Thursday, August 30, 2007

Say what?

How do you turn a beetle into an iPod? Read further on:

BERLIN (AP) -- U.S. computer company Apple Inc. and German automaker Volkswagen AG are discussing the possibility of building an "iCar" that would feature products by the producer of the ubiquitous iPod personal music player.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and Volkswagen's chief Martin Winterkorn met several days ago in California and plan to meet for further discussions, said Hans-Gerd Bode, a spokesman for VW.

There are "scores of ideas," but few concrete plans at this point, Bode said.

Market experts estimate that a compact car upgraded with Apple products would be of substantial interest to young target groups, according to German financial magazine Capital.

Apple already works with VW and other automakers to offer an integrated in-car hookup for iPods. A representative of Apple did not immediately return a phone call for comment on the potential "iCar."

Link here for the full AP report....For one thing their stock-price jumped 10 dollars and change in two consecutive sessions, and session nr 2 in not yet over. That's super... especially if you hold AAPL stock that is.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Helter-Skelter




If you open a dictionary for the definition of helter-skelter you'll find this girl's photograph as an illustration... poor Miss Teen USA from South Carolina!!! She's pretty cute but... Sweet Jesus, once she opens her mouth! Helter-Skelter!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stop the press! iPhone belongs to monkey boy!

Click on the picture and read the first sentence. Someone needs to get his ass wacked at Herald Sun.

Maybe the guy was born yesterday and all he got to see is a lousy PC of the 80ies. Who knows?

It seems that Herald Sun is Australia's largest morning paper and a visit to their homepage reveals no further clumsiness. So, maybe the incident may have been caused by the fact Australians are looking at the world upside down. Who knows?

Enough of that... the real news of the day is a press release of an Irish 'company', a 'subsidiary' of UniquePhones (give us a break!) that added itself to the list of iPhone unockers. UniquePhones positions itself as an unlocker of phones locked to 600 operators worldwide. Wow! Go figure what their mission statement looks like: 'We will help users steal from their telecom operators for a fee!'

The paddy kiddos thought of making a few bucks by selling their unlock code to amateurs and alike and announced to the world that they would be accepting orders from 12:00 noon EST on August the 25th. Allegedly, on the same day, just a few hours before D-time, the über-hacker from Tipperary received a threatening call from an AT&T law firm, so says he, tellin' him that they were planning to roast his ass on a Texan BBQ should he decide to release his unlock code for money. The kid, scared to his pants, decided not to go ahead and the whole soap opera seems to have been prematurely terminated. In the meantime, he got his five minutes attention of the world... his site was overwhelmed with 10 mails a minute (which he thinks is big).

Dreamers of acquiring some iPhone unlock code will now have to wait a bit longer for a new kid to show-up, with a larger pair of testicles this time over. Let's see how much longer this is gonna take, then...

Hang-in there iPhone geeks! Your Transfiguration Day will come soon...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Middle East Clusterf*ck

I've come across this article via JC Dvorak's blog. Was initially publised by the RollingStone Magazine. Makes hugely interesting reading. I'll give you some starters here but it's a long piece of five online pages at the RSM and you'd have to link there for its entirety... Links provided at the bottom of the current post. Here we go...

"How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini? Ask Earnest O. Robbins -- he knows all about being a successful contractor in Iraq.

You start off as a well-connected bureaucrat: in this case, as an Air Force civil engineer, a post from which Robbins was responsible for overseeing 70,000 servicemen and contractors, with an annual budget of $8 billion. You serve with distinction for thirty-four years, becoming such a military all-star that the Air Force frequently sends you to the Hill to testify before Congress -- until one day in the summer of 2003, when you retire to take a job as an executive for Parsons, a private construction company looking to do work in Iraq.

Now you can finally move out of your dull government housing on Bolling Air Force Base and get your wife that dream home you've been promising her all these years. The place on Park Street in Dunn Loring, Virginia, looks pretty good -- four bedrooms, fireplace, garage, 2,900 square feet, a nice starter home in a high-end neighborhood full of spooks, think-tankers and ex-apparatchiks moved on to the nest-egg phase of their faceless careers. On October 20th, 2003, you close the deal for $775,000 and start living that private-sector good life.

A few months later, in March 2004, your company magically wins a contract from the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq to design and build the Baghdad Police College, a facility that's supposed to house and train at least 4,000 police recruits. But two years and $72 million later, you deliver not a functioning police academy but one of the great engineering clusterfucks of all time, a practically useless pile of rubble so badly constructed that its walls and ceilings are literally caked in shit and piss, a result of subpar plumbing in the upper floors.

You've done such a terrible job, in fact, that when auditors from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction visit the college in the summer of 2006, their report sounds like something out of one of the Saw movies: "We witnessed a light fixture so full of diluted urine and feces that it would not operate," they write, adding that "the urine was so pervasive that it had permanently stained the ceiling tiles" and that "during our visit, a substance dripped from the ceiling onto an assessment team member's shirt." The final report helpfully includes a photo of a sloppy brown splotch on the outstretched arm of the unlucky auditor.

When Congress gets wind of the fias co, a few members on the House Oversight Committee demand a hearing. To placate them, your company decides to send you to the Hill -- after all, you're a former Air Force major general who used to oversee this kind of contracting operation for the government. So you take your twenty-minute ride in from the suburbs, sit down before the learned gentlemen of the committee and promptly get asked by an irritatingly eager Maryland congressman named Chris Van Hollen how you managed to spend $72 million on a pile of shit.

You blink. Fuck if you know. "I have some conjecture, but that's all it would be" is your deadpan answer.

The room twitters in amazement. It's hard not to applaud the balls of a man who walks into Congress short $72 million in taxpayer money and offers to guess where it all might have gone.

Next thing you know, the congressman is asking you about your company's compensation. Touchy subject -- you've got a "cost-plus" contract, which means you're guaranteed a base-line profit of three percent of your total costs on the deal. The more you spend, the more you make -- and you certainly spent a hell of a lot. But before this milk-faced congressman can even think about suggesting that you give these millions back, you've got to cut him off. "So you won't voluntarily look at this," Van Hollen is mumbling, "and say, given what has happened in this project . . . "

"No, sir, I will not," you snap.

". . . 'We will return the profits.' . . ."

"No, sir, I will not," you repeat.

....

link to the rest of the article here.

Sheer incompetence...

In this morning's edition of the Flemish paper 'De Morgen' a four page coverage (including the frontpage) of the recent forest fire incidents in Greece was included. The Morgen comics artist NAK (?) dispayed a unique sketch with the best capture of a reality that brings about bitter laughs. I took the liberty to freely translate it in English for broader comprehension of his text.

If you follow somewhat closer the current political situation in Belgium, you'd have heard that still, as we speak, we have no clue when the new coalition government will be formed, following the most recent national parlementary elections of past June 11th. Belgium is doomed since its foundation in the early part of the 19th century to be formed from two separate and entirely different communities (culture, language but also racial/DNA origins) into one country with two populations that typically despise or contempt each other, the Flemish 60% and the Waloons 40%. They have known that for hundreds of years but nevertheless the Netherlands and France decided to put a buffer zone between them to avoid further border confrontations among themselves and so the non-country Belgium was formed.

Thus, in the recent cabinet formation negotiations, it was again natural that the Flemish wanted one thing and the Waloons another... who's right and who' wrong? Both are right and wrong but it's a pity they can't subdivide this place in two, attach the Flemish to Holland and the Waloons to France and make out of Brussels a sort of Washington DC home to the Eurocrats. Simply said, impossible to do. In the meantime, when we'll ever have a new government following our most recent polls is anybody's guess. Mission Impossible IV.

