Monthly Archive for October, 2005

Google Reader, revisited

Google Read­er is now my only RSS read­er. Sure, it was slow and clunky when it first launched. But, there has been some per­for­mance improve­ment, and the adddi­tion of some new func­tion­al­i­ty.

For instance, you can use your mouse’s scroll wheel to quick­ly skip through the list of posts. Also, they’ve added some addi­tion­al key­board short­cuts — “v” opens the source page, (although you can’t hold down CTRL to open in a new tab), while “n” and “p” allow you to scroll through items with­out load­ing the con­tent, which speeds things up con­sid­er­ably.

Scooters: 101

Jason wrote up a nice post on scoot­ers, in case you’re inter­est­ed in under­stand­ing a bit about these machines.

The weath­er is sup­posed to be unsea­son­ably warm the next few days, so I hope to get out and ride a bit.

Mr. Sulu is gay?

George Takei Declares His Homo­sex­u­al­i­ty… lest you think this is mere­ly a pub­lic­i­ty stunt to gen­er­ate buzz for the play he is cur­rent­ly star­ring in, there is also this:

The cur­rent social and polit­i­cal cli­mate also moti­vat­ed Takei’s dis­clo­sure, he said.
 
“The world has changed from when I was a young teen feel­ing ashamed for being gay,” he said. “The issue of gay mar­riage is now a polit­i­cal issue. That would have been unthink­able when I was young.”

Full-speed ahead, Cap­tain.

First Snow

It’s been snow­ing, today. The first hour or so, a few flakes fell, and it was cute. But then, the tem­per­a­ture dropped 8 degrees, and it start­ed to accu­mu­late on the ground.

Winter tears

Flur­ries! On Octo­ber 29! Enough to make you cry

Last year, the first snow­fall was in mid-Novem­ber, and in ear­ly Decem­ber in 2003…

links for 2005-10-27

Sphynx

Untitled, by hinagiku.

Our friend Nobuko is cat-sit­ting in the South End this week—she isn’t sit­ting for nor­mal kit­ties, mind you, but these Mr. Big­glesworth-esque hair­less Sph­ynx cats.

Check out her pho­tos tagged with Sph­ynx, or some inter­est­ing pub­lic pho­tos.

UPDATE: Pres­ley has some Sph­ynx shots from her cam­er­a­phone:

New Friend, by Presley

Flickr Adds Printing service

Nice announce­ment, long over­due: Order Prints from Flickr… you even get your first 10 4×6″ prints free.

On the rare occa­sion that I need an ana­log pho­to­graph, I do it from iPho­to. But, now I can print my friends’ and con­tacts’ pho­tos, (so long as they allow me to).

But wait, there is one oth­er inter­est­ing nugget:

You can order prints to be deliv­ered by mail, or pick them up at your local Tar­get store for one hour print­ing, even.

One-hour Flickr Prints! Cool.

links for 2005-10-26

Mapped FTP drive

mapped ftpThere was a great “how-to” arti­cle on Engad­get yes­ter­day: Map a dri­ve to your FTP serv­er.

Now, tweak­ing that CSS file is as easy as right-click, and Edit.

Ironic Moustaches

I’ve spent the past few months, (off and on, usu­al­ly with a glass of wine in my hand), try­ing to con­vince my girl­friend that I should grow an iron­ic mous­tache — and now, Kot­tke has gone and beat me to it. Game over.

The jury is still out on whether that ‘stache is iron­i­cal or not, but I must say that it takes balls to walk around like that.

links for 2005-10-23

Productivity

I may diss Microsoft Win­dows as a home Mac user, but I’ve always thought that it is a more pro­duc­tive OS. Work­ing in a cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment on a Mac is still such a headache, prob­a­bly because cor­po­rate IT is so built around MS tech­nolo­gies. What­ev­er the rea­son, I get things done on my work PC.

Dual-Display

It’s no secret that design­ers love screen real estate — but, every­one can ben­e­fit from more desk­top space. There was an arti­cle in the NY Times just last week.

The com­pa­ny I work for is noto­ri­ous­ly fru­gal, shall we say… so, a while back, I decid­ed to break down and buy a dual-dis­play graph­ics card, out of my own pock­et. I even dragged in my old 19″ Trini­tron mon­i­tor, which was col­lect­ing dust in the clos­et. For only $35, I bought an ATI Radeon 7000 32MB card, think­ing that it would be suf­fi­cient as a sec­ondary card.

