Meanwhile in Smallville

Have you learned nothing, Clark Kent?

Seriously? Someone who has lived in Kansas for their entire life says “Hide under the underpass” when the tornado is coming? Seriously?

And you can’t use the excuse that you were trolling General Zod, either.

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Call me Ishkabibble

This should end well:

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute is working on a new ebook DRM dubbed SiDiM that would prevent piracy by changing the actual text of a story, swapping out words to make individualized copies that could be tracked by the original owner of the ebook.

Reports about the work first popped up on German blogs this week, with one blogger revealing examples that include changing wordings like “invisible” to “not visible” and “unhealthy” to “not healthy.” Other examples included sentences in which the order of words was changed, or in which hyphens were added to words.

I have to figure that Fraunhofer, the inventor of MP3 file compression, knows its way around a digital file — but any lock can be broken. Then again, this isn’t technically a lock.

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It’s past, but is it prologue?

The dextrosphere seems interested in stirring up a tempest about this revelation:

The former host of “Erotica Night” at a Baltimore bookstore will be the first-ever female No. 2 official at the CIA… 20 years ago, [Avril Danica] Haines opened and co-owned Adrian’s Book Café in the Baltimore waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point. She opened Adrian’s after dropping out of a graduate program in physics at Johns Hopkins University. The store featured regular “Erotica Nights.” including dinner and a series of readings by guests of published work or their own prose, according to a 1995 report in the Baltimore Sun; couples could attend for $30, while singles paid $17.

Color me unimpressed, though not so much as Kathy Shaidle is:

Shouldn’t we be thrilled that at least this broad ran a business of some kind once, unlike 90% of Obama staffers and appointees?

Based on that consideration, Haines, rather than John Kerry’s brother, should be running Commerce.

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Switching lanes

How low-budget was the video for “Friday”? It was shot at Rebecca Black’s home in Anaheim Hills, with prop expenditures of approximately zero.

Except that while announcing that the family is moving out, she admitted that the bus stop was fake.

I think I speak for everyone here when I say “Duh.”

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Finally, another argument for smartphones

Last month, post-Chávez Venezuela, apparently in no better condition than pre-post-Chávez Venezuela, ran out of toilet paper and had to import several million rolls in what may be reasonably described as a hurry.

Supplies are still short, and there’s still plenty of caca in Caracas, but now there’s an app for that:

The new programme, launched last week, uses crowdsourcing technology to enable users to let each other know which supermarkets still have stocks of the tissue.

Called Abasteceme — “Supply Me” in English — the free Android app has already been downloaded more than 12,000 times.

Fausta reminds us:

Think about the wasted manpower and talent in a country where the government’s mismanagement has caused the country to run out of toilet paper.

Then again, this is what Comrade Hugo aspired to: a blending of the best of the old Soviet Union and the new-ish Zimbabwe.

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Finally, an argument for smartphones

Or a potential argument, anyway, pending this particular development:

“I’ve wanted someone to create a Taser app for some time now,” I said to the rest of the group. “It would be something you’d download on a friend’s phone unbeknownst to them. Then, you could Taser them by using the control portion of the app at your end. Most people carry their cell phones on their person. It would work, though be quite a battery drain.”

“It sounds like you’ve been giving this some thought.”

“Yes. I think many people would be interested in it.”

Really, the only way this could be better is if you could download it to a non-friend’s phone by pointing it in his general direction while he’s standing there demonstrating why he’s not your friend.

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Quote of the week

John Naughton in the Guardian, on the cost of those “free” online services:

When the history of our time comes to be written, people will marvel at the way that billions of people were seduced into the kind of one-sided agreements they have struck with outfits such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. In the case of Facebook, the historical analogy that comes immediately to mind is sharecropping — the agricultural system in which a landowner allowed tenants to use his land in return for a share of the crops produced on it and which was once a staple of the southern states of the US. Its virtual equivalent is the Facebook system: a billion people till Master Zuckerberg’s land, creating all the content that is then harvested by him and his advertiser buddies. The only difference is that on Facebook the sharecroppers don’t get any share of the proceeds. They’re just croppers.

And here’s the really weird bit: the croppers are absurdly pleased with their lot. They get to post photographs of themselves drunk, sober, recumbent and upside-down. They get to “Like” their friends’ jokes and status updates and to organise parties and social events without having to use obsolete media such as email. And in the process they “pay” for this entertainment with their privacy and their personal data, apparently without batting an eyelid. Like I said: weird.

One assumes that these folks are happy with the deal. Now if the Big Zuckowski puts together an archive that barfs your status updates back at you exactly twenty years later — well, a little mortification is good for the soul.

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For which I claim full credit

Last week, I bought a set of shiny new Cooper CS4 tires for Gwendolyn, and industrialists in India were evidently watching:

India’s Apollo Tyres [will] acquire Cooper, of Findlay, Ohio, for about $2.5 billion, or $35 a share. That would be a 43% premium to Cooper’s Tuesday close at $24.56.

Apollo is reported to be the 15th largest tire manufacturer worldwide, and Cooper the 11th; the combined company will rank seventh.

The sensible part of this deal, if you ask me — and why should you? — is that the existing Apollo and Cooper markets have hardly any overlap: Apollo does most of its business in India, and Cooper is almost entirely American-based, though it does own the British firm Avon Tyres.

Note: Not intended as an attempt to sell securities.

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24-pin salute

When I was a lad, we had only nine pins, and we liked it:

According to research firm NPD, Americans bought just less than 20,000 brand-new dot matrix printers in 2012. You can still find an entire channel on for dot matrix printers with pricing starting at a lofty $205, more than double the least expensive inkjet.

