Music on the Hitlist: M.I.A. Arular

Mathangi Arulpragasam’s (aka M.I.A.) debut album turned out to be interesting. It blends in some fairly basic synth kit beats with stop n’ go rap lyrics.

Lyricaly it made me think Black Eyed Peas without the over-production.

A funky, multilingual old-school dance beat album with lilting rapping over it.

All in all, not bad. Check out some of the links to on the Wikipedia entry to get an idea of the sound.

Just Read Outlaw Nation

Just read Outlaw Nation by Jamie Delano, Goran Sudzuka, and Goran Parlov. It’s essentially a classic meandering American tale written by a British writer to show what he saw in our country on his travels. It misses a lot of the veneer and really cuts to the heart of the States.

Also, the storyline proves to be a bit prophetic what with the clamp down on American civil liberties in the wake of 2001.

Outlaw Nation illustrates the death of the American Spirit in pursuit of the American Dream, to steal a line from the liner notes. That’s truly the best way to phrase it, and an interesting perspective you don’t often get in native tales.

The story follows Story Johnson, a zonked out ex-writer and member of the somewhat extraordinary Jones clan. The Johnsons are a particularly long lived specimen of American that started out from a brutal act in the Old West and carry on the raucous Western spirit. Even in the face of encroaching government intervention and the new world order.

Almost poetically, Americans aren’t portrayed as being good or bad, and are mostly (seen through the eyes of our character, a native son) our own worst enemies.

Even though the yarn raps up early the story romps at a good pace and satisfies. As the author states, in light of the events happening in the real world post-publishing, it comes off a lot cleaner than he had intended.

Grab a copy, it’s a good read.

Raymond E. Feist’s Into a Dark Realm

Raymond Feist’s latest outing to Midkemia, part of his DarkWar saga, builds up the storyline in interesting ways. The usual suspects are all there rendered in vibrant colors.

As a follow up to Flight of the Nighthawks and a part of his larger canon of works in Midkemia Into a Dark Realm really worked for me. Characters don’t tend seem overly repetitive or static.

Into a Dark Realm being the middle book in the series I can’t say much about the content without spoiling it. If you liked the previous book in the series this entry should hit the same bar of quality.

Anyone new to Raymond E. Feist’s work might want to start off with Shadow of a Dark Queen or one of the earlier series just to get a feel for the continuity. Plus they’re excellent pieces of literature in their own right.

Microsoft Stacks Committee, Barely Misses Vote on OOXML

This one’s not so much on a piece of literature, but a standard that goes into how our writing is saved.

According to Rob Weir Microsoft tried pulling some 11th hour committee stacking to approve their OOXML format for the United States and just barely failed. Roughly two meetings before the committee was set to vote on OOXML acceptance as a standard, roughly 16 new companies joined the committee of 7 members, all of them Microsoft shills.

Out of the original 7, only Microsoft itself voted for acceptance of the standard. Out of the late joining companies, nearly all voted to accept Microsofts offering verbatim.

Maybe other software companies should monitor these things a little more closely in the future, to make sure we’re not allowing MS to railroad their crap in as “standard” when it’s not qualified or ready. As users, we’ve got a vested interest in there only being mature and properly inter operable standards. RobWeir.com

New Data Recovery Resource

So Dan and I teamed up to put together a site on data recovery for and using Linux. I’ve been looking for a steady writing project to go along with PCBurn only with a more commercial bent. PCBurn isn’t currently geared toward heavy moneymaking, it’s geared toward giving me and others a platform on which to write and showing users interesting products.

This’ll be largely the same content-wise, but with zan_d’s marketing skills attached. And a targeted URL toward the subject matter. All in all, it should be self sufficient with a wealth of data recovery/Linux information. Check it out at LinuxRecovery.org.

Tuning in to Other People’s Music

Last.fm looks like a fairly interesting service. Check out what other people are listening to. If it’s in the catalog, listen to it too!

Plus it looks like there’s integration in Amarok. That’s what I use to listen to audio these days, what with it’s exhaustive feature set, so that’s pretty important.

In addition to checking out last I’m also getting pulseaudio going. It looks like yet another audio daemon so I’m curious if it’s better than the rest of the (somewhat dissapointing) pack.

NAS (Network Audio System) always looked good and may yet be the audio layer of choice, but it’s a bit under the radar at the moment. Methodical is how I’d describe those Xorg folks.

And hey, whatdya know. It’s installed. Time to go play with last.fm :).

Doombook Back to Normal, CMS Updated

We’re now on WordPress 2.2 and all the features (comments and whatnot) should be back to a working state. If you notice anything odd send me an e-mail over at PCBurn.com if you’d like .. that’s chris@ the aformentioned website.

In case you’re curious, the problem I was having started when I changed wordpress directories on the server. It just freaked out.

All the incoming links started flaking, it didn’t ping out to services anymore, and comments were screwy. This after I changed all the appropriate places to reflect the new directory (plugins and such).

Now with a fresh install, DB updated for 2.2, and a cleaned up set of plugins we should be good to go.

More Bang for the Buck with Gasoline

Not wanting to invest in a new car (and seeing the hybrids as something of a boondoggle) I’ve started saving a bit on Gas.

How? Driving efficiently. Basically, when I did a quick number crunch I could either reduce my speed by 5mph or loose money on a new car.

It was pretty much a no-brainer. And the fuel economy’s gone up a good 15% or so on average (really good on some fillups, not so good on others). So instead of getting 27 miles to the gallon I’m up to, say, a solid 31~32.

Why’s that better than just buying a hybrid. Lessee…

First off, there’s the new car. It’s expensive. Really expensive. Which you might think doesn’t mean much in terms of economy.

But.

See, the issue there is that the economy of making those beasts doesn’t really work out. Lots of Nickel in the Nickel-Metal Hydride or Nickel-Metal Cadmium batteries. On top of a whole lot of crappy production runoff. It’s really not a feasible replacement for a gas burner. Also, it’s very complex.

Plus it’d be a new car. Which means I’d no longer be using my old Focus while it runs perfectly well. Since I can’t be sure someone else would be using it, all the production that went into my current car’s now a waste while it’s still pretty efficient and clean-running.

Those are my thoughts on the subject.