Friday, September 26, 2008


A few links for Fannie and Freddie

Link dump on the Fannie & Freddie mess (updated and bumped):

Jerry Pournelle has an overview. And more:

As I surmised, the bailout -- good idea or poor -- can't be made to happen until Barney Frank and Senator Dodd are allowed to wet their beaks. The Democrats want part of that pie. Obama's leadership abilities were put to the test, and apparently found wanting: even in the White House, with what all of them concede to be the financial health of the Republic at stake, no agreement is possible.… When the game is to restore confidence, it's important to act quickly. When the ship of state is being blown onto the rocks, it may be best to drop anchor; it may be best to raise sails and beat to windward; either course of action may work. Both will not work. Doing nothing is certain disaster.
Did Dr. Pournelle exclude a middle? Trying to do both at once, yes, sounds like certain disaster. Or did his sailing metaphor take control of my imagination, leading me to think that another possibility might be to reef up and, since our sailing vessel has been modified since the last time it hit the rocks, use our new engine to keep us off the lee shore. The engine being the SEC and all of the changes and controls on the securities markets that have been put in place since 1929. On the gripping hand, sometimes nothing is the best thing to do. Maybe the horse will learn to sing. One does not want to fall victim to what I have heard referred to as "Yes, Minister" syndrome: "We must do something. This is something. Therefore, we must do it." What would Calvin Coolidge do? Cool Cal went by the book, the book that had not been written yet when he was alive, the book that says on its cover, "Don't Panic."

Who caused "the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression?" by Roger Kimball at PJ Media. Lots of comments; links to a video called "Burning Down the House," also linked below.

Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie: How the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history gave birth to the mortgage crisis, by Wayne Barrett in the Village Voice.

How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis: by Kevin Hassett at Bloomberg. Glenn Reynolds has a couple of reader comments.

A Mortgage Fable, editorial in the WSJ:
Once upon a time, in the land that FDR built, there was the rule of "regulation" and all was right on Wall and Main Streets. Wise 27-year-old bank examiners looked down upon the banks and saw that they were sound. America's Hobbits lived happily in homes financed by 30-year-mortgages that never left their local banker's balance sheet, and nary a crisis did we have.

Then, lo, came the evil Reagan marching from Mordor with his horde of Orcs, short for "market fundamentalists." Reagan's apprentice, Gramm of Texas and later of McCain, unleashed the scourge of "deregulation," and thus were "greed," short-selling, securitization, McMansions, liar loans and other horrors loosed upon the world of men.

Now, however, comes Obama of Illinois, Schumer of New York and others in the fellowship of the Beltway to slay the Orcs and restore the rule of the regulator. So once more will the Hobbits be able to sleep peacefully in the shire.…
The Real Culprits In This Meltdown, editorial in IBD. "Big Government: Barack Obama and Democrats blame the historic financial turmoil on the market. But if it's dysfunctional, Democrats during the Clinton years are a prime reason for it."

Why our financial system nearly collapsed, the Anchoress: timeline, links, comments.

Doug Ross has a number of posts with graphics:
Jamie Gorelick, Mistress of Disaster.
Root Cause.
Fannie Mae: the New York Times rides to the rescue of the GOP.
Any Questions?
'Ya think?' Department.
The tale of Jamie Gorelick just keeps getting better and better.
Fannie Mae and the Vast Bipartisan Conspiracy: a list of villains in boldface, by Jack Shafer in Slate. Jamie Gorelick's photo is at the top.

Friends of Barack, editorial in the WSJ.

Obama Dollars, by Mac Fuller in the American Thinker.

Arnold Kling links to (among others) Tyler Cowen, who quotes Mindles H. Dreck on the effects of regulation. With all the screaming for more regulation we are hearing now, it's good to be reminded that "the answer is not to add one more vaguely described activity to the long-as-your-arm list of 'no-nos', but to shine an ever brighter light on the books and let the buyer discriminate." Dr. Dreck is currently blogging at TigerHawk's place, of course. Recently: "We have been force fed a super-sized trucker meal of stupid paper-pushing requirements while the basic risks of asset leverage went unaddressed."

