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Amazon MP3 service is useless for expats like me

[Another update: The workaround no longer works.]

[Update: There is a way around the Amazon geographical restriction thing. See here. ]

There have been a lot of raves about the new Amazon.com MP3 download service, mainly because it's 10 cents cheaper than the iTunes Music Store, and it's (allegedly) DRM-free. (I say allegedly, because I'm quite skeptical about these claims from any source, but that's besides the point here.) However, just like their awful UnBox video download service, they restrict download by 'geographical location', meaning that they probably filter by your IP address:

We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical restrictions. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Well gee thanks for the concern, Amazon.

How I spent my summer

Compared to Japanese school summer vacations, the summer vacations doled out by English and American schools are heaven. The Japanese school year goes from April to March, and summer vacation occurs during, rather than at the end of, that school year.

How to make sure your movie gets pirated

Some Hollywood studios have a better clue about how to release their movies worldwide than others. Take the Lord Of The Rings trilogy for example, which got a same-day (with a stagger of a day or so in some cases) release all over the world. Here in Zürich, we even got to see The Return Of the King the day before it got released in the US, because of the time zone difference.

On the other hand, you have this ridiculous release schedule for Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille, a movie I've been waiting to see for more than a year.

Middle class guilt and doing the 'right thing'

I caught the last half of a somewhat quirky documentary on BBC Two the other night, called The New Middle Classes (it was part of the excellent Time Shift series). While it was talking about the "new middle classes" in the UK (which still has to be one of the most class-conscious nations in the world), one point they made rings true, I think, for 'middle class' people everywhere: the sense of guilt alleviation and self-satisfaction that is brought along by doing the 'right things'.

How not to issue a press release

I was reading a very nicely worded press release today about a vegetarian food show taking place in London. It sounded like something I'd be interested in, so of course I clicked on the link at the bottom. Which lead to this page:

Coda, or I am a total sucker for pretty

codaleaf.pngEveryone who has been using a Mac for some time is in love with Panic, a small company that has been making awesome Mac software for a long time. I'm no different. I love Panic, and have been using their things for ages. I used Audion before the behemouth called iTunes crushed their cuteness into extinction. I use Transmit as my preferred FTP program. If I still used newsgroups (which I stopped doing a couple of years ago), I'd be using Unison.

Their latest offering is Coda, an all-in-one web development product. On the surface, it's awesome. Under the surface...I'm not quite sure yet.

The list of topics about Swiss Life

The topics just about every expat living in Switzerland writes about on their blogs, or at least rants and raves about to the folks in the home country, eventually:

  • The trials of getting 'them' to pick up your garbage. 'They' won't do it unless you do it correctly. This can often be an epic saga.
  • The Laundry Room Nazi (usually the oldest female resident of the apartment building)
  • What do you mean the stores close at 4 pm on Saturday and are closed all day Sunday?? I'm being deprived of my God Given Right to shop all weekend!

Men taking their wives' last names is not uncommon in Japan

I find this story in USA Today about more American men taking their wives' last names (via kottke) rather interesting as a snapshot of gender attitudes. My impression of the American Male is that a lot of them are awfully defensive about their masculinity, much more so than men elsewhere, which explains the "sissy juice" comments received by Sam Van Hallgren (who, incidentally, is co-host of the one podcast besides This American Life that I listen to religiously, Filmspotting.)

In Japan, men have been taking their wives' last names for a long time. This may seem surprising in light of the view of Japanese society as being very male dominant. In fact, it's done for practical, usually business, purposes. If the woman's family has a well known business which is run as a family concern, and the man marrying the woman is going to enter, and eventually take over, that business, he is legally adopted by the woman's family and thus takes her surname along with it. This is called becoming a yo-shi. The word and concept is the same as for a child being adopted.

Twitter experiment ended

My Twitter experiment is over. It was sort of useful in tracking what I was doing when I was at a computer. It wasn't that good at tracking away from the computer

But I don't think I can continue to use it. It is so distracting, even if I turn off other twitters. But if I turn off other twitters it is just a little black box sitting there and feels lonely. So, I turn on other twitters...and so on and on.

Starting a Twitter experiment

I am one of the fairly large and vocal minority of people who are skeptical about the usefulness of Twitter. I don't see how it's better at communication with people I know than the phone, email, Skype (Skype IM is a very useful tool for people you are frequently on the phone with), IM, IRC channels, snailmail letters, what have you. And I am not that interested in what people I don't know are eating for dinner. Heck I'm not that interested in what people I do know are having for dinner, unless they can write it up and photograph it beautifully and give me the recipes (yay for food blogs).

some of my flickr photos