All purpose vertically integrated publishing empire for cynicism, hopelessness and misanthropy. Mild nausea is common when using this product. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to: dizzyness, headache, homicidal rage and yellow discharge. Rarely, users may begin to hear voices urging them to kill. If this occurs, discontinue use and seek psychiatric attention. Do not read when pregnant or nursing; the author thinks that's gross.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Most Hilarious Web Advertisement, Ever

I suppose this makes me a bad person.

I don't know if finding this ad utterly hilarious says more about me, or about the kind of people who'd be this crass to sell insurance.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Watchmen, Coraline and Adaptation

Reading This Preview Will Make You BlindSo I've been meaning to write about Coraline for a long time, and say something about Watchmen since I saw it last Sunday.

The two movies taken together, though, make for an interesting contrast in how to adapt a book for the screen. Both make large changes to the original source material, altering characters, events, trimming and adding to the story, in addition to the obvious changes one might make telling a story visually rather than with the written word, or in the case of Watchmen, sequential art.

However, one fails monstrously, and the other, I think, succeeds brilliantly. So what's going on?

First, let's discuss the failure. Coraline.


Coraline is the worst, most insulting, most viscerally repulsive mainstream movie I've seen in many years. It's the worst adapted work I've seen since Starship Troopers. It made me feel ill to watch it, and I almost left.

I know, I know; your average critical response was positive. Why did I hate it?

Because Coraline the movie takes all the heart, wit and charm out of the book, stomps it into a bloody paste, and pisses on it. The movie Coraline is coarse, rude, reeks of being written by a marketing department, and is full of absolutely rank misogyny.

It's truly awful.

Coraline the book is a story Neil Gaiman wrote, according to the About the Book section in my paperback edition, for his daughter(s).

More than ten years ago I started to write a children's book. It was for my daughter, Holly, who was five years old. I wanted it to have a girl as a heroine, and I wanted it to be refreshingly creepy.

After a discussion on the lengthy process he used to write it, he returns to the subject of the heroine of the story:

A decade before, I had begun to write the story of Coraline, who was small for her age, and would find herself in darkest danger. By the time I finished writing, Coraline had seen what lay behind mirrors, had a close call with a bad hand, and had come face-to-face with her other mother; she had rescued her true parents from a fate worse than death and triumphed against overwhelming odds

The primary reason I detest the movie version of this story is that, in MOVIE Coraline, none of that is true.

Coraline is not small for her age. She's not the heroine of her own story. She doesn't triumph against anything.

Coraline is, in fact, constantly rescued; by the Cat, by ghost children, by deus ex machina, and most odiously, by Wybie, a male companion invented solely for the film so that audiences wouldn't have to sit through a movie where a GIRL did all the exciting parts.

Seriously. Wybie doesn't exist in the book at all. From the first moment I saw him, I knew we were in trouble. He rides up on a dirtbike wearing the 3-eyed mask from Splinter Cell, for fuck's sake. He's not just the male character, the hero, who has to tell Coraline everything she figures out for herself in the book, and at the climax of the movie, RESCUE THE HELPLESS LITTLE GIRL... he's also XTREME.

So, a story written for girls, featuring a heroine as the main character, has turned the female lead into an also-ran who is constantly rescued by two male characters, a cat and a Marketable Boy.

It gets worse.

In the book, Coraline's mother is a kindly, harried woman, busy with work and moving to a new home, who dotes on her at-times difficult child.

In the movie, she is a total bitch. She hates Coraline. She literally cuts a deal with her to destroy the wall of a house she doesn't own, hacking at the wallpaper with a knife, just to get her own daughter to leave her alone.

Her mother talks to Coraline, in the book. She tries to entertain her. She makes sure that Coraline has food to eat in the house, even though, like many difficult children, she refuses to eat what everyone else is having and insists on very specific frozen foods. Coraline's mother is patient and kind, if tired, and her worst sin against her daughter is to refuse to buy her a pair of neon-green boots, and get her sensible clothing for school.

I know; what a whore, right?

In the movie, there's no edible food in the house. The fridge is full of rancid fruit (despite their having moved in days before... which is just odd. Whose food is that?)

Coraline's father looks like he's halfway into chemotherapy for a terminal cancer, and fading fast. He's constantly bullied too, by Coraline's bitch of a mother, who hectors him about his work until he retreats into his office, where he's presumably dying from the bone marrow out.

