Gray Flannel Dwarf


Mobile phone service is nothing but a shell game.

I’ve been looking, on and off, at changing our mobile phone service. I don’t really have that much of a problem with our current one, except for the fact that we no longer live in the area for which our phones have area codes. AT&T won’t let us change those unless we get off our current plan and choose a new one.

And therein lays the rub.

We’ve had our current plan for something like… four years. With a corporate discount, we pay around 90 bucks a month (including taxes) for two phones, 1200 minutes a month, pay-as-you-go web and messaging. We also have a long-since-extinct “North America Package” which gives us free LD to, and coverage in, Canada.

One would think that, several years later, the greater proliferation and uptake of mobile services would lower the prices for everyone, right? Not the case.

Playing with options six ways from sunday on the ATT website, or anywhere else, I can’t find anything that turns out to be any cheaper than what I am currently paying — nevermind the fact that we have the North America package — no longer offered by ATT Wireless, I mean, Cingular, I mean, ATT… and nevermind the fact that we have 7PM nights standard — again, no longer standard, but rather I’d have to pay nearly $20/mo more for this.

Part of me is stymied, but none of me is at all surprised, I guess, especially when one looks at how the industry has, once again, consolidated over the years.

Early on in my mobile phone adventures — probably about five to six years ago — I had a Nextel phone. I could take it to Canada, whereupon it would be usable like a local (Canadian) phone on the Telus network. A while back I went into a Sprint/Nextel store and inquired about it. Sure enough, one can’t do this anymore.

Fast forward a few years, to ATT. Four-ish years ago when I was looking to get a new plan, Cingular was about to consume ATT Wireless. Despite the assurances by the salesmen that the new Cingular would continue to offer something similar to the North America package, I didn’t believe it for a minute and thus signed up for a new contract w/ the NA package while it still existed.

Turned out the be a good decision in the end, I guess.

Now, obviously, the “Canadian” bits of this entry aren’t going to be of much interest to most people — but they’re not intended to be the main concern — they’re symptoms of the larger issue at hand. That I can have a plan from several years ago, with a la carte features, and in fact more expensive ones — I am still paying $20/mo for an extra line these days when the industry standard seems to be $10 — seems startlingly out of whack. Costs haven’t really shifted though — it’s a shell game. Mobile providers have transferred the costs from the a la carte tray straight to the core services.

I’m sure there are some out there who are wondering why I’m complaining. “You should be happy that you got, what you got, when you did — rather than whine about it now while the rest of us have to deal with what’s offered”. To those who may not see the forest for the trees, I can only suggest that you take a look at the hands you’ve been dealt, and wonder who’s stacking the cards.

…and why do I get the nagging (and perhaps overly-paranoid) feeling that this is going to filter up to ATT, whereupon having been a customer for over five years, I find my service contract terminated?

Tags: , , , , , , — cswiii @ 11:53 am


fedora 8, compiz-fusion and x86_64

Well, I never used desktop effects a whole lot in Fedora 7, but when I did, they worked nearly flawlessly. I decided to check ‘em out again in F8, though, and, well, they were bustificated again.

Well, to be more accurate — if i run compiz-manager, everything comes up just roses. However, if I try to use gnome-compiz-preferences to enable them, i get no desktop decorations.

Running the gnome prefs app in a window, I started noticing messages akin to

[corey@ramen compiz]$ gnome-compiz-preferences
** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin decoration isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin place isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin scale isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin switcher isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin water isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): CRITICAL **: gcm_gl_plugin_get_option: assertion `self != NULL' failed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): CRITICAL **: gcm_gl_option_set_string: assertion `self != NULL' failed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin decoration isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin png isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin svg isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin annotate isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin scale isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin cube isn't installed

** (gnome-compiz-preferences:12673): WARNING **: plugin decoration isn't installed

I thought that was interesting. Looking for the location of, say, crashhandler, I found it:


I found this even more interesting. Testing a theory, I created a directory (noting it didn’t exist), /usr/lib/compiz. From within this directory, I ran the following command:

for i in `ls /usr/lib64/compiz/*`; do ln -s $i `basename $i`; done

At this point, I re-ran gnome-compiz-preferences, and voila, I had window decorations.

