December 04, 2008


My favorite snippet from the 60 Minutes piece on cheating in online poker:

[The Mohawk nation] now register and service more than 60 percent of the world's Internet gaming activity from a highly protected and non-descript building that used to be a mattress factory. 60 Minutes drove by the former factory with The Washington Post's Gil Gaul.

"This is nondescript," Gaul remarks.

"This takes nondescript to an entirely different level," Kroft comments.

September 23, 2008

Microsoft > Apple (for watching BSG in specific circumstances)

My house is heavily Appled. My new media center has an Apple TV at its core. I use Airport Expresses and the iPhone remote app to send tunes to other rooms (or will once more speakers show up). It's a whole thing.

One major annoyance has been watching downloaded videos that weren't downloaded from the iTunes store. Specifically, Battlestar Galactica. In general, I like the iTunes store for video. I've bought a bunch of stuff even before owning an Apple TV (which makes the experience even better and now delivers HD content). And the pay-per-view model works really well for how I like to consume video content.

The trouble is that the iTunes store doesn't have every program and, notably, got in that whole snit with NBC Universal last year. So there was no Battlestar and I had no cable. So I turned to BitTorrent and my Battlestar library is littered with DivX/XviD files that won't play on the Apple TV. You can convert them to mp4s which will play in iTunes/Frontrow. And you can convert those to files that should play on the Apple TV ... but they don't.

This became a bigger problem after I moved earlier this month. With my new setup it was no longer possible to plug my laptop directly into my TV. Or at least not without dropping down to using S-Video. So I pretty much assumed I was screwed until I read Nelson's post on playing DivX/XviD content on your XBox 360.

This totally works. You just add your DivX content to Windows Media Player on your PC (I have one!) and then share that wirelessly with the 360. Completely easy. I was shocked.

I don't entirely understand why Apple doesn't have better native support for DivX/XviD at this point. People will still go to the iTunes store to buy stuff because it's convenient and great quality. You could at least let the stuff be easily playable.

August 29, 2008

Come together

August 21, 2008

Battle of the Warlock Alans

Moore v. Parsons: No matter who wins ... actually, I'm pretty sure Moore wins.

July 22, 2008

June 30, 2008

Yeah, I got pride

So fuckin' what?

June 20, 2008


Twitter came and ate this blog. But last weekend, Crystal and I spent the weekend up in wine country. We stayed at the Gaige House which I definitely recommend. It's got a nice garden pool, the rooms have huge granite tubs for two and they layout makes it feel more like a little house than a hotel room. Note that this is only true for the newly constructed Zen suites ... I read that the rooms in the main house are not as nice.

I've never really done the whole wine country thing before. I've been up there a couple times but only to a winery once. Mostly I remember it being hot.

Well, it is hot. But also fun. I recommend checking out the Benziger estate in Sonoma. The tour gives you a great overview of their biodynamic practices. It's very cool to see a winery that uses no chemicals, recycles close to half of their water and employs an entomologist to figure out what bugs they should attract (to kill the bad bugs).

May 20, 2008

Bull to Breakers

Bull to Breakers
Originally uploaded by goldtoe

May 01, 2008

Physical digital assets are dumb like me

I rented Darkon last night from the local video store, Lost Weekend Video. I'm a big fan of both.

Darkon is a really intense documentary about live action role playing. The filmmakers take the subject very seriously which I admire. The homemade-LOTR-style of it makes it easy to get wrapped up in the in-world narrative.

I'm also fascinated by the game mechanics of Darkon since it requires so much from the participants. My initial reaction to seeing the actual gameplay was "Wow - this would be so easily griefed." I mean, you determine how much damage you take from an incoming attack, not the attacker. I don't think it gets gamed a lot because people are willingly creating this world. They want the narrative to work. Not once during the documentary did they show any disputes about rules or abuses.

I also love Lost Weekend Video. I've rented movies there for years, even through my Netflix addiction. I actually suspended my Netflix account several months back because I was getting all my stuff through Lost Weekend.

So it was a little disappointing when, on my way to return the video at the store this morning, I accidentally put it in the mailbox instead.

I guess it makes up for the time I accidentally mailed Eugene's copy of the Two Towers to Netflix by mistake.

April 24, 2008

SteveJ's Birthday

Steve's Wishes
Originally uploaded by goldtoe

April 14, 2008

Is Christmas safe...

I am distracted by shiny things.

March 31, 2008


I've blown past Shel and moved into Dom DeLuise territory.

March 24, 2008

Calypso bulbosa

Crystal and I went on a great hike near Mt. Tam yesterday and right toward the end we saw a whole mess of these orchids. They bloom in late March and can be seen on the Benstein trail near the Rock Springs trailhead.

They're commonly known as fairy slippers. Which is pretty fruity even for a flower.

March 19, 2008

Horn of Plenty

Had my most common recurring dream last night: I somehow end up with a massive, seemingly inexhaustible supply of video games.

I've had this dream since the time of the Atari 2600. In the dream, I'm just surrounded by boxes of games and the games are more fantastic and amazing than any in real life.

I get so into the dream - figuring out what I'm going to play first, how I'll tackle this avalanche of games - that it's always very disappointing to wake up. It's my most realistic dream, the one where it takes me the longest to realize it was a fantasy.

I guess I could go buy a whole big mess of games. But I don't really want that. It's kinda sad that now that I can have the object of my dreams I don't even want it that much. But in the dream I do.

Of course, last night I also dreamt I had an inexhaustible supply of yogurt. So it's a little unclear what my subconscious wants.

