I can’t wait until iPhone releases later today. And then, I can’t wait for a couple of weeks to go by. Frankly, I’m getting tired of hearing about the thing. I mean, I like Apple products well enough and all, and the iPhone does look really cool, but it does seem a bit ridiculous to me just how orgasmic everyone seems to be over something that hasn’t even been released yet and that, very likely, will have a number of bugs and glitches that need to be worked out of the system.
In order to do my job properly for “WLTC”:http://webtoolscollection.com, I keep my ear to the WordPress ground for news about new themes and plugins. Much of this news comes into Google Reader from a couple of news feeds I subscribe to. I found an interesting one this morning that I had to chuckle about just a little – it’s a slightly different take on feed scraping. The blog entry I found pointed at one of the plugins in today’s writeup – and used my words verbatim. Granted, the guy added a couple more lines of explanation afterwards, so he at least had the decency to not completely plagiarize, but I had to laugh. And I don’t actually have a problem with his copy-pasting my words into his own entry, since I often just copy-paste what the plugin authors write themselves when they post their plugins into the various directories around the web (though I do often make minor edits to correct for spelling and grammar errors and to generally make the announcements much more readable). Mostly, I just thought it was interesting and amusing.
I am well pleased. I’ve heard horror stories about people who have had to exchange their Xbox 360 consoles, and then had to spend several hours on the phone with Xbox customer service trying to convince them that they should be allowed to keep the Xbox Live Arcade games they’d purchased and download them to their new console. So, either theirs were unusual technical problems or Microsoft has changed their policies because I went to download Aegis Wing again last night, since I knew it was a free download, only to discover that it already had the checkmark next to it that says I’d already downloaded it. Sure enough, when I selected it, I was asked if I wanted to download it _again_. Checking the other three arcade games I’d purchased previously revealed that they _also_ simply asked to be downloaded again – I didn’t have to purchase any of them a second time. Sure, I have to play through them again to regain my saved progress from before, but that’s a small price to pay when getting all my games back costs me not one penny out-of-pocket.
Just got word that my new DSL modem has arrived at home. Guess what I’m gonna do tonight…
My Xbox 360 continues to lie – I actually played several times over the weekend, albeit offline due to a critical failure of my DSL modem at the hands of an errant lightning bolt. I actually tackled G.R.A.W. again and got further this time than ever before. Sadly, however, I’ll be starting it all over again once I can get my DSL set up again (where _is_ that new modem?!) and recover my gamertag on the new box.
And just how _is_ my 360 blogging when it doesn’t have any more access to the Web than I do?!
So, very early this past Friday morning, a major thunderstorm rolls through my area. A very loud SNAP wakes me just in time to notice the power die throughout the house for about 5 seconds. Now, since we have horses, whenever one of these thunder-busters rolls through, I like to check the weather report from Weather Underground and see what we’re facing. Only – no Internet. Turns out, that snap that woke me up was a lightning strike, either on my house or close enough nearby to fry my DSL modem. So from there, I end up going back to bed to listen to the storm for the next two hours until I have to get up to run my morning horse feed.
Fortunately, my ISP (TDS) was willing and able to ship me off a new DSL modem immediately – it’s supposed to arrive this afternoon, and I should be back in business in short order. But then, Friday evening, I go to fire up my 360 to play a little bit offline – and nothin’. No power going to my console whatsoever, despite the fact that the power brick is lit up light it ought to be. Now, why didn’t I have my equipment surge protected, you might ask? Well, I did. My best theory is that the electric surge actually came down through the phone line, hit the DSL modem, bounced through the network cable, and smacked my 360. No problem, though – I still have my 360 under a 2-year product replacement plan from Best Buy. So, I ran it back there on Saturday, one of their Geek Squad guys plugged it in, verified the no-power issues, and told me to grab another. Piece of cake. (BTW – Best Buy won’t let you upgrade from a 360 to an elite on a product replacement. I asked about that.)
I get the 360 home, set it up, turn it on to verify that it works (since I can’t actually set up until my new DSL modem arrives) – and get terrible video. The image is very faded, very blurry. I’m thinking maybe I got a bad 360. So I run it upstairs to test it on my other (and far older) TV. Thing of it is, neither of my TVs have component inputs – I have to use an RF modulator to hook everything up. When I tested it on my second TV, the screen was even worse, confirming my fears that the 360 was bad. I was on the phone with a friend at the time, though, and he suggested bypassing the RF modulator by running the component cable through my VCR. This I tried – and got the clearest picture I think I’ve ever had with my 360. Turns out, my RF modulator had already been going bad, and the power spike finished the job. In the process of testing everything, though, I also noticed that the bottom 3 inches of my TV screen are slightly discolored and distorted. So the spike also managed to do some slight damage to the tubes in my TV.
