Well, word just broke on the ‘net this past week that Microsoft is moving to the IBM PowerPC processor (the same family of processors used in Apple‘s Power Mac G5) for their next generation of XBox game systems.

Interesting.

So. Randomly putting things together in my head.

First thought: if the XBox is moving to an IBM PowerPC processor — assumedly at least similar to the G5, if not the same processor — wouldn’t they need development/testing machines? Could it be that I’ve finally figured out whose toes I stepped on? I doubt I’ll ever know…but it’s worth thinking about.

Second thought: Not terribly long ago, Microsoft acquired Connectix. This was most notable at the time because Connectix’ flagship product was Virtual PC, which allows Macs to run Windows software through emulation of a x86-compatible PC. Less noted, though, was another older Connectix product that has been discontinued, the Virtual Game Station, which used similar emulation technology to allow the Mac to play original Sony PlayStation games.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Microsoft retooled the VGS codebase to produce a “Virtual XBox” for G5 Power Macs? It’ll never happen, if for no other reason than pure marketing dollars (I’m sure they’d rather have people buy a \$200 Xbox than a \$50 piece of software — playing Devil’s Advocate, though, there might be more profit margin on that \$50 piece of software, plus it would drive game sales…). In any case, it’s also fun to think about.

(via codepoetry)

Inspired by Pops’ recent posts about sheep, I wandered over to revisit the political compass.

I’d taken this test before, back in June of 2002, at which point I had a score of -6.12/-5.90, decently far into both the Left and Libertarian sides of the graph.

Interestingly, this time, I scored -6.62/-6.41, slightly further into the Left and Libertarian sides. Apparently I’m moving even further left in my old age. ;)

Along with a resurgence of interest in this test, Tim Lambert is collecting and graphing results of various blogger’s test results. By his table, I’ll end up in the same general area as Alfredo Perez, Ryan, Big Picnic, Dominion (James McLaughlin), Henry Farrell, Keith Kisser, CrowGirl, Nick Barlowe, PZ Myers, and Paul Setzer.

Belkin just lost any chance of getting business from me in the future.

It seems that with the latest firmware update to their routers, they have implemented a “feature” enabling unexpected, intrusive, unwanted advertising. Every eight hours, one http request (the information your browser sends when requesting a particular web page) is hijacked and redirected to an advertising page for a new parental control feature.

After the upgrade, on all our systems (wired or wireless), valid http requests are, for certain values of occasionally, redirected to a Belkin ad page!!!!

>

[…]

>

It seems the router now supports a parental control and the market droids at Belkin got the bright idea of equipping the router with intrusive nagware. Of course, I have this strange notion that routers should pass data unmolested by marketeers! There is a “No Thanks” link on the page. Now I have to opt-out from commercials from my router??!!

This behavior was later confirmed by Eric Deming, from Belkin.

Update: Eric Deming’s post has mysteriously disappeared from Google Groups. Damn, I knew I should have quoted from it as well.

Update 2: There is another post from Eric apologizing and claiming that there will be a patch soon. I’m still curious about the earlier post that suddenly went missing.

Update 3: Bingo. One of the posts in the /. thread about this contains the full text of Eric’s first message.

This is nasty. At best, it’s low-down, slimy, intrusive, annoying marketing. At worst, it could cause everything from difficulties with web-based systems (imagine having the redirect kick in in the middle of a transaction on your bank’s website) to possible security holes (such as hackers taking control of the redirect [through affecting the routers, Belkin’s server, or DNS servers in between] and including a trojan or virus in the new target page).

Bye-bye, Belkin.

(via The Register, via the usual suspects)

Controversy Threatens to Tear Disco Band Asunder

For the first time in their three decades of existence, the disco band The Village People have inducted an openly Episcopal man, igniting a controversy that threatens to tear the fabled group asunder.

Holding a press conference in New York City today, The Construction Worker, a prominent member of The Village People since its inception in the 1970s, urged “tolerance and understanding” for its latest member, The Episcopal Guy, who joined the group over the weekend.

“From the start, The Village People have been all about inclusiveness,” The Construction Worker said. “And introducing The Episcopal Guy as our latest member is part of that tradition.”

