Saturday, January 21, 2006

Homemade Dune Buggies!

Coop sent this fantastic link to a homemade dune buggy site that literally gives a feeling of something akin to motion sickness. Queasy. Everything I have ever done in my life looks absolutely sane in comparison to this whacked out delight of a hobby. Sometimes you get in something so deep that you don't realize it is completely insane. God bless em!
8-Ball! My goodness. My heart goes pitty-pat. If I built this exquisite vehicle, I would be so proud I would sleep in the garage with my arms around it. So what, you say? Big deal? Sure, lots of cars of higher craftsmanship, more accomplished engineering and refined aesthetics have been built since 8-Ball, but this is important in the context of time. People were not building dune buggies with over-filled bias ply white wall tires to tear around the sand dunes. What a little character! Reminds me of an ornery Scottish Terrier.
Looks like paradise! I could eat 100 hot dogs sitting there amidst a gaggle of home built dune buggies.

Gumco Ether Machine!

Powerless. I am powerless. This stuff just finds me. I could say that I put up a fight to keep from bringing this junk back to Hooptyrides, Inc. but I would be lying. Some real Grade A finds. An old Chevrolet Deluxe heater, a Grote Heavy Duty turn signal control from a time before turn signals were standard equipment, a Moon spun aluminum gas tank complete with stinky old lacquered gas, a Danish Modern dining room table marked "Made in Denmark Imported by Eaarsgard Los Angeles", and an ether machine. Want to buy that dining table? Good! Because I want to sell it to you!

As far as ether dispensers go, this particular unit was in pretty rough condition. Three castered and lopsided, terrifically dirty and full of spiders, it was like any other daunting starting point. All potential. For the above photo I had stripped off everything I could and got to work with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. (It seems Mark and I are about to start a Magic Eraser Admiration Society.)
Lots of effort, Pine-Sol, Comet, Feed-N-Wax, Armor-All, chrome polish and 0000 steel wool went into this project and it turned out pretty amazing. Sure will make a nice end table! I will put a lamp in that well on the right and pencils and magnifying glass in that little drawer so I can continue showing the New York Times Crossword who's boss!

Perhaps a home for a goldfish? A Siamese fighting beta! Absolutely nickel plated beautiful.
Does it work? Sure! Well, I mean, within a very wide definition of what it means to work, hell yes it works! After plugging it in and getting it to power up after some fiddling, I replaced enough hoses to get pressure up to the ether jar. Note the gauge! Now, would I allow somebody to administer ether with this device? Of course not. But it does appear to do what it is supposed to. Besides, who else has a combo ether tank/side table/beta tank/vacuum pump?

Hooptyrides, Inc. is plumbed for compressed air but should it be plumbed for vacuum?

Jose Luis Junior Gets PSP!

Less than a day after posting about Jose Luis Junior's insane, rabid desire for a PSP, the kind Hooptyreaders responded by opening their wallets to the tune of one PSP! When I went to present Junior's PSP, he was reading the previously mentioned Grand Theft Auto strategy guide with an equally morally bankrupt buddy.

Accusations were made that I was running some sort of scam and it was even suggested that Junior was a scammer by starting his own blog rather than mowing lawns. Before Junior got his PSP, he didn't even know what a blog is. I am still not certain he understands blogging, but he sure liked seeing his hand drawn PSPs on a French gaming blog as seen in the above photograph. The cool dudes at idlethumbs pointed out that Junior has designed the most extreme game ever.

Honestly, I wasn't sure if Jose Luis would survive the excitement of getting the PSP. I really thought it was possible that he would just have some sort of freak-out fit, but he was cool. Before presenting the PSP, I spent a few minutes flipping through all the video game sites at a pace slow enough for him to see his PSP drawings but quick enough not to let him read that there was fund raising afoot. I explained that people all over the world dug his artwork so much, and were so blown away not only by the accurate renditions but also by his unbridled capitalism, that they each sent in a few bucks so that he could have a PSP. He was stunned. And thrilled.