(He gets to use a 20 year old green screen computer; she uses a laptop. Everything is over the top and oppressive, in their relationship and in their home. They want us to pity him, and hate her, you see.)

So when Coraline goes to the Other World and sees her Other Mother, it isn't like the book, where she's making a subtle bargain with a very slick Devil figure. In the book, Coraline is tempted to sell her soul for a *slightly* better world, where all the petty annoyances are gone, and you get whatever you want.

In other words, she almost barters herself for instant gratification.

In the movie, Coraline gets real food, and a father who isn't a walking skeleton, and a mother who doesn't (appear) to hate her.

That's hardly the same choice.

Everything in the movie is like that, though; the heart is ripped clean out of the chest of the book, and the resulting film is hollow, shallow and cold. But not to worry! It's PRETTY and full of shiny visual distractions! Like a musical sequence (not in the book), giant bug robots (not in the book), and magical milkshake dispensing chandeliers that must have arrived as refugees from a claymation Willy Wonka remake (you guessed it, not in the book at all)

The shallowness extends to the supporting cast, naturally. The upstairs neighbor, a kindly, slighly bonkers individual in the book, is recast as a flamboyant Russian circus performer who does superhuman feats of acrobatics while speaking in an accent right out of Rocky IV.

The cat, who has to prompt Coraline a lot more in the movie, is no longer a dry, witty, sardonic individual, but a smug know-it-all who, you guessed it, has to save the little girl. A lot.

Finally, you have the downstairs neighbors, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible. In the book, they're retired stage actresses.

"I played Portia once," said Miss Spink. "Miss Forcible talks about her Ophelia, but it was my Portia they came to see. When we trod the boards."

In fact, Forcible wants to get back into professional acting.

"Miriam, dear, neither of us is as young as we were."

"Madame Arcati," replied Miss Forcible. "The nurse in Romeo. Lady Bracknell. Character parts. They can't retire you from the stage."

So these are SHAKESPEAREAN ACTRESSES. Classical perfomers, albeit in some z-list Vaudevillian sense. Portia is from The Merchant of Venice; Ophelia from Hamlet, and of course they mention Romeo.

In the movie?

They're strippers.

I am not making that up. They were strippers in some tawdry burlesque show. Which they re-enact, in the Other World. For the kids.

This is my one-sentence reply to anyone who likes Coraline the movie:

"What kind of person adapts a children's book for the screen and says to themselves, 'You know what this story needs? MORE STRIPPERS'"


Watchmen succeeds, I think, despite being a very heavy adaptation, for precisely the same reasons Coraline failed. Coraline ripped the heart and emotion out of a story; Watchmen takes great care, even as it excises large chunks of the narrative or sidelines them for dvd-only releases, to keep the HEART. To keep the fundamental, emotional questions the book asks the reader, about power, apathy, and human connections, and what they mean in a world spiralling toward death, or to people who are no longer really human at all.

Doctor Manhattan, in particular, is great in the movie. I like the Snyder/Hayter/Crudup Manhattan *better* than the one Moore wrote, actually. In the book, Manhattan is, at best, a doting father figure, at worst, detached and adrift, lacking free will, drenched in superhuman apathy. The movie version is much more human, struggling with his loneliness and weakness, for as it turns out, even God may not be able to save people from themselves.

The movie's Rorshack struggles with his madness; the movie's Comedian finds out his armor of cynicism can't protect him from the real hurt in an uncaring world, and the movie Nite Owl/Daniel grapples with his feelings of inadequacy. These are core issues in the book, and adult concepts that require more thinking than most American movies are comforable with outside the indie circuit, and Snyder keeps them all in his film.

(I will admit, Silk Spectre II/Laurie is a bit weak in the movie. She's weak in the book too, though. As my roommate, and longtime Watchmen fan puts it, 'Watchmen doesn't give her much to work with.")

The most radical change is one of character, too. Ozymandias is a very different person in the movie. I like his character better here. In the book, he comes across as a bit of a superintelligent frat brother, fearsomely smart but soulless and self-important. For the movie, they take him in a different direction. If you had to sum him up in one word, it would be "resigned". Resigned to being 'The World's Smartest Man' and feeling, as he puts it, 'stupid' around other people. Resigned to the burden he assigns himself in the key events of the film. Resigned to suffer an enormous guilt.