On the other side the forests of the land of my ancestors are burning to the ground... 60 citizens burnt alive to this moment. Olympia itself was threatened by the fire including the stadium and the museum with unique archaelogical treasures (whose doorsteps were licked by flames one reporter wrote). I am bitterly thinking that the Britts are right after all to keep the Elgin marbles in their British Museum and protect this world heritage from contemporary Greek incompetence.

I often wonder how much modern Greeks have in common with those Ancients who dominated the Western World for a thousand years BC with their unique contributions to sciences, engineering, philosophy and every form of art we know? Answer: not that much! Not even 1% if you ask me.

The current cabinet's (of Constantine Karamanlis) monumental incompetence and sheer arrogance in not found even among Australian drunk aboriginals. Their 'bouloukos' PM (meaning baby fatso) would rather enjoy his BBQed lamb chops and drink ouzo and retsina instead of handling the country's problems. He would if he could! Yeah right! All he and his cabinet members are interested in, like any other government member in the country since its UDI around the same time Belgium was founded (what an irony), is how to build small fortunes from contractor bribes and by abusing EU funding approved by naive Eurocrats who believe Greek Officials have 'integrity'. Makes me paraphrase a Greek Beer billboard: 'We have given 300,000 words to the world, except one, integrity... (cos, we don't have that one in our vocabulary)'

Sad story. 'Commitment to a collective responsibility is not the strongest virtue of the Greeks', writes C.P. Papadichos, a chief columnist. 'We got too many bad habits. Without thinking of consequences, we light the BBQ or throw the remains of still burning cigarettes out of the car.' How right he is... what he actually says, we Greeks, as long as we solve our own problem we don't give a f*ck what happens next. Ego is a Greek word related to Egoism and means 'I' in modern Greek. I, me, mine like legendary Lennon sang in the sixties. We Greeks are the expert egocentric animals of the planet... I have yet to meet someone with more egocentric attitude than an average Greek's. Wunderbar! Bleeds my heart to think that I am one of them myself!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The kid that bit the worm out of the Apple!


That's the 17 year old kid who has proven the incompetence of Apple and AT&T engineers (really hard to believe). What's so wrong with software really beats me... I've been managing companies involved in this business for more than 25 years and I still can't get it... I mean, 17 year old kids breaking the code generated by the 'system'. Amazing... it's like asking a teenager to perform brain surgery and the kid does it better than a bunch of seasoned experts. How can that be? We are not talking about the usual malware like lousy viruses or spyware or any of that pussie stuff that anyone with an Internet connection can learn how-to in a matter of hours. We are talking about real hacking of sophisticated embedded software systems from big ass companies... Is that simple after all? God save us then! I won't be able to sleep tonite, I think...

For what's worth, take a look at FSJ's comment on the incident... if you feel like having some good laughs that is.

Obese rule!

Apple was forced to... pull out an ad campaign about the new iMac following complaints from the Alliance of Eating Disorders (!?!$*%!%*!).

There was an explicit suggestion that thin (as opposed to fat) is 'connected to power'... "I must say that I find the new IMAC campaign troubling and extremely triggering," said Johanna Kandel, the Executive Director of The Alliance. "Apple's revamping of the Duchess of Windsor's adage draws a direct connection between being thin and being powerful. While this concept may work well from a technological perspective, it can become deadly in the eyes of an individual that is genetically predisposed to developing an eating disorder."

Yeah, right! Let them start eating one half of what they usually do and it's a good start for getting them back to normal. C'm on folks, everyone is responsible for the way he/she looks... the rest is a pile of... Of course thin is connected to power... because power naturally goes with style and brains and beauty... fat only cares about feeding itself and it's got no time for anything else...

In another occasion Sony had to pull out a PSP campaign for their white version of the product. I agree, that case was a lot more rude... a woman, white like one pulled an entire sack of flour over her head, was grabbing a black woman by her jaws. Too reminiscent of white supremacist behavior... only thinking that this ad was originated by a company from a country where people are neither white nor black makes me LMAO...

The bottomline... ads creation is a tough job, especially so if the campaign concerns a leading company under the spotlight, and as long as leaders of special interest groups around the world are desperately seeking their five minutes in fame by publicly making a point, so to say, in the interest of their members. We 'know' better than that, don't we?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Windows Real Good Edition

Apparently Redmond came up with a new version of Windows that is labeled Windows RG (like in real good). The news was first reported by FSJ and seems to be genuine. Monkey boy asked that the version in Beta were thrown to the public as a web app for people to try and respond with comments.

Visit this site if you want to become a beta tester...

Barcelona! Barcelona!

Brings back memories of Freddy and Montserrat in their 1987 hit song. What a beautiful city with thousands of years of history and scores of artistic monuments. Dali, Mirò, Gaudì, to mention the most recent monstres sacrés of contemporary art and architecture, left their stamps for ever in the beautiful Catalunia and its capital. The second largest city in Spain and one of the largest cities in Europe, Barcelona is a role model to many... that's what I thought...

A recent article in a local newspaper reported that the Catalans get increasingly tired of foreign visitors. It's true, in the Franco years, the luminous shorty dictator managed to exploit the country as a tourist resort for the majority of middle class and working class Germans, English and Dutch, Belgians and Nordic Vikings vacationing down there by the gazillions. The country got properly organized, indrastructure-wise that is, to receive scores of stressed and unbridled tourists from the North and Spain's Eastern and South-Eastern coast (facing the Mediterranean) turned into a monster landscape of appartment buildings necessary to pack the miserable Western Europeans during their two week annual vacationing. Benidorm, Costa del Sol, Costa Brava, Costa whatever... the place got packed! Great for the economy, awful for the landscape and the locals... except for the diddlies tourists were bringing with them...

Getting tired of tourists? You bet! And they are darn right. Nevertheless, even then, there is a thing called elementary courtesy. And it seems that many are losing it in that beautiful city. The Ancient Greeks had something in their genes called "philoxenia"... means, love thy strangers at thy doorstep, thy visitors, those who knock at thy door for some water and bread. The Swiss have just the opposite... called xenophobia... sometimes meaning closing thy door even to thy own family members, let alone those strangers. Well, reality is somewhere in between for both contemporary Greeks and Swiss, but leave those buggers in their own misery... we are having it about the brave Catalans here...

There is a posh restaurant in Barcelona going by the name Taxidermista (who knows what that means? Probably...philoxenia?). My good friend Nikos from Brussels had the most impossible experience there during a week's time-off in Barcelona beginning of this month.

Read-on the letter he wrote to them after a evening's adventure and nightmare experience in that place...

"Dear Ms Munoz,

This is to formally and officially complaint about the behaviour of your staff at your restaurant TAXIDERMISTA for Sunday 12th August 2007.

My wife and I booked a table for 20.30 this evening and we arrived at 20.30 precisely. We proceeded to sit down after informing two waiters – a woman and a man – that we hade booked a table for 20.30. There was already a long queue of about 10 people outside the entrance at the terrace of the restaurant. Someone, who was I assume the manager on duty, came to tell us that we had to get up and join the queue. We explained that we had booked a table for 20.30 and he insisted that we join the queue. We complained that this way we may take some time before we sat down and that this was the reason we bothered with booking a table. He rudely told us to join the queue treating my wife and I like children. We complained that the system seems stupid at which stage the man stormed into the restaurant, took in his hands the reservation book and erased our name from the list in front of everyone. We stressed that this was not professional and that never such a thing has happened to us before and that they should apologise. The Man rudely turned his back to us and left us waiting in the queue taking everyone else at tables ignoring us totally. Totally shocked and embarrassed we left at 20.45 and had to find another restaurant although we were exhausted from touring the city.