Note that some things still seem busted – for example, I know I have wobbly windows enabled, and I am not seeing those. However, other indications let me know that compiz is indeed running, not least of all, ps:

13143 pts/1 S 0:00 /usr/bin/compiz-tray-icon
13190 ? S 0:03 /usr/bin/python /usr/bin/ccsm
13290 pts/1 S 0:00 /usr/bin/gtk-window-decorator --replace
13322 pts/1 S 0:03 /usr/bin/compiz --indirect-rendering --replace gconf

Basically, however, what we now know is that there’s a bug in gnome-compiz-preferences that isn’t taking into account the /lib vs. /lib64 differentiation on x86_64/multilib systems. I’ll bug it if it hasn’t been done already.

Also note that the full bash command above isn’t necessary — one can just as easily symlink /usr/lib64/compiz to /usr/lib/compiz

[root@ramen ~]# cd /usr/lib
[root@ramen lib]# ln -s /usr/lib64/compiz compiz

bz #388511. Also, I realised although I did have the wobbly windows plugin loaded, I missed it in the most obvious place — in the gnome-compiz-preferences UI itself. Seems just fine now.

Tags: , , , , , , — cswiii @ 11:29 am


New Direction Home*

I am considering changing the name, look, and/or focus of my weblog. Hopefully it will allow me regain some of that ability to write that has atrophied over the last 5-7 years or so.

Besides, “It’ll Hurt if I Swallow” was funny then, but that, bundled with the Cibo Matto food quote, and the infamous habanero, is just too much a complex-yet-bland pun.

Alternately, I may start a new instance of WordPress and archive this one, or kind of partition my writing amongst them. Not sure yet. Nonetheless, my primary audience will still be myself.

* No, that won’t be the title.

Tags: , — cswiii @ 12:21 am


Tempting the F8s

I’m usually kind of hesitant to upgrade Fedora releases immediately after the come out… I like to make sure most of the bugs are ironed out so that I don’t hose something. However, I simply couldn’t resist this time, and over a span of 24 hours, I upgraded both my home-built desktop and T43 laptop from F7 to F8.

Now, being an Xfce user (for the time being anyway), I don’t get to experience a lot of the bells and whistles arriving in F8, such as pulseaudio and the neato changing background stuff that Máirín worked on. However, I was interested in doing the install from a pure usability standpoint. A linux user since 1996, a jack of all trades but master of none, I am always interested to see how thing improve/regress from the perspective of someone who’s neither n00b nor r00t..

As always, there is good, bad and ugly. Generally speaking, the upgrade went quite well — albeit i took a path slightly less traveled, opting to take a stab at it with smart, versus yum. But anyway, I did run into the same --noscripts (resolvable) issue as dgoodwin, as well as some other packages — so that’s something that definitely should be added to the FedoraFaq wiki. Also, it seems that the f8 kernel gets installed, but never makes its way into grub.conf — odd, and I now know I’m not the only one to have seen this. Anyway uninstalling it and reinstalling seems to be the easiest fix.

Generally speaking though, it didn’t seem like I had a lot of problems… home system upgraded like a champ… then hit the laptop… rebooted…

… and then I was stymied and still am. After rebooting, my monitor begins to display a message about the frequencies being out of range. WTF? Worse still, it seems that to get any working resolutions at all on my laptop display that are above 1024×768, i have no options other than widescreen-esque ratios. Attempting to fix these issues with system-config-display was a futile effort for two reasons — one, because every time I tried to change the monitor setting, it would say it was saved, but actually wouldn’t… and then when I jerry-rigged the xorg.conf to give me the resolution i wanted, X still wouldn’t cooperate — either causing my monitor to display the frequency error again, or popping up in the right resolution — say, 1280×1024 — for a brief moment before resetting to something odd like 1280×768.

