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November 2008 Archives

November 1, 2008

tech review: oh my god rhapsody is a piece of shit

I decided to try Rhapsody, despite my one time declaration that I would never pay for digital music unless there were no record company in the mix. I guess I'm just tired of failed downloads and a vague fear of the RIAA's wrath, as much as it pains me to admit it.

Rhapsody gives subscribers unlimited access to their music library, which is extensive enough for the average music listener to be happy with. So you pay $15 a month and there's no waiting for downloads, corrupted files, or government bogeymen. Liz is a big fan, so I decided to give it a try. Plus I found a coupon to try it for two weeks free. Off I went.

So I download the program and run the file to install it. OK so far. Then I click on the link in my start menu, which crashes my computer and deletes half a blog post I've written about dancing. Rhapsody is on my bad side now. It crashes another time, and I decide to restart my computer. OK, I do that, and then open the program again. This time, it wants to take me through the installation again. Fine. Fifteen minutes later the installation is done and I open it again, crash. Uninstall. Reinstall. Finally get the thing to open and finally I can listen to that Peaches album that the website says is available to subscribers.

If you had a job as a software designer, and you were asked to develop the least intuitive program possible, you would develop Rhapsody. It has kind of a web browser feel to it, but there's no back button, and far too many clicks terminate in a white screen without any information whatsoever. ("More information" clicks tend to end this way.)

So in summary, all I can do is play their lame playlists, I can't search for artists and play their albums, I can't get more information, and Liz is using matlab and doesn't want to open Rhapsody as it will likely crash her computer and that would be inconvenient.

Oh yeah, and when you have the help window open, you can't click on the program. Thanks, dicks.


November 2, 2008

hormone-induced rage?

Attention men who may read this blog: menstruation will be briefly discussed below. If that makes you uncomfortable, stop reading now.

I decided a couple of months ago that medical science has come TOO FAR for me to put up with that pesky menstruation every month ANY MORE. I mean every single month, a girl gets tired of it. So I talked to the doc at the student health center, and she hooked me up with some new pills that I can take as long as I want, and my not so dear auntie will not visit until invited.

The thing is, I think they're giving me the 'roid rage, or the estrogen-equivalent. Check out yesterday's post on Rhapsody, or meet me in the supermarket and park your big dumb cart in front of the milk and wander off, or cut me off when I'm biking through town. You WILL get an evil glare, and if your window is open I will probably yell at you. I'm also likely to raise my hand in a "WTF ARE YOU DOING" sort of gesture. That's not a bird, mind you, but a WTF. If you are an idiot misogynist engineer boy, I might verbally abuse you, and if you cancel my frisbee game without notifying me I might threaten bodily harm. If you fake-date me and don't tell me about it, oh I will be pissed.

I am a nice person. And I'm pretty even-keeled. I give people the benefit of the doubt, I don't use the horn on my car except to say hello. Something's wrong with me if I spend several minutes of a bike ride composing a blog post in my head about the necessity of a horn on my bike.

I guess there are some other possible causes for this new-found and unwelcome rage. Maybe it's the election causing a low-level of stress that can only be relieved by blog reading. Maybe it's the exile in guyville that is my program, and my lack of a Berkeley craft night to counter the guy overload. Maybe it's the hormones. Somethings gotta change though, or someone's gonna get hurt.

November 5, 2008

memories of elections past

The first election I can remember is Bush I/Dukakis. It was 1988 and I was in kindergarden. You know that Scholastic Votes thing, where kids across the country vote for president? I voted for Dukakis, because somehow I knew that my dad supported him. My elementary school boyfriend Bruce Potter went for Bush, because he likes elephants better than donkeys. I wonder who Bruce is voting for these days.

I was older for Bush/Clinton. I remember "It's the economy, stupid;" I remember Clinton's brother being a druggie or something, and I remember "I didn't inhale". I also remember watching the TV on election night, because whichever network we were watching kept playing a song called "My Guy". Nothing you can do can tear me away from my guy... nothing you can do 'cause i'm stuck like glue to my guy... I'm not sure whether it was a parody or a real song that fit the event. Oh yeah, and Ross Perot was there, too.

Clinton/Dole, I remember Dole falling off a stage somewhere, talking about the Brooklyn Dodgers, and talking about himself in the third person. I also remember Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander in the primarys - he had a flannel shirt on and looked like a real American. Don't remember much about election night at all.

Bush/Gore. I was 17 for this one. I remember my dad being a big Bradley fan in the primaries, and McCain being a really exciting guy to watch before he got smeared for that illegitimate black baby. I stayed up all night watching them call and uncall the election, and I was pretty distraught when they handed it to Bush. What might have been...

Bush/Kerry. My first presidential voting experience. I was in Iowa for the caucuses, and after seeing Kerry speak about foreign policy, I caucused for him. Sort of. There was kind of a game going on to try to weaken Howard Dean, who my dad liked, so I got shuffled in Kucinich in the end by the Kerry leader in my precinct. i remember poor Kucinich being in Ames almost every weekend, doing things like breakfast at peoples' houses. Dean had a big rally in the Memorial Union, and we had to be packed in there and wait for at least an hour for him to show. In the end it was a 20 minute stump speech, pretty boring. I think I saw Edwards too, but I can't remember. Max Weinberg playing a concert with Poison Control Center at la Boheme was another highlight, with the sets broken up by one of John Kerry's hot young nephews talking about why JK is such a great guy.