I am not aware of the systems of Barcelona et al but anywhere else in the world you reserve a table so that you can make sure that there is a guarantee of going and be served. I consider your behaviour totally unprofessional. The least I demand is an apology.

You cannot possibly treat people, and tourists that are otherwise welcomed in Catalunya, in such a bad way. Apart from that we had a wonderful time in Girona, Figueres, Cadaques, Bessalu but we consider the attitudes towards tourists in Barcelona from indifferent to unfriendly.

Thank you for your attention."

Can you just believe that? Well, lucky him he got a response within the day... in relatively descent English, I must admit, much better than her moron desk manager.

"Dear Sir,

First of all I would like to apologize in the name of my staff and myself.
I’ve been trying to find out what exactly happened, as this incident it is completely far away from the way we treat our customers, and in fact we are proud of giving the best gastronomy and service as thousands of visitors, every year, prove.

After talking with the manager on duty we can explain you that he understood that you called him “stupid” and that he felt not acceptable at all, as he was someone just doing his job, and in that case is a shame that the problems with the language made such a big misunderstanding. For sure, he didn’t manage the situation as he should have done, and at that point we had to penalize him, and also had a meeting with all the staff to talk about this, and how to show, during the service, my personal way of treating customers, no matter if they are tourist or local, as for me it is one of my personals goals to give a complete experience to all my visitors giving and excellent food, service and impression of the city. I am completely aware of were my restaurant is located, and it is a pleasure to have the opportunity of being a part of the good memories that, for sure, a tourist is going to take with him after visiting our beautiful city.

May be our system seems stupid to you, and you believe that it is not the correct one, but we like to check out with the book each reservation, not just to give the table assigned to each person that had phoned before, but to give the welcome to the place to everyone.
Also I would like to thank this mail to let us know what happened because it is the best way to improve our service and solve our problems, so Sir, thank you again.

I hope to have the opportunity to change your mind about us, so I leave the doors open to receive you any time you visit Barcelona again, and invite you to a bottle of our fantastic catalan Cava to show you the way we like to treat everybody.

Sincerely yours,

Berta Muñoz
Directora General"

Yeah, right! He thought you called him stupid! Cool. Even if he did, he'd have to stay friendly, the useless moron he is, and not turn into a mad dog, Banderas 'el Zorro' look-alike! To be fair to her, the woman has at least some courtesy. No bad idea to use more female managers anywhere in Spain and send their miserable males to the arenas to chase toros instead. When Nikos asked me whether to accept their apologies (which he eventually did) or go after them big time, I jokingly told him that I wouldn't have anything less that the sonovabitch's head on a platter... like St-John the Forerunner... anyways, live and let live! These things happen... in Catalunia that is!

Friday, August 24, 2007

More headaches on the way for Apple?

It wasn't enough that the iPhone got cracked, now they've also got leaks of their allegedly upcoming iPod nano! Apparently Apple legal requested sites like Engadget to remove the news and photos from their sites and the crowds are darn right convinced that the news is therefore genuine... I guess AAPL ticker will jumb again north today!

I personally don't believe the whole thing is anything else than a usual Apple inspired hoax. Oh brother, where are thou? What a world are we living in?

What took them so long?

Well it had to happen... ever since its launch last June 29th scores of hackers have been trying to unlock the iPhone and make it work with SIM cards from different operators than the friggin' AT&T. They were eventually successful. If you happen to own one of these marvels and you wanna get rid of your AT&T operator go check the brilliant hacker's site here.

Full articles on the hack of the month you can find here and here. Engadget also offers an explanatory video that doesn't say much but anyways...

Allegedly, Apple and AT&T are dealing with the problem. Meaning that any moment now Apple will come out with a compulsory update that will fix the problem until the next hack arrives. Instead of pissing off consumers with their insane decision to link the little marvel to a monster operator like AT&T they should better do what anybody else does in this market. Offer the phone free of any links with operators. The rest is sheer BS.

For cryin' out loud!

Read this article:

"A class action lawsuit has been filed against the computer company alleging an increased risk for identity theft by revealing too much customer information on receipts. The lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in Florida on behalf of Apple customers. The suit claims Apple violated the a provision of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA).
FACTA was enacted by congress in 2003 to aid in the prevention of identity theft and credit and debit card fraud. The act states that, “no person that accepts credit cards or debit cards for the transaction of business shall print more than the last five digits of the card number or the expiration date upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of sale or transaction.” Despite having several years to comply with the law and clear advance notice, the lawsuit claims Apple ignored the mandate of the US Congress and the protection against identity theft and credit card fraud which the law addresses."

I don't get it. Morons will start a class action even when His Jobness breaks wind (sue the frigtard for polluting the air in Cupertino!). I generally envy the Yanks most of the time for many things... but this schizo-hunger for hunting the rich and famous (companies and people) with lawsuits of all sorts blows me away! Holy Cow as my good Texan friend and ex-boss Marvin Applewhite would have cried from the adobe of his Mexican villa in Mineola, East Texas...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yeah, Right!



Harry Potter returns...

Whereas all of you thought that JK stopped with Book 7 of that friggard Harry Potter, I got news for you... She's about to write Books 8 and 9 and 10. She's already busy casting for the movie of Books 7 and 8 as you can see from the picture posted here... What'd you expect? To stop that running torrent of platinum and gold pouring into her banksafes in Lichtenstein and the Cayman Islands? C'm on, sober up!

Orient Express anno 2007




What is the problem here exactly? Either there aren't enough trains or too many people want to travel. Either way it's hard to believe the clip. This is the third millenium in Mumbai, India.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pachelbel, Jerry C et les autres...


Several months ago there was a viral type YouTube Hit that jumped to millions of views overnight. Allegedly there was this kid that called himself Funtwo with his face covered with a baseball pet so that his age was anybody's guess. Soon the news hit the net with a lightning speed that the kid was no more than 12 years old or somethin' (as you can see he 'feels' very young, skiny and small) and before we knew the kid climbed on the fourth place of most viewed videos of all times with 25 million hits. The music he played (or plyed as Funtwo himself spelled it on his clip) was an arrangement by another talented kid Jerry C from Taiwan. I believe it was first Jerry C who posted his rock arrangement of Pachelbel's Canon and it was Funtwo who turned it into an overnight hit due to the mystery behind his personality. Jerry C himself didn't get more than 700K hits which seems hilarious as he was the original creator of the gig and he actually plays the guitar better than all those other ambitious look-alikes of his. Because such look-alikes were really a gazillion. The entire incident gave birth to an entire flock of guitarists of every color and taste (many from the far East like Jerry C), all of them dreaming of turning into another Funtwo. Eventually the mystery was resolved as Funtwo proved to be ten years older than was originally thought! Tough shit... Nevertheless, Funtwo still remains on fourth place in the all time hits YouTube ranks.

A by-product of all this emerged from someone else's idea that gave rise to the video clip shown here. Actually someone called Impeto, a guitarist himself but a video geek as well I suppose, assembled the scores of clips posted to YouTube by all those Funtwo look-alikes and edited one single clip with more than 20 players playing parts of the Canon. A cute idea with a lot of actual work behind. The new creation was called the Ultimate Canon Rock and if you search on this title you get at least a dozen hits... That means that there have been many others imitating Impeto, or was Impeto also imitating someone else, who knows?. I have no clue who was first to come up with the idea... It sounds fun nevertheless.

I guess if you count all these clips and their views together you must get more than 30 Million hits (I didn't feel like counting them, I guess 30M is reasonable). If the arrangement was a commercial record it would have made many platinums over and over again and its creator, Jerry C a multimillionnaire. I wonder though... did Jerry C make a buck or was it all for kicks? Certainly Pachelbel didn't make a penny as he's dead for hundreds of years.

