Archive for April, 2006

free o’gradies

April 24th, 2006

Hey! It’s season two (thus far) of “O’Grady” free cheap at $1.99 via iTunes. I absolutely love H. Jon Benjamin and Melissa Bardin Galsky from their work on “Dr. Katz” and “Home Movies”, so I’m really looking forward to watching this. Actually trying to expose people to your show — I mean, free cheap television, what a revolutionary pretty ok idea — I hope other television shows follow this example.


my sensitive side

April 24th, 2006

Dear l-dopa,

To the best of my knowledge, I’m not gay but I just loooove making origami quilts. People keep telling me I should frame and sell these, but I’m not sure what the best approach for that is. Any suggestions? Also, what would you* pay for something like this?


*Well, not YOU, because you’re cheap, but someone who would buy an origami quilt.

things no one should ever, ever give for mother’s day: a guide for geeks

April 24th, 2006

Well, you didn’t ask, but, birthdays and Mother’s Day are a source of true befuddlement for everyone and some people have it harder than others because, well, some people just don’t pick up on things. So guys, if you’re looking for some help, here’s what you need to know: generally, it’s the thought that counts, but there are a few additional guidelines.

First of all, no empty wrappers. It shows forethought, yes, but then it shows afterthought.

No mom should receive boring office supplies. Remember, she pushed you out of a very small orifice. Instead of having to acknowledge this every year on your birthday, we have Mother’s Day instead, so you can thank her in private. For exciting office supplies, consult your local bylaws. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself is if it is more or less exciting than a box of tacks.

Try not to get something she already has. Or is allergic to.

And, under no circumstances, should you ever give these. The temptation to use them for evil, even for your mom, is just too great.

ipod format css guide

April 23rd, 2006

I’ve never found a use for my iPod’s notes feature until I found this; it’s a css cheat-sheet formatted to fit on the iPod’s eensy-teensy screensy. I dunno if it’s actually useful, but hey, it’s free.


off the record

April 23rd, 2006

I’m starting to think maybe, just maybe, it is Cynthia McKinney who is, in fact, the fool.


April 23rd, 2006


Hypothetically, a lot of people ask me, Hey, You, how can I attain the dizzying and rarefied heights of success such as you have arisen to? How can I, Mr. Average American — accustomed to gaining prosperity “Ricky Roma” style, stepping both over and on the necks of colleagues and underlings just to get by — use my natural heft and momentum to make my website as freakishly popular as

And I always tell them, well, you and your friends have to make sure to write lots of essays about bee beards, hippos, and bears, and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune will naturally follow. And then I say, that will be $5.77, please drive around to the first window

But if for some reason you don’t want to follow this wizened, sage advice, you could instead choose to follow the handy advice set forth in the wonderful new website. Bookmark it now, subscribe to the RSS feed, and start memorizing the podcast, so when it’s inevitably featured on “Lou Dobbs’ Severed Money Fist” you can take a long drag off your Dunhill cigarette, squint into the distance, and say “Yeah, mofo, I knew it when“.


cheshire von luxx

April 22nd, 2006

Yep, that’s right, I got ‘e-interviewed’ by Cheshire Von Luxx; I’m pretty sure he’s an Ultimate Fighting Champion or something. As always, I pretty much come off like a douche.


