Whenever MacWorld rolls around, I find myself giddy with excitement as Steve Jobs takes the stage and proceeds to blow everybody away with the new stuff Apple's got going on. I then find myself filled with pity... pity... for anybody stuck with a crappy Windows PC. This time was no different. One of the major highlights was a nifty re-working of Apple's Soundtrack app into a cooler (and much more accessible) tool called Garage Band. To demo the product, Steve trotted out John Mayer to perform live over a composition he had constructed with sampled loops included with the program...
Then here comes a video with Sheryl Crow saying how Garage Band will help her be more creative in her song-writing because she can conjure up a temporary back-up band to play with as she works. Can't get a much better endorsement than that! Even better is the fact that this cool new tool is bundled together with the rest of Apple's jaw-dropping iApps for just $49. FORTY-NINE DOLLARS!
Macs kick ass.
First of all, thanks to everyone who sent such wonderful ego-stroking e-mails assuring me that I am cute, sexy, adorable, hot, lovable, and generally not so bad to look at (well, I really could have done without such assurances from you Roger, but thanks just the same). I had to re-read my post from a few days ago to make sure that I wasn't threatening to kill myself or something, because the response was unexpected.
Anyway, some had asked how I got pictures from my web cam in the first place, and so I should explain that the images I had up were cropped from the original window snapshot which looks like this:
A friend gave me an AppleScript that allows me to use an app called Snapz Pro to save out a series of snapshots from Apple's iChat A/V using an iSight camera on my Mac. Snapz Pro is a really amazing program, because it has many powerful features and can be AppleScripted to do just about anything. The resulting snapshots can then be saved to a folder with an AppleScript Action attached for automated processing/cropping/color correction/whatever. Some people are having snapshots automatically uploaded to the web at regular intervals, others use it to monitor their homes when they are away. Just a testament to the astounding things you can do with a Mac and very little effort.
Hmmm... before anyone asks, that slash on my cheek is from an accident that occurred on New Years Eve involving alcohol and an Uno Attack game. Fair warning: having a game machine fling cards at you when your reflexes are diminished is just asking for trouble.
Meagan got excited by me using her scripts and ideas to take photographs with my web cam, and forwarded an interesting script that photographs you at regular intervals while you work. From her notes:
... I always take a quick look through the thumbnails and pull the shots with my eyes closed or I'm doing something embarrassing.
Uhhh... problem is that I am really tired, so I have my eyes closed or am doing something embarrassing in almost every shot (or they are blurry because of movement). Oh well. I never realized that I moved around so much while staring at a computer screen for hours-on-end each day.
Nothing is more amusing than when Microsoft cries "foul play" and starts whining about "freedom of choice" for computer users. It happens every single time that a company offers them any competition and, as Microsoft's monopoly grows bigger and stronger every day, gets funnier every time. Microsoft was hilarious when it did this as Apple's QuickTime started being adopted as a "standard" by industry groups like 3GPP. And it's downright hysterical that Microsoft is whining yet again now that HP has decided to bypass their crappy Windows Media Player in favor of Apple's iTunes and iPod. The guys over at As the Apple Turns sum it up perfectly:
Check it out, this was the best a company spokesperson could muster to undercut the announcement: "Windows is all about choice... we believe you should have the same choice when it comes to music services." Translation: "Use any service you want as long as it sells Windows Media, buy any player out there as long as it plays Windows Media — but for heaven's sake, don't buy one of those wretched iPod thingies or we'll be completely boned with our whole plan to monopolize digital media commerce and then we might actually have to start innovating for our paychecks for a change."
So now HP has signed an agreement with Apple to create their own version of the iPod and to bundle iTunes on every PC they make. They wanted the best for their customers, saw that it was a non-Microsoft solution, and made the choice to go with Apple. But here's the interesting part... since HP computers run Windows, the Windows Media Player is included as well... so HP customers have the ULTIMATE in choice. They can go with iTunes/QuickTime or they can pick Windows Media. If Microsoft was truly about choice, they would encourage ALL Windows PC manufacturers to do the same.
Microsoft will undoubtedly clarify their statement and say that iPod/iTunes allows you to shop for music ONLY at Apple's music store, whereas Windows Media solutions allow you to shop at a number of different vendors, which is fine. But shouldn't that choice be left up to the consumer?
Just when I think that I have finally reached a point where I can safely ignore cnet, whose take on "journalism" isn't fit to wipe my ass, they sink to even newer lows of being Microsoft-stroking, Apple-bashing morons. True, they've been against all things Macintosh from the very beginning, but now they are to the point where their constant attacks aren't just sniping at Apple with editorial ramblings and blowing actual problems out of proportion, oh no... now they are actually inventing bad news.
Lately, Apple has been promoting the use of their PowerMac G5 by Virginia Tech to create the word's third-fastest super computer. With off-the shelf Apple G5 computers, InfiniBand network cards, a lot of cable, and open-source software, Dr. Varadarajan and his team did the unthinkable: created a world-class supercomputer for a rock-bottom price of 5.2 million dollars... magnitudes less than solutions costing hundreds of millions with far less power.