Come to think of it, the whole thing about Web 2.0 and the role each surfer is offered an opportunity to play with sites like Second Life, My Space, YouTube, Digg and the rest is kinda amazing. Who will ever be able to say where this is gonna bring us to. Have no fear though, whatever it might be, it's gonna be a lot better than all we have known twenty years ago, or even ten, where all of us were mere victims in the hands of organized media, the so-called 4th Estate.

MM has lost it...

I always thought of the guy as the world's biggest pompous fat ass but I never thought of him being stupid... reading the article below (how did I miss this in the first place when it first appeared?) proves me wrong altogether... about the stupidity bit, that is!

Cupertino, CA (HLN) Controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is accusing Apple Inc. and AT&T of using the iPhone to distract attention from his new movie “Sicko”, which opens in US theaters on the same day the hyped phone goes on sale. “This is an appalling display of greed and jealousy,” said Moore after a recent screening of his new movie. “Apple and AT&T obviously don’t care about fixing America’s healthcare system. They only care about how many iPhones they’re going to sell.” Moore’s film criticizes the American medical establishment and suggests that it’s time for the country to consider a universal health system such as those in Cuba, France and Britain. In a speech to reporters, Michael Moore blasted Apple CEO and longtime Democrat Steve Jobs for not postponing the iPhone’s launch until after his movie is released. “I don’t see how Steve Jobs can call himself a ‘liberal’ and then try to silence my film,” said Moore. “Americans should be learning about our corrupt healthcare system on Friday, but instead they’re going to be lining up for a silly $600 dollar gadget.” Apple may sell as many as 200,000 iPhones in the product's first two days on the market after sales begin at 6 p.m. Friday and as many as 3 million in the second half of the year, according to the most optimistic analyst estimates. The “Sicko” director also accused former Vice President Al Gore, who sits on the board of directors at Apple Inc., of trying to steer people away from the film. "Al Gore has a vested self-interest in making sure my film isn’t seen by the public,” said Moore.” Not only will he profit if people spend their money on iPhones instead of my film, he also doesn’t want my documentary to overshadow his crusade against global warming.”

Where are the life savers?


When I showed this to Rita first thing she asked was 'Where are the life savers?'... 'What'd you mean' I said, 'Well, the lifesavers, eh.., here in Belgium every pool is guarded by lifesavers in case someone drowns'. 'Well', I said, 'maybe the water is shallow and got no risk for drowning, maybe they've already got too many people living around anyway, so give and take a dozen drowned everytime this happens? no big deal'...

I thought about that conversation later and couldn't believe it did happen! What was I thinkin'?

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Woz

What's wrong with Steve Wozniak? 30 years ago he joined El Jobso to found Apple Computer and for a decade he was a brilliant computer architect at the side of his partner, the other 'Steve'... (or was it him who was the 'other' while His Jobness was the real 'Steve'... who cares anyway.)

Of course for the last so many years Woz hasn't been doing much other than pushing himself occasionally into the news thru trivial events like, selling his house for millions of dollars, publishing his autobiography whose reading makes you vomit by his pompous self-belief that he's the smartest brain on the planet, standing in queue to buy an... iPhone and nowdays dating a stand-up comedian.

I often heard him talking in the Twit podcasts, invited by a pathetic radio-reporter Leo Laporte whose only serious contribution to this world is his clownish impersonations of non-English aliens speaking English (Laporte, another accident of mother nature who thinks of himself as a sophisticated hacker... I doubt he's even ever been able to code 'Hello World' in Microsoft Basic). Woz has always come across as a spoiled child with a huge technical talent on one hand but a lousy approach to life on the other, a sort of Michael Jackson geek look-alike. Woz probably hates himself of jumping off the train so early in the process (that's 20 year ago plus) and he now envies the glory that his Jobness enjoys wherever he goes and whatever he does.

Often I wonder... why do some people love fame that much? Is it for the money? Is it because they are dreaming of getting laid by some hot (braindead) babe? What's the point? Woz looks like shit anyways. Flat ugly! He's grown so fat that he could easily do a double act of Laurel and Hardy together with his bro, the 'other' Steve. With all his money, he's not embarassed at all to cash a monthly salary at Apple Inc. as he's always remained an 'employee'! And he's so proud of it!

Little, petty, sad people...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Beauty vs. Brains: what übergeeks think!

Many years ago a colleague who left us to start doing biz with the freshly liberated East(ern Europe) and worked out of Czech, told me: You know, Czech women are smart, and Slovak women are gorgeous! I got married to a Czech...

I remembered that conversation after reading a recent FSJ post in which he deals with something similar 'allegedly' written by Google superstar Sergey Brin. I took the liberty to republish it here as I found it to be both funny and immensely accurate... Probably Sergey would have wished to have written it himself...

"Falshivyi Styopa, privyet and namaste and all that, but your recent items have brought to mind something that Larry and I and all the other geeks at Google are often talking about when we're working out at the gym or playing Legos or just dreaming up some braindead new venture that we'll slap together in two weeks and release in beta and never bother to finish. We're always stunned by the way women hit on us, especially women from outside the Valley who don't really get what we're about. Just a fact of life that you're going to get a lot of attention from women when you're in your twenties and richer than God, I guess, and it's fun for a while but you quickly get bored of mowing through rows of femmebots and identi-skanks, as I'm sure you know. (If you can remember the Eighties, which I doubt. Ha!) But one thing these women don't get is that geeks aren't wired the same way as, say, professional athletes or Hollywood actors or rock stars. We're not looking for some girl who's `hot,' whatever that means. In fact, conventionally attractive women (ie blonde, too much makeup, hot body) can be almost a turn-off for your average geek. Too boring. No imagination. We like women who look a little more interesting. A few quirks, some cool flaws -- perfect.

"The one thing that glossy girls never seem to understand is that what really turns on a geek is brains. We like smart women. Really smart. Given the choice of cute and dumb versus not-cute but smart, we'll go for the smarty every time. Or, like me and you and many others, we'll hold out and get a woman who's both incredibly beautiful and extremely smart. But smart is the main thing. It's the primary thing. That's why Woz is dating Kathy Griffin. Sure, she's cute. Kind of. But it's her brains. Her wit. That's what makes her attractive. We're not looking for some version of Pamela Anderson. God no. We're lusting after Janeane Garofalo. Or Tina Fey. Or, closer to home, Marissa Mayer*. I know you've joked about her weird laugh but let's face it, Marissa is probably the dreamiest dream woman in the Valley. It's not because she's physically beautiful -- though she is, hands down, incredibly gorgeous. It's because she's so goddamn brilliant. You know? She's every geek's dream woman. She's so smart she's scary. Well, peace out as you say."

___________________________________________
* a Google Executive.

Watching AppleTV...

One of the few Apple products I have not tried in the past albeit products with pizzazz and broadly hyped, 'is' AppleTV. Or better said, 'was', as I went out to buy me one, the 160 Gig model available since a couple of months.

Initially, following user and expert reviews, I doubted a lot. No way to expand locally, no DVD player (let alone HD or Blu Ray), downloadable films with less than 720p support, support of only a few Apple friendly codecs, etc... etc...

Anyways, I was curious enough to 'waste' some money and do it anyway... who knows, it might turn out an interesting experience despite what the experts write.

I'got to say, i am glad I did buy it. I hooked it up on a 720p native flat panel TV from Sony (a Bravia of some sort) and connected it via HDMI to get max quality possible. I also configured it to support 720p and not the higher resolutions they offer (1080i). I haven't synced with any of my Mac iTunes yet... I just keep my Powerbook up and running (being at 2.16GHz my fastest box) and stream everything thru the air, via a draft 11n spec supporting router.