While The Indian Chief and The Fireman were reportedly in agreement with The Construction Worker about including The Episcopal Guy in the band, The Policeman, The Cowboy, and the Leather-clad Guy were reportedly opposed, creating speculation that The Village People might split up into two smaller, somewhat less influential disco bands.

(from Dad)

Private Jessica Lynch, in her first public statements since her heavily reported capture and rescue, has expressed her discomfort with the military using her for propaganda purposes (which generated some interesting discussion here at the time).

THE 20-YEAR-OLD private told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a “Primetime” interview to air Tuesday that she was bothered by the military’s portrayal of her ordeal.

“They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff,” she said in an excerpt from the interview, posted Friday on the network’s Web site. “It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about,” she said.

She also said there was no reason for her rescue from an Iraqi hospital to be filmed. “It’s wrong,” she said.

[…]

Footage of the rescue was aired repeatedly on television networks reporting how a special forces team bravely fought into and out of the hospital. “I don’t think it happened quite like that,” Lynch said.

&mdash MSNBC: Lynch: Military Manipulated Story

In the book and in the interviews, Ms. Lynch says others’ accounts of her heroism often left her feeling hurt and ashamed because of what she says was overstatement.

[…]

Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms. Sawyer, “It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren’t here to tell the story. So I would have been the only one able to say, yeah, I went down shooting. But I didn’t.”

And asked about reports that the military exaggerated the danger of the rescue mission, Ms. Lynch said, “Yeah, I don’t think it happened quite like that,” although she added that in that context anybody would have approached the hospital well-armed. She continued: “I don’t know why they filmed it, or why they say the things they, you know, all I know was that I was in that hospital hurting. I needed help.”

[…]

Ms. Lynch also disputed statements by Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer, that he saw her captors slap her.

“From the time I woke up in that hospital, no one beat me, no one slapped me, no one, nothing,” Ms. Lynch told Diane Sawyer, adding, “I’m so thankful for those people, because that’s why I’m alive today.”

— The New York Times: Jessica Lynch Criticizes U.S. Accounts of Her Ordeal

Right now, I feel so sorry for Pvt. Lynch — both for what she went through in Iraq and what she’s gone through since returning home — and I’m also incredibly proud of her for speaking out and expressing her dissatisfaction with the way the story was handled. It was certainly not her fault that the military chose to use her story for grandstanding purposes, and she probably needs our thoughts and support as much now as she ever did before.

(via Atrios and Dad)

Also of interest, the MSNBC story on Pvt. Lynch links at the bottom to a TV-only story questioning the differing treatment by the military and media between Pvt. Lynch and Pvt. Soshana Johnson, something that dad and I touched on when first discussing the Pvt. Lynch story. Hopefully a webcast of this story will be made available once it’s been broadcast.

The director of the White House Office of Administration, Timothy A. Campen, has decreed that any questions to the White House must be filtered through Republican committee chairmen, effectively cutting off any questioning from Democratic representatives.

The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers.

[…]

“Given the increase in the number and types of requests we are beginning to receive from the House and Senate, and in deference to the various committee chairmen and our desire to better coordinate these requests, I am asking that all requests for information and materials be coordinated through the committee chairmen and be put in writing from the committee.”

He said this would limit “duplicate requests” and help answer questions “in a timely fashion.”

It would also do another thing: prevent Democrats from getting questions answered without the blessing of the GOP committee chairmen.

“It’s saying we’re not going to allow the opposition party to ask questions about the way we use tax money,” said R. Scott Lilly, Democratic staff director for the House committee. “As far as I know, this is without modern precedent.”

From what I can tell, this seems to be the political equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears, squinting your eyes shut, and chanting “LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

Classy.

(via Len and Atrios)

According to CNN, Prince Charles has come out to publicly announce that the allegations are “totally untrue and without a shred of substance.”

