I’ve been fighting a cold all this week. I guess I’m mostly over it, but I had a really sore throat today. I think I drank about 9 cups of herbal tea today. I think I picked up the cold when I was in the city last weekend. That seems to be the pattern now; every time I get a cold, it’s right after I’ve been in Manhattan for something. Maybe I need to start taking Airborne before I go into NYC from now on. Or maybe not.
Month: January 2007
I registered for WonderCon today, and made my travel arrangements. This will be the third year I’ve gone out to SF for WonderCon. I was originally going to skip it this year, mostly due to financial considerations, but then I realized that I’m turning 40 about a week after the con, so this will be my very last vacation before I hit 40! (Not that my birthday has any real bearing on anything, but it seemed like a good excuse for going.)
Five Minutes to Midnight
Well, I just finished re-reading Watchmen last night. One of the recurring motifs in Watchmen is a clock that’s counting down the minutes until midnight. It is, of course, a reference to the doomsday clock that indicates how close we are to nuclear armegeddon. (This is also the inspiration for one of my favorite Iron Maiden songs, “2 Minutes to Midnight“.) I haven’t seen the doomsday clock mentioned much in the news since the Reagan years. In fact, I’d mostly forgotten about it until re-reading Watchmen. Today, out of the blue, I stumbled across an article announcing that we’re now at five minutes to midnight, the closest we’ve been to “certain doom” since the eighties. The last time the minute hand was moved was back in 2002. On the one hand, I should probably be seriously depressed that we’ve regressed so much, in so many ways, over the last few years. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel somewhat nostalgic for the good old days of the Reagan administration. There’s something bracing about being a mere hair’s breadth away from oblivion.
David Pogue has an iPhone FAQ up on his blog.
A few disappointing items, assuming he’s correct:
Can it run Mac OS X programs? –No.
Can I add new programs to it? –No. Apple wants to control the look and feel and behavior of every aspect of the phone.
Does it have games? –No.
Does it have GPS? –No.
I was pretty sure it *did* have GPS, so that’s a bit of a bummer. And the idea that it’s not open to third-party development is pretty disappointing too, assuming it’s correct. Oh well, maybe I should start thinking smartphone!
I have to admit I’m pretty interested in the iPhone. When it first started looking like the rumors were true, and this was really going to be coming out, I got pretty hopeful that it would be a decent PDA in addition to being a phone, and it looks like it is. I haven’t really been 100% satisfied with any PDA I’ve owned since the Newton. The iPhone seems to have most of the stuff I’d want in a PDA: a touch-screen, a decent contact manager (and, presumably, calendar), and a robust OS that can (probably) do a decent job of running games and miscellaneous third-party software. I don’t really *need* it to be a decent music and video player, but if it is, then that’s OK. And if I can do a decent job of browsing the web with it, then that’s great too.
I’m a little concerned about the fact that it’s only going to be available through Cingular. I’m currently with Verizon, and I don’t have any problems with them, so I’m not enthusiastic about switching carriers. Looking at Cingular’s web site, it looks like they charge a minimum of $40/month for voice and $20/month for data, under their current plans. Assuming the iPhone plans with be similar, that’d be $60/month for service, minimum. Right now, I’m only paying about $20/month, though of course I’m getting very limited access to the internet on my current phone, and I have a very limited voice plan. Jobs didn’t talk at all about monthly pricing during his keynote. I’m hoping that maybe there will be a special monthly plan for the iPhone that gets you voice and data together for a reasonable sum, maybe $40 or $50 per month total.
There’s a somewhat interesting article on the iPhone over at Time.com, by the way, with a bit of history on the development of the device and some of the reasoning that went into the design.
The Wall Street Journal has a CES blog page that’s pretty good. Not a lot of noise; mostly useful product write-ups and a few humorous side stories.
My Asus video card has a feature called “Splendid” which is supposed to enhance video quality. Well, some time recently, I lost the ability to watch most videos in Windows Media Player. It took me awhile to figure it out, but the culprit is apparently Splendid. I disabled it, and all is well now. For the record, I found out how to disable it here.
Here’s the instructions:
– Right click on your desktop and select “Properties” to bring up your display properties;
– Select the “Settings” tab and click on “Advanced” on the bottom right;
– Select the “ASUS” tab on the top right and then the “ASUS Splendid” tab;
– Unselect the check box next to “Enable ASUS Splendid”.
I’m not sure if this is a problem in the most recent driver set that’s going to be corrected at some point. Either way, I never noticed “Splendid” really doing much for me anyway.
A couple of years back, I spent a little time looking into the comic strip subscription services that are available online. I blogged about it here, and what I wrote then is still mostly correct. At the time, I kind of lost interest in the subject, but I started thinking about it again this year. My local paper recently cut back their Sunday comics section from six pages to four, dropping some strips and shrinking others. It’s kind of depressing to read, knowing how much better the section could be, just by adding those two pages back, and changing the mix of strips a bit. The Sunday NY Daily News still has a good comics section, but I don’t get around to picking it up every week.
After reviewing what was available again, I decided to start up a subscription to MyComicsPage.com. They’ve got a couple of my favorite strips, namely Doonesbury and Foxtrot. Now, I know that there are plenty of ways to get those two strips for free, but it’s nice to be able to get those, plus a bunch more, consolidated into one nice page, and also to know that I’m contributing at least a little money toward keeping comic strip artists in business.
MyComicsPage.com has a pretty nice interface for putting together your preferred page of strips. You can reorder strips on the page, though you can only move strips up or down one position at a time, and the page does a postback every time you do that; someone really needs to add some Ajax to the interface there, and get current with the whole Web 2.0 thing. Also, the list of available strips is somewhat misleading, since they include a bunch of discontinued strips that are available in the archives, but are not really available for your daily page. They list Spanish language strips in a separate section; I really think they should put the discontinued strips into their own section too, just to make it more obvious which strips are still alive. One nice thing they have is a “collection” feature, where you can store links to specific strips you like. (I started a collection of anti-cat cartoons; that should be fun to maintain.) I should also mention that they have a number of good editorial cartoonists, too, including Tom Toles, my all-time favorite.
I ordered Absolute Watchmen from Amazon a week ago, and it showed up in the mail today. I haven’t reread Watchmen since it came out, but I’ve meaning to pull out the original issues and reread it for some time. Now, I’ve got it in a nice big hardback! Watchmen is a definite classic. The wikipedia article for Watchmen has a lot of good info, and links to a bunch more stuff.
The Wall Street Journal launched their (print) redesign today. The paper looks good, and has not been turned into USA Today, which I guess was the main thing that people were worried about. There were some pretty good articles in the paper today, too, including one on Virgin Comics. I actually haven’t gotten around to reading any of their titles yet, but I’ve heard good things about Snakewoman. The article was accurate and reasonably well-written, but the headline used one of the standard comic book newspaper article cliches: “Holy [fill in the blank] Batman!” In this case, it was: “Holy Heroes of Indian Lore, Batman!” OK, so maybe they *are* starting to resemble USA Today in some ways. Oh well.