October 31, 2003

Acorn-Shaped Light Fixtures???

I don't think there's anything wrong with Boylston Street as it is, but apparently Boston Mayor Tom "Mumbles" Menino has different ideas.

Posted by Dan at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2003

Dead Cat Bounce?

Here's your high-tech prediction for today: Napster 2.0 is going to be an utterly spectacular failure.

In case you haven't followed along, Roxio bought the smoking wreckage of the original Napster after the recording industry's lawyers finished pissing on the flames. You might remember Roxio as the company that makes the software used by millions of Netizens to burn pirated software to CD. Roxio is now relaunching Napster as a pay service that sells songs and albums for download.

The notion that Napster has any sort of brand equity is laughable. It's like saying that people who used to shop-lift from a five-and-dime will feel compelled to buy something at the 7-Eleven that somebody built on the same site two years after the five-and-dime went out of business. Napster had the same basic appeal as a flea market. People are willing to spend time wading through an ocean of useless junk (poor quality, frequently mislabeled MP3 files) in order to find a great deal on something (and what deal is better than free?). If you move the flea market indoors, label and organize everything, and charge as much for stuff as Target charges, people might as well just go to Target (or the musical equivalent thereof).

Posted by Dan at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2003

It's Like Model Railroading For Gambling Junkies

Some MIT graduates devise elaborate schemes to take the casino industry for millions. I collect casino chips and catalog them on my web site. Sometimes I feel like I just didn't get my $100,000 worth.

I just finished a major overhaul of my casino chip collection site. Since the prior version, I've tightened up the code a lot and expanded the back-end database to be able to handle odd-ball things like casinos with more than one owner and chips that are used in more than one casino. I also added links to the web sites of individual casinos and of parent companies.

For those who care about such things, the site was developed using PHP4 and the data is stored in a MySQL database. My entire site, including the blog, is hosted by LiquidWeb.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a big stack of chips waiting to be scanned that have been piling up since I started the overhaul three months ago.

Posted by Dan at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)

My Money Rides The Crazy Train

I'm really sick of bank mergers. I've lived in New England for a little over 13 years now. During that time, I've been:

  • a BayBank customer

  • a Bank of Boston customer, and

  • a Fleet Bank customer

    all without my account number ever changing. Each and every time the banks sold the merger with a lot of talk about economies of scale and service quality improvements. And each and every time bank fees have gone up and customer servince has gotten worse. Isn't it possible that we don't need another inter-regional banking giant, but rather a number of large regional banks competing for consumers' business?

    Posted by Dan at 10:01 AM | Comments (3)
  • October 23, 2003

    "Operation Rollback"

    This stuff is too funny to make up. The feds just took down a contractor using illegal aliens to clean Wal-Mart stores. On the advice of counsel, the little smiley-face guy refused to comment.

    Posted by Dan at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

    October 22, 2003

    So Proud To Be An American

    Heartfelt apologies for the quality of the picture, but it was the best I could do in a pinch. I felt honor-bound to share this with all of you, my readers. I found this little conversation piece in the parking lot of Shaw's Supermarket.

    Behold, the Dale Earnhardt Memorial El Camino:

    Posted by Dan at 06:48 PM | Comments (1)

    October 20, 2003

    NFL Mid-Season Roundup

    It's hard to believe that it's been 7 weeks since NFL teams broke camp and took to the field. There have been a lot of surprises (Cowboys, Pathers, Eagles) as well as a lot of things that everyone saw coming (Chiefs, Titans, Cardinals). Here is my mid-season synopsis of what lies ahead. Agree? Disagree? Think I'm delusional? Hit those comments...

