Archive - Feb 2007


The NotSwitch

A friend sent me an interesting list of essentials for the ex-mac user switching to linux.

Yeah. ok. Whatever. I already did that, and then went back. I was an everyday desktop user of linux, had a linux laptop, blah blah, from like 98 to 2001, and felt all ideologically proud and all, I even wrote my own live audio manipulation software for music peformance using a tangled thicket of perl, sql, and csound code.... but in retrospect all of that was a pain. I switched back to the Mac when I wanted to start doing desktop video stuff again and Final Cut was the killer app and still is. Not only that, but OS X gave me the unix command line anyway. And I never looked back. Despite my rant from the other day here, the mac is still so much more a pleasure to use than anything else, and I'm just done being an ubergeek. I don't even have development tools installed on my powerbook. If I have to compile something to use a piece of software on my personal worskstation, fuck it, there must be something else.

Really, even for me, user experience and interface are king now, and Apple just kicks ass at that. I recently switched from using the free, open source Audacity to using a pirated copy of Soundtrack Pro. Stupidly, Soundtrack Pro doesn't even do an important step in my podcasting workflow that Audacity does (exporting to MP3 - i use iTunes to do the conversion now), but it's worth it because Soundtrack Pro just has the easier to use and more beautiful interface. It has the standard key shortcuts that every soundeditor i've loved for the last 12 years (soundtools, protools, peak) has had, not to mention others that it shares with Final Cut. It feels good to use it. Audacity feels like I'm building a house with half-built, ugly tools that cut my hands when I hold them. The feel and look of the interface is what matters, even if one has to sacrifice a bit (just a bit) of power.

And I don't believe that "replacement" linux apps would even be that much more reliable than their Apple counterparts. Shit goes wrong all the time on linux boxen, tho not as often as on widoze, of course.. They may be a little better than 6 years ago, but not that much. It's just that so many geeks simply love to fuck around on computers for their own sake, so it seems okay to them. Well, I just want to get work done, I don't want to feel like an amateur mechanic fiddling under the hood of my hotrodded Mustang GT all day just because I can. I'd rather have that fucker on the road, taking me real places, even if it's just a Honda Civic.

As my friend Mykle once said, "Unix is like a Rubik's Cube, you can mess around with it all day and feel really good for solving it but you still haven't gotten any work done."

No, I want to, as the redneck pickup truck bumpersticker says, "Get R Done"...

Yes, Defiance, Ohio

Legendary (?) and oh-so-popular with the kids punk band Defiance, Ohio played about a week ago at Dry River. I recorded some of it and just posted a little bit of the recording, their first song, with some introductory banter. Note that they even thanked us border activists who'd been in the space all evening before the show, probably keeping them from getting a proper soundcheck. They also warn people to be considerate when they dance, which is so cool. So many shows I've been to where kids just flail around and end up hurting each other. I still can hardly believe they actually played at our little space, they even requested to play at our space.

Loss of Faith

Yesterday while making a pair of mix CDs for a new lover (a favorite thing of mine to do for a new or potential lover) I accidentally deleted one of the 2 playlists from iTunes. A result of confusion over the interface (i was trying to delete some tracks from the playlist, but didnt know that other pane was active, the pane with the list of playlists, in which i had selected that playlist), the mistake was itself annoying that it could happen so easily, but, I believed at first, not a big deal - until I noticed that iTunes was not allowing me the opportunity to undo that. WTF?!!!? I got really mad. Why should that sort of thing NOT be undoable? Upon further examination i have found that a lot of things are non-undoable in iTunes. Why? Since when did Apple decide that something so easy and constant and expectable would be impossible?

There are all sorts of other problems with iTunes that I've been meaning to blog about for months. Really stupid obvious functional features that just aren't there. For instance, almost every day I use it, which is almost every day, I have the following interaction/desire: I'm listening to a track that played because I was in shuffle mode, or because it was in a playlist, and I want to easily call up all the other tracks on the album that it appears on, or by that same artist. It seems like such a common thing that people would want to do, why isn't it there? It would be so great and easy to just have that be a choice in the contextual menu when you ctl-click or right-click on a track. Oh, this song is great, i feel like listening to the whole album, right-click... oh shit... i guess i have to type the album name into the search bar or else scroll through the list of artists or albums.

