Archive for September, 2009

Kwik Hits

Random observations from the internet:

While the United States struggles with public perceptions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel struggles with, you know, public perception worldwide, ’cause they’re the little country everyone loves to hate. While the U.S. struggles to find a way to improve its image abroad, some Israelis have a mighty strange plan to improve the country’s image with “a pornographic stimulus campaign”

Unrelated, I promise: police here in Saint Paul arrested a suspect in a gruesome murder… a gruesome 1977 murder. God bless DNA testing…

When you hear anime fans complaining about how “crack is cheaper”, this is why: This December, the first season – thirteen episodes – of the series Spice and Wolf will come out on DVD. The cost for this seriously awesome cartoon about economics, on but two DVDs? List price 60 USD, street price in the 45 USD range. By contrast, the fourth season of Bones – all 26 episodes on 6 DVDs – has the same suggested retail price, and an even lower street price. And don’t get me started about Bamboo Blade, which is set to cost over a hundred bucks for the first season alone (that box set is only half the season). No worries, Miya-Miya, I didn’t need that kidney, anyway…
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General | on September 22nd, 2009 | No Comments »

The Other Twenty-Three Words

I don’t, as a rule, cuss a whole lot – not because I’m particularly religious or good-natured or anything, but because I’ve taken to heart the whole adage about cussing being the refuge of those with small minds and smaller vocabularies.

It’s not that I don’t know the words, I just don’t use them… much.

In the interests of expanding the minds – and vocabularies! – of you, the readers, I was thinking about the strange fact that we have some words so ubiquitous and well-known that they’ve for whatever reason become the canonical slightly offensive (if only to some!) word associated with their beginning letter.

Consider “the N word”, for example, or “the F word”. Apparently there’s also “the L word”, as well… but what about the other twenty-three letters of the English alphabet? Or dipthongs?
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General | on September 21st, 2009 | 5 Comments »

AVI + XviD + MP2 = Truly Portable Video

If you’re going to upload video on the internet, there are four basic ways you can encode that video:

1, you can follow The Scene‘s kind of complicated standards, which are oriented more towards high-quality television and movie material ripped from DVD than anything else; (Very basically, AVI files with XviD encoding and MP3 or AC3 audio.) All other things being equal, this is probably the best option to take, because the standards were devised in such a way that compliant files are viewable on as many systems and players as possible.

2, you can follow the prevailing trends of the pirate anime community, which vary with time and to an extent country; (The trend at the moment is to use Matroska files with H264 video and AAC audio.) If you don’t need subtitle support, or don’t care about really high-resolution video, this is probably a bad route to take, as this format is, though popular, incredibly poorly supported and thus really annoying (and AAC is teh suck.)

3, you can of course just go and do whatsoever you please, but doing anything really non-standard means people are going to piss and moan, so this probably isn’t a great idea, either, especially if your only defense is “I have no idea what I’m doing”;

4, you can create AVI files with the XviD coded and MP2 (not MP3!) audio, which will be playable on just about any device anywhere. If you don’t care about “The Scene” and subtitle support isn’t a deal-breaker for you, this – I would argue – is the best route to take.

Why?
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General | on September 18th, 2009 | No Comments »

Does Objectivity Matter Anymore?

Consider, if you would, Wikileaks, the oh-so-brave “strong and independent voice for global justice” we all know and try to love. While they’ve never been what any right-thinking person would call, say, possessed with an overwhelming degree of journalistic integrity, it used to be that they pretty much just published whatever people sent them, and let the “leaks” stand on their own merits (or, as is often the case, lack thereof).

Recently, though, they’ve started using their platform as a soapbox to editorialize rather more than used to be the case – a great example is the Cisco marketing material released yesterday. I mean, okay, you’ve got a video from Cisco crowing about how their products have appeared on-screen in various popular movies and television shows; assuming this is somehow noteworthy (I don’t think it is, but nevermind me) what do you title it? How about “Cisco Product Placement Video”? Can’t really find fault with that, can you? No. What Wikileaks chose, however, was ‘Product placement hell: Cisco “bribes” 24, CSI, House, Heroes, the Office, and more’.

Got inflammatory rhetoric?
Read the rest of this entry »

Published in: Geekiness, General | on September 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment »

Kwik Hits

Random things which caught my eye on the interweb recently:

Doctors in the UK want to cut crime by giving junkies free smack. Seems like that’s treating the symptoms, rather than the disease, to me. I can’t imagine such a proposal getting a positive reception in the United States – smacks far too much of that dreaded “socialism” all the conservatives like to scream about.

Even (former) anarchists are hating on ACORN these days. Funny how Brandon Darby took – and continues to take – immense amounts of shit from the far Left for, basically, having a conscience and not being afraid to think for himself, while those same actions and attitudes are now making him a paragon of the far Right. Fella sure knows how to burn his bridges, you gotta give him that…

Cannabis, the cure for a faltering economy, according to some worry-warts. Good thing the recession is over, eh?

I’m not sure what to make of the news that the manga adaptation of Mein Kampf has sold more than 45,000 copies, apparently all in Japan. I don’t want to make any sweeping generalizations, but I wouldn’t expect the neo-Nazi movement to have a particularly strong presence in Japan, so you gotta wonder what’s up. Maybe people really will buy just about anything if you make a comic book of it.

Might this be the cure for the whole problem with the U.S. Congress not reading the bills it passes? Do we need to stimulate the artistic community by commissioning graphic novels for legislative bills? (“Damn, what a cliffhanger – I can’t wait until Tuesday to find out what happens in Omnibus Defense Appropriation Act, Volume Seven!”)

Who’s the most moe Senator, I wonder? On second thought, let’s not go there…

Published in: Geekiness, General | on September 15th, 2009 | No Comments »