Yet still not analog

You might as well get as much out of those bits as you possibly can:

Parasound, a purveyor of fanatically high-end consumer audio equipment, has introduced a CD player that’s controlled by an internal Mini-ITX computer running embedded Linux. Using a CD-ROM drive for playing CDs, the “Halo CD 1″ sucks in the CD’s contents at 4x normal speed, giving its CPU time to detect and eliminate disc errors before outputting near-perfect audio.

By reading data from the disc at four times the speed of a conventional CD player, the device’s embedded Linux computer can read each section of the disc multiple times, checking for discrepancies between the reads.

Hmmm. Just what do they mean by “fanatically high-end”?

The Parasound Halo CD 1 CD-player comes in silver and black, and is priced at $4,500.

Think how much it would have cost if they’d tried to run it on Windows 8.

(Via Fark.)

Addendum: I went back and read the associated Fark thread, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a Windows 8 joke halfway down the page. I am not alone.

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Strange search-engine queries (373)

The last weekend of winter — then again, that was supposed to be the weekend before last, and we all know how well that worked out — is finally behind us, and before us stretches a week’s worth of logs. Was it worth the wait? Let’s see:

nice legs and nice shorts:  Well, you see, that’s why we were waiting for the end of winter. Some of us, anyway.

siteontheface porn pics:  Some sites you might want to keep your face out of, know what I mean?

I made him feel small:  The pressure of having a site on one’s face, I’d bet.

rose mcveigh having naked sex in casanova:  In days of old, they’d dress for that sort of thing.

a mineral that is not a silicate is:  Probably going to oxidize your face off.

can going to an indoor waterpark give you bronchitis:  Doubtful, since it’s not on the list of things for which they charge extra.

San Francisco hellhole apartments for the fucking poor–from riches to ratholes:  Perhaps if they quit doing that, they could afford to move someplace better.

why have local methamphetamine labs disappeared:  Because you wanted to save a few cents and decided to shop at a national chain like Tweakers R Us or the Boned Depot instead.

too stupid to love wiki:  Plenty of new material, the editors having lots and lots of free time to kill, much to their despair.

fonts that say stupid:  Call me when they bring out Tragic Sans.

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The trail stops here

Right about now, LaMarcus Aldridge is wondering where that straitjacket came from. The Blazers’ forward did nail down a double-double — ten points and 12 rebounds — but usually Aldridge is good for 20, even 30 against those OKC ruffians, even if the Thunder did win the last five games against Portland. Besides, the Blazers had a two-point lead at the half, and while the Thunder rallied, there wasn’t too much to sweat: with six minutes left, Aldridge took a pass from Nicolas Batum and dropped it into the bucket from 19 feet out, and Portland was down only 88-83. Little did he know that the game was over right then. The Fail Blazers, normally a good fourth-quarter team, did not get so much as a single free throw for the rest of the game, and were sent back down the trail with a 103-83 loss and their chance at the #8 seed decidedly diminished.

Damian Lillard, the Blazers’ #6 pick in 2012, is officially declared the Bright Spot of the game: he rolled up 19 points, right at his average, and served up six assists. Portland had five in double figures, including Lillard’s backup point guard, OKC expat Eric Maynor, who led the bench with ten. Still, 40.5 percent shooting is fairly terrible, and while they were doing well with the long ball early on, eventually the treys quit falling — they wound up 10-26.

Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were feeling it tonight, Batman 10-17 for 24 points, Robin 9-18 for 21. And the bench, give or take Derek Fisher, was hitting, led by Kevin Martin with 11 and Nick Collison with 10 on 5-6 from the floor. Up front, the Serge Protector was working up to speed: Ibaka had 16 points, only three boards, but five blocks.

You want better news? The Rockets edged the Spurs, 96-95, on a James Harden (of course) pullup with 4.5 seconds left. (The Beard finished with 29.) So the top of the mountain is now only a game and a half away. Not that the much-improved Wizards, 3-2 in their last five and 1-0 against OKC this year, will care when they come to town Wednesday.

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Povertymongers

They’ve devoted their lives to Changing The World — but not, of course, to the extent that the change would put them out of work or anything.

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Icon hardly believe this

My last monitor had a single sticker on a corner of the case, saying “Designed for Windows Vista,” and you all know what I think of Windows Vista. The new display screen, same size except front to back — I swear, there are tablets thicker than this, and I don’t mean iPads, I mean freaking antibiotics — is festooned with no fewer than eleven little bits of metalized plastic that are intended, I suppose, to Mean Something.

Down the left side: LED (well, it’s actually LCD with an LED backlight); Ultra Slim (as noted, supra); DCR 50,000,000 to 1 (Dynamic Contrast Ratio, whatever that’s supposed to mean); Illuminating Touch Key (which means you can’t find it until you put a finger on it); Low Power (25 watts, they say); Screen+ (which supposedly enables the user to turn the available space into four separate displays, all too small to read); Off Timer (like I need it to wait); VESA Mount (built into the base, making wall mounting easier, assuming I could read this from that distance).