I can see how you might prefer the earlier Ozy, and that's fine too. But it's worth noting that the biggest change in Coraline was to add a marketable male lead to a children's movie. The biggest change in Watchmen is that the writers/director had a different take on the emotional inner life of a major character.

Whether you agree with what Snyder did, or dislike his direction (as one friend of mine passionately does), you have to admit: he didn't tailor Watchmen to the marketing department. It's still set in 1985. It's still depressed, violent, and full of difficult concepts and imperfect people. It's rated R, which displeases the pundit class to no end, who love to predict its failure to turn a profit based on the lack of 'fanboys' being able to buy tickets. (Nevermind that, as the original book came out in the 80s, many of its 'fanboys' are middle-aged by now.)

Watchmen kept its heart, and Coraline sold its soul.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ho-Chunk Casino.. IT'S A TRAP

Admiral Ackbar tried to warn us!I've written before on the Ho-Chunk nation here in Wisconsin, and their charming PR campaigns on the local progressive radio station.

I love those things, as a fan of well produced propaganda.

Anyway, the Ho-Chunk operate several casino properties here in Wisconsin, the source of money they use, amongst other things, to sponsor radio I like to hear and propaganda that I love to listen to.

The casino part, these days, is not that out of the norm.

Their advertising for the casinos though, is something special.

Take a look at this Ho-Chunk Casino ad that has been floating around town on billboards for months now and tell me what you think:

Now, ok, I'm a white guy. I'm keenly aware that my ancestors perpetrated, then profited from, arguably history's most successful genocide (Australian Aborigines might contest that one).

So when I see a very large advertisement from a group of surviving Native Americans, encouraging me to come to their facility to enjoy myself, with the tagline 'It's Your Turn!'....

Yeah. Is it just me, or is that, in fact, more ominous than inviting?

It leads me to ponder certain scenarios in my blackly cynical imagination...

"Come on in Whitey! It's Your Turn! *ka-thud*"

"We're really good sports about your ancestors stealing an entire continent in a centuries long holocaust! Mind turning your back? We have... a surprise... for you! It might be cake!"

"Come for the blackjack, stay for the complimentary blankets!"

Nero Watch, Day 44

ArghAfter waiting almost a week, and sending another two or three emails asking for help from 'Nelson', a tech support guy at Nero, I am about at the end of my rope.

I still do not have my keys reset, and now he won't answer emails about how to reinstall the one key he claims might be reset so that it isn't immediately deactivated.

Is this it, really? This is the customer service Nero provides?

All these years I wondered how Roxio stayed in business. I guess I know.

Microsoft blows these people away, with regard to customer service. But here's another quick comparison:

Yesterday, I purchased an order at Amazon using my Prime account, and it was accidentally sent to an ancient address instead of my modern one. This was completely and totally my fault.

Worse, by the time I caught the error, it was already in their shipping system, being prepped to be sent to a place I no longer live.

Amazon's stated policy is that once shipping begins, no take backs, but I was desperate not to waste the money so I went to their customer support section. They have a nifty feature where you enter your name and problem and THEY CALL YOU.

They actually did, too, within seconds!

I talked to an actual human being, who fixed the problem of considerable complexity that I fully admit I CAUSED, despite being under no obligation to do so.

That's customer service, and that's why I'll be shopping Amazon for years to come. Which, of course, they know, which is why they provide it.


I guess Nero doesn't like repeat customers.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Nero Watch Day 39

GeezSo it's official, the guy from Nero who *was* handling my complaint is ignoring me. It's been something like 48 hours since I showed him the photo proving that I own two copies, and no matter how many messages I send I can't get a reply.

Tomorrow I'll have to look into other options. I definitely want to talk to his manager now. I can't believe their TS people are allowed to, in essence, hang up on a customer and take the phone off the hook.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Oh God, Is this *It*, GOP?So, Obama, who is not shaping up to be my favorite President by any means (*cough* Bagram *cough* State Secrets Abuse *cough*), gave his big speech selling the still-half-assed stimulus plan to Congress last night.

It apparently went over very well, as most of his speeches do.

As a side note, I don't actually think Obama is a fantastic public speaker. He's decent, and stays unruffled/on the script. But his up and down psuedo-musical presentation always struck me as a little... sing-songy.

Fortunately, Louisiana Governor "Bobby" Jindal exists to show us what sing-songy REALLY MEANS.

