January 31, 2006

Broadcast Flag falters

Maybe there is hope for the future.

Some logic and common sense was spoken at the Congressional testimony on the Broadcast Flag. Some of it by our Republican Senator from here in NH.

Senator John Sununu, from a story at the EFF website:

The history of government mandates is that it always restricts innovation...why would we think that this one special time, we're going to impose a statutory government mandate on technology, and it will actually encourage innovation?
Posted by jackhodgson at 06:00 PM

January 30, 2006

Kinda odd, maybe genius

Extraordinary Things video.

[Via Andy Grumet]

Posted by jackhodgson at 06:17 PM

The IT Crowd British Sitcom

"Have you tried turning it off and on again?"
I almost didn't watch this, but I'm glad I did. The pilot of this new sitcom is very funny. Apparently they'll be streaming all the eps as they come out each week. No RSS feed that I can find though, too bad.
Posted by jackhodgson at 09:47 AM

BusinessWeek analysis of Jobs/Pixar/Disney Merger

Businessweek online.

My question: Is it just a matter of time before Jobs's Disney buys Apple?

Posted by jackhodgson at 09:01 AM

January 27, 2006

John Gilmore ID requirement lawsuit fails.

This is an unfortunate result in Gilmore's lawsuit, but I have to admit that given the limited scope of the matter, the decision makes sense.

What we need is for the AIRLINES to sue the GOVERNMENT for putting all these ID and searching requirements on their operation, and thus damaging their business. If the government required us to show ID at the local 7Eleven, it would look different, I think.

Posted by jackhodgson at 10:36 AM

Gopher Broke

Funny, cute animation from the Sundance Film Festival. (Requires Flash 8)

Many more Sundance shorts can be viewed here.

Posted by jackhodgson at 09:42 AM

January 26, 2006

Using .png graphics

Lately I've been using the newer graphics format PNG for images in these posts. But I'm not sure if all browsers can see them.

Can you please post a comment saying whether you see the ninja picture which is, or should be, part of the previous post.


Posted by jackhodgson at 12:02 PM

Ask a Ninja

This site didn't look like very much to me at first. But listen to the video "answers" to questions sent in by readers. Made me laugh.

"The ninja code forbids a dark knight from killing someone based on semantics, speech impediments, and the misuse of colloquialism. Otherwise people like Alanis Morrisette, President Bush, and you, would be dead."

[Thanks Kevin Rose.]

Posted by jackhodgson at 11:21 AM

Flickr-based tag guessing game


This is kinda fun. You watch as a series of pics appear on the screen, and you guess what flickr tag word they all have in common. You are "competing" against all the other people who are currently playing the game, and the scores list is constantly updated.

Posted by jackhodgson at 09:04 AM

January 25, 2006

Hatch not so lucky with this Jury

The first Survivor winner, Richard Hatch, was found guilty of tax evasion and a bunch of other really stupid stuff.

He was taken directly to jail.

Now we see how good he really is at making alliances.

Posted by jackhodgson at 08:19 PM

January 24, 2006

Happy Birthday Macintosh

Hey, I almost missed it. Today was the Macintosh's birthday.

22 years.

Here's the commercial.

Posted by jackhodgson at 09:38 PM

January 23, 2006

Weather report

It's snowing here this morning in Southern NH.

It's been a weird month so far. It's not unusual for large stretches of January to be 24/7 below freezing. But this year, we just ended a four-day stretch of uninterrupted, round-the-clock, ABOVE freezing. My California friends will scoff, but that's a big deal here.

Historically, the third week in January is the coldest of the year here in NE. This year, in the past 11 days we've had 7 days above 40 degrees, and five of those in the 50s.

I heard somewhere recently that this January is shaping up to be the warmest on record.

What with the warm weather and rain we've had, all the snow had melted and the ground was bare, yesterday.

Today, we now have 5 inches of snow on the ground, and it's still falling.

In unrelated news, Andy Grumet, who I met at the Berkman Bloggers meetings last year down in Boston, has just moved to the SF Bay Area. I think I'm jealous.

Posted by jackhodgson at 12:22 PM

January 22, 2006

"The West Wing" Cancelled

NBC announced today that they are canceling The West Wing. This is too bad, but not totally unexpected. It needed to do really well this year to stick around.

A lot of speculation now about how they will wrap the whole thing up. Apparently there WILL be a series finale story.

