a saturday to remember

Two-thousand ten.

Hard to believe that Sharaun and I will be married ten years this year. Veterans. Pillars. So long together now, if you count the years we dated (subtracting that self-imposed “break” around ’95 that she won’t let me talk about much), that I’ve been with her as long as I haven’t. Sixteen years without, seventeen with. Something to be said for longevity – and perhaps forgiveness and long-suffering too – I suppose.  I know, this paragraph reaches for continuity… but those ten years are the first thing I think of when I think about how it’s now two-thousand ten.  That, and that Keaton will be four and I’ll have been ten years at my job.  Or, is a “career” now?  When does that line get crossed?

Ten years.

I read Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises for the first time over the weekend. Made me half wish I could spend a year drinking my way around Europe, bankrupting myself halfheartedly chasing fleeting passions, having impossible conversations with a cadre of equally sloshed and disenfranchised comrades. But in addition to daydreaming about being part of the perennially-tight “lost generation,” reading the book piqued my interest in good literature again.  I found myself once again wanting to read.  I made a trip to a couple used book stores in town on Saturday, but came up short.  A visit to the library was disappointingly equally unsuccessful.  Not to say there wasn’t plenty of good reading to be had at each stop, just that I couldn’t find a single one of the ten or so tomes I’d set out to acquire.

Then I wondered about downloading books… maybe reading them on my iPhone or something.  At first, I wrote off the idea as stupid.  Who’d want to read from a screen, let alone a screen as small as the iPhone’s?  But, later that night as I lay in bed I decided to re-download the Stanza application for the phone.  As a test, I grabbed a free book from Project Gutenburg – Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.  At right around 100 printed pages I figured it’d be short enough to use as test.  Stayed up reading it in bed and, as I finger-flipped the last “page” I realized that, yes, I think I could read books on my phone.  I immediately set about finding some of the stuff I’d been out amongst the brick-and-mortar searching for.  Oh, it’s all there, but unfortunately most of the works carry a prohibitive pricetag.

In short order, however, I found a way “around” that and was able to load up my phone with all manner of classic  and “modern classic” literature.  I’m actually pretty excited to have a pocketful of good books with me at any time.  Now to see if I can truly adapt to reading things this way… I’ll keep you posted.

A couple paragraphs I wrote on the iPhone over the course of the weekend, to round things out:

Saturday we woke with an idea at grand plans on the day. Something as a family, something fun for Keaton. We took our time in the morning. I made coffee and Sharaun and Keaton had cereal. I read a little. By and by it was 10am and we thought we’d better firm up plans. 11am and some discussion later and we were no closer to anything material. We ate lunch and after that everything fizzled. We played a few games of memory together and ended up running errands and shopping for dinner. A Saturday to remember. Maybe next weekend.

Work begins back this week after what feels like a fantastically drawn out hiatus. I’m not exactly eager. I feel a bit too disconnected from what’s going on. I’ve felt this way before and it always passes naturally as I wade back in. Not sure where to get started, but it’s coming up on annual review time and I guess that’s about as important a piece of work as you can dig into. A good start, I suppose, to numb me back into the day-to-day of corporate infinity.


high-definition audio on an ipod

Hello, Def.

After I wrote all this mess, I decided to break it out from the regular day-to-day stuff that makes up the bulk of sounds familiar, just to spare the typical audience from something they likely wouldn’t be interested in.  But for those who may get down with the music/audio/technical junk, here’s some.

Well folks, I thought I had it all.  A while back when I got the new 2009 Beatles remastered catalog in lossless FLAC format I figured I had the best sounding version of the stuff to be had by humans. I was even super happy that I was able to losslessly transcode the FLAC files into Apple’s own lossless audio format for pristine playback on the iPod (I know, no comments about my 6G iPod Classic’s crappy DAC or sound quality in general here, please).  Anyway, put short – I was pleased that, on my portable device, I had the best-sounding versions of the Beatles’ records you could get.

Then EMI (not Apple, and the subtle distinction is important here for Beatlemaniacs) goes ahead and releases the entire catalog again in digital format, via a special USB key, and this time they offer a “24 bit”  lossless FLAC option.  What does this mean?  I dunno… not a lot unless you want me to get way technical… oh wait, you do?  If you wanna skip the techy stuff, move forward to the very last paragraph here (“Goodnight”) and just know that the 24 bit version is, for some scientific reason, better than what I had previously.  For the smarty-pantses out there…

Regular readers tuned-out?  Gone?  Good.

