Monday, June 30, 2003

Behold the new comic.
Am I the only one that is noticing that Apple is beginning to take design cues from the Evil Empire of Star Wars? George Lucas said that the design of the Rebels was organic, browns and greens, and rounded shapes The Empire was inorganic, metallic, black, white, and gray in color, with lots of hard lines. That little geeky tidbit was brought to memory when Apple abandoned all color in the iMacs, iBooks, and their other computers, leaving the consumer two choices: White Plastic Computers or Brushed Aluminum Computers. The most recent addition, the G5, is a marvel of engineering, which separates the inside of the computer into four separate climate-controlled sections. It's as if Jonathan Ive (Head Designer at Apple, who designed the new iMac) isn't bothering with making the outside look inviting, instead focusing on the engineering side for a challenge.
Does that mean I'm going to pass on this generation of PowerMac? Not with my track record. And I have a feeling that if I don't, it will come to my house and kill me with its razor-sharp handles.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Something wicked this way, Chums!
I got strip! Yaaay! I got strip! Yaaay! Yaay!
Read on if the subject of the strip confuses you.
Many of you will have heard of Palladium, often whitewashed as the Trusted Computed Initiative, the hugely unpopular Microsoft/HP/Intel consortium (not conspiracy, mind you) on the future of computing. If their goals are met, computers will have hard-coded systems, locks, and back doors designed to thwart the end user (or hackers) from doing anything illicit or illegal. F'rinstance, if you want to download a song from Kazaa, you will find yourself unable to play it, or perhaps locked out of your computer entirely. You see, the word "Trusted" does not refer to you. This system would likely cut down on viruses spreading, but why are these companies so interested in making the computer a fortress so secure no one can get in or out? There is no huge customer demand. People want faster, more stable computers, not ones that are spying on you.
I of course support the initiative wholeheartedly. This plays right into Apple's hands. Microsoft plays the stern authority, but Apple can be the cool neighbor's house where they let you watch TV shows you're not allowed to at home, stay up late, and eat candy till you're sick. I think Digital Rights Management is already out of control, where I have to break the law to rip my own DVD's to my hard drive or crack open my Playstation to play Japanese games. On the reverse side, the last $129 upgrade from Apple didn't even have a serial number, just install it and go play. That is the kind of PR that will give Apple a big boost in the next few years. Their attitude toward us as users is to not treat everyone as a criminal. Now that is trusted computing.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Is this the beginning of something new altogether?
Life sometimes takes us in directions we did not at first intend. This strip, about Mac rumors and technophilia has been my lifeblood, energizing and terrorizing me, for all of one week now, and already I feel my creativity waning. There's a big difference between creating a lovechild and nurturing/raising that child. Not that I regret the intellectual intercourse that gave this strip life, it's my brother, Dane. He's funny as heck, and proposes that we do a comic together. I seriously doubt I could juggle both, in addition to an actual life and job, and now I am at a crossroads.
Should I continue the (delicious) irony of crafting a strip about Macs and technology in Microsoft Paint? Or should I let him, a tremendous artist, shoulder half the responsibility in a new comic altogether? Feedback is most welcome, here is a concept (again, in Paint, for what may be the last time) for our new outing that I created, and I will post some scans of his outrageously, insanely good artwork soon.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Greetings from beautiful Lake Powell! I am looking around at all of God's majesty, and all I can think is "Man, nature is boring." I mean, the rocks are all pretty, but no one would come here if there weren't boats and waverunners and waterslides on your houseboats, etc. Technology rules.
And now a message from Dane: "I took eight hits of acid before we left, and I whole-heartedly disagree."
That's weird, I don't remember typing that. But a lot of inexplicable things (i.e. waking up in Page, AZ in a pool of my own blood and feces, finding myself in bed with a Navajo whore, etc.) have been occurring lately.
Anyway, I'm all showered up now and ready to go. I'll check in later, yo.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Bonfire of the Clan of Fees
Here's the new strip.
Has anyone else noticed that about every decent website has locked them out, requiring a membership or subscription to view most or all of their content? If I subscribed to every website I used to get for free, the money would equal the cost of a small-to-mid-sized monkey. For my money, I'll choose the monkey.
It's one thing to add value and create a premium service, but many sites are removing features (like Hotmail's POP access) and content, until I feel like a vulture picking over the scraps of content on IGN that aren't reserved for their paying members. It's not just that I like things to be free, it's that there are so few things out there worth paying for. Entertainment Weekly recently discontinued access to their site to anyone that is not a subscriber. If I've got the magazine, there's little point in rereading the same articles online. That's like requiring a subscription to a book club to walk into Barnes & Noble.
Enough of my tirade, read the comic and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Is this the future of Apple?
No freaking way. Everyone's staring at some Photoshop Geek's idea of the new G5 tower case, but I honestly don't know why. This (link down) is just a standard PC case, albeit a nice one, and Apple would be laughed out of the computer industry if they introduced this now. I would be saddened if that's all they could come up with, yet so many believe that it's your next computer. Without absolute knowlege, I can't say for sure, but I certainly wouldn't buy one.

