Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Are you scared of Java language change? Why?

Java succeeded because it hit that critical time-window of being in the right time at the right place. But to achieve it, compromises were made. In particular, lots of language features were dropped - assertions, closures, enums, generics (sound familiar?). By all accounts, they weren't dropped to keep the language 'simple', so much as because the timeline dictated it.

Thus Java's so-called simplicity is a fallacy. Language changes now are simply completing the job that was unfinished back then and meeting the realities of Java as an enterprise language.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Greatest Drunk on Earth: Andre the Giant

via Standard Deviant

While it can be argued that a minuscule handful of professional wrestlers matched Andre’s in-ring achievements, no other wrestler ever matched his exploits as a drunkard.

Friday, January 26, 2007 - Wiki - Main


The JBoss 4 Application Server Guide

The ease of use of JBoss compared to, say, Websphere is shown by the fact that I've been using it as long as I have with no need to read the manual.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

an ever so slightly adult-oriented post

a) You know about Vintage Tooncast, right? AKA the only podcast in the universe.
b) In the background of "Daffy The Commando", the Nazis are shown to have decorated their den of evil with exactly one poster of a naked woman. Even Hitler's minions need their porn fix.
c) The poster says "KAISERHO".

KAISERHO! As in "Kaiser" + "Ho".

There is going to have to be a band called that now. Just gotta be.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

somebody needs to be rogered, all right

After years of making due with the Rhino Yardbirds collection that only covers the band's early years, I've finally got ahold of "Roger the Engineer".

I don't know if the engineer is to be blamed, or what, but there is just something disappointing about this album. The performances sound like they were playing their stoned British hearts out, but the mix just falls flat.

Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf is always guaranteed to disappoint anyone who first comes to the band seeking the origins of Led Zeppelin. It's hard to imagine a voice more different from (and not neccessarily in a good way) Robert Plant. At his best on this album he's sort of half-speaking, half-chanting, and probably drunk. But if you're any sort of fan of British Invasion beyond the big four (Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks) you've certainly heard worse. Hearing him sing about selling your soul to the devil, he sounds like a (very) poor man's Ozzy.

But Jeff Beck (who takes lead vocals on a couple of songs) is worse in every way. Now I understand why Eric Clapton (whose voice I've never liked either) could have a career as a vocalist: he's truly the only one of (Clapton, Beck, Page) who can sing in any way at all.

The songs that feature vocal harmony similarly will disappoint anyone who likes that sort of thing, because you want it to be as good as the Zombies and it's just not.

Almost making up the lackluster vocals is the guitar, which is of course why anyone listens to the Yardbirds anyway. The guitar, especially the lead, is distorted on almost every song. Even the songs where no fuzz pedal is used, the amp is cranked up to 11 that it approaches levels of crunch normally associated with 70's arena rock. When a fuzz pedal is used, as on the hit "Over, Under, Sideways, Down", the lead guitar is positively ear-splitting. Some songs are physically painful to listen to, the lead guitar as so trebly and loud in the mix. Songs like "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" (a bonus track and the only Jimmy Page lead according to the credits) are almost completely noise, with very little actual music in them, which I actually like. Music is for zeroes - noise, noise, noise is for heroes.

The bass and drums, struggling to be heard over the guitar, flail along trying to play as loudly and rapidly as possible, with especially Paul Samwell-Smith's bass is very busy, nearly jazzy in spots. Check out "Lost Woman", it sounds like a whole song made 0ut of that one part of "I Want You/She's So Heavy" where the bass goes "doo doo doo doo..". You know what I mean. But somehow the mix makes all this effort seem wasted, and it just fails to impress. The bass is semi-distorted on songs where it doesn't need to be, and not bottomy enough. The drums are OK but occasionally their more trebly elements are also ear-splitting. (Maybe it's just that I'm listening on a 5th-gen iPod with it's infamous bass-cutting properties?)

Possibly my favorite song on here is "What Do You Want". I could almost swear that at least some of the leads on here are played by Page, not Beck. I think I've listened to enough Zeppelin in my life to be able to say that. But Beck is credited, so who knows.

Finally, and perhaps the worst thing about this albums, is the songwriting. The Yardbirds were one of those bands who really should stick to covering other people's songs.

Overall, C+. Recommended if you like guitar fuzz. (Which I do)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

botany for the paranoid

I recently realized that a weed that I have been tolerating in the yard for a couple of years, because it's flowers are almost attractive, is probably some species of Solanum.

Solanum, of the nightshade family. As in deadly nightshade.

Right now in the front yard some fruits that look a lot like this are hanging on a dead stem, just like the ones in this picture.

The picture above is of Solanum carolinense. Aka Carolina Horse Nettle. Aka Devil's Tomato. Apple of Sodom. Apple of Freaking Sodom!

May or may not be the same species I have. All of the pictures on that web page look sorta close, but so do the pictures of a number of other Solanum species.

Assuming that actually is Solanum carolinense, it is apparently toxic only in large quantities. (How did they figure that out? Did some scientist feed those little tomato-looking things to test subjects and count how many it took before they started vomiting, dying, etc?) Nevertheless it doesn't have much of a future in this yard. Not with a two year old in the house.

It's kind of freaky how our friends the potato, tomato, eggplant, and chili pepper are all in the same genus. You aren't supposed to eat the leaves of potatoes and tomatoes, I'm pretty sure. The tomato was, according to wikipedia, originally cultivated as an ornamental before people knew you could safely eat it. I can only imagine the desperation that drove some crazy person to first eat one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

five years for my number one girl

Happy birthday, miss D.