Friday, August 22, 2008

Note to Self: Better Name for Next Blog

So I'm using Google Analytics to track traffic to my blog. Not that I'm terribly concerned about it, but I already had an Analytics account for traffic monitoring at work, so I thought, “What the heck, might as well make a separate profile for my blog, just because I can.” The code for it is actually located just above the “Dashboard” link on my sidebar.

Anyway, it wasn't long before I noticed something strange. The reports from Google Analytics include a listing of search terms that people have used to reach your site. I was mildly disturbed to discover that several people arrived here via search terms that used the last word in my blog's name with less-than-innocent intent. (I imagine they were probably somewhat disappointed.) There hasn't been anything that made me want to claw my eyes out yet, but I'm thinking that witty title may not have been so great after all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gold Medal Riffs

“Welcome to the men's Rock Band finals here in Beijing. We've had some pretty exciting qualifying rounds, and it's down to eight great teams. Tell us who to watch in this event, Keith.”

“Well, Bill, the Americans of course have a long history of producing the greatest rock legends ever seen, but those skills don't necessarily transfer to Rock Band the game. This event doesn't test your artistic ability so much as your capacity to slavishly duplicate canned performance instructions, and rock legends aren't exactly known for going by the book. But raw singing ability and sense of rhythm do help in this event, and the American team certainly has that on their side. Their team also has last year's world Guitar Hero champion on lead guitar, which should help them a lot.”

“Do the Americans have any significant competition in this event, Keith?”

“Sweden has some serious death metal chops, so they're a real threat to the U.S.'s gold medal aspirations. And then there's Japan, whose karaoke experience and sheer ability with controllers of any kind makes them decidedly dangerous.”

“Karaoke? Really?”

“Absolutely! Don't forget, there's no panel of judges in this event. It's all scored by a game console, which has no real concept of performance quality as humans perceive it. All it knows is whether you hit the right note at the right time. You can have a voice like fingernails on a chalkboard, but if it's on pitch, the console will score it highly.”

“That's fortunate, since this is a new event and there really aren't any experienced judges for it.”

“Not that judging quality was ever really that important at the Olympics.”

“Point. Oh, it looks like the American team is about to take the stage. Yes, they've taken up the controllers, and the drummer is scrolling through the songs... Unlike most events, we aren't told about their routine in advance, and teams typically practice at their dorms in the Olympic Village rather than in the arena. So we find out what they're going to play when you do. Oh, it looks like they've selected ‘Highway Star’ by Deep Purple. Tell us about this song, Keith.”

“Well, as is fitting for the finals, they've selected a Tier 9 song; in fact, it's Tier 9 for all components except for drums, where it's Tier 8. ‘Highway Star’ is one of the hardest selections in the Rock Band song list; probably the only one that's harder is ‘Run to the Hills’ by Iron Maiden. It's a very, very high tempo song with a long guitar solo. It should prove to be an interesting choice.”

“And they're off to a very solid start, it seems. The CPU is judging them very highly so far.”

“Yes. It should be noted to viewers who may be unfamiliar with the event that the console judges on the fly; you can see what it thinks of their performance as they perform, rather than having to wait until the end to get any indication of its opinion.”

“Last year's world champion is doing very well on lead guitar, and the drummer is just spot on. The vocals are a little shaky, but not too bad. He seems a bit nervous.”

“Understandably so, seeing as he's performing in an arena chock full of people when he's more accustomed to singing in his living room.”

“And here's the guitar solo... oh, that was very well done. The computer loved that!”

“Yes, and the audience is rising to their feet and applauding as the song approaches the end. I'm not sure whether they're reacting to the performance itself or simply the high marks.”

“And there's the bow to the officials... wait, they're not leaving the stage. What's going on?”

“It looks like there have been a number of calls from the audience for ‘Free Bird.’”

“But if I understand right, ‘Free Bird’ is not an available selection in Rock Band.”

“No, it's not; it's available in Guitar Hero II but not Rock Band. They're selecting something new from the menu. The officials don't like it, but they don't know what to do.”

“Well, you don't exactly see encores in the pole vault.”

“Oh, they're doing ‘Roam’ by the B-52s!”

“And the crowd loves it! Look at the officials! What are they doing?”

“I believe they're holding up lighters, Bill.”

“This is a very special moment here in Beijing, folks.”

*sob* “I love this song!”

(Idea for this post came from here.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Finally! A Buyer!

So it looks like we've got a buyer for our condo. It's not certain yet—the buyer's loan still has to be finalized, for example—but this is very encouraging for us. We aren't getting quite as much as we would have hoped, but in this market, nobody's paying asking price. Maybe we'll make that up on the buying side. Anyway, assuming all goes well (knock on wood), we should be closing on September 25. Now we're scrambling like mad to find and buy a new place!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Turn Left at the Burning House

Not what you'd expect to see when using Google's Street View feature (larger view):

In case Google replaces the image, here's the original:

Here's what I want to know: How many people, upon confronting this image, think it's live and click the “Help” link?

Update: For a less depressing Street View, how about this Google employee's creative idea? (larger view)

Original image:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Jamie Wants Big Boom

And now, for your viewing pleasure, animals which bear a striking resemblance to one Jamie Hyneman. Click any of the pictures below to enlarge. First, for comparison purposes, an image of the great beret'd one himself:

Puppy Jamie:

Hyneman kitty:

Here's one I screen captured from one of my daughter's animal DVDs. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Jamie the Emperor Tamarin:

By the way, if you don't already watch MythBusters, you're really missing out on a great show. Go check it out.