Greed, Or Incentives? Richard Epstein on regulation, in Forbes. "Short term heroics are no substitute for dispassionate deregulation, which won’t happen so long as our political leaders are fixated on greed. Taking steps to prevent financial meltdowns is more likely to hasten their unwelcome arrival, so says the libertarian."

A little (more) history: New Agency Proposed to Oversee Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, NY Times from 2003. "The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt -- is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates."

My favorite mustelid has some things to say, as a small mammal selling in this market. One thing: "Blaming Wall Street operators for the current financial crisis is like discovering a fly-blown corpse and arresting the maggots for murder." Another thing: "Government has just stolen sixty thousand dollars from me. Let’s be clear about this: THE DEMOCRATS STOLE $60,000 FROM ME."

There is a video, "Burning Down the House," for those who would rather not do so much reading. And another video, with enough Barney Frank to make up for the lack of Barney Frank in the first video. Another video, from a 2004 hearing dealing with the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight; featuring Maxine Waters, Gregory Meeks, Artur Davis, Franklin Raines, and yes, Barney Frank.

Obama's Global Pickpocket Act

This was a comment at Althouse on the thread, "What should Jim Lehrer ask McCain and Obama at the first presidential debate next Friday?" But I came late to the party, as usual, and I doubt anyone saw it. So here it is on its own. No-one will see it here, either, but what the heck.

I'd like to see a few more questions raised about Obama's pet legislation, the Global Poverty Act. He actually sponsored this one, not just co-sponsored. If you look quickly at the text of it, it seems to be just some feel-good stuff about helping poor countries, but if you look closer, it seems that it would obligate the US to sign on to the UN's "Millennium Project." That official statement is more feel-good bafflegab; if you dig further, you find that the UN administrators seek a commitment of 0.7% of GDP, which based on GDP for the US in 2007 of $13.84 trillion would have been $96,880,000,000 for that year alone. We already have a foreign aid program administered by Congress and the State Dept, I believe. Taking an additional ~ hundred billion per year out of the economy to be handed to the UN to administer seems like a big deal.

This would fit in either the foreign policy debate or, because of its impact on the domestic economy, the domestic one. More at AIM: "A nice-sounding bill called the 'Global Poverty Act,' sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama, … could result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States. The bill, which has the support of many liberal religious groups, makes levels of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations."
Doug Ross also has a post on this. His post is much more fun than this one. Go read.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Where do rumors come from?

Some are like folk songs, that jes' growed from sources untraceable. Some, however, are carefully composed, recorded, and disseminated.

Charlie Martin, the keeper of the Palin Rumors List, has a new piece Dissecting the Palin Rumor Mill.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Perception test

Here. As John Derbyshire says, "Don't read anything, just watch the video." (via)

Update: It didn't take long for that to get yanked from Youtube. The original is still online, but you'll need a little setup: You will see some people in white shirts and some people in black shirts. Each group has a basketball. Try to count the number of times the people in white shirts pass the basketball. OK, now watch the video. (Java is required.) What was the number? Now read the first comment.

Update: Here is another version of this, with Simon Baker as Patrick Jane doing the setup. Regular Youtube, no Java required, only the usual FlashPlayer.

Update, Dec. 12, 2010: Big Think has an interview with Prof. Christopher Chabris of Union College on our illusions about our ability to perceive and remember. Chabris has written a book, with Daniel Simons, called The Invisible Gorilla, inspired by the perception test that inspired this post. At the book's website are a number of videos with this among them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sarah Palin is a Heinlein character

She would have fit right in with Hazel Stone and Wyoming Knott. Here's Jay Manifold:

Why Feminists Hate Sarah Palin.

