stAllio!'s way
Saturday, March 19, 2005 
tiger toys
though i do the vast majority of my work these days, i'm still somewhat interested in recording and audio toys: actual kids' toys. they aren't that great in the studio, but in live situations they can be pretty fun to play around with.

while watching my saturday morning cartoons i saw an ad for the tiger play-it-now. tiger has been pretty much the name in children's recording toys, from the "talkboy" used in the movie home alone to the "yak back" series, and i guess this is their newest toy. in a sense it's supposed to be like a kid's mp3 player.

instead of a mic, play-it-now has an 1/8" plug attached: the idea is to plug that into the headphone jack of various gadgets. it has 30 minutes of recording time, headphones with headphone jack, and a few built-in games.

i would have preferred if it had a built-in mic as well, although you could get around that by using a coupler... but if you're going that far, why not just use something like a minidisc recorder?

this seems like a cool enough toy, but what i really want is something more like the yak back line. those were like mini samplers with built in effects: i've played with a "yak backwards" and the reverse feature was what really made that thing rock. the play-it-now seems cool enough, but i already have stuff that will do what it does, do it better, and are not much bigger.

still, with a $30 list price, it could be pretty neat. so i figured i should at least mention it, in case any other audio toy enthusiasts are in need of something new to tinker with.

if only i knew where to find some of the old yak back line. i couldn't even find them on ebay or google... in contrast, it was fairly easy to find talkboys on ebay. am i even spelling "yak back" correctly?

Thursday, March 17, 2005 
news: breaking and broken
if you've been anywhere near a media outlet in the past 24 hours, you've surely heard that scott peterson was sentenced to the death penalty. in fact, you might not have heard anything else... and if you did, chances are good you heard that robert blake has been acquitted.

so scott peterson is a white dude who killed his wife. robert blake is a white dude who apparently did not kill his wife. judging from the amount of coverage, murder must not happen very often around these parts, right? it's not like thousands of people are murdered each year.

meanwhile, while you were hearing about peterson, you probably weren't hearding that the senate moved one step closer to drilling in ANWR. it was a vote to strip the ANWR provision from the current senate budget bill, and it lost by a 49-51 vote, so you know that pretty much all senate democrats and even a few republicans voted against. but that wasn't enough... there's a chance the budget bill won't pass the senate, but if/when it does, it goes to the hosue... and the house has repeatedly voted in favor of drilling in ANWR. after years of fighting on this issue, it appears bush will have his way and the seals will be replaced by drills. but clearly that's not as important as scott peterson, who killed his wife. or robert drake, who didn't. or michael jackson, who likes porn and little boys.

also seemingly overshadowed by the peterson and blake cases is the fact that bernie ebbers was convicted the other day. ebbers was ceo of worldcom, a company that defrauded millions of people out of billions of dollars. ebbers's defense was basically: "the buck stopped before it got here." he claimed that he was totally ignorant of the massive fraud that took place under his watch. that's a defense that bush has used quite a lot in the past few years, although bush has enough resources and cronies to keep him out of court. that's fortunate for bush, because the ebbers jury responded by effectively saying "how fucking stupid do you think we are?" now he's convicted and he faces up to 85 years in prison... though it could be 85 years before he finishes the appeals process.

but who cares about some corporate criminal with millions of victims? i mean, it's not like he killed his wife or anything.

it's not easy
it's st patrick's day and there are a lot of people here who are not wearing green. it makes me want to go on a pinching spree. alas, most of the people i've seen who aren't decked out are not people i would want to touch anyway.

we also have one guy wearing full leprechaun regalia. but he's the kind of guy who spends months working on his halloween costumes, so seeing him in a silly getup is not very surprising.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005 
the incredible beatallicas
the incredibles came out on dvd today. like a true fanboy i ran out during my lunchbreak to get it. i had already done some price comparisons online, so i knew that circuit city seemed to have the best price out of anyone: $14.99. but what i didn't realize until i was about ready to check out was that circuit city was also giving away free incredibles-branded mini-basketballs with purchase of the dvd! i suppose it makes sense: this is indiana, and march madness has begun. still, what a value... my nephew ian used to love those mini-basketballs, so maybe he'll get some enjoyment out of this one until he's old enough to actually watch the movie.

after circuit city i stopped at guitar center; i still needed to get more dual-1/4" cables for use with my new sound card. i got two 1-meter rca-to-dual-1/4" cables (i wanted longer, but 1m was the only length they had), a stereo/male-1/8"-to-dual-1/4", and a stereo/female-1/4"-to-dual-1/4". they totalled more than $25! i was sorely disappointed with the price. but i'd needed the damn cables for weeks, so i grudgingly completeted the transaction. finally, i should be able to use headphones again, as well as hook up my external cd burner.

i stopped by ckick-fil-a for lunch: the drive-thru was crazy long so i went in and got my food to-go. because naturally, the drive-thru line was long but there were hardly any customers in line inside. i got out with my food licketysplit, and the rather cute cashier even told me "it was a pleasure" to serve me! that's a bit of a change from typical fast food service.

