Archive for May, 2007

the two of us

May 31st, 2007

It’s horribly nerdie to admit, and it shows my age a little, but I’m really enjoying D5’s coverage of the interview with Steve Jobs & Bill Gates. Along with Colecovision, Transformers, and Pink Floyd, this is a chunk of my childhood, right here; and as a life-long Mac fan in a Mac-fan family, seeing Gates and Jobs together on stage speaking calmly and reasonably to each other hits the same notes as seeing Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader host a Christmas special together.

And sure, you could watch just the highlight reel and catch all the +5 snarky Mac v. PC barbs, but watching the entire interview gains you a sense of the personalities of these guys — both towards the ends of hugely influential careers, both looking back at just how far we’ve all come in the past twenty years. Jobs comes off as he always does: clever, witty, and heroic (but IRL? probably kind of a pain-in-the-ass), and Gates comes off as he always does: kind of shy, rambling, nerdie, but with an unexpected left-field “everyman” quality that almost lets you forget the piles of money that run hot and cold from his every faucet.

But: there’s no denying that these two guys have really changed our world, in a very real sense. No matter if you’re a Hodgman or a Long, their products have become an integral part in all of our daily lives, and watching them on stage reminiscing about old times — why, I remember when operating systems fit in ~20K! — is poignant and unexpectedly sweet.


nokia n800

May 30th, 2007

I’m confused. The Nokia N800:

  1. This thing is awesome
  2. That thing is not awesome
  3. I am waiting for Opera for the Nintendo DS

Pluses include HEY L00K LINUX!!!, Opera, Wi-fi, Bluetooth, nice screen, 2 SD slots.

Minuses include NOT AN IPHONE.

Any thoughts? Clearly I don’t have many myself.



May 29th, 2007

Don’t be fooled — the cryptically named, virally-marketed “X-13D” black-bag Doritos are wicked crazy exciting! if you’re wicked crazy excited by the explosive taste of: mustard.

I, myself, am not, as I feel putting mustard on my food is only one step less egregious than spitting on it. So I’m going to try and sell these suckers on eBay. One bag X-13D, barely touched. Laugh, but it’ll be this generations’ “Crystal Pepsi”.


dear griffin technology

May 24th, 2007

I’ve always enjoyed not only your great products, but your ethos of making cool stuff first, and selling it second.

Alas, that all came crashing down back in January, when I got a much-anticipated TuneCenter. I cannot understate how disappointing it was. I’ve waited this long to mention it to you because I was hoping some sort of firmware update would be released that would address some of my concerns, but that doesn’t seem to be in the works.

Here are some things that make me not use my TuneCenter. I apologize if the list is incomplete, as I haven’t used the thing since the day after I plugged it in.

• No album art. Even if the iPod won’t transmit that data as you say, the TuneCenter is capable of getting online. Query Amazon or something. Huge value-add there.

• Sluggish response. Trying to accurately fast-forward through a song is more or less an exercise in futility.

• Just doesn’t work consistently. Often I have to place and replace the iPod a few times to get it to connect to the TuneCenter.

• Can’t navigate videos with the remote. Let’s be honest here people. That is what the damn thing is for. I could have bought a $29 cable and saved $100 if I wanted to walk to the TV to play a movie. And it would be easier to use the scrollwheel if it wasn’t in the dock. I don’t think the backlight works when I’m doing this either, but I could be mistaken. The great irony is that I need the remote to set the TuneCenter to video mode, which in turn, renders the remote useless.

• Can’t fast forward through videos. See above on the saving $100 angle.

In the end, the TuneCenter is pretty well unnecessary as an iPod to TV conduit, since the remote is effectively unusable. As for listening to music, I find it quicker to walk upstairs to the computer, find my selection, and send it to the livingroom via AirTunes than it is to find the artist I am looking for via the TuneCenter interface.

So to sum up, the TuneCenter is a dog, and a real disappointment given your otherwise great stable of products. Too bad, as it had such great potential.

Disappointed in Cleveland Oakland

flickrvision saver

May 21st, 2007


ok, so if you’re nerdy enough to be reading this blog, you are already familiar with flickr, the poster child of the interactive, navel-gazing world of web 2.0. And it is a great service.

In comes flickrvision, a neat site that shows you recent uploads to flickr, and plots the location of the uploader on Google Maps, based on their flickr account information. What could be more fun than that? Make it into a screensaver.

bay road photo screensaver

May 21st, 2007

I’ve really been enjoying Laura Merwin’s photo series on her new MassLive blog, Bay Road Photo. Her pictures are crisp, bursting with color, each with a effortless sense of whimsy. In fact, I liked her photos so much that I have made them into my Windows screen saver. How is this done?:

  1. First, install Google’s free “Google Photos” screen saver available here. The screen saver is part of the “Google Pack” which puts some other very useful software on your PC too, but what we’re interested in here is the screen saver.
  2. Second, after the install is complete, right-click on your desktop, choose “Displays” and “Screen Saver” and then chose the new “Google Photos” screen saver (this step might be a little different if you’re running Windows Vista, but essentially, you want to get to the “Displays” control panel).

