Friday, September 22, 2006

I Can Post Again!

Our firewall at work blocks me from browsing to the new blogger beta site. But this morning, I've been shown a way to get through anyway. It's called Torpark. Sweet!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Too Soon For Christmas

Okay, so I went to Lowe's last night to look for some home improvement stuff. I was absolutely shocked to find they already have Christmas merchandise out. Christmas is nearly 4 months away! Now I like the holiday as much as anyone else, but I don't like how it's so commercialized. Each year, the Christmas goods get put out earlier and earlier. I started not to buy anything there in a silent protest.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

iTunes 7 + iPod 1.2 Firmware

The problem I reported earlier about not being able to get a game working on my iPod is worse than I thought. Apparently, since I've upgraded the firmware to 1.2, I cannot play ANY content that is DRM'd. Thanks, Apple. You guys are doing a bang-up job on these firmware updates.

I've even tried something Apple refers to as the Five R's, which includes restoring the firmware. I managed to restore the firmware to 1.1, but I still cannot play anything that is DRM'd.

This is really a problem, as I have a lot of songs I've purchased from the iTunes Music Store that are now unplayable on my iPod. This is pretty ironic, as I was starting to believe that DRM isn't as evil as previously thought. I can still play the DRM'd songs on my computer, so it's not a total loss.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Al-Qaida and Algerians Gang Up On France

Well, it appears that France may have pissed Al-Qaida and Algerians off enough that the two are now going to join forces and try to damage their interests (oh and ours in the United States, too).  Terrorism isn't funny.  What is funny is how France could have been helping out with the war on terror all along, but instead they chose to criticize us at every turn.  Well you know what?  If they ask for our help, I hope we tell them to go suck a croissant.

Apple Customer Service

On Tuesday, Apple announced a bunch of new products. One of those was games for your iPod. I purchased and downloaded Zuma, but I couldn't get it to work, even after updating the firmware on my iPod. So I contacted Apple via their online support form, and last evening, I received an apologetic letter back from them saying they had credited the money back to my account. They also said I could try to buy the game again in a couple of weeks. By then any issues I am having should be resolved. I was upset at first, but now I'm pretty pleased with Apple's customer support.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Electronic Voting

I don't worry about voting irregularities in Oklahoma. Our system works pretty good, and I'll feel confident using it.  You go to the booth, you fill our your card with a permanent marker, and then you run it through a computer scanner.  The machine immediately tells you if you've made a mistake and rejects it.  If there's no mistake, the computer gives you the green light and your done.  The computer records your answers, and there's a paper backup if something catastrophic happens.

Luckily, we don't have to worry about them here, but I'm 100% against electronic voting machines where you cast your vote via a touch screen.  It sounds cool, but having a background writing computer software, I don't trust them.  If I vote for candidate A and a computer bug says I voted for B, a recount would be useless because there's no paper trail.  I've heard some machines produce a voting receipt.  Still, the machine is producing the output, not me, so it could still be prone to error.

I read yesterday that the electronic voting machine makers were doing a really good job of promoting and selling them, but when it came to technical support and maintenance, they left a lot to be desired.  Now, a Princeton professor claims to have hacked an electronic voting machine.  You can read about it here:

So I'm more like 110% against them now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Apple Gets Busy

Apple announced a bunch of new products or updates to existing products today that should make even the most jaded geek pee his pants!

There were new iPod nanos, a new version of the iTunes Music Store (which now has movies and games), a firmware update for the video iPod, something called iTV to let you stream movies from your computer to your TV in near-DVD quality, a cute new iPod Shuffle which is literally a clip that you can clip to something such as a pocket, and probably other stuff that I missed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Weird Oklahoma Liquor Laws

Oklahoma has some odd liquor laws. We still have wet and dry counties. There are many Mexican restaurants where you cannot by a margarita on a Sunday.

Unlike most other states, liquor is not sold in the grocery store. It can only be sold in liquor stores. But if the alcohol content of the item is less than 3.2%, it's not considered liquor and it can be sold at convenience stores and grocery stores. BUT, you wouldn't want the police to see you drinking this non-liquor in your car, because if they see you, even 3.2% beer/malt beverages magically become liquor. Or some such silliness.

Another oddity is that Oklahoma won't let you bring refrigerated liquor into the state. There's a Colorado beer called Fat Tire that refuses to sell here because they have a policy of refrigerating the beer until it arrives at the store. They say it tastes better. Guess I'll never know unless I go to any of the surrounding states, where it is sold.

The latest liquor controversy is the ability to sell wine on the internet. This is currently prohibited in Oklahoma. The primary argument against it being that it will contribute to underage drinking. I feel this is an argument that sounds logical, but no study has been able to show a rise in teenage drinking because of internet wine sales. There are two reasons: it takes a few days to ship to the product, and most teens are not going to have the forethought to order wine several days in advance of a weekend party. And wine is just not a party drink like beer or malt beverages.

