Thursday, July 31, 2008
iPod Touch annoyances
The MobileMe syncing stuff has been working fine for my calendar and contacts. I mentioned previously that there was one annoyance with this -- there's no way to get the birthday calendar down to the iPod Touch. I've now gotten around this by turning off the normal birthday calendar in iCal, and instead using the ability of MenuCalendarClock to copy birthdays from Address Book into a "normal" iCal calendar. So, long story short, I've got all my birthdays on the iPod Touch. MenuCalendarClock costs $20 to register, which is pretty reasonable, given that it does a few other useful things.

I still haven't found a good note-taking app that syncs between the Touch and either my Mac, PC, or the web. I'm going to keep an eye on the app store and see if anything new and interesting appears.


posted by Unknown 9:08 PM

Sunday, July 27, 2008
Comic-Con Sunday
I haven't gotten around to blogging from San Diego at all this year. It's just been too busy. I've had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head, though. The con is over now, and I'm back in my hotel room with not much to do, so I thought I'd write a long rambling blog post on a few things that came up during the con.

A lot of people have blogged about how the city of San Diego doesn't think that the con contributes as much to the local economy as other, smaller, cons that are, shall we say, a bit more upscale. I got into a discussion with a cab driver today, and I can tell you that the cab drivers have loved the past few days. This guy said that the cabbies were making $300 to $500 a day over the last few days, which is apparently a lot more than they usually make. He said things had slowed down today (Sunday), but he was still doing pretty well. And I can say that, just walking around the Gaslamp and Horton Plaza, I'm seeing a heck of a lot of con folks moving around and (presumably) spending money.

The combination of my iPod Touch and having free wifi at the convention center turned out to be a very good thing. There's always a lot of empty time to fill at the con, sitting in a panel room between panels, or waiting in line for something. I got in the habit of bringing out my iPod Touch at these times, and browsing through a few comics-related newsfeeds through Google Reader. This allowed me to keep up with stuff that was going on elsewhere at the con during the day, rather than having to wait until I got back to the hotel room and my laptop. Very useful, and kind of fun.

Due to the huge size of the con now, I had pretty low expectations about how many panels I would actually be able to get into. I was pleasantly surprised about my success rate in that area. I got into the Fringe preview on Wednesday night, no problem. I got into the Doctor Who and Torchwood panels on Thursday and the Stargate Continuum and Atlantis panels on Friday. The only big problem I had was on Friday afternoon and evening, when they closed off the line for room 6B, so I didn't see the Venture Bros panel or the MST3K 20th anniversary panel. I wound up leaving the con earlier than I'd really wanted to on Friday, just because I couldn't really get into any of the nighttime stuff that I was interested in. I spent a little time in one of the anime rooms watching Gurren Lagann, then just took off around 7pm, I think.

I did pretty well on Saturday, though. Saturday is traditionally the most crowded day at the con, but I think the dynamic may have changed a bit on that. Or maybe it's just me. I plunked myself down in one panel room around 10am, and basically stayed there all day, until around 4:30pm.

Saturday night I went to a live Rifftrax event outside the convention center, at the Balboa Theater downtown. It was a live "riff" on Plan 9 From Outer Space. Not that it's at all hard to make fun of that movie, but the guys (Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett) did a great job. Very funny.

Today, Sunday, I again went to a bunch of panels, but this time I actually had to get up and switch rooms a few times. I never really had to wait in line for a panel, nor did I fail to get into any panel, though.

I stayed at the Sheraton on Harbor Island this year, which is the farthest I've ever been from the convention center. I can't say I'm happy about that, and it has been a bit of an inconvenience, but it was manageable. The shuttle bus situation was a little problematic. There are two separate towers to the Sheraton, and they're about a five-minute walk apart from each other. I'm staying in the "Bay Tower" which is basically the secondary one. On the first day of the con, a bunch of us waited in front of our building for the shuttle bus for about an hour. It turned out that the bus was filling up at the main tower, and just wasn't bothering to come by our tower at all. I wound up taking a cab to the con that day, and I've just walked over to the main tower every day since and caught the shuttle there. No big problem, but it just seems like something they could have figured out, maybe by having every other bus (or every third bus) stop at the Bay Tower first.

And I've found myself taking cabs on a few other occasions, to get from downtown back to the hotel or vice versa. There's really no viable mass transit option to get off Harbor Island, as far as I can tell. I'm definitely hoping to get into a downtown hotel next year, assuming I go back.

Overall, a great con. I've definitely had a good time, learned a few things, seen some interesting people, had a few good laughs, and discovered a few comics, movies, and books that I hadn't previously heard of. I've got a bunch more stuff I could blog about, but this post is already too long, and I need to pack, so I'll just save that stuff up for another day.