  3. Finally, after the “Google Photos” screen saver is selected and activated, go to “Settings” and then “Configure” next to “Photo Feeds”. Add this entry into the photo feeds:

    That’s the location of the RSS feed that holds Laura’s pictures published on MassLive. Once you activate that, you’ll get a fresh new picture of Laura’s added to your screen saver every day!

NOTE: I’m not aware of any Mac OS X or Linux screen savers that allow you to use RSS photo feeds as your source of graphics, but I’ll check into it. If anyone else knows of them, let me know.


a eulogy

May 16th, 2007

Look at the size of his fat head!

Jerry Falwell
a eulogy

Jerry Falwell was a big man. Not big of heart, not big of mind, but a big man anyway. His corpulence could only be compared in volume to that of his homophobia, contempt of women, and capacity to ignore the core tenets of the faith he claimed to hold dear. His love of prostitutes, politics, and money put him in line with the great corruptors of society while his media outlet and university gave him access to the greatest number of hungry minds and souls. Truly, he can be considered one of the worst individuals in American society through the 20th century. If he was right, and fortunately, he wasn’t, he is now sharing Hell with J. Edgar Hoover, Alan Dulles, Joseph McCarthy, and Richard Nixon in a special place for those whose thirst for power makes them consume all around them, body, soul, and leftovers.

(Jerry Falwell’s Hit Parade, by Slate.)

crab fishing in america*

May 14th, 2007

kitty crab

A great photo essay/journal about becoming a commercial fisherman in Alaska.


the worst generation

May 11th, 2007

Baby Boomers, probably on their boat.

Great article by Paul Begala here from 2000 on the Baby Boomers; the horrible, awful, baby boomers, hoggin’ up all the jobs, houses… and pretty much everything else.


p.s. sorry Mom

liberation fonts

May 10th, 2007

One of the areas Mac OS X has a clear advantage over Windows or linux is in the area of fonts, to the degree where it’s simply not disputable. The bundled fonts Mac OS X comes with are a better selection of fonts that come standard with Windows and linux, and the way the operating system renders the fonts on screen is simply superior as well. These are not opinions, these are facts — give me a slide rule and a pencil and I can prove it.

One of the small heartbreaks of Ubuntu is that no matter what you do, font rendering doesn’t get quite as good as in Mac OS X. Sure, you can enable smooth fonts but the preloaded selection of fonts kind of stinks — they’re pretty much all variants of Arial and Georgia — and Bitstream’s Vera Sans as a system font? Please. It’s too spindly and weak looking.

Luckily, Red Hat has stepped up to the plate and released some free fonts, released under the GPL, specially made for linux: Liberation Serif, Sans, and Mono (local download here).They all look great, and Liberation Sans Bold 10 is a fantastic system font, forceful yet shapely. Place them in your .fonts directory in your home to have them show up, and if you like them, let the Ubuntu art team know that they’d make great default fonts in the next release.

And of course, they look great in Mac OS X too.


last man standing

May 7th, 2007


why you should never be a teacher

May 5th, 2007

Me, teaching. Hi.

I just read this post entitled “10 Tough Things About Being a Teacher“. It’s an accurate set of genuinely tough things, no doubt. It also has a glib, “hang-in-there-kitty” final conclusion that precisely describes the line of thinking that drove me out of teaching for good.

This last year, I worked as a public high school teacher teaching various classes in computer science, and I lasted for a whopping half a year. I started fully motivated, and ended up incredibly depressed. The money was dismal, and the conditions demoralizing and obscene. The technology was outdated and poorly maintained. I couldn’t take it. I fled mid-year to a job in the private sector where the workload is less, and the pay far better. I miss the kids, but I couldn’t justify living a personally miserable life for the tangential benefit of a couple hundred students.

I suspect these conditions will continue until teachers stop publicly extolling how virtuous and soulful it is to work under these shameful conditions and how this proves that “it’s not about the money”; as if there’s something wrong with taking a job for money just because children are involved. No one ever says they haul trash for the inherent love of trash, so why are teachers expected to teach for the love of teaching? More importantly, why do teachers repeat this fallacy in robotic unison?

The teachers’ unions that promote these mediocrities need to be burned to the fucking ground. They have traded every benefit a teacher could possibly hope for in exchange for the elusive promise of tenure, thus assuring their members a long, painful slog of a career with an enthusiasm trajectory inherently trending downward. In our current public school system, there is no reason any reasonably intelligent person would want to be a teacher, and until conditions improve, it is a career path to be shunned and avoided.


david blaine is a time-travelling demon

May 5th, 2007

Absolutely fantastic David Blaine parody. It’s worth nothing that the entire thing is one, unbroken shot — hard to do in comedy, but they pull it off.