deadly, deadly hippo

April 21st, 2006

It’s a little-known fact that statistically speaking, the world’s deadliest animal is not the bear, or even the shark, but instead: the hippo. Even lesser known are the various methods that a hippo will attempt in order to hunt and kill its human prey. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Hippos often attempt to get elected to local or state government on a populist platform of financial reform and cost-cutting. Once in office, they will lower the communities’ potable drinking water cleanliness standards until one day you will stand in your kitchen, stare into a cloudy glass of drinking water and say to yourself, “For the amount of taxes I pay, I don’t think it’s too much to expect viable drinking water!”. In your anger and haste you will check the Internet for the local town council meeting and plan to attend the next evening. When you attend, after the meeting is brought to order and the official agenda has been discussed, the hippo will rise from the dais and trample you.
  • Around early April, a hippo will contact you and casually offer to do both your federal and state taxes for a ridiculously low hourly rate. The hippo will also maintain that it will probably only take one hour to do the entire thing, thus sweetening the deal. Several days after the paperwork is mailed off to the hippo, the hippo will get back in touch and mention that it requires a missing W-2 form and an unexpected signature. When you leave your house to fax him the additional paperwork, the hippo will be waiting to trample you.
  • Sometimes a hippo will send you an email that reads “Hello, I am the Hippo Prince of Nigeria” and if you reply, over the next couple of weeks they will strike up an email friendship with you, sending you links and funny pictures every day, but all the while subtly reminding you that they need access to a bank account to transfer their Nigerian Hippo funds into. The hippo will be super-friendly but very persistent, and eventually one day you will write back and say “OK, so I’m going to go down to the bank to set up that account for you”. When you park and get out of your car in the bank parking lot the hippo will be waiting and it will trample you.
  • When you meet a hippo in the supermarket, the first time you meet with the hippo, he will generally be friendly. However, if you are both shopping at the same rate and in the same direction through the store, subsequent interactions will be more and more awkward until eventually the hippo will become enraged and trample you. NOTE: this most often occurs in the frozen foods section.
  • Apartment-dwellers gain a false sense of security regarding hippo attacks due to living on the second or third floor of a walk up apartment. However, even this seemingly foolproof precaution is not always a sure thing; a hippo will arrange for a third party contractor to assess your property and recommend the addition of a external freight elevator connecting the floors (the contractor will often cite confusing handicapped accessibility statues in order to convince you of the necessity). Because the hippo prefers to transfer many of the construction bids through offshore holding companies, it’s often extraordinarily difficult to keep track of who signed for what. Late at night, shortly after construction is completed, the apartment-dweller will hear the hydraulic hum of the fright elevator engaging but by then it will be too late: the hippo will rush into the bedroom and trample you.


adventures of action item

April 20th, 2006

I’ve met people that talk like this. Seriously, it’s awful. On a side note, Neil McAllister, the creator of this strip, is a really great guy. A while back, I asked him what comic lettering font he used for this and it turns out it was a font he made himself — then he sent it to me and I’ve been using it ever since. Thanks, Neil, you rock.


hope neil young will remember

April 19th, 2006

So Neil Young’s new album is an old-school protest album. Good for him — but too bad he was so damn into the Patriot Act a couple years ago:

People for the American Way… gave Neil Young its Spirit of Liberty award at a December 11 Beverly Hills banquet. Young used the occasion to proclaim his support of the USA/Patriot Act, which became law on October 26. “To protect our freedoms,” Young said, “it seems we’re going to have to relinquish some of our freedoms for a short period of time.”

…which pains me to point out, because I’ve always really liked Neil Young. The first “big concert” I ever went to was a Social Distortion/Sonic Youth/Neil Young triple bill at the now-rubble Hartford Civic Center in scenic Hartford, CT. They all rocked.


where’d the air come from

April 19th, 2006

Three things I love about this video clip:

  1. The guy, USC Student Government Vice-President Ryan Holt — well, nobody gets into student government in college unless they have a real desire to be a career politician*.
  2. Which would by itself be fine, except he’s clearly a humorless douche, so now there’s permanent proof positive on the internet for all to see of what a flaming ass he is.
  3. It reminds me of the time my friend Evan and I blew up a dorm-room full of balloons for his girlfriend’s birthday — we were both pack-a-day smokers at the time, so blowing up hundreds of balloons via tar-lung power was a non-trivial task. She was far more appreciative of the balloons than Ryan was.


* Does USC’s student government have any meetings where somebody doesn’t take pictures?


April 18th, 2006


The Problem: You’ve got a couple of computers, some PCs, some Macs, maybe some are at work, maybe some are at home, and you have a bunch of files that it would be very useful to have on all of them.

The Solution: You could turn on SMB sharing on your Mac and PC and then hack together some weird rsync shell script coupled with a cron script to synchronize the contents of each share — then you could adjust your firewall and forward some ports on your router so you could get to these files at work. Yeah, that sounds like fun.

Possibly The Better Solution: There’s this company called “FolderShare” that has created quite an excellent utility for doing just that. In fact, they did such a good job writing this utility and corresponding website that Microsoft out and bought them up in November of last year to add to their nebulous “Windows Live” project. Now as a result of this acquisition, Microsoft offers the FolderShare service for free, but I don’t think anyone really knows about it.

It’s quite straightforward to set up — just sign up for an account, download and install the utility on each machine, and select “My FolderShare” to open a browser window and select which folders on which machines are to be added to the share. I had two macs and one PC all synced up on my local network within a couple minutes. All transfers between the machines are encrypted and occur transparently behind the scenes. Plus, there’s a web interface you can use to give yourself and others access to these shared files from anywhere. Nifty!