And speaking of the fucking search bar, why in fucking HELL do they start the search as soon as you start typing? do they ever test this shit with a really truly huge library (I have over 6500 songs in mine), or a machine that isnt a million MHz or isn't doing other things with its CPU? because what happens is, you type the first letter or 2 and then have to sit and wait for it to start searching and giving me results WAY too huge, before i can continue typing... why the FUCK can't I at least have a setting in the preferences where i can choose to only start searches after i press return? It's just ridiculous.

Another ridiculously stupid and scary and enraging thing happened with an apple product a couple days ago too: all of a sudden, the last 7 months of my photos in iPhoto just .... weren't there. gone. just like that. no warning, no error message, nothing. Now the good thing is that the image files are still there on my hard drive, but when i try to re-import them into iPhoto it says they are an unreadable format! Even though I can open them just fine with other programs like Preview or Photoshop. WTF??!!!!?? And we're talking about more than just photos, there's lots of metadata i have lost too, titles and ratings and descriptions. Ludicrous. It's like it's July again, and I really don't want it to be July 2006 again. I'm happy with Feburary 2007

And I realized what is so devastating about both of these cases is that this is the Mac OS we're talking about. If it were Windoze, well, hell, everyone is used to Windoze just sucking, all the time, period. Most of the world, because most of the computer-using world uses Windoze, just assumes that computers are going to suck, and you can't trust them, and they'll cause you unending hellish hassles every single day of your life, so just get used to and that's that, tough luck, life sucks.

But this is Apple. Most of the time Apple products just work, unlike Microsoft shit, and not only do they work but they work well, and you get things done, and you feel good about it.

So it makes times like this feel like even more of a betrayal, when I realize that even Apple sucks. That even Apple, the "think different" company, will let you down, and cannot be trusted, and at any moment you will lose hours or weeks or months of time and effort and ... life. You can't trust these things either, you can't have faith in them.

I'm not saying everything should be perfect and nothing should go wrong ever. I'm just saying, when you set up the expectation that things will be good, and it would be easy to just finish the job, then finish the fucking job, Steve Jobs. I feel like going to your house in Sausalito or whereever and kicking you in the iPods.

Time for me to set up a daily backup scheme, I guess. I've lost the faith.

Mixed Reactions to J-Lo Juarez Movie

Buzz is starting to pick up again about "Bordertown", the Hollywood thriller directed by Gregory Nava and starring Jennifer Lopez that is based on the real-life femicides in Ciudad Juárez. Stories are coming out about death threats and stolen eqiupment during shoots (but production was 2 years ago for this film, why is this news only being told now... hmm, oh wait, maybe because the premiere was last week?)

Last week the film had its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. Amnesty International gave Lopez an "Artists for Amnesty" award at the festival, but according to some reports, the premiere was met with boos and laughter at how bad and disrespectful the film is.

A user comment on IMDB says

If you regard this as a drama - zero points for bad script, bad actors (except Banderas, who's just great as always), bad directing, bad music, bad...etc.

But if you regard this as a comedy - 10 points. The whole cinema was laughing. This movie contains a very subtle humor. Especially in its dialogs. The whole script seems as if it was written in 10 minutes - as a product of boredom.

Nevertheless the film is creating further press attention about the situation, with Lopez getting interviewed and saying how important it is to tell the story.

But they still have no distribution deal, and Nava says it might not even be till after this summer, and that "Hollywood is just not interested in movies about social drama and social situations... They are more interested in making movies about super heroes -- escapist entertainment. And so we had to do this independently and it's going to be distributed independently." But if this is the case, why are films like "The Constant Gardener," "Blood Diamond," and "Children of Men" coming out on the big screen, and in high profile? Maybe because they're just better films that treat their subjects with more respect?

Another IMDB commenter makes the interesting (and debatable?) assertion that

Obviously the movie was so important to Nava he failed in the end. A good journalist should never be too involved with the topic he is working on. A good filmmaker neither, it seems. Still: If this movies actually helps changing things in Juarez, if it makes same movie-goers research a bit more - thumbs up to 'Bordertown'. I personally would recommend reading about the killings though.

Meanwhile J-Lo's first all-Spanish language music album is about to be released.