March 07, 2008

Brother from the same mother

Haven't seen my brother in well over a year. Thank you Oracle Training Center in Pleasanton for bringing him to our shores.

February 25, 2008

The Giving Tree

February 21, 2008

Making a note here

I was trying to login to to pay my bill. I logged in. And was successful at doing so.

I guess they thought I should stop there.

February 09, 2008

Political contributions from tech employees

The year-end campaign reports filed on January 31 provide information on how candidates raised money. I looked at contributions to four Democrats and five Republicans from five technology companies: Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay and Microsoft. The following graphs show these contributions first by company and and then by candidate. (Disclosure: I've contributed to the Obama campaign.)

Some observations:

  • Ranked by total dollars raised, the top three candidates are: Clinton (38% of all money raised), Obama (29%), Paul (22%). Together, these three candidates took in 89% of the money contributed.

  • Clinton raised the most money with 68% coming from Microsoft employee contributions of $86,360. In terms of raw dollars, both Microsoft and Ebay employees prefer Clinton, Google employees prefer Obama, Yahoo and Amazon employees prefer Paul.

  • Microsoft employees contributed the most money in total at $169,421, but Google contributed the most per employee. Google employees contributed $111,160 which works out to $6.61 per capita (based on end of year head count data). This far exceeds the other four companies' per capita contributions which range from $0.64 (Amazon) to $2.14 (Microsoft).

  • Given the strength of Ron Paul's fund raising, I'd conclude that technology workers skew fairly libertarian. And not as liberal as you might expect given that neither Kucinich or Edwards did not fare particulaly well.

  • The presumptive GOP nominee, John McCain, was in 4th place among Republicans. Huckabee was the worst-performing Republican ($1,550) and Kucinich the worst-performing Democrat ($4,250).

February 04, 2008

He's got the Trinidad vote!

Ed wrote a great post explaining why Obama should be your pick in the primaries. To summarize:

He doesn’t just want to change our government, he wants to change the way that all of us speak about what our government should do.
This is a very good argument. I've been in a lot of arguments about Obama's ability to actually get things done. It's all well and good that folks believe in him, but half the Congress won't. How do you overcome the legislative problem.

The best answer is that you change what people expect of their government. Folks have become used to expecting nothing. We need to change the language around what people think government should do. Obama is the only candidate who can do this.

This also goes to the reason I'm so worried about Clinton as the nominee. Even if she wins - which I feel is unlikely against McCain - the best we can hope for is 4 years of obstructionist government. There will be members of the Republican party calling for her impeachment within the first 100 days.

Ed can't vote because he's a felon (check fraud) an immigrant (Trinidad). Help make his immigrant wishes come true!

January 26, 2008


The FCC issued a $1.43M fine against ABC for a 2003 episode of NYPD Blue. The episode contained shots of a woman's backside as she was getting into the shower.

Yes. The episode aired almost 5 years ago. It's like we live in a highly inefficient Iran. If you're going to have a committee for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice, you might wanna try to get that work done within the half-decade.

Also interesting, only ABC affiliates in the Central and Mountain time zones have to pay the fine. I had hoped this was because the FCC had determined the coasts were too indecent to worry about. Unfortunately, it's because the episode showed after 10p out here. In Civics class, we never covered the "Butts are ok after 10p" clause of the first amendment.

Finally, my favorite thing about this story is that the FCC determined the broadcast was indecent because "it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs — specifically an adult woman's buttocks."

ABC tried to argue that the buttocks are not, definitionally, a sexual or excretory organ. The FCC responded by saying "Although ABC argues, without citing any authority, that the buttocks are not a sexual organ, we reject this argument, which runs counter to both case law and common sense."

Aren't you dying to see the case law on this?

January 23, 2008


A CNN entertainment producer at the Sundance Film Festival tries to justify his coverage of Heath Ledger's death.

A Sundance press officer threatened to revoke our credentials if we asked any questions about the late actor. She said we were there only to ask questions about the film. I find that akin to someone in the White House telling the press corps what they can and can’t ask the President. I don’t think it serves us as a society to restrict what the media can ask in public settings.

Yes. It's just like you're a White House correspondent. You're Helen Thomas pressing for answers on why we invaded Iraq. Good work.

January 22, 2008


The trouble with writing an article on the announcement of the Academy Awards nominees is that the information contained is better displayed in a simple grid. The commentary is either mostly noise or an excuse to pun on the names of movies.

My favorite example of the latter comes from the San Jose Mercury News:

But for the time being, there is hope. And where there's hope, there is Oscar campaigning, which means a very real chance there will be sin without redemption. And possibly there will be blood.
Here's hoping(?) for that sin without redemption outcome.

January 07, 2008

Just to be clear

The Golden Globes announced that there will be no awards show, a result of the ongoing Writers Guild strike. The Screen Actors Guild had also convinced its members not to attend.

Instead of the regular show, they'll have a news conference and "millions of viewers worldwide will be deprived of seeing many of their favorite stars" as stated by Foreign Press Association president Jorge Camara.

The stars. They are going out!

Of course, they could have had the show just not with writing. Which would mean losing those scripted intro bits that everyone ... loves?

Another solution: the Writers Guild was unwilling to budge because NBC/Universal/Sheinhardt Wig Co. owns the broadcast rights. According to the NYT, folks like Jeff Katzenberg urged NBC to let go of the broadcast so that there could still be a live ceremony (for radio?). But NBC took the "if I can't have her, no man shall" approach.

My big hope is that the Jew-on-Jew violence that is the writers strike continues through February so we can see what happens when the Oscars roll around. At this point I want nothing less than the complete collapse of everything TV.