Honestly, this moron from Baton Rouge is so not worth our time, nationally. He's a religious kook who thinks he exorcised a demon from his college girlfriend. He's a big pusher of Intelligent Design. He's from a state that has fallen into complete and utter ruin under Republican rule (first via Bush and FEMA and the botched Katrina/levee engineering disaster's response, then under his control). He opposes stem-cell research, equal rights for gays, even going so far as to oppose a bill that would let the feds *help* with hate crimes against the GLBT community... and also, the disabled.

Man, that'd be a great campaign ad against Jindal. 'Bobby Jindal Hates The Handicapped'.

But I digress. This clown, this rube, this utter baffoon, was selected to give the rebuttal to Obama's speech by the GOP, who are almost completely tapped out for 2012 candidates.

The consensus is that they might be down one more after last night.

DEAR LORD he is a terrible, terrible public speaker! He sounds like Mr. Rogers! Some people prefer to compare him to an informerical huckster; others, to a preschool teacher, and others still to various sitcom parodies.

(Actually, to me personally, he also sounds a lot like my ultra-religious Uncle Brad, who buys 'Army of God' t-shirts for his kids and attends one of those speaking in tongues type Protestant churches, but that's not a reference most people will get)

As for substance to his speech, there was no 'there' there, so to speak. It was awful, and shallow, and trite, the story of how his hardworking immigrant parents had it tough, so everyone else should, and oh by the way, he was actually working during Katrina, NOT LIKE THEM GUBMINT TYPES, har-har, and, oh yeah, the stimulus bill spends money on things he's too ignorant to understand, like Volcano Monitoring (who really cares when volcanos explode, not like we have them in the United States, right?).

Man a friend of mine from the Seattle area was pissed about the Volcano thing, living as he does in the general Doom Zone of Mt. Rainier.

The point is, he's a mealymouthed, platitude spouting, soft-spoken, treats-you-like-a-child half-wit of an orator, and the almost whole country, even Fox News, acknowledged this.

What a disaster, hehe. About the only person rushing to defend him was Ann Althouse, about whom I'll be very, very polite, since I will hopefully be starting UW-Madison's law school in the fall, and there's every possibility she might be teaching me a class someday.

No, I'm not sucking up. I do believe, however, in codes of conduct for Universities.

(Both in the sense that, I think they're a good idea... and in the sense that, I believe they exist regardless of my opinion, and have the power to smash a lowly student flat.)

Still, I will comment on her theory that liberals (and Andrew Sullivan), are being too hard on Jindal because he's brown:
Expressed by Josh Marshall (“absolutely cringeworthy”), Andrew Sullivan (“Jindal’s entrance reminded one of Mr Burns gamboling toward a table of ointments”), and others.

Why are all these people so confident that they are not manifesting racism? There’s just something about this man that doesn’t seem right, that you don’t care to examine exactly what it is, but you know it deep down in your gut somehow. Seriously. How do you know this is not racism?

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan proffers an answer to my question: “Maybe because there is not a trace of evidence of any kind that we are. Unless comparing Jindal to Kenneth the Page or Mr Burns taps unknown wells of racist hate in my heart. I mean, seriously.” I think deeper reflection is needed. Why the urge to paint him as a white white man? Where did that come from? Of course, there are unknown wells inside us all. When you have an instinctive response to a person of another race, why not seek knowledge?

Well, for one thing, as one of 'these people', I'm fairly confident I'm not just mocking him because he's brown... because, well, I'm not. I'd never heard Jindal speak for any length of time before the clips of the anti-Obama speech went on the radio; my jaw *literally* dropped when I heard them. It's not racist, or racist-overcompensating, to suggest that Jindal sounds like Mr. Rogers.


See, here's the thing, about Jindal being Indian, ethnically. A: It doesn't bother me one bit, and B: part of the humor in him being a genuine Mr. Rogers soundalike is that he doesn't look, or act, anything like Mr. Rogers. If you had never seen him before, had no idea about his politics or past insanity, if your very first exposure to Jindal was on the radio, hearing his voice, you could SWEAR that Rogers had crawled out of hell to give GOP talking points to a national audience.

(Or my Uncle, if you know him. Except for the crawling out of Hell part, he's not dead. Though he does live in rural Indiana..)

If anything, that is the polar, exact, absolute opposite of racism, in that one instantly leaps to the correct sensory conclusion (Bobby Jindal sounds like a dead, beloved children's host who has sold his soul to the devil in exchange for power), despite the glaringly obvious (and heavily marketed) aspect of his non-white ethnicity.

