Ain’t no lie baby, bye, bye, bye

You’re probably thinking, whoa, I didn’t realize that Dan listens to NSync. Actually I don’t, I just remember the phrase from having sung the song a capella a few years ago with a group of friends from The University. Yes, I sing, something you probably didn’t know about me (tenor 1).
So this past week, I cancelled my account with Vonage.
When you initially sign up for the service they mail you a Linksys router that has two phone lines built into it, for free essentially. What they failt to mention, or maybe they do and it’s obscure to the average user like myself, you have to mail it back or get hit for a $42 fee. Can we say ouch? Good thing that there’s a UPS store just around the corner from where I live, so it got mailed back pretty quickly. Honestly, I thought that it was going to be a kickin’ service to have. VoIP, or voice over internet protocol to be precise. I figured that since we have a cable modem that has a fairly big but non-consistent pipe for information to flow in and out of that we would be good to go and have some kickin’ telephony. We pay $55 a month total between myself and one of my roommates. We signed up for the “premier” plan which gives a best effort to give 6 mega bits down and 786 kilobits up. The best we’ve ever seen down was actually about 5.5 megabits and the best up was 620 kilobits. Not too shabby, and you’d thiking that this would be more than sufficient, however apparently not. Even doing router QoS (quality of service) tuning, that I might be able to have a phone that didn’t sound like there was static interference going on in the background. Maybe it’s just the ghost in the machine, but something tells me that until we have consistent broadband speeds, VoIP isn’t going to hit it off that well in the consumer market very well. Now in the business market where you have things such as business DSL and business cable which has actual service level agreements, you might actually benefit from VoIP and save a buck or two. For the consumer with a cable modem, we sadly live in a world that does not have sustained bandwidth since it’s shared in a hub configuration. There have been times using different speed tests where we see our download speed drop to 50 kilobits per second or our upload speeds drop to 20 kilobits per second — it’s at times like this where I start to think about using dialup again.
As a sidenote, when I lived by myself this would have been a much better option to have had rather than a convential POTS phoneline. I only say this because a bare minimum telephone line was approximately $42. You can’t beat $27 a month from Vonage. If you’ve got a stable internet connection that has high bandwidth with good pressure (my way of saying that it’s consistent rather than what we have where it drops here and there as though you’re white water rafting through the Grand Canyon), then give it a try.

What’s That? I’ve Got a FE-vah…

Blue Oyster Cult, Playing Along With “More Cowbell”
Washington Post – There was something missing the other night when Blue Oyster Cult, the ’70s stadium rockers, kicked into their signature song, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” in a gig at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis…

Yes, it’s true, the imfamous song “The Reaper” by the Blue Oyster Cult needs more cowbell. But what’s even more humorous is reading this Washington Post news story which gives the entire history of how the cowbell track got put into the song, how it holds the song together, how there is no Gene Frenkle, how Bruce Dickinson had nothing to do with the song. It’s a good read if you’ve got a few minutes.
Oh and by the way, don’t you think that this blog posting could use some more cowbell? 😀

Bose Quiet Comfort 2 Headphones

I would have to say that the past few days have been quite a bit different than the past. They have been filled with music that is unlike any other. When I bought my car this past May, the only upgraded that I decided to get for it was the Bose Sound Package (FYI, I drive a 2004 Nissan Maxima SE). I typically go out to my car and attach my iPod or take a CD burnt from iTunes and will listen to it with the keys in the ignition, my eyes closed, just hanging out and relaxing. Now don’t get me wrong, I love taking my iPod with me to work and using the headphones that come with the iPod, but there’s just something different now using the Bose Quiet Comfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones. I’ve tried Sony’s MDR-NC5 Noise Canceling headphones in the past (these are actually the ones that I take to the gym with me) and I’ve tried Apple’s In Ear buds, but the Bose earphones blow them out of the water.
I received them this past Wednesday evening when I returned home from a long day in the lab where there is a constant whir of noise from fans keeping servers and routers cool. I opened the package to find a decent carrying case the shape of a small set of binoculars inside the box. Inside I removed headphones, plugged the cord in (yes, you can use them as just something to tune noise out if you don’t want to listen to music and have a cord dangling) and popped the battery in. I was pretty enamored by the quality and feel of the headphones from the beginning.
I pulled out my iPod and queued up one of my favorite playlists and set things in motion, experiencing music as I had never experienced it before. Actually, experiencing it like I was in my car, only more personally. I could hear everything, I could feel the bass, I almost started crying. I’ve been using them quite a bit since then, four days later and they have yet to make me think that the $300 investment was not worthy. In the lab, it’s actually quite eerie, there’s usually a loud rumble and high pitched whir. The dampening that the headphones create is phenominal and it becomes a very quite whir that is a lot easier to deal with, and when you’re playing music I rarely hear it since the music rides over it.
Speaking of purchasing a pair, I would suggest going with Crutchfield. My first intention was to use the discount that I get over at the Apple store and since there’s one in Tyson’s Corner I thought I would just go pick up a pair, however they don’t give the discount on Bose products (apparently very few places do). So after doing a little bit of research I found that Crutchfield had the best intentions of the customer in mind. Not only is their shipping free for these because of their cost, but they also provide free return shipping if you’re not satisfied with the product. In addition, they have a 30 day satisfaction guarantee for returns — Apple on the other hand has a 14 day return period which they exercise. So you make the call, same price, same product, but free return shipping, free shipping and a longer period to truly test them out, something tells me that in this situation Crutchfield wins (sorry Apple store, I still love you). If you are interested getting a pair, might I ask that you use my referral code? If you do you’ll get a slight discount on the item (click here for details). Nevertheless, my referral code is pe42r-hf14u-9gb6p… use it wisely.