When Junior was unwrapping the PSP he said, "Where do the batteries go?" and then caught himself - he knew! He had drawn the battery door about fifty times! I explained to Raquel (his mom, on the right) the videogame rating system and that Grand Theft Auto is the videogame equivalent of a kill-murder-hooker movie.

Some people got it and some didn't. Apparently, being poor and uncommonly creative is not enough to merit reward. For those concerned that I got away with some sort of scam I assure you, I will never spearhead another collection unless I make friends with a third world kid with a fatal disease that wants a Nintendo DS.

Big thanks to all who donated! Big thanks to the kind videogame company employee who sent 8 games! Did I donate? Sort of. I covered the sales tax, the Paypal fees, and bought Junior PoPoLoCrois.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Complete New Yorker in New York Times! Mister Jalopy Quoted!

Though Ed Klaris wouldn't answer my questions about the Complete New Yorker, he did answer Sara Ivry in the New York Times!

According to Ed Klaris, General Counsel and Project Director for The Complete New Yorker, the inclusion of the spyware paragraph was "inadvertent", they "had no intention of accessing that information" and that language will not be in future editions. Hooray! But how do you inadvertently write an entire paragraph? And inadvertantly include it in the end user license agreement? And if the project director is also general counsel, how does that just slip through?

Mr. Klaris sticks to his guns that 500 issues per DVD is adequate and shrugs off the desire to load to a hard drive. The article does not discuss the Macrovision copy protection that restricts making an archival copy even though it is allowed by the end user license agreement.

From the New York Times article:

"The people who are complaining are the exception to the rule," Mr. Klaris said, noting that the bloggers weighing in on the topic tend to be supporters of open-source technologies.
He must be talking about Cory (of boingboing) as I don't think Hooptyrides has mentioned open-source in our blogging life. I suppose Klaris is right in that it is a minority of open-source types who are complaining about privacy, digital rights management, inability to use software legally due to protections, etc. That minority of crackpot geeks happens to be the individuals who understand the technology and the risks of implementing fiendish restrictions. Without the cranky open-source supporters, the media companies and their pocketed politicians would be running wild by building systems and laws that will haunt us for the rest of our lives. Hurray for open-source crackpot geeks! Donate to EFF! I did!

Link to New York Times, January 16, Business Section (requires registration)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Is the Complete New Yorker Spyware?

From The Complete New Yorker End User License Agreement:

7. Collection of Viewing Information. You acknowledge that you are aware of and consent to the collection of your viewing information during your use of the Software and/or Content. Viewing information may include, without limitation, the time spent viewing specific pages, the order in which pages are viewed, the time of day pages are accessed, IP address and user ID. This viewing information may be linked to personally identifiable information, such as name or address and shared with third parties.

When you buy a piece of software or CD or digital music file, you are entering into an agreement to abide by the laws of a banana republic. Existing law is set aside as you agree to a whole host of other laws by clicking the 'YES' button. Perhaps the dictator is benevolent and the laws are not onerous but, maybe the laws are insidious.

In the case of the Complete New Yorker, you give up your privacy. Perhaps the New Yorker will sell your name to Starbucks if your reading profile suggests an epicure. Or, if you are interested in reading about automobiles, perhaps Buick will soon be pitching you the Lucerne - a Buick for sophisticates. But what if your spying dictator is not benevolent? Who do they sell the Islam reading list to?

Frankly, I don't know what you are agreeing to when you click 'YES' on the license agreement. What are the consequences if you don't comply with the rules? What are the damages? Are you liable for criminal prosecution? If I have a license agreement for Hooptyrides that requires my entertaining internet presence only be read while sitting on the toilet, do I have recourse if the kind reader chooses to read from their cubicle?

Question 1: What if you choose not to have your privacy compromised? What if you do not want to become part of a secondary revenue stream of selling data to third parties? Can you opt out? Doesn't appear so.

Question 2: What if you want to make a back-up copy of the Complete New Yorker? The license agreement says you can:

2. Prohibitions… You may not copy, transfer, sell, loan or lease Software and/or Content, except: (a) to make a single copy solely for back-up or archive purposes…
But if it is guarded with Macrovision copy protection, how can you?

