bss, super super group.

BSS(photo courtesy Emily Wilson Photography)

Got to see Broken Social Scene play a private event out in Red Hook (Brooklyn) last night. The guy from American Analog Set played with them for one song, which if you were into either band seriously, would freak you out. Two members of fellow Canadian band Stars were on hand as well.

They are one of my top, top favorite bands of the moment, and I’m really glad I got to see them in such a great environment. In fact Google tells me that I’ve mentioned them twice before on (once, twice).

I normally don’t go for large, big-sounding bands, with multiple guitars and drummers, but BSS breaks that mold entirely by just being really good at it. At the peak of the show there were nine guys and one woman on stage; there was instrument swapping song to song. Their website lists sixteen people as being “in the band”; but this is a supergroup/wu-tang concept group and many of the members have solo projects, e.g. Feist, Jason Collett.

There’s a video for Fire Eye’d Boy here. Which happens to be the song they are going to be performing on Letterman tonight.

And somehow managing to sneak in technology, you can subscribe to a feed on this site to get by day, who is scheduled to be on Letterman, Leno, Late Late, Conan, Last Call, Daily Show, Colbert, Kimmel, The View, Regis, and Ellen. [Feed] [Site]


montreal 2006 wrap-up

This past weekend was my third annual trip to Montreal for the Grand Prix du Canada. 2004 2005 posts here.

I wasn’t able to borrow Emily’s hot new Canon 5D for this trip, so I didn’t take any interesting pictures, but hey, let’s pretend I took this one and it wasn’t some guy named TMWolf from Flickr.

Fans don’t seem to do it as much in F1 as they do in NASCAR, but you can listen to the teams talk back and forth to the drivers with a scanner. Most of the time they say stuff like “Fuel mixture 7 please Fernando” or “we are going to go up .2 in the front and .1 in the rear tire pressures.” They tell their drivers to “push” when they think they should be going faster. Every once and a while you hear something cool that you don’t hear on TV and makes it feel like you’re just a little closer to the action. David Coultard’s (a Scottish twelve year veteran) engineer came on and said “David, you can not short-cut the final chicane, the FIA is watching” — David: “Yes, I understand that, but I don’t have any f***king grip [unintelligible].”

I share the scanner with Paul aka PineHead and he does all the hard work scanning for frequencies during the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday. I tried to look them up online and found some here, but the teams seem to switch frequencies between races just slightly to throw it off. Plus three of the teams including Ferrari and McLaren Mercedes use a digital system or somehow invert or scramble the signal — even though I believe encrypting the signal is against the regulations. Also, he uses large aviation style headphones and I wanted to use my Etymotic earphones, but since mine are so much more efficient the volume was way way too loud. This year I found a solution: Griffin SmartShare Headphone Splitter with Individual Volume Control Black

I’ll be heading back next year since the prime seats we have require year-to-year purchasing or you get sent to the back of the seat picking queue.


why did it take me five years to figure this out — tennis in the park

I live within two Google satellite zoom-out clicks from the pictured above tennis courts in Central Park. Most indoor courts in Manhattan are in the $70 per hour range and up to $120 during peak times. I had simply written off tennis as a city activity. For some reason I had assumed that there were a host of reasons why playing in the park would not be possible, impractical or expensive.

Turns out it is none of those things. You can count them, there are 30 courts, 26 of them Har-Tru, my preferred playing surface. They are well maintained. There are two options for paying for time. You can pay $7 per person for a one-day permit. You can go for the $100 season pass, which is one hour of singles per day or two hours of doubles. The season is actually pretty long, early-April through late November so $100 is a steal. Walk up without a reservation about 25 minutes before the hour and odds are there will be a court available. Or you can pay another $7 to make a specific time reservation.

There’s a little pro shop with racquet demos, a stringing machine — back in the day I used to string my own — shoes, clothes, etc. plus a snack bar in that little hut. We tried it twice at $7 per, had a fantastic time, and am jumping to the season pass option. 


thermal laws and such are cited

Straight Dope today: Does a refrigerator cool more efficiently when full?

Basically, the answer is yes. Appears the biggest factor is the amount of cold air that spills out when you open the door. So if you fill up the fridge with any kind mass, there’s less air to get replaced by warm room air.

My quest for more energy efficiency continues! I’m going to put some extra jugs of water in the back spaces of the fridge that even in the most food-flush of times don’t get filled. Actually, I’m running out of kitchen cabinet space, maybe I’ll keep my extra cans of Bush’s Best Chili Magic back there.


radiohead… of course it was great

Sound check_Behind the scenes_

I mentioned in the last post about the trip to Toronto — it is pronounced without the second T btw. We stayed with my brother Kevin, his wife and munchkin. Emily was there to take pictures of Willy Mason who was opening for Radiohead, two nights at the Hummingbird Center. Fantastically wonderfully she was able to secure spots on the list for all of us for the second show, except for the ankle-biter of course.