[Listening to: Learning to Breathe-Switchfoot – Various Artists – A Walk To Remember Soundtrack (4:36)]

Sin City: Klamath Falls, Oregon

With Frank Miller’s comic book series becoming a film featuring Bruce WIllis and Jessica Alba among others, apparently Miramax has begun working on plans for a sequel. However, like most movie sequels, they tend to stray from the original novel or story line quite a bit. In this case, the sequel seems to be set in the town of Klameth Falls, Oregon where the Oregon Institute of Technology sits on the northern edge. It’s a quiet town, but apparently there seems to be immorality and sin creeping into the culture and lifestyles of its residents. For more on this breaking store, read the story here.

[Listening to: Supersonic – Jamiroquai – Synkronized (5:15)]

Update (2/26/2005 13:44): Apparently a separate part of the production crew has started thinking that the next Sin City will span many cities to make it more appealing to the broader public. Apparently the town of Boise, Idaho has taken their attention. A clever club that apparently hosts Art Night may be included in the next thriller.

[Listening to: John Lurie: Stink (short version) – Various Artists – Get Shorty Soundtrack (2:26)]

Interceptor Missiles Hits Test Target

Interceptor Missile Hits Test Target
WASHINGTON (AP) — An experimental naval interceptor shot down a short-range ballistic missile target during a test over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, missile defense officials said.
It’s comforting to know that the US military has once again invested time and research money in guiding the development of a program that is relevant to the world in which we live, defending our nation from future threats. Being proactive in dealing with threats is something that our country is getting better at, but sometimes I wonder. Nonetheless, I’ve definitely been impressed with the specs of the SM-3 missile that I’ve read from SpaceRef.com among other places (yay for Google). And from what I’ve read about the AEGIS program, it’s a pretty impressive program with some pretty intense computing taking place. I hope some day to actually see a missile trial aboard an AEGIS cruiser or destroyer as I’ve heard that it’s quite an experience to put a bird in the air. I wonder what the computer rooms look like that run these defense wonders… one can only imagine right? I applaud the men and women of the US Navy for giving of themselves and protecting the nation’s waters, as well as the scientists, engineers, consultants and technical advisors which make this program a reality.

[Listening to: Us3: Chili Hot – Various Artists – Get Shorty Soundtrack (5:38)]

Firefox 1.0.1 Released

Firefox 1.0.1 Released
homeobocks writes “Firefox 1.0.1 has been officially released by the Mozilla Foundation, with some important security fixes. An announcement and release notes are available.” Presumably this fixes the window injection vulnerabilities.
And much like my colleague over at GregNews.org might say, “And everyone said… amen”
According to Firefox Release Notes, the improvements in the ..1 update are as follows:

  • Improved stability
  • International Domain Names are now displayed as punycode. (To show International Domain Names in Unicode set the “network.IDN_show_punycode” preference to false.)
  • Several security fixes

To say the least, I’m happy to see the Mozilla Organization continuing to work on this fine product, enhancing it and fixing bugs in a timely fashion like other companies should.

[Listening to: Brave Words, Braver Deeds – James Horner – Glory (3:10)]

Beer…. with sugar?

Court deals blow to German beer law (Reuters)
Reuters – Germany’s nearly 500-year-old rules guarding the purity of beer
have been dealt a blow by a court judgment allowing a small brewer to call its product
“beer” even though it contains sugar.

Okay, so I admit that this story isn’t all that incredible, but I still think that it’s somewhat interesting that the Germans value “Pure Beer” so much. Strange don’t you think?