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  • How not to launch an iPod killer
    almost four full hours before any similar devices from third party manufacturers When you add that up it s like creating 136 000 lives per year in the U S alone Downloadable media store Since all computers in the world run our operating system we ve optimized our device to work exclusively with it Copyright owners want assurance that their content is protected For maximum protection we ve decided to eschew compatibility any legacy DRM solutions including our own previous PlaysForSure offering We expect minimal casualties from this decision since nobody has actually purchased music online yet and we re the leaders in this space To ease our customers burden of frequent spending on downloadable music we re offering an innovative new system for purchasing music Instead of spending 0 99 per song like some legacy providers may have required our customers will exclusively buy credit toward our media store in 5 blocks This way consumers can more easily reach and surpass 5 worth of purchases where previously they were only able to spend 0 99 at a time It s amazingly difficult to find a good picture of quote fingers Surveys showed that people are easily confused by decimal points and cents To help them easily keep track of their store credit and media prices we re displaying it exclusively in virtual currency units I ll call them points for now Now we all know that traveling to Europe is a pain because we have to convert our money and calculate exchange rates in our heads To prevent confusion we re fixing the exchange rate of our points to an intuitive 79 8 points per 100 legacy cents This way songs from our media store cost 79 points People like nice round numbers such as 7 and 9 and

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/216 (2016-04-30)
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  • The DVR is a bad hack and a stopgap
    this to be meaningful Most DVR nuts hardly ever watch live TV and most people who aren t DVR nuts don t have a DVR or wouldn t know or care how to use one So I m going to ignore this function for now The solution is clear Allow people to choose TV programming from an automatically updating list and watch them whenever they want with few or no traditional commercials DVRs and modern TV service accomplish this with a series of fragile clumsy wasteful hacks Modern TV shows are stored in a high quality digital format by the broadcasters All TV programming on every channel is constantly sent over all cable lines to all TVs and there s not enough signal bandwidth to fit everything simultaneously in full quality so it s highly compressed which greatly reduces the quality Every DVR uses a phone line and a modem or an internet connection to contact a server and download its own copy of the TV listings then when it s getting to approximately the correct time for the show to start the tuner switches to the proper frequency which might be showing the desired program The signal is converted to analog video losing a bit more quality for regular TV watching The DVR redigitizes the analog video in a different format losing even more quality then it saves it on a loud mechanical hard drive with many moving parts and an astronomical failure rate Most DVRs except actual TiVos have horrendous interfaces The cable and satellite companies offerings are the worst These devices have such awful interfaces and are so buggy that they alone are enough to kill the DVR once anything better comes along The potential for failure is huge What if the show starts early or ends late What if it s Lost and you miss the last 10 minutes What if you invest an hour into Law Order only to miss the verdict What if the TV listings are changed at the last minute What if the hard drive dies before you watch the show What if the hard drive fills up What if your TV service has a glitch or outage during the show The glitch or outage is recorded Thanks a lot What if there s a breaking news bulletin that s overlaid onto the bottom of the video hiding some critical detail or subtitle but it s completely irrelevant when you watch the show 2 weeks later It s recorded too What if you want to see a show that aired last night but you didn t record it for whatever reason Using a DVR is like watching a camcorder pirated movie with people constantly coughing and walking in front of the camera The real solution Live TV is great in many cases so we can keep it But instead of offering awful DVRs to hack together a personal on demand service just give us one The TV service providers already have large

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/215 (2016-04-30)
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  • Democrats take Senate
    to be called Larrimer continued The American people have a Constitutional right to the freedom of having election outcomes declared as quickly as possible The U S Supreme Court anticipates possible disagreement by the opposing candidates According to Supreme Court press secretary Marina Fedner Our democracy depends on rapid elections Fedner cited the Called It First Act CIFA of 2000 The CIFA has established this mandate and the Supreme Court

