22 January 2008

Data is the New Long Distance

I just finished a two year Verizon Wireless contract. They frantically called me, informed me my contract was up, and walked me through a month-to-month agreement. The only change was that their "Mobile Web" feature went from $5/monthly to free. Free! Sweet! Then I listened to the big long details where the customer service rep informed me they didn't debit my airtime minutes for the usage. Charges now run $1.99/megabyte for Mobile Web usage unless you spend $15+ monthly on an all-you-can-eat option.

That straw, the allure of SIM cards, and the fact that Verizon has the lousiest, P.O.S. software on their phones (contact me if you're interested in a rant) made me switch to at&t yesterday. I paid attention to at&t's data charges— either $15+ monthly for a smörgåsbord or $0.01/kilobyte. Similarly crazy in price.

An example of the sheer monstrosity of it all:

  • Assume you didn't pay the $180+ annually these companies want for unlimited data plans
  • Assume you bought a 2 gigabyte microSD card for your phone.
  • Assume you filled up your microSD card
All of these seem reasonable. After all, you're already paying hundred of dollars annually to be able to use the phone you've purchased. For 2 gigabytes/2,048 megabytes/2,097,152 kilobytes of a la carte data:
  • Verizon would charge you $4,075.52 to fill a 2 gigabyte microSD card at $1.99/megabyte.
  • at&t would charge you $20,971.52 to fill a 2 gigabyte microSD card at $0.01/kilobyte.

The wireless carriers may rationalize this ridiculousness by saying that they can better forecast data network needs when customers buy unlimited plans. But then again, how much forecasting information do you get on "unlimited" plans?

Monthly a la carte data plan pricing should cap out at the monthly unlimited plan rate. After using $15 bucks of a la carte data in one month, just bump me to unlimited already. Say that up front. Don't be shady. Sheesh.

20 January 2008

Manipulating amarok remotely using dcop and ssh

Following my friend Ian's recommendation, I moved all of my music onto an amarok installation a couple of years back. Great program, great features, simple to use, nicer for multi-user installations since the database can be shared, able to have automagic playlists like what-haven't-I-listened-to-in-awhile, etc. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Often, I play music from our desktop but work on my laptop. With purely random playlists, two problems arise when listening remotely:

  1. Ack! That's horrible. Next song, please.
  2. What song is this exactly?

Amarok provides an dcop interface that allows CLI access to lots of information. If your remote SSH shell isn't part of the same dcop session (not likely), you need an extra bit of magic to use it.

In my setup, I can answer those two problems with these commands:

  1. dcop --user `whoami` --all-sessions amarok player next
  2. dcop --user `whoami` --all-sessions amarok player nowPlaying
and can setup a remote 'tail' with a fancy one-liner like: while echo -n; do for info in path year artist album track title rating sampleRate score labels trackPlayCounter; do echo -en "${info}:\t"; dcop --user `whoami` --all-sessions amarok player ${info}; done; sleep 10; clear; done where the --all-sessions option solves the different-dcop-session problem and --user `whoami` is required alongside it.

07 January 2008

Vacation Shorts

A small collection of short videos taken while on vacation with Michelle. When happy or hyperactive, she can be hilarious to watch.

Give Me Spinning

Taken shortly after New Year's while visiting a friend in Santa Cruz, we stopped at a park. It was raining, windy, and getting nastier. Straight from the car, Michelle took off frolicking:

Eating Donuts in College Station

Taken while on a Nutcracker Bon-Bon audition trip to College Station, TX, we stopped at a donut shop one morning. Notice the 2 and a 1/2 step donut eating maneuver, and the huge grin she gets once the bite is safely performed:

Poo on Your Jeans

Taken outside some of the bigger museums in Amsterdam, Michelle calmly notices that I've got dog crap all over my left pant leg:

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