The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Affordable Mac Computing

With Apple’s switch to Intel processors, Mac computing is now generally affordable for everyone. While it’s not the cheapest, it is certainly the classiest. And it’s competitive with higher-end Wintel products (from the likes of Lenovo, Sony, and Dell’s XPS line). To wit (Canadian dollars)...

Affordable Entry-Level Mac Box
Mac mini
1.5GHz Intel Core Solo
512MB memory
60GB hard drive 5400 rpm
Built-in wireless

Affordable Entry-Level Mac Portable
1.83GHz Intel Core Duo
13.3” LCD display
512MB memory
60GB hard drive 5400 rpm

Affordable Mac Portable with Sex Appeal
MacBook Pro
2.0GHz Intel Core Duo
15.4” LCD display
512MB memory
80GB hard drive 5400 rpm
ATI Radeon X1600 w/128MB

Affordable Mac Desktop
1.83GHz Intel Core Duo
17” LCD display
512MB memory
160GB hard drive

They all run the superb Mac OS X operating system. They all include the fabulous iLife ‘06 application suite. Just the software alone gives the Apple Mac an edge over Windows!

And these machines will look terrific in any location – at home in your living room, at school or university, at work. Hey, style does matter!

And there is the promise of broader Windows compatibility in the coming years (see I, Cringely)...

There’s never been a better time to make the switch from Windows to Mac! Mac Rulez!!!

Why an Aston Martin is better than a woman...

An Aston Martin will never tell you that you are un-empathetic and that you don’t connect emotionally.

You will NEVER grow tired or bored with making love to an Aston Martin.

An Aston Martin performs on demand, without any work up such as doing the dishes, taking out the trash, or cleaning the house.

You can’t possibly get into an exasperating fight with an Aston Martin.

An Aston Martin won’t get jealous of all the TV you watch. She won’t complain about you looking at other machines such as plasma TVs, dual-core Athlon PCs, or a Tissot T-Touch Titanium watch with black rubber strap, model T33.7.598.51, which has a built-in Altimeter, Chronograph, Compass, Alarm, Thermometer and Barometer (visit Tissot). With a MSRP of $695, I better start saving my pennies again.

(My $2,000+ Omega “James Bond” watch is already jealous!)

And, finally, you don’t have to have a conversation with your Aston Martin if you’re not in the f*cking mood to talk!


On 5/30/06 2:53 PM, "Richard Eng" wrote:

How to get a woody...

These pix are better than porn!


On 5/30/06 12:36 PM, "Richard Eng" wrote:

Life is, oh, so cruel! If I had to choose between the 2006 Aston Martin DBS and the Ferrari F430, which would I pick? There is no way to decide – it’s like choosing one of your own children as your favourite...

(Actually, this happens fairly frequently. Lots of parents have favourites.)

Okay, I choose the Aston Martin DBS. I love its muscular looks. And I confess that I’ve always had a penchant for things British, especially Aston Martin...


Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Holy Grail of Plasmas

According to CNET, the very best plasma televisions in the world are made by Pioneer. But Pioneer plasmas are way too expensive – they’re only for the very rich.

In second place is Panasonic, and the very best Panasonic plasmas, in terms of Picture Quality, are the PHD8UK series. However, these are industrial models that are not normally available to consumers. (For example, I could not order one from Panasonic.) That’s why I got the TH-42PX60U.

I just recently learned that you CAN get the industrial models (42" and 50") from TigerDirect. For example:

TigerDirect website

Here’s the CNET review:

CNET website

The drawback to buying this professional-series television is that it doesn’t come with a stand (pedestal or otherwise), speakers, or TV tuner – they’re all optional extras. Also, there are very few included inputs – if you want HDMI, for example, you must purchase an add-in card. But this is how Panasonic is able to pare down the cost of this television.

(The unit also has a rather Spartan look to it.)

If you intend to mount this sucker on the wall, and if you intend to use a cable set-top box, and if you intend to use your home theatre 5.1 audio system, then you won’t miss any of these things. (You may still want to get the HDMI add-in card, though.)

Remember, the TH-42PHD8UK is a picture-first television. In other words, Panasonic has focused on Picture Quality to the exclusion of practically everything else. But for a true videophile, he would not want this any other way.

For those who want a stand and built-in speakers and HDMI, it may be more economical simply to go with the more consumer-friendly TH-42PX60U, as I did. You do give up a little bit of Picture Quality, though...

Friday, May 12, 2006


I've recently acquired a whole messload of high technology...

