Superbowl post-scriptum

Dear NBC, ESPN & NFL,

please fix your website, it lacks a “watch live now” button, or if it’s there I couldn’t find it even though I looked for well over 15 minutes into the match. I would’ve happily paid $5 for the match or really whatever you would’ve wanted me to pay, but I was forced into illegal crapstreams captured from Russian analog TV (or whatever) and streamed back to my friend’s NY appartment. Why do you not want my $5? Are they not sufficiently American? Are they inflating? Are they fake? My bank account and credit card think they’re real, please check them if you wish.

Please take my $5 and provide me with high-quality internet-based solutions on your websites. For this particular case, I will even accept the occasional ad in between. And please make sure it’s the top hit on Google when searching for “live nfl” and related terms – not only in search terms, but also in the ads section. Instead of that crappy Russian thing that I ran into. Also make sure payment is easy, just “credit card number”, “name” etc., verify & deduct $5 just once, and presto. Unlike these other Russian crapsites that try to sell me 3-year subscriptions for satellite-tv. Don’t try to take the Russians down. Just offer something better. It is not very difficult.

Please fix this for next year’s finals. Thank you.

Dear Russian crapchannel,

thank you for not sucking as much as NBC, ESPN and NFL.

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27 years and a lobster

Today, I turned 27. To celebrate, we got 5 lobsters from Chelsea market, and a big soup-pan (+/- 20L). We boiled some soup, put shellfish, potatoes and sweetcorns in it. Then the big piece:

Yes, 5 big lobsters, alive in a delicious soup. Add 45 minutes of waiting, and you end up with the following masterpiece:

Clambake lobster with crabcakes. yummy! I love birthdays. Very delicious.

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Kuala Lumpur – Day 1

I’m in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to visit my girlfriend’s family.

Today, we went for a touristy ride to visit the Batu Caves (which contain an in-cave Buddhist Hindu temple and monkeys), Kuala Lumpur itself and a butterfly garden. Tomorrow, we go shopping in Kuala Lumpur before heading off to the Redang resort.

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FFmpeg Hall of Shame

FFmpeg is the project that provides multimedia codecs to your favourite media player. Be it the MPEG-4 playback in AmaroK, the WMA-playback in Xine, the H.264 playback in Totem or the playback of WMV in mplayer, FFmpeg is the reason that it’s there. Clearly, many people try to take advantage of these features and acknowledge FFmpeg for that effort.

Some, however, fail to give credit where it is due. When you notice such projects, please add them to the newly added FFmpeg Hall of Shame. Projects on this list violate the GPL/LGPL and hurt the free software ecosystem and FFmpeg. Shame on them! Help by finding more such projects or – better – by helping the FFmpeg developers to fix the violation (see ffmpeg-devel for details).

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Home for christmas

What happened last week is just amazing. I was planning to go home (to Europe) for christmas, so I booked a flight from Newark to Schiphol, Amsterdam for Saturday the 22nd. I left home over 4 hours before the flight would depart, all would be fine. I took the FDR Drive to south-Manhattan to bring my girlfriend home, kissed goodbye, back onto the FDR and the West drive (Tribeca), trying to turn into the Holland tunnel and head into Jersey.

That’s where the story would’ve ended. I’ve waited for over an hour in front of the tunnel, I have no idea what happened, no single inch progress. I’ve been told (by friends, or the taxi driver, can’t recall) there was a massive accident shutting down half of the west-bound tunnel, but can’t find a thing on any news site. Two hours before my flight departed, I escaped the taxi, ran for a good 10 minutes with suitcases and everything to the nearest subway station, on to Penn Station, took the next Amtrak to Newark Airport, cutting the Elite check-in with 55 minutes remaining (“sir, you’re supposed to be here in time, y’know?“), to enter the airplane to see the door close literally right behind me. Now that’s a close one.

Thanks to all my friends for helping me get around and make it. But what happened? I still have no idea…

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Verizon Wireless and getting a cell phone

Today, I was in a Verizon Wireless shop, trying to buy a cell phone. Actually, I was just trying to get my old one fixed, it broke for the 3rd time within a year (LG is completely crap, so it seems). Instead of getting a new item of the same old crappy LG, I just wanted something else, so I told the sales guy that I wanted a new phone “that wouldn’t break within a year”. He says: “oh, so you want a high-end phone kind of thing?” (oh-my-god, so it is supposed to break within a year unless you pay extra?), bringing me to the realm of vcast (some kind of post-stamp sized video on demand system or so), car navigation and that kind of fancy. When I told him I really wanted a phone, we went back to the cheap models and he asked how exactly my old phone was broken, so I told him the battery was always empty within a few hours (all previous models just wouldn’t turn on after a few weeks-months). So, he says: “oh, yes, they have a Lithium ion battery, you shouldn’t charge it overnight!” (oh-my-god, talking about a complete failure of engineering; who designs these phones/batteries, a bunch of lunatics?).