The experience was stunning. First of all I did an update to have it natively support downloads from YouTube and I felt like I rediscovered YouTube altogether. Above all, YouTube is a container with clips in the millions that vary in terms of quality from quasi 720p to sheer garbage (worst than early VHS recorder material after a few copy generations). Trailers of feature films, TV series and music videos, prepared professionally of course, provide an excellent view in real sharp fashion.

To test quality I did a simple home movie montage with footage from my Sony AVCHD latest and cheapest model (paid about thousand euro in Vienna last July). The editing I did with the latest iMovie 08 and then stored the output directly in iTunes having used the best AppleTV output format iMovie suggests (960 horizontal resol). Then I streamed this thru the air to the AppleTV (no iTunes sync again, just plain thru the air at 11n) while playing it on the Bravia. I believe the difference with the original footage when I played the original clips directly from the camera connected via HDMI to the same TV is less than noticeable... practically impossible to see... actually the TV's 720p native horizontal resolution of 1280 pixels is being filled by the compressed clip resolution of 960 pixels (pretty close to be noticeable at all!). For all practical reasons you actually get a wonderful self-made home movie experience.

As for photographs and slide shows the quality is even better... I believe there it uses the full native horizontal and vertical resolutions and displays the slides (always stored at the iTunes side of the workflow) in stunning HD quality (provided they themselves have the right resolution, of course). If you create a playlist with your favorite music on the iTunes, you can stream that along too to accompany your slide show as well.

For picture display, make sure you organize your shots in albums. I had to do that as the current AppleTV software version does not recognize the iPhoto 'events' recently introduced by Apple. So, although all my shots were event organized and I had them all published on my Web Gallery, I had to drag and drop events on the contents list space of iPhoto to automatically create Albums for AppleTV display as well. I hope in the future they'll be able to upgrade AppleTV to read directly from events.

One of the challenges we users are often facing is the myriad of available codecs used to display video material; basically we all get frustrated with questions like these:

1. Given our objective to display the best possible video thru AppleTV on a given type of flat screen or a Tube TV, what is the most optimal codec we could use?
2. Which codecs does AppleTV support for streaming? Can it use all of the codecs supported by iTunes itself? (Obviously not)
3. If you know the answers on 1. and 2., then how do you convert footage from existing material of yours into the optimum format that you decided from those answers?

Let me tell yea, this is the hardest part of the equation and it is totally... independent of AppleTV itself, whatsoever! In other words, it's the same issue with PSP and the Video iPod and... Zune for that matter. The good news is, almost everything you can think of is possible and there are multiple software solutions to the same problem. The bad news is that looking for the best solution is like looking for a needle in a haystack. My advice is if you find some workflow works for you, document it thoroughly and keep repeating it. Will save you stress and time.

I believe that only real experts of codec technologies and a deep understanding of digital video intricacies are able to look at a problem and suggest the best solution. If you happen to know someone like this, you are one lucky bastard! The rest of us will keep trying until we find a semi-optimal solution.

I have one little advice from my experience on this... before you go look for complex solutions, try either Quicktime Pro or VLC for format conversions. Avoid like hell Roxio Crunch! I tried it and I should sue the bastards, I swear! Insulting my intelligence! I'd probably publish comparative outputs from the free VLC and their friggin' Crunch. A shame! Real pity as their Titanium Toast is one good disk burning app.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Machine is Us/ing US



One of the smartest YouTube clips I come across... enjoy to the end.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

That's news!

I am not much of a tabloid fan but I don't mind reading the 'Mail' for News like this.

'Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson hurled a glass of water of a TV presenter after he was banned from talking about his new airline, according to reports. The multi-millionaire, 57, was being interviewed by US political comic Stephen Colbert in front of a live studio audience in New York when he lost his cool. But despite being drenched, the host, who Branson had named a plane after, refused to be phased. He demanded a bottle of water from aides and then retaliated by flinging it that over his multi-millionaire guest. An unnamed member of the studio audience told New York's media website FishbowlNY: "Branson was apparently upset that he wasn't able to give a direct plug to the new Virgin service and doused Colbert with his guest mug of water. "Stephen was drenched. He took a beat, then signalled for his own ammunition for about twenty seconds until Alison (Silverman) ran and gave him her bottle of water, and Stephen retaliated. "The two of them sat for a very uncomfortable second looking like two wet cats. "Then Stephen thanked him for coming. I really don't think it was planned, since Stephen had another bit to introduce and a full interview left to do. "They had to get him a new jacket and even broke out a blowdryer." Virgin America launched its inaugural flights from New York's John F Kennedy International and Los Angeles International Airport to their home base of San Francisco last Wednesday. According to reports in The Sun, a Virgin spokesman insisted Branson had been invited on The Colbert Report to talk about the new low-cost service. He said: "Richard did throw his water over Stephen. As most people know, Richard can be unpredictable."...


FSJ's back...

FSJ is back! For sometime I thought he lost his mojo... it was just after that moron reporter blew his cover... some of the subsequent posts of his, following that appaling weekend that the news hit the press about how a certain Forbes senior editor Lyons was the person behind Fake Steve Jobs (FSJ), were not what we were used of him...

In his latest post though, 'My lunch with Fester', he's proving his come back more than ever. It's hilarious! Priceless all the way. Without his persmission I am copying just an excerpt as an appetizer and urge you to go read the entire thing! Humongous!

(Steve describes here Steve Ballmer talking in third person)
'...Which brings me to my point, he says, but unfortunately it doesn't really bring him to his point because he starts going about intellectual property and how our two companies could both benefit from sharing our patent portfolios and cross-licensing our technology, and Apple has lots of great stuff and so does Microsoft and maybe we could find a way to work together in a new way that could be a model for the industry and this kind of bridge-building and interoperability is really what customers are crying out for and Microsoft has been reaching out to the Linux community and now that Apple is getting so much traction and market share it's important that Microsoft work well with our stuff and make sure that everything work together in the best interest of customers, blah blah mwah mwah...'

Coke vs Pepsi...

I reported on the benefits of virtualization long ago when I was exploring running Windows on a Mac by using the Parallels solution. Recently, another long-time player in virtualization, VMWare, belonging to EMC (a 'leader' in infrastructure solutions), came up with a similar solution to Parallels, called Fusion.

I have tried both solutions running Windows XP and Vista on my latest PowerBook and this got me wondering... whatever has happened to the copyrights of software product functionality and user interfaces? These two products are quasi identical. Even their application icons look similar (see picture). Install and learn one of the two, you got full knowledge on how to use the other one. On top of that you pay exactly the same amount to buy each one of them: 80 bucks! So, what's the point? What's the differentiation? I mean, even for useless geeks it's hard to say... let alone for casual users like you and me... Apple said 'We love Parallels' before Fusion was out and I am sure they'll come out to make a similar statement for VMWare too. The latter's parent, EMC, a big shot as a global IT infrastructure supplier along the likes of CA, BMC, Compuware and BEA, announced a broadly hyped 10% IPO (spinoff) that recently woke up the market (not many of those are happening nowadays in this industry, after the bubble burst 6 years ago). But where is the unique positioning? What happened to real strategic marketing? Is 'me too' the motto of the future?