    American Football Conference

    Probably the most evenly-matched division in football, the AFC East has 3 legitimate contenders for the division title. The Patriots are on a roll in recent weeks, but their roster is held together by bubble gum and scotch tape. Rodney "The Human Cheap Shot" Harrison is the only guy left in their secondary I could pick out of a lineup. The Bills have tremendous potential and a lot of talent on offense, but the fact that they look better with Eric Moulds in street clothes is a big red flag. If the Dolphins begin their annual slide early, is there a possibility they'll snap out of it by playoff time? The Jets absolutely blow. Any other team could win this division and they might even sneak in a wild card if Denver falls apart.
    The weakest division in football. The Ravens are leading the pack at 3-3. Anyone remember that Tommy Maddox guy who looked so good when he took Kordell Stewart's job? What ever happened to him? Pain is only temporary, Ray, but being a relic on a team that mortgaged its future to buy a Superbowl is forever. What do you think Butch Davis would give to be back on Miami's sideline? Do they even play football in Cincinnati any more? Look for the winner of this division to get annihilated in the wildcard game by the loser of the Colts-Titans divisional race.
    The AFC South is the class of the NFL, but it's also the league's most fragile division. Steve McNair is undisputedly the league MVP to this point. If he goes down (and he averages more than 3 rushes per game), however, the Titans are in big trouble due to their complete lack of a running game. (Has a player ever been more over-rated over a longer period of time than Eddie George?) I'm not sold on the Colts at all. Both Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy have a history of starting strong and flaming out late. There could be a dangerous multiplicative effect here. The Jags and Texans deserve at most one word between them, so here it is: terrible.
    As long as Priest Holmes stays healthy, the Chiefs will run away with this division and probably land a first round bye. But, like the Titans, the Chiefs are one injury away from being painfully average. Their second leading rusher is Wide Receiver Johnnie Morton, who has 65 yards on 2 reverses. The Broncos have attained a dubious distinction, once thought impossible, by making thousands of NFL fans actually care about Jake Plummer's health. The Raiders are a complete disaster, seemingly intent on challenging the 1998 Florida Marlins' record for the worst year-over-year decline in a professional sports franchise. Maybe the Redskins were right about Marty Schottenheimer.

    National Football Conference

    The Cowboys are an enigma to me. Granted I wouldn't hire Dave Campo to run a lemonade stand and Bill Parcells is probably one of the greatest football coaches of all time, but up to this point the Cowboys have been the beneficiaries of a cake-walk schedule and a veritable buffet of awful divisional opponents. Their upcoming games against the Bucs and the Panthers should be revealing. Everyone in Philly is desirous of seeing any quarterback do well, black, white or otherwise, but it isn't going to happen until they bring in some sort of supporting cast on offense. If the Giants held onto sandwiches they way they've been holding onto the football this season, they would have starved already. I waver back and forth between believing it's incompetence and believing it's pure malice that's motivating Spurrier's apparent desire to get Patrick Ramsay killed.
    The Vikings are another team that's tough to figure out. Unlike the Cowboys, they have beaten three teams of substance. Maybe it's just the way he used to stand on the sideline last year and look hopelessly lost, but I'm really struggling to believe that Mike Tice is the guy who finally solved all of the Vikings' inter-personal issues. The Packers are standing in about the same spot that the Dolphins were in 6 years ago. Their fans/owners would never tolerate a decision to abandon Brett Favre, but even John Madden isn't kissing his ass quite as enthusiastically these days. If they make the playoffs, it's only because the Bucs or the Rams implode. The Lions are a bad team on their way to being better. The Bears are a bad team on their way to being worse.
    Strangely, at the end of last season this looked like the toughest conference in football, with the Panthers being the only weak team. Things have changed, but they may yet change again. Tennessee drew a map this week for every team that plays the Panthers from here on out. Their running game has been spectacular, but if teams put eight guys in the box, Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad are going to be hard-pressed to beat you. The Bucs haven't dealt particularly well with having the target on their backs that all Superbowl champions wear, but they can still go out and dominate a team when they're properly motivated. The Saints' total demolition of Atlanta demonstrated that they can still play ball on occasion. Without Michael Vick, the Falcons are truly awful. They would practically have to run the table at this point to have a shot at the playoffs.
    Mike Holmgren has turned the Seahawks around, but they're not a team that really strikes fear in anyone. Shaun Alexander is a force, but Matt Hasselbeck just isn't Pro Bowl material. Having finally placed Kurt Warner atop the Mark Rypien Memorial Dust Heap, the Rams are scaring people again. The biggest question mark in St. Louis is whether getting Marshall Faulk back will be a good thing or a bad thing, given how well the offense has been clicking without him. Regardless, I feel certain that Mike Martz will make the worst possible decision. Nobody can feel sorry for the 49ers. It isn't like there was any reason to wonder what effect Dennis Erickson would have on a team that already had severe chemistry problems. As for the Cardinals, well, I look forward to seeing Anquan Boldin in a few years when he's starting somewhere else.

