The software is very functional. The pages and the user interface are similar to Adobe Acrobat, which I think is sort of clunky, but all-in-all, very strong. NewsStand allows you to zoom in on any page, making every article razor sharp and easy to read. You can drag your mouse to pull the page in any direction. In addition, you can use the "Pen" tool to mark up articles, though I thik this is kind of useless unless you have a tablet pc with a stylus.

One of the better features is the ability to search for any word. Since the paper is not just an image, but recognized text, you can enter in any search term and find it. For example, I can search for "Rwanda" or "Stem Cells" or "Reverse Engineering" and find anything related to those terms. This is a great leap forward from paging through the print edition.

Other options include the ability to print out articles and send an email to a friend or colleague with a link to download the article. However, I have not figured out how to get this send feature to work.

IV. Price

This is my main sticking point. Each edition is roughly $0.65 a day, though the Times is currently offering 6 weeks of issues for the price of 4. For those of you who purchase the print edition or get home delivery, this might be a lot of savings. Currently, home delivery 7 days a week is roughly $0.82 a day, so this adds up over the year.

Nevertheless, I still think the price is steep for a product that they can reproduce with ease. They have no printing costs or expenses for distribution. All they really have to pay is probably a license fee for the software as well as bandwith for sending out these files. Needless to say, I'm still undecided about buying a long-term subscription.

V. Conclusion

What's the advantage of electronic delivery? No wasted paper, ease of downloads, ability to zoom in, very sharp and clear text resolution as well as various tools for searching and commenting on articles.

Nevertheless, there is something you miss out on from not having the print edition. First, people love to carry the Times because -- regardless of whether they read it or not -- it makes them feel smart. Second, having the print edition is great if you read the paper during a commute, which makes whipping out a laptop to read an online version a problem if you want to save battery life or are uncomfortable with using a notebook in a crowded public place.

Though the media and the bundled software for the Times are relatively well-designed, they don't come without their drawbacks, mainly the steep daily price.

For more information, to sign up for a free trial, or to take a quick tour, see:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Spreading the Love

I've been thinking it over the past few weeks and I've decided that the woman on the Honey Bunches of Oats commercial -- the one who is driving around the country in a hairnet claiming that the cereal is a "mouthful of joy" -- has won over my heart. She's a version of the Snapple-lady that I don't want to smack around.

In a close second is the gentlemen who gives away Dannon Frusion smoothies on the street corner and sings, "Trade in your breakfast for a Dannon Frusion Smoothie." I love that guy! It's too bad, however, that Dannon Frusion smoothies don't taste very good . . .

Who I hate? The Chubsy and David Spade combo from the CapitalOne commercials. What a terrible ad campaign.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hooray Norman Chad

It's amazing how much Norman Chad's voice and personality have won me over in such a short time. I had never heard Chad's voice prior to the 2004 World Series of Poker, which he transforms into riveting television with wonderful off-color jokes about his ex-wife.

Now Chad has upped the ante. He showed up on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption alongside Tony Kornheiser. These two are the same person! Granted Mike Wilbon offers better balance

Long live Norman Chad! . . . ( and down with Stephen A. Smith, whose unbearability got him his own show on ESPN2)

(and while i'm at it, down with the following announcers, commentators, analysts, and/or writers: Deion Sanders, Bill Walton, Terry Bradshaw, Magic Johnson and Tony Reali).

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Schematic

For any computer enthusiasts out there, enjoy the following diagram of my workstation. Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Greatest Match Half of Us Saw

So for those of you who don't follow tennis, the U.S. Open is in its second week. I rushed home Wednesday night to catch the James Blake/Andre Agassi match, which was supposed to be spectacular.

The match entered the fifth set and suddenly the USA Network dropped coverage of the match! What did I get to see? A terrible repeat of Law and Order!

The weirdest part is that the commentators announced this coverage change ten minutes prior: "For those of you on the East coast, our coverage is coming to an end. You can switch to CBS. All of you on the West coast can still stay tuned right here." So, being the idiot I am, I believed them. Ten mintues later the coverage ended in the middle of the point. I switched to CBS, nothing but a reality show. No recourse.

No fifth set. No thrilling come from behind victory from 2 sets down with an 8-6 tiebreaker, which ESPN is calling "epic" and reminiscent of an old-school Jimmy Connors match.

I would think that a national network would understand the concept of time zones by now. This is an absolute debacle.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Prime Time Hope

Apart from Charlie Rose, American Chopper and Family Guy, it's slim pickings lately on the box. But two series stand out and warrant honorable mention:

First is the series Rescue Me, created by, written by and starring Denis Leary. The show, now completing its second season, is about the FDNY. However, the show successfully avoids the standard pitfalls of post-9/11 jingoism. Leary has crafted a fantastically flawed character. This show is on during the summer, and the season finale is on Tuesday, September 13 at 10:00pm on the FX Network.

Second is the underrated sitcom Two and a Half Men, starring Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer and Angus Jones. Despite the atrocious title, the show has surprisingly refreshing writing. In particular is the writer's willingness to give Angus Jones -- who plays a pre-teen son of divorced parents -- not only good lines, but also an adult personality. This show is on Mondays at 9:00pm on CBS.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Katrina Information Map

I came across an extremely helpful site for anyone (1) directly affected by Hurricane Katrina or (2) anyone interested in seeing the intersection of technology and aid efforts.

It is called the Katrina Information Map (found at It basically uses a Google Maps engine (don't ask me if that's legal or not) and allows users to zoom into their neighborhoods and post messages.

Though it's sad to see the number of messages from people looking for missing family members, this is counterbalanced by the number of messages from residents notifying others that they are okay.

This is an ingenious use of existing technology. It is almost as impressive as the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) they used at Ground Zero to give firefighters a better damage assessment as well as a way to orient themselves as they made their way through the wreckage. What sets the Katrina Information Map apart in my mind is that it is based entirely on input from end-users helping themselves, which (fortunately and unfortunately) seems to be a common theme during this last week.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Excessive Treatment

Just had a visit to the dentist and she recommended a wisdom-tooth extraction:

Q: Well, Dr., is the tooth coming in crooked?
A: No.
Q: Is it affecting a nearby tooth?
A: No.
Q: Is it infected?
A: No. But I suppose later on it could get infected.

I swear this dentist jammed that dental pick into two of my fillings harder than usual, only to break apart a portion of the filling. And now she's recommended that I get two new fillings. Both of my pre-existing fillings were mercury-based (amalgam), and what do you know, now have white-colored fillings!

For some reason, dentists are no longer happy cleaning our teeth and keeping them healthy. Instead they insist on railroading us with teeth whitening, replacement filling procedures, 20-plus x-rays and uneccessary extractions.
You bastards.