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posted by Unknown 9:05 PM

Tuesday, July 22, 2008
off to San Diego
I'm off to San Diego tomorrow. I noticed today that Variety has a Comic-Con news page up at I guess the con is really in the big leagues now. It still seems kind of weird to be seeing articles about the con in Variety and the New York Times.

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posted by Unknown 8:06 PM

Thursday, July 17, 2008
Annotated Comic-Con picks from IO9
io9 has a nice article up highlighting some of the interesting panels on the comic-con schedule. There's so much stuff going on this year that articles like this are going to come in mighty handy.


posted by Unknown 9:19 PM

Dr. Horrible

Go now. Watch.

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posted by Unknown 8:58 PM

PSN video store
I just got an e-mail announcing the availability of video rental and purchase on the PS3 through the PlayStation Network. I've been curious about this since I first heard of it. Here's an article about it.

I just jumped on my PS3 and took a look at what was available. Honestly, there's not much there that I'm really excited about. Buying videos that I can only watch on my PS3, and that will forever be taking up hard drive space on it doesn't seem like a great idea. Renting seems like a good deal -- just download the movie, watch it, then delete it.

Interestingly, there's also a new anime series that will be exclusive to PSN. It looks like it might be good, but I don't know if I want to get hooked on a series that I'll have to $2 per episode to watch. There's plenty of free anime on Cartoon Network and elsewhere on cable.


posted by Unknown 7:39 PM

Star Wars sheets
I'm pretty sure these are the sheets I had on my bed in 1979. I don't think I'm going to go out and buy a new set, but I'm sorely tempted.


posted by Unknown 7:00 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
more iPod Touch and MobileMe stuff
I see that Apple is extending all MobileMe subscriptions by 30 days to make up for the hiccups in the first few days of the service. That's nice of them. MobileMe is working OK for me now. I've input stuff on the web, on my Mac, and on my iPod, and the sync is working fine no matter where I enter stuff. I'd still like to get the birthday issue straightened out though.

When I set up the 2.0 software on my iPod, I initially turned on "push". That works well, but really drains the battery. I've got "pull" turned on now instead, and I've got the thing configured to check once an hour. I hope that'll clear up the battery issues. I wonder if they could make the pull functionality work a bit more intelligently, so it doesn't kill battery life.

I've looked around at a number of productivity apps for the iPhone / iPod Touch. I haven't found one that looks like it's all the way there yet, for what I need. There are a few interesting apps that don't actually sync with their desktop counterparts yet. Things is a good example. Ditto for Dejumble.

I think my preference right now would be to have an iPhone version of DevonThink, Backpack, or maybe Yojimbo. With full sync, of course. I'm not sure any of these apps are going to get iPhone versions soon, though.


posted by Unknown 10:01 PM

PSN / Underground linking
I went through the process of linking my PSN and PlayStation Underground accounts today, which apparently means that I now have a little ID badge that I can display on this web site:

Kind of pointless, huh? I guess maybe at some point it'll be useful for something...


posted by Unknown 7:40 PM

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
more comic-con articles
I stumbled across a couple of semi-interesting con articles on the web today. has a short article on "how to enjoy comic-con." Mostly common sense stuff there.

The Huffington Post has an article titled "Obama at Comic Con." The article is basically making the case for an Obama appearance at the con. There was some talk about this elsewhere a couple of months back. It's not going to happen, but it's an interesting idea. Heck, Obama was thinking about doing a NASCAR sponsorship; if you're going to go after the NASCAR crowd, why not the geeks too?

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posted by Unknown 9:50 PM

I've updated my iPod Touch with the 2.0 software, and done the necessary updates on my Mac to support the new MobileMe syncing stuff. Apple is *almost* where they need to be to allow me to replace my old Palm with the iPod Touch. I now have my calendar and contacts synced automatically to the Touch, accessible on the web, and on my Mac. And I can update either the calendar or contacts on the Touch, Mac, or web, and it should all sync automatically. Pretty cool!

There are couple of little problems. First, while the birthdays from my contacts can show through to my calendar on the Mac and on the web, they don't show on the iPod Touch. This problem is described here, and there's a tech note about it here. That's not a killer problem, but it's definitely an annoyance.

The other problem is that there's still no good way to sync text notes in the same way as the contacts and calendar. There are a couple of third-party solutions that may work out for this. Here's an interesting one that should be available soon. Evernote is available now, and might be what I'm looking for. It would be nice if 37 Signals came up with something to allow you to sync BackPack to the iPhone/Touch for offline access, but I don't see any indication that they're working on that.


posted by Unknown 6:03 PM

Sunday, July 13, 2008
Friday & Saturday
So the Friday and Saturday schedules for Comic-Con have been posted. Some highlights:

Friday: Stargate Continuum, Cup o' Joe, Stargate Atlantis, Jim Lee, Joss Whedon, Geoff Johns, Jim Butcher, Venture Brothers, and the MST3K 20th anniversary reunion!

