Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dave Strom's Nov 2007 voter guide

(Edited on Nov 4; changed one vote for the San Mateo School Board)

Skimpy ballot this year. Just local people running for stuff. Local people are also the most challenging to investigate. I do love a challenge. I googled one of the candidates and opened a site. I read, and read, and read, but could not get a lot of info on the candidates. Then I read whose site it was: "San Mateo County Republican Party." Why am I not surprised? I did find newspaper sources (I have links to them) and to But you know what? I need to go to the San Mateo debates (city council and the like). If I go to this much trouble to investigate these guys, I should see them in real life once in a while.

Here is the link to my analysis of the candidates for School Board Member; San Mateo Union High School. My picks: Donald S. Havis (I love this guy, in a non-gay way) and Dave Pine.

Here is the link to my analysis of the candidates (pick 2) for School Board Member; San Mateo-Foster City School. My picks: Colleen Sullivan and Mark D. Hudak (incumbent).

Here is the link to my analysis of the candidates (pick 2) for City Council Member; City of San Mateo. My picks: Jack Matthews (incumbent) and John Lee (incumbent).

To make up my mind, I read my voter guide. Then I read (the San Mateo page) to find more information on local candidates and issues. I found one article about the city council that helped. Go to the San Mateo County Times, search for John Lee, and then find the article about "Incumbents grilled on growth."

And then, I read the San Mateo County Times Nov 4 picks for the San Mateo School Board and the Oct 26 picks for the City Council.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

iPhone SDK: YEAH! Now, how about a Mac Shuttle?

The iPhone finally opens to 3rd party native applications in Feb 2008. It's about time. The iPhone could not have survived the same idiocy that nearly killed the Mac.

Years ago, when the Mac first came out, it was running on floppy disks. Where I was working, the most prized Mac had 3 floppy drives: one for the OS, one for your application, and one for your data. Then IBM desktop computers started having this thing in them called a "hard drive". And some third party started selling them that you could hack them into your Mac. What was Apple's (maybe Jobs's) response? Something like, "They can't do that, we designed the Mac to not be able to do that!" Idiocy!

Apple was (and sometimes still is) way too fond of closed systems. Making the iPhone a closed system would have killed its growth and made it a tiny niche player. Just like the Macintosh was for a long long long time, and only recently is the Mac getting back its much deserved market share.

And as long as I am at it, there is a tendency for Steve/Apple to close Mac hardware. Except for the Mac Pro, it is nearly impossible to upgrade the hard drive or DVD burner in a Mac. (OK, the MacBook has an easily-replaced hard drive, and why can't the MacBook Pros work that way? Laptop hard drives can DIE!!!!)

When Steve introduced the new iMacs, he talked about how they are all in one unit: monitor, motherboard/CPU/GPU, hard drive, DVD burner. OK, that is fine, iMacs are great computers, but what about people who want to be able to upgrade without replacing EVERY LITTLE BIT OF HARDWARE IN THE WHOLE DARNED COMPUTER?!?!?! As for the other Mac desktops, the Mac Mini is too closed (upgrade its RAM? HAH!), and the Mac Pro is too expensive ($2500? GASP! says the average wallet).

I would like to see a Mac Shuttle. A blend of the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro. Go to to get the idea. Shuttles are compact computer cases where the motherboard (USB and Firewire ports in front and back of the case), and power supply are built-in. You, a Windows desktop builder, add the rest (CPU, hard drive, monitor, etc.).

In my hopes and dreams, a Mac Shuttle would come fully built, like the Mac Pro. (As with the Shuttle case and the Mac Pro, you buy the monitor and speakers separately.) But you, the user, could easily replace the hard drive (they do wear out, and you always want a bigger one). You can replace that old DVD burner with Blu-Ray. You could even add a card or two, if you want to add video inputs or Firewire 1600 (someday). Maybe you can even upgrade the CPU and GPU. Cost: somewhere on the level of the iMac.

I would go for a Mac Shuttle so fast, it would make Jobs's head swim. An economical, very user-upgradeable Macintosh. But this is not even in the rumor mills. Sigh.

