Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Scorched Earth: The Movie

Nope, this isn't the "big announcement" I was teasing about a few weeks ago. But it is definitely post-worthy. Andrew Kepple has created Scorched Earth: The Movie. This is a Flash movie inspired by Scorch, and it's hilarious. Good job, TmsT!

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Little Link Love for Canada (Those Arrogant Worms)

I suppose this blog has officially reached it's high watermark with the previous post. It's all downhill from here... A quick business trip to Canada this week, and lots of cool ideas written down for work, hasn't left me with a lot of energy for blogging. However, not wanting to let my blog get too stagnant, I thought I'd tip my hat to our Canadian friends, and give a little link love to the Arrogant Worms, a Canadian band who just released their 11th album, according to their website. I just picked up their Greatest Hits CD, and am enjoying it (think Weird Al, without the slick production, eh?)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Must Be Something In The Jeans

"If there could ever be such a thing as a perfect article of clothing it simply has to be a pair of perfect blue jeans." The Denim Love Affair "Three quarters of women say they love denim and that it’s a major presence in their wardrobe." Denim and Women: The Love Affair Continues "My jeans make me so happy I could cry" Jean Girl: Sonnet o' Jeans

Make Up Yer Mind Already...

Walking through the CD section at the local Target, it's not an unusual occurrence to see stickers like this: "Includes 2 Unreleased Tracks" Uh, hello? If it isn't released, what's it doing here on a released CD? Sigh. (One suggestion: "Includes 2 exclusive tracks.") Browsing through MSNBC, I came across this bizarre quote from Mario Batali: "I'm not going to tell anybody, but of course I'm worried," Batali said in an interview. Good news, Batali - I'm not going to blog this.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Return of the CAPTCHA rant

A while ago I ranted about those annoying online tests you have to take in order move around the web (type in the phrase you see). Since then, I've learned they have a name: Captcha (Thanks, Kevin!), which apparently stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart". And yes, there's a patent. Apparently I'm not alone - there's a particularly heinous example blogged by Seth Godin. How many collective hours have we humans wasted taking CAPTCHA's? (Computer Automated Process To Consume Human Awareness). Why not take scanned images, say from Project Gutenberg, and let people do the matching on that? Then at the end of it, at least we've created some value. (Insert witty comment about a million monkeys and Shakespeare - nah, too trite.) Oh yeah - that wouldn't prove to the computer that we're actually humans. It seems only wasting our time will do that.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Treating (Ex)Customers Like Crap

Here's an excerpt from an actual piece of mail I received regarding Time magazine. We had a subscription sometime last year, and decided not to renew it (personally, I prefer The Economist). It's been many months since we let the subscription go. So, we get a piece of mail labelled "FINAL NOTICE", looking like something you'd get hand delivered by a beefy Italian named Guido.
URGENT NOTICE: FOR WHICKEN Your renewal instructions are past due. Your delivery contract has been suspended until we receive your authorization to continue. Detach the Re-order form and return at once with your remittance.
Sorry, Guido, I don't want to renew ok? Please don't break my knees.

Wistful Longing

I just put another playlist up on FIQL: Wistful Longing. I tried to keep out some of the more obscure stuff so it's easier to find the tracks to recreate the list. I started this list by making a mix based on "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. The theme of wistful longing seemed to come through so well that after some fine tuning I decided to put it up for others to enjoy. It's not exactly pick me up music, though. (Well, the Shatner track is pretty funny...)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


If you have a Mac, and a music collection, you owe it to yourself to check out CoverFlow. This is a very cool app that enables you to flip through your cd collection virtually. It's a beautiful bit of eye candy. Kudo's to the author! Of course, it's album-centric, which is fine sometimes, but I think music needs to be free to be listened to in different ways.

Powered by Bleezer

Monday, February 13, 2006

Live from Bleezer

This post is coming to you from the free blog posting tool Bleezer by Larry Borsato. It's written in Java, so you can run it on Windows/Mac/Linux. We'll see how this works. One nice thing is builtiin tagging support (hopefully you'll see the links somewhere in this post - any more importantly, so will Technorati).


