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Netflix has a section called "Watch Instantly" where you can watch movies on your laptop or PC. The movies are a real mixed bag. There are numerous dregs but there are some real gems in there. I will sit on the couch and watch a movie on my laptop from the "Watch Instantly" selection. Over the past week I have noticed that the display quality of the movies has really gone down. I thought something was wrong with my eyes for a little while because some of the scenes seemed blurry. But I was noticing that movies were loading much quicker so I had a suspicion that Netflix was removing quality to make the files smaller so that they would transfer quicker.
Today my suspicion was confirmed. They sent me a survey email that asked:
Survey: How Was the Picture and Audio Quality?
You recently watched The Bridge at Remagen. To help us ensure a great experience for all members, would you take a moment to tell us about the picture and audio quality?
The quality was very good
The quality was acceptable
The quality was unacceptable
Thanks for your help!
-Your friends at Netflix
This email confirmed for me that they are playing with the quality. I responded to the survey by saying that quality was unacceptable. Just wanted to point this out in case anyone else was experiencing the same thing.
MGM put the entire movie Koyaanisqatsi on YouTube. Because it is an official upload the quality is good.
Story on NPR:
Hundreds of Los Angeles' 11,000 billboards are going digital — lighting up neighborhoods with flashing LED ads selling Coke, sitcoms and designer clothing. Some are, however, complaining about light pollution. Now the City Council is considering the billboards' environmental impact. Listen to full piece here.
Some articles to consider when debating the banning of billboards:
Menthe, D. Writing on the Wall: The Impending Demise of Modern Sign Regulation Under the First Amendment and State Constitutions. George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal v. 18 no. 1 (Fall 2007) p. 1-50
Burnett, D., student author Judging the Aesthetics of Billboards. The Journal of Law & Politics v. 23 no. 2 (Spring 2007) p. 171-231
Calo, M. R., Scylla or Charybdis: Navigating the Jurisprudence of Visual Clutter. Michigan Law Review v. 103 no. 7 (June 2005) p. 1877-98
On Nov.11 the book Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America is being released. More information here:
Opinion piece on NPR:
Barack Obama's smashing triumph is a victory for the idea that Not Being a Republican is a grand and glorious thing.
That's not to take anything away from the magnitude of his win or the excellence of his campaign, with its distinctly Reaganesque panache. I mean, I am a Republican, and I've had it with my side, who got the thumping we deserve. And all credit to the president-elect for magnanimously reaching out to us bruised and battered conservatives in his victory address, quoting Abraham Lincoln's hauntingly beautiful line, "We are not enemies, but friends." Yep, he's my president too. And I'm fine with that.
Additional excerpt from piece: Think about it: the most left-wing presidential candidate since George McGovern ran on tax cuts! Yes, he was against the war, but he did not campaign on taking U.S. foreign policy in a dramatic new direction
Yes we can!!! I have heard this somewhere before but I can't remember where.
It was not Oprah that convinced me to get a Kindle
but the $50 off I got by using her discount code didn't hurt. (Use OPRAHWINFREY code at checkout for $50 off, good until Nov 1) My Kindle arrived in the mail today. I have used it for a couple hours and here are my initial impressions.
The e-ink screen is easy to read. Equal to reading a page out of a book in my opinion. There is the added plus that any book can be made into a large print book by changing the font size. With ebooks I also select a larger size font. I figure that since I can make things even easier on my eyes why not do it.
The Kindle has the ability to go on the Internet. I checked out LISNEWS and was able to read the site fine. You can follow the links out to other sites but not every site works great on the Kindle. Just like looking at the web on a PDA there are certain limitations to how well things display on a smaller screen. Sites that are formatted for PDAs display well on the Kindle. In fact they are better than on a PDA because the Kindle screen is significantly bigger than a PDA screen. -- Read More
The Death Star plans are not in the main computer.
The author of The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril was on the Daily Show today.
The book Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover FBI Agent Takes Down a Mafia Family (Touchstone Books) is being released October 13.
60 Minutes did a piece
on the book.
Gov. Sarah Palin abused the powers of her office by pressuring subordinates to try to get her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, fired, an investigation by the Alaska Legislature has concluded. The inquiry found, however, that she was within her right to dismiss her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, who was the trooper’s boss.
Full article in the NYT.
Debt could ultimately unseat the United States as the world’s superpower.