But I can dream, can't I? Or at least whine some.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Star Trek, Remastered. YEAH!!!!

You do know that the original Star Trek Episodes are being remastered, right?

Remastered as in redoing the old special effects? As in making the Enterprise orbiting a planet look like a real starship orbiting a real planet (not in a rather good-looking-but-still-plastic model orbiting a fuzzy orange ball in a really tight orbit cuz it was hard to get the proportions right in the 60s)? As in making the Doomsday Machine look really KILLER?!?!?!

I saw The Galileo 7 when I watched it late one night (TV volume very low, of course). I was thinking, "Hey, how come the planet from orbit looks so real? How come the shuttlecraft looks like it is really moving, instead of hanging from fishing lines? And there is no wax-paper-like ellipse around the shuttlecraft? HOW COME THIS LOOKS SO GOOD?"

I have always been a Trekkie. Even liked Voyager. (Loved the Doctor, LOVED when Seven-of-Nine walked down corridors, front AND back.) But the special effects on the original often looked cheesy. Like the Galileo 7 inching along in orbit, or the Constellation starship wobbling its plastic way down the Doomsday Machine's gullet.

The new effects replace the 60s starship models with 2007 computer models, and they look great. Check it out. (TVLand does not seem to show the remastered episodes; check out a more local station.) However, stuff like the Gorn from Arena (still a great episode, even with the cheap silver-sparkle Gorn eyes) still looks the same.

Look up the episode list. And check out The Doomsday Machine! (remastered)

Anyhow, about time I posted again. One more thing: these episodes are available on iTunes. I am likely to buy a few.

Star Trek still RULEZ!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Grado SR80 headphones: A review by Dave "Lovesick" Strom

My old Sony headphones at home were falling apart. I wanted new ones. Ones that would cover my ears to block some external noise, and stay on my head better.

First, I though noise-canceling headphones would be neat. After trying them, I found they do the job, but only on low rumbly frequencies, not on whiny kids in coffee shops. So they would be great for an airplane (don't fly as much now), train (rare), or car (don't use headphones there). I will change my mind if I fly or train more in the future.

So I looked for the headphones that would sound the best. And whadda ya know, I found great ratings at Consumer Reports online. Some brand called Grado was rated highly; the Grado SR80 headphones for $95 were second only to the Bose $300 noise-canceling headphones. I looked on Amazon; everyone loves Grado SR80.

I need to try before I buy, but these are hard to find in a local store. I found an audiophile store in Berkeley that sells them. (Music Lovers Audio & Video,1995 El Dorado Ave, Berkeley, CA. Complete with audiophile hardware and a very pettable store kitty.) They are not Frys; if you buy, you keep. I listened. They sounded good. I bought ($95, even on Amazon), trusting the reviews.

Today I REALLY listened, whilst eating Pho and reading my Sunday paper. I am not an audiophile, so I will not talk about different frequencies, warmness of tone, crispness of blah, blah, blah. OK, I noticed that bass sounded bassier, and trebles sounded, uh, treblier? I noticed that with many songs, I heard stuff that I had not heard before. Hey, I had not heard that tambourine! Or that beat! These headphones sound GREAT!

Then I turned on "Mystery Achievement" by The Pretenders. (* I love that song.) The beginning drums sounded clear as a bell. And 13 seconds into the song, I heard... IT.

Chrissie Hynde drew breath. "Huh..."

I had never heard THAT before!!!! Was I imagining it?!?!? Was I getting even MORE Chrissie??!? With trembling, fumbling fingers, I set my iPod to the beginning of the song again. 13 anxiously awaited seconds later...


Oh, Chrissie. Oh, Chrissie! OH, CHRISSIE!!!! Move over, Tyra Banks! I'm in love with my old crush again!

If you want to hear more of your music that you have ever heard before, if you want more high/mid/low range sound, if you wanna hear every little delight hidden away in your music (like Chrissie's smooth sexy little inhale 13 seconds into Mystery Achievement), get the Grado SR80 headphones. You can't find better headphones for less than $100 (before taxes).

