Yearly Archives: 2007

And life starts returning to normal…

The tree is up and decorated, there’s only one dead string of lights on it now (artificial, a few years old, came pre-lit — and when we take it down, we’ll strip the lights and put new ones on next year….). Much to my amusement, I have finished my christmas shopping — everything will be in-house by Wednesday, everything that’s already here is wrapped and under the tree, and I’m not going to be in a panic this week.

I’ve also finished my shopping for the trip; going to Yosemite in December in a light “Bay area” jacket seemed insane, so I now own a proper winter coat, and added some clothing to replace a few pieces I decided needed retiring.

And I finished the tech review of Shelley’s book.

So I can finally relax a bit and enjoy the holiday; I still have stuff at work to do, but it’s in good shape right now (all the critical paths are elsewhere, temporarily), but I can finally start thinking about writing more and doing things on my list that are for me and less on finishing out committments to others (first stop: some revisions to www.siliconvalleybirder.org).

And I think the first thing I’m going to do now that I’m off of everyone’s critical path for now is — well, sleep. Blogging can wait.

But I did have to gloat about the christmas shopping a bit. I know a number of you out there are grinding your teeth right about now, freaking about getting it all done. We all take out quiet pleasures where we can get them.

I did give myself a little gift today. I was actually looking to see if iTunes had a copy of Christmas Story available for download (unfortunately, no; it’s a bit of a tradition here with myself and Laurie) — but I found that one of my favorite bad films of all time was there: Vincent Price in Theater of Blood. I’m definitely looking forward to wasting a couple of hours enjoying it.

It is in a way the ultimate Vincent Price — he plays a Shakespearean Actor (named Edward Lionheart — doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know about this film?) with a much higher self-view than the audiences and critics have of him. When he’s passed over for an award he’s convinced himself he deserves to wins, he goes a bit bonkers and throws himself off a building to his death.

Or — well, suddenly, the members of the critics guild start dying in weird and grisly ways, each one a variation of a classic death in a Shakespeare play. How — coincidental.

Price does his best at acting bad Shakespeare well. it’s easy to be a bad actor — it’s surprisingly tough to do a good job of acting badly, but here, he pulls it off.

Also found in this movie, when she’s not trying to find and burn the negatives, is Emma Peel. Oh, sorry, actress Diana Rigg as Price’s daughter. I think I just dated myself; guys of my age will get it. the rest of you will be hopelessly confused…

I think it’s hard to enjoy Shakespeare without learning to love Bad Shakespeare. Sometimes Bad Shakespeare is the best there is, in fact. And this movie tops the list of Bad Shakespeare done well

Olivier? well, not exactly. But such a fun way to waste a rainy evening…

Oh and if you like this sort of stuff, anotehr to check out is Vincent Price trying to sing his way through Ruddigore. It’s not on iTunes, but it is on Netflix. it was done by D’Oyly Carte, a group that actually does Gilbert and Sullivan well — but for some reason decided it needed to bring in some name stars for a series of productions for PBS back in the 80′s. Price in Ruddigore is fun, and not all that terrible, but god — William Conrad in Mikado? Also on Netflix, and priceless. Although as long as I’m pushing weird Gilbert and Sullivan (yes, in case you weren’t already convinced, I am a twisted and sick soul…), please, please check out Eric Idle’s 1987 version, set in the 1930′s on the British seaside in a resort. I swear to god, I kept waiting for Captain Spaulding to arrive for his song and dance…

Is Apple TV a success? Compared to Tivo, it certainly is

Technovia: Is Apple TV a success? Compared to Tivo, it certainly is:


Don’t count Apple TV out. While I decided not to get one, in favour of getting a Mac mini and putting together a custom system, for a lot of people it’s a perfectly good option.

 

I was thinking about this a bit more today, and Ian nailed a point I didn’t make, but wish I had.

One reason for the perception of the “failure” (or whatever) of the Apple TV is that there isn’t a lot of talk about it on the blogosphere. To some, that therefore means it’s not succeeding.

In fact, it’s a classic example of the echo chamber in action; the Apple TV is a consumer device, and the geeks go off and build their own alternatives; if you listen to them, those are the real successes.

Except, of course, the Apple TV is selling a lot of these, just that these units are going to people who simply plug them in and use them. Not geeks. Therefore, it falls outside the view of the echo chamber we all live in here.

That’s very different from the iPhone, where in reality, there IS no geek alternative, and the geeks are therefore screaming for the ability to geek the phone. Apple TV doesn’t have that noisy demand, because all of the folks who might have done that bought Mac Mini’s and built their own.

Me, I’m one of those that was blown away by the idea of the Apple TV, and then didn’t buy one (in large part because I left Apple in the meantime and got busy doing other things for a while); I still say it’s very likely I’ll own one within the next year. To me, the gating item right now is whether I’ll be able to replace Netflix with it. For me, that gating factor is how deep the backlist in the upcoming iTunes rental store is; contemporary movies are actually a small percentage of our NetFlix queue (we’re much more likely to have something like Have Gun Will Travel than, say, Knocked Up). If I were only doing current hits, I’d probably use DirecTV Pay Per view instead of paying a monthly fee — and my perfect world would be to be able to have the NetFlix back list AND a per-title rental fee instead of a monthly fee. Not sure even Apple can make something like that financially viable, but I can hope…

Who needs sleeping pills with this hockey?

Who needs sleeping pills with this hockey?:


The trick, then, is to change the philosophy, and that’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Instead of another reinterpretation of the rulebook, it is now incumbent on the NHL’s stewards to look beyond their narrow self-interests and embrace a new model for the game.

Owners have to hire GMs who favour an attacking style of hockey. GMs have to hire coaches who’ll play that game. Organizations then have to commit to this new brand.

It’s easier, of course, to get a good goalie and stack five guys up in front of him. But look at the bright side.

I agree in theory, but it’s easier said than done. The league doesn’t reward style or entertainment. It rewards goals. So we can talk all we want about hiring GM’s and coaches that play attacking hockey — teams will continue to hire coaches and GMs that win, because winning is what this game is ultimately about. And soemtimes you can build a team that wins in an attacking style, and smetimes you stack your defenders like cordwood around the crease and dare someone to 9-iron a puck over the goalie’s shoulder like a mini-golf course….

There’s no visible economic incentive to play entertaining but losing hockey, so teams won’t hire guys who do that.

Which, ultimately, goes back to the old “change the rulebook” thing. You want to encourage an entertaining/attacking style of hockey, the rules of the game need to be structured so that this kind of hockey can win games. Then teams will adopt it.

Otherwise, this discussion has no more relevance in the real world than the “players must respect each other” lectures. They must — but until the rules are structured so that players who don’t are penalized and that penalizes their teams, it’s all talk.

(hat tip: Kukla)