Parallels (SWSoft really) is a new breed of companies coming from the (Siberian) Cold. it's got an interesting company structure. Their enterpreneur CEO and all R&D Heads are Russians. The heart and soul of the company belongs to the 'Reds'. I always believed Russians would emerge as outstanding performers in all sorts of IT solutions for two reasons: a) they are exceptionally good in Mathematics and Applied Sciences, and b) (I heard that from one of them sometime) they had to be extremely creative with their primitive IT hardware all these years before the fall of the communism in order to make it perform at comparative levels with the west, all for defense purposes of course. In PC terms, they were no-where in the 70ies and 80ies and only started putting their hands on real PCs in the 90ies... remember the technology embargo?

The remaining of the SWSoft Top Management structure has been created from a supply pool of commodity managers from the West (US, UK, whatever) with big ass majors and MBAs from celebrity schools. The Russians needed those to blend in. I admire SWSoft and what they did with Parallels a lot. It's much like Kaspersky, the Anti-Virus dudes. We should watch the new Russian breed a lot in the future. Screw the cold war, who needs wars anyways. Trade and competition, that's all we need!

VMware has a lot more history in providing solutions in the Virtual world but I felt that they were kinda lame for too long. A typical case of a bunch of smart lads sitting amidst a huge corp that only cares for making the quarter and it's 'shareholder value'... innovation is for the small guys who we buy when they're about to go broke. We all learned that from Microsoft and CA and Platinum and Cisco. So, it's probably not a bad idea to spin them off. Big corps are a disaster area for innovation and the bigger they get the worse they become, victims of their own bottomless egos and self deception.

For quite a long time we needed a real good virtualization solution for the Mac and VMware had it all going for themselves but they propably felt 'safe' as they thought they had the know-how monopoly and related patents for leading virtualization. Until the Russians came. That will teach them.

I am sure at the end of the day there will be stupid arguments that will be used against each other. Some neocons salesmen in the US will probably blame Parallels for being run by too many Igors and Ivans. Stick to our boys at home, Sir. Don't trust them Reds, ever!

I read some place that someone compared performance of both products and found Parallels faster. I don't know about that... I didn't see that yet in my own systems. Both seem quite similar to me. Parallels offers the Kaspersky anti-virus for free, VMware has got no AV alternative yet. Paralles is in its Version 3.0, Fusion is just 1.0. I am out of arguments. If I had to bet though, I'll go for the Russians. Reason? Well, for a bunch that came from the cold and only seen the light for less than one generation, they are pretty amazing in their software design. And, God Bless their CEO, they seem to handle the Capitalist system of our Western civilization pretty wonderful. They got a lot of brainware going...

There's another reason I believe in them though. Recent evidence suggests that, except for Apple that we all know, paradigm-shift innovation comes from Europe... I mean the huge stuff, like the Web, Skype and the likes... Europe is a green field for innovation and full of hungry brains. All we need is get rid of the Mandarins and oldtime separatist nationalism drugs that we are bred with from our cradle to the grave, and we got a wonderful new World, just at our doorsteps.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Shut it down and get over it!

Our precious Sir Elton John decided to show his tiny little brain to the world... that's what he had to say:

“The internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff. Instead they sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes OK but it doesn’t bode well for long-term artistic vision. It’s just a means to an end. We’re talking about things that are going to change the world and change the way people listen to music and that’s not going to happen with people blogging on the internet. I mean, get out there — communicate. Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the internet. Let’s get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging. I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span. There’s too much technology available. I’m sure, as far as music goes, it would be much more interesting than it is today.”

No comments (other than he should stick to what he knows doing best)...

Developers develop!


... and piggies fly! You wish!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

OSX, Vista, Linux, Unix, MS-DOS, Win XP, whatever...



With a Mac Box everything is possible... and it looks pretty darn cool too...

Another Mac? You gotta be kiddin' !?!?

I went out to order my x'th Mac computer just yesterday, where x is a relatively large double digit number! I don't quite know why I keep doing this... eact time El Jobso comes out to announce his latest gear it only takes a few seconds before I get on the online Applestore to place the order. What am I doing with the old stuff? Well, some I keep, some I sell second hand and the rest that I can't sell I just give to friends and acquaintances for free. If I kept all of it in my house I might have to start an Apple Mackintosh Museum one day, mind you. To justify new buys to myself, I gotta say, I've grown to become a master in rationalization... I am fooling myself so big that I end up believing my own cheap excuses... it's like faking an orgasm during masturbation (that's what my friend Tom U. used to call the ultimate of self deception). Of course the one that doesn't get fooled is the spouse... therefore I need to find some descent tricks to smuggle the box(es) up to my attic real quick (when TNT or UPS arrives at the front door) in ways you wouldn't believe; I am not gonna pass all my trade secrets away though. Anyways, since I cannot "afford" a Mac Pro box, I decided this time to go for the second best Apple has got to offer, that is the latest and brightest iMac 24 inch with 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme (it's a double core like the Duo only faster...). It's a beautiful product inside out and I was sold once I had the opportunity to put my hands on it. A brief visit to the local authorised reseller was more than enough to convince me. I gotta say though that the goodies that made me go for a faster box than the Black Macbook I own now is Apple's iLife 08. Ok, Ok... I heard a lot of BS from a large number of useless geeks how the new iMovie was work-in-progress and how they couldn't live without the timeline (go get Final Cut Pro then morons); to me iMovie 08, the iMac Gallery, and the new iPhoto is all I have been expecting all my life to be able to make and share picture shots and short family clips. Mind you, I've been trying all sorts of things since early nineties, for more than 15 years now. I started with Photoshop 2.5 and the very first Premiere version, so I think I know what I am talking about. Running iLife apps, the latest iMac I saw in action at the store was humongous! A 1920x1200 pixel screen (slightly higher res than 1080p Full HD TV) and a close to impossible one Tera disk hidden in (I wonder where) a slightly curved body but much thiner and a lot more elegant than the previous gen of iMacs. His Jobness and Jonathan I. must make it impossible to those product designers to get increasingly so much more power from so much smaller volume each time a new model is about to be created. Wunderbar! I wonder if another company will ever be able to reach that much perfection in product power, class and elegance as the folks in Apple. Makes you proud to be born a human!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Can he dance the syrtaki too?


What's wrong with those Japanese geeks trying to create robots and sex dolls doing all sorts of stuff? Aren't there enough real humans around? They could import some from neigboring China if they feel like it...

AAPL APPS


I happened to have jumped on some very early copies of Apple's new upgrade apps of iLife and iWork. I have to say they are gorgeous. It's not my intent to review my own user experiences in detail with each one of them (had too short a time for any descent review) but rather comment about what I think Jobs' underlying intent behind those apps is.

First of all, iWork. Regardless the beautiful look and feel of those three apps (Numbers is unbelievable) I don't see why Apple keeps developing those apps. iWork is about work, not fun (not many around able to combine the two...). Content is important and MSFT's Office suite has got more than enough to meet most users' needs. Jobs said they sold about 1.8M copies of iWork... big deal! Sounds like breaking wind compared to Office. Anyways, as I said, the experience is fabulous but only few creative dudes may be interested in using the suite.

iLife on the contrary is phenomenal! The new iMovie is capable of turning the clumsiest moron into half a Spielberg. You can make wonderful clips in a matter of minutes. It's not Final Cut Pro by any means but the latter is only made for serious dudes. For the rest of us it's more than enough. You can publish the result to a large variety of formats for multi-purpose usage, one of which is 'direct posting on YouTube' (see clip posted here and compare it to the version posted in my gallery).

Similar kudos go to iPhoto as well. When I first heard El Jobso describe 'events' I thought "big deal... been there... done that...". Not true... it turns out to be an extremely helpful feature in the process of managing thousands of shots. These guys deserve the Nobel Prize of User Interface Design. iWeb has improved a lot too. I left iWeb two months ago to join Blogger instead but with their current features I might have never done that. I'm not going back to iWeb now though, despite. As a matter of curiosity you can take a look to see a refreshed version of that frozen site of mine here. Try the albums for fun... Priceless!

