Archive for August, 2006

ask ldopa: ipod scratch removal?

August 13th, 2006

My iPod has developed quite a nasty scratch — a gouge, really — on the plastic front of the screen. Anyone have any luck with any iPod scratch removal products or techniques? As always, the cheaper the better.

I’m kind of, um, manic about this kind of thing. The zen thing to do is to consider the ipod “already scratched”, but I am not nearly that enlightened; as much as I try not to care about it, and as embarrassing as it is to admit, iPod scratches — and car door dings and the like — are the kind of things that drive me friggin’ IN-sane.


guild of calamitous intent revealed

August 11th, 2006

Found via a link on “Venture Bros.” writer Jackson Publick’s livejournal:

The background image is the Venture Compound’s austere press conference room, where Jonas Sr. no doubt unveiled many a startling, fantastic invention to an eager public in bygone days, and where he probably negotiated “Rusty’s Law” with the Guild of Calamitous Intent. As for the characters, those whom you don’t recognize, your guess is as good as mine…but you’re probably wrong.

…I’m dying to know about the pink dolphin.



August 10th, 2006

Brendan Small a.k.a. “Brendan” from Home Movies (and various voices on Venture Bros., notably the disturbingly smacked-out Johnny Quest from the last episode) writes and lends his teen-metal guitar to “Metalocalypse“, a new cartoon on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. The first episode aired this weekend and is, um, also here*; so far I like the premise much better than the characters — it’s often a little hard to understand what they’re saying — but given that Small once snuck a rock opera version of Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” into “Home Movies”, I’ll wager the show has potential.


* NOTE: this is probably illegal

lieberman is out

August 9th, 2006

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman will soon be out of office; challenger Ned Lamont has unseated him as the Democratic nominee for State Senator.

Hopefully — ideally — this is representative of a sea change in the nation’s thinking about our seemingly perpetual war against Eurasia and thus trends towards a greater calling to task of those who have brought us into this thing we’re now stuck in. Fuck the bloodthirsty warmongers, in other words. And maybe let’s all move on.

On a personal note*, when I lived in Connecticut, I always despised good ol’ “Fox News Democrat” Joe; he always seemed like a mealy-mouthed suck-up, hopelessly behind the times and genuinely unconcerned with his constituents. He waged a pointless war against Mortal Kombat long after everyone had stopped playing it in favor of Street Fighter 2 (tiger uppercut!). And let’s face it, the guy looks like the dad from Alf.


* On a even more personal note, you couldn’t pay me enough to live in Connecticut again. It’s not really as much a problem of a bad culture in Connecticut as much as the total lack of any kind of culture at all; aside from shopping malls, strip malls and chain restaurants, there’s nothing to do whatsoever in the state except sit in your condo and wonder if your hi-def plasma TV is large enough. The state is a case study of what fills a vacuum when nobody steps up and starts smallish local businesses; e.g. hello, Olive Garden. Massachusetts, where I’m currently living, has its own faults, certainly — but there’s genuinely cool places to go and hang out with friends, aspects of living which Connecticut largely stopped offering a while ago in favor of curbside drive-up Pizzatizer carry-out service at T.J. O’Pootertoot’s.

what is “teams”?

August 8th, 2006

Linked from the wiki page describing clients that work with Apple’s new open source calendar server is this list:

  • Apple’s iCal
  • Apple’s Teams
  • OSAF’s Chandler
  • OSAF’s Scooby
  • Mozilla’s Sunbird
  • Mozilla’s Lightning

Yeah, so, what’s “Teams”? I’m guessing this is either an add-on to the OS, one of the sooper sekrit things that Steve couldn’t talk about yesterday, or more likely an upcoming new groupware collaboration app in iWork ’07. Either way, this much is certain: it involves calendars and it involves teams.

If anyone’s old enough to remember System 7’s “Publish and Subscribe”, it might be like that; certain users have privledges to change certain parts of certain documents, which lives on a server somewhere. It was a pretty neat feature, but aside from a couple high-end publishing houses, no one actually used the feature and it disappeared into the haze of history.

“Teams” could very well be like that. Google’s Spreadsheet does sharing right: you define a list of users (by email address) that can see your spreadsheet, and then another list of people who can edit the speadsheet. “Teams” could potentially be like that. Micheal Biven points out that there is a screenshot of something suspiciously “Teams-like” on Apple’s PR site, but all we can glean from that is that it’s a list of people. Cripes, that could be anything.

But: I think I’ve figured out why I’m not so jazzed about “Teams” and Apple’s latest OS features in general: I strongly suspect they’re all local and Mac client based (also, they’re kind of boring). There seems to be two competing philosophies in the groupware world: web-browser-based and client-based — and Apple seems to be pushing the client kind. Most of their stabs at groupware in the past have begun with the presupposition that “ok, so everyone on the team has macs and the latest OS, and…” and in the real world that simply does not happen. Some people have macs, most people have PCs, and there’s that one guy in IT with a linux box.