    Posted by Dan at 02:21 PM | Comments (1)

    October 16, 2003

    Crossing The Lines Of Common Sense

    Plagued by falling sales and frivolous legal harassment, gun maker Smith & Wesson has decided to expand into home decor, clothing and jewelry. The company has debuted a catalog, called "Crossings by Smith & Wesson," just in time for the holidays.

    This is idiotic. What allure can the brand that is epitomized by those "Insured By Smith & Wesson" stickers affixed to mobile homes all over the deep south possibly bring to pillow shams and duvets? I know they're just trying to ape what Harley Davidson has been able to accomplish, but the Harley brand brings to mind "the spirit of the American road," and when I think Smith & Wesson, I think "vigilante ghetto popper." Who would you rather have your living room bring to mind, Peter Fonda or Bernhard Goetz?

    Posted by Dan at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

    October 15, 2003

    Yet Another Cherished Memory To Be Chewed Up, Spit Out

    Sixteen Candles was as much a part of the 1980's teenage experience as Nintendo, Michael Jackson and the Reagan Administration. Naturally, that makes it fair game for inspirationally bankrupt Hollywood movie producers. I suppose the question isn't, "How dare those thieving bastards sully our childhood memories by making 32 Candles?" but rather, "Wonder why it took them so long to get around to it?"


    Posted by Dan at 02:30 PM | Comments (2)

    October 12, 2003

    Daddy's Brag Book

    I don't have kids, so I have to brag about my computer, instead. It's sad, but a great deal cheaper.

    I just received my new PowerMac G5. I ordered the dual-processor 2 GHz model. I took some pictures this morning at Mike's insistence.

    The first picture is a front view. The most striking thing about these computers is how big they are. On the front, you can see the power button and headphone, FireWire800 and USB ports. At the top is the optical drive opening. The metal covering slides down when you open the drive.

    The next picture is of the back of the machine. At the top left is the latch for the side access panel. To the right of that are the PCI-X slots. In the bottom slot is the ATI Radeon 9600 graphics card. Along the lower right-hand side are most of the computer's I/O ports. At the top is the wireless network antenna. Below it, from top to bottom, there are optical digital audio in and audio out ports, the speaker jack, the line audio in jack, two USB ports, a FireWire400 port, a Firewire800 port, the Ethernet jack and the port where the modem port would be. In the middle, you can see two of the computer's 9 fans. Below the fans is the power plug.

    In the next picture you can see the side of the machine with the outer cover off. The clear plastic cover is part of the G5's heat management system. It helps to direct airflow through four distinct zones inside the case. This allows only the fans that are needed to run.

    The final picture shows the guts of the machine with the plastic airflow cover removed. The most prominent features are the two large heat-sinks covering the dual G5 processors. To the left of the processors are two fans mounted in a removable frame. Behind the frame are the RAM slots. Above the processors are the PCI-X slots. At the top front of the case is the DVD-R/CD-R/RW Panasonic SuperDrive. At the top rear are the hard drive bays.

    Posted by Dan at 09:18 AM | Comments (2)

    October 08, 2003

    If Having A Shift Key Is Criminal, Only Criminals Will Have Shift Keys

    This cracks me up. The music industry's newest copy proteciton scheme for CD's, defeated by a simple press of the shift key.
    These clowns continue to blame file sharing for the decline in CD sales while ignoring inconvenient realities like the sky-high price of CD's, the sagging economy and the crappy, derivative music that the major labels keep cranking out.