New (new) comic!
Here's the first strip. It's my first real comic strip, which I will post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Next week is a blessed exception, where I will be traveling on the high seas, on a houseboat in gorgeous Lake Powell. Many of you gamers will play that level on Shaun Murray Wakeboarding, but I feel that I owe it to myself to visit the real thing and NEVER NEVER play any game with ads as intrusive and annoying as Shaun Murray Wakeboarding.
I leave Saturday, will be back on Thursday, and will post when possible in the meantime. It'll really give me a chance to test the 14.4 cell modem out thoroughly, I'll bet, get some good Game Boy on (Just got Donkey Kong Country), and maybe get a little sun.
Did I mention that I love my iPod? And the iTunes Music Service? If I haven't, rest secure in the knowledge that these things are good.
Review of my old comic: 7/10 foam-tipped bullets.
Review of my new comic: 9/10 hard-hat-wearing gay men

New (old) comic!
I awoke with a new resolve, and new ideas, about what this site should be. Below is my first comic, done some time ago, in Microsoft Paint. Get it? A comic about high technology and the Mac, done entirely in Microsoft Paint?
The ironing is delicious, no?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Review of Motorola T720 from Verizon Wireless
It wasn't time to review my phone until now. I have had the phone for about 9 months now, and Apple's newest release of iSync made my phone a hundred times better. It holds my calendar, alerts, contacts, numbers, and automatically syncs it all with my Address Book, iCal, and iPods with the click of a mouse. The cable is $20 at Radio Shack or online, and you really shouldn't have the phone without one. Windows users can use the sync software that comes with the cable (but then it's about $50), but Mac users can point their browsers here and get detailed instructions on how to use that cable to gain 14.4Kbps internet access anywhere you have a signal. This is not only true of Verizon's network, but their customer service, coverage, and prices are unmatched, so you should already have them. This is not a commercial; I have had AT&T (meh), Sprint (ugh), Worldcom (double ugh), and Cricket (for the love of all that is holy, stay away and save yourself!) service in the last 2 years, and my switch to Verizon leaves me warm and fuzzy to this moment. So go.
The phone looks good, but be sure to get an extended-life battery. Though it thickens the phone slightly, it seems to about triple the amount of talk time/standby time I get. Before I made that purchase, my phone would die before the end of every evening, and I was recently accosted in an airport by a stranger whose battery had died asking to borrow my charger. That's just sad. Also, the phone seems to have some bugs that require me to reboot it about once a day. Sometimes when I call my wife the conversation is garbled, and I have to reboot, but I think that may be an isolated incident. (Isolated incident: dropping phone repeatedly.)
Overall, I am extremely happy with the phone's newfound zest for life given by iSync, free (s-l-o-w-) internet access, and a long-life battery. The final downside: I can't justify spending 5 bucks for a permanent download of a game to the phone, which comes with zero to start. Well, Q*bert has my eye, but it's 5 bucks! After about 10 games you're pushing into the cost of a Game Boy Advance.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Star-Shaped Pasta in Tomato and Cheese Sauces