In the past, Apple has been unwilling to sully their apps in order to speak to Windows or linux clients, or if they do, it’s an afterthought. There’s a reason; you can guarantee a fairly stellar experience by controlling both ends. But it has resulted in sort-of-kind-of-not-really-though getting Outlook appointments, iChat kind-of-maybe video chatting to PCs, but I suspect no one really uses these features because they’re 0.5-assed.

These days, I’m far more enamored of web-based groupware these days, the Knowledge Trees, the Google Calendars, etc. It just makes more sense: the time where everyone has to be on the same platform to work together is drawing to a close. It makes sense that Apple, being a company that sells client computers, would be pushing a client-based approach to groupware. But they seem to be on the right track for comprimise with the open source calendar server, they’re pushing open standards, at least — let’s hope there’s a web-based front end for their calendar as well. And I also hope I’m wrong about the proprietary “walled-garden” client approach I suspect they’re taking; I just want there to be a way to fully enable all this supposed collaboration in Leopard via other, non-mac clients, and this far in Apple’s history, not so much.


the death of garfield

August 7th, 2006


Not funny.


leopard preview

August 7th, 2006


There is nothing sexy about backup. That is why no one does it, ever, and every six years or so everyone loses all their data completely. Having said that, Apple’s new “Time Machine” feature in the upcoming Mac OS X 10.5 looks like just about the sexiest implementation of backup that I’ve ever seen. Also, it seems like it might be transparent and non-intrusive enough so that people will use it.

What’s really needed here is a complete divorce from the “save file” metaphor. That’s left over from when we used 400K floppy disks. Having “Time Machine” kicking around on a Mac is going to (ideally) save people from severe data loss issues, but as far as versioning, it’s only going to help if they’ve remembered to save their documents with enough frequency. I’d like to take see Apple take “save” even further than that: everything I do as a user on a computer should be “saved” into a database, and everything change I make to every document, every word I type, should be able to be “rolled back” to any state in the past. That’s how Aperture works, and that’s pretty much how a lot of web apps work, and that, my friends, is the way of the future. We need to stop expecting the user to save and backup, because if twenty years of desktop computing have taught us all one thing, it’s that we all don’t save or backup nearly enough.

The rest of the “Leopard” features? Meh. I can’t bring myself to get super-excited over any of them, although Core Animation looks h.o.t.t. and the new Intel-based towers are nice, super fast, bla bla bla… but I can’t get juiced up over this. Am I missing something?



August 6th, 2006


When I first set up my PowerBook, I had perfectly reasonable visions of all the Swedish and Chinese people that might someday come over my house to use it, so naturally I made sure that Mac OS X 10.4 was installed with as many foreign languages as I could select.

Two years and 74.41 GB later, that particular multi-cultural vision of the future (which I now understand as “unlikely”) has still not come true for me, so yesterday I used Monolingual to strip all the unused foreign languages out of my Mac OS X system — and as a result, I reclaimed about 3 GB. Monolingual can even pull out unused chip architecture binaries at the same time, so if you have a new Intel Mac (lucky you!) you can use it to pull out the PowerPC code floating around in your apps that you will never, ever use. Along with judicial use of Omni’s excellent OmniDiskSweeper, Monolingual is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reclaim hard drive space you will find.


the language of nonviolence

August 5th, 2006

Great article on the words we choose to describe our world end up defining our world:

as I was reading through the interviews how often a language was used by these people that denied choice: “should,” “one must,” “have to.”

In Hannah Arendt’s book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Eichmann was asked, “Was it difficult for you to send these tens of thousands of people to their death?” And Eichmann answered very candidly, “To tell you the truth, it was easy. Our language made it easy.”

His interviewer asked what that language was, and Eichmann said, “My fellow officers and I coined our own name for our language. We called it amtssprache – ‘office talk.’” When asked for examples, Eichmann said, “It’s basically a language in which you deny responsibility for your actions. So if anybody says, ‘Why did you do it?’ you say, ‘I had to.’ ‘Why did you have to?’ ‘Superiors’ orders. Company policy. It’s the law.’”


wanted: slave labor in massachusetts

August 5th, 2006

Reproduced above from the August 4th, 2006 Daily Hampshire Gazette of Western Massachusetts is a listing for the kind of tech job I might have been foolish and/or ass-broke enough to actually apply for in my mid-twenties. I direct your attention to the “minimum qualifications”! The “Center for Educational Software Development” has got to be kidding; and I would be laughing, except it’s a list so outlandish that it’s not actually funny. Some poor schmuck will probably fall for this, and fill this position — a position which, I would wager to bet, genuinely requires no skill set more complex than the ability to do low-level phone support and some gentle end-user hand holding.