I still don’t know what is/was causing it, but later on I noticed that I didn’t get it in GNOME, or KDE… only in Xfce — but I don’t know WTF the window manager would have to do with changing the resolution.

Anyway, after seeing that, I went kamikaze on my dot-setting directories, figuring I could just wipe everything out and get it to work — and that did indeed do the trick, albeit at the expense of some of my desktop settings. That said, I’m still not at all convinced that things are quite right with my Xserver.

Oh, and due in part to all of this — and in part to all the cool new GNOME stuff — i considered switching back to GNOME, if only for a time, as an alternative to a busted resolution. However, trying to make my first changes or two and getting segfaults all over the place with gnome-appearance-properties, i changed my mind pretty quickly. Maybe this will get cleared up (out there|on my box) eventually and I can reevaluate.

Generally speaking, though, I was pretty happy with the install experience — I just for the life of me can’t figure out what the hell is/was going wrong on the X end of things.

Update: Well, I noticed that livna once again (and most conveniently) has fglrx drivers. I know there had been issues in the past few months, and I am not sure when they finally fixed that — but in any case, i installed them, and my issue seems to have resolved itself. The plot thickens…

Tags: , , , , , , , — cswiii @ 1:36 am


Amarok is scaring me.

I’ve had Amarok playing my collection on shuffle for the past 48 hours or so. Mostly pretty usable, although hearing a song by Buena Vista Social Club immediately after Rollins Band was a bit weird.

But not as weird as this, per my page:

Sublime – Seed just listened
Jeff Buckley – Nightmares by the Sea 5 minutes ago
Mother Love Bone – Stargazer 10 minutes ago

I’m guessing some of you might note the eerie coincidence there.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 11:41 pm

getting your rss-glx back

So, I dunno if this happened to anyone else, but after grabbing my latest batch of updates from Fedora, which included rss-glx and rss-glx-screensaver, I noticed that my screensaver no longer kicked in. Looking closer, it indeed was one of the rss-glx screensavers, Lattice. I also noticed that downgrading did in turn return the screensavers to me.

Now, according to the Changelog I found, they renamed the rss-glx screensavers, appending such text to each filename, i.e., rss-glx-lattice. Well, I figured that this was dumb, I was surprised that this hadn’t been taken into account w/ the hacks file. Such thoughts were immediately followed by the realisation that no, it was probably something on my end.

After much examination and having nearly entered a bug, I figured it out.

Long story short: my ~/.xscreensaver was still pointing to the old name. I thought about manually editing the file, but decided that it was easier just to wipe the thing out and let it be regenerated.

So you out there, if you come across this weblog entry, trying to get your rss-glx screensavers back, in your Fedora 7 install…just wipe out your local config and be done with it. I guess you probably could edit the file too and s/lattice/rss-glx-lattice — but you’d probably have to do it for all your rss-glx screensavers. Not worth it.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 9:58 pm


Back in Syndication

So, here I am, several years after the weblog thing took over the intertubes, once again trying to get into the whole RSS/Atom feed thing. Maybe all of you folks over there on the right side of my weblog will start getting visits and comments again. It’s not that I’m avoiding you, it’s that I actually just never look at that thing.

When I first took a look at syndication, I started using Sage back in 2005 to try and get a handle on things, but somewhere along the line, windows were closed, browsers were upgraded, systems were rebuilt, and Sage kind of fell by the wayside. In any case, Sage is what I am going back to for now, mostly because it is familiar, however it just feels kind of “bleh”, and I can’t put my finger on it. I think part of it is my whole experience with syndication.