The only debits: After an hour, before you get used to the headphones, you might adjust the fit some. Or maybe it is just that you won't wanna take them off. But I find these headphones are feeling better and better. Also, they will not block out external sound, with their foam earcups, quite as well as the top-of-the-line Bose, with their deep plastic earcups. But the SR80s sound so good, you won't notice the external noise (much). I know I am gonna get spoiled.

* Many years ago, I saw The Pretenders live. When Chrissie Hynde sang, I cried out in a lovesick plea, "Chrissie!!!", every 1 minute and 22 seconds, give or take 10 seconds and my testosterone levels at the time.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Anti-global-warming scientists = Exxon cash

Mallard Fillmore cites Thomas Sowell global hot air articles backed by "respected climate scientists" "open-minded" about global-warming.

A 1995 article in Harper's Magazine, Ross Gelbspan said that Richard S. Lindzen "charges oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services."

Patrick J. Michaels' admits that 20 percent of his funding comes from fossil fuel sources.

In a September 24, 1993, sworn affidavit, Dr. Singer admitted to doing climate change research on behalf of oil companies, such as Exxon, Texaco, Arco, Shell and the American Gas Association. Dennis Avery works at the Hudson Institute, which received $9.3 million in 1993 from such companies as General Electric, Monsanto, DuPont, and Exxon Mobil.

Open-minded? More like open-handed for oil money.

P.S. I just sent this to the Smirkury news. Let's see if they print it. Or if they's rather listen to a duck (brain the size of a marble).

David Strom
626 Mariners Island Blvd, #207
San Mateo, CA 94404

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mallard Fatso thinks Dean is crazy? Try Bill.

Mallard Fillmore thinks Howard Dean is crazy. Literally. Over a years-old cheerleader scream. A lot of football fans can be tossed into straightjackets using that illogic.

You want crazy? Obsessive-compulsive: CNN's playing Dean's scream over 600 times for two days. Denial of reality: The radical-right's screaming that the press is ultra-left liberal, when that same press blacklisted Gray Webb and drove him to suicide over his CIA-Contra-Cocaine story. Paranoia: Bill O'Reilly's ordering Fox security to threaten a caller to his radio show (phoning the caller at home), for saying, "I think Keith Olbermann's show –" (Bill cut the caller off here). Insanity: Prez Dubya feeding the Iraqi meat grinder more American troops again and again to try to clog it. Benjamin Franklin said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Different that another 3000 American troops dead, perhaps.

P.S. Don't believe me about Ballistic Bill? Read Bill's transcript, and the caller's story.

P.P.S. I sent this to the San Jose Mercury News, after cutting out the Gary Webb line. I figured that since the Mercury News was the leader in the blacklist, my pointing out the sticky gooey nasty BLOOD on their hands would not sit well with the letters editor. So I am sneaking that into this blog. Wonder if the Mercury News might gimme a phone call?

P.P.P.S. Oh yeah, the Merc only want letters of 125 words or less. The incredible shrinking letter. The soundbite police. Like hell, Smirkury News! I got a blog!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Molly Ivins and Texans And Lennie Briscoe

Molly Ivins passed away. Only 62 years old. Her jolly liberal (and Texan) wit will be missed.

Molly pointed out qualities about George Dubya Bush that many Texans share, and many Americans find appealing: religiousity, anti-intellectualism, and machismo.

As for those last two qualities, I think Molly would have been amused at what Law & Order's Lennie Briscoe had to say to a young male perp: "Look, kid, stupid and arrogant is a really bad combination!"

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Colbert & O'Reilly: guess who will bomb?

Steve Colbert and Bill O'Reilly are switching host jobs for one show. That's right, for one night, Steve will be on Fox and O'Reilly will be on Comedy Central.

I bet Steve does fine and Bill bombs. Why? Steve is a satirist, Bill is a bully.

When Star Trek's Captain Kirk and his away team returned from an evil alternate universe (having accidently switched places with their evil counterparts, dang those cranky transporters), Kirk asked Mr. Spock how Spock found out the evil counterparts so quickly, while the good Kirk and friends were able to fool the evil universe people.

Mr. Spock's reply: "It was easier for you, as civilized men, to act like barbarians, then it was for them, as barbarians, to act like civilized men."