Powered by Bleezer

Valentine's Day Playlist

Well, sort of... I've put a new post up on FIQL, you can download it here (hopefully the script will work now). (If not, you can download it here). This playlist starts out with the usual set of love songs, but halfway through hits "It's a Thin Line Between Love and Hate". From there on, it skews to songs of disappointment and bitterness. This list was created with the assistance of waypoint mixes inside MusicMagic, which let me control the acoustic flow between different songs. Thanks to Mike at FIQL for adding XSPF support - that made uploading my playlist *way* easier!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Feed Me

Thanks to FeedBurner, this blog now has an RSS feed (over on the right hand side). Too lazy to look for it? Ok, try this. For some reason, though, IceRocket doesn't like it...

One of my pet peeve(s)

Arg!! Just look at the preceeding post, and you'll see my moment of silence is followed by the line "1 Comments" (assuming no one else chirps in between my now, and your now). C'mon guys, this isn't rocket science. English has this concept called "plurals", and it doesn't apply to the number one. Nope, never has, and never will. Even my debug statements get this right. Watch how simple it is: Code written by lazy people: printf("%d comments", numComments); Code written by people with a clue: printf("%d comment%s", numComments, numComments == 1 ? "" : "s"); Please, please, please get it right! (And don't use localization as an excuse - if you're going to the effort to localize an app, you should have taken care of this a long time ago. Yes it takes two strings instead of one. Get over it.) Okay, I'm officially too uptight. Rant over.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Moment of Silence

Starbucks is dropping Chantico, an indescribably tasty chocolate drink. Sigh.

Rejected by iTunes

Alas, I've been rejected as an iTunes affiliate. Now, I never really expected to make any money by dumping links into iTunes - I'm much more interested in how the different affiliate programs work in general. Getting an Amazon id was instantaneous - I got a key, and a note that they'd have to approve it. But I already had a key, and within a few minutes, it was a done deal. Apparently the iTunes affiliates require your site to be deemed "appropriate". This process takes about three days. Once they've rejected your site, instead of letting you know what the problem is, they dump you with a form letter. Quote:
We regret to inform you that iTunes has chosen not to accept your application for the iTunes Affiliate Program at this time. This may be because: -- The content is unrelated to iTunes -- Your site is temporarily down or under construction ¿-please make sure to apply again after 2 weeks. -- A wrong or misspelled URL given in the application. Please correct the problem and apply again. -- Your site is aesthetically unpleasing -- Your site promotes tobacco, alcoholic beverages or excessive drinking/drug use -- Your site contains extreme religious content -- Your site is international (with a majority of visitors based OUTSIDE the US. or written in a foreign language)
Tip to the iTunes guys and gals: If there are humans in the loop, give 'em a checkbox to select what the problem was. If it's automated, it should be even easier to indicate the problem. Since they're making me guess, I'll assume they're just ticked because I linked to a typo in iTunes. (Yes, it's probably more like "We spit on you and your puny blog".) Well, DRM sucks anways - wouldn't you rather get music from some place like eMusic, where you can use the music you buy however you want? For that matter, one of the things I wanted to link to was the iTunes Originals release by Barenaked Ladies. But instead of mentioning that this is my favorite iTunes Originals release so far, I'll point out that the original version of the iTunes Originals release was buggy. In fact, BNL issued an apology to people who bought it. Quote:
We have an update for you regarding the audio issues some of you experienced with the BNL iTunes Originals. iTunes have fixed the corrupt audio. Refunds will be issued to anyone who purchased a song, or the whole BNL iTunes Originals, which had this audio problem. So if you bought one song then you'll be refunded for that song. If you bought the entire BNL iTunes Originals you'll be refunded for the whole thing. We're very sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.
Yeah, so I did mention that I liked the music. It's good stuff, and I didn't have any problems with my purchase. But I purchased my copy of The Vanity Project (Steven Page's side project) from the artist website. For $10.99 I was able to download DRM-free FLAC files (meaning no lousy/lossy compression!).