Jindal strikes me as something of a pathetic figure. His whole life has been one long series of accommodations to White Conservative America, from his selecting a new, whiter name for himself based on a goddamned sitcom, to conversion to ultra-conservative Catholicism, to joining the party of immigrant bashing and xenophobia and becoming its new, designated Non-White Spokesman.

Supposedly one of the reasons he exorcised his girlfriend, that he knew that she was 'possessed', is that she wanted to sleep with him. Really.

Basically, you can see here a man filled to the absolute brim with self-loathing, who is trying to force himself into a mold so that White Conservative America will love him.

News flash, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal: they never, ever will. Though they're happy to use you... for a while.

Nero Watch Day 38

Not Much to ReportReally, just another day of them ducking, or at least not responding to or acknowledging in any way, my emails.

I guess I have to start all over again, possibly on the phone, which is sub-moronic. Honestly, I'm supposed to read two giant cd keys over the phone?

Plus, how would I supply the photographic proof I own them?

Argh. A friend of mine who works in tech support says I should call them, on the phone, and demand to speak directly to a manager, and reference the lengthy email chain to date.

I suppose I'll do that soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nero Watch Day 37

It goes on and on my friends...So I've spent the last few days in email conversation with Nero's tech support, and last night, well, Monday night (now that it's technically Wednesday), I got an email: my problem has been resolved! My key is reset!


Which key? And that hardly solves the problem, I thought!

So I emailed back, asking which key and if they knew they still had work to do.

The response was priceless: the key I've been using for two years? The one that came in their shrinkwrapped box? It's invalid! So, presumably, they don't have to fix it!

Sigh. Gods.

So I got out the old digital camera, took more photos, this time of the old serial key emblazoned on a nero jewel case, side by side with the new key, and sent off the whole batch to Nero tech support.

Naturally, they then went radio silent. You've probably been hearing the stereotypical cricket noises on the internet tonight.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Roland Burris is Inherently Funny

He Really IsSo I wasn't really blogging anywhere when the Roland Burris circus of fun was going on. It was honestly a depressing scene. Here you had an obvious toady of a corrupt governor (he's a lobbyist, campaign contributor and business associate of Blago's, though he thought it was clever enough to do much of that through Blago's wife) being appointed to the same Senate seat that Blago had been caught trying to sell on tape by the FBI.

Yet, most liberal blogs defended the appointment. It looked bad, you see, to block him from being seated... because a bunch of all white Senators would be keeping out the one black Senator, who was replacing the previous black senator, our new black President.

Burris even made sure to get himself photographed in a silly little tableau outside the Capitol, to try and fashion himself into a new Civil Rights icon or some such.

I agree, of course, that the way Harry Reid handled this mess was stupid. The way he handles EVERYTHING is stupid. It's a wonder the man doesn't walk around all day with his fly open.

Reid prevented a special election in Illinois that would have prevented all this. Heckuva job, Reidy. Thus, Blago got his foot, and his lackey, in the door, and...

Here we are this week! Burris was caught lying to the Illinois legislature's impeachment inquiry. Under oath. By the FBI, as it happened. See, he'd said, under oath, he had no contact with Blago's people prior to being seated.

Only it came out, actually before the committee, to whom he had given a written affadavit before speaking, he had met with Blago's best pal/probable extortion cutout/other lobbyist, a man named Lon Monk.

But, technically, he didn't work for Blago, so that was ok. Right?

Ahem. Turns out this week the FBI had at least one tape of Burris meeting... with Blago's brother. So Burris rushes to put out an amendment to his testimony under oath. It goes from "I didn't meet with any blago people" to "I met with 4 Blago people, including his brother, Rob Blagojevich". See, there's a one letter difference in their names. That's how you can tell they're not at all related. Oh wait a second..

But this was ok too! Because he'd turned down the offer to bribe Blago with a campaign fundraiser! Right?

Well, today he had to amend his amended testimony. Turns out, he didn't turn Blago's brother down.. He just couldn't raise the money.


So, this is like perjury squared, or if you count the Monk lies, cubed, now.

Meanwhile, Burris' many former.. not exactly defenders, but... damnit, I wish the Right hadn't ruined the term 'appeaser'.. the Burris apologists on the Left, are almost eerily silent.

