Archive for June, 2007


June 30th, 2007

The usability snob in me hates things like MooTools, a JavaScript class that makes the elements of your page zoom around, change color, and fade in and out. The gee-whiz-that’s-cool part of me really, really loves it. Like, check out that sliding top menu on the MooTools page — that’s slick. Not usable, but slick.

A note about downloading and using MooTools — the download page allows you to create a custom build of MooTools that contains only the classes you need to use. This is to keep everything as lightweight as possible, and it’s a totally slick implementation that makes sure if you want to use “Fx.Slide” you’ll have the requisite “Fx.Base” too. I personally found it initially confusing, though, as it’s hard to figure out what you’re going to use when you first start playing around; my advice (for what it’s worth) is if you’re just starting out, make yourself a big ol’ build that contains everything, and if you actually wind up deploying anything that uses MooTools, cut MooTools down to just what classes you wind up using and optimize the JavaScript library at that point.



June 30th, 2007

A lot of the work I’m doing at my day job these days involves creating and manipulating data coming from RSS feeds — and, in general, I’ve always been a great believer in the convenience and portability of feed-based data. That’s why I was really excited to see the SimplePie PHP class, which does an incredible job of parsing and manipulating feed data. I’ve played with other PHP classes that do this in the past, and SimplePie is by far the most elegant.


sneaker freaker

June 17th, 2007

Personally? I’ve always preferred “Display“.

I can remember when I was a kid I didn’t have the nearly right kind of sneakers at all for my fellow students’ liking — my Mom insisted we go to this store called “The Bootery” in Vernon, CT which only carried one kind of sneaker, “Kangaroos” — which were kind of cool on one level, thanks to the hidden pocket that you could stash about a dime-bags worth of seekrit! junk in, but on another level, the level that middle-school kids operated on? — “Kangaroos” were not cool in the least. Anyway.


favicon generator

June 16th, 2007

There’s no good excuse not to have a favicon for your site as long as a tool this easy to use exists. Check it out.



June 16th, 2007

Awesome canvas-based Polaroid effect implemented in JavaScript. The downside: because it uses the canvas tag, it won’t show up in Internet Explorer.

I’m trying it out on this very page (for a limited time only) but not working in IE is kind of a deal-breaker. Also, the left edge of the shadow does not extend far enough to connote the border. Still, pretty cool.


a victory for humans in massachusetts

June 14th, 2007


Thank you, 3/4 of Massachusetts representative Legislature who voted to not eliminate civil rights to a substantial minority. Thank you for such a decisive victory showing that we’re a civilized people and that we can tolerate people who are different whether or not we like them. Thank you for showing love and support for your friends and family members. Thank you for being decent human beings and allowing people to do what they want without government interference. Thank you for voting your conscience instead of your religious affiliation. Thank you for voting your religious conviction of decency to other humans. Thank you for recognizing that people love each other and it makes us all better people to recognize that in each other. Thank you for recognizing distinction as that which makes us different, not that which makes us less.

I love you, People of Massachusetts. Wanna get married?

nokia N800 review

June 12th, 2007

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, and all the entire Internet could think about was Apple’s new iPhone cellular telephone. I’ll give you an example: if you asked the Internet an innocuous, super-easy question, something like “What’s the fastest land animal on earth?”, the Internet would think for a while, slowly glance up at you from a well-worn December 2006 copy of MacWorld magazine, and answer “Uh… an iPhone?”.

Which, is wrong, but nearly not as wrong as the iPhone’s list price of $500 to $600 dollars. I don’t know about you, but I do not dine each night upon Roast Condor with Diamond Sauce, so I’m thinking maybe I’m not in the iPhone’s initial target market. The cash outlay gets even worse when you factor in the cost of a wireless “smartphone data plan”, which can hover around $140 a month. This means over the course of two years, that sexy new iPhone could run you $3,960. You can buy a lot of roast condor for that.

Keeping these crazily exorbitant costs in mind, and given the fact that really all I really want to do is read “” at lunch, I’ve been on the lookout for cheaper iPhone alternatives. You can get Blackberries and Treos that surf the web sort-of well, but their screens are tiny, their browsers bad, and given their data plans they still manage to be pretty much as expensive. So a smartphone is out — leaving only a small batch of wi-fi devices in the running. My Playstation Portable (“PSP”) has a web browser, but it stinks, as does the new web browser for the Nintendo DS. Both work, but terribly slowly, and when it comes time to enter text you’re left hunting, pecking and slowly entering text in the most laborious ways imaginable. It’s tolerable enough for a login or a password, but it’s a stupidly aggravating way to write an email, or even shoot off a short instant message.