I went over to the purchase of a cheap actual phone (one of those things that you can just make phone calls with). So, he refers me to his colleague salespeople, because his computer is broken. They tell me: “Sorry sir, the network is broken, we can’t handle purchases today.” (oh-my-god, for just so many reasons). After coming back later, I was referred back to the original guy, who referred me to customer service to re-pay a late phone bill that I paid by mail yesterday but they hadn’t handled yet, then back to the original guy, who gave me a piece of paper and referred me back to the customer service to actually pick up the phone, who referred me to technical support to get my phone numbers transferred from the old to the new phone, who referred me back to the customer service for actual payment, who referred me back to the sales guy to get coupons for refund of the phone cost. Oh-my-, oh-my-, oh-my-god. I think I talked with 6 people in total, all in all it took over an hour. How inefficient is that?

Verizon Wireless is seriously screwed up.

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Tiesto

While all those poor GNOME rockstars were at GUADEC hacking on features

I was at DJ TIESTO (ti-jes-to, ti-jes-to, ti-jes-to) at Hammerstein, Manhattan. And yes, he is amazingly good.

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A Google Slave

Good things generally happen when you least expect it. After Apple support was kind enough to erase my HD without asking, I started using Google Mail and Google Calendar. One word: wow!

  • Did you actually know that there are good spam filters out there? I mean, filters that catch more than 10% of spam without having to install and set-up spamassassin (I mean, the thought alone is tiring already). I actually read real email again.
  • I can actually read my mail and calendar on multiple computers and multiple OSes without having to go through pains of installing imap, maintaining a calendar syncing server or other such pains where the thought alone just drains all your energy.
  • Google Mail Conversations are just… Insanely smart. I actually can keep track of which email is a reply to which without tearing hear out of my head or needing 3 screens to see the tree of the email list.
  • Never again lost my agenda or mail when Apple once again offers their service to erase my HD. I should maintain my documents on some storage space online also…

Now if only…

  • Google Calendar had capabilities to serve as a Todo list…
  • GTalk would not be so incredibly annoying. I just hate it. I hate it.

As of today, I’m a Google convert.

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Holocaust cartoons

Sometimes the devil has style. Real, genuine style. There may be no question that the holocaust was a sad reality during world war 2, but regardless, Iran decided to start a contest to make cartoons of it. And I have to admit, some of them are really quite good. Again, not to make you doubt the holocaust or the tragedy of it. Not even because I agree with them and also not because they changed my mind. But just as a matter of opinion of someone I apparently disagree with and as such, they are quite distinct pieces of art. I particularly appreciated these two:

The full list is available at irancartoon.com. Click it, scroll down and look for the chicken one. It’s hilarious.

Edit (6/2/’07): This entry was not the first to be modified without my consent later on. Long live Google cache for allowing me to re-enter this entry. I don’t know what’s wrong but suspect a bug in newsbruiser related to incoming trackbacks. Subsequently, I’ve disabled incoming trackbacks, which will hopefully prevent this from happening again.

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Inevitable

A while ago, I blogged about the impossibility to have a shared agenda between multiple OSes (here, a Linux / OS X dualboot) running local tools. iCal getting slower as my calendar grows made me finally decide to move to GCal and synchronize both sides client-side. I don’t like it, but whatever, at least it works. That was last week, before my screen broke and I sent my computer off for repair to the MacStore (with my calendar still available online, yay!).

Now, I wish I’d done that with my email also, because when the computer came back 2 days later, everything was gone. I had backups of my thesis work (yes, kids, make those – TODAY), but not of my programming (this is a good test to see how much I synchronize with bugzilla / svn) or my email (GMail, here I come…), I mean, seriously, who would’ve thought they’d remove the Linux partition along with fixing the screen? It means anything I’ve ever worked on that was not in a svn/cvs somewhere is now lost. Also, patches in progress or under review no longer exist.

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