One thing this simplifies, is what to do about the Leo McGarry character, now that actor John Spencer has died. My guess is that now they will have the character move offstage, he will be referred to, and possibly appear in stock footage. But, win-or-lose, his character will fade into TV history, alive, with the rest of the story's players.

The conventional wisdom lately has been that the Democratic Santos/McGarry ticket was going to win, and tonight's near-nuclear-meltdown story reinforces that. But let me propose this: It would be kinda classy to NOT tell us who wins.

Ratchet-up the drama of these two, charismatic, honorable, but opposing candidates. Surface some more important national issues. Have the race be "too close to call" as Josh wrote on the board tonight. And then, on election night, as the winner is about to be announced, fade to black, letting the audience make their own judgement.

It would be a memorable way to go out.

Posted by jackhodgson at 10:49 PM

January 20, 2006

What would Walt say?

Although it's not a done deal, the financial and entertainment worlds are abuzz about the possibility that Disney may buy Pixar. The negotiations are ongoing, and could conclude any time.

The big thing here is that the deal would make Apple co-founder, and saviour, Steve Jobs the biggest stockholder in Disney. Would Steve want to be the boss at Disney? Steve has never been shy about pushing people to do things his way.

Here's a business week article about the situation.

Remember that Disney is more than just the theme parks and movies these days. It also owns ABC TV and ESPN, among other things.

That would be a big sandbox for Steve to make play in.

Posted by jackhodgson at 03:25 PM

Penny Bridges

This is pretty cool. How to make improbable looking structures out of stacks of pennies.


Posted by jackhodgson at 11:36 AM

Return of the Theo

redsoxcirc100The gang of four announced last night that Theo Epstein will be returning to a full-time role in the Redsox front office.

Posted by jackhodgson at 08:55 AM

It's a jungle out there.

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Instead of stories about how cool it is that "Sweet Home Alabama" girl, Reese Witherspoon won a Golden Globe, the big news is that the dress she wore to the awards was not new. Turns out it had been worn by Kirsten Dunst a couple years ago.

Posted by jackhodgson at 08:45 AM

January 13, 2006

Best Blonde Joke Ever

My friend MGA thinks this is the funniest thing:

The best blonde joke ever.

Posted by jackhodgson at 10:38 AM

Is there more coming from Apple?

This may just be misdirection, but what if?

Cult of Mac blog:

He also said that if he were me, he probably wouldn't order one of the new MacBook Pros.

I asked if there would be MacBook replacements for the 17-inch and 12-inch PowerBooks, but he said, "Oh, it's much cooler than that. Much cooler."

Posted by jackhodgson at 12:07 AM

January 11, 2006

Geeky Joke

The folks at Tech Dirt point out geeky/funny/odd coincidence that on the day that Apple shipped its first Intel-based computers, Apple's stock price closed the day at $80.86.


Posted by jackhodgson at 09:24 PM

New Pink Panther Movie Trailer

The trailer is very funny. Here's hoping that Steve Martin can do justice to the memory of the great Peter Sellers.

Posted by jackhodgson at 09:57 AM

EFI BIOS in the Intel Macs may be a roadblock

Another thing from the unsanity posting mentioned earlier. The different "BIOS" used in these Intel Macs may be a barrier to running Windows on the Apple box, and/or to running OS X on a generic Intel PC box.

I should also mention that these new ICBMs from Apple use EFI instead of the standard PC BIOS. According to various documents from Microsoft, Windows for x86 machines does not support booting from EFI and won't until Windows Vista is released. As far as I know, no consumer PC ships with EFI support (why bother if Windows doesn't support it, right?). However, the Itanium machines require EFI. This has two "problems". One, you may not be able to dual boot Windows until Vista is released. Two, it'll be significantly harder to make OS X run on a stock PC without EFI.
Posted by jackhodgson at 09:19 AM

Things that are "missing" from the new Mac Book Pro

rosyna has posted an interesting analysis of things that were part of the PowerPC Mac laptops, but didn't make it into the new Mac Book Pro.

We've also lost quite a few technologies and features in this transition. All of the following items compare the Old PowerBook 15 inch to the new MacBook Pro 15 inch.
Posted by jackhodgson at 09:13 AM

January 10, 2006

Macworld Keynote Video online


Posted by jackhodgson at 03:40 PM

This page loading slow

UPDATE: OK I think I found the problem. Please leave a comment to this post telling me if it's better or not.

I'm aware that this page has been loading pretty slowly lately. I'm not sure what's causing it. Other pages on this same site, and server, seem to load just fine.