To me, syndication has always been so two-dimensional. I think that covers it well. You end up with this long list of things that you may or may not read. And then there’s the taxonomy. How do you organise them? Yes, I can regionalise or alphabetise them, put them in some sort of Trivial Pursuit-esque categories, or put the ones I most often frequent near the top, but none of those always fit the bill 100% of the time.. For example, what if I wanted to, hypothetically, track an RSS feed from a local newspaper about the NFL, something which has my avid interest for some, but not all, of the year. How do I categorize that?

Now, Sage pilfers some namespace in my Firefox bookmark, and has a functional similarity, so maybe that’s a big part of the influence in my thinking. But really, it gets to a second part of the way i mentally parse current syndication methods out there on the web — I can’t figure out the best way they should be handled by the end user. A standalone application seems way too heavy. This Sage bar i have over on the left-hand side of my browser sure takes up a lot of real estate… and then while there are plugins for mail applications to handle feeds, that just doesn’t feel right for me either.

I think the perfect RSS/ATOM feed tool for me would:

  • Allow tagging of the feeds themselves and generate some sort of tag cloud that I could click on, with dynamically-sized tags based on the number of feeds in each
  • Pop up, something like Mugshot when a feedscan is completed, and have a built-in “decay” that would remove older feed content from the pop-up view, (but save it in another more static/traditional view)
  • For the most part otherwise stay out of my way, hidden in a systray icon or something, until/unless i wanted to see it. Maybe the icon could change colour if there was new content, but that wouldn’t be a priority.
  • Highlight misbehaving feeds in the listview (which is also usually hidden) to quickly identify those that are not responding, or 404-compliant, etc.
  • ….

Not sure what else offhand, but I will try and keep this list updated. Maybe something like this exists — does there exist an rss feed which features self-tagging of the feeds themselves (versus something like Technorati tags)? That’s kind of hard to look up on Google, but I wasn’t able to find much.

Tags: , , , , , , , — cswiii @ 11:37 am


Orkut it out!

I couldn’t tell you the last time I had logged into Orkut before today. I was surprised I even remembered my login. However, as my inbox got deluged with over 100 “friend requests” from a bunch of gmail spams — the addresses all of which ended in 8080, interestingly enough — I decided to do it again.

Now, Orkut having become the armpit of portuguese spam, that’s nothing new. However, this latest effort seems to be pretty blatant. I dunno, didn’t see a lot else out there about this latest attack, so maybe it’s new. I’m guessing the 8080 is part of the random email address generator that was set to something static.

What’s most interesting (and annoying) about it all is that there’s no mass/multiple select option in orkut, ala myspace (and presumably facebook, which I’ve never bothered joining). Orkut used to be the Next Big Thing with regards to friend-networking. Looks to me like it’s basically been abandoned, now.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 7:50 pm


Leading is Fundamental!

Insomuch as one might be able to swallow something published by Mother Jones w/o a little bit of salt, here’s an interesting article on Hillary Clinton’s evangelical connections.

They do turn an interesting angle on Tillich and Niebuhr, in this one. Kind of curious, over all.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 12:37 am


Various techy things

First of all, if you have any need to do any sort of linux system management, or if the idea even sounds remotely interesting, you really ought to get the func. Pretty terrific, dare I say, suite of functions designed to be a low-overhead, highly-functional system management tool.

In other news, work is getting busy again, but it’s amazing how much more well-oiled some things are. Specifically, this is the first time that I really have seen some sort of thing resembling an SDLC coming together, and the benefits are being reaped. That I got to see a nicely designed spec meant that I got to put together a nicely defined set of test cases. That I got to put together a nicely defined set of test cases meant that I got to tear some shit up — in a good sense. Yes, lots of defects have thus far been written, but the fact that I have this nice suite of things I downright expect to happen or understand to be the requirement implementation means I can get through a wide array of testing, covering a huge swath of the feature, without having such a large pit in my stomach thinking that we’ve missed something completely.

