Saturday, February 26, 2005

R&G: Rhythm & Gangsta

Snoop's newest album is subtitled "The Masterpiece," and I'm beginning to think that it is. Now, boasting about rapping, sexual and spending prowess is a mainstay of rap and hip-hop, and has been since the days of the SugarHill Gang, but this is a really great CD. Snoop lays typical gangsta lyrics and chutzpah (hey, the Beasties are Jewish) over some sweet R&B tracks and backing vocals. The result is fantabulous. Check it out.

Mac mini Home Theater Dock

Many of us have been dreaming of the "right" way to incorporate a Mac mini into our home theaters. The mini is kind of a half step, as I mentioned earlier, it has the beginnings of a decent HTPC but isn't there yet. What's missing is hard drive space, a convenient way to get video into the machine, digital audio out and processing power. Asteroid has come up with an interesting idea, a dock that would integrate additional, user configurable, storage, component video out, digital audio out, a TV tuner/digitizer like the EyeTV 500. The artist's rednering looks something like this:

Dock concept

Pretty nice. Now if only somebody would make one of these...

Friday, February 25, 2005

Am I a Journalist?

Of course not. But according to Trish Wilson's blog, a new law, with bipartisan support, could deputize me into the fourth estate. Or at least that's what some seem to think. Commenters to Kevin Drum's blog seem to think that this would be the logical result of the bill. Don't believe me? Read for yourself.

[Lee Corso]Not so fast, my friends![/Lee Corso]


Look, all this law does is try to prevent an agency from preventing a blogger who is a legitimate media member from the same agency access that a person who writes for a more established institution might have. Under the act, an agency cannot deny media status to an applicant merely because the applicant has no institutional affiliation. That makes a lot of sense. There are a lot of people out there that are not affiliated with traditional media institutions, but probably fit within what ought to be a reasonably broad definition of "media."

On the other hand, the agency would probably be reasonable in denying me media credentials. Why? Because, after considering my "prior publication history," which amounts to a couple of law review articles and an article in the Georgia Bar Environmental Law Section's newsletter, they would be well within their rights to decide I'm not a member of the media. To wit:

In making a determination of a representative of the news media under subclause (II), an agency may not deny that status solely on the basis of the absence of institutional associations of the requester, but shall consider the prior publication history of the requester. Prior publication history shall include books, magazine and newspaper articles, newsletters, television and radio broadcasts, and Internet publications.
To bastardize a wonderful Seinfeld quote, "you may write blog entries, Jerry Seinfeld, but you are no journalist."


Convetional basketball wisdom has it that the Big Ten is down. Really? Illinois has beaten all comers, including cruising by the ACC Golden Boy _eamon _eacons (Wake plays no D, get it?) by 20. Michigan State's non-conference losses were to Duke and a pretty good (ask Maryland) George Washington team. Sparty's only other losses are to Illinois, to whom everybody loses, and in Madison, where everybody but Illinois loses. Speaking of Bucky, they beat Maryland at home, something Coach K can't boast. Heck, even lowly Iowa, which was getting run over in the Big Ten even with Pierre Pierce, beat Louisville, Texas and Iowa State in the preseason (take that, KU!). Iowa's only non-conference blemish was a loss to Carolina in Maui -- Herky's record stinks, but they blew the doors off a tough non-conference schedule. And I haven't yet mentioned Minnesota, who won at Nebraska (take that Oklahoma State!) ought to make the tournament this year.

Which brings me to this interesting tidbit from the BigTenWonk.....

BONUS note on being "down." At the risk of being heretical, the Big Ten was also "down" 29 years ago when a certain team went undefeated and won the national championship. The only ranked opponent that certain team faced that year in conference play was Michigan. True story: just one ranked opponent in-conference. And no one, rightly, criticizes that certain team for the failures of its opponents.
Maybe I want the Big Ten to be down....

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Is it just me or.... this baseball steroid scandal making everybody it touches look like sleaze? No matter who talks about the issue, Canseco, Bonds, Giambi, the owners, anybody, they all just come off looking like they're trying to sell you a 1978 Pinto with 300,000 miles on it and a slipping clutch. It makes me want to shower after every episode of SportsCenter.

Winning Illini.....

Ho hum, another game another win for the best team in the land. As I've discussed, Illinois wins with teamwork, and that teamwork showed last night against Northwestern, not the greatest squad, but one that rarely gets blown out of games. Sure, Dee Brown was the leader of this charge, with 20 points, 5 assists and only 3 turnovers, but the team's unselfishness is what made this game a blowout. Illinois landed 32 shots, and 22 of them came after assists, continuing a startling trend wherein the Fighting Illini are getting 65% of their baskets off of assists on the season.

Happy 50th Birthday to....

What's good for the goose....

Inspired by the Texas GOP's unorthodox, and probably unprecedented, mid-decade redistricting last year, it seems that the Georgia GOP has similar plans this year. The rustling wind tells me that, in Illinois, where the Republican party is in disarray, Democrats may try to hoist the erstwhile Party of Lincoln on its own petard, and redistrict that state to add Democratic seats. What makes the ironing even more delicious, though, is the prospect that Denny Hastert could be squeezed out of his seat. Couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Is Apple looking at buying a TiVo?

Reuters is reporting that Apple is looking to buy TiVo. One of the two major decifiencies that the Mac platform has is its lack of mature home theater PC software. (The other is more famous -- lack of games.) Sure, the Mac is the platform of choice for people creating digital media, but for those of us that want to play it, the platform lags behind Windows and Microsoft's very good Windows Media Center Edition.