Question 3: Making a copy requires that you use a special, Macrovision-stripping DVD ripper made for copying movies. Does that mean you have violated the end user license agreement?

2. Prohibitions... You agree not to modify, translate, disassemble, decompile, reverse engineer, create deriative works of, convert to a different format such as pdf or make any other attempt by any means to discover or obtain the source code for the Software and/or Content...
An archival back-up would be modified and converted to have the Macrovision removed. Is there any way to make a back-up that is in compliance with the end user license agreement?

Question 4: Can you copy the Complete New Yorker to your hard drive, eliminate the endless disk swapping, protect your original DVDs and enjoy unprecedented speed? Ed Klaris, general counsel and project director for the Complete New Yorker, said that no you can't. Not for legal reasons, he said, but the New Yorker decided it was adequate to be able to read a single disc at a time. Reading issues chronologically is super-practical and is a completely reasonable way to read through a DVD but if you want to read by topic across the whole collection, it is totally preposterous. Search for Chinatown, goblin, Philip Johnson or Stanley Kubrick and you will drive yourself insane with swapping. It's like having a Mac Plus.

If Ed says it is not for legal reasons, I guess you can load it on a hard drive. It seems to conflict with paragraph 2 of the Prohibitions section "...agree not to modify, translate..." but Ed is the dictator.

How do you load it on a hard drive? Two ways.

Create disk images - ISOlator (Mac) and Alcohol 120 (PC) both seem to create DVD images that work correctly while avoiding the Macrovision errors. To use the images, you need to virtually 'mount' the images using Toast (Mac) or Alcohol 120 (PC). When it asks for the appropriate disk, you mount the disk image that is required. I have not tried this, but several Hooptyreaders report good results.

Copy Issues to Local Hard Drive Issues Folder - This is a more elegant solution. Oddly, although the Complete New Yorker is locked up in twenty different ways, it relies on a public domain database called SQLite. There is an Issues table in the database that has the complete list of every issue along with corresponding DVD number. Each issue is assigned a number 1 through 8 plus 9 for the harddrive. If you copy every djvu issue file to the local issues directory and change the issues table so that every issue points to the local hard drive (9), then you can scream through the issues. It is fast like the blazes. So elegant and beautiful. I downloaded a shareware SQL database manager off CNet to make the changes, but individuals smarter than I could do it with the free command line SQLite.


Could the Complete New Yorker have included an install everything to local hard drive option? I don't see why not. And, I would bet, that the New Yorker staff and developers are using it from local drives.

(Thanks to all the people that helped and especially to Robert as I would not have been able to copy the Complete New Yorker to the hard drive without his assistance.)

Question 4: What if you want clarification about any of these issues? Their license agreement states you get no support and a call to the New Yorker confirms this. They do not discuss legal issues.
5. No Support. TNY, its retailers, distributors and TNY Parties shall have no obligation under this Agreement to provide support or other services relating to the Software and/or Content.

Question 5: Is the Complete New Yorker spyware? I don't know. Paragraph 7 clearly states that they have the right to spy, but I am not sure if they are actually doing it. I don't understand enough about the technology to determine if a trickle or a flood of data is going back to the New Yorker. Does it leave your computer vulnerable like the infamous rootkit? I don't know.

Question 6: Is the New Yorker in violation of copyright law? There has been a lot written about the New Yorker's position that they are not repurposing the content in a different format. Their position is that a complete page scan on a DVD is exactly the same as the same page in a magazine and is therefore within their rights to recreate without new clearances or additional compensation. But, is it really the same? If the magazine image is exactly the same but is included as bait in a data mining application to collect user information to sell to third parties, is it really the same as a magazine? I don't know.

Question 7: What if it is all too much? What if the lack of support, legal ambiguity, spyware, Macrovision and everything else is just too much? Can you return it? Doesn't seem like it, but I can't find retailer language as to your options if you do not agree to an end user license.