I was in Albuquerque for the convention. I heard Clinton's excellent speech on the radio in my car; Obama spoke right before him and I didn't hear it until some time later.

I remember much less from the general election - swift boats, etc. I guess Iowa went Bush. I was in the computer lab in Sweeney Hall, working on some engineering project or another. I remember following the Ohio voting, and watching it break for Bush, stick a fork in this one. Incredible scenes.

This year was so long. Bill Clinton in Davis, Teddy and I scoring front row seats and wishing he could run again. He was really positive at the time - no attacks on Obama, just a yay Democrats kind of tone. Hearing Edwin and the automation engineers babble on about Ron Paul all day from over the wall of my cube. It's been so long that I can't really believe it's all over and the good guys finally won.


November 6, 2008

hormone-induced rage, continued.

In case you didn't catch this one:

Watch more Saturday Night Live videos on AOL Video

Thanks Mae.

November 11, 2008

red state, blue dot

Note: I promise this is the last you'll hear about the election from me for a while.

Nebraska is red. They don't get much redder. Check out the stadium on autumn Saturdays:


I remember a high school friend's basement. Her stepfather had renovated it into his Husker fan-den. It was a little creepy - red carpet, red furniture, football pictures all over the walls. The toilet was red and the wallpaper had some kind of Husker pattern all over it.

When the Nebraska primary rolled around last spring, I my dad told me that he was worried he'd be the only Democrat willing to show his face. He was wrong - it was standing room only and Obama kicked ass. That was true all over Nebraska, and the fact that the Dems had to fight hard in the primaries in the red red state of Nebraska is one of many reasons this is true:


See that little blue dot in Nebraska? That's District 2. Nebraska splits its electoral votes; two for the winner of the state, and one for the winner of each district. I'm proud of you, Nebraska, and you're one reason this is true:


Eat that, Steve's neighbor.

November 12, 2008

Tech review: text messages

Have you heard about this new think you can do with mobile phones? You can type a message using a complicated algorithm that relates the numbers on your phone's keypad to letters, and send that message to another person's phone! They will instantly receive the message and can reply, ignore, etc. All this is available for the low low cost of about $5 a month or $0.05 per message, and it's known as "texting". Wow!

I'd never owned a mobile phone until I moved to England in 2005, when a cab driver gave me one that he had in a shoebox at his mother's house (that's another story). I quickly learned that to survive in the rough and tumble social world of the UK, I would need to learn to text. I did one handed drills until I could touch-text at 65 words per minute. I learned a lot from my housemate Elle, who could text, cook dinner, and carry on a conversation all at the same time.

You see, the great thing about texts is that you don't have to actually talk to someone to get your message through. This is helpful in loud environments, or when dealing with someone with a very annoying voice (I think that's why my sister started texting). It's a low-commitment form of communication, great for weaseling out of awkward situations, or for trying to get yourself invited along somewhere. It leaves the textee free to ignore the message, allowing them to later claim that they did not receive it in time. That way, they can reject your request without the embarrassment of saying it out loud. This is a potent form of social lubrication, because neither the texter nor the textee wants to have that conversation.

Then there's the paper trail aspect - I'd much rather receive addresses, names, directions, etc in text form. I don't have a great memory, but when it's written in 1's and 0's on my SIM card, I can always refer back to it later.

Sometimes you just don't want a conversation. That's what texts are for. I know there are those of you who self-righteously cling to your no-text mobile plan, whether you claim it's about the money or the lack of dignity in text-based communication. Sirs and Madams, that's fine. Cling to the old ways. But you'll come around, and when you do, you'll curse yourself for missing out on the joys of texting for so long.

November 15, 2008

Live webcams XXX !

For the voyeurs in the audience: a box of puppies, live, 24/7.

You're welcome.

Dance dance revolution

I was an awkward teenager. I wish I had some pictures to post, but it's probably best that I don't. I did not know what to do with my long limbs and I was a good foot taller than all the boys at the middle school dances, with the exception of Tom Martin, god bless him, who'd been in love with me since elementary school. (Katie Pfeiffer fever hits early...)

I don't specifically remember the first middle school dance I attended, but it was some time in seventh grade. I went over to Erin Sloup's house after school, along with a few other middle school friends. I specifically remember being instructed where to put arms and feet during slow dances, and Erin showed off a move or two. All dancing was done in a circle. It pretty much stayed that way throughout my years in Seward, NE.

When I went to college, I became friends with a guy I hadn't known well in high school. I went to some concerts with him and some of his other friends. Derek valued dancing highly, at least in part due to the indie band of the day the Dismemberment Plan's admonishment of non-dancers at their shows in the song "Do the Standing Still". He was a great dancer. I generally just tried to do what he did.