Of course, as soon as I popped this into the vacant AGP slot in the Dell GX260, the computer’s on-board AGP chip was dis­abled. Luck­i­ly, the card has two dis­play out­puts, and it even man­aged to put out a res­o­lu­tion of 1600 × 1200 for my main dis­play, and 1280 × 1024 for the sec­ondary mon­i­tor, (an aging 17″ Trini­tron that I “found” in an emp­ty cubi­cle) — but only at 65 hz, and 16-bit col­or. I remem­ber think­ing that this would fry my eyes, but didn’t give it anoth­er thought.

Fast-for­ward 5 months — my eyes are fried by the end of the day. So, I broke down yet again, and bought a $60 PCI card, a gener­ic GeForce MX 4000 128MB card. Now every­thing is crisp at 75 Hz (the max these Trini­trons can do at high res­o­lu­tions), and 32-bit. Hope­ful­ly I’ll notice a dif­fer­ence.

Remote Desktop

VPN access is retard­ed­ly slow, (I real­ize I’m being redun­dant). So, rather than try­ing to work on net­work shares from home, I instead con­nect via Remote Desk­top to my work­sta­tion. This allows me to have access to every­thing I’d have sit­ting at my desk, from home. This is espe­cial­ly handy when mov­ing around large files on the net­work, or using Tra­dos TM tools that require a don­gle.

There is even a great Mac Remote Desk­top Client, so there is no need for me to fire up that 4-year old Dell lap­top.

One annoy­ing thing about Remote Desk­top, espe­cial­ly if you have mul­ti­ple dis­plays, is that when you return to your desk in the morn­ing and log in, your icons are usu­al­ly scat­tered across the main-display’s desk­top. Thanks to Icon Restore, two clicks, and you’re back, good as new. I’d love to see NVIDIA build this into their Desk­top Man­ag­er, the way ATI did with Hydrav­i­sion.

Flock

Flock has indeed land­ed, today — they released a Devel­op­er Pre­view this after­noon. In fact, I’m pub­lish­ing this very post from with­in the brows­er.

Ini­tial impres­sions — why can’t I select Mov­able Type text for­mat­ting?  I know this is a beta and all, but this is kind of a deal break­er for me… appar­ent­ly MT is giv­ing them some trou­bles:

Word­Press and Blog­ger work pret­ty well. There are some prob­lems still with Mov­able Type. We haven’t test­ed any oth­er blog­ging plat­forms

I haven’t done much with the del.icio.us inte­gra­tion yet, but so far this doesn’t seem very rev­o­lu­tion­ary. John Oxton agrees.

Wow, I just checked the code that Flock wrote to my entry… hard cod­ed <p>s and <br>s, no line-breaks… yikes. I won­der if it defaults to what­ev­er your default text for­mat­ting is?

Statistics

The Boston Foun­da­tion has just put out a Greater Boston Hous­ing Report Card [PDF], and drew some ridicu­lous con­clu­sions. John A Kei­th of the Boston Real Estate Blog explains [via]:

From the report:

Fenway/Kenmore neigh­bor­hood

2004 esti­mat­ed renter income: $24,132
2004 esti­mat­ed month­ly rent: $1,498
% of medi­an income need­ed to pay rent in 2004: 74%

No.

Why not?

1) ear­li­er in their report, the authors esti­mate rents on two-bed­room apart­ments through­out the city. They esti­mate a two-bed­room apart­ment in the Fen­way would cost $1,498 per month. A two-bed­room apart­ment. Would one per­son, mak­ing $24,132, rent a two-bed­room apart­ment? Why would they? If they did rent a two-bed­room apart­ment, they’d have a room­mate, there­by reduc­ing their share of the month­ly rate to $749. Rent would there­fore require only 37% of their gross income.

He goes on to ques­tion anoth­er aspect of their method­ol­o­gy — using the adver­tised rental rates, which are often high­er than what a land­lord can get. It’s an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion, because there is obvi­ous­ly a dimin­ish­ing pool of “afford­able” hous­ing in Boston. The medi­an home price in our fair city of Cam­bridge is well over $600,000…

It always sur­pris­es me, the care­less­ness with which peo­ple use sta­tis­tics. No where is this more true than in the edu­ca­tion reform debate. For instance, when politi­cians say, “Half of our kids read below their grade lev­el”. This kind of state­ment is used to pro­voke anx­i­ety, and to jus­ti­fy rais­ing (sic) stan­dard­ized test require­ments.

What they don’t choose to explain, (or under­stand for that mat­ter), is that this is pre­cise­ly the def­i­n­i­tion of grade lev­el — 50% above the line, 50% below. That’s how you set a grade lev­el, for god’s sake.

I cringe every­time I hear sta­tis­tics being manip­u­lat­ed like this.

links for 2005-10-19

links for 2005-10-18

Mint: Languages

Since installing Mint, I’ve enjoyed pour­ing over all kinds of refer­rer data, with­out hav­ing to sort through spam bots.