Fortunately, the modem, 360, and RF modulator have all been replaced at no cost to me, and the TV is still functional enough for use. So, I’m hoping that as of this evening when my modem arrives, I’ll be back in business. I was bummed that I had to miss out on my regularly scheduled Halo night on Friday, but I’m at least pleased that this cost me nothing but a minor inconvenience to replace everything.
And that’s my interesting weekend.
I’ve done it again, much to my chagrin. I’ve set up another “MySpace account”:http://myspace.com/stitzelj. I wouldn’t have done it, but frankly, right now it’s the only way for me to re-establish some semblance of contact with a few of my high school classmates. Oh, the things I do for my friends…
In the process, though, I’ve discovered yet _another_ terrible layout idea – opacity. Specifically, making just about everything on the page opaque just so that the background design can be seen. It’s obvious that those who employ this particular technique know nothing about web page design. Opacity _can_ be a good technique – when used in moderation. Making an entire page opaque, however, is a very bad idea because it makes everything super-difficult to read. And I’m not one of those ultra-patient folks who will labor through it just to find out what’s new.
Oy, MySpace is _still_ evil. But in this case, I have good reason to live with it – at least for the time being.
Ok, this bugs the tar out of me, especially since I’ve seen a _lot_ of writers, both for books and for TV, who get this wrong. Schizophrenia is _NOT_ the same thing as multiple personalities. Schizophrenia involves delusions and hallucinations, among other things (see _A Beautiful Mind_ for a flick that actually gets it right). Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder before the DSM-IV revision) is what is _actually_ multiple, or split, personalities. It’s a common misconception that the two mental disorders are one and the same. Stephen King got it wrong in _The Dark Tower_ series (and should, in my opinion, have fixed it in Book 5, given the timespan between it and Book 4), and the writers of _Stargate SG-1_ got it wrong in a couple of episodes, just to name two examples. There have been plenty of others I’ve seen lately, too.
Get it right, people!
(Aren’t writers supposed to do research on these things?)
In doing my daily write-ups for “WLTC”:http://weblogtoolscollection.com, I’ve become even more aware of just how many WordPress themes out there contain sponsored links – and believe me, there are a lot of them. I can also understand folks wanting to make a little money of their work. Theme design does take a lot of time and effort, which is why I haven’t done more than the one WordPress theme and the one bbPress theme of my own – I simply haven’t had the time. And it’s always cool to get paid for doing something you love.
But I myself will probably never use a sponsored theme. I shy away from them for the same reason why I have decided against using any form of adsense modules on my site. I think advertising of any form embedded on a site I’m reading is annoying and distracting, and I think that most people feel much the same way. The last thing I want my site to turn into is an advertisement for someone else. Granted, I’ve tossed banner ads up once or twice for something I truly believed was worthwhile, but always those ads came down within several days or a couple of weeks once the promotion period itself was passed. And I likely will never put up ads again – I just don’t like the added clutter. Sponsored links, while they usually take up hardly any space at all and since as simple text links in the footer, are still advertising that clutter things up too much.
The thing of it is, WordPress is free software and what’s more, it’s open source. It’s a community project of sorts, one that a lot of people contribute their work toward improving with themes, plugins, bug fixes, and much more. And a lot of this work is excellent, top-notch stuff. I’ve stumbled across a lot of sharp-looking themes and plenty of plugins that make life so much easier and better. So I guess I feel a little bit insulted when someone else comes along with a theme or plugin, one that has _probably_ already been seen in some form somewhere else (for free), and wants the rest of us to billboards their ads and sponsored links on our sites. Aside from the objections I’ve already raised, the thing I object to is that by allowing such things on my site, I’m implying my support for whatever businesses lie on the other end of those links, most of which I know nothing about and cannot, therefore, provide any sort of endorsement for.
With so many free, unsponsored themes out there, plus the ability to make my own, there’s no reason for me to ever use a sponsored theme. Besides, with the “WordPress Theme Generator”:http://www.yvoschaap.com/wpthemegen/ and “Canvas”:http://freshpursuits.com/canvas/, I don’t know why even the least HTML-savvy individual can’t create their own theme to their preferred specifications.
This iPhone Commercial Spoof demonstrates a fair point. I’d thought of that quite a while back when I first heard about it. Heck, just my ear leaves smudges on the little glass display on my wireless phone at home. I think I’d find having an entire display covered in smudges all the time would drive me batty. I like the _idea_ of the iPhone, but I have a feeling that if I ever owned one, I’d be endlessly cleaning the silly display.