I'm looking into it, but please be patient in the meantime.

The front page of this site is based on a template that came with Movable Type. I've modified it a lot over the years. But I haven't changed anything in many months, so I don't know why it would suddenly get slow.

I'm running tests to try and isolate what on the page is causing the slowdown, but it's not any of the obvious things. I'll figure it out eventually.

Posted by jackhodgson at 03:04 PM

Intel Macs announced in Macworld Keynote

No Intel MacMini, no plasma screen. But nevertheless, an impressive kickoff to the Intel era for Apple

First let me say that eobanb of applexnet.com/, and his crew, did an AWESOME job of providing a nearly word-for-word, real-time transcript of the keynote. Huge thanks.

And MacRumors provided a very good backup feed of the highpoints. Good job there too.

I saved both the Apple-x and MacRumors transcripts. If they post pointers to them I'll add them here. Otherwise I may post my copies later.

I'm expecting the Apple video version to be available in the next couple hours. Perhaps via iTunes.

Here are some notes I took during the session. Just my train of thought, and some things that seemed notable to me.


more/new widgets

aperture update, brief

iphoto update
    more pics capacity
    better editing
    more books (for printing)
        [will canibalize some of flickr?]

imovie improvements

    for making podcasts

iweb [NEW!]
    easy to make websites
    long demo
    very integrated with other iLife apps

1 million .mac subs now

Intel guy in a "space suit" ???

imac with intel -- "iMac Core Duo"
    "2 to 3 times faster than the imac G5"
    dual-core processor
    "each of the two cores is faster than the G5"
    1.83 gig dual core
        only 1.83?

OS 10.4.4 and ilife already "universal"
    pro apps by march

most developers now working on making things universal
    until then there's rosetta

microsoft rep says they're working on making office universal

Steve: 'and so, while the performance of photoshop is not going to be strong enough for total pros... its fast enough for most of us that use it occasionally.'

mac book pro [laptop]
    dual core
    built in i sight
    "5 times faster"

one chatroom member: "they can't use 'power' any more"

some sort of magnetically attached power supply

within minutes there was a wikipedia entry

Finish: Shows pic of Jobs and Woz. will be 30 years in 4-1-2006.

Posted by jackhodgson at 02:16 PM

Wearing my Apple hat

I'm currently monitoring 5 IRC channels and 6 websites for coverage of the MacWorld keynote.

on server irc.freenode.net
channels #macworld #apple-x #seamac

on server irc.macrumorslive.com
channels #macrumors #macrumorschat

See ya.

Posted by jackhodgson at 11:35 AM

January 09, 2006

The economics of the movie theatre biz

We were talking about this in the GEWF forum. Now here's an article from the arstechnica website:

Edward Jay Epstein has written a brief article looking at just how the theaters make their money. As you might expect, it's not from begging, or charity. No, theaters have three major sources of revenue: the movies themselves, their concessions, and more recently, their onscreen advertisements. The concessions are a cash cow, and everyone knows it. The only other places on earth where prices are this ridiculous are airports, theme parks and four star hotels.

From the Epstein article:

Once upon a time, movie studios and movie theaters were in the same business. The studios made films for theater chains that they either owned or controlled, and they harvested almost all their revenue from ticket sales. Then, in 1948, the government forced the studios to divest themselves of the theaters. Nowadays, the two are in very different businesses. Theater chains, in fact, are in three different businesses.
Posted by jackhodgson at 08:35 PM

No longer sick sick sick

I forgot to mention that I'm almost completely recovered from my little bout with the flu. I was fairly miserable for about 2 1/2 days, then it improved rapidly. I still have a little bit of the sniffles, but otherwise I'm tip-top.

That bird flu ain't so bad.

Posted by jackhodgson at 07:21 PM

Survivor Panama cast announced.

Forget about has-been quarterbacks, this time we've got us a genuine Astronaut.

E!Online via Yahoo:

A modern day caveman, a Mr. Miyagi wannabe and a hot mama.

If their self-proclamations are any indication, this season's batch of Survivor hopefuls may be the most colorful yet.

Posted by jackhodgson at 04:48 PM

MacWorld Starts Today

Well, sort of.

For those of us not able to attend, the real action is tomorrow's Steve Jobs' keynote, where interesting, if not exciting, announcements are the norm.