Then, sometime in my third year of college, I met Mona. Please see Figure 1, below. Mona was a walking, talking dance party. Where Mona went, a dance party spontaneously broke out around here. She was no hipster; maybe she is now, I don't know, but she wasn't back then. She liked the crazy indie music, yeah, but mostly she just liked to wear crazy clothes and dance like a maniac. Shit, I wish I had a video. She's a pretty talented artist these days, too.


Anyway, if anyone sees me dance all crazy, know that this is where it came from. From Derek and Mona I learned that dancing isn't about doing it right, it's about doing it.

Bonus for the blog faithful (copyright Liz, Halloween 2008):

November 17, 2008

Four horsemen, coming up

When you see pictures like this one, it's easy to understand why God would choose to destroy California first.


(Picture courtesy of BBC, via Teddy.)

November 18, 2008

Tech review: Rhapsody, part deux

I joined the Rhapsody music service a while ago, mostly because I just don't have the energy any more to download music. You hear that, RIAA? You win. You've made it sufficiently inconvenient for me to steal music that I'm willing to pay $12.99 a month to not have to sit through failed downloads and slow searches and the slight possibility of getting my hard drive confiscated.

I might have overreacted a couple of weeks ago, when I declared Rhapsody a total piece of shit. I think it was the hormone-induced rage.

- instant gratification - no waiting for downloads or searching P2P networks
- the program refers you to bands' side projects - for example if you search for Yo La Tengo, it'll remind you that the bass player had a band called Dump and link you up.
- almost anything you can think of is available - even relatively obscure stuff. There's also a 'things you might like' section, which I believe is based on information at amg.com.
- easy access to user-created playlists, ie cheesy halloween music playlist for your halloween party.
- sound quality is good enough for my not-that-discerning ears.

- crashes like crazy
- when it lists albums by a band, it doesn't list the release date
- not all albums are always listed - usually an album or two is unavailable, or some songs are unavailable
- inexplicable "my photos" and "my videos" sections. This is a music application people, not a photo album. Why would I want photos in my jukebox?
- once I make playlists and import a bunch of albums I like, I'm married to Rhapsody forever. I guess that's their evil plan.

Bottom line: convenient as hell, but they gotta stabilize this thing. If my brand new computer with 100000 gigibits of RAM and the new intel core duo turbo processor can't handle it, what hope do the old-computer-having masses have? Please, Real Networks, build a Rhapsody that doesn't crash, and I don't have to go through my day loathing you.

November 24, 2008

The Big Game

The Stanford/Cal game was this weekend, my first Big Game as a Cal student. Several weeks ago, my German friend Bonnie mentioned that she wanted to come to a football game, to help develop her American side. Teddy (who took most of the pictures below) came along too, a faithful Cal alumnus, looking like an excited 12 year old with his Cal hat and the football he carried around all day. Sandy completed the rag-tag crew of football fans.


Cal won in a rout, 37-16. I did my best to explain the intricacies of American football to Bonnie; her favorite player was the Cal kicker, Giorgio Tavecchio. He's an Italian soccer player who was all set to play soccer at UC Davis, only to be snatched away by the Berkeley football team. His parents must be so confused.


Best part of the game: as we were leaving the stadium, we passed underneath the Cal locker rooms, which were on the second floor. The players had opened up the windows on the balcony and were tossing down their arm bands, signing their t-shirts, and throwing all sorts of sweaty articles of clothing. One guy threw down his cleats and it was all over - every 18-22 year old hero/postadolescent on the team wanted a piece of the action. Size-17 cleats were raining down like cats and dogs. Sandy and Bonnie made us leave before we could catch any articles of clothing, probably for the best. My hand/eye coordination isn't so great.


Came back to my place and several more people showed up for crabs, tempura, and sake. I love California.

November 25, 2008

Tech review: Sansa Clip 2gb mp3 player

Teddy alerted me to a killer deal ($26) for this tiny little non-ipod at woot.com (update your RSS readers, it's a good one). It came today, and I was like yay, tiny fake ipod! Evaluation follows.

- Cheap. I lose/break things a lot. An ipod wouldn't make it a year in my hands.
- Tiny. I clipped it onto my bike jersey and went for a ride this afternoon. I couldn't tell it was there, save for jam after jam being pumped to my ears.
- Syncs with Rhapsody, the redhaired stepchild of an mp3 subscription that I'm doomed to live with forever
- Easy to navigate the user interface, and drag-and-drop file uploading.
- Doesn't crash my computer, like Rhapsody does.
- 2 gigibites is enough for 20+, not bad.
- Cute. Mine is red. Removable clip is handy for, uh, clipping to stuff.
- Stupid cheap.
- It has an FM radio!

- Didn't come with an instruction manual and I can't find one online. I guess that's how it goes when you shop at woot.com.
- I can't seem to browse by folder - only album and artist. So if I drop a compilation folder in there, it won't play through the comp. It wants me to choose it song by song. Lame.
- The lowest volume setting is medium. There is no low. That's fine for windy bike rides but wearing it in my house I feel a little overwhelmed.

All in all, $26 well spent.

About November 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Katieblog in November 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

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