The nicest feature they added to their new offering though is Gallery. For those fortunate owners of iMac accounts Apple made it so simple to keep sync'd online albums of clips and shots that can be seen and shared. It actually works like a privately owned Flick'r, Vox and any similar Web 2.0 sharing initiative. Take a look at my test gallery that I set earlier today in a matter of minutes, from scratch. The best part of this is of course the ability to shoot a pic or a short clip with my cellphone (not an iPhone yet) and post them directly into one of my albums called N95 uploads

On the negative side, all these apps need a lot of CPU cycles; you need the latest and brightest of their hardware and hopefully the 64 bit Leopard that's around the corner will address much of this concern. Especially the edit adjustments within iPhoto are a dog... Apple seems to always have had this problem. It's about time the reverse engineer Adobe's Lightroom for a change. Apperture is also as bad...

Where does Apple think it wanna go with all this? I believe they want to make us run our (digital) lives outside the office as seemlessly as possible. They want to make disappear both time and space. When only yesterday seemed so hard to share records of moments in our life seems so trivial using a Mac. It's a dream come true of middleclass grandparents who can afford the goodies and happen to live quietly at long distance from their children and grandchildren.

My 2 cent worth...

_________________________________________________
Try 'skimming' over the album thumbnails and you'll see all photos contained in an album. It works like on the desktop but it is actually a web app. Wunderbar!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

That's Cool, with a capital C.


I only found out recently about practical uses of this technology cataloged under the heading of rapid prototyping, defined per Wikipedia, as automatic construction of physical objects using solid freeform fabrication, whereby layers of a fine powder (plaster and resins) are selectively bonded by "printing" a water-based adhesive from the inkjet printhead in the shape of each cross-section as determined by a CAD (computer aided design) file. This technology is the only one that allows for the printing of full color prototypes.

Only yesterday, I saw prototypes created by a similar technology known as Selective Laser Sintring whereby the fusion of powder particles into solid objects along consecutive layers is achieved thru high powered lasers. The process is similar to what is shown in the video above and the results, trust me, real stunning. For those interested, the EU is heavily co-funding research in these technology areas as it sees them as the ultimate survival strategy of European Manufacturing Industry in the next 30 to 50 years (Manufuture).


Watching that video makes me feel like robbing a bank and going out to buy a printer like this. Imagine all those poor sods in architect study bureau's crafting primitive maquettes from blueprints... C'm on... this is the 21st century after all.

I've got you a brand new little pet, my precious!



Jessica is real cute, innit?

No limits...




... to the human imagination, that is!

What a pity, Mr. Lyons!

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 5 — For the last 14 months, high-tech insiders have been eating up the work of an anonymous blogger who assumed the persona of Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive and one of the world’s most famous businessmen.

The mysterious writer has used his blog, the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, to lampoon Mr. Jobs and his reputation as a difficult and egotistical leader, as well as to skewer other high-tech companies, tech journalists, venture capitalists, open-source software fanatics and Silicon Valley’s overall aura of excess.

The acerbic postings of “Fake Steve,” as he is known, have attracted a plugged-in readership — both the real Mr. Jobs and Bill Gates have acknowledged reading the blog (fakesteve.blogspot.com). At the same time, Fake Steve has evaded the best efforts of Silicon Valley’s gossips to discover his real identity.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes magazine who lives near Boston, has been quietly enjoying the attention.

“I’m stunned that it’s taken this long,” said Mr. Lyons, 46, when a reporter interrupted his vacation in Maine on Sunday to ask him about Fake Steve. “I have not been that good at keeping it a secret. I’ve been sort of waiting for this call for months.”

(read rest of story)

____________________________________________________________

PS. What a pity... We somehow lost one of the world's best bloggers, a role model to many. In his final words, FSJ said (note: Brad Stone is the A-hole reporter who blew FJS's cover):

"...Apple faithful, here in our darkest hour I know what you're thinking: What's next for FSJ? Well, I'm taking a few days off to sit in a lake and do some yoga and meditation and non-thinking. Then I'm coming back next week, badder than ever, with a new sponsor -- my homeboys at Forbes.com. Turns out they've been reading FSJ and liking it too. Who knew?

Meanwhile if anyone can think of a cool way to use the name "Brad Stone" (all or part) as a verb, let me know
Maybe this:

brad, v.i.:

1. To bust a fellow filthy hack without mercy and spoil the fun for everyone, in a quest for personal aggrandizement.
2. To urinate in a pool
..."

I'd rather have that... but, on a second thought...

LEXINGTON, Ky. - A flight attendant appeared in court Monday to answer charges she was drinking alcohol on the job and told a captain "You're dead" as she was removed from the plane.

Public safety officers at Blue Grass Airport reported Sarah Mills, 26, threatened the Atlantic Southeast Airlines captain Sunday afternoon. Court documents said she smelled heavily of alcohol and admitted drinking whiskey onboard.

Mills' driver's license lists her residence as Union, Mo., though she told officers she now lives in Atlanta. She was being held Monday at Fayette County Detention Center on a $350 bond following her arraignment on terroristic threatening and public alcohol intoxication. She pleaded not guilty to the charges.

(read rest of article)

_________________________________________________

She was booked based on anti-terror legislation ?!?! What else? Welcome to the Land of the Free.

Our Earth as art!

Check Google Maps one of these days and click further on the 'My Maps' tab to explore their latest novelty re. 'Our earth as Art' and 'Crop Circles'. Select anything and admire the quality pictures, satellite shots with Hi-res cameras... (the one shown here is from the Bogda Mountains in China - remind me to tell that broad that China is not just porcelain and it's not an island either...).

I am looking forward to the day when Google starts spoiling us with imagery of similar quality... some time real soon. For the time being though it's only those NASA lucky bastards who enjoy the privilege of gettin' ecstatic with shots like these...

Catalonia is an island...

True story! In newspapers today has been reported that EU Commission officials have issued a recommendation letter to all Member States to go do somethin' about the quality of their school teachers. I guess the EU folks who issued that directive were the Mandarins from EAC* and their most valuable Commissioner... between us, sharp cookies, those specific Eurocrats should better get their own act together before going after Member State educators, but anyways... To their credit, however, I have to admit that our youth is not that smart after leaving school. I and (beloved spouse) Rita have witnessed two very sound illustrations of this in two separate occasions altogether, during the last 24 hours.

Rita went to the local post office (Oudenaarde, East Flanders) to mail a letter to friends in Geneva, Switzerland. The clerk at the counter, a temp worker from the student community (they call 'em jobstudents in 'Dutch') reads the address ending at "Généve, Suisse" and asks, "This is for France, right?".

Per my earlier blog, as I was queueing up to board the morning flight to Barca, I over-heard on my left a young voice of an eighteen (give and take) year old broad (the local Essex version of the species) saying to her fellow traveller friends: "Catalonia, that's an island, innit?". Makes Gaudì turn in his grave! 'Sure thing, I thought... and George W. Bush is a mountain in Siberia... you wish' As I turned around in shock to see who the genious was, her friend rushed into correcting her that it is actually a Province in Spain with Barcelona as its capital. In fact, it was just there where they were... headed that morning. I wondered if the genious already knew that, either...

Sad to admit... for a change, those infamous EAC Mandarins appeared unfortunately to... be right!

______________________________________________
*Education And Culture

Biz travel in August...

