This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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September 2007
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Music Widget Thingy

In my continuing quest to fill this website with junk nobody wants to see that makes it look all out of kilter, I’ve added a last.fm music widget which tracks the last few songs I’ve listened to on iTunes at home (or on my iPod, although those don’t show up until I get home and sync). You can see the widget on the right under the AbulReading section and above the blogroll. I’ve only had it there a few minutes, but so far I’m not too thrilled with it. It is much more obtrusive than the Google reader thing, and much less customizable. I’ll leave it there for the moment, but I may pull it off again after a few days if I find it too obnoxious.

Echos of Sling

Although I guess I should reserve judgement for awhile, my initial reaction is that this can’t be a good thing for those of us who love our Slingboxes.

Sling Media To Be Acquired By EchoStar; Deal Valued At Approximately $380 Million
(Staci D. Kramer, paidContent.org)

This just in … EchoStar (NSDQ: DISH) is acquiring Sling Media in a cash-and-options transaction valued at approximately $380 million. The deal announced late Monday evening, is subject to the usual closing conditions; it is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

(via Techmeme)

Although of course since there is no subscription or anything existing boxes should not be effected at all… just potential future new products.

Political Clarification

I got an email recently from a regular reader of this blog in Canada with the following question:

Can you please tell me why a Bill would have two or more totally different items on it. For example H.R. 1905 has lets give DC representation and “Amends the Internal Revenue Code to increase (from 110% to 110.1%) the estimated tax payment safe harbor percentage for determining the amount of estimated tax payable by individual taxpayers whose adjusted gross income for the preceding taxable year exceeds $5 million.”

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why they do this. It’s like quid quo pro but why have the people of United States tolerated it for so long. It is so obviously manipulative it’s baffling. A vote on these two topics on their own is the only true way of serving best interests of the people of United States.

Democratic Senator from California, ” I want to protect the Albino Chipmunk”

Republican Senator from Ohio, “Well throw in a new pork belly subsidy and you got my vote!”

Well, I have no extremely profound answer to that question. As mentioned, why it is done is obvious. It is a way for everybody to get what they want by bundling it with what other people want. There might not be enough support for item A on the merits of that item alone, but stick it to something else that people want, and maybe you can make it happen that way.

As to why it is tolerated? Well, mainly because very few people pay attention to what is going on at that level of detail, and most of those who do accept it as “just how things are done”. Every once in awhile you get someone proposing solutions to this sort of thing, or to bills that are thousands of pages long that no human being ever reads all of (at least not before voting). But none of those proposals ever go anywhere. Why? Because of the people who could make the changes directly (the rules committees in congress, etc) it would not benefit any of them, because they all take advantage of the existing system. And experience has shown that the public doesn’t care or notice, so they don’t have to worry about it come election time either.

It is a bad system. But it is a system that reinforces itself and resists change. If it ever did become a huge popular issue in the public consciousness, perhaps there would be change. But this sort of thing is so wonkish and inside the beltway that it would take massive abuse on a huge front and center issue right before an election for anybody but the news junkies to ever notice… and perhaps not even then. And of course even if you DID have the right combination of political events to enact some changes, they would probably be superficial and start to be rolled back as soon as the public looked the other way again. (For examples of this see the post-Watergate restrictions on Presidential power, and the immediate resumption of budget deficits almost as soon as there had been a balanced budget for a couple of years.)

Anyway. Yes, this is an extremely frustrating thing. They really SHOULD only vote on single issue bills that are in easily digestible chunks. But I’m not thinking that will ever happen.

No Means No

Just had a call on my cell. I didn’t recognize the number, so I let it go to voice mail. I have transcribed the full text of the message. The first word starts in the middle, so it is obvious the automated system had already said a sentence or two while my recorded “Please leave a message” thing was playing, so I missed the beginning.

From 877-778-2578 at 00:09 UTC on 2007 Sep 25:

… As you are on the DirecTV do not call list we are not able to contact you for these exciting offers. The reason I’m calling you today is to give you an opportunity to change your selections. If you allow us to remove you from the DirecTV do not call list please be assured that we will not share your information with anyone else. Please call 1-877-778-2578 to remove your account from the DirecTV do not call list. You will then be eligible to receive exciting offers in the future. If you prefer to remain on DirecTV’s do not call list we completely respect your decision and your privacy and no action is required. Thank you for being a loyal DirecTV customer.

Excuse me??? I’m on your do not call list, so you are calling me to ask me to please take you off your do not call list? So you can call me about crap I don’t want? Excuse me? EXCUSE ME? I already told you not to call me. Assholes.

We were already planning to switch away from DirecTV as soon as either of our two DirecTivos die since they are no longer manufactured and you can only get them on the secondary market for way over what was the market price when they were still being made… all since DirecTV decided they wanted to push their own second rate DVRs instead of real Tivos.

Anyway, this call just makes me not have any regrets on that planned move. It may even end up accelerating it. (Although I don’t see us switching until early next year unless our existing hardware does die.)

What a crock.

More Internet comments on unwanted calls from this phone number here including at least a couple comments suggesting that it might not really be DirecTV. Dunno. Very annoyed regardless.