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.