As of now, the keynote is not scheduled to be live streamed on the net. Last year, the keynote video appeared on the net within an hour of its conclusion. It starts at 12 noon eastern, and will likely last about two hours.

Even without the video, there should be some interesting reports via IRC. I'll be on the lookout for an IRC channel with people reporting live from the keynote hall.


Posted by jackhodgson at 12:58 PM

Presidential Order of Succession

Vice President Cheney spent the night in the hospital. Apparently he just had a bad reaction to the meds he's taking for his sore foot. But it got me to trying to remember my high school civics. If Cheney were gone, who would become president if Bush were impeached?

Turns out Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is next, then, and this is really scary, Senate president pro-tempore Ted Stevens is after that!

Posted by jackhodgson at 11:39 AM

Learning process

My Dad once told me that the ideal washing machine would only have one control: a switch labeled ON/OFF. That's always seemed to make sense to me.

A couple days ago one of my roommates brought a new coffee-maker into the house. I welcomed this cause the one we had was pretty old, and kinda nasty.

The new one is bigger, cleaner, has one of those float valves on the side so you can see how much water you've put in it, and it has that shut-off valve so you can take out the pot while it's still brewing and it won't continue to drip coffee on the burner. These are all good things.

This morning I set out to make my first pot with the new machine.

I filled it up, and hit the START/STOP button. The little red light came on so I headed off to another task. Five minutes later I wandered back to the machine and discovered that it hadn't started doing its coffee thing yet. Nothing dripping in to the pot. None of those good, coffee-making gurgly noises.


There are a bunch of other buttons next to the START/STOP button. They are apparently for programming the thing to make coffee for you in the morning. I really like programming things, but when I want coffee, I want coffee NOW. So the programming features hold no interest for me.

Another button, which I hadn't noticed before, said BREW. Aha! So I hit the BREW button and waited expectantly.

Still no gurgly sounds.

Finally, starting to feel just a bit panicky, I hit BREW, and THEN hit START/STOP. Green light! Gurgly sounds! Success!

Who says you can't teach old dogs new tricks?

Posted by jackhodgson at 10:16 AM

January 08, 2006

Kottke reports from Mad River Glen

My brother Dave lives within sight of this place, and he, his wife Lisa, and our brother Scott, always speak fondly of skiing there.

Kottke's report, includes a link to a nice set of pics from his visit.

Posted by jackhodgson at 09:08 AM

How to build a geek gathering

Dave Winer tells how to start and grow a geek-meet. Good plan, it would work.

Posted by jackhodgson at 08:47 AM

Theo breaks radio silence

redsoxcirc100Former Redsox GM Theo Epstein decided to tell some of his side of the story by calling in to Matt Siegal on KISS-108.

He talked about a lot of subjects. Read about it here. For example, when asked if Damon would still be a Yankee if Theo were still the GM, he said,

Probably, given the way it’s gone down. I hate to comment on negotiations when I’m not directly involved in them but I’ll say this, I don’t think anyone’s at fault for the way things transpired. Johnny did what was best for him and his family. The Yankees, given the need they had at leadoff and in center field, did the right thing for them. They did a good job in the negotiation. And the Red Sox offered $10 million a year and really adhered to the philosophy of setting a value on a player, remaining disciplined through the course of the negotiation, a philosophy that played a large role in 95-plus wins three years in a row and as tough as it is when you lose players, as tough as it is on the fans, that philosophy will serve the fans well in the long run because it will lead to winning teams.

Theo apparently also called and talked on WZLX’s Karlson and McKenzie show. Let's hear it for Boston Sports Talk Radio.

Posted by jackhodgson at 06:40 AM

January 07, 2006

NH-02 Congressman to visit NH

The NH Democratic Party website calls attention to the NH 2nd District Congressman's lifestyle:

Next week, Charlie Bass will make his yearly trip back to New Hampshire from his comfortable home in DC -- and while he has obviously forgotten about the needs of his constituents, we haven't forgotten about him. He will be hosting a series of town hall meetings, so please spread the word to your friends and bring a few questions to hold Charlie accountable for his time away from home.

They have a schedule of his visits on their site.

Posted by jackhodgson at 10:24 AM

January 06, 2006

Roger Ebert

"The problem with being sure that God is on your side is that you can't
change your mind, because God sure isn't going to change His."

-Roger Ebert, film-critic

Posted by jackhodgson at 11:20 AM

Commercials in movie theatres

Over on digg they're talking about a proposed Connecticut law that would require movie theatres to publish the actual starting times of movies, not the time when all the pre-show commercials start.

