Category Archives: Gadgeteering

Personal tech, or Things That Go Beep.

OnStar: Deploying Windbags

The Unhappy Mediator is really disappointed by our collective priorities.

 

Related: Facebook Status Reveals Humanity’s Descent Down (Storm) Drain

Oops, I Just Spammed Myself

Fucking technology. I just spammed myself. Look down.

See that post called 19 January, 2011 22:58? I didn’t write that. My email did. My blog host, WordPress, offers posting-by-email. And YahooMail has shitty security. Put those together and you get me spamming my own blog.

I broke the link so you won’t click on it and virusize yourself, but I couldn’t resist keeping the post up. Moral of the story: Fucking technology.

Metal Rebirth with a Plastic Guitar

In yet another curious renaissance for heavy metal icons, a video game has helped deliver Megadeth and Soundgarden back atop the pedestal of rock. Sayeth the press release:

Megadeth’s “Sudden Death” and Soundgarden’s “Black Rain” – have been nominated for Best Metal Performance and Best Hard Rock Performance, respectively, at the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards. Inspired by, composed exclusively for, and debuted in the game, “Sudden Death” marks the first time an original track created for a videogame has been nominated by The Recording Academy for the prestigious awards.

This is Megadeth’s 9th Grammy nod since the institution of the category in 1989. They’ve never won. Soundgarden hasn’t even existed since 1997, two years after nabbing the Metal award for Spoonman (along with Hard Rock for Black Hole Sun). Black Death debuted simultaneously in the game and on their first new album in a decade, Telephantasm, which went platinum in a day.

If you’re interested, starting tomorrow through noon on Sunday, you can get a free download of each Grammy-nominated song at facebook.com/guitarhero. All I can hope now is that if either band plays at the awards, they’re playing the song, not the game.

How Far We’ve Come: Ten Years of iTunes

The future, in the past.

Today Engadget celebrates the 10th anniversary of iTunes with a touching look back at Steve-O’s initial front in the digital music revolution. Look out for cutting edge buzzwords like “MP3,” “rip” and “playlist.” This “playlist” thing Jobs describes as a way to rise up against the record companies who want you to submit to their fascist decrees on track order. Forget the long-honored tradition of the mixtape, the queuing functionality of Winamp (which iTunes has yet to beat, in my opinion) and the hindsight we now have of this pretend sans-culotte cum digital despot now ruling ironfistedly the virtual airwaves. (Apologies to the historically-minded readers who just cringed at my willy-nilly employment of revolutionary terminology.)

And in harmonious timing with the big birthday, tomorrow’s likely announcement sealing the long awaited arrival of the iPhone to Verizon. I’m inclined agree with Engadget’s prediction that the iPhone will not immediately run on Verizon’s new LTE 4G network and that if you “rush to buy a Verizon iPhone, you might be locking yourself into a contract you’ll be dying to break when the iPhone 5 launches in the summer.” Units ought to start shipping next month. I’ll be curious to see how this affects Android’s recent market share gains, especially given improvements to the hardware and app offerings in the interim. I mean, um, I would be, if I were a huge dork.

This Week’s Top Nerd Mail: Japanese 3D Hologram Pop Star

The email began like this:

Hi Amanda

I wanted to send this quick pitch through in case you were thinking about doing a piece on the Japanese Pop sensation, Hatsune Miku, who is actually an animated 3D hologram.

It goes on to explain that “the invented idol’s DVD is selling out and she/it is becoming a legit phenomenon.”

Did you know about this? Apparently she/it has performed to capacity crowds at stadium concerts in Japan. I had no idea. So I checked out the video the flack sent me and… holy shit:

According to the LA Times tech blog “Miku is a singing, digital avatar created by Crypton Future Media that customers can purchase and then program to perform any song on a computer. Crypton uses voices recorded by actors and runs them through Yamaha Corp.’s Vocaloid software -– marketed as ‘a singer in a box.'”

Vocaloid recently announced a new addition to its holo-talent roster, Utatane Piko, a twee little digiboy with a USB tail. Beginning December 8 he’ll be available from Sony Music Shop for 15,750 Yen.

For reference, that’s over $190. Jesus. There are countries where you could get a real boy for that.

Best Intextions: Outside Sources

A couple of sites are chock full of hilarious auto-correct text mishaps like the one above from iPhuckups. Another, Damn You Auto Correct, launched a little after, takes contributions. Most come from iPhones. Freaking iPhones.

Enjoy.

Best Intextions: Downgrading the Comma

I recently got a software upgrade for my piece of shit phone from Verizon. The upgrade did nothing to address the irritating little problem that causes the phone to spontaneously shut off. It did, however, randomize all my photos and change, of all things, the order of operations in predictive text. Moreover, it dissed the comma, one of my top five favorite punctuation marks.

It’s not enough that I have to unwire the muscle memory that I’ve developed using T9 for years, I’m also dealing with the conspicuous short-shrifting of the trusty comma. Once just a single “Next” press after the default period, the comma is now a full five keystrokes down the line, after the @ sign,  question mark, exclamation point and hyphen, in that order.

The comma is oft unappreciated, but to be considered inferior to the @ sign and the hyphen? A second class citizen, just one step up from an ampersand? It’s a sad, sad state of affairs.

Commas make your text(s) more readable. And they make you look smarter. (Bonus!) This is a call to action, folks. Don’t forsake the comma. Keep ’em coming, please.

Now I’ll return to quietly seething. Thank you.