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/214 (2016-04-30)
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  • Bertolli frozen dinner bags
    tomato sauce combo Everything here applies to it too I don t like mushrooms or piles of shrimp so I can t speak for those Everything comes precooked and frozen including the little sauce logs Dump the bag into a pan and cook for 10 minutes That s about it They say to stir it once in the middle but that s not enough stir it a few times otherwise the edges dry out and the middle doesn t mix They call it dinner for two The sausage tomato sauce version was too small I d say it was dinner for 1 5 But this chicken spinach alfredo variety is sufficient for two decently sized meals although the majority of the food is pasta not meat or vegetables This tasted pretty decent although I would have liked to see more chicken The sausage tomato sauce version was unmemorable With the conveniently short and simple preparation although I still have to wash a pan it s a decent product until you try to buy one without a coupon 8 50 Yes they want 8 50 for these I m a little biased because I really wanted to use the interrobang but I m genuinely surprised by this high price It s a good meal or two but it s just not worth that much 8 50 for a bunch of frozen pasta worthless with about a quarter pound of meat 1 50 a few vegetable pieces 0 75 and some very light sauce These meals aren t that complicated to make from scratch This one is particularly easy and you can get a better meat to pasta ratio 5 for a pound of chicken breasts 1 for a box of bowtie pasta 3 for a jar of Bertolli alfredo sauce you

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/213 (2016-04-30)
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  • Mental Floss magazine
    like all the articles in the magazine is written with the assumption that a you re not an idiot and b there is something interesting about everything And they re right Unlike most media which aims for a fourth grade reading level mental floss has no problem assuming you have a basic knowledge of particle accelerators Alfred Hitchcock and simple chemistry I don t claim to be an expert on any of these things and I haven t studied them more than anyone else but I felt the articles were aimed for my demographic people who are bright interested in a number of fields and willing to find the interesting bits in almost anything Subject Matter I can confidently say that I learn a lot from this magazine Some of the articles are more fascinating than others but even the seemingly mundane ones contain gems Did you know that even though marijuana is illegal in Jamaica it still is the country s largest grossing export And it definitely has several with broad appeal who wouldn t want to know how Gary Larson ended up writing The Far Side Depth I really love how Mental Floss doesn t try to teach you everything about everything but you ll know enough to make a fool of that boor who always takes over the conversation at cocktail parties While some of the articles are narrative in nature they all explore multiple facets of their subject The recent article about Alfred Hitchcock s Psycho for instance doesn t give you a simple thesis Instead it meanders through Alfred Hitchcock s filmmaking career how the studios tried to get him to cancel the film how he marketed it how and why it became a success and what effect it had on the movie business I

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/212 (2016-04-30)
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  • VideoLan VLC Media Player 0.8.5
    a nerve wracking experience What am I installing What is it going to do to my computer Will I ever be able to completely get rid of it In this case I learned about the program from the Free Software Foundation so I was fairly confident it wouldn t do anything awful Thus I went through the installer pretty quickly Install language English Okay License agreement GPL Great Accept next Choose Components Next Choose Install Location Wait Go back I d nearly made a gigantic mistake What was I about to install by default Would I clutter up my computer Install GameSpy Arcade No By default I was going to install the player a desktop icon and a start menu shortcut I was not going to install the Mozilla plugin any context menus or even claim any file extensions For the first time in memory I had to actually add something to that screen Best of all VLC didn t bother me about anything It didn t install any icons I didn t want it to It didn t ask me to register It didn t try to collect any personal information Appearance Well it s not particularly slick looking And when I say not particularly slick looking I m thinking of Windows 95 Perhaps that construction cone icon should indicate that they re not done with that part A Google search indicates that the actual reason for the cone involves somebody drinking a bit to much I guess you had to be there However the program is skinnable As a casual user tracking down a skin I like or making my own is a hassle but perhaps it comes with a default skin that s a little more attractive Yep It s not a whole lot better and it s still fairly large And where did the controls go Can I get rid of it Fortunately the skin went away the next time I opened the program Functionality The basic tests worked out okay I can play an MP3 or a handful of basic movie files I can play some videos on the internet though the Firefox plugin doesn t seem to have any controls or even work with all sites And if I try to have two instances of it open in separate tabs or even separate windows neither works and Firefox crashes Maybe that was why the plugin wasn t installed by default Now what happens if I try to select multiple files and tell them all to play Will they play Yes VLC opened 20 copies of itself and played all 20 of them At the same time So much for easily creating a playlist Features VLC has most of the functions I really want It can play media files It even partially supports Real Audio The basic settings are fairly simple though the interface is a bit clunky Other features like visualizations are a bit weaker than in Winamp but these aren t generally particularly

