1. Boston: WiFi City

    brian on 2005.04.26
    at 12:35 am

    An excellent story on WiFi and the considerations on going about making Boston a Wireless city, from the Boston Globe.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  2. DMB's Management Still Disrespecting Fans

    brian on 2005.04.25
    at 03:57 pm

    In a follow up to my last post about the DMB on iTunes, I decided to go the band’s website and find out more about the album, it’s release date, etc. After enjoying the video selection (but not the site design, navigating the videos was arduous at best. Just heinous layout. Why do some designers feel they have to reinvent the wheel for each site? Your scrollbars and scripts suck and destroy the user experience!), I decided to go check out the pre-order for the new album, “Stand Up.”

    I’ve been a Dave Matthews Band fan since prior to their first album. A kid in high school (1992-1993) who used to give me rides to track practice had tapes his friends had sent him from Charlottesville, VA where Dave had just formed the band and was playing in clubs and bars. Within two minutes of hearing the music in this kid’s car I asked “What is this? It’s incredible” he answered “Dave Matthews Band.”

    Fast forward, I’ve been to dozens of concerts (the best way to enjoy their music) downloaded many, many concerts online (thanks to the band’s liberal non-commercial taping policy) and bought every studio album the day it came out. I’ve bought all but two of the live albums. I was a charter member of the band’s fan club The Warehouse but after two years, I decided the $30 a year fee was exorbitant, when other band’s clubs were free or $5 a year. I did get an exclusive CD (which was excellent) and some stickers.

    The main draw to the club is the chance to order tickets prior to the general public. DMB tix are hard to come by and this is a major plus. I remember the first DMB concert I attended in Hartford. The tickets were $17 (ordered prior to the Warehouse) and not hard to get. It was great. Now you can’t get any decent seat below $50 (before “service fees”).

    As a Warehouse member you get priority to purchase, but have zero say in where the tickets are, and certainly no discounts. The very first time I ordered tickets through the system, I got the worst concert tickets I have ever had. I wasn’t way far away, but I was so far to the side I couldn’t see but Dave’s nose sticking out beyond the speaker stacks. Awful. Those were the only tickets I got that year. So $30 membership plus ~$50 each ticket (for two) and still have to pay the extortionate Ticketmaster additional service charges (why isn’t this illegal? Ticketmaster is perhaps more evil than any oil company, maybe even in Enron-company) I spent well over a hundred dollars to attend one concert that I could hardly see and got one CD. Plus the member website was truly uninspired and devoid of content.

    To balance this, the next year I ordered, I had 7th row center for the same venue and price (I’m sure that went up some, but approximately). Despite all this, I left the club, and I am still sad about that. I feel I was an original fan and should be part of the club, but I refuse to be taken advantage of by DMB’s management.

    This is the basis of my love/hate relationship with the DMB. I love the DMB and their music. I jump up and down and yell and sing at the concerts like a high school girl. Carter Beauford is the single greatest influence on me as a drummer. If i could meet anyone in the entire world, honestly, it’d be Carter.

    However, I despise their management. Redlight Management/Music Today is as close to evil as anything I’ve ever seen. As proof, a friend told me that various business schools discuss their management tactics as classroom material. They absolutely extort the DMB’s incredibly devoted fans. They could not be any more the antithesis of the actual band who are phenomenally friendly and charitable.

    Take my experience today as one example. I decide that following tradition, I should order the new studio album. I go to their pre-order page, where they have several package deals in addition to the basic album. I was surprised that the prices were actually reasonable. $13.99 for the album on CD plus a bonus CD that has 5 more songs. I expected this to be at least $18. “Wow.” I thought. “Maybe they’ve changed their tactics!” There is also a special CD/DVD hybrid format called Dual-Disc which is CD on one side and DVD on the other. On the DVD side is not only some video content, but also the full album at 24bit 5.1 surround sound. Awesome. And it’s only a dollar more at $14.99. Without a doubt this is what I’m interested in.

    Scrolling down the page, I see the other combos which are the album plus different shirts, etc. At the bottom there’s a package that really interests me. The dual-disc album plus the three “Live Trax” CDs which are live albums only available direct from the band. Three concerts plus the new album for $59.99. A little steep, but a lot of music. I decide to invest in this.

    So I sign up for the MusicToday website so that I can check out. I’m moving merrily along until I get to the shipping and rates. There’s a note at the top of the page.

    Stand Up will be released nationally on Tuesday, May 10, 2005. All orders received before Friday, May 6, 2005 at 3pm will be shipped on that day. If you selected the 3-4 Business Days shipping option, Musictoday guarantees that your order will be delivered to you on the release date. You must select the 3-4 Business Days shipping option to receive the album on its release date. If you select our Standard shipping option, your order will take between 7 and 10 business days from Friday, May 6, 2005 to arrive.”

    Surprise! if you want to pre-order the album (good for DMB) and actually get the album by the release date (good for you, plus, isn’t that the point of pre-ordering?) you have to pay for special shipping! The rates are below…

    Standard shipping (Arrival after the release date)
    Express shipping (Guaranteed for arrival on release date)

    Even standard shipping is about twice what it should cost to ship a CD (or even four, like I was ordering!) Additionally, most places nowadays ship free on orders over $50 (unless the order is very heavy, CDs clearly are not). Amazon ships orders over $25 for free.

