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January 17 to 23, 2005
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I had the pleasure of listening to XM Satellite Radio all week (which was bundled with my Alamo rental car) while working in Mountain View, CA. It sounds great and the music choices are wonderful. There's even an "Unsigned" channel full of nothing but music from unsigned bands. Drops in the signal are handled by soft white noise that fades in and out gracefully without abrupt changes. Given that computers are changing how people listen to music, I wish the interface had the ability to keep the name of the artist, song, and album displayed at all times - that's the most important information, after all. Station identification is so irrelevant these days... XM to iTunes integration is likely coming:
I went to the Palo Alto Apple Store, which until 1995 used to be Swain's House of Music, where the Grateful Dead played a few times and where it's rumored that Jerry Garcia bought one of his first electric guitars (when I lived off of Hamilton Avenue during the 90's I bought a few items there). The store was out of iPod shuffles, but I was able to try out its only Mac mini, which was connected to a 20-inch Cinema display. I noticed a few things:

  • The bottom is a rubber-like pad that prevents the computer from slipping on surfaces.
  • The mini is for all intents and purposes completely silent. If there was a fan in there I couldn't hear it in the store.
  • I put the thing through some heavy stress tests (Logic, Pages, iPhoto) and it never got too hot or unbearably slow. Here's some benchmarks:
New Tech
eXeem, the new distributed P2P BitTorrent client, is now in public beta and it works quite well. Sorry, it's only available for Windows right now:
A new cheap DVD recorder (sold at Wal-Mart for $140) may make the VCR obsolete:
UK scientists find the natural human-produced chemicals that repel mosquitos:
Cornell researchers figure out how to make plastic from citrus fruits and CO2, eliminating the need to use petroleum to make plastics:
UCLA researchers have made microscopic robots powered by living heart cells:
Modern Life
"Villagers furious with Christian Missionaries"
In tsunami-hit areas in India, Christian missionaries are denying aid if people don't convert:
Another account from a tsunami volunteer - "the only real irritation has been the American Christian volunteers":
The dollar is so weak internationally that drug dealers are now doing business in Euros:
A prototype car by Ford is described as a "rolling urban command center", with bullet-resistant windows, protective shutters, and a mini-home theater:
"Study: Watching Fewer Than Four Hours Of TV A Day Impairs Ability To Ridicule Pop Culture"
It's been a long time since I've forwarded anything by the Onion:
Terrorism and You
"Bush Gets Positive Rating In Three Countries"
Ahem, that's three of *twenty-one* countries:
Since 2003 airport security screeners have stolen $36 million in items from travelers. The Transportation Security Administration spokesman says, "We have a few bad apples. That is unfortunate. We'd like to have that number down to zero."
Frequent traveler and ace writer Cory Doctorow was questioned at the airport by American Airlines personnel and asked for a written list of his friends' addresses. Here's his story:
Three new wind farms in Hawaii should provide power for almost 20,000 homes before 2006:
A new solar hot water heater is 30 to 40% more efficient than flat plate solar systems:
Need thermal or acoustic insulation? Use eco-friendly itch-free insulation products:
Never mind the U.S. - electronics companies are using less lead in products thanks to European Union regulations:
Ecological pole houses. And the company is Hawaii-based!
The American Heart Association says that over 10% of U.S. children between 2 and 5 are obese:
License to sit - this art piece reflects on our ever-growing "culture by permission":
The digested read - popular novels condensed to 100 words. It sure has saved me some time!
Images of dense Hong Kong living - reminds me of the Matrix:
Were Robert Johnson's recordings deliberately made faster? Slow his music by 20% to match actual guitar pitch and you get a whole new perspective on his amazing talents:
If you have some Robert Johnson recordings and a Mac, you can slow down the music with this program:
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