I submit that Sarah Palin is the most Heinleinian candidate for Vice-President of the United States in this country’s history…
Commenter Otpu makes a nice distinction that reflects on the many recent attacks against Palin:
There is a real difference between pitching manure and slinging Bullsh*t. When you’re pitching manure you have to be able to place the manure pretty much on target or you’re wasting it. When you’re just slinging BS you don’t really have a target, you’re just trying to get everything around you covered as deeply as possible.
Thanks, as so often, to the Instapundit.

Pelosi's energy bait-and-switch

She claims to be offering a bill that will permit more offshore drilling. The oil-company shills at the Institute for Energy Research say that

Of the 18 billion barrels of oil locked-up by current bans, the new plan allows access to less than four, and perhaps as little as 2 billion barrels. And without revenue sharing, even the four states most lilely to allow production - Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia - would not do so.
Beware of complicated schemes offered by Democrats. Are the Dems sufficiently smart to be planning to save U.S. oil for later, after the Mideast oil is all gone, and also sufficiently subtle and disciplined that they have not breathed a word of this plan to a single member of the press? Oh, umm … nah. But why they want to handcuff the economy of their own country just beats the heck out of me. I would have understood it if it had been offered a year or two ago, as part of the plan to tank the economy and lose the war, in order to provide talking points for the current election campaign. But now, with the election so close? It is a puzzlement.

Marlo Lewis has more, at Planet Gore.

Update: Iain Murray calls this Energy Gangsterism: "This is not a compromise. It is a sell-out to the anti-energy gangsters."

Another update: Pelosi's bill passed, and it's off to the Senate. But there is another offshore drilling ban expiring Oct. 1. Stephen Spruiell says that the anti-drilling faction will use the financial crisis as a distraction to get the ban extended (here, and a follow-up).

Yet another update (via the Instapundit):
Democrats have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week, conceding defeat in an months-long battle with the White House and Republicans set off by $4 a gallon gasoline prices this summer.

Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., told reporters Tuesday that a provision continuing the moratorium will be dropped this year from a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running after Congress recesses for the election.…

The congressional battle over offshore drilling is far from over. Democrats are expected to press for broader energy legislation, probably next year, that would put limits on any drilling off most of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Republicans, meanwhile, are likely to fight any resumption of the drilling bans that have been in place since 1981.

"The future resolution of offshore drilling will have to be addressed with a new president," Drew Hamill, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
So the bill passed last week was empty noise? I guess. Spruiell says it was a trial balloon.

Obama, the movie star

Hype: The Obama Effect. Coming soon, probably not to any theaters near you, or me either.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sharia in Britain

It's highly likely that there will be an island off the shore of France for a good long time to come, but it's looking less likely all the time that there will always be an England. Some excerpts from a much longer article:

Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.…

The disclosure that Muslim courts have legal powers in Britain comes seven months after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was pilloried for suggesting that the establishment of sharia in the future “seems unavoidable” in Britain.

In July, the head of the judiciary, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, further stoked controversy when he said that sharia could be used to settle marital and financial disputes.

In fact, Muslim tribunal courts started passing sharia judgments in August 2007. They have dealt with more than 100 cases that range from Muslim divorce and inheritance to nuisance neighbours.
Can this possibly work? Two different legal systems in the same country are bound to come into conflict eventually. Given the prevailing social climate, which one will take precedence? I suspect it will be the one whose supporters are more willing to use violence to support its rulings. Since in a civil society violence is the monopoly of the state, this amounts to setting up a parallel government. Having two governments in one country is an unstable condition. One is bound to prevail over the other. It will be interesting, in the "may you live in interesting times" kind of way, to see how this plays out. Will John Bull stand up, or roll over?

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Sippican has a few things to say about tools. Ten Of The Eleven Of My Top Ten Tools. One of them is a stick. What A Three Hundred And Fifty Pound Doorstop Looks Like. And a nifty gadget that looks like one of those things that once you have it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it, the Tite-Tie: Something Something Else Happens.