Just to further clear up the matter a bit:

  1. I haven’t been to England since I was around twelve, at which point I most certainly did not have a custom-fitted vinyl body stocking.
  2. That amount of marshmallow creme would be extremely difficult to acquire unnoticed.
  3. Platypi just aren’t that flexible.
  4. Neither is Prince Charles.
  5. I’ve never even heard of that brand of lubricant, let alone tried to smuggle two cases of it into Buckingham Palace.
  6. Getting a llama to stand still long enough to shave it is difficult enough without the gratuitous application of day-glo body paint afterwards.
  7. Once peeled, bananas are too soft to be inserted anywhere.

I certainly hope that this clears up some of the misinformation, and that the rumors surrounding this incident cease forthwith.

Thank you for your time.

(via Neil Gaiman)

Just in case any Alien/Aliens/Alien^3^/Alien Resurrection fans happen to stop by here who haven’t heard about this yet…

…you really need to hit Amazon and order your copy of the Alien Quadrilogy.

Press release with full specifications follows (though be aware that while mostly correct, it apparently contains a few inaccuracies — for full, correct specs and reviews, see The Digital Bits’ review):

A L I E N QUADRILOGY

BURSTING WITH 45 HOURS OF BONUS MATERIALS AND NEVER-BEFORE-AVAILABLE VERSIONS OF EACH MOVIE, THE DEFINITIVE 9-DISC SET LANDS ON DECEMBER 2, 2003

Fox Home Entertainment Sets The DVD Bar With Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Original Film Editors, Five FX Companies And More To Deliver The Ultimate Alien Collection

CENTURY CITY, Calif., — The Alien Quadrilogy is hatching! The ultimate nine-disc Alien DVD collection, loaded with never-before-available versions of each movie, plus a bonus disc, explodes on December 2, 2003 from Fox Home Entertainment. Featuring 45 hours of never-before-seen footage, the Alien Quadrilogy includes the original theatrical releases of each of the four films in the franchise plus alternate versions of each film and out-of-this-world bonus features including new director commentaries, original screen tests and production footage. A ground-breaking initiative from Fox Home Entertainment, the significant under-taking marks the first time a studio’s home entertainment division has finished a theatrical film (Alien3). Working closely with Directors Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, original film editors, and teams from Fox Restoration, Fox Sound, Visual Effects houses, TCFHE and the DVD producer coordinated the restoration of original footage, reconstruction of original audio, new visual effects and foley work, and much more to allow fans to experience the Alien franchise as never before. The most highly anticipated box set of the year is set to infiltrate homes this holiday season with a suggested priced of \$99.98 U.S./\$139.98 Canada.

On January 6, 2004, the Alien singles DVD discs will land. The two-disc Collector’s Editions of Alien, Aliens, Alien3 and Alien Resurrection will be loaded with the never-before-available versions of each film, plus commentaries from the world-renowned directors, behind-the-scenes featurettes and much more for a SRP of \$26.98 U.S./\$37.98 Canada. Pre-book date for the singles is December 10, 2003. The Alien Quadrilogy bonus disc is exclusive to the box set.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES

Presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital (except for Alien and Alien Resurrection, which are also presented in English 5.1 DTS), French Dolby Surround (Canada only) and Spanish Dolby Surround (U.S. only) sound. All films are anamorphic widescreen with their original 2.35:1 aspect ratios (except for Aliens, which is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio) and THX certified.