See, normal, CD-quality tunes have a bit-depth of 16 bits per sample (a sample being sized as 1/44,100th of second).  Higher-definition audio, such as DVD-quality audio, often comes at at an increased bit-depth of 24 bits per sample, and a smaller sample size (sometimes 48 kHz, sometimes 96 kHz, sometimes as much 192 kHz).  If you’re nerdy, you can think of it as an analog-to-digital thing, trying to take enough discrete points of digital data to accurately represent a continual analog sound.  The more often you “record” the analog sound, and the higher “resolution” in which you make the recording can be thought of, respectively, as sample-rate and bit-depth.  (And for the real nerds those last two links are to a couple far-better explained Wikipedia articles on the subject.)

Anyway, EMI’s straight-to-digital release upped the Beatles catalog ante by offering the lossless files in 24 bit format (albeit still sampled at 44.1 kHz, which some maintain is akin to a cliffhanger ending in a summer blockbuster… leaving open the door for yet another “upgrade” to a higher quality version of the set at a later date).  Oh great; this now means that my heretofore “best quality” 16 bit files on the iPod are, in fact, now trumped.  And while folks will argue with me about an iPod’s ability to, with any noticeable difference in sound quality, reproduce 24 bit audio… I of course want to get these new recordings on my trusty portable device.

Problem is getting 24-bit FLAC files converted over to 24-bit ALAC (m4a) files – using Windows – hasn’t historically been the easiest thing in the world. At this point in time, it’s rather trivial if you’re in the MacOS environment, but quite a bit more tricky in a Windows environment (especially if you prefer open-source stuff or you’re not overly-anxious to spend money on a pay-for piece of software to do the task).  If you’re a Mac person, you’ve got XLD or Max at your side and’ll have hardly any issues getting high-def stuff onto your iPods (provided you’re stubborn like me and want to do it regardless of whether or not the playback quality warrants it).  If you’re a Windows user, you’re options are significantly more narrow.

However, I’m here to report my personal success in the hopes that others out there may share in it.  See, just last week the venerable application dBpoweramp released a version of their great conversion software that supports encoding of 24 bit Apple lossless files.  What’s more, the software does the conversion in a batch format, from the original directories, in mere seconds, and it’s completely free for a 28 day trial period – no strings attached.  Wonderful.  And, as a check, the final files imported into iTunes show 24 bit / 44,100 Hz as expected (and I’m sure would match the sampling rate on a 96 kHz file as well).  Losslessly perfect!

For what it’s worth, as long as you can get files encoded into an Apple container, an iPod classic will indeed support 24 bit playback (I have the 6th generation 160GB, your mileage may vary).  And, even with the internet, it’s pretty hard to nail down the sampling-rate limitations… but from experience I can tell you my 6G classic has no issues at all with the 24 bit / 44.1 kHz Beatles ALACs.  Apparently, however, the iPod does have a sampling-rate ceiling of 48 kHz, and reportedly trying to load anything sampled at a higher rate than this onto your iPod will cause iTunes to spit it right back (yet my Apple TV is able to play 24 bit / 96 kHz files via the optical output, which is fantastic).

So for me, I’ll ignore the audiophile mantra of “you’ll never be able to tell on the iPod anyway,” delete my old 16 bit ALAC files from the iPod, and go with my newly-FLAC-transcoded 24 bit / 44.1 kHz ALAC versions of the Beatles’ catalog for portability.  I mean, even amongst all the stuff I read online about the quality of the iPod’s DAC, there’s reason to believe you might be able to tell a difference.  But at home, I’ll try loading the ALACs onto the Apple TV and playing them back via optical to the surround system for the “best” listening… (since I don’t want to have to buy one of those mega-expensive iPod DAC bypassing docks/transports anytime soon…).  Anyway, I’ve said it before: I’m no audiophile.  I obsess about it, but, when it comes down to it, I can’t hear the difference.

Anyway, if you’re a Windows user and dBpoweramp worked for you, you’ll likely end up like me and buy it despite doing all you needed to do with it long before the free trial expires… I mean, it’s worth it  – and down the road when more stuff comes in higher-definition format you’re gonna want to be able to re-encode on the fly anyway.  Drop me a line if you had luck with it, or go buy it… whatever.

I got some Beatles to go listen to…


it all leaks eventually

I am not a crook.

Hi internet.  Hope your midweek was well.