But then along comes cnet to yet again do their best to smear Apple with shit. In an article charmingly called "A grain of salt with your Apple," they have decided to "warn" businesses that Apple's price tag is not accurate, and that using Macs involves all kinds of hidden costs. Naturally, nobody signed their name to the article... which is typical cnet bullshit... and none of the "facts" they trot out are verified, but who cares about that? Let's take a look, shall we:
The $5.2 million doesn't include hundreds of volunteer hours work. That's because volunteers are not paid you stupid jackass! The implication is that a business would have to pay for their Macs to be set-up, adding additional cost... which is true... but if you bought Dell or Sun computers, they somehow magically unpack themselves from their boxes, install their own network cards, and hop on the shelf and plug themselves in? Bitch, please. Even if you had to pay a team for 500 man hours at $20 an hour (unpacking a computer from a box @ $20 an hour is great work if you can get it), that adds just $10,000 to the bottom line. Whoopee. Even if you spent $100,000, that's a pimple on the ass of a $5.2 million project.
Virginia Tech had plenty of graduate students on hand to figure out how to best set-up the network and translate software to the Mac platform. Yes, but what you forgot to mention was that the software they used is open source you moronic prick. It was free for the translating! It's not as if they purchased 5 million dollars worth of software and then had to re-work it to the Mac... oh no, thanks to MacOS X's Unix architecture, Dr. Varadarajan tweaked existing open source code and compiled it to run on the Mac. While I am sure he probably had some help, the entire project was completed in less than 3 months, so even if you decided not to use the freely available technologies waiting and available for the Mac (like Apple's own X-Grid), how bad could it be? Again, the implication here is that this stuff adds millions of dollars in hidden costs which is far from the truth.
Since apple only has one computer in the top 500, it's just an experiment, and businesses should pay experts to design their clusters and not rely on Macs. Well somebody had to be first you condescending turd. Let me get this straight: Just because the solution is from Apple, it doesn't matter that it was far, far, far cheaper and exceeded every expectation... it still sucks because nobody else is using it? If that moronic logic was applied to all new technology that was released, we'd still be banging rocks together to make fire. What a complete dumbass! What excuse will cnet come up with when Apple has 20 computers in the top 500 and the software has been perfected, optimized, and is free for the download?
What's so stupid here is that people continue to rely on cnet for "news." They are clearly biased and inaccurate... how could you possibly trust anything that they say? Hell, their editorials aren't even signed! For all we know, this new bash against Apple was written by the president of Intel. The facts speak for themselves: you can buy a supercomputer cluster from Apple that is world-class in terms of speed, University-tested in terms of reliability, and much less expensive than anything else out there. Who are you going to trust... Virginia Tech who actually built the damn thing, or cnet who probably doesn't even know what a super computer is.
Computers started out as a fascinating hobby for me and nothing more. My first PC was an Atari 800 that featured a whopping 48K of memory, a real keyboard, and pretty slick graphics (for the time) with a max res of 320 x 192. My parents bought it for me in 1980 along with a 5-1/4-inch disk drive for around $1200. I pretty much stuck with Atari for the next several years, graduating to an Atari 800XL (1982) and an Atari 1040ST (in 1986).
My loyalty to Atari ended in 1992 when I purchased a new scanner for my 1040ST which came with a free copy of Adobe Photoshop. The program didn't work on the Atari, only on a Mac, so I went out and bought a Macintosh Performa 600CD so I could use it.
Since that time, I have been a die-hard Mac user and have never looked back. I've upgraded a number of times over the years, including a Power Macintosh 8100, a PowerBook 2400, the PowerMac G3, an iBook G3... and finally landing with a Titanium PowerBook G4 1Ghz and the amazing G4 Cube (which is showing it's age, but is so damn cool that I cannot bring myself to part with it... it is undeniably the most beautiful computer yet made).
So Happy 20th Birthday to the Apple Macintosh, which revolutionized computers in 1984 and is still revolutionizing the computer world in 2004. I am profoundly grateful to have been using a Mac all these years (as opposed to the heinous Windows alternative) and look forward to my next 20 years as a Mac user.
The successor to the blogging software I use, Kung-Log, has finally been release from beta and is now called ecto. This is essential software for anybody running a Mac with OS X and keeping a blog. Thanks Adriaan!
So I'm working away when I get an e-mail from a friend who reminded me of something that made me feel like listening to music by the Pet Shop Boys (no, I don't know why). I own a lot of their stuff, but have some gaping holes in my collection that need filling, so it's off to the iTunes Music Store I go. My first purchase is their album Release, which I never got around to buying (despite having guitar work by Johhny Marr!). So far so good. But then I decide to pick up the Further Listening... albums which feature remixes and additional material to some of their most popular works...
... and oh crap, we've entered the dreaded PARTIAL ALBUM ZONE.
What the f#@%??