Some people just don't understand.
Who can look at this and not fall in love? Yet someone close to me recently shed nary a tear to have me help sell a dream setup. The 22" Cinema Display, his dual-processor G4 I had set up with Office, his music, and some Harmon/Kardon SoundSticks (ahem, overrated, *cough*) all had to go, to make way for a laptop and eventually an all-in-one VAIO. This pains me as a MacAddict of 2 years, but I just thought I'd let you know that no matter how cool the equipment, somtimes those switch stories just don't take. Well, let's see how long it takes of him juggling a digital camcorder, digital camera (Olympus Stylus 300 Digital), and his music library with XP before deciding that maybe an iMac might serve some purpose in his twilight years.

Monday, June 16, 2003

It's Ridiculous.
I am conversing with my co-worker Leif like a rabid dog. Itching to spend money I don't have on something that does not yet exist. What madness is this, that rumors like this excite us to the point of frothing at the mouth? Will Apple introduce the 970 at WWDC on the 23rd? What will the new PowerMacs and PowerBooks look like? Will they be G5's? How much will I have to spend to get one? How will this negatively impact my relationship with my wife? What/who/how much will I have to sacrifice to get one?
Important questions these may be, I have to give myself an hour after reading rumor sites to calm down to not let my mind settle on getting one, and this is an important step in my recovery as a tech addict. Moderation, they say. You don't need a G5 to survive, they say. It's unhealthy to want something that may or may not exist to the point of rearranging your budget in advance, they say. It's not right to try to start immoral businesses like my idea, eBrothel, to finance it, they say.
They're probably right. But that doesn't help the pangs of desire to subside, waves of need crashing over my conscious mind, slowly eroding the message in the sand that says "don't react too soon, give it a few aewfkan wek-----." I can't seem to make out the rest of it, but my mind is already being subverted by subconsious wants.
Otherwise, I'm fine. How are you?

Review of Minolta Dimage X (For Real!)
Let me first say, my bond with this camera is strong, and any attempt to separate me from it would require at least 2 more megapixels in its same body. My manifesto concerning the death of traditional photography stems from having my eyes opened by a lifestyle-changing piece of equipment I think no one should be without.
Any detailed questions about the camera, its specs, or lots of reviews from REAL LIVE IDIOTS can be found here. But I will give some general impressions and uses, and some drawbacks of what I affectionately call "my little Minolta Dimage X."
The obvious draw is its diminutive size. Now there is a Pentax Optio that is smaller and packs more megapixels, and I hope to use and review one soon. Until then, this is the smallest camera of any actual use (sorry Casio) that I have ever held. It is light and fun and looks great. A big drawback (to almost any digital camera) is weather. In rain, snow, or any type of precipitation I am terrified to bust out a $300 digital camera and risk damaging it.
It takes wonderful pictures. It's only a 2-megapixel camera, but the images are warm, colors are accurate, and it's quite sharp. The only thing it lacks in comparison to its higher-megapixel cousin, the Dimage Xi, is detail when enlarged. It's hit-or-miss, but when I get a great shot it is really great.
The greatest asset of this camera is that i'm taking pictures. Until I got it I lost the point, and took maybe 24 pictures in 2 years, mostly on my honeymoon, and that's just sad. I take the occasional grainy, low-res, low-framerate movie for reference or in a pinch, but it's nothing I'd ever transfer to video. It's nice that it includes sound, but again, no one should ask a camera to do a camcorder's job (and vice versa). Another thing that is great is that it's a great camera, but not so nice or expensive that people ask to borrow it all the time; and if they did, I'd be less afraid of the consequences.
Overall, this is a part of a digital arsenal that anyone who cares AT ALL about size should consider. Maybe I wouldn't have such a hard time bridling my technolust if I wasn't so happy with my purchases. It's like being a gambling addict that keeps winning. Maybe that reinforcement is a negative, but I sure have fun with it.
RATING: 6 out of 7 liters of Coke