I actually wrote, post-posted (that’s like post-dating when writing a check, remember those?… and that?) this entry on Tuesday night.  I love getting ahead on a week of writing.

So anyway… I wanted to relate a funny story.

Well, I think it’s funny…

I’ll just jump right in:  Recently, a fairly good-sized brouhaha was raised around the fringes of the internet when a piece of software called Microsoft COFEE leaked onto one unnamed-here bittorrent website.  What’s COFEE, you ask?  Microsoft COFEE stands for Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor and is described by Microsoft thusly:

With COFEE, law enforcement agencies without on-the-scene computer forensics capabilities can now more easily, reliably, and cost-effectively collect volatile live evidence. An officer with even minimal computer experience can be tutored—in less than 10 minutes—to use a pre-configured COFEE device. This enables the officer to take advantage of the same common digital forensics tools used by experts to gather important volatile evidence, while doing little more than simply inserting a USB device into the computer.

Oh, so it’s a Microsoft-sanctioned “hacker toolkit” for cops.  Maybe something that would’ve been interesting to me back in college, but not anymore.  However, this little collection of software tools had become one particular bittorrent site’s coup-de-grace.  Sit back and I’ll tell you about it, hopefully in language plain enough that non-nerds can also get a kick out of it.

Maybe a bit of explanation on how some of the “higher echelon” private torrent sites work first (without revealing too much of the man behind the curtain):  Most better sites have request systems.  Simply put, if someone wants something, like the as-yet-unreleased new Strokes album in FLAC format, they can create a request for it.  Once this request exists, other users of the site can add their request to it by voting for it.  In addition to acknowledging that other users would also like to have the file shared out to the community, voting on a request also adds to that request’s “bounty.”  A request bounty is a user’s “reward” for scoring and uploading the item to the site.  It’s a bit complicated here to talk about what the bounty actually is, but those familiar with ratio-based trackers can likely guess that it’s a big ratio-positive.  For simplicity’s sake, think of this as everyone in a room putting a dollar (or perhaps more, as you’ll read shortly) on a table and pledging the “pot” to someone in return for them providing something.

Anyway, long ago on this torrent site someone requested COFEE.  And, over time, the request garnered more and more votes.  In a twist to the standard system, with every vote each user has an option to “pledge” extra bounty towards the eventual uploader (when a requester pledges extra, it comes out of their site “credit,” so to speak) if they are really keen on getting the particular item.  As time went by, the COFEE request became laden with more and more votes and higher and higher additive custom bounty from users particularly interested in getting their hands on the then fabled software. In fact, before the events of the next few paragraphs unfolded, the bounty on the item was enormous, easily the highest in the site’s history and enough to keep any uploader in good graces forevermore.  It seemed that people, thinking the request would likely never get filled, began pledging ridiculously large custom bounty amounts just to drive up demand and make the chase all the more fun.

Then it happened.

Some user actually got COFEE and uploaded it.  Bam.  The site went wild; the uploader basked in fifteen minutes of internet stardom.  And then the moderators began thinking.  I mean, this tool is meant for the likes of the FBI and NSA… and here they were essentially “offering” a link to it (let’s not get technical about whether a .torrent file in and of itself is illegal or not).  Someone with brains came to the conclusion that this would 1) likely lead to some small amount of publicity and 2) that publicity would ultimately be negative for the site in general, as well as any users who might snag the software.  In the end, the moderators wrote, in part:

The resourcefulness of our users never ceases to amaze us. Suddenly, we were forced to take a real look at the program, its source, and the potential impact on the site and security of our users and staff. And when we did, we didn’t like what came of it. So, a decision was made. The torrent was removed (and it is not to be uploaded here again.)

Just to be clear: we were not threatened by Microsoft or any law enforcement agency. We haven’t been contacted, nor has our host. This was a decision made by the staff based on our own conversations and feelings about the security impact of having the software here. We know some of you, perhaps the majority of you, won’t agree with it. To those that feel that way, we can only offer an apology and the explanation that we removed it for your security, and ours.

This is not an indication of any policy or rule changes going forward. This is a one-time decision, for a unique situation. This is not something we will do with other torrents or requests. At this point, the software can probably be found elsewhere, for anyone who wants it. We hope you all understand, and will continue searching out those rare items which attract huge request bounties. Feel free to discuss this here, but this decision is final. Thank you, all.