on my way back to the office, i was listening to npr's "day to day" program, when suddenly they aired a segment on beatallica! i was totally surprised.

i haven't really blogged about the topic, under the assumption that many of my readers are probably already subscribed to snuggles, rumori, or some other forum that surely would've mentioned the story by now... but anyway:

beatallica (site currently down) is a cool cover band that mixes the songwriting of the beatles with the sound of metallica. seriously: the singer, who goes by jaymz, has james hetfield's voice just perfect. it's really uncanny. dr. david dixon (aka stark effect) is their "webmaster of puppets".

recently they received a cease and desist order from sony, alleging, what else?, copyright violation. never mind that parody is legally protected, as declared by the supreme court in the "2 live crew" case. the cease and desist actually came from the owners of the beatles' copyrights (not the beatles themselves, as they sold most of their rights away long ago), and not from metallica as you might think. in fact, metallica are on record as being huge beatallica fans, and according to the npr segment, lars ulrich actually put in a bunch of work trying to end the case so that can go back online.

word is that sony has agreed not to prosecute beatallica. but sony itself has not publicly made any such statement.

it was a good segment; there's a great quote from lars about how all ideas come from mashing up older ideas. and you can even listen to some beatallica music on the npr site (which is good because is still down!)

Monday, March 14, 2005 
"no rational purpose"
a california judge has deemed that california's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco County's trial-level Superior Court likened the ban to laws requiring racial segregation in schools, and said there appears to be "no rational purpose" for denying marriage to gay couples.

The ruling came in response to lawsuits filed by the city of San Francisco and a dozen gay couples a year ago after the California Supreme Court halted a four-week same-sex marriage spree started by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The opinion had been eagerly awaited because of San Francisco's historical role as a gay rights battleground.

Gay marriage supporters hailed the ruling as a historic development akin to the 1948 state Supreme Court decision that made California the first state to legalize interracial marriage.

"Today's ruling is an important step toward a more fair and just California that rejects discrimination and affirms family values for all California families," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said.

damn right: family values for all families. because some families actually have gay people in them. but some people don't like those families:

Conservative leaders expressed outrage at the ruling and vowed to appeal.

"For a single judge to rule there is no conceivable purpose for preserving marriage as one man and one woman is mind-boggling," said Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver. "This decision will be gasoline on the fire of the pro-marriage movement in California as well as the rest of the country.

of course, that's not what the judge said. he said there is "no rational purpose." there could be any number of conceivable purposes. it's just that all those purposes are totally fucking irrational.

don't rent your tux just yet, though.

It could be months or years before the state actually sanctions same-sex marriage, if ever.

Lockyer has said in the past that he expected the matter eventually would have to be settled by the California Supreme Court.

Two bills now before the California Legislature would put a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the November ballot. If California voters approve such an amendment, as those in 13 other states did last year, that would put the issue out of the control of lawmakers and the courts.

mp3 of the week is a healthy part of a balanced breakfast
the new mp3 of the week is up, a day later than usual (which isn't really that bad, though i don't have a good excuse). it's called "a good breakfast" and it's a "b-side" from maura's milk chocolate bath (meaning it was recorded for that album, but cut).

relive the wonder of breakfast-time by downloading it now!

montanatoast katakana-iroha & cjk-ideographic
i'm curious just how many users out there can actually see the fancy asian list bullets i used in the montana and mcdeviltoast blog. i only have two browsers installed on my new computer (IE6.0 and firefox 1.0.1), so those are the only ones i tested it in (OS is XP SP1).

in firefox it renders beautifully, with each list taking on a different exotic bulleting style from out east. i honestly don't know what any of them are really supposed to mean: i'm sure some of them are numbers, but maybe not all. they look great, though.

in IE, none of those rendered, but the lists all came in with a default "round bullet" style that looks perfectly presentable, so i decided it wasn't a big deal. the previous designed used a custom bullet graphic, but i wanted to avoid creating any icons for this design if possible, because every graphic the page must load slows down the page that much more. standard ascii/unicode bullets render that much faster.

but today i went in to work and checked it from there... at first i didn't notice anything wrong (so i have to wonder, was it always wrong, or did it originally render correctly and break sometime later in the day), but eventually i saw that the bullets were all rendering as question marks. i glanced at the source code and didn't see anything wrong with it. my work computer is also running firefox 1.0.1 so theoretically it should render the same. but the operating system is different (win2k). was that the cause of the question marks, or is something different about my work firefox installation than my home install? (this being a new computer, it's a totally fresh install, whereas the work install has been upgraded several times.)

i don't know, but i have to wonder whether there's much point in leaving the bullets as-is... how many people can even see them? i don't mind if IE users just see round bullets, because it doesn't look bad that way. but if lots of people are getting question marks or other funky junk, maybe i should just design new bullet icons after all.

this is what it's supposed to look like, in an ideal world:

if you're using IE, my guess is that you'll see round bullets.

go to the momcd blog and if you see something other than round bullets or the icons above, let me know. or if what you see in any way differs from what i predicted that you would see, i'd like to know that too.

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