Many see the Mac mini as Apple sticking it's big toe into the swimming pool of the HTPC market. And I am convinced that the next MacOS, Tiger, has a double-secret killer app that many people seem to be missing -- Quicktime 7. Quicktime 7 will usher in High Definition Video using the H.264 codec. This codec
was ratified by both the DVD Forum and the Blu-Ray Disc Association for inclusion in their next-generation high-definition DVD specifications. In other words, MacOS will have, at a core level, high definition video built-in.

Steve Jobs already declared 2005 the year of high definition video, had a Sony high-up speak at the MacWorld 2005 Keynote this January and released Final Cut Pro HD, Final Cut Express HD and importantly, iMovie HD. By letting you and me make high definition movies on the cheap, iMovie HD signals that "theres more where" the Mac mini came from. I have a feeling that Apple is gearing up to leap headlong into the world of high definition video and into our living rooms. Some have suggested that Apple's foray into the living room is related to a video store where you download high definition movies and other content for rental. That may be one part of Apple's entry into the home theater market. For me, however, any stab at living room video has to mean that Apple is working on an elegant DVR solution.

So....TiVo. TiVo has the best user experience of any of the major DVR players. TiVo is synonymous with DVR. So synonymous, in fact that "TiVo" is often used as a verb. TiVo's capitalized value is only $300 million, a drop in the bucket compared to Apple's more than $5.5 billion in cash on hand. TiVo's boxes are Linux computers and its software is a Linux application. Thus, porting the TiVo software to OS X, while non-trivial, should be very doable. Wham, bam thank-you ma'am -- instant DVR on the Mac. And not just that, but instantly the best, most highly recognizable and well known DVR on the Mac.

Of course this is a deal that doesn't just have upside. TiVo is struggling right now. Cable companies are deploying their own DVRs with less "pretty" but nearly as functional DVRs. And the cable companies' DVRs can record in high definition for about $10/month, while the high definition DirecTiVo box, the only TiVo that records in high definition, costs a cool G. And Apple may not want to get distracted with the DVR market; as the Reuters story points out:

Analysts said that Apple's focus on its immensely successful iPod digital music player would probably preclude it from going after money-losing TiVo, whose growth strategy has been questioned due to the rise of cheaper DVRs being deployed by cable TV providers.
But, I can dream, can't I? I can hope that Apple will gobble up TiVo and stuff a dual-tuner, CableCard-equipped DVR engine in the next Mac mini and allow me to record every show I want and watch them whenever I darn well please in beautiful 720p........don't wake me up, this is a great dream.

All in the Name of Progress

Well, Apple has done it again. Mac users (I decline to use the journalistic cliche and refer to those that use the Macintosh platform as zealots or cult members) know that their shiny Apples stay fresh for only so long. Within six months, their purchase may be eclipsed by Steve Jobs' latest and greatest offering. As I said, it's happened again. Those of you that just invested $150 in a new 1 GB iPod Shuffle are going to cry.

Apple is now selling its 4 GB iPod Mini for $199. So, for $50 more, you get 4 times the space. Heck, I just bought a 512 MB Shuffle for $99, and I would be kicking myself -- a lot less than I would be if I owned the larger model -- but still. I would be, but after owning Macs for the last ten years, I'm basically numb to this phenomenon. However, folks who are new to Apple products might be just a little bit pissed off, especially as this announcement comes just barely more than a month since the Shuffle was introduced.

In the same announcement, Apple introduced a 6 GB iPod Mini for the old price of $249, discontinued its 40 GB “full-size” iPod and added the 30GB and 60GB iPod photo models. So now, the only monochrome display, full-size iPod is the 20GB model. That model’s price hasn’t changed, it’s still $299. The 30GB and 60GB iPod photo models are $349 and $449 respectively, bracketing old $399 40GB model. I wonder if my 40 GB iPod is now a collectors' item. I guess I'll go check eBay.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Shufflin' on by....

According to a Toshiba representiative quoted in a Reuters article, demand for Apple's iPod Shuffle "is so vast that our current capacity can in no way meet their needs." This is good news for those who hold AAPL. In addition, it confirms the maxim that a good product, priced right, will sell. I wonder what Creative's CEO is doing today....

Sunday, February 20, 2005


So there's now an entire website, complete with national ad buy, telling people how to drive their overweight, oversized SUVs.

You'll never know who's a fan...

It's nice to see that Christo and Jeanne-Claude are Illini fans. Their latest installation, The Gates in Central Park seeks to Paint the Park Orange. It is obvious where they got the inspiration for their work...

Hosted by

There is no "me" in Champion....

One thing I have observed over the past couple of years in the sports is that teams without superstars have actually been winning championships. These championships have been won not on the backs of media-darling, over-hyped, shoe-selling prima donnas, but on the backs of things like fundamentals, chemistry, teamwork, gameplanning and coaching.

You could say that
Adam Vinatieri kicked this trend off as time wound down in Super Bowl XXXVI. But one game does not a trend make. However, since that fateful day in New Orleans, the Patriots have won two more Super Bowls (take that Peyton Manning), the decidedly small-market Marlins and "Idiot" Red Sox have won World Series (take that, Jeffery Meier!). Heck, even in the tattooed, hip hop, gettin' paid NBA, the no-name Detroit Pistons beat the household-name, Springfield-bound Lakers to win the title.

As a sports fan, this makes me happy. Team sports are just that, TEAM sports. In a perfect world, chemistry, teamwork and gameplanning would always trump star power.
As a fan of the massively-team-oriented Fighting Illini, I hope the trend continues through March and April 2005. It's nice to see the world getting a little more perfect.

First Post

....let there be blog. Hello, I am diving headlong into this whole "blog" thing. In the coming days, weeks and (maybe?) months, I will post notes and links on topics that interest me. You'll see notes on sports, the law, politics, computers and links to sites that I think have something to say. Hope you'll make come visit me here in my little corner of the internet(s).