One group of researchers thinks headline-grabbing scientific reports are the most likely to turn out to be wrong
Book review in the Washington Post:
Excerpt: "Manual labor is for the birds," Warren Buffett decided somewhere around the 8th grade. At this precocious age the Nebraska native had also already discovered his extraordinary facility with facts and figures, the very attribute that would transform a socially awkward misfit into "the Oracle of Omaha," the most successful investor of modern times, the world's richest man and most generous philanthropist. This quintessentially American tale about the ultimate self-made man -- and in some ways the least changed -- unfolds for the first time with Buffett's full cooperation in Alice Schroeder's gargantuan authorized biography, The Snowball. -- Read More
Palin is in Omaha giving a speech as I write this. I did not attend the speech but I did go over to see the circus outside the civic center. There were several thousand people in line to see the speech. Across the street there were around a dozen Obama supporters with signs. I thought they would have a more robust showing but in the big picture there was not much point to being there at all. Anybody in line at a Palin event is unlikely to be swayed by someone across the street with a sign. One sign read "Welcome to Obamaha". Another read "I wear lipstick but I will never vote for you". I was hoping someone was going to have a "Golly gee I am not voting for you" or "Gosh darn I a voting for Obama" sign.
Here are some of the pictures:
People in line
Obama supporter close-up
Other side of building. The line went around the building.
I was hoping that McCain would pick Ms. South Carolina as his running mate.
On "Weekend America", a public radio program, there was a story called, "Everyday Sidewalk Poetry" that is about a city run project to put poetry in sidewalks when new concrete is poured.
You can listen to the story here.
Near the end of the piece there was a mention about a kid that liked the poetry is his neighborhood.
Daijon thinks the sidewalk poems bring a lot to his neighborhood. He likes how some of them share wisdom or lay out a path to follow. He even protected one as it was drying. "When it was wet cement my friend almost stepped on this, and I said 'Don't step on that 'cause that is beautiful work that people worked on a lot,'" he explains.
This made me smile. The world has plenty of hope in it when there are kids like Daijon.
On the radio program "The Story" there was an interview with Max Hardberger.
Pirates are demanding $20 million ransom for a ship they've seized off the coast of Somalia. They say they're prepared to fight to the death. Max Hardberger has direct experience of high seas piracy. His job is to take back ships that have been pirated, many of them worth millions of dollars, and return them to their rightful owners.
Max has worked all over the Caribbean and Latin America - sometimes employing voodoo priests to help him, and at other times using blow torches by moonlight to cut anchor chains. As he tells Dick Gordon, Max enjoys out-pirating the pirates - even when it means occasionally stepping over the legal line himself.
Here is the MP3 that contains the entire interview. (Best thing to do is to right click on link and select "save link as")
One of Max's books: Freighter Captain
From Max's website:
June 2, 2008 — The Broadway Books Imprint of Random House Acquires Max Hardberger's Memoirs
With the working title of "The Good Pirate", Max Hardberger's latest book will take readers on a journey through the hellhole ports of the world -- Read More
Blog entry at the NYT:
Snip! Nearly One-Fifth of Homes Have No Landline
By the end of the year one in five American households may well not have a home phone line. That’s the conclusion of a new report by Nielsen, which says that already 17 percent of homes rely entirely on cellphones.
This trend has of course been brewing for a while, but the tough economy is pushing more people to snip the cord.
Indeed, the effect of the growing number of people without home phones is starting to ripple through various corners of society. Of course, the phone companies need to confront a declining base of income to support their century old web of copper wires. And the trend is causing trouble for political pollsters, aluminum-siding salesmen and the other banes of the dinner hour.
Full blog entry here.
I have a patron that gave me a description of a publication but does not know the name. Wanted to run this by you guys and see if anyone had any ideas.
Patron said that he has seen in the past a publication that gathers together editorials from around the world on current event. So for this week it would have a page about the Olympics and then display a list of quotes from editorials around the world about the Olympics. There would then probably also be a page about the war in Georgia and pages on other major events of the week.
Anyone familiar with this resource?
If I can't find the reseource I can use some full-text news databases that I have access to to basically create that type of publication on the fly but if I can find out what publication he was referring to I would like to know.
Foreign Affairs Professional Reading List
In June, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, in conjunction with the president of the American Foreign Service Association, announced the creation of a “Foreign Affairs Professional Reading List,” and there’s not a Grisham novel anywhere in sight.