more amusing things

Okay, maybe I will turn this into a “here’s what I found on YouTube today” blog, at least for a bit. Though actually GVOD found this one first.

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a drug reference, or what (sweet smoke?), but the music is decent, and I’m amused that everyone becomes happy and dances once they get a pie. Does it make sense? No. But it’s a fun 4-minute video.

Then there’s this, which I saw just before E3. It made the Namco booth people with their pac-man hats doubly funny.

And of course, the inimitable and always funny Pablo Francisco; we have the CD where he originally does the movie preview voice bit, but this is the first time we’ve seen it live:

That’s all for now.


Okay, I promise this won’t turn into a “here’s what I found on YouTube today” blog. But here’s what I found on YouTube today.

I found The Skeletor Show a while back; I just found it again. It’s an unemployed voice-over artist doing a really good job remixing bits of old He-Man shows. The voice-acting is certainly much better than it was in that 80s cartoon kids-can’t-tell-the-difference-between-real-acting-and-crap show.

Also, I’ve really started enjoying RocketBoom. Sort of a video blog version of Boing Boing (i.e., “here’s strange random crap people sent me”). NPR’s blog of all places introduced me to it.

I miss Mr. Rogers

One of the last links for the day from The Consumerist (a fun read if you revel in good & bad tales of companies and customer service) was a YouTube video of Mr. Rogers saving CPB/PBS.

I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, so I’m not sure if it’s because of that, but every time I see video of Mr. Rogers either doing his show or otherwise (in the above clip, or on an episode of This American Life, I have to marvel. If any other person spoke with slow, deliberate tones of Mr. Rogers, I’d assume they were patronizing me. But with Mr. Rogers, you just get this feeling of caring, that he’s just a genuinely nice guy. I’ve seen comments comparing him to Gandhi, and that sounds about right.

I dunno, it’s hard to explain. Reading some of the “for parents” stuff on the Mr. Rogers web site, it looks like his philosophy was a simple, treat everyone (including kids) with respect; everyone deserves to be listened to and dealt with as a human being.

I do wish there were more Mr. Rogers’, and fewer O’Reillys and Hannitys and DeLays. The world might be a nicer place.

aaaaargh. my tires are properly inflated!

[updated 12/2006]

So, we have a 2005 Toyota Matrix. Nice car.

Except for the fact that the stupid tire pressure monitoring system doesn’t work right:

Picture of tire error light

The light is supposed to come on if one of the tires has incorrect pressure, indicating either “Put some air in”, or “You have a flat, dumbass”. There’s a button you’re supposed to push and hold when the pressure is correct in all the tires to reset the system.

In our car, however, the light seems to come on whenever the system feels lonely — that is, all the time. Oh sure, we can reset it, and the light goes away, pouting, for a few minutes. But then, after half an hour or an hour of driving, there it pops up again. “Did you miss me?” it seems to say. “I had a grand time being off, but I’m here to be on for you again!”

We’ve had the car in multiple times asking about it, to no avail. One time we were told that there’s also a sensor in the spare tire, so it had to be checked too. But nope — equalizing the pressure in all the tires (even checking to make sure the pressures are still equal after it comes on again) doesn’t help. And of course nobody has posted anything about it on the net. (Or my google-fu is not wise enough to locate the proper page.)

So now it’s kind of become a game; if the light comes on, hold the reset switch in (while driving) to see if there’s a stretch of road smooth enough that the tire pressures will be constant over the 5 or so second period that the system measures the pressures. I’ve had it happen a couple of times, which is surprising given the number of potholes in this town.

At some point someone may figure it out; meanwhile, the light taunts us in its yellow glowingness.

[Update 12/2006]: As it turns out, the issue was the valve stem in one of the tires. Apparently this system works by having special valve stems that have a battery and a transmitter which send the data to the car. When the battery dies, or one of the stems goes bad, you (or the tire shop) can replace it. This turned out to be the issue; the tires wore down, we had to get new tires, and (knock on wood) the light hasn’t been on since.

Rack mounting a Playstation 2, part 1

I’m not sure exactly whether anyone will find this useful anymore, but I have the pictures, so might as well put them to use.

A while ago we had a use for some Playstation 2 consoles running Linux. Nothing fancy (it didn’t even take advantage of the special chips and such in the system), but they worked.

Sony used to sell but recently discontinued a linux kit for the PS2 — basically it came with the network adapter, a hard drive, mouse, keyboard, VGA adapter, and a Linux boot CD. (You supply the PS2 and memory card.) Since we had more than a couple, we decided to rack mount them.

Middle Atlantic sells custom rackmount shelves to fit almost any product; they’re the company that custom home theater installers use to acquire form-fitting rackmount
shelves for almost any electronic equipment out there — and if they don’t have a
template in stock for your item, you can ship it to them (insured) and they’ll
measure it and make you a custom shelf. We got ours locally, but SmartHome carries them too. Note that we got the clamp option; without the two clamps that go above the PS2s, they’ll slide around a bit every time you try to do something to them.