From The Complete New Yorker End License Agreement:
From the Amazon return policy:
Partial Refunds will be issued for the following items:

Any CD, DVD, VHS tape, software, video game, cassette tape, or vinyl record that has been opened/taken out of its plastic wrap. (If you discover that the item is defective after the package is opened, a full refund or replacement will still be granted.)

From the Best Buy return policy:

Opened computer software, movies, music and video games
(To get credit for these items, they must be unopened. If the original is damaged or defective, please see details below).

So why the big deal? Because I was so excited about The Complete New Yorker coming out. I love the New Yorker. It is absolutely my favorite magazine. This morning I read an article about butterflies, mosquitos and global warming - a scientific tale artfully told with all the drama of a novel. The New Yorker at its best. When I learned the Complete New Yorker was coming out, I was so thrilled at the prospect of reading the John Seabrook personal history of Seabrook Farms. I remember it from ten years ago as being as good as social history ever is. I didn't get to reading it and I am sending my Complete New Yorker back to Ed Klaris. I got it on the hard drive - which is what I was trying to do - but I can't live with the spyware aspect. It is insulting. I'm done.

As my friend Hudson said upon reading my travails, 'They took something from you.'

UPDATE: Smarter than I, Gustaf posted a detailed How-To on installing all the issues to your harddrive. Thanks, Gustaf!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hooptyrides Corporate Art Collection (aka Gimme)

My friend Jose Luis Junior, age 9, wants a PSP so palpably it reminds me of my intense desire at the same age for an Atari 2600. Though he doesn’t have the games he dreams of, he reads game strategy guides like they were novels. In great detail, he explains the Grand Theft Auto cultural minutia at a level that I can’t follow. And I have played a lot of Grand Theft Auto, though Junior has not jacked a single car.

When I finally got my 2600 I would play Combat endlessly, kicking the enemy tank all over the maze which, admittedly, was not very difficult as I was the only opponent. I would only take breaks to pore over the Atari game catalog and try to figure out if Indy 500 was really worth the extra money due to the included steering controllers. Perhaps I should just get Street Racer or Night Racer…

Junior’s obsession far eclipses mine. He has a folder full of stock photos that he has clipped from Target and Toys R Us flyers. He has clipped photos of the PSP backside so that he has source material to correctly render the battery door. You see, Junior draws PSPs to scale, cuts them out and sells them to his friends! For a quarter! I bought two, 50 cents plus a 50 cent tip. Naturally, all he wanted for Christmas was a PSP but it didn’t happen due to finances.

So, I am taking up a collection to buy Junior a PSP. Just send Paypal money to MONEY RAISED - THANKS ANYWAY! As soon as the PSP purchase price has been met, I will shut down the Paypal account. If there are a few bucks extra, Junior and I will spend it on candy and soda pop. In addition to Junior’s gratitude, the most generous donor will receive a photo of Junior with PSP in his grubby mitt. Additionally, I will send you one of Junior’s original PSP artworks from the Hooptyrides Corporate Art Collection. Then you will have a paper PSP, just like me and eight of Junior's schoolmates. I keep mine with me and kids are literally horrified when I sit down next to them in a waiting room and they look over from their real PSP to see me playing my paper PSP.

Think of me as Sally Struthers and the PSP as a bowl of rice.

UPDATE: The money has been raised! Thank you internets! Thank you boingboing! Thank you kind games company employee who offered to send games! And, most especially, thank you kind souls who emptied your pockets for Junior! Will post updated pictures when transaction complete!

Desk for sale! Plus, one more desk! Two desks!

As space is cleared at Hooptyrides, Incorporated, there will inevitably be some things that need to go. I want to keep all of the flavor of the old shop, while making it mine. With the quantity of top notch junk that I have, space needs to be made. Making the cut was a hundred junk distributors, but the desk is just not needed.