From bottom left: “Compatible with Windows 7″ (for the record, my NVIDIA video card recognized it immediately, and it’s about two versions older than Win7, and I didn’t so much as look at the proffered driver disk); EPEAT (an environmental rating system, in which this machine rates Silver); and the inevitable Energy Star.

Perhaps this looks cool on a retail shelf. I think it’s overkill.

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Visit our new Alta Vista branch

Will Truman’s looking for a bank, but probably not this one:

I ran across Presidential Bank. Its website bills itself as an “Online Bank” even though they have physical locations as well. But its website looks like something right out of Geocities. I know not to judge a book by its cover, but its website gives me serious pause about their legitimacy. Which is totally bizarre, because if I were starting a fake bank with a website, I would totally make the website look as real as possible.

This is reminiscent of Steve Martin’s routine about why banks are always called something like “Security National Trust and Federal Reserve” — because no one’s going to put their money in “Fred’s Bank.” On the upside, no one’s going to believe that Fred’s is Too Big To Fail.

May we suggest Redneck Bank?

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Quote of the week

Today, say the pundits, you create your own brand, sell your own image, and it’s clearly in your own best interest to make that image as shiny and glittering and appealing as possible.

Yeah, right. How’s that working out for you?

An obsession with image, a constant concern with how one is perceived, has the effect of turning life into a performance, demoting others to the role of mere spectators. Nothing is genuine or sincere or authentic, but instead everything is done for the sake of the impression it creates on others. Everybody is Willy Loman, worried about being “well-liked.”

To hell with all that. Life as an endless high-school popularity contest is only interesting to people whose egos are so badly damaged they are consumed with a self-hate which they attempt to mask with sociopathic manipulations. They deliberately cause problems and then blame others for the problems they’ve caused, because their entire lives are an evasion of responsibility. They are incapable of recognizing themselves as the source of their own problems, because this would require them to admit error, a recognition of personal shortcoming that their fragile egos could never withstand.

Dr. Laurence J. Peter anticpated this situation forty-odd years ago: “An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.”

And even Willy Loman caught on at the last minute: “Funny, y’know? After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.”

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Hachi-Roku round the clock

The Subaru BRX/Scion FR-S twins have won much praise as track cars, though 200 ponies aren’t really enough to go serious racing.

To enable the Scion to participate in the SCCA Pirelli World Challenge Series, Toyota Racing Development has developed a supercharger package for the little boxer engine. Difficulty: under SCCA rules, the package must be available at retail, but Toyota doesn’t want 2nr d00dz to get their hot little hands on it.

Solution: a price point that will discourage all but the hyper-serious racers. We’re talking $26,000, which is almost exactly the price of a complete unblown FR-S.

Bonus: minimum order two. It’s a safe bet Ricey McRicerson, lover of fart-can exhausts and spoilers higher than your hat, doesn’t have fifty-two grand to spare.

(To those who would burn me for invoking an Asian stereotype: Hey, it’s a Scottish name. Just look at it.)

Note: Working title for this was “No homologation.” Look it up if you must.

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Fark blurb of the week

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More Whiz to compensate

Canada’s National Post has an excerpt from Michael Moss’s book Salt Sugar Fat (Toronto: Signal Books, 2013) about “the day they took the Cheese out of Cheez Whiz.” A sample:

[Dean] Southworth had been part of the team that created Cheez Whiz in the early 1950s. The mission had been to come up with a speedy alternative to the cheese sauce used in making Welsh rarebit, a popular but laborious dish that required a half-hour or more of cooking before it could be poured over toast. It took them a year and a half of sustained effort to get the flavor right, but when they did, they succeeded in creating one of the first megahits in convenience foods. Southworth and his wife, Betty, became lifelong fans and made it part of their daily routine. “We used it on toast, muffins, baked potatoes,” he told me. “It was a nice spreadable, with a nice flavor. And it went well at night with crackers and a little martini. It went down very, very nicely, if you wanted to be civilized.”

So it was with considerable alarm that he turned to his wife one evening in 2001, having just sampled a jar of Cheez Whiz he’d picked up at the local Winn-Dixie supermarket. “I said, ‘Holy God, it tastes like axle grease.’ I looked at the label and I said, ‘What the hell did they do?’ I called up Kraft, using the 800 number for consumer complaints, and I told them, ‘You are putting out a goddamn axle grease!'”

Of course, axle grease keeps better. Southworth duly read the list of ingredients, and did not in fact see any mention of “cheese” at all, though several components — whey, for instance — did show up here and there.

(Via Fark.)

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World rocked, film at 11

For years I’ve been griping about the term “meteoric rise,” usually while noting that meteors, when we see them, aren’t rising at all: generally, they’re plummeting.

I made the mistake of dropping that bit of shtick on the lovely and talented Tabitha St. Germain, and was paid back thusly by a third party:

meteorism in the medical sense: accumulation of gas in the abdomen or the intestine, usually with distension

I was, of course, aghast. It occurred to me to suggest that as a general rule, there wasn’t much vertical propulsion involved with that particular condition, but at that point, I was already doing some plummeting of my own.

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Do they even lift?

