Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2003
1. Who is your favorite celebrity? Elizabeth Hurley... I keep waiting for my obsession with her to die, but it just won't!
2. Who is your least favorite? David Caruso... I've not liked a single thing he has ever done. His current attempt at "acting" on CSI:Miami is an embarrassing imitation of the much cooler William Petersen on the real CSI show. Every time he tries to whip out one of those clever one-liners that Petersen manages so well, he ends up looking like an idiot... I suppose it was too much to expect that an "actor" of his caliber would bother to invent his own character.
3. Have you ever met or seen any celebrities in real life? I've seen my share... Daphne Zuniga, Tom Skerritt, Mariah Carey, Scott Plank, Douglas Adams, Anne Rice, William Gibson. Uh... you didn't mean famous celebrities did you?
4. Would you want to be famous? Okay! Why or why not? I'd have a better chance of meeting Elizabeth Hurley!
5. If you had to trade places with a celebrity for a day, who would you choose and why? Colin Farrell. He leads just the sort of depraved lifestyle I wish I could afford to have!
Posted on Saturday, April 19th, 2003
When Apple released Safari, the elegant interface and quick rendering speed quickly promoted it to my default web browser. And now that they've added tabbed browsing, I don't find myself missing Camino (the Netscape Navigator spin-off) so much, and internet Explorer is just a bad memory. Unfortunately, some sites have compatibility issues with non-Explorer browsers, which I find contrary to the entire concept of the World Wide Web (not to mention really, really stupid). One such site is Pyra's Blogger, which has been the technology powering my Hard Rock blog for the past two years. And so I've patiently waited for Pyra (now owned by Google) to get off their asses and allow Safari to use their service. Well, my patience has finally worn thin, and I've decided to scrap my Blogger site and start over with the highly recommended Moveable Type. Not only was it shockingly easy to set up, the wealth of features and cool options have me wondering why in the heck I was messing around with Blogger for so long! We'll see how it goes.
Posted on Saturday, April 19th, 2003
Since my blog is starting over, I thought I'd check into the latest blogging technology available for MacOS X. Much to my surprise, there's actually quite a lot to choose from at VersionTracker. But the app that really stood out was 5-star Kung-Log, which had a feature list that seemed too good to be true, and testimonials to match (apparently, people are switching to Moveable Type just to be using this app!). After playing around with it for a bit, I've discovered that, amazingly enough, it lives up to the hype. As a side-bonus, author Adriaan Tijsseling has a nifty blog at that's an interesting mix of life in Japan, MacOS X coding, and Cognitive Neural Science! In any event, Kung-Log makes blogging a breeze, so thanks Adriaan (and since this is "donationware" I'll definitely be making a contribution!).
Posted on Sunday, April 20th, 2003
When I was in a London club a while back, I heard this haunting tune called "Velvet" and was compelled to ask who was singing it. Turns out it was the Norweigian pop trio a-ha (yes, those "Take on Me" guys from the 80's pop scene). I was a bit stunned, because I had no idea that they were still around, let alone turning out new material. Apparently, they are still fairly popular throughout Europe, but have disappeared from the US because they don't have a record contract here. Anyway, I added the album Minor Earth, Major Sky to my Amazon wish list and promtly forgot about it. Fast forward a year later, and it shows up in my post box. Turns out when you create a wish list on Amazon, it's publically viewable so people can purchase stuff you want and have it sent to you as a gift (marketing geniuses, those Amazon guys!). And my friend Dave did just that... because I once created a few themes for his amazing Web Photo Album program. Turns out it's one of the best CDs I've heard in a while now, with a-ha managing to overcome their pop roots with these beautifully haunting pop ballads that you just can't get out of your head! I just ran up a $150 bill at Amazon purchasing more of their CDs, and a live performance DVD... thanks a lot Dave!
Posted on Sunday, April 20th, 2003
Okay, now that I've had a chance to mess around with the Kung-Log blogging client a bit more, I'm kind of freaking out over the nifty stuff that's built into it. One of the more intriguing features is the ability to look at what's playing on iTunes and insert it into your post with one click, just like this: To Let You Win from the album "Minor Earth Major Sky" by a-ha. And, yes, the Google search link for the artist is created automatically as well. Frighteningly good stuff! If only you could add your own HTML tags... oh crap... wait a second... yes, you can do that too (and create shortcut keys for them as well!). Sigh. I just set up hot keys for all of Meagan's little photo booth images that preceed my posts, and it took about 2 minutes. Heaven only knows what other features are hiding in here... I suppose I should read the documentation!
Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2003
The rumors have been mounting for months that Apple would be creating it's own online music service, and now it seems the day has finally arrived (as announced in an invitation sent to the press). Apple claims the news will be "music to your ears," and I remain hopeful that it's true... nobody could be happier than me if Mac users finally have a way to purchase music online. The big question on everybody's mind is "what will the selection be like?" Are we getting entire back-catalogs, or just current hits? Because I don't really care about buying current, easy-to-find music online... convenient as that may be.
No, what I want is to be able to purchase obscure music that you just can't get without purchasing pricy imports or dropping a small fortune on eBay. As a for instance: not so long ago I was wanting to purchase the long-out-of-print album "Living In The Background" by Baltimora (which most people might recognize for the "Tarzan Boy" hit from the 80's). Problem is, I couldn't find it anywhere to purchase it. I eventually bid on a copy that was being sold on eBay, but dropped out when it got to $40, which was $35 more than I wanted to pay in the first place. Frustrated that I had done everything I could resonably do to purchase a copy legally, I eventually started up LimeWire and managed to get a few of the tracks illegally. What I don't understand is why the record companies make it so damn difficult in the first place to purchase music you want!! If you have to go to eBay, neither the record company nor the artist is making money. Selling digitally is the perfect solution... resonably priced music for the masses, without the expense of having to print out-of-date CDs that aren't going to get big sales anyway.
Here's hoping that Apple gets it right.
Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2003
There's quite a lot of peer pressure to have your site be "W3C Validated." While cruising blogspace, I see the little W3C badges displayed everywhere, and the fact that my blog wasn't validated made me feel like a second-class internet citizen. I guess it's time I care. So, off I go to the W3C Validator to see how things look, and the result isn't pretty. Apparently, tags that have no closing tags have to be closed anyway (by slapping a forward slash at the end). Whatever. A few minutes later and BBEdit (my text editor of choice) has switched all of my line-breaks and image tags to the "new and improved" (and apparently "valid") versions. The next step takes a little longer... adding "ALT" statements to all of my images. The last step, however, is puzzling... I get a cool dozen errors on the same line because the W3C doesn't like the way an URL pointing to a search at VersionTracker is phrased. Sure, the W3C claims this is a limitation of the validating app, but the last thing I want is somebody to check my site and see a bunch of errors, so I delete the link. Oh well, at least people can click on my newly installed "W3C Validated" badges and see that I am a good little web conformist.
Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2003
Just found out from a Windows user that my style sheets "break" under Microsoft internet Explorer on Windows XP (and probably all the other MSWin flavors as well). Oddly enough, things work just fine when I use the Mac browsers: Opera, Safari, Chimera/Camino, Mozilla, and even MS internet Explorer Mac... so apparently this must be a Windows thing (though I haven't heard from any Linux/Unix users yet). What to do? Well, the only thing I can think of right now is to spoil my beloved table-free layout with a table across the top to hold the header graphics and have them flush out to the left and right margins. Crap. Yet another example of Microsoft making my life "better."
Posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2003
Woohoo! According to Aint It Cool News, one of my favorite TV shows, Angel, has been renewed! Not that AICN is the most reliable source, but even the hope of having Angel stay on the air after Buffy ends this season is worth celebrating.
Posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2003
If you are using a Mac running OS X (lucky bastard!) there are a few utility programs you should know about. Things so essential that they should be built into your Mac in the first place! My list begins with DragThing, an amazing utility that allows you to create tabbed docks to organize apps, URLs, and anything else you need easy access to. Next is LaunchBar which miraculously (and instantly) finds files, bookmarks, apps, e-mail addresses, whatever... as if by magic... wherever they may be hiding on your Mac. I've always loved being able to grab a snapshot of the screen with Apple-Shift-3, but Ambrosia Software's Snapz Pro X is screen capture on steroids, adding dozens of options (including movie capture!). A more recent addition to my arsenal of must-haves is Konfabulator, which allows you to run "widgets" on your desktop to do whatever you want... you really have to see it to understand it. One utility you won't be able to live without once you've experienced it is Default Folder, which eliminated the failings of save/open dialogue boxes and makes them work the way they should have all along. Other handy add-ons you'll love... X-Tunes (adds fingertip control to iTunes from any app), and iAddressX (ditto, but for your Address Book), R-Name (batch file renamer), Quick Change (file attributes editor), BookIt (browser bookmark manager), and of course NetNewswire and Kung-Log (essential blogging tools I have recommended many, many times before).
Posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2003
As mentioned in a previous post, my buddy Dave has unknowingly given me an a-ha addiction that doesn't show any signs of letting up! One of my favorite new a-ha merchandise purchases has got to be their Live at Vallhall DVD filmed in the trio's home town of Oslo, Norway. The entire concert is a treat, focusing mainly on the excellent material from their Minor Earth, Major Sky album, but the nifty bonus was the video for one of my favorite tracks, Velvet, which features the band playing the entire video DEAD! Brilliant, brilliant stuff... and just reinforces what a shame it is that the band does not have a record label in the US. If you were a fan of a-ha in the 80's (or just appreciate beautiful music), you owe it to yourself to check out their work (even if you have to buy it as a pricey import!).
Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2003
1. What was the last TV show you watched? C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation last night.
2. What was the last thing you complained about? Just five minutes ago I was bitching about having to work this weekend.
3. Who was the last person you complimented and what did you say? My friend Meagan... she had sent me a snapshot of a new piece of art she had created, so I e-mailed her back and said that it looked fantastic, which it did. (Meagan is responsible for the little pictures of me sprinkled around this web site, thanks to her home-made Photo Embarassment Booth).
4. What was the last thing you threw away? A color laser print of a design that didn't seem to want to print out quite they way it was supposed to (thank you Adobe Illustrator 10!).
5. What was the last website (besides this one) that you visited? I was reading Watch With Kristin over at E! Online in hopes that there would be info on the Buffy season finale.
Posted on Saturday, April 26th, 2003
In organizing research for my new book, I've collected hundreds of snippets of research... text, photos, web site URLs, maps, drawings, just about anything you can think of... and it's all crammed into a folder on my hard drive in a big, disorganized mess. A couple of weeks ago, I bought an organizational tool called NoteTaker 2003 and eventually side-graded to a similar, but streamlined alternative called Circus Ponies Notebook. Either program is a revolutionary way to organize your thoughts, because they automatically index every word you put in them. Just turn to the index an instantly find whatever you are looking for. Collecting data from a variety of sources is simple thanks to a "service" that will insert text into your notebook (open or closed) from within any application. Find a snippet while surfing the internet? Pop it into your notebook without leaving your web browser. Both programs have a 30 day free trial, and any Mac user who collect information will wonder how they lived without it!
Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2003
Okay then, the day Mac fanatics have been waiting for has arrived... Apple's music store has finally debuted! Is it all I had hoped for? Yes and no. I mean, I've already dropped $50 on music, so they must be doing something right!
PROS: Catalog is fairly deep and growing daily (according to Steve Jobs). Very, very easy to shop (too easy!) and beautiful to look at. Nice feature update to iTunes. ACC encoding supported on the iPod (finally!). Exclusive Apple tracks by top artists like U2, Eminem, and more. Price is fairly reasonable (99 cents per song, $9.99 per album).
CONS: Catalog limited to US releases from what I can tell... all of the domestic releases by a-ha are there, but none of their later releases are there. And there's no International section to purchase tunes from Germany, Japan, etc. Many albums are not complete, but seem to be missing tracks for some reason (Bananarama has ONE track from ONE album as the entirety of their listing??). Albums that ARE complete on the service, are not sold as complete albums (like John Mayer's Room for Squares). Several of the artists I was wanting to purchase are not there yet (Baltimora, Paul Oakenfold, and about 10 others).
Overall, a good effort on Apple's part. I enjoy the service immensely, and look forward to buying more music in the future (assuming the stuff I am looking for ever makes it to their service!). If you are a Mac user, you owe it to yourself to check this out... Windows users have to wait a while, because Apple won't release iTunes/Apple Music for those poor unfortunate souls until the end of the year.