One of my favorite bits of vis­i­tor infor­ma­tion, (see­ing as how I work in the Local­iza­tion indus­try), is the lan­guage of my read­ers. Using Marc Garrett’s Parsel Pep­per (plug-in), I see that my vis­i­tors are over­whelm­ing­ly Eng­lish-speak­ing.

No real sur­prise there, but guess what the #2 lan­guage is? Believe it or not, it’s Chi­nese. I have twice as many vis­i­tors from Chi­na and Tai­wan than from either France, Ger­many, Spain or Japan… (where are my Nordic read­ers?)

Even more sur­pris­ing, when I sep­a­rate out PRC vs. Tai­wan, 75% of my Chi­nese vis­its are from the main­land. I know there is a huge pop­u­la­tion advan­tage there, but I still find that fas­ci­nat­ing.

Jet Blue shuttle

Oh, how I heart Jet­Blue… final­ly, a low-cost Boston-New York shut­tle flight. And the best part is, they’re run­ning an intro­duc­to­ry fare sale:

Jet­Blue will offer intro­duc­to­ry fares of $25 each way on what will be up to 10 flights between the cities, with fares lat­er set­tling at between $40 and $120 each way, under­cut­ting the estab­lished shut­tle.

It’s about time.

Music

Maybe it’s been all this iPod talk these past few days, but I’ve added a bunch of new albums to my iTunes library recent­ly…

metric / live it outMet­ric, Live it Out

Hands down, bet­ter than the first album.

old Arcade FireThe Arcade Fire, Arcade Fire

Not as good as the sec­ond album, but love­ly just the same.

BRMC, HowlBlack Rebel Motor­cy­cle Club, Howl

All my female friends seem to love these guys, but I nev­er could get past the ston­er-rock facade. This is more a “root­sy” album, which nor­mal­ly should turn me off… but, I’m intrigued.

Stellastarr*, Harmonies for the HauntedStel­las­tarr*, Har­monies for the Haunt­ed

ehh, sigh.

Ladytron, Witching HourLadytron, Witch­ing Hour

Anoth­er My Bloody Valen­tine homage… but, this one doesn’t suck.

Franz Ferdinand, Franz FerdinandFranz Fer­di­nand, Franz Fer­di­nand You Could Have It So Much Bet­ter

I hope all of their LPs are epony­mous­ly titled. Thanks to Chris, for point­ing out the obvi­ous… this is not anoth­er epony­mous­ly titled release. I do love the Sovi­et-inspired art­work, though.

Presley’s New Specs

New Specs Some­body I know got three pairs of new eye­glass­es today…

Not fair.

links for 2005-10-12

Yahoo! Site Search

Well, I’ve had enough with Google Site­Search… I’ve switched this site’s search func­tion­al­i­ty over to Yahoo! Site Search.

I tried, I tried, I failed, so I switched.

Yahoo! Podcasts

Look what showed up today, Yahoo! Pod­casts.

A cou­ple of things impress me here: first, sub­scrip­tions work in iTunes, which would oth­er­wise be a deal break­er for me. I only have room in my life for one media play­er.

Sec­ond, it’s so much eas­i­er to search for and link to pod­casts, as com­pared with the iTunes direc­to­ry. They’ve even imple­ment­ed a Flickr-like tag­ging sys­tem, with weight­ed lists.

Tom Coates has a good run­down.

Macyme & Jeremy’s Wedding

almostWe were back in Buf­fa­lo a cou­ple of week­ends ago, for the wed­ding of Macyme and Jere­my – Flickr gallery.

We had a love­ly time, and I was glad to have so many old friends togeth­er at once.

But, poor lit­tle Maid of Hon­or Pres­ley got sick after giv­ing her toast at the recep­tion. We all thought she was just choked up and emo­tion­al, but it turns out that she was hold­ing back “chunks”.

Any­way, con­grats, guys!

The Poisoning of BitTorrent

O’Reilly Radar is report­ing that HBO is “poi­son­ing” Bit­Tor­rent down­loads of their hour-long dra­ma Rome:

HBO is now obstruct­ing the down­loads offered by oth­er peo­ple. Bit­Tor­rent down­loads are peer-to-peer, but the peers are intro­duced to each oth­er by a track­er (“you’re look­ing for Rome Sea­son 1 Episode 2, talk to 127.0.0.1”). HBO runs peers that tell the track­er they have all the chunks of the show, but then send garbage data when a down­loader requests a chunk. The down­load­ing client can detect that it’s garbage and will try anoth­er peer for the chunk, but the end result is that it takes much much longer to down­load shows.

I would care more if I didn’t have TiVo.