Now, it is true that we’ve had a fairly large number of test failures. Also, there have certainly been defects written that were certainly missed in the test case suite. But most can, if you stretch it a bit, fall into one of these existing cases. Quite simply, the fact that we were proactive and were able to generate this suite of tests means we’re spending less time running around being reactive and trying to play catch-up.

Talking to a colleague of mine today about this, he — a developer, no less — noted that, if the process was really working, there wouldn’t have been so many tests failed in the first place, because development would’ve seen, read, and grokked the cases and thus them into consideration when coding. And he’s right — that’s a prime example of where QA should be recognised and implemented as defect prevention versus defect detection. But you can’t win them all, and in the end, I’m a whole lot more pleased this time around, so far anyway, than in efforts past. As my seven-month old is quickly learning, you have to crawl before you can walk.

I am certain I sound like a broken record at work, with a mantra revolving around the notion fact that QA != Testing. But I’ve spent far too long in “QA” with people trying to throw the “tester” hat on my head. I just hope that, this time around, we see the real fruits of our labour result in a bountiful harvest.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 11:19 pm


Fonts not of youth.

Joe Clark has an amazing (and somewhat pointed) paper on the quality, or lack thereof, concerning the typeface usage and decay in the TTC stations across Toronto.

He makes a lot of terrific points. I had to read it fairly carefully, however, because from my thousand-foot perspective, it was too easy to get lost in all the photos, remembering the time I had/have spent in them. Makes me miss the city more.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 11:31 am


Goodbye KDE, hello Xfce

Well, the love affair with KDE was torrid, full of passion, but it was short-lived, and in the end, wasn’t meant to be.

I liked it… and still kind of do… but it was like, I dunno… too much whipped cream on your pumpkin pie? Too rich an environment, Too many menu items, even when I slimmed stuff down, just… “Too.

Also, I got annoyed at how often I would end up inadvertently closing an applet by right-clicking too fast or something, and having KDE think I wanted to close it. Little thing I guess, but it started to rub at me.

So anyway, I decided to check out Xfce, and I think I really have found what I’m looking for (cue Bono). Zippy as hell and has the right balance of customisation without all the confusion. After the initial hiccups of trying to get functional menus — although I still haven’t found a way to make them autopopulate and I don’t think such a feature yet exists — I was up and running.

There are still a few glitches. I run several Gnome applets and the occasional KDE applet still, and the KDE applets will, on occasion, end up in the corner of my screen versus the system tray when I restart the a session. Oh, and I had to build xfce4-smartpm-plugin from scratch since it doesn’t (yet?) seem to be available in Fedora. Also, the menu editor won’t allow me to move a launcher outside its current grouping to another. For example, I’ve got a few things that are, to me anyway, miscategorized. I can’t move something from, say, “Accessories” to “System”. without just rewriting an entry from scratch.

Overall, however, I think Xfce is the way to go, especially if you want something that’s lightweight. My system isn’t particularly slow at all, but Xfce feels a lot more responsive; I can only imagine the improvement on a slower system. In fact, I know it’s better — my first stab at Xfce was on a vmware image, now that I think about it, a decision which was specifically made due to the nature of the beast.

Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 9:29 pm

The Ukrainians were ahead of the game –ew…?

So, a couple of years ago there was a story flying around the web about this grand new confection in the Ukraine, chocolate-covered salo (pig fat). The link supplied here is from 2004, but I am sure I had seen something similar earlier than that.

Now, consider the boutique chocolatier, Vosges Haut Chocolat has some interesting products in the past, some truffles that are most fascinating. Odd as some of these sound, they are apparently pretty tasty, as they got the approval from the members of my family who received them as a gift a few Christmases ago.

But… well, I guess you know where I’m going with this.

Yes, Vosges is now featuring Mo’s Bacon Bar.

