April 25th, 2005
My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Venerable Claymore of Kind Reflection. What’s yours?
Read the article–too funny.
April 24th, 2005
Funny to see the split on opinions about their previous album BeautifulGarbage. First time I heard it, I thought it was weird, but still good. Just different. Apparently a lot of Garbage fans were put off by it. Now, I’ll admit I still think Version 2.0 is their best disc, but that doesn’t make BeautifulGarbage bad. I like BG better than their first disc.
Anyway, I’ve been through Bleed Like Me probably a dozen times now and it’s decent, but nothing to write home about. As mentioned, some of the tracks are really simplistic (lots of choruses which simply repeat the same phrase over and over); overall it’s certainly not as complex an album as BeautifulGarbage. While simple, though, some of the tracks are pretty catchy. It is definitely more of a rock album than BeautifulGarbage and probably more than even their first two.
Taken as a straight rock album, it’s good but not a huge standout. I really like Shirley’s voice, which is worth a lot. Now that Curve is no more (sniff) and Kate Bush is long retired, Garbage is the flagbearer for female lead singers for me. I like her edgy and loud, so I don’t care much for most of the mellower tracks of theirs. However, I do sort of like the title track. I think the top track, though, is “Why Do You Love Me”–Shirley seems to be channeling Debbie Harry on that one. Yes, that’s praise. Other standouts for me are “Bad Boyfriend” and “Why Won’t You Come Over” (despite being one of the repetitive-chorus tunes). There are losers on this disc as well, which I won’t single out by name.
So it’s an OK disc. There are certainly some good tracks, but it has it’s share of weaker ones as well.
April 22nd, 2005
So, for anyone out there who’s a fan of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, I have to recommend this book to you, called The Anthology at the End of the Universe.
It’s a collection of essays about the series. As with most such things, there are some which are terrific and some which are less so. I think the good ones are definitely worth it, though. Of course, this is a shameless plug because I wrote one of the essays. I don’t stand to make any money off this, though, unless they sell like a gazillion copies–I just think it’s a fun read. Well-timed with the movie coming out next week, too.
April 21st, 2005
This has to be one of the funniest commentaries on a press release ever:
Right on the mark!
April 19th, 2005
OK, so I’ve made some cosmetic changes to make the blog look less like the generic WordPress template. Nothing major but it feels more like home with the new skin.
OK, now revisiting the Highlander Hybrid stuff. Based on the post a couple posts down, it should be obvious that we (meaning my wife and I) have been thinking about it. Well, I re-did the math given a better estimate of what our annual mileage ought to be on this, given that if we got it all the “family” miles would be in this car (rather than mine) as well as Vicky’s commute. That puts us at 18,000 miles per year. Now, the hybrid is rated at 29 combined mpg, whereas the V6 is rated at 21 mpg combined, an improvement of 8 mpg. Based on 18,000 miles, that’s a savings of 236 gallons per year (857 vs. 621). If the average price of gas over, say, a seven-year period is $2.75, that’s an annual savings of $649, which over the seven-year period is $4543.
That’s not enough to cover the real cost of the hybrid, which is a markup of about that much, but of course right now it’s MSRP for the hybrid and some more reasonable price between invoice and MSRP for the non-hybrid. So it’s a couple grand for V8 performance, superlow emissions, and fewer stops at the pump (and time is, after all, money)–oh, and maybe a tax break, too. Is it a great deal? Maybe not. But it’s not an awful deal, as long as one is realistic that the mileage will not result in a net savings.
We decided that was worth it, and ordered one. Not entirely clear when it will get in–maybe August, but we’ll see.
April 18th, 2005
Pretty much any time someone watches me over my shoulder use a Mac I control, they see me do something with Quicksilver and they ask me what that was and how did I get to wherever I got so fast. If you use a Mac–and of course you should, even Paul Graham thinks so, and for good reasons–you really should download Quicksilver and check it out. What is it? Well, the problem here is that it’s difficult to explain. It’s a launcher and a search tool and it’s a whole bunch of other things, all wrapped into one. I know that doesn’t sound very exciting, but once you use it you’ll be amazed that you ever lived without it. Really. Honest. Just get it and check it out. Be sure to download many of the plug-ins, because they enable many of the things which make it so cool, like integration with the Address Book.
April 15th, 2005
What, you may wonder, is this? Well, some years ago I started a Web page of “random rants,” which was frequently noted as being the best thing on my site. It wasn’t updated very often, but the idea I had behind it was pretty much the same idea as the modern “blog,” except of course that other people couldn’t post comments.