Tropical sunset

Something pretty to have at the top of the page. Don't think of it as enormous amounts of greenhouse gas (H2O vapor!), it's just pretty.

If your fonts could talk, what would they say?

Something like this: Font Conference.

I seem to recall finding this at The Corner, in one of those collections of wacky links that Jonah Goldberg says are collected by "Debby." One of these days, those Corner-ites will figure out a way to put something like tags, or labels, on their posts, so that a reader could see all the Mark Steyn, or Mark Hemingway, or Mark Krikorian, or—whoa, too many Marks. Or one could perhaps link to Debby's wacky link collections. I'd put that in the sidebar.

Pay Microsoft to "Page Up"

Or down, even:

Microsoft patents 'Page Up' and 'Page Down'

The software giant applied for the patent in 2005, and was granted it on 19 August. US patent number 7,415,666 describes "a method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed".
O RLY? I'll be interested to see how they go about collecting the license fees.

Palin makes McCain a lot easier to vote for

I'm quite chuffed about John McCain choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate. It shows an amount of imagination and nerve that comes as a refreshing surprise. So it's the old man who has the ability to think outside the box, and the young one who is trying to play it safe with the unimaginative choice of another Senator, and a particularly dull and annoying one at that, who is prone to making unforced foot-in-mouth errors. (Inline update: more.)

There has been so much about Palin in all the news outlets and blogs lately that I don't feel any need to write a lot about her here. Althouse has been posting up a storm (a vortex?) about Palin, and that would be a place to start.

Some of the media coverage has been just god-awful. Howard Kurtz's last two Reliable Sources shows have been devoted to Democrats bashing Palin. I was going to say something last week about CNN's Lola Ogunnaike falling for the fake gun-and-bikini shot, but even Gawker has that. So a few quick links:

Transcript of the Charlie Gibson interviews. Mark Levin has some excerpts with emphasis on the editing.

Charlie Martin's list of Palin rumors and smears.

That's like "bad Charlie and good Charlie." It's not hard to tell them apart.

Sarah Palin Sexism Watch.

Bill Whittle at NRO: "Sarah Palin has done more than unify and electrify the base. She’s done something I would not have thought possible, were it not happening in front of my nose: Sarah Palin has stolen Barack Obama’s glamour. She’s stolen his excitement, robbed his electricity, burgled his charisma, purloined his star power, and taken his Hope and Change mantra, woven it into a cold-weather fashion accessory, and wrapped it around her neck."

Today's hit piece in the NY Times: Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes.

I see nothing wrong with a newly elected executive firing holdovers from the old regime. Things might have gone better for G.W. Bush if he had done a bit more of that kind of thing. I'm thinking of George Tenet and Norman Mineta in particular. "A new broom sweeps clean."

Some of the attacks are so vicious that I would not have believed them if I had not seen them with my own eyes. Don't let the kids see these. You don't want them learning this kind of language.

Heather Mallick: A Mighty Wind blows through Republican convention.

Cintra Wilson: Pissed about Palin. "Sarah Palin may be a lady, but she ain't no woman."

Wendy Doniger: All Beliefs Welcome, Unless They are Forced on Others. "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman."

There's plenty more of this stuff. It's nasty to look at, but it's encouraging to see such consternation among the Democrats: it shows that they think they might lose.

