Archive for January, 2006

the jerk behind comic sans

January 22nd, 2006

Visit this page to find out why the hell anybody ever thought Comic Sans, the typeface behind the inkjet printouts of a million aesthetically-challenged administrative assistants, was ever a good idea. I don’t want to ruin the big reveal for you, but: it has something to do with Microsoft Bob. As a side note, the Wikipedia claims that MS Bob was managed by by Bill Gates’ then-girlfriend Melinda. Thankfully, she’s into charity work now.

Quite seriously: I have always considered writing a virus/trojan that only did one thing: deleted Comic Sans from a user’s computer and moved on. I don’t even think it would be that hard, because I suspect the virus would be able to spread voluntarily.

~jeff

the pawprint is awesome

January 19th, 2006

pawprint.jpg

While on a recent day trip to Keene, NH, my girlfriend and I stopped off at a random pizza place. During the wait for our pizza slices we stumbled upon an stray left-behind issue of “The Pawprint”, the high school newspaper of the Monadnock Regional High School. But I don’t actually believe it was simply “random chance” that caused me to find “The Pawprint”.

I believe it was, instead, divine intervention. Because now I get to tell you about it.

Listen; I know I may try to trick you into reading some weird stuff now and then — and I do apologize for that — but seriously, you really need to check out “The Pawprint“. It’s adorable. My girlfriend and I tore through the random issue we found with delight. Reading these issues take me back to being in high school, but instead of making me barrel-vomit in nail scraping, white knuckle terror, instead I get a soft, warm, fuzzy feeling. That’s high praise.

And! in a forward-thinking move by someone at the MRHS staff, every issue is available via unrestricted, searchable PDF*. Check it out.

~jeff

* Listen up, New Yorker.

iweb ’06

January 19th, 2006

iWeb

I got my copy of iLife ’06 in the mail yesterday, and jumped right into iWeb. iPhoto is nice (and I have never even opened Garage Band), but iWeb is what I was really interested in. Any software to help my clients create web pages easily is great in my book. All in all, I am impressed with what Apple has done.

The much touted “Apple designed templates” are in fact fantastic. They do fun things with web layouts that were mostly out of reach to the average person before now. Try sitting an elementary school teacher down in front of Dreamweaver, and see what you get. The templates aren’t terribly limiting, as you can move or delete almost every element on the page. There are templates to fit different needs, from photo galleries to blog entries and podcasts, each of which come with rss feeds built into the code.

The organizational structure is a blend of your high-powered html grinders, and the Keynote style. You can arrange your site in the sidebar, and make sub-pages as though you were making a nested list. The linking format is pretty set in stone, but some changes can be made about what is linked where.

I have four complaints about iWeb. It is huge. I mean huge. Weighing it at a porky 630 megs, iWeb is easily the biggest single app on my machine. Its weight is because it contains all the templates and images (in various languages) inside itself, instead of relying on external support folders, a la Photoshop. Which brings me to complaint number two. Why hide the stock images away? There are some great pictures in the templates, but users don’t have easy access to them to mix and match. Complaint number three is with the photo gallery template. Whenever I click an image to enlarge it, it comes up in its own window (which is fine), complete with .Mac style brushed metal borders added in (which is not fine) no matter which template I have chosen. Why spend the time to make fantastic templates if the photo galleries are going to break the aesthetic? The final complaint is that I have no idea where it has saved my site. Every site I create is available in the iWeb interface, which is a mixed blessing. It makes it simple for people to keep track of what they have done, but I’d rather be able to move them around myself.

I have really enjoyed playing with this app, and I think it will be a huge success if they can get people to plunk down the $79 for it. Easy to use, great results, and I’m glad to see them putting more value-add back into the $99 monster that is .Mac via one click publishing to your .Mac homepage.

Update: Running a program like Youpi Optimizer or DeLocalizer to strip the various languages you don’t speak out of iWeb will slim it down to a fighting weight of 98 megs. Your milage may vary, use these apps at your own risk.

bush presidency as text adventure

January 18th, 2006


This is brilliant. Oh, how I wish he’d be eaten by a grue.

UPDATE: If this post made you nostalgic like me, here’s playable versions of those Infocom games.

~jeff

long way round

January 18th, 2006

long way round

I consider myself a touring motorcyclist, but a bush league one to be sure. That’s why it is so much fun for me to watch Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman do it. They are both avid motorcyclists, and both inexperienced tourers, undertaking a shocking trip around the world, through places as remote and foreboding as Kazakhstan.

Long Way Round is a miniseries documenting this trip, and so far, it has been fascinating. Pick up the DVD and watch an episode for yourself.

panexa

January 16th, 2006


Panexa: Ask Your Doctor For A Reason To Take It.

And here’s a great interview with Carrie McLaren — the brains behind the Panexa ad and Stay Free! magazine.

You know, honestly, the health care system in the United States is so egregiously f*cked up that it’s almost clich├ęd to mention it; but seriously, our health care system is so egregiously f*cked up, and I’m glad that some people still do mention it:

Take, for example, take your pick, say for example health care. Probably the major domestic problem for people. A large majority of the population is in favor of a national health care system of some kind. And that’s been true for a long time. But whenever that comes up — it’s occasionally mentioned in the press — it’s called politically impossible, or “lacking political support,” which is a way of saying that the insurance industry doesn’t want it, the pharmaceutical corporations don’t want it, and so on. Okay, so a large majority of the population wants it, but who cares about them? Well, Democrats are the same. Clinton came up with some cockamamie scheme which was so complicated you couldn’t figure it out, and it collapsed.