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/211 (2016-04-30)
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  • Internet Explorer 7
    browsing Hi Microsoft Welcome to 2006 Actually IE 7 0 can do something useful that Firefox 1 5 0 7 can t do Ctrl Q shows a thumbnail view of all current tabs New Feature Moderately Intelligent Printing If you ve ever tried to print a webpage from Internet Explorer or any other web browser I ve used you ve probably been annoyed by what prints and how it prints Images either won t print or will print on seven different pages The final printed page has the last line of a copyright notice Worst of all what you printed doesn t even remotely resemble what you had meant to print IE 7 0 has fixed this Sort of The program does a decent job of rescaling a print request It s not perfect yet For example the right column of Marco org cuts off halfway through The hotmail print page seems to have a printed scroll bar If a page automatically rescales depending on resolution you ll end up with a ridiculously small font You can still print a selection of the page if you don t mind waiting for it to redraw the preview numerous times This feature is a good idea and I m glad that somebody finally did it but it has a fairly limited use How often do you print web pages I suspect this feature targets Microsoft s usual audience the one that demanded a phishing filter that is more comfortable with paper than an electronic medium Notes from Marco The feed reader is also a new feature Firefox Live Bookmarks and Safari have both had this for quite some time but very few people care Most people who care about more than one RSS feed use a dedicated feed reader program or web based aggregator including custom homepage sites such as Google IG The popup blocker isn t new IE has included a popup blocker since Windows XP Service Pack 2 But by that time everyone had already installed 17 toolbars to block popups for them so they didn t notice New Feature A Feed Reader This is kind of cool I don t know if I ll use it but it s a nice thing to have Visual Impressions As soon as I opened the program I was surprised by how strange it looked Something was different Because it was a Microsoft product I assumed it looked more cluttered and bloated than previous versions However a quick inspection revealed that this was not the case Then it hit me Where are all the toolbars There aren t any There isn t even a menu bar on by default It briefly appears if you press Alt I added a Google Toolbar just to make sure they still worked And the Google tool bar has gotten slightly creepier since I last used it It now makes suggestions for searches for you as you type in your search term It screens some of them but

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/209 (2016-04-30)
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  • Coke Blak
    Blak costs about 2 The same amount of regular Coke in a can costs 50 cents from most vending machines They re also appealing slightly to calorie counters advertising it as about half of the calories of regular Coke Curiously they ve chosen to sweeten it with a lot of high fructose corn syrup crappy sugar and aspartame NutraSweet which is usually used as a sugar substitute in diet drinks This won t do it any favors Tasting Ed Levine food writer and blogger It s odd I don t want any more of it Adam Kuban of Slice and A Hamburger Today It s weird It s like when I drink coffee right after I drink Coke It s not good My opinion It tastes exactly as I d expect Coke to taste if I spilled some coffee into it The regular Coke flavoring is still prominent at first but the coffee taste kicked in after a second or two The lingering aftertaste was the worst of both beverages combining coffee s bitterness with corn syrup s grimy sweetness The rest of the office refused to try it with comments including Uh why and That s scary I think

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/210 (2016-04-30)
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