You got a lot of excuses for why we should let an obvious criminal into the Senate. Typically these ran to one of a few forms:

1: Ted Stevens was a criminal and nobody stopped him! He was corrupt!
My Response: Very true. Stevens was a Republican, and the GOP protected him. The rest of the Senate largely did too. Is that the kind of government we really want?
In addition, I would note that Stevens' crimes, while heinous, didn't actually involve buying a Senate seat. He was elected to the Senate, legitimately, on more than one occasion.

2: The 'optics' of keeping Burris out look bad! It looks racist on cable news (especially Fox)!
My Response: Of course the 'optics' look bad. Blago and Burris wanted them to look bad. You know what will look worse? When he's expelled from the Senate to start his term in a federal prison.

On another note, for the love of god, can we stop using the mealymouthed, ham-fisted, barely-even-English verbal cudgel of 'optics', please?

It's an assault on the language centers of the brain, I swear. Not everything needs to be discussed as if we're all soulless cogs in some marketing machine.

3: There's no established LEGAL mechanism to stop him being seated!
My Response: This one's a classic. While Al Franken dutifully beat back every petty legal challenge in Minnesota to get the seat he rightfully won, we couldn't put up a single roadblock for Burris, who is trying to steal one with the help of a legendarily corrupt governor. Ok...

Thanks to Often-Wrong Reid, it's true, our legal options were somewhat limited. But the DNC and Obama could have made it very clear to Burris that if he takes this job, he's a dead man walking, politically. No committee appointments in the Senate, no one legitimate will work for him in DC, no campaign support, and in 2010, a vicious primary that will break him into little bitty pieces.

Burris is an operator. He'd take the hint.

Instead... nothing was done. Thanks Reid. Thanks to you too, President Obama.

(I also love the legal 'analysis' here that suggests that you should be allowed to profit from a crime, i.e. the purchase of a Senate seat, merely because the Constitution forgot to mention buying an appointment as a disqualification. Right, right. The fact that, in the end, Burris purchased it for a fundraiser that never occurred only makes him a better criminal.)

Well, ok, fine, fine.

Just out of curiosity.... how does the Burris thing look now, to all the people who thought it best to let him in and be done with it?

Heh. I love being right.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Helpful AI

The Future Is Here and Slightly UnnervingOk, so nobody reads this blog. Even if they did, they wouldn't care about my posts of old links that I want to keep handy somewhere.

Or do they? I just got this comment on an old list of comics and such that I no longer wanted on my blogroll:

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Outdated Links":

Monty and Woolley is back!"

That's.... great... Anonymous.

This is from a post from July 20th of 2008.

Wow. Even I had long forgotten I put that up there. Or anything in it.

So, err, to the helpful machine intelligences that now tell me about old webcomics being back:

Please don't kill me. I promise to be useful in the new machine empire.

Nero Watch, Day 33

The Saga ContinuesSo I got a reply, of sorts, from Nero early this week.

It was to ask me to send them information I had already sent about my problem. The guy seemed to have access to only some of the emails I had previously sent.

I resent the information, and got an autoreply a few hours later.

Friday will be 48 hours since that autoreply. Sigh.

This is just going at GLACIER SPEED, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Western Civilization in Flames

Hilariously Awful

Just wanted to preserve a pair of stories for posterity. First, from The Huffington Post, which got it from TMZ, a picture of that freak Nadya Suleman, the woman who had six kids she couldn't support and decided to get in vitro fertilization to have 8 more.

Sadly, she lived.

Then there is this breaking news of our degeneracy from Xinhua, who must just be laughing themselves silly (being as they are an official news agency of Communist China), a story about a 13 year old british boy who's now a father!

How wonderful!

Even creepier, crushing poverty and hopelessness has left him looking perpetually 8 years old and with the most soulless eyes outside of a prison psychward.

Take a gander:

Read the story too, it's heartbreaking, assuming you aren't already dead inside like me.

Oh well.

(Note on image use: I chose to post these images to blogger because this post needs to preserve a record of the decline of our civilization for future digital archaeologists, and newsie sites move/lose these things all the time. I'm providing citations/links to the original sources, so I think I'm on the side of the angels here. If by 'angels' you mean 'devils who laugh uproariously at the suffering of man')

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nero Photography

A Picture is Worth A Thousand WordsAll I have for my original copy of Nero, the one that got deactivated first and stopped working properly a month ago, is a cd case with the key written on a sticker on the outside. I pitched the box and all its bumpf ages ago.

The second copy though, was brand new, still in it shrink-wrap, as of this Friday, when Nero stole it from me via the magic of the internet.