Now, one part of me really wants to trust Vosges on this. I mean, they generally get rave reviews, and they’ve had some other things in the past (beyond their overpriced designer fashion products, anyway) which looked downright terrific. Furthermore, I’ve got a pretty open mind when it comes to food, and I’ve tried a lot of apparently odd delicacies in the past. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like chocolate… or (yum) applewood-cured bacon?

But this… well, quite frankly, it kind of scares me… although after initially revolting me, I’m now kind of curious. It might be an interesting experience, but I’m not sure that I’m quite ready to fork over the $7.00 on it.

I guess I’ll have to put it on my wishlist.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 1:37 pm


Muerte Las Vegas, Britney

I don’t much follow pop music, much less do I pay attention to MTV, but this footage and ensuing commentary about Britney Spears is fairly amusing.

That said, there’s something oddly fitting for this whole thing to have taken place in Las Vegas. I think it’s because, at this point, we can’t possibly be far from the fat and bloated, dead-on-a-toilet ElvisBritney.

Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 11:29 am


Once a moron, always a moron

It’s things like this that really make me happy to have moved out of Northern Virginia and specifically, the region of Loudoun County in Eugene Delgaudio‘s jurisdiction.

This, for example, really takes the cake. New mandatory bicycle helmet law passes for kids under the age of 15. Great news! One would think that this would be a unanimous vote — politicians especially love to vote on things which appear to have the safety of their constituents in mind! It’s win-win!

And then you have people like Eugene Delgaudio.

The board voted 6-1-1-1 to establish the ordinance, with Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) voting against the measure, Supervisor Stephen J. Snow (R-Dulles) abstaining and Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) absent for the vote.

Of course, Delgaudio is nothing, if not a cranky old jingoist:

One candidate who has sponsored measures to prevent illegal immigrants from residing in Loudoun County roused boos from the crowd. Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) delivered his speech by yelling into the microphone.

“I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, do you?” he asked.

Eugene Delgaudio, along with his politics his politics, is totally out of step with the region.. I can’t believe he got re-elected almost four years ago, and I hope someone finally steps in and wipes his smug face off the face of the Loudoun BOS. That said, I don’t have a lot of faith in the people of Northern Virginia anymore, either.


No you can’t have a job. Not Yours.

Well, looks like someone already beat the rest of us to it in noting CNN’s (well, actually’s) faux pas in their article about…. well, resume faux pas.

Not too cool or swift of either the network or the job site, although their point still stands. If I were them though, I woulda just changed the email… to “furrygoth123″ or something.

Then again, in the internet age, fame comes and goes in fleeting moments. If I were the victim of this one, I’d be trying to cash in on the notoriety.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 1:25 pm

I guess the asylums are in Cary

Got this resulting gem of a targeted text ad from Google.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 10:28 am


Congrats Appstate

I’m not a huge college football fan, but I do like a good David vs. Goliath tale. As such…

michigan = bo0n3d.

Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 9:06 am


new music, old times.

So, i got my “permission slip” signed — i.e., was allowed to take a night off from family life — to go see my first show in I don’t know how long. It was a great opportunity, in my mind, both to blow off some steam, and to see the Pietasters, whom I’d first seen in 1995 or so, and last in, I think, 1998. My old beat-up Pietasters logo tee from that show is, sadly, long gone, I think. It was threadbare anyway.

So, in any case, they came down to the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. A friend of mine, whose hailing alma mater is from (of course) Blacksburg, was planning to hit the show anyway, so we carpooled in and caught the show.

I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder for this set. As for me, having not seen them in ages, the show was pretty fantastic. For S, who has apparently caught them at this venue five times alone, it was pretty forgettable, what with someone substituting in for the (apparently drunk) keyboardist and lacking a trumpet player.

They played a lot of the old favourites. Most of them I knew, although since I don’t own Willis, there were one or two I didn’t know. They also of course played a track or two from the new album, All Day. Overall, the set was a bit short to me, seeing that they were the headlining act, but it was pretty late by the end of the night anyway. I guess that’s a reflection on (my own) old age.