The venue was swank and spacious, with ample bars and bathrooms. Seats were assigned, which considering what I read at BrooklynVegan’s coverage, was lucky for us — BV commenters were saying that they arrived at 4:30 in the afternoon for the show and were four rows from the stage, the thought of standing in one spot for five, six hours like that makes me shudder.

Willy was great; can you imagine being a young (21) singer-songwriter and being asked to go on tour with Radiohead? These pictures are via Emily’s Experience site.

Again referring to the BrooklynVegan coverage regarding the actual Radiohead portion of the show “of course it was great.” Best show I’ve been to. Can you really say enough about Radiohead? I mean, is there a better band working today?


when it’s free, choices matter less or my new BlackBerry

About 18 hours before I was set to leave on my trip to Toronto last week, I asked the telecom team at work if we had any loaner BlackBerries. They had offered before, but I wasn’t crazy about the product or the idea that I was so easy to reach off hours. But since these were mid-week days and two of them I was guaranteed to be in a car for 10+ hours, I went for it, and, they just gave it to me.  

I got the 7290 model. I don’t totally love it, I prefer the Windows Mobile 6700, but there are some nice things about it. In fact I’m typing this up now on a park bench in the lovely beaches area of town thanks to the reflective screen which works great in direct sunlight, even with polarized sunglasses, which I can’t do with my Audiovox 5600. However, indoors, in low light, the advantage goes decisively the other way; I don’t care for the BB (BlackBerry) backlight.

Right away I set out to see what software is available for it. Google actually has two great apps, first is Google Talk. The  implementation on this is fantastic. It stays connected all day and conversations show up in the list of incoming email so you don’t have to switch back and forth. And I mentioned Google Maps Mobile before, but the same app works on this device too and the larger screen makes it even better.

Other Notes:

  • I need to work on setting up a direct blog entry app — I had to email this to myself for posting with BlogJet
  • I refuse to use the holster on a belt. I just can’t ok?
  • Battery life seems really excellent so far.
  • The leap from pay-per-kb to unlimited data (I don’t actually know if it is unlimited, but I don’t get the bill, so…) is huge. Totally changes the way you use the device.
  • There is already some amount of nerve damage in my thumbs. Good thing this trip is short and in my “normal” life, I have computers with nice keyboards everywhere, so I should be able to avoid debilitation.

on fonts and betas

I’ve been bit by the beta bug lately thanks to the simul-release of Office 2007 beta2 and Vista beta2. I don’t have spare hardware worthy of running Vista on silicon and virtual machine performance and tool support for it aren’t real good right now, so that’ll have to exist only in boot up, hey that’s neat land for the time being. But I did go ahead and install Office 2007. First in my VMs, then on the laptop and once I was reasonably comfortable things were copasetic and most of my add-ins were going to install, most recently on the big dogs: the home PC and the corporate workstation.

So far so good. However, ever since I caught a glimpse of the new Vista series fonts, I have been using them (Calibri specifically) as my default for my RSS reading, in Outlook 2003 via NewsGator, which, as you might have heard here before or have guessed is where I spend the vast majority of my computer reading time. But when I installed Office 2007 it retreated back to Times New Roman, the font that Kottke mentioned as finally the non-default in Office 2007 the other day. I was confused since with all this momentum away from TNR and the fact that 2007 beta2 comes with these great fonts, why it was still there in Outlook?

<a bit more technical section> Outlook 2003 uses IE as the rendering engine, so if you have OL 2003 and you want to change the default rendering font, you go to Internet Options, Fonts, and change it there. I tried that and when manual registry searching didn’t turn up any references to the old font, I had to do some more research.

And according to this Google groups thread Outlook 2007 uses Word as the HTML rendering engine for Outlook now. And while the thread implies that you can change the font setting from within the Outlook settings hierarchy, I found otherwise. So start Word, click on the Office logo (main menu?), hit Word options at the bottom. Click on Advanced, scroll all the way down, click on the button for “Web Options…”, the fonts tab, and finally change the Proportional font to something more pleasing, again, my choice is Calibri.
</a bit more technical section>

Change that, enable ClearType and enjoy better fonts. Note, Bill Hill, the guy that helped invent ClearType says that there are studies that prove faster reading times and increased productivity when you use smoother, more readable fonts.