Before I went to the Grape Ranch last Labor Day weekend, I went to the Grape Ranch website, and they have a link to petition your Oklahoma State Representative to see where he stands on the ability to sell wine via the internet. Mine is State Representative Ron Peters. I received a letter from him yesterday, and here is his reply:

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thanks for your letter on your ability to purchase the wines you want in the manner of your choosing. You asked that I let you know where I stand on the issue.

I am big on the free enterprise system and its ability to choose the winners and losers in the marketplace. As you might guess from this, I too am a strong believer in allowing you to choose how and where you make your purchases of ALL items, including wine.

Thank you for communicating with me on this manner. Please continue to communicate with me on matters of interest to you. If using e-mail is simpler for you, I can be reached at Also, I will be on the ballot this fall and would appreciate your vote.


Ron Peters

So perhaps internet wine sales are just around the corner.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Channels

A new project, with Dubai-like coolness, has been unveiled for Tulsa. It's called The Channels. My initial reaction to it was that it sounded absolutely absurd. It seemed like a waste of money.

Basically, the plan is to dam up part of the Arkansas River and build a series of islands in the middle of the newly formed lake. Then residential and shopping areas would be built on the islands.

It's a crazy idea, and an expensive one. They want half a billion dollars from Tulsans to bring it to fruition. However, Tulsans have been saying for years the Arkansas River must be developed to help the city grow. This might be our best chance to do that.

Okay, so it still seems like way too much money, but after I saw the artist renditions I am in love with the concept. And I love that it incorporates green technology, such as solar cells, and it will generate hydroelectric energy. This thing could potentially turn into a tourist resort.

But it'll never happen. Nothing cutting edge like this would ever see the light of day in Tulsa. Tulsans have big dreams but never enough follow through. We're too conservative.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What You Can Do For Conservation

Since Steve Irwins' death, I've seen a lot people say they want to do something to help them remember him. Rather than trying to send flowers to Australia, like some people have, might I suggest you consider donating to the World Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, or the conservation organization of your choice?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Last Days Video

ABC has been airing a series of videos called "Last Days" that talk about how the earth could end. I've just watched the one on global climate change, and it is chilling. It really makes me wonder why we even have scientists. It's not like we listen to them. The only time we value their opinion is when they are helping big business make profits.

There's no doubt that global climate change is occurring. The majority of scientists believe this change is being caused by humans. Not only that, but it may be reversible --but only if we act soon. Then you have idiots like Senator Jim Inholfe saying it's all a hoax, nevermind the evidence. Why we listen to people like him astounds me. What is really going on here is that it'll be expensive to fix the problem, and some people would rather take a wait and see attitude than address the problem head on. When the water's rising, you don't wait until the last minute to surround yourself with sandbags--only in this case sandbags won't be enough.

Movie Studios Are Out Of Touch With Reality

I read that the movie studios are reporting solid, though not outstanding, ticket sales from this year's summer movies. While that may be true, most of the movies I saw this summer were disappointing. In past summers, I'd go to the movies almost every weekend. Not this summer. Pirates of the Carribean, Monster House, Strangers With Candy, and The DaVinci Code were the only movies I saw that lived up to their billing. I liked X-Men, but it was definitely the least satisfying of the trilogy. Superman had its moments, but ultimately turned super dumb in the last act.

The movies studios really need to take a hard look at television. A lot of the shows on TV have become so good, that it almost makes me want to skip the movies altogether. You have Lost, The 4400, Nip/Tuck, Desperate Housewives, Prison Break, etc. What's interesting about all these shows is they don't rely on computer-generated visual effects to tell the story, and most of the summer movies do.

The Crocodile Hunter Has Died

I just read that Steve Irwin, better known as the Crocodile Hunter, has died. This guy has done some of the craziest, most dangerous stunts with wild animals I've ever seen. It seems somewhat ironic that he was killed by a stingray, which are dangerous but typically not all that aggressive. His show was educational, and I know a lot of children loved him. It's sad to see someone who is a conservationist go like that.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Blogger Beta

Today, I switched to the new blogger beta. So far, I like it very much. I especially like the template editor which requires you to know less HTML than before.

Red Dirt Festival @ the Grape Ranch

I never would have expected Oklahoma to have commercial wine vineyards, but over the last few years, several have opened to the public, and they are surprisingly good. Yesterday, I went to the Grape Ranch for the first time. Located near Okemah, Oklahoma, the Grape Ranch was voted Oklahoma's Best Winery in 2005 by the Oklahoma Gazette. The Red Dirt Harvest Festival is going on all Labor Day weekend. It's like Oklahoma's version of Woodstock, minus the free love. It was overcast and cool yesterday, and you couldn't have asked for better weather. My favorite activity was the wine tasting. They let us sample all of their wines, and I have to say most of them were very nice. I particularly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc. After that, we spent the remainder of the evening listening to a selection of live music, including my friend Jared Tyler, down in the ampitheater. It was a lot of fun.