As for the new album, the aforementioned show was a cd release gig, and I bought a copy. Thus far, I think it’s kind of… okay. The album’s opening track, is a song which is on its face, a jingle about womanizing, but in its soul, a song about a stubborn persistence to be one’s self, featuring a lyric with Jackson singing that “…I’ll never change my ways”.

That lyric kind of sums up the album nicely. This is more of the same great, Motown-influenced Pietasters goodness that we’ve all enjoyed throughout the 90s.. It may be lacking a bit of the edge of earlier albums (to me anyway), but the content itself isn’t too bad, and their rocksteady cover of Tom Petty “Listen to Her Heart” is a nice addition.

What bothers me about All Day is, quite frankly, the production quality. I popped the CD into the player Monday. Unfortunately, most of the album just sounds really muddy to me, and I don’t think it’s due to any bouts of tinnitus, post-show. Thinking maybe I needed to rejigger my audio, I dropped the bass two notches on the player. While it helped a bit, the sound quality still had an overall “molasses” feel to it.

Now, obviously, 10-15 years removed from third-wave era, I don’t imagine it’s as easy today to get the funding or availability for a top-notch, well-polished recording as it once was. Nonetheless, I can’t shake the notion that we’ve gone beyond “indie” sound quality here, right to “4-track in the garage” territory.

Who knows, maybe I’m in the minority opinion here.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 1:18 pm


talkin’ white-bread north carolina suburb blues

So the background on this one:

You know those kids who go around the neighborhoods in the summertime trying to sell magazine subscriptions, for college, or leadership training or something. It’s annoying as hell, but nothing new.

This one unfortunate kid was going around our neighborhood selling them the other day. Doubly unfortunate, I guess, in the sense that his sales pitch was horrible… and that he was a young black kid in a mostly-white neighborhood.

Someone made an initial posting to our community mailing list asking if anyone else had had an encounter with this kid. It wasn’t long before someone else had responded that he was in the process of being handcuffed.

And thus, my response to a question posed:

Yes, it was quite unnerving. We are installing a peep hole in our front door as a result! Does anyone know what they were charged with?

If the comments that about a dozen people have left in this thread are any indication, the guy was charged with being black.

Seriously folks, can we take an honest look at this? I am just as weary and annoyed by solicitors as the rest of you probably are. But who hasn’t ever seen kids going up and down the streets in the summertime selling magazine subscriptions for “leadership training”, or “raising money to go to college”, or whatever? This is nothing new, the program has been around for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen white kids, black kids, hispanic kids all involved in this program.

So this kid was trying to sell these magazines, and yes, his spiel was pretty bad. He certainly didn’t have the best sales pitch in the world. He got to the end of his speech, tried to sell me some magazines, and I told him I wasn’t interested. He thanked me and left.

So I can only imagine that someone called the cops on him because some black kid came around a white-bread neighborhood and looked different. The outcome? All anyone else sees is a post about an “arrest”, and the worst is automatically assumed.

I’m really trying to avoid being inflammatory, but this looks less like a case of “neighborhood watch” and more like a case of
“neighborhood WASP”. That people will probably, as a result, get defensive about this kid’s arrest, won’t surprise me either.

FYI, here’s the FTC’s advice regarding door-to-door magazine sales:

Door-to-door sales: Beware of emotional appeals by someone selling door-to-door. For example, the student selling magazine subscriptions using the appeal that your sale will help him/her get a college scholarship or other such rewards. If you buy from a door-to-door salesperson in your home, and the purchase is more than $25, you’re protected under the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule. The Rule gives you three days to cancel your order and receive a full refund. The seller must tell you that you have a right to cancel, and give you a summary of your cancellation rights and two copies of the cancellation form. Ask to see the required cancellation notice before you agree to buy. If the salesperson doesn’t have it, don’t place an order. The company is breaking the law.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 9:07 am
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