Update: Confederate Yankee has the the real list of books banned from the Wasilla library. Total number of books removed from the library = 0. By the way: librarians "censor" their collections all the time. Books are acquired or not, and deaccessioned (disposed of, in regular English) as part of the normal course of business. Go check your local library and see if they still have a copy of the thoroughly discredited Arming America by Michael Bellesiles. Mine does, with more in the state system. I have donated books to the local library that have just gone missing, never been catalogued, never seen again. Were they censored? The bottom line is that if the librarian likes a book, it stays; if the librarian does not like it, it goes, or is never acquired to begin with. But nobody had better tell the librarian which books should stay or go! What librarians count on to preserve their hegemony over their little domains is obscurity. Most people just don't care. A librarian is a different kind of creature from an archivist, whose goal is to preserve everything. Librarians can't do that. In a small-town library, shelf space is precious, and decisions must be made as to which books stay and which books go. When a mayor appoints a librarian, the mayor has to hope that the person she has chosen will not decide to fill the shelves with Harlequin romances, and deaccession the Decline and Fall, even if no patrons check out the Decline and Fall from one decade to the next.

Another update: Eric S. Raymond: Heh — “Read My Lipstick”.

And another update: Plenty of Palin posts over at Sundries.

AT&T U-verse installation

Getting this put in at B's house last week went pretty smoothly, as far as the physical installation was concerned, once the installer actually showed up, the day following the day appointed. They did call on that day, Tuesday, to re-schedule, so that was not just a no-show. It was raining on Tuesday, and there was some outside work involved (not much, but some), so that amount of slippage did not seem unreasonable. We decided to keep the phone on analog service, so this was not a "whole enchilada" U-verse installation. I like the old style phones that can keep working through a power outage. The installer did a nice job routing the cables, including network cable under the carpet from the gateway to B's desktop, though I think he would have preferred to use wi-fi for that connection. I said that I would rather not be administering the router over wireless, and all that went pretty well.

So now B has Turner Classic Movies, and a better grade of DSL. According to anyway. It seems to have a lot of latency, if I am using that word correctly. When I re-open Opera or Firefox with a bunch of tabs and windows from the previous session, the system hangs up for what seems like a long time. With the Verizon DSL I have at my place, the score is just about the same, but I don't need to go get a cup of coffee if I am re-opening 20 tabs. On the other hand, this computer is noticeably quicker (2.0 GHz Athlon 64, 1.5 GB RAM vs. 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM), so how much of that is the connection and how much is the system might be hard to say. On the gripping hand, I don't remember that hangup happening with the slower straight DSL that B had before. Screen going all white, browser window with only the title bar showing, click in the taskbar to switch windows and nothing happens, no, that's new.

The problem that we did not notice until after the installer tech had left was that the two TV sets that had secondary cable boxes, that is to say the ones other than the DVR, were difficult to listen to because of a loud ground hum. It was just annoying on one of them, but loud enough on the other to actually drown out the audio from the channel that was playing. SO: a call to tech support. Help desk suggested various things that did not actually help, and then said that we could have another tech come over that evening (Wednesday, now; this was all supposed to have been done on Tuesday) or the next morning (Thursday). No-one showed up Wednesday evening, or on Thursday; a call to the 800 support number on Thursday afternoon got an operator who told me a story about a bad batch of set-top boxes, and that our service call had not actually been written on the schedule. Tomorrow (Friday) for sure, at noon. Calling again at 2 PM Friday, I spoke to another operator who said that somehow the noon appointment had once again not been written into the schedule. This operator was able to contact a tech who was able to show up about 3:30. At this point we finally find out that the U-verse set-top boxes have a known defect: when connected by coax, the volume drops off drastically, hence the ground noise and static overcomes the audio signal. The fix is to use the composite (yellow, white, red RCA plug) cables to connect the TV to the box. Of course, with a TV that has only a coax connector for input, this means you need a RF modulator. Fortunately, B had one handy. Unfortunately, it was already in use to connect a DVD player. Well, we seldom use that DVD player, so it could be removed from the circuit for a while until I can figure out something else. For the other TV, what worked was to run the composite cables into an old VCR, then run coax from the VCR into the TV. Essentially, this amounts to using the VCR as a RF modulator. So I need to look for a RF modulator with two sets of RCA inputs to hook up the DVD player. Which will leave the old RF modulator left over. So it goes. And see the April 6 update.

