April, 2019

Death Cab video album for iTunes; Emo kids pretend not to care

You're cranky when it rains, pout when this week's Grey's Anatomy turns out to be a rerun, become sad when when your pBook/MacBook battery is low, and shed a tear whenever Bambi's mother goes to that big grassy knoll in the sky. Face it, there's a little Emo kid in all of us. Fortunately, Death Cab for Cutie has a song for every depressing occasion. Not satisfied? I wouldn't expect anything less. HangZhou Night Net

According to Apple's weekly "New Music Tuesday" mass email, each track of Death Cab's latest album, Plans, will be teased, groped, and fondled by a different director and be transformed into his or her own unique vision. The "video album," titled Directions [iTMS link] , will contain eleven music videos, an interview with the band, and a trailer in the playlist notes on iTunes. Why the album only trailer isn't free is beyond me. It is available now on the iTunes music store for US$13.99. A listing of the tracks with their respective directors follows:

    "Marching Bands Of Manhattan" Director: P.R. Brown"Soul Meets Body" Director: Cat Solen"Summer Skin" Director: Lightborne"Different Names For The Same Thing" Director: Autumn de Wilde"I Will Follow You Into The Dark" Director: Monkmus"Your Heart Is An Empty Room" Director: Jeffrey Brown; Animated by Eliza Kinkz"Someday You Will Be Loved" Director: Ace Norton"Crooked Teeth" Director: Rob Schrab"What Sarah Said" Director: Laurent Briet"Brothers On A Hotel Bed" Director: Chris Grismer"Stable Song" Director: Aaron Stewart-Ahn

One of the films is available to view on the band's homepage. It seems as though the band will be premiering a new flick every Monday until the release of the DVD on April 11th, so you can save yourself some cash and wait to check out each visual interpretation with the rest of us. That, or you could give into your self-indulgence and instant gratification side and go buy it now.

While the news of Directions isn't garden fresh, an entire album of music videos is a relatively new animal for iTMS. Someone just let me know where to put in my pre-order for a Bjork / Radiohead (Kid-A) / Kid Koala version, k?

Cruel intentions? Microsoft joins group pivotal to ODF’s success

The battle for office document supremacy rages on. Reported yesterday, Microsoft has joined the V1 Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface group, which is part of the larger INCITS/V1 Technical Committee. The V1 Text group is a party that is involved in deciding what should or should not become an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard. Although Microsoft claims to have joined the group only to ratify its own Office XML format, some see it as a diabolical way for the company to halt the acceptance of the OpenDocument Format (ODF) as an ISO standard. HangZhou Night Net

Possibly the most vocal ODF supporter of them all, Groklaw's Pamela Jones, said on her blog, "I hope I'm not giving them ideas, but all they would have to do to slow ODF down, I'm thinking, is ensure lots of discussion, review, documentation, exploration, etc. to arrange that ISO can't ratify ODF until ECMA is ready to submit their competing XML." Jones then quipped, "That can't be the plan, I'm sure. That would be mean and anticompetitive." Although Microsoft's move appears questionable, the company vehemently denies any hidden agenda.

The company claims that it has only joined the group so that its own Jim Thatcher could help get the Office XML file format ratified as an ISO standard. Microsoft's Jason Matusow, director of standards affairs, told ZDNet that getting Thatcher on board with the V1 Text group is all part of the game.

"In order for Jim to participate in the future Open XML File Format work he needs to have standing in JTC1 SC 34 [a committee that mirrors INCITS/V1] which mandates participation over time. His presence in this group will have no impact upon the voting process for the ODF standard. Just as we have a seat on the board of OASIS and have not participated in the ODF process there, we will not participate in the JTC1 process."

Believable story? Possibly. The company has been pushing hard to get its Office XML format standardized, especially with the releases of Vista and Office 2007 looming on the horizon. On the other hand, one of the best ways for Microsoft to hurt ODF's acceptance is by getting in on the voting process. What do you think? Does the company have cruel intentions, or is it just looking for some Office XML support? Or maybe it could be looking to kill two birds with one stone.

