Archive for July, 2006


July 10th, 2006

Hey, LOSER! Why use that cruddy old DNS server your fuddy-duddy ISP makes you use? KICK IT TO THE CURB! Now there’s something, um, vaguely different: OpenDNS. (teen metal guitar solo)

Domain Name Servers (DNS) are computers that turn words ( into numbers ( that your computer and its internet applications can understand — and the faster your DNS can respond to requests, the faster your internet connectivity web browsing can seem. Sort of. Also, OpenDNS is blocking scurrilous websites that pretend to be other websites. So there’s that. In any case, I applaud the effort — anyone who wants to make the world’s web surfing faster and safer for free is ok in my book — and it will be interesting to see if using OpenDNS is in fact faster; I’m putting their DNS numbers in my router for a week to see if I can notice any difference.


fake debate

July 9th, 2006

Ah, Fox News; raising the level of discourse for us all, and proving that any time you invite one of the friendly folks from “God Hates Fags” onto your show, it’s sure to be rousing and intelligent time. God bless America*. Seriously, while screening this clip — and admittedly it’s hard to watch, I actually can’t get all the way through it — it’s like that scene where Darth Vader lifts the Emperor up and throws him down a handy nearby infinite shaft — certainly you’re rooting for Vader, but at the same time you know that he’s still a bad, bad dude.

It’s the kind of awful television that was so effectively described during Jon Stewart in his famous Crossfire appearance, shrill, useless, fake debate which sicks the soul as it weakens the spirit. We all have to rise above this kind of bait — it’s not real, and I can’t believe for a second it’s at all representative of any issues that the vast majority of us would genuinely entertain as relevant. It’s highly-energized gladiator spectacle recast as spirited discussion, and every night the media rolls it out for us, and far worse than that, every two or four years our politicians roll it out for us as well, hand-picking their ludicrously polarizing topics to distract us all with. But it’s not real; flag burning, gay marriage, these are not even related to the issues we need to be talking about. It’s somewhat entertaining to watch the tanned harpy fight the homophobic witch, but keep in mind, it’s not real.


*It’s important to note when discussing our country that while you’re considering putting down $250K on that soulless 2 bdrm, 1 bthrm beige condo within a short driving distance to the local mall, farmhouses with 48 acre lots are selling for $140K in Canada. Shop around, is what I’m saying.


July 8th, 2006

Fascinating “treemap” data visualization of aggregated Google News — the bigger the block, the “bigger” the story.

It’s great to see a trend emerging towards more research and experimentation in data visualization; as our lives get more and more flooded with data, the challenge increasingly becomes less about collecting the data and more about simply organizing it into a way that makes any kind of sense.



July 8th, 2006

Well done flash animation — lots of good stuff hidden in the background, too. While the animation itself is really great — how do people do this kind of work in Flash? I can barely draw a rounded rectangle — I can’t help wish the writing drew a few more subtle parallels to Hitler.


the many moods of steven seagal

July 7th, 2006

Fig. 1



fluff followup

July 6th, 2006

After the government of Massachusetts took a weak stab at outlawing Marshmallow Fluff in schools, the natural perversity of the free marketplace wins again: Fluff sales are up 800%. Good news for Fluff fans of all ages.



July 5th, 2006

Thanks to the ever awesome Bill Alatalo for turning me on to stock.xchng, a wonderful search engine of decent quality royalty-free photos.

Also good for cheap-ass cheapskates like me: iStock Photo, which isn’t free but is certainly cheap-ass. Both are better than trolling Flickr’s inefficient Creative Commons search engine or even worse, the terribly lame search engine on the Creative Commons site.


not-so-stupid ssh tricks

July 5th, 2006


Excellent overview of SSH (secure shell) and SCP (secure copy) here — even if you’re a seasoned terminal jock, I suspect you’ll pick up a tip or two. The one thing I’d add is that in addition to Midnight Commander and WinSCP, Cyberduck is an excellent SCP client as well.


music for 1 apt. & 6 drummers

July 5th, 2006

Nice groove and an excellent setup — fast forward to 6:55 for the best part.


15 years of slack

July 5th, 2006

Great collection of anecdotes about one of the most influential movies of the 80’s (and a personal favorite of mine), Richard Linklater’s “Slacker“.


the government is…

July 4th, 2006


In honor of the Fourth of July, let me tell you a true story that is sure to shock and amaze those of you who have never worked in government.

There was some filing to be done of an official nature, so I sallied forth towards my little hamlet, in search of a place to copy my precious document before forking it over at City Hall, for I have worked as a public servant, and thought it wise to have a copy to hang on to until it was all done being filed and I got my certified copy. I was somewhat pressed, as said document is due to said City Hall just ten short days after unsaid moment in time. Therefore I was dismayed to discover that the Town Copy Shop was abandoned and derelict.

Nonetheless I continued my ridiculous sallying (more of a shashay, frankly) and went over to the crenellated environs of our illustrious town government. I had an impression I had seen a xerox machine somewhere recently and I was elated to discover that this device was conveniently located in the very place I had set foot. Sadly it was code protected.

I headed in to the Records office to see if they knew of a place to get my precious document copied. Maybe they sold copies right there, I fantasized. Clearly my memories of my previous place of public employ have faded drastically over time. A fleeting thought to not hand over the document for them to ‘see’ was my only residual wisdom, which I impulsively overrode.

There the lady informed me that she didn’t know of any copy shops (okay) and that it needed to be certified (okay, but I’d like to copy it first) and I would have to wait for them to send it to me and pay them ten dollars for a copy (which I was planning to do anyway) and most of all, that because since I had handed it to her, I couldn’t have it back to copy and file half an hour from now.

I found no way to politely explain that I did not trust them not to lose the document and that’s why I wanted to have a copy first. If you think about it, government is supposed to be the way that we do things collectively. But sometimes it’s more like the way we don’t do things, collectively.

sonic compression is a frustrating mess

July 3rd, 2006

There’s a tremendously great article by Nick Southall over at Stylus magazine on compression in music — not mp3/data compression, but compression during the mastering process of the music’s dynamic range. Modern recording engineers do this to make the quiet elements stand out, resulting in an overall louder average sound and a “poppier” sound, but Nick makes a compelling and, in my opinion, absolutely correct argument against using dynamic range compression while recording or mastering.



July 3rd, 2006


Lussumo has just released version 1.0 final of their new open-source discussion board CMS, “Vanilla“. I played around with it the other night, and so far, it looks like a winner — prettier, more functional, and more easily extensible than phpBB. Most impressively, it’s got a simplicity and elegance of design that shows all the way through, from the front end UI to the back end code.

Mark my words, this app is going to become the “WordPress” of discussion boards. What I particularly respect is the decision to “one-down” the competition by modularizing the add-ons so, much like Firefox, the software can be as simple or as complex as the administrator desires. That’s smart, insightful and thoroughly modern thinking in software design.


warning sign generator

July 1st, 2006

Don’t settle for sloppy, hand-drawn, amateur-quality warning signs — use what the pros use. This nifty online warning sign generator will assist you in generating helpful warning signs for your incredibly unsafe home or office.