The only major downsides are: no linux client (and don’t hold your breath, but again, you could use the web interface to at least get access to the files) — and on Mac OS X, installing the FolderShare client plops a honkingly ugly and useless app in your dock. If that bugs you (it bugged me) get rid of the dock icon with handy little utility called Dockless. Also a downside: on some level you’ve got to put some trust in Microsoft, which is always a dodgy proposition.


our new calendar overlords, welcoming

April 17th, 2006

So last week Google introduced Google Calendar, and while it doesn’t quite work with Safari yet (not even the secret shiny “gold compass” nightly builds of Safari) it will in fact work with Firefox and Camino, so that’s nice. It looks great and feature-complete right out of the gate, and thus so long, 30boxes, we hardly knew ye — while I appreciate the clean, Mac-like UI of 30boxes a lot more, the feature set of Google’s Calendar cannot be beat. In fact, I’m ready to declare Google Calendar better than iCal, which for years has been my Gold Standard of calendaring apps. Here’s why:

  • Access from everywhere, and ability to edit from everywhere. iCal has the ability to publish your calendars via WebDAV and on the web via .Mac, but you can only edit them when you’re sitting in front of your computer. Google’s Calendars can be edited when you’re home, at work, at your friend’s house, wherever. So long, .Mac!
  • Shareable calendars. iCal’s ability to share calendars has always been one-way, read-only, but Google’s calendars can be edited and annotated by anyone you want to give access to. This feature alone is why people run incredibly expensive Microsoft Exchange servers, and Google just gave it to everyone for free.
  • Email alerts. iCal’s email alerts only happened when iCal was active — if your machine was asleep or offline, too bad for you! Google’s email alerts happen anytime, and can even be set to send an SMS page to your mobile phone as well.
  • Daily Agenda sent to you via email. Every day, Google Calendar can send you an email at 5 AM laying out the events of the rest of your day. This is killer, it’s like Google just hired a personal secretary for everyone on Earth.
  • Calendars can be exported to RSS or iCal. I’ve already got my calendars set up as RSS feeds, but I’ve exported them to iCal too, which means they’ll go on my iPod automatically — so if I add an event online, it goes everywhere I need it to go all at once. Once again: so long, .Mac!

So with this move, one third of Google’s increasingly clear “make Microsoft Office irrelevant” strategy is complete. They have already taken everything that is good about Outlook’s capacity to organize email and calendars and transformed it to a superior web application. With the recent Google acquisition of Writely, the next sixth of the puzzle to click in will probably be an online word processor. After that, all that remains is a database (Google Base maybe?, although to be honest, I can’t figure that thing out at all), a spreadsheet, and a PowerPoint-y presentation module — and suddenly Google has provided pretty much all of what most humans need Microsoft Office for, with the added killer-app benefit that all your documents and all your email are online, available, editable, and instantly searchable from any computer. That’s a benefit I could explain in a sentence even to mom and dad.

And once people realize that they don’t actually need Microsoft Office to Get Things Done, they’ll soon realize that they don’t actually need Microsoft Windows either. I had a recent revelation at work about a month ago: as all the apps I use at work are web-based, all I really needed was a copy of Firefox running on anything, and I was good to go. This revelation allowed me to ditch flaky Windows XP on my cruddy Dell work laptop and switch to Ubuntu. The Dell laptop remains cruddy, but I’m much happier with the experience as a whole. So I, for one, welcome our new calendaring overlord. All hail ants, and Google.


our dora who art in heaven

April 17th, 2006


I saw this at the supermarket the other day, and you guessed it, it’s a Dora the Explorer themed easter basket. So for those of you keeping track of American culture: the religious imagery of Christ (and whatnot)* — which has long been replaced by a rabbit that gives out candy — has now in turn been replaced by the iconography of Dora the Explorer. Take that, Jesus!


* Swear to Dora, I’m so not-at-all religious that I had to look up Easter on the Wikipedia to make certain that it was about Christ.

splinter cell: essentials: review

April 14th, 2006

I picked up “Splinter Cell: Essentials” for my Sony PSP about a week ago. It’s not great. While the gameplay is true enough to the popular Splinter Cell console series — lots of satisfying headshots! — the controls, and particularly the camera, are pretty bad. But what really kills it are the graphics; here’s a screenshot from the jungle level:

And here’s a screenshot from the enemy compound level:

And here’s a screenshot from the oil tanker level:

…my point is, the graphics in the game are dark. Way, way too damn dark, and as a result, it’s ├╝ber-frustrating to attempt to play. This is the exact same dumb problem that plagued “Doom 3”, too; it’s all well and good to go “atmospheric” with your game design, and “Splinter Cell” is a game of light and dark where sneaking around in the dark is inherently part of the game — but the player should still be able to see what they are doing. At least give the player the option to pump up the gamma settings, because what’s fun about a game you can’t see when playing?