If the help desk operator would have 'fessed up to the known problem with the coax connection, I could have straightened this out on the same day. But the only advice given was to reboot the set-top box, in a couple of different ways. Which not only did not fix the problem; it wasn't even related to the problem.

By this time it was supper time on Friday. So this pretty much shot the heck out of last week. The tomatoes are doing great, though. We have Oxheart, Rutgers, and JetStar plants, all bearing pretty well. The Oxhearts are the tastiest by a lot. But they're all good. Summer tomatoes, there's nothing like them. They're worth the trouble. (Not much trouble.)


Update, November 15: B now has "Total Home DVR." It isn't really, but that's what they are calling it. It allows you to watch recorded video on any TV set that is hooked up to a U-verse box. It will be truly Total when you can manage (start, schedule, delete) recordings, and use the rewind and pause features, from any box. [See July 20 update!] However, it's not disappointing, it's encouraging. No visit from a tech was required to make this happen. The software was upgraded from AT&T central. This gives hope for the future. These set-top boxes have USB ports that are completely useless right now, as far as I can tell. [See Jan 16 update!] But the ease of pushing software upgrades such as THDVR would appear to indicate that some thought has been given to adding features in the future, without the need to change the hardware.

We have tried scheduling recording from the Web interface, and find that it works just fine. (Though for some reason it picks up the recording about a minute early, so that you see the end of the previous program and intervening commercials. That's not just for Web-scheduled recording, it's for all scheduled recording. I'll take it—it's better than missing the opening.) We have not tried this from a cell phone, so no comment on that.

The Internetty nature of the service leads to some odd side effects; it's possible to have the same program on two sets, out-of-synch! Weird. That never happened with cable or broadcast!

Once in a while we get digital artifacts: tiling, pixelation, stop-and-restart. If this happens when recording, the artifacts are recorded. Kinda messed up last week's "The Mentalist," when Patrick switched the deck, and the picture froze right before the switch, and came back right after. Hey, whaddy do? But it's hard to tell if the problem is with U-verse or with the originating station. The digital problems persisted with the feed from WFSB for a while; switching to WCBS gave us artifact-free video. Still, that recording is messed up.

On the Internet side, I have not been seeing that "white screen when trying to open many tabs" problem in the last few weeks. And I will be looking forward to seeing what else comes down the cable in the way of software upgrades in the future. What is that USB port going to do?

There is much more information available in the forums at ATT Utalk, U-verse Users and DSL Reports.

Tomatoes are all gone by, now. My, but they were good.


Update, December 19: I'm seeing a lot of searches on things like "connect dvd player to uverse." Sorry, you can't do that. The DVD player must be connected to the TV set, not to the U-verse set top box (STB). The U-verse STB has a good number of outputs, but the only inputs are coax and ethernet; one of these must be used to connect to the gateway router (Residential Gateway, or RG, in U-verse-speak). In our case, the audio problem on the coax mentioned above is not present with the primary STB [yes it is! see April 6 update], the one with the DVR, but only on the secondary STB's, the ones without the hard disk. So if your TV set has a coax input and composite A/V input, one thing to do would be to connect the U-verse DVR to the coax, and connect the DVD player to the A/V input (composite red, white, yellow — or red, white, and s-video or component video, if you have that). I recently bought a multi-input RF modulator, to connect a DVD player, DVD recorder/player, and VCR to a TV with both inputs: the U-verse STB, the one with the DVR, goes into the coax, everything else goes into the RF modulator, the RF modulator goes into the composite, so the TV/VCR switch on the TV remote switches between U-verse and whatever is active on the composite input. Could do it the other way around, I suppose.


Update, Jan 16: Something for the USB port to do! There's a new remote available, with a page feature. The base for it connects to the STB by the USB port.