Will string theory ever predict anything?

String theory, a hypothesis for the unification of quantum mechanics and gravity, has been around in various forms for 30 or 40 years now. It postulates that all particles we observe in the universe are vibrations on strings. In fact the theory is considerably more complex than that, requiring strings, loops, surfaces and other strange entities in a universe that has more than four dimensions. The number of dimensions has been steadily increasing for some years, causing cynical observers to wonder if every obstacle encountered by string theory is to be overcome by additional dimensions. However, String theory’s major problem is a lack of any testable predictions. This is, in part, due to the complexity of the mathematics around which it is based. The equations can be applied at very small scales, for which experimental results don’t exist. To make predictions at scales for which measurements are possible involves making approximations, which has so far proved to be pretty hard to do. The final problem for string theory is that it is not a uniquely determined set of equations; the universe that you get depends very strongly on the starting initial conditions. In all fairness the latter problem also applies to the standard model of quantum physics as well. Thus it is important to narrow down the parameter range of the initial conditions and help distinguish string theory from other models. HangZhou Night Net

Some recent work by Danielsson at University of Uppsala has, to a certain extent, reversed the usual process of scientific discovery in order to start making order-of-magnitude predictions from string theory. The cornerstone of this work is inflation; a little understood period of time over which the universe expanded very quickly and made the universe essentially homogenous. The mechanism that caused inflation is very much a matter of debate, however, the physical consequences and observational data (mostly from the cosmic microwave background) are well-understood and accurate. Nevertheless Danielsson assumes that inflation is correct, allowing physicists to infer the starting conditions of the early universe and hence narrow the range of the free parameters that plague string theory and other models attempting to unify quantum mechanics and gravity

Although this is a nice piece of work, showing that under some circumstances we might be able to make predictions with string theory, there are still a lot of assumptions involved. Those assumptions are not only those related to inflation but also some pretty fundamental assumptions regarding string theory as well, thus all should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Cue cautious optimism.

BAPCo, eh?

A Ziff Davis blog is reporting that Apple has recently joined a technology consortium, if you will, that works together to produce benchmarking tools like the SYSmark 2004SE and MobileMark suites. The group is composed of big name companies like Intel, HP, Dell, AMD, NVidia, Transmeta, Microsoft, and ATi. All of these companies have a common interest: they all want the best benchmarks for their hardware and software on the Windows platform. HangZhou Night Net

So the big question is: "Why has Apple joined a group like this?" The first idea that springs to my mind is that Apple is interested in encouraging these tools to be ported (in some manner) to OS X now that the underlying hardware is more or less identical to it's competitors. This would allow companies like Ziff Davis and C|Net, who run several popular technology-related journalistic endeavours to benchmark Apple's systems more easily against, say, a Dell running Windows XP.

Of course the rumor mill is running full speed with this one, somehow inferring that Apple's entrance into this group automatically means that Apple is interested in running virtualized Windows applications withing OS X ala WINE or something home grown:

We speculate that Apple will now develop Windows drivers for Intel Macs like the iMac, Mac mini and MacBook Pro with Intel Core Duo processors. You will probably still need to buy your own copy of Windows XP (or Vista), but this is exciting stuff

Even if Apple isn't interested in porting these suites wholesale from Windows to OS X, they're obviously interested (in some capacity) in a standardized way to benchmark their hardware running OS X against everyone else's hardware running Windows XP (or Vista). What would be the path of least resistance here? Developing a whole Windows compatibility layer within OS X (even though most of the tough stuff is done in WINE) or coercing a multi-faceted group of technology companies to change how it does business? In any case, I think that this move signals that Apple will be phasing out those SPECint benchmarks at some point in the future.

Update: Check out Ars Technica's front page coverage of this topic.

Powered by WordPress. Design: Supermodne.