Good Coding Music, Good Studying Music, Good Thinking Music.
For those of us who spend hours at a time concentrating on designing and writing computer code, the right kind of music can improve both mood and productivity. The appeal of music which is energizing but not distracting is wider than just for programmers, however. Students, authors, lawyers, doctors, and really anyone who does desk time as part of their job can benefit from a little music to help the day go by.
Internet radio stations have the benefit of being available at any connected computer. Like over-the-air radio, the listener is freed from the task of compiling the music; the DJ does all the work. Most Internet radio stations have the added benefit of not having commercials, which most over-the-air stations do (and boy, are they distracting).
This article is my attempt to catalog some of my favorite Internet radio stations to listen to at work. I prefer high quality MP3 streams.
I recently ordered the hard-to-find Wii Play video game online at JR.com. They were one of few stores that had the item in stock. Their price was good, especially with a ten dollar discount for signing up for Google Checkout.
Unfortunately, I never received the item I paid for.
It all started with the item shipment notice I received by email:
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 22:50:04 -0800 (PST)
From: "JR.com Customer Service"
Subject: Item Shipped Notice
Dear YOUR NAME,
We are pleased to tell you that the following items of
yours have been shipped:
Order # SKU Product Name Quantity Shipped Shipping Method
554772499577151 NIN WI-RVLRRHAE Wii Play with Wii Remote (
Nintendo Wii ) 1 First Class Mail (no tracking available)
The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that they say it shipped First Class Mail, and that no tracking was available. I don't know of any retailers who ship $50 software without a tracking number. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and waited about three weeks. I received nothing. I then emailed them asking for status:
The morning I let my cats choose which company's stock to invest in. Three dishes, three treats, one stock pick.
This morning, as I ate breakfast and sipped my coffee, I pondered which of three interesting stocks I should invest in. The stock markets have taken plunge recently, which may suggest a good time to buy.
I like Chattem Inc. (CHTT), as I've noticed some of their products in my medicine cabinet (I cover my whole body in Icy Hot every night), and think they're well positioned to sell a lot of products to the hordes of retiring baby boomers. I've also been keeping an eye on Barr Pharmacuticals (BRL), who make generic prescription drugs (which our society eats like candy). Finally, when riding the Max train home from the airport (rubbing Icy Hot all over my body and chewing on a mouthful of generic drugs), I noticed the concrete railroad ties they're using these days. Turns out these are made by a company called LB Foster (FSTR), whose stock has taken a beating recently.
I take another sip of my coffee. I'm thinking about how choosing investments, especially stocks, takes some knowledge and diligence, but also incorporates a large amount of dumb luck. Then I look over at my pal, the cat, Jack. He's about as dumb (and lucky) as they get.
The idea strikes me: Why don't I let my cats choose which stock I should invest in?
The experiment setup consists of three saucers with a kitty treat placed on each one. Each saucer is labeled with the stock ticker of interest. I put out all three dishes and take photos to document the cats' decisions.
Basically, billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted in Iraq, with little or no accountability. And Halliburton President Bush is asking for more.
Can someone explain to me why President Bush threw out the rule against war profiteering, which prohibits awarding contracts to "companies exhibiting a pattern of breaking the law in performance of government contracts," when he came into office?
Some guerilla marketers, promoting Comedy Central's Aqua Teen Hunger Force cartoon, recently planted artistic electronic signs in various public places in US cities.
Photo via flickr.
In Boston, the police freaked out, and of course the press did its usual sensationalizing, and now a man faces the threat of five years in prison for placing some of the signs as part of his job for the network.
The electronic devices were meant to advertise a cartoon. Police in the US city of Boston are investigating a major American media corporation for causing a security alert that closed bridges and roads.
Police were called out to investigate the suspicious-looking devices and road traffic and rail service was disrupted.
One man has been arrested suspected of placing a hoax device.
Turner Broadcasting System has apologised, saying "the 'packages' in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger".
In a statement, the corporation said the campaign had already been in place in 10 US cities, including Boston, for several weeks.
The small electronic sign-boards were placed near roads and under bridges over the Charles River, prompting suspicion from commuters.
Police destroyed the first package they found to see if it contained explosives.
"We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger," Turner said.
Police have arrested Peter Berdovsky, 27 - the man hired to place the electronic smiley-faces - on the relatively new charge of placing a hoax device.
He faces up to five years in jail.
Authorities in Boston say they are considering charges against Turner and an advertising company and could demand financial compensation for the massive disruption caused by the marketing campaign gone wrong.
Photo via flickr
This sort of marketing is not illegal. While it is unfortunate that the cops had a long day because of this, and do we appreciate the job they do, blaming it all on the network seems one-sided. Was it not the police that raised the alarm? Why didn't these signs cause a disruption in the other cities?
Arresting one of the sign installers, and threatening him with five years prison time certainly sounds harsh. I could see bringing in someone who calls in a bunch of known-false bomb scares, but arresting a sign installer?
We didn't give up our rights to such public displays of art.
We didn't give up our rights to such public displays of art.