It's My Party and I'll DIY If I Want To

I'm sitting in a meeting of no border activists, about 40 of us, sitting, filling the main room of Dry River Infoshop and doing a roundrobin go-round of "visioning" for the No Border Camp that we're trying to organize for in November. This weekend of this Anti-Border Encuentro has been just as crazy as I expected, though of course the specific challenges and features of interpersonal dynamics have been impossible to predict or fully prepare for.

It has pretty much felt, for me, just like I do being the host of a party, a very big, 3-day long party. Whenever I host a party I get stressed and frustrated because I can't really relax and enjoy the party, I'm too busy running around making sure everyone is happy, comfortable, and entertained. Add to that being the default A/V tech nerd as usual, and you have my situation now.

(Someone just said "I don't want this to be Seattle in the Desert." )

Anyway. It's been hard also because I am someone who often needs some downtime to reflect and process and decompress. But there's so many people here, many of them very cool, very interesting people I want to spend time with, good time with. It's fascinating, just fascinating, seeing all these different people and learning about their concerns and personalities and how that relates to their activism, their involvement with this project, and the reasons for same. As I become more aware and mindful of my self and my mind in more and more of its light and dark recesses, in its fucked-up glory, I start to notice the little flickering shadows at the edges of other people's egos, behind their words and behavior. I'm not saying I'm now this hyper-enlightened wise being who's looking down at all the fucked-up damaged activists... just the opposite, I'm saying with great tenderness that I am excited and filled with awe that we are all fasincating, beautiful people with tender, broken bits, some assembly required.

This Will Make A Fine Ruin

Rising Tide North America benefit w/Desert Rat gig - 5I just posted another installment in the Me Encanta Los Sonidos podcast, a performance last weekend by Desert Rat of his song "Tucson, City That I Love." It's a wonderful anti-sprawl, anti-mall, anti-development, pro-nature ditty full of great lines like "this city will make a fine ruin when the Santa Cruz runs again." Desert Rat is a Tucson native, now living in Seattle, an antisocial nerd, a semi-famous activist folk singer, union longshoreman, and snarky anti-anarchist socialist (trotskyist maybe, even?). I recorded a lot of other great songs of his that night which I hope to put online a little later, though you may have to remember to check phonophilia to listen to them because i don't know if i'll post again here about it.

It's funny because Desert Rat left long 10-minute voicemails for 2 of my friends and fellow BLAC members yesterday, letting them know that he disapproved of our political agenda for the no-border camp but that he did want to attend some of the off-topic workshops this weekend... His objections seemed to be based on the misunderstanding that People's Global Action is directly connected somehow with the World Social Forum phenomenon, which is not true. He disapproves of the World Social Forum process and structure, which I and most of our collective do too, recognizing that it's been coopted and corrupted by NGOs, but the No Border Camp operating under PGA Hallmarks has nothing to do with the WSF or any other social forum.

Anyway enjoy the music, even if the man is kind of confused and hard to get along with.

Tucson Anti-Border Encuentro

This weekend is a big gathering here in Tucson of border activists from all over the place, organized by a collective I'm part of, BLAC (an acronym which has many meanings, including Border Line Anarchy Collective, Border Lands Action Committee, and Bunny Loving Animal Cuddlers). It's been keeping me very busy. A lot of yesterday I spent working on a booklet that includes the schedule, map, and other information, along with a packet of relevant articles. Then we were at the copy shop for a few hours making copies of all this stuff. People start arriving at midnight tonite and it will keep going till monday night. It's been crazy making it happen and will continue to be so, i'm sure, but it will be great. I'm excited about meeting all these people and organizing with them for the No Border Camp in November which is the main reason for having this gathering.

Cooking Music

How to mix up a breakbeat in your kitchen. This is hilarious and totally rocks too.

Reaping the Overwhelming Harvest of Multitasking

"Do you think cell phones allow people to get laid more often?" I asked a friend late Friday night as we tried to contact a group of other friends who were out drinking somewhere. We were crouched on the sidewalk outside of The Buffet, one of Tucson's grottiest bars.

"Absolutely," she replied, "definitely makes booty calls easier. But it doesn't look like I'm getting laid tonite," she added as she closed her phone one last time.