A sound decision, and the right one, to be sure; and the makings for an interesting story which was ultimately covered fairly widely on a smattering of technology blogs and news pages.  And, they’re right… once the applications hit the internet the walls came down.  COFEE is now widely available, all over the place in fact… so taking it down from the one tracker that ultimately sourced it doesn’t really do anything but remove a single head from the hydra.  As they say, it’s in the wild now.

So, why did I write all this?  Other than being interesting to me, the whole event got me curious as to what request now reigned supreme at that site, being that COFEE had come and gone and taken it’s insane bounty along with it.  So I had a friend who’s a member at this illicit site (and who I don’t really like due to his felonious nature and lack of respect for more-than-fair copyright law) log on for me and check.  Know what’s right up near the top now?

Richard Nixon – Missing Watergate Tapes (18½ minute gap tape)

When the White House agreed to comply with a Watergate investigation subpoena and hand over recorded conversations to Chief Judge Sirica, they informed the Court that two subpoenaed conversations had not been recorded, and that an 18½ minute gap existed on a third tape, tape 342, which recorded a conversation between President Nixon and Chief of Staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman on June 20, 1972. The 18 1/2 minute gap can be heard here.

To me, this request is brilliant.  The comedy value is high, and the unspoken nod to the COFEE leak being ever-thought-of as unattainable is nicely relevant.  Not only that but, aside from kitsch value, it really is funny to see this request gaining votes and accumulating bounty.  I mean, who knows?… perhaps the internet as a collective organism has become enabled to do things far greater than the sum of its parts ever could.  Maybe some guy knows a guy who used to know a guy… and bam; Nixon’s tapes leak online.  Anyway, I thought it was hilarious.  Oh, and, anyone who knows a guy who might know a guy… let me know and I can probably find someone who’s a member at this horrible scofflaw website who’d love to get their grubby red hands all over this thing.

Well OK, it was a funny story if you’re an technology nerd… I promise.


sayanora, trumpet man

Sayanora, trumpet man.Happy Thursday folks.

If you’re viewing the page via your iPhone or Android device today, you’ve likely noticed that I installed a much more mobile-friendly theme that takes over when the page is viewed in a mobile browser.  I like it a lot, and it’s actually what inspired me to change up my current desktop theme (the main look and feel of sounds familiar).  I haven’t done this in a long while… but my current theme was kind of clunky compared to some of the more modern themes.

My goal was to maintain as much of the look and feel of the site as possible while taking advantage of something less hacked-together (I still have to go through and reformat some of the more kludgy CSS remnants, but I’ll get it all modernized soon enough).  I think it’s mostly in-place now, the only drastic change being my decision to drop the years-old header logo… which meant ditching the Bible-times trumpet man image Ben stole for me off the internet way back in 2003.  Sayanora, trumpet man.

OK enough website junk.  Let’s talk about something better.  Maybe something funny… Oh, I know!

Sunday evening this past week my daughter spent nearly five minutes explaining to me the wonder that was her Halloween-acquired Ring Pop.

See Dad, it’s like ring but you can eat it like a lollipop.  It’s candy.  You put it on your finger like a ring and it’s pretty like jewelry but it’s also candy like a lollipop.  See?  See it on my finger like a ring?  But watch, Dad!, look with your eyes!, see… I can… mmmpphh… see, I can lick it like a lollipop.  Isn’t that neat, Dad?  Dad… did you see?  It’s a Ring Pop.  It’s called that because it’s a ring and a lollipop.  Dad.  Dad?

About two explanatory sentences into her rant, I started laughing a little.  By the third or fourth recitation of her stark wonder, I had all but lost it and was cracking up.  Sharaun, sitting opposite me on the other couch, was also laughing.  By the end, I was playing with her (I think she figured it out).  “But wait,” I’d stop her to interject, “Is that thing a ring, or a lollipop?”  Aaaand we’d start all over again.  Good stuff.

Changing subjects…

Recently, I’ve started using the track rating feature on the iPod.  I never really used the functionality before, for a couple main reasons: 1) I pretty much only put music I like on the iPod, so I would hope not to find anything less than “middlin'” were I to do a “rating audit” or somesuch and 2) I don’t use iTunes to manage my music, so the track rating metadata would only live on my iPod and not be transferred permanently back into my collection.  If my iPod ever went south or I had to reload tracks off disk, I’d lose the ratings data anyway, so I’ve always considered it fleeting and useless.