    This put me over the edge. I was about to send them $60 directly (without them having to sell wholesale to a retailer) and then they go and try to play this crap to their core fan base, who are of course, the ones who a) want to pre-order the album and b) get it at the earliest possible date!

    They are up to their old tricks again!

    I promptly ended my order and went to Amazon. I ordered the same dual disc album for $0.50 less, plus picked up a Trey Anastasio album I had wanted anyhow (to tap it over the free $25 shipping threshold) and the DMB got a significantly smaller amount of money from me. If the shipping on the site was even $7 I think I still would have ordered directly. But no. And this isn’t about money. It’s about respect. I may not get the CD on the release date, but I trust Amazon not to gouge me.

    RLM still considers DMB’s fan base it’s personal punching bag. Unscrupulous. Disgusting. Very sour taste in my mouth. I’m sad I won’t get those three concerts. One is even a Hartford show that I’m reasonably sure I was at. But I cannot stand nor will I support these ruthless tactics.

    Message to Dave and the guys: love the music, can the management. I’ve had to put up with them for 15 years, please do your fans a favor and dump RLM. You certainly don’t need them.

    Posted in: Music

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  3. DMB finally on iTunes

    brian on 2005.04.25
    at 12:34 pm

    'American Baby' Cover ArtThe Dave Matthews Band has finally made it on to the iTunes Music Store. Their pre-release single, “American Baby” off of their upcoming studio release “Stand Up” is now available for download.


    Posted in: Apple · Music

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  4. Why Shuffle When you can Saunter?

    brian on 2005.04.23
    at 02:34 am

    Reading Matt’s post on why he sometimes prefers his iPod Shuffle to his original style iPod made me wonder to myself, “Self, why do you use the Shuffle sometimes, and the regular iPod other times?”

    The answer I decided laid in usage patterns. I use the Shuffle in two distinct situations. One, when I run up the street for a bottle of lemonade or a burrito grande. I throw it in my pocket. Instead of deciding what to listen to, I embrace uncertainty.

    Two, on the train. I hop the T and I like the Shuffle in my front pants pocket. Should I be lucky enough to have a seat, should I want to change tracks or the volume, it’s easy. Despite a lack of visual interface, the Shuffle sports a cognitive–tactile interface. Here’s my home grown manual:

    Find the big circle: Play/Pause. Next track? Push to the left of big circle (assumes your headphone jack is pointing up in your pocket: orientation is key). More volume? Press above big circle… and so on. I don’t use the hold function (which deactivates the buttons, enabled by holding the play/pause for 3 seconds and confirmed by a orange LED flash) because since acquiring said Shuffle, I’ve mistakenly hit the buttons only once.

    Go forth and enjoy. Give Chance a Chance.

    Posted in: Apple · Music

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  5. I can dream can't I?

    jake on 2005.04.22
    at 02:46 pm

    Mini Cooper ConvertibleGabe at Motoring File has sold his Mini to get a new one. And he’s got some really nice specs listed. I wouldn’t want to wait either, but I think I could to get the Harmon Kardon system. And I recall just the other day I noticed a Black on Black Mini and thought, oooo… evil…

    Black/Black – The Darth Vader of MINIs. In many ways the opposite of what I had before.

    I guess I’m forced to sit back and drool though. As this friend of a friend discusses watching people go on lots of vacations I enjoy watching all the toys go by while I pay off debt. But at least I’m paying the debt, that makes me feel a little better. And all the waiting will help me decide on whether I should get a convertible or not.

    Posted in: Auto

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  6. New Safari 1.3

    brian on 2005.04.16
    at 12:46 pm

    *Outstanding.* Dave Hyatt write on his weblog about the release of of Safari 1.3 along with Mac OS X 10.3.9 update. There are "thousands" of engine updates.

    Those of you running Panther can now update to 10.3.9. This update includes Safari 1.3 and new versions of WebKit, WebCore, and JavaScriptCore that contain thousands of improvements we've made to the engine since Safari 1.2.

    What you are getting is all of the new standards support, new WebKit capabilites, site compatibility fixes and performance optimizations that are also present in Safari 2.0 for Tiger. The layout engines for the two are virtually identical.

    Excellent. "Read more about the update on Dave's weblog.": There's a lot to mention, but how about improved JavaScript, adding XSLT, and um, 35% faster page loads? Oh, and for any of your other applications that use WebKit (ala "NetNewsWire": et al) they get all of the benefits, too! Nice.

    Posted in: Apple · Standards · Web

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  7. Boycott ANWR Oil

    brian on 2005.04.16
    at 02:13 am

    More news on ANWR. I have signed up for California Senator Barbara Boxer’s ANWR Oil Boycott.

    Now, really, it’ll be nearly impossible to tell if one company drills there, if the gas you’re buying from another company didn’t come from there anyhow, since oil is a commodity bought and sold. Or I might buy a pair of fleece socks that were made from the oil from the refuge. I’ll never know. But I think it’s the sentiment. If it’s Exxon let’s say, I’d be happy to simple go across the street to the competition.