Here are some handy photos!

First we have the ginormous pile of stuff that comes with the Nero Ultra Edition package I purchased. 90% of this is completely useless, or packing material. But I paid for it!

Plus, now, it's all I have to show for my money.

Friday was the first time this copy of Nero had ever been opened. It still has the Best Buy retail sticker on the outside.

Here is the second cd key, blacked out. Note how it says to be very careful to keep track of this information.

There's no warning, however, about Nero themselves ripping you off. Funny that.

Nero Watch, Day 29

A Tale of WoeThis all starts about a month ago, as the title might suggest. My computer, whose Automatic Updates hadn't worked properly since the IU undergrad days, when they did something stupid to my copy of XP using their Domain Admin authority (they wanted amongst other things to force you to take updates at certain, assigned by them times, to spread out their bandwidth demands) got infected with one of the delightful new Eastern European worms.

The simplest course of action was to do a complete reinstallation of Windows, and after a few headaches this was accomplished, and I began the process of reinstalling all the software I need on a daily basis. Everything went without a hitch, from Winamp to Spybot to the various Sony things to make my PVR run, etc.

Everything except Nero.

See, I've installed Nero before. On this very same machine, but nevertheless, I have installed it. So when I installed it this time, Nero checked with their brain-dead DRM server and found that my cd key matched.. my cd key.

It began to nag me about this conflict every time I started it up. Nagware, irritating but not debilitating.

I went to Nero's website and found the email for their US Customer Service department, and fired off a quick message, explaining the situation and asking them to set my key back so that I didn't get nagged at anymore. I was annoyed, mostly by the fact that my dvd player felt it had the right to phone home whenever it wanted. But I wasn't particularly upset; I could even see how this had happened, though it's poor security and intrusive. I was inclined to chalk it up as another minor annoyance of the reinstallation process.

I quickly received an autoreply email from their Customer Service Department, early on January 17th, stating that they had received my message and would be getting back to me.

Days went by, and I forgot all about it, except when I had to click through the nagware screen for Nero. I had a minor surgery to deal with and other things on my mind, so I didn't follow up. I thought it had only been a couple of weeks while a month flew by, etc.

Nero never responded to my email. They did, however, 3 weeks after I initially informed them of their error, remotely deactivate my Nero software.

Now I was angry. I had paid, *retail* no less, for this software. Two copies actually! (We'll get back to that in a bit) I fired off another email, to the new address Nero prompted me to use just for incorrect deactivations. I told them that they had screwed up big time, and had had weeks to fix the problem, but had ignored me, and I was extremely irritated. I told them I expected an answer to this problem shortly.

None came, of course. After waiting another full day, I decided to remove the entire Nero installation, using a special 'clean install' tool they have on their site, so I could use the second copy of the software I had purchased ages ago, intended originally for another machine. After completely uninstalling Nero, cleaning the registry with their tool, and reinstalling, a process that wasted most of an afternoon, I was prompted for the new cd key.

Keep in mind, I had just opened the box on this package. It had never so much as seen the light of day, let alone been used. I put in the new key, off the new cd jewel case, and it accepted it.

For about a minute. Then it popped up a new message, said that key was also in use, and again robbed me of my legally purchased software.

I fired off a *third* email, again to the DRM email address. I was furious, and let them know that. Now I had been robbed twice, and ignored for weeks, and I wanted my cd keys restored so that I could use the software I paid good money for.

I'm still waiting on a reply. Tomorrow is the one month anniversary of the initial problem/email I sent to Nero customer service.

A month. I've literally waited a month for the courtesy of a response of any kind.

I will never purchase another Nero product so long as I live, and I recommend that anyone who reads this similarly abstains. Nero has the absolute worst customer service I've ever seen in my life.

Now I guess I get to spend a bunch of cell phone minutes trying to call a 1-800 number during business hours if I want their crappy software back. I'm honestly not sure it's worth the headache. I'm already using the OEM provided DVD player software now, which isn't as nice as Nero but also doesn't rob me blind. I don't really make backup dvds anymore, since I got a 1.5 TB external drive.

Then again, this is MY MONEY. I have a right to what I paid for.

I will update the blog with any further developments.

It's Alive!

RestartWell, I've been sick quite a while now, but I'm feeling better and getting ready to go back to doing/posting stuff.

With that in mind, here is a filler post to help get old stuff off the front page.