Using 9/11 as an excuse for curtailing such freedoms is B.S., even if someone from the Department of Homeland Security says otherwise:
"Hoaxes are a tremendous burden on local law enforcement and counter-terrorism resources and there's absolutely no place for them in a post-9/11 world," Russ Knocke, Dept. Homeland Bureaucracy Security.
If he means hoaxes in general, then cart me away (Ken, I'm sorry about that party popper under your desk).
Live free (allowing such nonsence), or die (because a battery powered Lite Brite kills you on your daily commute home), I say.
This cool cat has traded in his catnip for some bling. Sebastian, a one-year-old Persian with long black hair, sports gold crowns on his two bottom canines, which grew sticking out from his lips in an underbite similar to a bulldog's.
His owner, dentist David Steele, said he gave Sebastian gold crowns to help strengthen the fanged feline's teeth. Steele said he was worried the unique canines would break off or become a problem.
"It's possible to work on animals the same way we do humans," he said. "I did it to strengthen (Sebastian's) teeth, but it had an excellent cosmetic result. The cat gets a lot of attention now. Everyone is tickled to death when they see him."
Look, guys! All I had to do is kill some innocent women and children and I got this awesome yellow flag!
I woke up this morning and groggily scanned the daily news. Upon seeing this photo, that quote (above) popped into my imagination. Regardless of motive, civilians of Lebanon have born the brunt of this invasion.
The photo above (credit Yahoo/AP) is of an Israeli soldier displaying his recently captured Hezbollah flag. From afar these confilicts seem so pointless, a painful way to argue that church and state really should be separate.
I know little about the situation in the Middle East, yet I feel the need to state some obvious things about this conflict.
Why does it matter that Israel is killing civilians?
Regardless of the reasons for this war, innocent people are typically not slaughtered in a civilized society. It's barbaric and counterproductive.
Americans are seen as collaborators with Israel due to our staunch support for their government. Even if we are "right" in our support, this fosters hatred in much of the world, giving us the appearance of murderers. This may be sound like a controversial statement to someone living in the US, but in many parts of the world, the perception is common.
Protesters shout slogans as they set fire to US and Israeli flags to protest the Israeli offensive in Lebanon in front of Istanbul University after Friday prayers in Beyazit Mosque in Istanbul August 4, 2006. REUTERS/Stringer (TURKEY)
Lebanese civilian burn victims from Israeli air strikes, 08/2006. AP/Kevork Djansezian
Yahoo! is making a compelling case for ditching their instant messaging service. Their recent version not only has advertising you cannot hide, it blocks your instant messages if they contain links to competitors' sites.
The Advertisements, The Censoring
I was talking to my Dad this evening on Yahoo! Messenger. I tried to send him a URL, and he never got it. We experimented a little and found out that Yahoo was blocking URLs for the Google Video and YouTube sites. If you replaced the "google" or "youtube" with "yahoo", the message would be sent fine.
I've been a big fan of Yahoo! services since the late 90's. I've stuck with Yahoo Messenger over the years, resisting moving to AIM or other services. This is about to change.
The latest version of Yahoo! Messenger has an advertisement pane which you cannot hide (as far as I know). This is a big disappointment. Are my eyeballs on Yahoo's ads and my $10/year for Mail Plus not valuable enough? Now they have to force me to look at ads on my desktop? I didn't mind so much at home, but I also use instant messaging at work (for technical discussions, for example).
What is worse than the compulsory ads, however, is the fact that Yahoo is censoring my instant messages. Any message I send with a link to Google Video or YouTube is simply dropped (we tested this numerous times). This is unacceptable. Yahoo should fire whoever is responsible for these poor decisions.
Keep reading for screen shots of censored messages, along with my suggestions for replacing Yahoo Messenger.
While I can't claim that "Monkey Ninja" is as well-known as Lady Punch, it is a very entertaining little video. The clip shows an orangutan (I believe) practicing karate with a human trainer. Click on the image to view it:
Whereas Ladypunch made me feel guilty for witnessing such a violent act, Monkey Ninja fills me with warm, happy thoughts. If this ape can do a spin kick with a smile on his face, it must be true that one can do whatever they set their mind to.
or The Verizon Perpetual Contract
Yes this is the second entry I've written complaining about cell phone companies. Is it just my bad luck or do other people have such problems?
After calling Verizon to check on a confusing $200+ phone bill, I discover they've "accidentally" extended my contract. While I'm asking questions, the Verizon representative keeps on coming up with bogus reasons why our contract expiration dates are unexpectedly late. He puts me on hold and, just for the fun of it, I decide to record the rest of the conversation.
Does that seem like a strange thing to do? I had read about Verizon "accidentally" extending contracts in the past (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example). Verizon is already well known for its perpetual contracts. If you make any change to your calling plan, such as adding or deleting a line, or upgrading to more minutes, they will extend your contract one or two years from that date. In practice this makes it very hard to quit verizon without paying a $175 per line termination fee.
So what did the Verizon rep say after I insisted that the contract expiration date was incorrect? How did he explain it? Download and play the audio clip below to hear for yourself. Enjoy!