I try to make sure I don't get myself locked into using one specific system. Most of the time, though, when I'm not at my desk, I much prefer to use my spiffy PowerBook (link to the newer model MacBookPro, which I don't have... yet). This computer's fast, light, and a pleasure to use. My most indispensable component on this machine is Quicksilver, a "unified, extensible interface for working with applications, contacts, music, and other data". Translation: you press a keystroke to popup the Quicksilver interface (typically Ctrl-Space nowadays), and type in a few additional keystrokes to make your computer do something. I can't standing digging through the dock, the file finder, etc, when a few keystrokes will do the job much better (for example, I just press Ctrl-Space,M,M,M to launch MusicMagic Mixer). But Quicksilver goes about a zillion steps beyond simple app launching (consider this example as just one of many). Oh yeah - it's free, and (yep) in beta. Getting attached to Quicksilver makes using my Windows box much more annoying. I've tried different solutions, like AppRocket from Candy Labs. None of them have really done the job in my book until Colibri - this is a free app which has nice performance and usability. It's really basic, but it does a good job for the tasks is does (I mostly using app launching, link launching, and google shortcuts). Last thought for this post - I've connected this blog to my Technorati account. Now I just need to figure out how to get post tagging to work. Looks like they recommend using Furl, though I've been playing with Del.icio.us in the past. Here's an explicit tag. Apparently some other blogging packages allow more direct settings of tags to blogs. That makes two reasons to look for a different blog engine so far.

Friday, February 10, 2006

It's Getting Hot in Here...

The obligatory Scorch post. Rather that stick this stuff into my profile, I'm gonna stash it here in my blog. You can find this on google if you're interested, but I'll put the links here, 'cause I'm such a nice guy. Back in my college days, I wrote a game called Scorched Earth, buying my first 15 minutes of fame. (Yeah I'm greedy, I want another 15. But 30 minutes should be enough for anyone...) It's even got a Wikipedia entry. For the most personal history, you can check out this email interview which I did with Ars Technica. And because I like to tease... with any luck, I'll be making some announcements about Scorched Earth right here in this very blog. So stay tuned - both of you.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Time Enough

Today's post is dedicated to that last great resource, time. We've all got the same amount of it, and you're tossing yours away right now reading this post. In the Attention Economy, the last great resource to grab is people's time. Note all the free apps out there which are driven by ad revenue (Google anyone?). In the attention economy you're paying for services by surrending part of your time to ads. Some sites let you "buy back" your time by paying extra fees to get rid of the ads, like two of my favorites, IGN and BoardGameGeek. I've given both of these sites money to kill the ads and "buy back" my time. I've signed up with 30 Boxes (beta, naturally) - an online shareable calendar. This is supposed to help you better coordinate your time with yourself and others. It's a pretty nifty app, but I've probably spent more time playing with it than it's saved. To punctuate my post, I've created a playlist, so I can multitask and listen to songs which somehow relate to time while writing this post. I've gone for a more modern list, starting with Time Machine by The Click Five as my seed song - the heavy lifting was done by MusicMagic Mixer, naturally. You can find the playlist on FIQL (beta, naturally). Here's a link: http://www.fiql.com/view.php?id=4064 - I wanted to include the nifty Javascript badges, but it looks like Blogger doesn't let me include scripts. Curses! (Time to look for a new blog host already?) Ok, time to take Time Out For Fun (no affiliate id, and iTunes can't even get the metadata right. Not a beta - go figure!)

Digital Photography

 I've never been very good at taking pictures (either behind the camera or in front). But I'd like to at least get my feet wet in digital photography. So, after reviewing the various options (including reading the helpful ebook Take Control of Buying a Digital Camera, no affiliate id), I picked up a Canon Powershot A610 (link over on the left, with affiliate id). It's probably got more features than I'll ever use, but it's something I can grow into if things work out. I've also got a Flickr account set up to upload photos (beta, naturally - hasn't Flickr been around long enough they can drop the beta bit?). Of course, the only photos up there right now came from an iSight camera. The distorted heads were made on a new intel iMac using the included Photobooth software.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Those stupid, annoying little online tests

I'm getting annoyed at these stupid little tests I keep having to take. You know - the ones where you have to copy text from images in order to see pages that bots aren't supposed to crawl. *Especially* when I have to fill them out more than once (is that an S or a 5? Does case matter? (generally doesn't, but my brain doesn't think that way)) Maybe I could outsource filling them out to the Mechanical Turk... (beta, naturally). What happened to the good old days, when you could just click around the web? As a for instance, check out Zillow - a cool new (beta, naturally) site which drops the privacy drawers on your home ownership. Yeah, this information's always been public, but seeing it like this seems somehow more public. Oh yeah - I connected AdSense to my blog. Partly cause I want to see what it does with my posts, and who am I to turn down free money if someone wants to send it my way?

Another new blog

Nothing interesting to say yet, I'm just setting this up.