Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Heart and Soul" - cool NPR story on origin of the piano duet

I remember kids at church and at family parties playing this piano duet. Turns out it's a simple but infectious love song from the 1930's.

The Bouncy Joy of 'Heart and Soul'
by Sara Fishko

Bea Wain was the first to record "Heart and Soul," which became a No. 1 hit in 1939.

All Things Considered, December 31, 2006 · It's holiday season, and that means it's party time. Parties make me think of a particular song that, like no other, insinuated itself into almost every social gathering at one time.

It doesn't take more than a couple of beats to tell what it is, and the impulse is to just join in.
And that's what traditionally happened when anyone started playing the jaunty bass part of the song "Heart and Soul."

Somebody was always around to run over and play the melody. You just had to. One person told me she lived next door to omeone and they both had pianos; so they'd play "Heart and Soul" -- through the wall. One playing the bass in one apartment, the one next door pounding out the melody in octaves. It was infectious...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I've reached Gmail's 2.7 gig quota

When Google launched Gmail on April Fool's Day in 2004, folks couldn't believe they were giving every user a quota of 1 gigabyte. They doubled the quota a year later, and thereafter the quota grows automatically every day.

Soon thereafter when a Google PR person gave me a then-coveted invitation, I made Gmail my primary e-mail service for all things work and otherwise. I've let mail accumulate, wondering when my archives would approach quota.

Click to see full-size image (and Google's bad math)

Well, it's happened. With large Powerpoints, images, and some sound and video files, I keep bumping against the limit. Of course I could've gotten there artificially by sending a single large video file, but I hit the limit just following Google's advice.

I wonder if this is just me, or if the natural size of the average attachment that folks send and receive is growing faster than the Gmail quota? Digital camera resolution, USB hard drive, and thumb drive capacity continue to increase at an astonishing pace.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Google turns a business school into a blog

Google offers a blog search feature. Today it picked up a news item from the home page of the Broad Business School at Michigan State University:

Click to see full-size screen shot

If you look at the home page for MSU's business school you will see a couple of columns of news, but it doesn't even feature an RSS feed. Wonder what fooled the Googlebot?

Google REALLY wants you to install their toolbar

I've got the Google Toolbar installed on most of the computers I use. While using a computer that doesn't have it installed, I was surprised to see this:
Google, which famously doesn't clutter its home page with extraneous links or ads, shoves a huge pitch for the toolbar right in your face. An in-your-face change to the interface, you might say.

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Wi-Fi record: JFK Airport hot spot serves East Lansing

Recently while in an East Lansing establishment, the Peanut Barrel, I found an unexpected Wi-Fi access point:

Given that Wi-Fi signals normally reach only a few hundred feet, it seemed a little odd that an access point in New York City could serve East Lansing. I mean, I know my Thinkpad has a superior antenna embedded in its little screen, but c'mon!

Of course this was some nearby jokester setting the SSID to a fictional label. I think this is a great idea. Instead of naming your access point locally -- 123 Albert Street or 1234 Smith Tower -- name it after the Albert Hall or the Eiffel Tower.

Especially do this with your portable access point; really get those hotel guests guessing.

Three Days of the Condor DVD Offers Very Strange Title Menu

My wife asked Netflix to send her a movie called "Three Days of the Condor", a film that scared the bejeezus out of me when it came out in the 70s. I remembered it well, with Robert Redford in the lead, and Max von Sydow a chilling bad guy, and Faye Dunaway an, er, unlikely accomplice and lover.

So we put the DVD into the player, and up popped this graphical menu that seemed to be more about a Hispanic or American Indian movie. I assumed that Netflix had sent us some obscure B movie, totally unrelated to the Redford flick from the 70s.

I went to IMDB and tried to find this false match, and couldn't find it. So I clicked on PLAY and sure enough it really was the movie that Sydney Pollack made in the 70s.

So my question is: what the heck is this graphic? Was someone at the studio assigned to make a DVD menu about this movie, and they Googled "condor" and found a graphic without any regard to the Redford flick? Do all of the Condor DVDs have this goofy graphic?

Should we return this DVD to Netflix, or is this a one-of-a-kind collector's item?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Internet lyrics sources susceptible to misheard rock lyrics

Over the years many have laughed at how they misheard lyrics to pop songs. For some reason while thinking about Christmas gifts I was thinking of coal and its other form, diamonds. That reminded me of a Jimmy Buffet song I like about diamonds. The top Google link for lyrics let me to this site:

I had to laugh when I saw this as the refrain:

(Diamond. Diamond. Diamond. Diamond. Diamond)
Coal under pressure (Diamond)
Sparkle of treasure (Diamond)
Crystaline measure (Diamond)
On a mental pleasure (Diamond)
In the corner of your eye (Diamond)
Make a grown man cry (Diamond)
All the seeds you've sown (Diamond)

Um, er, sorry -- I'm pretty sure Jimmy wrote "ornamental pleasure" ...

Ahhh yes, the wisdom of the masses.... Wonder why Jimmy (who understands the Internet) doesn't put all his liner notes on the Web?

Would Richard Wiggins like to rent a condo from Richard Wiggins?

In a time when spam has doubled in three months and phishing is out of control, you're a little suspicious when you get a commercial solicitation involving your own name. A couple weeks ago I started receiving e-mail from asking if I'd like to rent my condo in Naples, Florida. It was addressed to Richard Wiggins. Since I don't own a condo there (or anywhere) this seemed odd to me. I marked it as spam.

Good Afternoon,We just received a booking inquiry from John Doe who is interested in staying at a Vacation Rental similar to yours in Naples for 2 adults to stay 20 nights (Ref. 2377758).

When a few days later I got another inquiry from them, I Googled my name and Naples, and found a hit that appeared to be someone named Richard Wiggins wanting to rent his condo there.

So I hit the reply button, explained that somehow Rentalo had looked up my e-mail address and started using it, and the other Richard Wiggins might want to fix that.

No reply. On Friday, I got another rental inquiry. This time I called the phone number listed for Richard Wiggins and we had a nice chat. Turns out he lives in Massachusetts and he and his wife do own a condo in Naples. He said that he'd thought my e-mail was a joke from a realtor. I told him my wife thought that their place looked kind of nice, and maybe we might want to rent it someday. Richard said he'd have his brokers update their address records for him.

Then I received this note from Richard Wiggins:


I appreciate the call and I will take care of this with rentalo. As my wife said "Tell him you are the real Richard Wiggins" Any way thanks again and if you and your wife have any interest just drop me a line and we can work something out.


The real Richard Wiggins
It will be kind of strange making a check out to Richard Wiggins if we ever end up renting this place. But before then, Richard, have your wife Google our name... :-)

Probably the most prominent Richard Wiggins I'm aware of invented digital speech synthesis products for Texas Instruments. Remember the Speak and Spell toy from 1978?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

AOL screws up their link to sign up for free account

Click to see full-size screen shot

America Online famously makes it hard to convince a customer support rep to cancel your account. Just now I ran across an AOL ad for their new free service, and tried to convert the $5 a month account I've had for years. The link to convert to the free service is broken:

A conspiracy theorist would assume this is deliberate. Anyone who's ever worked with AOL would recall that old saying "never ascribe to conspiracy what can be explained by incompetence."