(BTW, one commenter over there says that this is old news, and that the CT law has already failed to pass.)

Regardless, be careful what you wish for. Remember that most movie theatres these days are not in the "showing movies" business. They're in the "selling other things to people who come to see movies" business.

I wouldn't be surprised to discover that these theatres are making a significant portion of their income from on-screen ads. If there were a law like the one above, they would be motivated to find another way to present the ads.

How about restoring the old-time "intermission" and play commercials then? Maybe more than one intermission per movie showing.

Or how about adding "bottom third" ads to movies as they run, like we're seeing on most every TV show these days.

A more hopeful alternative is that some movie exhibitors will embrace Mark Cuban's notion of improving the exhib business by providing a better "experience" to the movie attendee. We'll see.

Posted by jackhodgson at 10:38 AM


Not the most important story of the day, but I am feeling a lot better this morning. Still a little bit sniffly, but the aches and fever are gone. I may be good for the weekend, just in time for our next snowstorm.

Posted by jackhodgson at 10:29 AM

January 05, 2006

Sick sick sick

It snuck up on me, at first appearing to be a minor case of the sniffles. But by last night I was laid low by a nasty bout with the flu. Head and chest congestion, fever, aches and pains, migraine. Pitiful poor poor me.

Getting better slowly, maybe tomorrow.

Posted by jackhodgson at 01:10 PM

January 04, 2006

Scoble criticizes Microsoft on Chinese blogger takedown

Robert Scoble is the well-known blogger who works for Microsoft and insists he's not afraid to criticize them publicly. He's been doing so for a couple of years now, and has earned the respect of many. He seems like a good guy, but I haven't been as impressed as other have.

But now he's taking a stand that Microsoft's alleged censoring of a Chinese blogger, at the Chinese government's request, is wrong. Good for Scoble.


OK, this one is depressing to me. It’s one thing to pull a list of words out of blogs using an algorithm. It’s another thing to become an agent of a government and censor an entire blogger’s work. Yes, I know the consequences. Yes, there are thousands of jobs at stake. Billions of dollars. But, the behavior of my company in this instance is not right.


I have been talking to lots of people today, though, inside and outside of Microsoft. In every instance they asked me to keep those conversations confidential. Why? Cause we’re talking about international relations here and the lives of employees. I wish I could go into it more than that, but I can’t. Not yet. See, it’s real easy as Americans to rattle the door and ask for change, but we don’t live there. Saying “give them the finger” isn’t that easy when there are real human lives at stake. And I don’t need to spell out what I’m talking about here, do I?

One thing I’ve heard is that we spell out our terms of service very explicitly on MSN Spaces. Here in the United States we pull down stuff too at government request, like child pornography or other illegal content.

Being in the content business is not an easy one, that’s for sure.

I’ll pass more along as I can.

Of course, if Scoble got fired, by the time he got from his Boss's office back to his desk, he'd have five job offers on his phone. So he doesn't need to worry. Nevertheless he's using his visibility for good here.

UPDATE: I fixed the spelling in the title of this post.

Posted by jackhodgson at 08:43 AM

January 03, 2006

Sitcom Overload

I've gotten a little carried away watching sitcoms lately. I've been TiVo'ing five of them: "What I like about you", "Out of Practice", "Twins", "Hot Properties", "How I Met Your Mother".

A few months back I wanted to cut one or two of them, but I couldn't decide which ones. So I still watch them all. A couple of them are outstanding ("...Practice" and "...Mother"), and the others have fun elements: "What I like", Amanda Bynes; "Twins", Sara Gilbert and Melanie Griffith; "Hot Properties", Nicole Sullivan.

Big trouble coming though. There are THREE MORE fun looking mid-season entries starting in the next couple weeks: Heather Graham, Jenna Elfman and Jane Curtain.

Wish me luck.

Posted by jackhodgson at 08:15 PM

Abramoff pleads guilty, now the dominoes start falling

This could be a major turning point in US politics. This guy is believed to be about to testify against a bunch of members of the US Congress. The conventional wisdom is that he'll mostly name Rebublicans, but he'll probably point the finger at some Dems too.

How this plays out could have some very long-term effects.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to federal charges in Washington and Miami, clearing the way for him to cooperate in a massive government investigation of influence peddling involving members of Congress, lawyers said Tuesday.


Posted by jackhodgson at 11:57 AM