Over time, my mind has changed somewhat on each point.  Yes, everything on my iPod is there because I at least “like” it.  But, as I’ve learned being a manager at the sawmill, even a group of top-performers has a bottom performer – regardless of whether or not that person is generically “good” or not.  Same with a huge batch of “good” tunes, I suppose.  Even if I like it all, there are some tracks that deserve a star or two more than others.  I figured that exploiting the natural strata of my tastes might actually make for some neat ratings-based “smart” playlists.

Furthermore, about a year ago I bought some software that promises it’s able to make a complete, hardware/firmware agnostic, restoreable backup of my iPod.  The idea being that, as long as I keep up with the backups, were my iPod ever upgraded, lost, or ruined, I could restore it to its previous state – including track-by-track metadata.  Still, ratings wouldn’t get sync’d back into my master collection on disk – but I gave up on this a long time ago after a couple failed migration attempts.  But, at least I could carry the ratings metadata through an iPod crash or upgrade… better than nothing.

Anyway… I’m trying it out.  Why not?


waiting on music again

Loose lips...Man I’m glad it’s Thursday night.  Tomorrow (today as you’re reading) is Friday; three-day weekend come on.

Today after work I ran around like a newly-headless chicken, running an errand downtown for a buddy and then trying to get back in time to join some friends for the evening… but traffic and frustration and general lateness made me forgo that friend time.  I rolled into the garage around 8pm and decided that, having had a burrito as big as my arm for lunch today, I probably didn’t need any dinner.

With no dinner and no friends and just Keaton and I at the crib, I decided to put on some music and hang out.  Fired up the internet and discovered that, lo and behold, the Beatles stereo remasters had leaked in pristine FLAC and the torrent was marked for freeleech.  There goes 3+ gigs on the iPod.  I’m fifteen hours late to the swarm; but amazingly there’s only two seeds.  No sooner had I jumped into the fray than was I at the top of leech pack (glacial seed so closing in on 5,000-strong now).  This is the Titanic of torrents… smashing all records.   Hopefully I can have them all converted to ALAC and loaded on the iPod for some work listening tomorrow.  Woohoo.

And now the songs are just dribbling in… one by one I’m getting to hear the remasters.  I started with the ones that’ve hit 100%.  “I Am the Walrus” was one of the first.  Oh man this sounds good.  I hope it all sounds like this.  Holy crap I just put “All You Need Is Love” on… the separation and clarity is amazing.  Strings.  John.  Drums.   For kicks, I spun the 80s CD mix in pieces alongside… no comparison.  I can’t wait to listen to Pepper once all the way through.  I don’t have the patience to tolerate the audiophile rantings about the horn being too “up front” or “bright” in the new mix of so-and-so-whatever… this sounds way better than the ’87 stuff to me; limited, compressed, whatever.  Sounds spectacular.

Getting late and I have nothing to do aside from wait for this album to finish.  Guess I’ll queue up an episode of History Detectives and practice my patience.


when are you coming back?

Because it's all knotty, innit?Thursday.

Music post. If you don’t care you may safely ignore. Although… before you do, note that this one contains both mystery and intrigue and perhaps the makings of some cool “internetty stuff” too. So, maybe you wanna read it after all.

Got online for the first time tonight around 10pm, and was greeted with a pleasant surprise. Let me explain.

See, for Radiohead fans, it’s been a neat couple weeks. Just last week we get the surprise online-only release of their tribute track to Mr. Harry Patch, Great Britain’s last surviving WWI veteran who passed away last month. Then, an online interview with Thom in which he says the band is “done making albums.” No, not breaking up, just presumably eschewing the aging long-player format for a while. In this same interview, Mr. Yorke says the following:

“… we’ve actually got a good plan, but I can’t tell you what it is, because someone will rip it off. But we’ve got this great idea for putting things out. In a physical realm and a digital realm. But, yeah.. no, I can’t tell you what it is. [Laughs] Sorry to be so vague about everything.”

Cryptic… And, finally, tonight. I log on to the internet’s #1 “back alley” for digital music acquisition. No, I won’t mention where. However, upon checking the top ten items for the day, I was surprised to see yet another unrecognized-by-me Radiohead item in the top spot. Sure enough, it’s a new song – and it’s legit; it’s Radiohead. But where did this thing come from? In an odd twist, the uploader hasn’t provided any information about where the track was sourced. Unusual for something as high-profile as a brand new Radiohead track, which is a sure-thing to take the #1 spot. Most uploaders would want to bask in the glory of breaking such a leak.