    Posted by Dan at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

    October 06, 2003

    Let Go Of The Hate

    It's the burning question that's been on everyone's mind during the Carolina Panthers' surprising 4-0 start. Tonight, on Monday Night Countdown, running back Stephen Davis revealed the answer to Stuart Scott. Panthers players do, in fact, call reserve running back and return specialist Rod Smart "He Hate Me" in the locker room.

    Posted by Dan at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

    The End Is Near!

    So what would you have thought if I had told you on April 1 that the Cubs and the Marlins would be playing for the National League Championship?
    "He's off his rocker! Stark raving mad! Out of his tree! Lost his marbles! For the love of Pete, somebody please get this poor man off the street and into a padded room! Oh, the humanity."
    I'm scared. If we wind up with a Red Sox vs. Cubs World Series, I'm stocking up on potted meat, bottled water and whisky and I'm heading for the hills. There's a natural disaster brewing. A cataclysm of Biblical proportions. Bill Mueller, David Ortiz, Todd Walker and Johnny "Unfrozen Caveman Centerfielder" Damon are the four horsemen of the apocalypse! Kerry Wood is the anti-christ!
    Quickly, before it's too late...

    Posted by Dan at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

    October 05, 2003

    Adding Insult To Injury

    After returning the opening kickoff of the 3rd quarter 69 yards to go up 40-0, the Wilson High School Tigers were penalized a total of 45 yards for "excessive celebration, unsportsmanlike conduct and taunting." After the penalty yardage was marched off, Wilson senior David Rosenbaum nailed the 62-yard extra point. Rumors that Wilson High School players were also seen kicking the other team's mascot could not be independently confirmed.

    Posted by Dan at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

    Beer-Movie Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003 Version)

    As if The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre hadn't milked every last thin dime out of Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror classic, along come "Armageddon" producer Michael Bay and music video director Marcus Nispel to piss on the ashes by remaking the original as a teen-movie slasher flick. Sure, there will be some scary moments, particularly after Leatherface gets rebuilt into a futuristic cyborg killer... Oh, wait, I'm confusing this movie with Jason X. It's an easy enough mistake to make, particularly after the 7 beers I estimate it would take to enjoy this juvenile, derivative garbage.



    Are you a Jessica Biel fan? Think Michael Bay is an unappreciated genius? Then it's time to hit those comments.

    Click here for an explanation of the Beer-Movie Rating System

    Posted by Dan at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

    October 03, 2003

    Men Who Design Clothes Hate Women

    I'll never have to get deeply, personally involved in anything like this, but this web site absolutely kills me.

    Posted by Dan at 04:51 PM | Comments (1)

    October 02, 2003

    Still No Cure For Cancer

    Once again, British researchers step up, making the world a better place for people who fret over a few broken cookies at the bottom of the package. Methods for making British food less bland and crappy remained elusive as of press time.

    Posted by Dan at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

    Today's Best Names I Thought Up For A Punk Rock Band

  • Strom Thurmond Death Tax

  • Fugly

    Posted by Dan at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)
  • V-ESPN Day!

    The Rush Limbaugh Experiment on ESPN's NFL Sunday Countdown has come to a flaming train-wreck of an end. And while his racially tainted comments about Eagles QB Donovan McNaab were the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, Limbaugh would have been considerably less dispensable if he had anything compelling or insightful to say about the game of football.

    Posted by Dan at 08:55 AM | Comments (1)

    October 01, 2003

    Organic Fruits, Genetically Unmodified Nuts and Dean Supporters

    The Dean Campaign has settled into Portsmouth.

    So what sort of nourishment fuels the Dean campaign? I can't even think of anything to write that adds anything to this:

    Posted by Dan at 10:51 AM | Comments (1)