February 15, 2008: Pontoon

Oreo was nothing more than a furry sack of potatoes this morning when we tried to get him dressed to go to daycare. It has been a really long time since he did a five day daycare week. He isn’t the young puppy that he used to be and his greying face definitely shows it.

Rat Attack on Wall Street

On my way in to work this morning I finished listening to Garrison Keillor‘s latest book “Pontoon“. “Pontoon” was okay but definitely not one of his best works. It was slow, hard to follow and rather sad. One thing that Garrison has begun to do recently, which I find very strange, is to take some of his most popular “News from Lake Wobegon” vignettes and to modify them just slightly and to include them in his books. He is definitely getting more mileage from the stories this way but it is strange.

The same thing happened with “Lake Wobegon, Summer 1956“. After reading the book I later heard one of the more memorable scenes from the book abridged and used as an episode in A Prairie Home Companion. And it is always the same episodes that are put onto the collection albums so you hear them several times if you buy the collections.

Most of “Pontoon” is not based on any PHC skits but as you come to the end of the book several of the storylines come together and mash several “New from Lake Wobegon” episodes together into a single, huge scene. In some ways this is extremely interesting because it explains how so many stories in the “News from Lake Wobegon” can happen in such a small space and it provides hours of backstory filling in the gaps and fleshing out the characters and events in some of the well known stories. But it is also strange that after reading a lengthy book that the climax of the book is the bit that you already know and, in some cases, know very well.

Unfortunately that was the last Audible book that I had queued up on my iPod Nano so I will have to get it restocked with books over the weekend. It will give me a good chance to get the latest music from Amazon’s MP3 service moved onto my iPod as well. I have been buying tons of great stuff from there recently. I love that service. And I found that lots of good new stuff was on there today too.

Trinity Church

The Spot at 45 Commerce Street in Newark, New Jersey is set to have a little party for us Eleven80 folk tonight. So we are hoping to make it over there this evening to support them. We don’t have final details on this yet so we are playing it by ear.

Dominica is addicted to the idea of taking a cruise. She has been investigating Disney Cruise lines as well as things like the QE2 and the Queen Mary 2 to go from New York to Europe. It would be really cool to be able to take the QE2 before she is retired later this year and moved to Dubai to become a floating hotel.

I found a great reference for beginning BASH programmers today: 10 Seconds Guide to Bash Shell Scripting.

Something that I have not used in a long time that I am returning to recently is “My Yahoo“. I really like the Yahoo start page which acts as a personal portal that I can use both at home and at the office. They have done a lot of work to the Yahoo “My Page” since the last time that I looked at it and I like that it shows me email, weather, RSS subscriptions and more all in one view. I often find that having RSS subscriptions in a dedicated feed aggregator (how is it possible that the standard dictionary does not have that word?) is a problem because I move from machine to machine and don’t want to manage the feeds. My Yahoo fixes that and makes it easy.

Interesting tidbits about Yahoo. At the moment their search engine is considered to be on par with Google competing to be the most useful search engine in the world. Yahoo is more popular, overall, than Google (not for search but in page views) in the United States but Google is more popular globally. Yahoo has recently been the target of a rebuffed Microsoft buyout but could yet still be purchased by them if a better offer comes through.

In the news today is word that researchers believe now that the same genes that allow some humans to resist colds may be the same genes that cause weight gain leading to obesity. I now know why I almost never get a cold!

Another era is coming to a close as Verizon, AT&T and Alltel prepare to shutdown the United States’ last remaining analogue cellular services on Monday. This is estimated to effect hundreds of thousands of customers clinging to antiquated and costly legacy services and will hit extreme rural regions the hardest as digital service is not yet available in all areas where analogue has been available for some time. Analogue cellular devices are more costly to maintain than digital and use more electricity making them environmentally unfriendly. Maintaining two separate systems has been expensive for these large carriers and the government, as of Monday, is no longer requiring them to support the old systems.

Scott Adams commented on Death by Frozen Poop.

Comcast today has stated that even under the FCC’s 2005 Net Neutrality law (providing equal access to the network for all customers) Comcast is claiming that discriminatory blocking of applications and customers on their network is within their purview under the heading of “reasonable network management.” Is it any wonder that net neutrality is critical today if even with it in place companies believe that they can get away with picking and choosing which paying customers get service and which do not?

Mary Lou Jepsen has left the OLPC project to start her own for-profit company to capitalize on technologies that were developed for the OLPC. She is predicting that we are just two years away from the production of the $75 laptop! What amazes me is that we can talk about a $75 laptop but can’t make a $75 desktop! It seems to be that cheap desktops would be far easier to produce. And yet the cheapest that I have seen to date is $199.

The OLPC project is in the news recently as they attempt to test the XO in Haiti in a project giving the laptops directly to students.

Work was busy this afternoon and I was stuck in the office until well after six thirty.

I did some research on the AppleTV based movie rentals and discovered that they are insanely expensive. The idea is great and, in many ways, beats out the Netflix approach by providing a system for people with slow Internet connections to be able to get 720p HD h.264 movies over the Internet by caching to iTunes (downloads could take eight hours or more but you could start it during the night or when you head off to the office) but the cost is so high that it is hard to imagine anyone taking advantage of it. Five dollars for an Internet based movie rental is way too high. For less than the cost of two movie rentals in a month you could have a full subscription to Netflix and get unlimited movies! Only those rare people who can’t watch more than one movie a month are likely to find this to be very useful.

We got home and met up with Kevin and Pam and we walked over to The Spot to check out the scene there. The Spot was very busy – we were very surprised. There was barely any space anywhere. It looks like The Spot is going to be very popular. We hung out there until a little before midnight then came back to Eleven80 to get some pizza.

I walked Oreo and we ordered in some late night pizza from New York Pizzeria and then it was off to bed.

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