A blog dedicated to the researchers who dyed a captured chimp's fur pink, then released it. The other chimps promptly tore it to pieces.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bullshit Vaporware of the Year Award

Presented to Toshiba's Gigabeat, Vongo, and Microsoft.

I had a Toshiba Gigabeat V30 on my Amazon wishlist, and my wife was sweet enough to indulge me for my birthday. It's a cool little media player that came with free month of Vongo, the new movie download service. Both the player and Vongo use Microsoft's Portable Media Center format, which apparently still has a few bugs to be worked out.

I was initially somewhat annoyed to discover the only way to get content into the Gigabeat (other than Vongo, which I'll get to in a minute) was using the Sync function in Microsoft's Windows Media Player. I despise Media Player, and use almost anything else to avoid it. But it worked well enough once I got the hang of it.

The real problems started when I installed the Vongo software.

It was easy to install and appeared to be working properly until I tried to register my player. No player connected. Huh? Hmmm. It SAYS "Connected" on the little screen, and I know the system saw it. (I was asked if I wanted to run Vongo when I plugged it in) But no, it insists there's no player connected.

Turns out this is a known issue, and was mentioned in a review of the V30 in Laptop Magazine last year. They spent all day on the phone with Vongo's tech support and couldn't get it working - some kind of conflict with the latest version of Windows Media Player. Wonderful. Just how I didn't want to spend my birthday - helping some company trouble-shoot their buggy product for free.

The other two supposed sources of PMC-formatted videos are Movielink and CinemaNow. Both of these appear to have plenty of titles in regular Windows Media Player format you can watch on your computer, but no PMC titles. (Movielink said they had one title in PMC format - CinemaNow says they hope to have PMC titles back up sometime this spring) There's apparently more support for old Sony Beta videocassettes and 8-track tapes than there is for the PMC format.

So thanks to the three stooges - Microsoft, Toshiba/Gigabeat, and Vongo - I have this super-cool little movie player with no way to get little movies onto it. What a rip.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Epiphone - musical instruments for right-wingers

While browsing Epiphone's website looking at guitars, I discovered their free Guitar Willie Screen Mate download. It's a little desktop cartoon character that plays riffs in the style of several well-known musicians including Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and former Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady.

When I checked out the configuration options, I discovered that a "Musician who you don't like" field was already populated with the name "Bill Clinton." (the "Musician you like/respect" field read "John Lee Hooker" - I have no problem with that one) Here's a screenshot:

Anyway, I don't mind telling you that this really pisses me off. Is there some point to making political statements in your advertising that insult your customers and potentially cause them to stop doing business with you? (the Epiphone mandolin I currently own is the last Epiphone product I'll ever buy) You spend millions of dollars on advertising to attract customers, then drive them away because you can't keep your fucking mouth shut about things that have nothing to do with your product? What's up with that?

If this pisses you off as much as it does me, send Gibson (Epiphone's parent company) an e-mail and let them know about it. Their e-mail address is service@gibson.com - as usual, if enough people complain, they'll do something about this.