Charles Darwin may not have anticipated roadkill, but it certainly seems to play a role in natural selection:

A new study by biologists at the University of Tulsa and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln presents evidence to suggest that cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) in southwestern Nebraska may be suffering [lower] incidence of collision with cars, thanks to shorter wings.

According to Current Biology, researchers Charles Brown and Mary Bomberger Brown have been paying close attention to the swallow population in this particular section of Nebraska. They’ve found that the birds measured now have shorter wings than did the birds that were first studied back in 1982. What’s more, there are a smaller number of roadkill birds found in the area — despite increases in both swallow population and traffic since the study began. No increase in roadkill-eating scavengers has been found either.

And just to hammer it home, birds found to have met their fate on the highway seem to have wings of above-average length; perhaps the extra feathering reduces agility or speed.

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Gotta stay up on Friday

On a scale of 1-10, Rebecca Black rates her “inner self-confidence” at 15:

Oh, and if you were wondering why she was in Florida in the first place (see previous post, the answer is Playlist LIVE:

First and foremost, Playlist is a festival for everyone who loves online video and music! There will be live performances by many of your favorite YouTube and musical artists. Beyond that, YouTube and music have become very collaborative, so it’s about interaction. There will be interviews and interactive talks, complete with audience participation, from YouTube artists. There will be meet-ups and autograph signings with all of the artists participating, and every artist will have merchandise for sale. You can meet your favorite YouTuber and film the experience and post it to your own YouTube channel!

Hard to imagine her not being there, really.

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Gotta get up on Friday

The last Orlando-Oklahoma City game was an offensive show: the Thunder rolled up 73 points in the first half and then fought back a Magic rally. But that was a whole week ago. This time, it was only 47-34 at the half in front of a crowd of enthusiastic Floridians (plus Rebecca Black — hey, it’s Friday), but the story unwound much the same way. At the 3:55 mark, it was tied at 86; Kevin Durant outscored Orlando 6-2 over the next three and a half minutes, and the Thunder pulled away for a 97-89 win. “We didn’t play very well,” said Nick Collison afterwards, but a W is a W.

Hedo Türkoğlu is still gone, of course, and the injury situation for Orlando was somewhere beyond serious: Nikola Vučević was unwell, and Arron Afflalo pulled a hamstring in the second quarter. The younger guys did step up, though: Maurice Harkless knocked down 25 points and hauled in nine boards; Tobias Harris posted one of two Magic double-doubles (ten points, 15 rebounds), the reliable Jameer Nelson (16 points, ten assists) recording the other.

What Scott Brooks is thinking, though, is probably something like this: “You guys missed more free throws than they made.” Which is true: Orlando went 8-10 from the stripe, OKC 24-33. He would likely agree, though, that this was a good night for Serge Ibaka to be back at 100 percent: 14 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks. The Russell and Kevin Show delivered the usual quota of offense, Westbrook scoring 19 and Durant 25; for a change, two bench players (Collison and Kevin Martin) finished in double figures. And the Thunder’s three-point mojo isn’t back, technically, though 5-21 is better than they’d been doing of late, and nobody not named Kevin would hit one.

Next two games at home: the Trail Blazers on Sunday, the Wizards on Wednesday. (Friday and Saturday they’ll be in the Frozen North, against Minnesota and Milwaukee.)

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Lowest possible interest

Lileks gets yet another call from “LOWER INTEREST,” or whatever the hell it says on Caller ID, and grumbles about the futility of it all:

Hey, how about using the $100 million dollar FTC law enforcement budget to fine the bejeezus out of these people?

If the FTC, like every other governmental agency this side of Upper Lowcountry Middle School, has a crapload of tactical gear, it’s time to SWAT the bejeezus out of them. It’s not like the government is short of bullets; certainly they’re not guarding an embassy here.

It comes down to two things: my own dislike of interruptions from strangers who want my money or my signature, and my own horror of imposing on others. Since I would not do something like set up robots to bother people, it is, of course, completely unfair that they do.

Drones. We locate the boiler-room operators, and perform the appropriate public service.

But back to the FTC. Let’s imagine their initials were actually IRS, and the lawbreakers owed them money. Let’s imagine the IRS having a contest to give $50,000 in taxpayer money to someone who came up with a great idea for collecting back taxes. Let us just imagine that and conclude what we will.

Depends. Is that $50,000 taxable?

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Zippier Clip

You’ve already heard about my acquisition of a Sansa/SanDisk (choose one) music player. What you haven’t heard is that it came with a built-in issue: given any really ginormous number of files, it chokes on the database refresh, which it never quite finishes. Meanwhile, your battery plummets.

There being no easy way out of this other than to give up the extra space, I opted for something way out of the ordinary: a third-party operating system called Rockbox, versions of which are available for dozens of players, including the Clip Zip. Basically, it patches the Sansa firmware to hand over to the Rockbox OS, which has a much grottier, Unix-y interface, but which can update its database in three minutes rather than three hours. The trick was getting it to recognize both “drives”: it took a couple of hours of fumble, but I now have a proper 5000-item playlist.

And did I mention it’s now dual-boot? Yep. This experience raises my Techie Rating from “positively awful” to “merely clumsy.”

Addendum: The inevitable YouTube video.

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