Saturday: Forrest J. Ackerman, Futurama, Ralph Bakshi, The Simpsons, Heroes, Hellboy, the Quick Draw panel, a Will Eisner tribute panel, Bryan Hitch, BSG, Scott Shaw's Oddball Comics, Pixar, Ray Bradbury, JMS, and quite a bit more.

I guess the big question is how many of the panels that I'm interested in will I actually be able to get into.


posted by Unknown 9:43 PM

Saturday, July 12, 2008
NY Times con article
Here's an article about the San Diego con that ran in the NY Times a few weeks ago. It's nice to see the con getting mainstream attention, but it's a bit annoying to see them calling out stuff like this advice from the con magazine: “Please don’t smell bad.” Well, yeah, it does seem like some people at the con need to be told that. But it's really not a defining characteristic of the average con-goer.

And the Times calls the con "decidedly low-rent." I think that anyone who can afford a hotel room in San Diego during the con is *not* low-rent. Sure, there are a lot of people who would rather spend their money on comics and related merchandise at the con than spend it in an overpriced hotel restaurant, but regardless, the con has to be pumping a lot of money into San Diego each year. Heck, I'm pretty sure I drop about $200 each con, just at Starbucks!

(Here's a blog post on this article that I mostly agree with.)

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posted by Unknown 11:28 PM

San Diego schedule
The Thursday and Sunday schedules are up at the comic-con site. As usual, plenty of interesting stuff.

Some Thursday highlights: a Paul Gulacy spotlight, Doctor Who and Torchwood panels (both with Russell T Davies), an Eddie Campbell spotlight, the Mark and Sergio panel, DC Nation, and, at night, the annual Ric Meyers' Kung-Fu Extravaganza.

And Sunday: The Jack Kirby tribute panel, a Kyle Baker spotlight, a second DC Nation panel, the Art of the Cover panel, Cartoon Voices, Dave Gibbons, and Buffy the Musical!

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posted by Unknown 6:49 PM

Thursday, July 10, 2008
Pain: Amusement Park add-on
I'm really enjoying Pain (the PS3 game, not actual *pain*). This add-on looks like it'll be fun:

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posted by Unknown 8:05 PM

Monday, July 07, 2008
The Waterfalls
I guess The Waterfalls is the biggest public art project in NYC since The Gates. I should probably go in and check it out, and maybe take some pictures. I haven't used my good camera in quite a while!


posted by Unknown 10:24 PM

Sunday, July 06, 2008
PS3 update
For no good reason, I thought I'd write a post on what I've been doing with my PS3 so far. I haven't played MGS4 yet. I'm waiting until I have a good block of time to get started on it. (Maybe after I finish Final Fantasy 8.) I've spent a lot of time messing around with Pain, which is a downloadable game that came free with the PS3/MGS4 bundle. It's a lot of fun. Basically, you shoot a guy out of a slingshot and try to cause as much damage as possible, both to the guy and his surroundings. Very cathartic.

I felt like I needed to go out and actually buy at least one game for the PS3, so I went to Best Buy and bought Orange Box today. The main reason for buying it was to get Portal, which is a nifty little puzzle game with a twisted sense of humor. And an end-credit song by Jonathan Coulton. I've already started playing it. Supposedly, it can be finished in just a few hours, so I may be about half-way done. (Or maybe not. I'm usually slower than average with these kind of games.) I'm not sure if I'll bother with any of the other games in Orange Box. I'm not that interested in online multi-player stuff like Team Fortress 2, and I'm not sure Half-Life will be my cup of tea. I guess I'll try it out at some point and see if I like it.

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posted by Unknown 9:23 PM

Friday, July 04, 2008
Rhapsody MP3 store
Rhapsody has just opened an MP3 store, in beta. If you sign up for it now, you can get a $10 credit to your account, which is enough to buy Perception, a 90-track box set of pretty much everything The Doors ever released. And if you want to spend another dollar, you can get The Herbie Hancock Box, which is a 34-track collection. I'm honestly not sure if either of these box sets is at these prices purposely or due to a pricing mix-up, but either way it's a good deal.

Unfortunately, the store itself is a bit of a mess. I had a lot of trouble downloading the Doors set. The download manager they provide just didn't work, so I switched to an option that allowed you to download the tracks in zip files. That got me 81 out of the 90 tracks, but the remaining 9 tracks came down in a corrupt zip file. I had to go through a customer service chat session to get them to credit me for the missing tracks and allow me to re-download them. On the Herbie Hancock set, I found that I could use the download manager if I manually downloaded one track at a time. Queuing up multiple tracks didn't work. So, basically I had to sit in front of my computer and, click on a track, wait for it to download, then go back and click on the next, and so on.

I don't think I'll be ordering much more from them until they get the download manager working well. Still, it's nice to see another outlet for legitimate MP3 downloads!


posted by Unknown 9:59 PM

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