Review of Minolta Dimage X
I swear I'm going to do it this week. I'm going to load up my memory card, take it over to the store, and pay their 29 cent/picture fee to print off my photos. It feels like a big step backwards, though. I've steeped myself in the digital era, taking our svelte Minolta Dimage X out of my pocket or backpack anytime I feel like it and taking as many pictures I want, and throwing away the ones I don't. It is the second time I have been enthusiastic about taking pictures. The first was before I got my first (and last) APS camera, a format that pushes the bile to the tip of my throat whenever I am unable to suppress my memory of it. Digital is different. The whole point of taking pictures is to have them, for record keeping, for... ...wait. What the heck is the point? Why do we, as a society, take pictures? Certainly not to file them in boxes and forget about them, but we do. Until I got this digital camera, I saw no point in taking, developing, and paying for pictures that sit in a box waiting for someone to "scrapbook" (shudder) them.
Closer back to the subject, the point of digital photography is convenience. If a camera is too large to carry it around, you won't. If it's too hard to share with friends, you won't. If they're hard to organize, you won't. By "you", I mean "me", of course. The same could be said of quality. If the photos don't look as good as 35mm, forget it. That's not too much to ask.
That's a good overview of my feelings on digital photography. Come back for Part II, where I actually review the product.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Review of 10-Gig and 30-Gig "3G" iPods
Of course, my patience waiting to get the new iPods lasted until the Saturday they were released. Now, the month-old babies have yet to wear thin. Certain features, like viewing calendars, notes, and contacts, are of limited usefulness on a device that you can't edit them on, but with iSync and iCal running on my 667mhz PowerBook G4, they at least stay up-to-date. The games (especially Solitaire) are great when standing in line for snowcones for an hour (which is what we do in Utah instead of going to a bar).
Sound quality is astonishing. It really makes me wish I'd encoded my CD's at higher than 160 bitrate, I can hear any flaws and tinniness, and I'm thinking about re-encoding entirely in AAC format.
The hard drives are so spacious I'm thinking about moving in. I am using half of my 30 Gigabytes, and my wife uses less than half of her 10. Not that I'd recommend the 10 Gig model, because the 15 Gig model comes with $120 extra in accessories that make the extra 5 gigabytes a mere bonus. The touch-sensitive buttons are sometimes spotty in their responsiveness, but they give a satisfying click when touched (I turn this feature off to play Solitaire in church).
Early adopters are born to suffer, though. There are a dearth of accessories for the new models, but the Dock Connector allows power and line-out (and -in) ablity, so I am excited about a DLO TransPod for the new models. I e-mailed DLO, and the party line is that they're coming in a couple of months. Other accessories are still equally elusive, where they abound for the old models. Grrrrr...
All around, an iPod is by far the best value for Mac users (it's the only one that can hold AAC songs you download from the iTunes Music Store), and the iSync capability will displace my need for a PDA until PDA's stop sucking so much. Unless you really need the extra 15 gigs afforded by the 30GB, get the 15GB model. Forget the more equals better value theory, because if you don't need the extra 15 gigs, it simply isn't worth spending an extra hundred to carry an iPod that feels twice as big (I'm a little envious of my wife's model). Skip the 10GB, you'll regret the lack of remote, dock, and belt clip.
10GB RATING: 9 out of 10 Squirrels
30GB RATING: 10 out of 10 Hard-Boiled Eggs

I just won the lottery.
However, it's one of those old-school ones where they're going to stone me, and I'm not sure I want to claim my prize.

All your Engrish are belong to Guitar Freaks.
I just purchased (from Japan) Guitar Freaks, GF 2nd Mix Append, a PS One mod CD and two guitar Controllers. The whole setup cost about 90 dollars, but the engrish packaging alone was about worth it. Recieving a package that asks me to "be sure read carefully the instructions overleaf" and a box that loudly proclaims "LET'S TO JAM!" feels strange and warm. The constant barrage of engrish spat at me by the game is causing me to slowly descend into a warm, comfortable madness, like the goo that surrounded Neo in the Matrix. The game is so fun and addictive that it makes other problems, like work, stress, or dressing myself seem to float away.
RATING: 5 out of 5 Pocky Sticks