ALIEN
  • The original 1979 theatrical version of Alien and the 2003 Director’s cut
  • An introduction by Director Ridley Scott, Dan O’Bannon, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt and more
  • Brand new commentary by Ridley Scott and the technical crew
  • Nine brand new documentaries:
    • “Star Beast” — On developing the Alien story
    • “The Visualists” — the direction and design of the film
    • “Truckers In Space” — Casting the movie
    • “Fear Of The Unknown” — Behind the scenes at Shepperton Studios in 1978
    • “The Darkest Reaches” — Developing the Nostromo and Alien planet
    • “The Eighth Passenger” — Creating the Alien
    • “Future Tense” — Focusing on the music and editing of Alien
    • “Outward Bound” — Peering into the film’s visual effects
    • “A Nightmare Fulfilled” — Reaction to the film’s opening
  • A Multi-Angle Scene Study on the Chestburster sequence with optional commentary by Ridley Scott and the production team
  • Sigourney Weaver’s original screen test with optional commentary by Ridley Scott
  • Seven deleted scenes with a deleted footage marker and deleted scene index
  • The first draft of the screenplay by Dan O’Bannon
  • Ridleygrams — Original thumbnails and sketches by Ridley Scott
  • Storyboard Archives
  • The Art of Alien including a cast portrait gallery, production gallery, the sets of Alien, H.R. Giger’s Workshop, continuity polaroids and VFX gallery
  • The original theatrical posters and stills from the premiere
ALIENS
  • The original theatrical version – available for the first time ever on DVD – and James Cameron’s special edition version of Aliens
  • An introduction by Director James Cameron
  • Brand new commentary by James Cameron, Michael Biehn, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn, Terry Henn, Lance Henriksen, Gale Anne Hurd, Pat McClung, Bill Paxton, Dennis Skotak, Robert Skotak and Stan Winston
  • James Cameron original treatment
  • Nine brand new featurettes:
    • “57 Years Later” – Continuing the saga
    • “Building Better Worlds” – From concept to construction
    • “Preparing For Battle” – Casting and characterization
    • “This Time It’s War” — A look back at Pinewood Studios, 1985
    • “The Risk Always Lives” – Weapons and action
    • “Bug Hunt” — Creature design
    • “Beauty And The Bitch” — Power Loader vs. Queen Alien
    • “Two Orphans” — Revisiting Sigourney Weaver And Carrie Henn
    • “Aliens Unleashed” — Reaction to the film
  • The Art of Aliens including conceptual art portfolio, cast portraits, production gallery, continuity polaroids, Stan Winston’s workshop, VFX gallery and premiere stills
  • Deleted footage marker and deleted scene index
  • Multi-angle videomatics with optional commentary by Miniature Effect Supervisor, Pat McClung
  • An Easter Egg
ALIEN 3
  • The original theatrical version and a restored pre-release version with more than 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage
  • Brand new commentary by Cinematographer Alex Thompson, Editor Terry Rawlings, VFX Designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., Visual Effects Producer Richard Edlund, and actors Paul McGann and Lance Henriksen
  • 11 new featurettes:
    • “Development” — Concluding the story
    • “Tales Of The Wooden Planet” — Vincent Ward’s vision
    • “Pre-Production III” — The making of Alien 3
    • “Xeno-Erotic” — H.R. Giger’s redesign of the Alien creature
    • “Production: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three” — Behind-the-scenes on the production of the movie
    • “Adaptive Organism” — Creature design
    • “Optical Fury” — Visual effects
    • “Music, Editing And Sound”
    • “Post-Mortem” — A reaction to the film
  • E.E.V. Bio-Scan — A multi-angle vignette with optional commentary by Alex Gillis
  • The Art of Alien 3 including conceptual art portfolio, production gallery, and visual effects
  • Furnace construction time lapse
  • Storyboard archives
ALIEN RESURRECTION
  • The original theatrical version and an extended cut with alternate opening and ending sequences
  • An introduction by Director Jean Pierre Jeunet
  • Brand new commentary by Director Jean Pierre Jeunet, Herve Schneid, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Pitof, Sylvain Despretz, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon and Leland Orser
  • First draft of the screenplay by Joss Whedon
  • 11 new featurettes
    • “From The Ashes” — Reviving the story
    • “French Twist” — Direction and design
    • “Under The Skin” — Casting and characters
    • “Death From Below” — Underwater photography
    • “In The Zone” — Basketball scene
    • “Unnatural Mutation” — Creature design
    • “Genetic Mutation” — Creature design
    • “Genetic Composition” — A listen to the music
    • “Virtual Alien” — Computer generated imagery
    • “A Matter Of Scale” — Miniature photography
    • “Critical Junction” — A reaction to the film
  • Multi-angle rehearsal footage
  • A Mike Carro photo gallery, a conceptual art gallery, VFX gallery, a promotional photo archive and continuity polaroids
  • Storyboard archives
  • An Easter Egg
BONUS DISC
  • A brand new Q&A with Ridley Scott
  • “Experience in Terror” — A promotional featurette from 1979
  • “Alien Evolution” — Channel 4 U.K. exclusive documentary on Alien
  • A complete laser disc archive of Alien and Aliens
  • Original theatrical trailers and TV spots from all four films
  • “Aliens In The Basement” — Inside the Bob Burns ALIEN Collection
  • Dark Horse cover gallery — Anthology of 11 issues of the ALIEN comics
  • DVD-ROM feature — Script to screen comparisons