So why would anyone want to use the best printing technology of 1983 in 2013? Apparently, many point-of-sale, warehouse inventory and other business systems still require carbon copy and multipart forms that work only with the hard impact of a dot matrix printhead and its continuous tractor feed. And, really, who can blame businesses for not modernizing their processes to use inkjet, laser or thermal printing? They’ve only had a couple of decades to think about it.

How about “The next level up is severely retarded and insists on multipart forms”? Does that work for you? Because it’s a reality for me.

And you’d be surprised how fast the least expensive inkjet goes through $205 worth of replacement cartridges — unless, of course, you own one.

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Like Berle, if Berle could rebound

About fifteen months ago, which in NBA terms is about a quarter-century, Tim Duncan didn’t suit up for some Spurs game because he was old. Really. Said so in the box score.

I have to figure, though, that Methuselah Jr. shrugged it off; the man clearly has a sense of humor. Jeff McDonald, on the Spurs beat for the San Antonio Express-News, sent this up yesterday:

Tim Duncan explains Spurs’ game plan vs. LeBron this way: “We’re guarding him with five guys.”

Also yesterday, Royce Young of Daily Thunder tweeted this:

Tim Duncan was asked what he would hate most about the spotlight the Heat get, the second-guessing, the over-coverage, etc. Answer: “Yes.”

I hope I’m that funny when I get that old.

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And the number of the gigs shall be two

Can’t tell if trolling or too dumb to have a smartphone:

2GB data plan. how many gigs is this. I have AT&T

I’m tempted to say something like “Being as how it’s AT&T, probably 1.8.”

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Pockets of cootie resistance

In my capacity as a person who knows some actual female gamers, I did manage to pick up on this:

Now I’m not a big fan of the “We Must Have Our Own Role Models!” shtick; but this woman got totally dumped on in the crudest and crassest manner possible, and I’m not a fan of that sort of thing at all.

Lara Croft was not available for comment.

Disclosure: I have purchased and played — and won at — exactly one game with a female protagonist. This, of course, was long before my plunge into the ponyverse.

(Via Fark.)

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Beyond the blue Verizon

Here’s another one of those dadburn dilemmas with horns:

I have a phone I hate.

It’s glitchy and horrible and dumb and I hate it. However, I have a service that I like. 4G coverage, unlimited data, usually works yadayadda.

It escalates from that point, and winds up here:

Do I replace this stoopid hated glitchy phone I have now by using insurance and paying a $100 deductible for the same stoopid hated probably still glitchy phone because Verizon claims that the scratches on the phone have invalidated the warranty? (They made a similar claim invalidating my warranty when my Droid X got bricked by their stoopid ice cream update two years ago. I hate them SOOO much, yet I know they have the best coverage in America. ARRGGHHH.)

Be grateful. Had it been AT&T, they’d have charged you a Bricking Fee for accepting the update in the first place.

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Plate tech ‘tronics

It’s tentatively called the “e-tag” — a name there’s still plenty of time to change — and South Carolina is contemplating putting such things on cars as a method of tormenting scofflaws:

[T]he tags would be electronically linked to the DMV, so if a driver’s license has been suspended or his insurance has lapsed, the DMV would send a signal to the license plate. The word “SUSPENDED” or “UNINSURED” would appear on the license plate.

If your car is stolen, the DMV could make the tag read “STOLEN”. The state could also use the tags during Amber Alerts or other emergencies.

I figure this system will be hacked approximately 90 minutes after the first deployment of tags.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Sympathy given

Musician Emily Haines wears several hats, though the one that brought her to my attention was the one she wears as lead singer and keyboardist for the Canadian band Metric. Here she is, not wearing a hat at all:

Emily Haines photo by f_mafra

This particular song, from Metric’s 2009 album Fantasies, has been creeping into my subconscious for several weeks now, though I didn’t hunt down the video until last night. It’s at least somewhat incomprehensible, as is the song itself, but I’m fine with that, and as usual, I’m amazed at what can be done in a single shot.

Why “Metric”? Emily explains to Spin:

“[Bandmate] Jimmy [Shaw] had a song that involved a sound he’d programmed into his keyboard and called ‘Metric.’ When we saw that word on the keyboard’s LED screen it looked so electro. It had a no bullshit vibe. It was a little cold and standoffish and we’re down with that. It works for us. Some people think it has something to do with the fact that we’re from Canada — which uses the metric system. That was coincidental, though at the time we were into arty electronic stuff that was coming out of European countries that also use the metric system. But if we’d wanted to use a name that evoked Canada, we would’ve called ourselves the Toques or something.”

Besides, there’s a band called The Toques, from, um, northern Arizona.

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Pass the Bufferin

Oh, wow! Streaming audio from the iTunes Store! There’s just one iFly in the iOintment:

It seems iTunes may dip into social media like Facebook or Twitter to see what you like and they say it’s to see which artists you like and don’t like so they can build a proper playlist for you, but we all know where it’s going. Selective marketing. You can buy any track you like immediately off iTunes Radio which isn’t a bad thing as long as the money gets to the artist. The problem here lies with the ads. The iTunes software is already resource heavy on machines in comparison to VLC Player or even the XBMC. Now take a resource heavy client and add in a live music stream and ads to follow every second song. It’s like taking a pack mule that is loaded with all your gear and sit on it expecting it to take you up the mountain.

Okay, it’s not a fly, it’s a mule. Either way, it’s bound to be stubbornly annoying — or annoyingly stubborn.

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