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March 1, 2002

It’s been too long. There’s stuff in my link pile that I’m pretty sure is good, but I can’t quite remember what it was about. Well, feh. Here’s some stuff I discovered just yesterday:

James Lileks closed his web site a while back due to bandwidth issues, but it’s mostly returned since the last time I visited, which is great. Lileks.com is full of great stuff, and it’s one of the deepest humor sites I’ve visited. I don’t mean deep in the sense of profound, either, but just in sheer scale. You can easily dive through five or six layers of hierarchy in places.

I discovered this after I was directed to this super-sarcastic swipe at a Guardian attempt to read the soul of America or something. I haven’t actually read the original piece, but the segments Mr Lileks quotes are… I’m not sure how to describe them. The author, Matthew Engels, seems to be complaining about how Americans don’t understand the rest of the world, but in doing so reveals that he’s just as ignorant of the non-European world.

Anyway, read it (the screed, that is; not the original). It’s fun.

I found that piece through a link from Dr Frank, whose weblog I was browsing because of an earlier reference by Ken Layne, whose discussion of the Grammys was mentioned by Doc Searls. Got that? Good.

Speaking of the Grammys, I understand that the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? got five awards, despite virtually no airplay. I loved that movie, and I thought the music was great, and I’m happy they won, but I’m surprised that they did win. I mean, this is an eclectic bunch of acoustic traditional music stuff that even the country radio stations won’t play. (It did well at the country music awards as well, I’m told.) What does it mean? I can’t imagine we’re in for a big bluegrass revival, although it could be a cool thing.

(I wonder if the popularity of Moby’s Play is related?)

On the subject of music, Mr Layne looks at the music industry’s fights against customers and artists in a piece with so many links it’s almost distracting. (Almost.) Dr Frank responds first with praise (“I urge everyone who hasn't already done so to read it and follow all the links as you go.”) and then with skepticism (“As for whether [the collapse of the recording industry] will ultimately benefit ‘fans,’ I have my doubts about that too.”).

The problem, as always, is that music (and movies and books) don’t simply appear. Someone has to create it, and that someone is a lot more likely to be a talented person who can put a lot of time into it if there’s money involved.

Here we hit the problem. The industry is trying to overcharge the fans and underpay the artists. The fans are sick of this and have learned how to get music without paying anyone. At some point, it won’t be worth it for the artists to keep creating—which screws everyone. It’s bad news all around, and it’s not clear what can be done about it.

(At least people are starting to fight unnecessary extensions of copyright. There! I got something off the slushpile!) #

It’s great when it works

Just after midnight on the morning of February 7, I ordered a new computer. A PowerBook G4, the widescreen ones with the titanium cases. I got the high-end model, since I tend to keep computers around for quite a while and because the whole package still came to less than what I paid for on my current desktop machine and monitor.

It arrived the following Monday, February 11, and I quickly started playing around with it. It was my first experience both with the model (the “TiBook” as some call it, making a clever reference to the Titanium in its case and its less powerful sibling, the iBook) and with Mac OS X. Getting used to the touchpad took some effort, and made the new operating system seem less familiar than it probably deserved, but I persevered and generally poked around.

The problem, as I saw it, was that all my files and software and stuff are on my old computer, and I didn’t have any way to transfer them to the new one. Supposedly, the ethernet port on the TiBook can sense when it’s hooked up to another computer instead of an ethernet hub, so that crossover cables are unnecessary, but I couldn’t get that to work.

It turned out to be a moot point, since that Friday, February 15, the screen stopped working. I left it alone for a little while, in case it magically started working again, and then called Apple.

On Tuesday, February 19, the box they sent me arrived. (It would have been Monday, except that was a holiday.) I packed up the TiBook, called the delivery service, and sent it on its way.

That’s the last I’ve seen of it. According to Apple’s customer support web site, they looked it over on Friday, February 22, and put it aside to wait for a part to come in. Nothing since then.

It’s frustrating. I try to keep perspective by remembering the things that went wrong with my current machine (unbalanced fan that made it sound and vibrate like a lawn mower, a power supply that mysteriously died one day) but the fact is that I want the new machine. More than that, I want the new operating system. For some reason, I’ve been getting a lot of web browser crashes lately, and every time I see one I think, “If this were the PowerBook, I could just restart the browser and continue instead of having to wait for the whole system to reboot.”

Also, I picked up an iPod along with the TiBook, but there’s no way to get additional music onto it or even recharge the battery without the TiBook which is an incredible frustration, since the iPod is so convenient it puts my portable CD player to shame.

I’m patient. At this point, the computer’s been in the shop for the majority of the time since I bought it. It works well, when it works. #

More of the bizarre

I mentioned the religious implications of The Simpsons before, but here’s a recent blurb in the Guardian about how Our Favorite Family has been embraced by church leaders.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like there aren’t religious themes in The Simpsons nor good moral messages with subtle presentation (more so in the earlier seasons). It just still strikes me as a bizarre juxtaposition. (Remember: “bizarre” ≠ “bad”.) #