Kerry in the last election, the last debate in the election, October 28 I think it was, the debate was supposed to be on domestic issues. And the New York Times had a good report of it the next day. They pointed out, correctly, that Kerry never brought up any possible government involvement in the health system because it “lacks political support.” It’s their way of saying, and Kerry’s way of understanding, that political support means support from the wealthy and the powerful. Well, that doesn’t have to be what the Democrats are. You can imagine an opposition party that’s based on popular interests and concerns.

…I’d suggest we all move to Canada, but really, what has Canada ever accomplished.

~jeff

25 great calvin & hobbes strips

January 14th, 2006


Man, I miss this strip.

~jeff

glterminal

January 14th, 2006

ldopa-1970.jpg

UPDATE: A thoroughly modernized version of this utility is available here, via Secret Geometry’s excellent app Cathode. Runs great on any 2008 or newer Mac running MacOS X 10.7 or higher.

Oh, now, this is cool. There’s been a thread over at arstechnica asking for a full-screen terminal app for Mac OS X, and the guys at that forum unearthed the uber-geeky terminal app “GLTerminal”. GLTerminal emulates a 1970’s terminal monitor, complete with flaws in brightness, warped display curvature, and flicker. It even simulates baud rate lag. And! for extra verisimilitude, the character colors can be green or amber.

~Jeff

ban comic sans

January 14th, 2006


Right on.

~jeff

so you want to perform a dojo audit

January 13th, 2006

(copied from the front page of http://dojoaudit.com/)

So! You want to perform a “dojo audit”! That’s very good; often first-time students run into easily avoidable trouble because of a hasty dojo choice. By taking the time to fully research your dojo, you’ll have a much better chance of a happy and successful dojo experience. Here’s a handy checklist to use during your due dojo diligence:

  • Make sure your dojo has easily accessible fire exits and adequate ventilation. Many first-time dojo-goers pass out their first dojo-time due to a common condition known as “dojo-stank”.
  • Take the time to make sure your dojo’s sensei is an authentic dojo sensei. Examples of authentic sensei names are “Tashi” or “Kai”. Examples of inauthentic sensei names are “Steve” or “Ted”. “Ted the Sensei” is probably not someone you want you want to have in your life.
  • “Nunchucks” are really spelled “nunchakus”. This is probably the most common mistake most “dojo-newbies” make.
  • Do not wear orange-colored clothing without checking with your sensei first, as the color orange sometimes represents “I have deep disrespect for the ghosts of your ancestors, and let’s fight” in dojo-culture.
  • Use common sense when choosing a local dojo. Use the internet to research your potential dojo, and of course, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family what dojo they belong to. Try not to be sucked in by a bargain-basement dojo; and while you can’t judge a dojo simply by its name, chances are “Bed, Bath and Dojo”, “Dojos Dojos Dojos” and “I Can’t Believe It’s a Dojo!” are totally crappy, fly-by-night dojos.

~jeff

garfield randomizer

January 12th, 2006

garfield

Self explanatory link.

the paper of record

January 12th, 2006

bush

Heh heh.

tunecenter

January 12th, 2006

TuneCenter

Griffin Technology, long known for building things they think are cool, then turning to each other and saying, “I think we may be able to sell this,” has done it again. The TuneCenter looks positively awesome. I am tempted to preorder one right now, but I should probably wait until the impact of buying this wears off, so the wife won’t notice as much.

screw you, national grid

January 12th, 2006


My electric bill is out of control. Sure, I’ve got like three computers, eight DVD players*, two wireless network points, a TiVo, and a stereo all on all the time, not to mention that loose 220V cable that just sits in a pool of water in the kitchen, throwing sparks. But tipping the 100$ threshold for this month’s bill was the breaking point, and so I’m now committed to getting full-on geeky and quantifying my power use.

To this end, I’ve ordered a cheap 30$ “Kill-A-Watt” unit from the friendly folks at ThinkGeek. This box measures and computes cost over time for each appliance you plug into it. I may not be able to do anything about it (you’ll pry my MPEG-4 file server from my cold, dead hands!), but at least I’ll know what power-hungry gizmo to shake my tiny fist at.

~jeff

*No exaggeration. At last check, I had eight various devices that would play DVDs. God Bless America!

electroplankton

January 12th, 2006

Oh, man. I had such high hopes for this game; when I heard Nintendo was making an abstract music touchscreen game, I got really excited and started thinking about the intersection of gaming and musical instruments, which honestly, I haven’t thought about in a while*.

However, as fascinatingly freeform as the game sounds, it also appears as if Nintendo has unfortunately not included the ability to save any musical creations, and has also neglected to include any wireless collaborative or multi-player aspect. And that’s a shame; good musicians will forgive almost any instrument limitation and turn just about any technical deficiency into an asset, but with software and hardware like this, there should really be a way to collaborate, or at least save your “work”. It’s kind of a missed opportunity, is all.

~jeff

*That’s my college thesis paper there, by the way. Talk about embarrassing.