And a couple of days later: manual recording on the U-verse DVR suffers from the way that the DVR is tied to the guide. (Ouch! Sorry about that rhyme.) Example: a program you want to record is coming on "after football," with a nominal time of 10 pm to 11 pm. The game runs a bit long, as they always do, so you are paying attention, and hit the record button when your program actually starts, about 10:30. The DVR will record until 11:00 and then stop recording, because the guide says that that the program ended at 11:00. If you're still up and paying attention to the red light on the DVR, you can start recording again. Which will give you a recording titled "Channel X News" but which is really the second half of your program. I suppose if U-verse were to enable full manual control of the DVR, some number of halfwits or people who were just sleepy would turn it on, fall asleep, wind up with the dreaded Disk Full error. On the other hand, machines that think that they are smarter than I am, when they actually are not, are machines that are going to annoy me. I know there's a workaround for this, where you guess how much extra time you'll need … but to my mind, there ought to be a way to use that DVR the way that you could use a VCR, that is, once you start recording, it will record until the media is all done or you tell it to stop, without stopping on its own partway though the middle.

Then there was that one episode of "Fringe." I thought I had set the DVR to record it, and sure enough, there it was in the Recorded TV list, listed as "Fringe;" the info button said that it was "Fringe;" but it was an hour of the shopping channel, instead. A little glitchy, yet.


Update, Feb 15: Another thing about manual recording and "tied to the guide." There is no facility for simple timed recording, again like a VCR. Now that Howard Kurtz's "Reliable Sources" on CNN Sunday mornings has become a segment of the four hour long "State of the Union with John King," the guide shows that whole four-hour block as one item. There is no option to record only the 10 to 11 AM segment of it. Oops! Can so do that, from Menu or Recorded TV buttons (right -arrow over to the "Add a recording" tab). In finding this, I also discovered the search feature, which will search for titles, people's names, and I don't know what else: there are thousands of entries.

B now has "Weather on Demand" on channel 227. It takes a while to start the app, but once it's started, it's reasonably quick. This is Accuweather for places of your choice, by name, map, or zip. Better than The Weather Channel because there's no waiting through documentaries about famous hurricanes to get to the local info, and since you can see any forecast you like, no waiting to get to the not so local either.


Update April 6: I had been wondering about that ground hum on the coax, and sure enough, it was so! present on the primary STB as well as the little ones. We just had not been listening closely, and, as I mentioned above, different sets respond in different ways. So I re-arranged the inputs on that TV, so that now the STB with the DVR goes straight into the composite jacks on the TV, and the RF modulator goes into the TV's coax input. Result: the hum is gone. There is a side-effect. If you switch the TV/VCR switch on the TV when there is no signal coming from the RF modulator (no devices turned on), you can see and hear the broadcast signals of the local stations. Fuzzy, with no antenna other than the length of coax, but still there. I would have thought that would be gone by now, with the switch to digital broadcasting. It was delayed, though. We'll see how much longer the signals are visible.

Since I have been using U-verse TV, I find ordinary TV far less satisfactory. "Whaddaya mean, I can't rewind? I want to know what she said!" It's surprising even when using one of the TV's at B's that is on a STB other than the DVR to get the message, "This receiver cannot rewind live TV." So on the whole, I'm quite pleased with it. (Thought I should say that sometime, as I seem to be doing a lot of complaining here.)


Update July 20th: A couple of weeks ago, Total Home DVR just became much closer to truly Total. It's now possible to start a recording from any set-top box, stop it, erase it, or schedule it it advance. Also: the Search feature, System Information, and probably other things I have not discovered yet, are available now from the secondary STB's. Whoopee! The main STB with the DVR in it is still the only one that can rewind live TV, but who knows how much longer that restriction will apply. Also new is a screen saver, and automatic repeat, after about 3 minutes, of a recording.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I've been a-wanderin'
early and late
from New York City …

Not to the Golden Gate. I'll get back there someday. But lately, here:

and there:

and elsewhere:
Not a whole lot of Internet in some of these places. A little break from smoking quite so much blog.