Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Google Video - WOW

Ok. Wow.

Google just posted (ok, I'm a day or two behind) about their updated Google video technology... and is introducing it with the ability to watch UPN's "Everybody Hates Chris" for 4 days... This is really awesome.

I had a prior post about an earlier version of Google video (which appeared to be usable only on MSWindows) which I had saved in draft form because I thought maybe it was too rant-like... but: since that problem is now obsolete, I'll publish it and refer to it.

I'm running a DSL connection and ... this is actually watchable. And, it's not a 64x64 thumb-sized "window"... it's big! Try it!!

Nevertheless, I hope this awesome use of technology and bandwidth doesn't proclude the introduction in the US of truly high-bandwidth Internet... such as that available in Japan, and (as reported by slashdot) now introduced in the UK.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

May I See Some ID?

It happened again. And I think it's about time I write about it.

I was making a small purchase by credit card when the cashier asked me, "Can I see some ID?" - not, "Can I see YOUR ID?" but just "some" ID. Ok, I'm not really picking on the language... Dutifully, I pulled my driver's license from the same wallet I had just pulled my credit card out of. Now the key here (I forgot to include this in the original post), is that the cashier NEVER looks at my face to see if the ID matches me... hence, it really isn't ID!

Now wait -- isn't there something suspicious here?

I've been assuming all along that, "Can I see some ID?" means that somebody is trying to protect me... except that I really don't understand how this system is supposed to work.

Suppose I'm a thief. Hypothetically, please! Suppose I just got finished pickpocketing a wallet... so: suppose I look at the ID in the wallet, learn the guy's name, and practice his signature 10 or so times. Now... suppose I go buy something with one of the credit cards. When the cashier asks, "Can I see some ID?", I confidently pull out the driver's license. I sign the receipt and walk away with my goods. Now: how was the owner of the credit card protected??

There may have been cameras, etc. but specifically, what good did showing the ID of the wallet serve??

If my credit card is stolen, I call my credit card issuer and report it stolen... and sure: I'm "protected" for transactions purchased within some time and price window. But isn't that just covered by some form of insurance that the credit card charges to merchants (and therefore, indirectly, to me) through their service fee? Or what about the exhorbitant rates that some credit card companies charge... 19%... 22%... 26%...!??

So again, I'm confused: what purpose does me pulling out my driver's license serve? If I'm not purchasing an age-controlled substance (say, liquor), what right or need does the merchant (or cashier) have in looking at my ID?

All of this leads into a blog for another day... have you ever considered how insecure the entire credit-card system is? Given that all sorts of third parties have your credit card information, and given that no identification is required to use a credit card by phone, why isn't this an ENORMOUS problem?

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fair Trade Coffee

Ok... this is a pretty random post for me...

I was trolling the del.icio.us home page... to see what I might find... and ran across a blog that somebody had linked to... with both an interesting name... and possibly talking about an interesting topic: "Green Fair Trade Coffee". So: not being as green and hip, and up-to-date as I probably should be, I googled, "fair trade coffee"... and found this site... Of course, I also had to consult wikipedia here and here just to be sure... [[and during this sojourn, I discovered the definition of the "Second World" which had been bothering me for some time (tho' apparently not enough to actually go out of my way to look it up), since we seem to count from first to third lately...]].

Anyway, this all seems pretty reasonable to me... especially with designer coffee drinks going for US$ 3 or more...

So: from now on: I'll be looking for organic fair-trade coffee...

Now... maybe I should spend some time figuring out why farming the world over seems to need subsidizing... have we colluded to form the problem? Or is the problem (of requiring subsidy) intrinsic somehow?

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Superheating Water

I have a confession to make. I've marveled about this before... talked about it among friends... Daily, I am re-fascinated each time I heat a cup of water in the microwave... daily, at least on days that I drink instant coffee instead of taking time to make a pot.

I've found that if you take a smoothly glazed coffee cup, fill it with water (mine is always filtered), and heat it in the microwave... not quite long enough to make it boil (for me, this is 2 minutes on "hi")... you'll end up with a very interesting cup of hot water.

At this point, if you're not careful, when you add the instant coffee, you'll end up with an "explosion" of hot coffee. The first few times I did this, I had coffee all over the countertop and all over the floor. More than half of the water "exploded" out of the cup.

Now, I add the coffee slowly (with a spoon)... and watch... as each addition of coffee causes the mixture to boil a bit.

Not that instant coffee tastes "great", but I'm convinced that my instant coffee tastes better this way than if I boiled a pot of water, and added it to a cup filled with a teaspoon of instant coffee.

Here are a few links for further reading.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Migrating iTunes and iPhoto repositories on a network

I just bought a 2GB SanDisk CompactFlash card for my EOS20D. Great: now I can take upwards of 400 pictures (in superfine jpg mode), or 195 pictures (in RAW mode)... but: I now realize that I don't have enough space on my PowerBook laptop to hold even one more 2GB download.

The good news is that I have a new MacMini on the home network... with roughly 63GB free on it.

So: what's the "right" way to transfer these photos to the MacMini...? I will likely want to view the photos from the PowerBook... even while I travel... so: I'll want a subset repository (perhaps photos with ratings of 3 or more "stars")... What's the right way to do this?

I have a similar problem with my iTunes music...

So far, (I haven't researched this much yet: decided to blog before discovering the result), I have found:
I suppose I should start by perusing the online help... and then Apple's support website...

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Katrina Diaries

My sister and her husband were fortunate enough to have left New Orleans more than 24 hours before Katrina hit. She, her husband, and her cats are all ok. After some discussion, I was able to convince my sister to start a blog about her ongoing experience... the evolving uncertainty of what remains... and what to do next...

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