4:00 am Monday morning (6Aug07). Alarm goes off! Alert as an owl, I jumped off my bed and eight minutes later shaved and teeth brushed. Well done my boy. 4:25 am. Showered and dressed biz atire with tie and all. Have no summer suit so this promised to be a wild sweaty day... but never mind, I thought, airports are modern built and would be cool air all around... Dream on!

4.30 am. Merc E320, cool air conditioned, cruising at 120km an hour in empty dark roads where max 50 and 70 allowed. Almost not a single soul to spot. First, as passtime, I started counting fellow drivers. Ten minutes later gave up the count at two dozen and started singin' the rebetica instead. Still quite dark outside in early dawn, when people are supposed to be early morning shagging and enjoying holidays and be recovering in the aftermath of a bloody hot first real summer weekend this year, too many morons like myself were rushing to work two hours before sunrise (I know that for a fact because as the sun rose at 6.18 later, and its early deep yellow-red rays hit me, I was sitting on 8C on the Airbus 330 waiting to take off ).

The drive to the airport continued, thank God, without any issues that morning, other than lorries already forming long queues on the E40 motorway and some friggin' truck drivers enjoying speeds far above the legal limits, messing up the middle lane. Too early for motorway coppers to show up and give them a fine. Good for me too as I was cruising at the best part of 170km/hour. I got too much bad experience in the past rushing to catch a flight and biting my nails stuck in traffic jams just minutes before take-off. Too important travel today to risk any of that. Screw them traffic wardens. Wouldn't care less!

5.12am. Parked at 3D on Parking P1, and entered the departures hall. Just heard my jaw hit the marble tile floor and my teeth falling off! Jeez almighty! Have mercy on me...There must have been 10 million tourists queueing on the longest zig-zag tail on the planet waiting to check-in at 'my' front desk. Panic and cold sweat covered me whole body. Oh Shit!

Good God heard me prayers and had mercy on me afterall... a faint candle-light idea lit above my scull and I thought... what if I went to a desk for passengers with no luggage to check-in? I got an electronic ticket, didn't I? A friendly ground stewardess ran to my rescue... No problem sir, we'll do all thru this smart terminal... It wasn't meant to be my best day... smart terminal ain't proven that smart after all and couldn't process my data. Fock-it! Sorry sir, you may proceed to the desk 4.5 for regular check in! Oh Shoot! Thank God desk 4.5 was queueless when I arrived and there I was before a sleepy clerk who cursed his miserable destiny for having to show-up so early for work... He looked at me all the way from toes to haircut and wondered what the heck a sod like me, on my age, was doing there so early, among scores of vacationers, in suit and tie and a panic helpless look! He said not much but, out of brotherly compassion, he gave me two of the best seats in town, 8C and 7C. I got both passes you see, one for the morning and a second for the return flight 15 hours later, all at once... good for me, as I witnessed later at the Barcelona Terminal A, desk clerks had to manage check-in queues twice as long!

Long story short, 5:25 am I was past security checks and up in Terminal A, a huge, long, from not so long ago, super modern passenger terminal, built to process millions of Schengen travellers a year. With air conditioning an all. That's what I thought... As I walked down the long and wide hallway looking for gate A69, my gate, I felt the air being rather warm. I looked up to check the huge pipes supposedly blowing cool air in the building... everything seemed normal (see and click picture above to see what I mean). I thought I felt like this as I was dressed in semi-season biz atire... but it couldn't be that. There were crowds around dressed-up like ready to hit the beach but not that many to justify overloading of the conditioner. It was still too early to get an impact from high outside temperatures as well. Lucky me, I got one of these T-Tissot fancy watches with touch screen and loads of useless functions. I clicked and touched it to read the room temperature... 28.5 frigging Celsius! Can you just believe that? In the US, most folks would have cought a cold on a day like this walking down an airport terminal. There I was at the bloody Brussels National sweating my guts out, and dripping and feeling sticky like shit... only an hour after a fresh shower for crying out loud! Are these folks that incompetent? Of course, most fellow passengers that day seemed to enjoy the temperature quite a bit as they were dreaming of even worse to come at their destinations... and as real Northerners they seemed to love every bit of it! Not me though! I dusted my mother-tongue and started cursing at the unidentified responsible of that inferno in Greek! For those who understand it you know exactly what I mean... Xristopanagies and stuff... hard core... not for softies!

Anyways, I finally reached gate A69, almost at the far end of the 600m long hallway (from check-in to airplane seat count best part of a mile and half long, no kiddin'). Under normal conditions I show-up as one of the first at the gate. It was 5:50am for a 6:30 flight. As boarding doesn't normally start until 10 minutes before departure time, I thought I'd find a seat in the waiting hall, wait for boarding, calm down and unsweat! So I thought! Not that morning though. First big surprise! The place was packed with tourists in the process of... boarding (yep, true story!) 40 minutes before departure! C'me oooon! What kinda plane did they put on today for Chrissake? Looked outside and there, second huge surprise, I saw a monster A330. Say what? An A330 for a routine morning flight to bleedin' Barcelona of all places? No waay! I thought people wouldn't believe me if I told someone, so I took a shot with my Nokia. I even mailed it to Rita (the spouse) for her to see this too! 'Big plane' I wrote in the message. I hate them big planes packed with tourists. Tourists are the worst passengers on this planet. Inefficient, loaded with excessive luggage and carrying along bad-mannered spoiled children who act like arriving at an amusement park ("Look Sherridan, that wonderful gentleman is our captain... Sheridan, don't pull his pants... naughty boy!"), acting like the whole bloody place is their own backyard! Hate them. I suddenly got scared of the worst yet to come... I was proven right... Read on.

The air inside the aircraft was fortunately cool enough to at least dry my sweat away. Everything seemed fine for a 6:30am departure. Lucky me, I thought, at least no delays and stuff, Sabena-like style. So I reckoned... Man-oh-man, dream on. "This is your captain speaking", a voice from the ceiling mounted speakers came to wake me up. "We are just about ready to taxi away from the terminal building... but, there is a family of four who didn't show up yet, and, as we'd have to unload their luggage, and risk delaying another 30 minutes, let's wait for them a few more minutes... they may show up any second now. We know that they were very early to check-in this morning and we are sure they realy wanna travel today..." That said, clock ticked 6:34am.

6:50am. "This is your captain again" (the number of times I heard this in my life, if I just had a penny for each one of 'my' captains, I'd be rich by now). "Unfortunately we'll have to unload their luggage... don't worry too much, we'll make up for the lost time during the flight... it won't take more than 10 minutes to find their luggage' (What? he said 30 minutes a few moments earlier', I thought, 'let's now see which time he fed us with BS').

7:15 am. Plane still parked at the terminal, the son-ov-a-bitch 'our captain' having lied big time second time. I was so much afraid of that. I know them friggards! Train to lie all the way! Took them more than half hour to spot the morons' luggage. Big time morons... because, which family party in their sane mind plans a travel to Costa Whatever months ahead, comes at the check-in almost the night before and then doesn't show-up at the gate and doesn't even have the courtesy to tell the operator! I propose to introduce an elementary intelligence and courtesy test to all those who fly once a year and less. You fail the test you take the train or hitch-hike. Son-ov-a-bitch!

Anyway, the 6:30 flight soon became 7:40 airborn, as we missed our slot etc...etc... Arrived 3 quarters late to Barcelona. My host, waiting for me patiently at the Airport building (which eventually also was proven to manage the air-cooling far worse than in Brussels - go figure - ), was excited to see me showing-up at the Salida (sortida in Catalan for those interested).

For the rest, the day ran just great... one of my best and most fruitful biz encounters in a very long time. I even forgot all the morning misery... bless the Lord for that!

Cranky me, you said? No way!