Make no mistake, this is a list of technical skills written by some jackass who has absolutely no idea what they are talking about or asking for. “B.A. is Computer Science” — ok, sure. But “Experience programming in Java, C++, and/or object oriented systems”? “WWW applications development using C++, Java, or XML*”? “Artificial Intelligence techniques”? And then the punch line: a yearly salary of $16,100, with no guarantee of the shit job even lasting a year.

For their requirements, this salary is so fucking insulting, I don’t know where to start. But I’ll begin by pointing the finger at the slave labor economy of the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. There are five colleges in the area: Amherst, UMASS, Hampshire College, Smith, and Mount Holyoke. They’re all excellent schools — I personally graduated from Hampshire. But having so many schools in a smallish area affords local businesses a steady stream of hungry college kids who will work for peanuts — and who don’t need to pay rent. Thus the bottom tier of jobs (like this one) pays a pathetically small amount, because they know they can fill that chair with a college kid who doesn’t know better. This shifts the whole job market down a notch, as jobs that used to afford someone a living now are fitted to the needs of a kid who needs beer money and a signature on a work-study sheet. It’s miserly, mingy, mean and entited… it’s Western Massachusetts.

So from the younger me of 10 years ago, to the predatory and ignorant employers of today: fuck the hell off. You deserve the surly and slacktastic employee you’re almost certain to get. Never doubt how much they hate you.


*I love it when people speak of XML as a programming language, when in fact it is a generalized markup language — a meta-format for describing and arranging data. It can be used in a ton of different ways, and whenever you see a job listing asking for someone who has “XML programming experience”, it’s usually as bogus a job requirement as “10 years experience with text file programming” would be.

the driving force of the internet is perversity

August 5th, 2006

…and here’s additional proof: nearly 400 Amazon reviews of a gallon of milk:

I lead a lonely life, high atop Mount Gregorigorigu in the far reaches of the Himalayas, with only my beloved sheep and their occasional customers to keep me company. Lonely, but content.

Until the day this damnable ambrosia darkened my door. I cannot escape its memory – our time together left me forever changed. And I can no longer find solace in yesterday’s comforts: falconry, gardening, pimpage, all are but pale echoes of the joy they once were.

Curse you, delectable nectar from below! I quaff, o quaff, this unkind nepenthe…


picasa web albums for iPhoto

August 3rd, 2006

Google pounds another nail into the cyber-coffin they are slowly and meticulously building — in their 20% time — for Apple’s .Mac service with the release of their Picasa Web Album Exporter for iPhoto. I tried this last night with my photogenic cat (and her boyfriend), and I was very impressed by both the ease of use and the quality of the resultant web photo album. Nice work Google!


for better or for worse

August 3rd, 2006

Q: What’s the only way Canadian comic strip “For Better or For Worse” could be creepier?

A: The author, Lynn Johnston, could start offering the cartoon in freaky animated gif format so we can watch the characters blink.


more highest

August 2nd, 2006

NORTHAMPTON, MA — The Research and Development Department of local research group is pleased to announce that experimental researchers with the group have recently discovered a heretofore unknown higher email priority setting than the previously known “Highest” setting. Technicians from the group have already termed this setting “More Highest”, and are actively petitioning to get the newly discovered setting added to future revisions of popular operating systems and email clients.

“Sometimes, ‘Highest Priority’ just isn’t enough to connote the unimaginable importance and sheer, gut-twisting panic you feel an emailed message should convey,” Jeff Hobbs, lead scientician of the research group. “That’s when we knew — there had to be a higher priority.”

If the “More Highest” setting gains popularity, it will need to await approval by companies such as Microsoft, Novell, Lotus, Apple, and AOL. “More Highest” could face competition from Microsoft’s recently announced “Doubleplus Mostest Wicked Important” and AOL’s “three shiny, glowing smiley faces with their toungues sticking out” settings, competing implementations which attempt to give similar functionality to what the “More Highest” setting may provide.

Undaunted by competition, the researchers remain confident in their new discovery. “Often times, without a little red exclamation mark, I’d just chuck unread email from my co-workers right in the fuckin’ trash without even opening it,” Hobbs confides. “Now with the proposed two red and blinking exclamation marks of ‘More Highest’, I’ll know for sure that certain messages from corporate douchebags should undoubtedly command my near-undivided attention.”


(p.s. 1,000th post, bitches)

make money the jennifer way

August 2nd, 2006





  • STEP 2: ??? “THE MYSTERY STEP” ???
  • STEP 3: PROFIT!!!