Phoning it in

Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer.

Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer.

Photo Illustration by David Jayne

Carrion baggage: Bites is still reeling from what’s come to be known as the “dead-meat incident,” the misspelling of the word “carrion” in this column’s headline last week. Such errors are normally cause for summary execution, the potential carcass in this case belonging to SN&R’s copy editor. Fortunately, said copy editor received a last minute reprieve from none other than Bill Gates, chairman and former software architect for Microsoft, after a glitch was discovered in the SN&R’s copy of Microsoft Word.

It seems that when the word “carrion” originally was spelled correctly, Word’s spellchecker underlined it in red, wrongly indicating an incorrect spelling. A subsequent incorrect respelling, “carion,” was wrongly recognized as correct by the program. Strangely, this occurred only in area reserved for the headline on the Bites template. Asked why or how this could occur, the SN&R’s chief alpha geek simply responded, “Microsoft sucks.”

For proof, the geek sent a highly skeptical Bites to, where Mark Hurst tracks down life’s little idiosyncrasies, including Word’s finicky spellchecker. Thus the life of a copy editor was spared, but not without a stern warning to never, ever trust a computer again. Or at least Gates.

TV party tonight: “I do not fear computers,” proclaimed the late Isaac Asimov. “I fear the lack of them.” Perhaps. But if the famed sci-fi writer had known today’s youth would be downloading the first four episodes of 24 so they could watch them all in one go, he’d be singing a different tune today.

One such young person, in addition to noting that Jack Bauer, né Kiefer Sutherland, is hot, recently tried to inform Bites that downloading the four episodes of the new season allowed her to watch them without 60 minutes of commercial interruption, theoretically adding one hour to her life.

Of course, she still has to spend three hours watching the episodes themselves, which Bites politely pointed out is not necessarily a sign of progress. One step forward, three steps back. Welcome to the abyss. Good luck crawling out. Just 20 episodes to go.

Wii are family: The horror, the horror. That’s just about all Bites can say about Rancho Cordova mother of three Jennifer Strange’s startling “hydroverdose” last week.

According to a preliminary investigation, Strange died from water intoxication after drinking too much in a “hold your wee for Wii” contest sponsored by local radio station KDND 107.9 FM. Participants were required to drink a large amount of water and hold their urine for as long as possible in order to win Nintendo’s popular new video-gaming system, the Wii.

In addition to demonstrating just how far today’s parents will go—or not go—to satisfy the whims of children, Strange’s strange demise, which made headlines as far away as China, dealt an irreparable blow to the Sacramento region’s reputation. Forevermore we’ll be known as the international capital of bizarre and demeaning contests. Not to mention deadly.

Apple bites: All in all, last week was not a great one for technology, with one possible exception: Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed the long-rumored iPhone, a mobile computing device that seamlessly integrates music, video, messaging, Internet and telephone capabilities in one tidy package not much larger than a tin of Altoids.

There’s no cramped buttons to elude stubby digits; the iPhone’s touch-sensitive magic screen transforms itself from keyboard to keypad with the flick of a finger. It’s a PDA on steroids, an iPod on acid, a cell phone on PCP, and, when it’s released in June for the heady price of $599, Bites must have one. No doubt that fancy keypad will make it extremely easy to dial an “s.” For “sucker,” that is.