Enter into this market Nokia’s oddball new N800 Internet tablet ($350). Although it’s been created by Nokia, it’s not a cell phone; it’s a pocket wi-fi tablet that surfs the web, sends email, and plays music and video. About the size of a longish checkbook, the N800 has the benefit of a beautiful hi-res touch screen that you can manipulate with your fingers or a little stylus. The included web browser (Opera) is nimble and capable, the email client is perfectly decent, and the battery life outstanding: in my use, it ran for a couple days without a recharge. The speakers are loud and crisp enough to be genuinely usable, and video I grabbed off the Internet ran smoothly and without trouble. The wi-fi signal reception is terrific — no matter where I went, I could find an open network to hop on, but most surprising is how readable a 4″ web page is: the text is rendered gorgeously, and it’s no problem at all to scroll around using just a finger.

Possibly the most intriguing thing about the Nokia N800 is that underneath it all, it’s a teeny Linux machine, so open source software fans are already porting all kinds of esoteric software applications. In a couple minutes of fiddling, I had set up a portable AIM client, a comic book reader, a Gmail notifier, and a voice-over-IP client — and Nokia bundles a slick software installer with the unit, so you don’t have to be particularly technically savvy to get these things installed and working. By contrast, Apple has so far taken the opposite approach, locking down their iPhone and restricting all software development to just web apps and preset applications written by Apple themselves.

By adopting a “do what you want” approach to their hardware, and actively encouraging user development, Nokia has created a far more flexible and extensible product than Apple’s juggernaut marketing machine. Don’t get me wrong; for the mass market, the iPhone will most certainly be the clear winner. But for the cheapskate, or the enthusiast — or, in my case, both — the Nokia N800 is likely to be a heck of a lot more fun.


wwdc 2007 review

June 12th, 2007

leopard logo

So the Big Nerd Apple Event has come and gone (and Tony might have/or might not have got wacked) and we’re all left with so many questions:

  1. Why no iPhone SDK? The mainstream press is buying Steve’s (deft!) spin that “Web 2.0 is the SDK,” but developers aren’t. And wasn’t Stevarino just saying a week ago that “custom client app + the internet computing cloud = The Future”?

    I just picked up a Nokia N800 and as you may have read I’ve had a lot of fun grafting linux apps onto the thing; more on that later, but compared to gee-whiz nerd-factor of compiling a BitTorrent client on a handheld flash device, playing with that Maps widget on the iPhone is going to get old really fast. (Portable Google Maps is probably going to be more useful, however.)

  2. I like John Gruber’s take on Safari for Windows — “it’s all about the Google referrals” — and I am vaguely happy it’s existing. Safari 3 for Mac OS X is certainly nice and fast, and works with Google Docs (yay!). But again, I just wish it were extensible like Firefox, because right now Safari on Windows’ primary function and differentiation is to… what? Show how smooth and dark Mac OS X font rendering can be? Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy it exists. But I’m confused as to why it exists.
  3. No .Mac upgrade? It shambles on like a zombie. Shoot it in the head!
  4. Leopard’s big seekrit feature: CoverFlow? Yeah, I guess. I don’t use it in iTunes and I don’t expect I’ll use it to flip through all 15 of my PDFs. I was really hoping for a more extensive virtualization implementation; most of the Mac users I know are bonkers for Parallels, so if Apple was going to snap up anything, I’d sure rather it have been Parallels than CoverFlow. No offense to the hard-working CoverFlow devs.
  5. Leopard’s second biggest seekrit feature: Dock Stacks? Yeah, nifty demo, but better than folders… how?
  6. No iMacs? No iPod? No hardware at all? C’mon. In that case, they should have at least held off on the LED Mac Book Pros (which are kind of underwhelming in their own right).

All in all, a disappointment, and the stock reflects that (a little). I know Apple’s hot on that whole “skating to where the puck is going to be” thing, but I just don’t see the puck at all on some of these.


maybe it’s not the end of the united states of america

June 11th, 2007

prison camp

For a long time, I thought Sir Alec Guinness was dead. So when I found out that he’d actually died, I was kind of surprised. Maybe you’ve had that kind of experience.

So when court today, finally, decided that it’s not OK to imprison people without charging them, trying them with evidence shown to a jury of peers, and convicting them of a crime, I thought, “Oh! That’s funny! I thought that decision was already made 200 years ago!”

“To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote, “even if the President calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country.”

“We refuse to recognize a claim to power,” Judge Motz added, “that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic.”

pepsi summer mix

June 7th, 2007

Capsule Review: Tastes like the Fruit Stripe Zebra took a piss in my mouth!

And no, Pepsi Summer Mix is not paying me to say that.