SYNOPSES

ALIEN

Alien is the first movie of one of the most popular sagas in science fiction history, and introduces Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, the iron-willed woman destined to battle the galaxy’s ultimate creature. The terror begins when the crew of a spaceship investigates a transmission from a desolate planet, and discovers a life form that is perfectly evolved to annihilate mankind. One be one, each crew member is slain until only Ripley is left, leading to an explosive conclusion that sets the stage for its stunning sequel, Aliens.

ALIENS

In this action-packed sequel to Alien, Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, the only survivor from mankind’s first encounter with the monstrous Alien. Her account of the Alien and the fate of her crew are received with skepticism – until the mysterious disappearance of colonists on LV-426 leads her to join a team of high-tech colonial marines sent in to investigate.

ALIEN 3

Lt. Ripley (Weaver) is the lone survivor when her crippled spaceship crash lands on Fiorina 161, a bleak wasteland inhabited by former inmates of the planet’s maximum security prison. Ripley’s fears that an Alien was aboard her craft are confirmed when the mutilated bodies of ex-cons begin to mount. Without weapons or modern technology of any kind, Ripley must lead the men into battle against the terrifying creature. And soon she discovers a horrifying fact about her link with the Alien, a realization that may compel Ripley to try destroying not only the horrific creature but herself as well.

ALIEN RESURRECTION

Ellen Ripley (Weaver) died fighting the perfect predator. Two hundred years and eight horrific experiments later she’s back. A group of scientists has cloned her-along with the alien queen inside her – hoping to breed the ultimate weapon. But the resurrected Ripley is full of surprises for her “creators,” as are the aliens they’ve imprisoned. And soon, a lot more than “all hell” breaks loose. To combat the creatures, Ripley must team up with a band of smugglers, including a mechanic named Call (Winona Ryder), who holds more than a few surprises of her own.


A recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is the marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming on VHS and DVD as well as video acquisitions and original productions for the U.S. and Canada. Each year the Company introduces hundreds of new and newly repackaged products, which it services to more than 70,000 retail outlets — from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce — throughout North America. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a Fox Entertainment Group company.

It seems I’m not the only person in the blogosphere who’s recently faced surprising consequences due to the content of their weblog. Shelley Powers, aka Burningbird, had a rather interesting conversation with the ~~IRS~~ [California franchise (tax) board]{.underline} this morning…

The person I talked today was compassionate, and extremely helpful — but she was also very thorough.

Before she responded to me by calling me, she mentioned that she gone out to my weblog, this weblog, and read the entries scattered about in it where I talked about my financial situation. She mentioned about reading that thanks to unemployment, I can at least keep my car; about the other things I put online that I didn’t think I would hear back from the mouth of a member of a representative of a governmental tax organization.

I’m not faulting her or shouting out cries of ‘government invasion of privacy’ just because she was thorough. What privacy? I put all this online for anyone to read. Am I going to blame the government, or my creditors, or anyone else for that matter because they read what I write?

She’s since gone back and deleted any posts dealing with her financial situation — and I don’t blame her one bit. It must have been quite a startling revelation when she heard that from the lady she was talking to.

More and more, we need to face the fact that barring password protection, there is no such thing as a “private” weblog. Once the information is there on the ‘net, and available to be read, you can bet that it will be, and not always by those you expect it to be. Some people might say that anonymous blogging is the answer, but I’m not convinced of that — for more on that, read the conclusion to my Fifteen Minutes of Fame post. Best to just accept the fact that anything you put out there can can be found, assume that it will be found, and post accordingly.

(via Scoble)