Anyway, it’s ostensibly a “scene” rip, and it comes complete with an NFO file. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about at this point, check the links on those words.) Opening the NFO, the mystery deepens: The release group is some heretofore unknown called “Wall of Ice,” and although the file appears quite authentic to a scene release, replete with the standard ASCII art and rip/group info, its only other contents are just some rambling (not very much unlike the ramblings of Radiohead’s own Thom Yorke on the band’s official website, hmmm…):

      iiii         i just wanted to reassure readers          iiii
      iiii          that following representations            iiii
      iiii              seeking confirmation                  iiii            
      iiii           that before your very eyes               iiii                       
      iiii             behind the wall of ice                 iiii
      iiii         that the box is not under threat           iiii
      iiii          however they are set to remove            iiii
      iiii                    other boxes                     iiii
      iiii       in fact i have the list in front of me       iiii
      iiii         i went to a briefing on their plans        iiii
      iiii           and challenged them to tell me           iiii
     iiiii           exactly what the cost would be           iiiiiii
    iiiiii                                                    iiiiiiii
   iiiiiii             they spoke in broad terms              iiiiiiiiii

Furthermore, dear Watson, the uploader of the song and NFO is also a mystery, having been registered for quite a while on this particular site, but without much account activity of note. After uploading the track his or her “paranoia” settings were changed to “level five” (the highest level of usage-statistics obfuscation allowed). Who is this person? How and where did they come by this track? Are they perhaps an agent of the band, or someone actually from the band? Could this be an orchestrated, purposeful “leak?” My cursory research shows that the track likely made its internet debut through that uploader on that site…

Perhaps more telling, the track, entitled “These Are My Twisted Words,” is numbered as “01” and the release date listed in the NFO file is 8/17/2009… or next Monday for Marty McFly. An indication that more are to follow? Could this be the “great idea for putting things out” Thom talked about in the above quoted interview? Are Radiohead going to do a NIN-inspired album release, maybe all ARG style? Drop a new track on the web’s most exclusive underground music sharing site and bury clues to the next track within the self-leaked release? Could the NFO file be hiding breadcrumbs leading to the next track?

Dunno; but I’m willing to follow everyone else (well, those fanatic enough like me) down the rabbit hole on this one just in case.

There. Wasn’t going to write tonight. Pulled this together while listening to the new track and F5ing the sluething threads on the forums. I get totally engrossed in this stuff.


brain-rotting backseat entertainment

Remorse... it's like nothing else.Happy Tuesday internet.

Sharaun’s subbing on someone’s soccer team and I’m, again, listening to the iPod.  The Allman Brothers are on, a seemingly neverending live track (sounds so good right now I kind of hope it doesn’t end).  Got a lot done at work today… was a productive one.  Let’s blog about something unusual.

For the upcoming roadtrip to Disneyland, I had been thinking about getting one of those portable DVD player things to help keep Keaton entertained on the drive.  The only problem with those, however, is that they’re just not flexible enough.

I mean, we never watch actual DVDs… we watch DivX-encoded AVIs or H.264-encoded M4Vs… and you can’t play those on a DVD player.  So, to get the universalism I was looking for, I began pricing those little “personal video players,” only to find that they’re way more than I want to spend and don’t support nearly enough codecs.

That’s when I got the idea.

We recently upgraded our home computer’s flatscreen, since the DVI port went bad and it could only do analog video.  Rather than throw the 19″ widescreen LCD away, I shoved it in the garage in case I could use it one day.  And, today was the day.  By taking off the stand at the bottom, I had a perfectly flat little (big, actually) monitor.  With some help from the Dremel I fashioned an adjustable hanging strap that threads through the back of the housing, and tightened it perfectly to hang from the passenger seat headrest (it can also be adjusted to hang one side from each the driver and passenger headrests, positioning it center view for all rear passengers).

Add one $25 400W two-outlet DC-AC inverter, plug in the laptop and headphones, and you’ve got unlimited video for roadtrips.  Heck, with the wireless broadband card you could even stream movies or TV to the thing if you wanted to… or purchase content on the fly.  The only drawback is that the thing is too big for the job… leaving Keaton strapped just a couple feet from the screen.  Pure brain-rotting backseat entertainment; you have to give it to technology, don’t you?

Now it’s close to 10pm.  An epic track from Wishbone Ash’s live record is tearing up the speakers, and I just opened a cold beer.  It’s dark outside, but it’s still warm enough (and I’m lazy enough) that the air conditioning is still on.  So it’s nice and cool in here, the fan is running above me.

It’s precious territory.  Goodnight.