So, here are the contents of the old page, along with a bunch of other stuff I’ve written to various places along the way. I’m brand new to all this blogging software, but it seems to work. I’m using WordPress to publish the site and I’m writing entries in MacJournal. I will eventually get around to messing with the themes and adding links to the sidebar and all that jazz, but for now I’ve just been working on getting the posts up. Now if only MacJournal backdated the entries so they didn’t all look like they were written today…
April 15th, 2005
I’ve had the chance to use it a bit, and so far I like it. It reminds me a little of my all-time favorite word processor, MacWrite Pro, which never got updated for OS X, in that it’s a word processor with an extra bit of page-layout functionality. Not a lot–it’s not designed to compete with Quark or InDesign–but just enough to make it easy to do two-columns with a one-column header or figure without botching it up like Word.
My biggest quibble so far is that it turns on hyphenation by default. Yuck.
I guess the other knock on it is the media browser. Images are tied to the iPhoto library, which doesn’t help me because most of my writing takes figures which are not in file formats supported by iPhoto, like EPS or TIFF or PICT.
But otherwise, well, looks like things are going to be tough for Mariner. Mariner does have some advantages, like more advanced search-and-replace built-ins (e.g., zapping linefeeds) but I can get a lot of that off various Services now. Plus I won’t have to put up with all of Mariner’s drawing garbage when viewing at odd zooms like 110%.
(original date: 2005.02.28)
April 15th, 2005
(originally posted to Edmunds.com discussion board on 2005.01.14)
Let’s say gas is more like $2.50/gallon, which it now is in some markets, and you have a longer commute, say, you put 15,00 miles/year on the car.
20 mpg = 750 gal = $1875/year in gas cost
28 mpg = 535.7 gal = $1340/year in gas cost
$535/year savings. In seven years, that’s $3745. If there’s still a tax break when you buy it new (I’m not sure what the status of that is these days), then you’re paying virtually nothing to get all of the aformentioned benefits plus, of course, reduced environmental impact.
Obviously, if you live somewhere where gas is much cheaper or put less miles on your vehicle, it makes less finiancial sense, at least purely on gas price. But for some poeple, the math already pretty much works out right now.
April 15th, 2005
(originally posted to Head-Fi on 2004.06.28)
Hmm, well, I’m sure I’ve mentioned some bits and pieces of this elsewhere, but let me go through my decision process on how I ended up with the 595s, and my impressions now that they’re here.
I was, as you know, running CD780s unamped, though off a decent NAD headphone jack. The CD780s are truly fantastic for the whole $35 I paid but they’re… well, they’re sloppy. Transients aren’t crisp, soundstaging isn’t very good, flabby bass, etc. And the mids are a bit recessed. So, given I picked up a little consulting money recently, I decided it was time to upgrade.
I figured on my current budget I could go for something like a PIMETA and either 580s or fork out extra for 595s. (I didn’t even consider Grados because the Grados I have heard just did not impress me in terms of performance on classical, build quality, and especially comfort. Not sure why I didn’t consider Beyers–I guess I’m just a Senn kinda guy. A year ago I hadn’t even heard of Sennheiser. Another Head-Fi victim! :-p )
Anyway, I went with the 595s over the 580s for two reasons:  easier to drive so the PIMETA should be enough, and  I do listen to more rock/electronica than I do classical & acoustic, but I do listen to both. I wanted a phone that would be slightly better for rock/electronica while still being tolerable for the other stuff. According to various posts here (including pp312) that’s what the 595s should give–something in between the 580/600 laid-back sound but not quite as bright and aggressive as the Grados. Oh yeah, and I hate y-cables and the 595s have a single cable rather than a y.
So, I got them Thursday and broke ‘em in for a couple days and have been listening a bunch this weekend. So far I’m very impressed. The transient issues I was having with the CD780s are totally handled and the soundstage is FABULOUS–I never expected headphones to have this much soundstage! Mids are of coursre much better, as the 595s are very balanced (you’ve been told that before); they handle a wide range of material very well. They are truly stunning on acoustic solo piano: it really sounds like you’re in the room with one; I was quite shocked at how good this was. And yet they are still fun with more aggressive rock/dance music.
If I was going to nitpick, I’d ask for a smidge, and only a smidge, more bass. I find myself wanting to just slightly nudge up the volume knob when I’m trying to get into a bass-heavy piece. That, and the cable seems a bit flimsy–I’d like it to be a little heavier just so it won’t loop on itself and catch on stuff so much.
They are also VERY comfortable, though not quite in the “strap pillows to your head” way that the 780s are. I love that aspect of the Sonys, but even the 780s feel heavy after a while. The 595s don’t go on quite as soft and fluffy like, but they fit on very comfortably and are very light, even over extended periods. They stand up to multi-hour listening better than anything I’ve ever tried.
Of course, take this with some grain of salt; I’ve never seriously listened to the 580s or 600s. Maybe at the meet next month I can have them go head-to-head with 580s or 650s or something.
Nor can I say how they compare to the 555s since I haven’t heard those at all. I went with the 595s over those because a couple folks here said “smoother treble” and to ward off future upgraditis.
Not as direct a comparison as you wanted, but I hope that helps some, blessingx.