In the style of ebay hyperbole, please consider this exquisitely ordinary MID-CENTURY desk with matching return. The clean lines, square design, austerity, sharp edges of this desk will assure that snooty, but none too smart, guests may confuse it with the work of Charles (or Ray) Eames, George (or Howard, if it were a clock and not a desk) Nelson, Isamu Noguchi, RM Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or any of the other oft-too-often-mentioned modernists of the MID-CENTURY. Relax… your friends deserve no better than a little chicanery! If it were not for the bold work of such modernists, would a desk of this plainness even be possible? Absolutely not! If it were not for the minimalist work of Phillip Johnson, would this desk have been acceptable even in a dowdy office? No, no no! It was the complete lack of ornament of MID-CENTURY that made desks like this commonplace, if not desirable. Makes me want a Campari and soda!

This desk is very well constructed. Very heavy. With return, for your IBM SELECTRIC typewriter, adding machine and a small desk lamp. Perhaps, if you are choosy, you could find the space for a copy stand. Some would damn this desk for it’s structural integrity as it nearly assures that this completely ordinary and unremarkable example of wood grain Formica will last longer than could possibly be desired. And, as this very mundane desk does not appear in any compendium of modern design, you can lie as to the maker and MID-CENTURY provenance without any of that annoying concern of being caught.

If it were not for the rigid aesthetics of the MID-CENTURY, a desk like this might have a carved wood squirrel. Or lions paw feet. A leather inset top with gilt edge. Perhaps an acorn motif with maple leaves. It might have been a light colored, soft wood, with a richer, darker colored stain that is reminiscent of a more luxurious (and expensive) hard wood, which would be sure to disappoint when an errant chip reveals the truth… With this completely ordinary desk, there are no such assumptions as only a hayseed yokel chump would believe that the dark Formica was anything but a plastic veneer covering common particle board. Chips, already in place, leave nothing to the imagination, as it is what it is. Now, what is more MID-CENTURY, Ikea that fools the buyer with wood-like veneers so close to actual wood that it may even impress your mother in law, or something so obviously synthetic that even 4 year olds know it is a piece of shit? Isn’t the later more honest and, therefore, more modern and, therefore, more MID-CENTURY? This completely unassuming and pedestrian desk is MORE MID-CENTURY than Ikea! Put that in Charles Eames’ pipe and smoke it!

Design within reach? Pshaw! This very plain desk is design within pocket! It is practically design within mouth. Not much to recommend it, but this desk can be yours for no more than $30. And is that a second desk? A mate? A matched set? It sure is! Generally, a bookend collection like this would command more money, but we are offering both for less! $50 for the pair! Loading assistance is available but delivery is not. Conveniently located in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles, we urge you buy these desks immediately!

Charles Eames was designing into the 1970's. This desk was constructed in the 1960's. I was born in 1967. This desk is as MID-CENTURY as my ass!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Potential Incarnate! Speed Shops!

A kind Hooptyreader (and the caretaker of a great auto project blog - sent me a superb shop-warming present! The 1966 Speed and Custom Equipment Directory! Absolutely period correct for Hooptyrides, Inc! This will be my new indispensible atlas! If I find myself in Brookfield, Wisconsin, I will be on the lookout for Schlieper's Speed on Barker Road. Evansville, Indiana? You will find me at 1324 Hwy 41, sniffing around for Moon's Custom Auto. One day, I will find the magneto intake manifold paradise in the form of an old cobwebby speedshop with new Hilborn, Stewart Warner and Sun boxes on the shelves... Perhaps, Pee Gee Speed in Brooklyn...

As the proud owner of a seriously dingy hot rod shop, I can understand the starry eyed view of your shop looking like Camelot. Despite the modest demeanor of the Triangle Speed Shop, I know that outward appearance does not tell the tale of the magic going on inside.

And it must have been a mighty proud day for Ed 'The Camfather" Iskenderian when he opened his city block, four building, 50,000 square foot headquarters.

Impko is perhaps the most appropriate name ever given to a consumer products company. It sounds like what it is - decals for bratty kids. A year or so ago, I called the Hackensack Chamber of Commerce to see if there were any old timers that knew what became of the Impko company, founders, family or, especially, old stock. I pictured attics full of ghoulish frankenstein and Roth decals, but it didn't pan out.