    Posted in: Politics · Science

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  8. Nintendo A Cappella

    jake on 2005.04.14
    at 06:37 pm

    Wow, The University of Wisconsin Redefineds’ have brought together two of my loves. Classic Video Games and A Cappella music.

    On Screenhead they pass you through to a video of the group singing a medly of old game music, mostly Nintendo.

    Posted in: Music

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  9. Design Links

    jake on 2005.04.14
    at 03:31 pm

    • //// COLOURlovers — A place to peruse and evaluate colo(u)rs.
    • More Nifty Corners — Use some Javascript along with your CSS to generate rounded corners on specified page elements.
    • Drag and Drop Lists — Gotta love all the fancy Javascript stuff coming out these days.
    • Browser stickies — Some more Javscript dragging wizardry. Since they’re obviously tied to a particular web site, I don’t know if they’re much bigger than a proof of concept.
    • Fixing Intermittent Fusebox 4 “Circuit Not Defined” Errors — I’ve started using Fusebox 4 at work for a couple of internal projects. I came across this problem when trying to put the apps on our server. Took me a while to figure this out. Hopefully this’ll boost their Google ranking.
    • Recover Post — If you use Blogger this is a good thing. I wonder if I could implement some form of it here? I don’t know if it’s totally necessary, but it might be nice for version 1.1, if we ever get there…

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  10. Tiger Prep

    brian on 2005.04.14
    at 01:54 pm

    Box of Mac OS X Get ready for the unleashing of Tiger on Friday April 29th. Check out the list of Tiger’s new features. Purr.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  11. I heart Google Maps (Satellite)

    brian on 2005.04.13
    at 01:27 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed digging around Google Maps new Satellite views. Apparently I’m not the only one. Check out Google Sightseeing and Globe Trotting for various collections of interesting things to look at through Google’s eye in the sky. Groom Lake, Nevada is pretty cool, I’m surprised they have pictures as good as they do, considering it’s home to lots of top top secret military stuff.

    Posted in: Photography · Technology · Web

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  12. NEMBAs Riding Land from Above

    brian on 2005.04.11
    at 01:36 am

    If you’re a mountain biker and interested in the NEMBA purchase of the 47 acres in Milford, MA ‘commonly known as Vietnam’ you may be interested in Google’s Satellite Image of the land. Look slightly north of the I-495/Rt. 85 interchange and it’s that nice woodsy area to the east of 85.

    It’s much better than NEMBA’s own picture. I’m dying to get down there are check the place out. Except I’m between off-road bikes.

    Mmm, I like bikes.

    Posted in: Cool Info · Sports

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  13. ANWR News Source

    brian on 2005.04.09
    at 12:53 pm

    Cloud Peak, ANWRI was very happy to find the ANWR Blog the other day. I was lacking a simple news source for following the developments of the repeated attempt to destroy the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

    I learned all sorts of interesting things I was not previously aware of, for example, there was an exploratory well drilled in the mid-80s but the results of the test have never been released (can you say suspicious?). One of the many misleading claims that have been made is that modern drilling techniques will mean hardly any impacts on the surrounding Refuge. However, when drilling only one small well, they still managed to upset a Polar Bear den.

    In other words, don’t trust a think they say.

    [Picture is from also via ANWR Blog. Used non-commercially w/o permission. Please visit the artist site to see the real thing, at better quality .]

    Posted in: Science

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  14. Why isn't MTV hip anymore?

    jake on 2005.04.06
    at 12:15 pm

    I used to watch MTV when I was a kid. It was cool and showed music videos. The handful of regular shows revolved around music or were things like Beavis and Butthead that no one else would show. Hell, Beavis and Butthead got MTV blocked in my house.

    Everyone knows that now the channel is just a bunch of generic television like all the other channels. Occasionally you’ll laugh at Punk’d or see a new video that’s good, but mostly you’re just getting TRL crap and lots of filler that’s pretty boring.

    Now just to prove how old and stodgy they’ve become, MTV is releasing music videos and other “short-form” content on a “service” called Overdrive. They are touting the amazing features of watching it all the way through (like normal TV) or jumping to various parts (like a DVD). Of course we all know that most streamed video can do this if constructed right. It’s not new.

    Plus they’re using Windows DRM to screw up distribution. Music videos have been free forever. They’re not for making money, they’re a form of advertising to sell more CD’s. And the news? Why does that need to be locked up? All their doing is acruing more load on their servers by trying to force people to download directly from them. I assume they’ll have banner adds all over the place, so maybe they are just looking for traffic.

    And of course, because they’re using good old Monopoly Microsoft exclusively it’s locking out both Macs and web browsers outside of Internet Explorer. That’s a good method of driving traffic to your web site, lock out a whole bunch of people for no reason.

    From: Boing Boing

    Posted in: Music · Software

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  15. Quoteable

    brian on 2005.04.03
    at 01:57 pm

    “Fortune favors the prepared mind.”
    – Louis Pasteur

    Posted in: Cool Info

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