None of the group were answering our (non-booty) calls. We'd been looking for them at a couple bars we thought they'd be at, but no luck. It turned out they had all turned in early when the birthday boy got too drunk to be served anywhere else, and we'd been ringing the mobiles of half a dozen already-sleeping pals. 15 years ago we would have given up an hour ago or more, and gone to our homes where our old-fashioned wired phones were, but once home we probably would have called it a night, too tired to make more plans and then venture back out again.

Computers and other modern communication technology make all sorts of new and impromptu interactions and ambitions possible. I'm overwhelmed and it's only 8am, doing 8 things at once as evidenced by the tabs open in my browser:

  • Blogumentary, a feature-length film about blogging that's free to watch on google video. It looks really interesting but i don't know when i'll get the time.

  • The interface for entering this entry of this blog.
  • River of Tears, a multimedia theater piece about the mudered women of Juarez, which someone in the theater group, in Albuquerque, just emailed me about.
  • A field recording I just posted to Phonophilia a minute ago of some people demonstrating medieval combat.
  • some comics i started trying to read on yesterday.
  • a page about radical activist latinoamerican hip-hop.
  • 3 more pages about various creators of radical latino hip hop
  • a photo i just posted to Flickr of the aformentioned combat demonstrators.

    So, here I am with all these doorways into all these interests and ambitions feeling exhausted already. What the hell am I doing? Why can't I just focus and concentrate on one thing at a time? No wonder I can't meditate.

    Oh and here's something funny in the sort-of-a-nonsequitur-but-not-really department. I fell asleep last night with my powerbook in bed; sometime during the night I must have woken up, closed it, set it back on my desk, and went back to bed, and this morning I opened it and saw that when I fell asleep I'd been just about to hit the submit button on a web translation service, to translate into English the Spanish word "chantaje" ("blackmail").

  • Every Possible Niche

    This is an entry about capitalism. But, I have to provide some background: So, I've been really into this great travel website called Kayak for the last couple months. It's basically a super-search engine for airfares. you put in where you want to go & when and it searches hundreds of airlines and other travel sites to find the best fares. And the best feature is the email alerts where it sends a message every day or week with the best fares under your certain price for your certain date range. Really useful.

    However, this is about something really unuseful, unless you count relieving consumers of their cash useful. Which I guess it is if we want to keep the ol' economy pumpin', eh? So, ok, nevermind.

    Just kidding. What I'm talking about is how capitalists, or 'the market', are constantly seeping into every possible crevice and nook of life, like vomit that gets into the cracks between tiles in your bathroom when you puke and miss the toilet. The example I have today is an email from Kayak, exhorting everyone to go on a trip: for chocolate. They proceed to provide a list of exotic or not-so-exotic destinations with no reasons listed to go other than their relation to chocolate: Belgium, New York, Hershey Pennsylvania, Oaxaca... ("No discussion of chocolate is complete without mentioning a trip to Mexico where it all began. ")
    ...Ignoring of course the brutal colonial history of Belgium's chocolate supremacy or the current human rights abuses taking place in Oaxaca, and other such bothersome facts, and I will skip over the details of these too for now, because what I'm talking about is how ridiculous it is to try to sell someone a flight to Oaxaca or Pennsylvania or Brussels for chocolate. But hey, it's Valentine's Day coming up and you're supposed to eat chocolate and why not be really cool and buy an $800 plane ticket instead of an $8 box of chocolate? Every little excuse will be tried by marketeers, because as Dennis the Menace once said, "All I need is one sucker." (image: Dennis behind a lemonade stand, sign announcing: lemonade, $10 a glass)

    While the greenhouse gases choke the planet to death we're being told to blow our "disposable income" to jet around the globe with no more excuse for it than looking for cacao products and their traces, in the form of museums and theme parks. And meanwhile there are hundreds of millions who will never, ever, ever be able to afford to set foot on a plane, who in fact will never leave the tiny circle of land around the village they were born in, unless it's to migrate (rather than starve), to the nearest metropolis to work in a factory assembling plastic gadgets for gringos to buy at Wal-Mart...

    thanx but no thanx,

    In the society of the spectacle, "Spectators do not find what they desire: they desire what they find." - Guy Debord

    (Don't get me wrong, since this is the first time in a few years that I've been seeing someone at this time of year, I will probably ask that someone to do something special with me in honor of the fabricated holiday. But we won't be flying to Brussels.)