Continue reading

wild animal park silliness

Again, I’m supposed to be doing my Japanese homework. I’ve done three questions so far (out of many, many more). But meanwhile, I went through some of the photos I took at the Wild Animal Park today, and made my first ever animated gif:

4-frame lorikeets dancing

These are a couple of lorikeets (colorful nectar-eating parrots; famous for making large liquidy sprays of poop — if you get one as a pet, invest in plexiglas and make sure you can hose down their living area) from the aviary where you can buy a cup of nectar to feed them. These two were doing either a mating thing or a territorial thing, and the picture sequence actually turned out to be rather interesting. (And in only 400k!)

(PS2 rackmount howto coming soon, I promise!)

culture of selfishness

So here’s a meme (woohoo! Web2.0 point!) that I’ve been thinking about for a while.

There’s been a whole lot of political hoo-hah lately about trying to distill out the essence of each side (dem vs repub, liberal vs conservative, etc. etc.) and I think I might finally have something. It hit me whilst I’m supposed to be doing my Japanese homework.

The basic difference between republicans and democrats appears to be a general culture of selfishness versus a culture of generosity.

Think about it. The big themes of late of the Republican Party (ignore the ‘smaller government’ stuff, it’s not happening) have been:
1) Lower my taxes
2) Make me feel secure (even if you have to screw someone else over to do it)
3) Make my friends rich (subsidies, bailouts, more tax cuts, laws that unbalance the market)
4) Immigration restriction (this land/services/whatever is mine, you can’t have any)

Whereas the Democratic platform appears to be more oriented towards generosity:
1) Invest in schools, social services, universal health care, so that those without trust funds can benefit from them and ‘move up’ in the world
2) Raise the minimum wage, expand worker safety (can anyone say “mine accident”?), do that health care thing again
3) Level the playing field between all competitors (compete on merit rather than cronyism), and remind the world what “free market” actually means.

These points are more complicated than the Republican ones, but rather than the end result being “I and my buddies get something”, the end result will be “If it’s fair, everyone has a shot at getting something”.

That’s not to say everything in the Democratic platform is good; indeed, not everything in the Republican platform is bad. But I don’t think the difference gets more basic than this.

almost there — and some tee vee

I know I promised the PS2 rackmount how-to; it’s almost there. I’ll try and finish it tomorrow.

Lately I’ve been wanting to watch decent spy movies. None of this modern-day Tom Clancy/Tom Cruise crap; I mean the good stuff, like the old James Bond stuff, the (remarkably sexist/racist/etc. but still amusing) Our Man Flint films, and nowadays, The Avengers. Not really sure why — they’re just silly, dumb fun.

I’ve seen most of the original Avengers episodes, with Mrs. Peel and Steed. Now I’ve moved onto the New Avengers, with Patsy — I mean Purdy — Gambit, and Steed. It’s got the perfect amounts of 70s cheese, silly plots, and thinly veiled sexual innuendo.

I watched Knight Rider and The A-Team and such in the 80s; somehow none of those quite match up with this, though. Now I just need to watch a good Bond movie or two (Connnery or Moore, please), and I should be OK.

Lately I’ve also been watching clips from Brainiac on YouTube. Brainiac appears to be what you get if you cross Mythbusters with Top Gear and have Spike TV produce it. It’s a science experiment/mythbusting show like Mythbusters, but with more explosions and silly ‘frat boy’ type science. They recently discovered Britain’s most dangerous underwear (a G-string with a stuffed monkey at the front; it catches on fire and burns more readily than more normal underwear).

Which brings me to a mini-rant. We don’t have cable or satellite; we just have an antenna (no monthly fees!) for what little TV we do watch. We used to have cable, but it was the old 500 channels and nothing’s on thing, pretty much constantly. Now we just get DVDs and NetFlix; we watch what we want, when we want. Except for the stuff that either isn’t out or isn’t here.

The UK has some really good TV shows; some cable networks also have some really good shows. But I can’t get the UK ones unless someone decides to release them 2 years down the line or longer, and some of the cable network shows from the US cost an arm and a leg (*ahem* MythBusters Season 2 — $99 for 13 episodes on 13 DVDs? I don’t think so!). To coin a phrase, why do you hate DVD-watching America? I don’t mind paying for stuff I’d like to watch, but a) it shouldn’t be more expensive than say, gold, and b) I should be able to get movies and TV shows without having to either import it from another country and find a region-free DVD player and without trying to download it and risk the wrath of whoever would like to enforce copyright by lawsuit.

In closing, and in the spirit of “you should be able to find ANYTHING on the internet”, here is the music video for Fish Heads.

tired day

Not much for today. Got up at 5, went to work, had meetings most of the day, came home, made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, went to Japanese class where I did OK but not that great, and watched the last half of the season finale of Boston Legal (Denny Crane!).

I processed all the pix for the PS2 rackmount how-to; I’ll post that tomorrow at some point. I hope.