First, I got an external Double Layer DVD burner, the Sony DRX-810UL, to compensate for the fact that my iMac G5 does not have a Double Layer burner, only a single layer burner. Also, my Toshiba laptop does not have a DVD burner. So this Sony external device can be shared among several computers.

However, I've since learned that Double Layer DVD burning is a questionable technology because of compatibility problems (see But the Sony DVD burner is still quite nice. If you need a DVD burner, I can recommend this or its replacement model, the DRX-820U.

Second, I got a brand new television, a 42" HDTV plasma!!! It's the Panasonic TH-42PX60U. This is a lovely unit with a beautiful picture and really deep rich black levels. I'm very pleased with my purchase! It's missing CableCARD but who the hell cares?! I'd rather save the $500 that this feature costs.

I plan to upgrade my Rogers cable TV service to High Definition sometime later this year.

Third, I got an external TV tuner with PVR (Personal Video Recorder) capability, the Hauppauge WinTV PVR USB2. This is part of my project to build a Do-It-Yourself PVR similar to the commercial TiVo PVR.

The Hauppauge comes with the Nero software suite, which is fairly respectable. The TV tuner itself works well and on the whole I can recommend this device. Be aware, however, that it is not entirely bug-free but none of the bugs are a deal-breaker.

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible III

First, a message about Tom Cruise:

Mission: Impossible III is easily the BEST of the three Mission: Impossible movies. I really enjoyed it!

However, it is also the lowest grossing of the three (based on its opening weekend take). I’m not sure why this is – it can’t be because of Tom Cruise’s antics, moviegoers can’t be that petty. They’re missing out on a pretty good action thriller.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has left field work to become an IMF (Impossible Mission Force) instructor/trainer. He wants to live a somewhat normal life, have a normal relationship, get married, and so on. He has a beautiful fiancée (the scrumptious Michelle Monaghan) who knows nothing about his spy work. But when one of his most promising former students (Felicity’s Keri Russell) is captured in Berlin, he is drawn back into the field to rescue her.

This then brings him into conflict with a vengeful blackmarketeer, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who kidnaps Ethan’s fiancée and forces him to recover an object known by its codename “Rabbit’s Foot.” (We never learn what the Rabbit’s Foot is, except that it’s being sold on the black market for $850 million. For that kind of dough, this object has to be enormously powerful – this ain’t no chicken-shit weapon like a nuclear device or a deadly virus. One IMF techie posits that it might be an “anti-God” technology, something that can destroy our entire planet. God help us if it should fall into the hands of, say, Islamofascists who are intent on wiping out civilization!)

The action takes us to Berlin, the Vatican, and Shanghai, all of them spectacular venues for wonderful stunts, nifty gadgets, and clever ideas. The scenes in Shanghai are particularly memorable, reminding us with absolute clarity why these are called “impossible missions.”

M:I:III is enjoyable because it is truer to the M:I spirit than the second movie, Mission: Impossible II, which, in the hands of director John Woo, was merely a warmed-over James Bond flick. Director J.J. Abrams (who brought us Lost and Alias, and is going to direct Star Trek XI) does an admirable job, drawing as he does from his experience with the television spy thriller Alias, starring Jennifer Garner.

Performances are very good. Yes, even Tom Cruise acquits himself well. Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), as usual, displays his fine acting chops.

Major Thumbs Up! My strong recommendation is: Put aside the off-screen antics of Tom Cruise and go revel in this, the best Mission: Impossible film.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

DVD Compatibility

It is 2006 and our now very mature (and soon-to-be-obsolete, thanks to HD) DVD technology is STILL plagued by compatibility issues!! Jesus Christ, what is wrong with technologists??

I bought a late-model SONY Double Layer DVD burner and a bunch of FUJIFILM Double Layer media blanks, both of which are strong brand names (and presumably good quality). But these DVD+R DL disks will not play reliably on all my DVD drives (late-model SONY consumer DVD player; iMac DVD drive; Toshiba laptop DVD drive; a 4-year-old Matsushita DVD drive). One of the disks failed on ALL four drives!! 0-4.

But these disks will play fine on the DL DVD burner on which they were created. What the f*ck???

I am very disappointed. I cannot rely on Double Layer technology. From now on, I shall archive all of my DVD movies on single layer media (necessitating recompression of the VOB files). Single Layer media appear to be 100% compatible, as of 2006.

Let this be a warning to you all: You can’t trust these optical technologies, not even Blu-ray or HD DVD. STAY AWAY from Double Layer (or Dual Layer) DVD burning.