It seems that more and more often when I want to pick up something from iTMS, I can only get parts of it. This is utter crap! I can only guess that some of the songs on these albums are covers of other people's songs or written by somebody who won't hand over the rights to sell the song online. Whatever. I guess I will buy what I can and then try borrow the albums from friends so that I can steal the rest. Do I feel bad about having to steal music? Not in the least. Not even the tiniest bit. Because, obviously, I would gladly purchase the songs online if I were able to. I am not going to purchase half the stuff online, then pay for that exact same material again (assuming I somehow manage to find the CDs available for purchase in the first place, since some of them are out of print).
Yes, I sympathize with artists who are getting a raw deal because music companies are taking most of the profits of online sales. But you sleep in the bed you make, and I'm not going to cry over a contract that somebody else was foolish enough to sign. Musicians need to wake up, drop f#@%king recording companies altogether, take control of their own music, sell their own product directly using iTMS and other online/CD distribution methods, and then keep all the profits for their labors (which they deserve). So what if their sales drop, they would probably make more money in the long run because nobody would be taking the majority of the profits they would be earning. It's only a matter of time before our antiquated recording industry dies off, and if it means I'll be able to purchase entire albums online, I won't be sorry when they are gone.
So today I am thirty-eight years old. Wheeee. Probably more interesting than my birthday today are the others who share it with me... famous magician Harry Houdini, really cool designer William Morris, actor Steve McQueen, entertainer Fatty Arbuckle, Whale Rider girl Keisha Castle-Hughes, bizarro lawyer/talk-show host/shoe salesman Star Jones, Vice President and official dancing monkey-boy for Microsoft Steve Ballmer, and comedian Louie Anderson.
Most important of all birthdays is MacOS X, which turns three years old today. If it weren't for the Mac, I'd be forced to use the virus-ridden, bug-filled, security-challenged crap-fest known as Microsoft Windows and for that I am eternally grateful.
Anyway, thanks to everybody who was kind enough to send me birthday greetings today (some of which were certainly more uhhhh... "unique" than others). Here's hoping I live to see thirty-nine.
UPDATE: Apparently there is an even more famous birthday today than myself, Star Jones, and MacOS X... Ore-Ida Tater Tots turn fifty years old today! How cool is that?
Apple has spent loads of money making sure that L.A. is saturated with advertising for their amazing iPod music player. Everywhere you look, you see posters, billboards, bus stop signage... just about everything you could think of. Then I am driving down Santa Monica Boulevard and happen across the biggest advertisement I've ever seen. Forget about how much this thing cost to print... how much did Apple have to pay these people to cover their entire building?!?
Now that's impressive.
I am not a big video game fan... I never really have been because I just don't have the time to play them. But every once in a while I see a game that I want quite badly to play. For almost a year now, that game has been Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Problem is, in order to play it you have to either own a Windows PC or an XboX... both of which are spawns of the great Microsoft Evil Empire. Sure a Macintosh version has been promised for a while now, but it's going to cost $60 and who knows when it's going to be released or if it will even be any good.
So a quandary develops. I would sooner gouge out my liver with a rusty spoon before I ever purchase a Windows PC, so I guess the XboX would be the lesser of two evils.
But it's still Microsoft, a company which I loathe supporting... even with the $115 it costs to get an XboX (which is less than the cost of buying a copy of Windows isn't it?).
Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that I want to run around with a light saber like Samuel L. Jackson and take care of a little business...
Or hang out with Wookies...
Or open up a can of Jedi whoop-ass...
I mean, come on!! How sweet is that?!? This game looks better than the moronic movies George Lucas has been crapping out lately. And, unlike watching the films, if I run across Jar Jar Binks I can whip out my light saber and go all Darth Vader on his lame ass.
Arrrgh! I'm probably going to end up buying an XboX now that the price has dropped so low. How will I ever be able to live with myself?
Windows users are forever asking me why it is that I am such a Macintosh fanatic. The answer is: "because Apple makes it so easy to love everything they do." Of course, a lot of the cool stuff that Apple has been doing lately has directly benefitted Windows sufferers, so I guess even non-Mac users are loving Apple now-a-days. A perfect example is their new "Airport Express" wireless device that was just released today...
This is phenomenal. I have been dreaming of something just like ever since Apple ignited the wireless revolution (well ahead of Windows machines, which are only just now getting standard wireless connectivity with that Centrino crap), and now Apple delivers.
Whenever I travel, I try to find hotels that have wireless... but, more often than not, they don't. Now it doesn't matter. I take an Airport Express with me, plug the hotel's ethernet cable into it, and I've got wireless. When I work at a studio that doesn't have wireless, I can have it there too. Going to a meeting room where they don't have wireless, doesn't matter... I'll just bring it with me. This is amazingly cool. No more stringing ethernet cables everywhere just so I can access the internet when I'm away from the office or my apartment.
And, even though I would have been thrilled to have the wireless stuff all by itself at an amazing $129, Apple didn't stop there (they never do). They also included a USB port and an audio port. Now I can stream my entire iTunes library to my stereo and give any USB printer a wireless connection... instantly... whenever I need it.
I'll take two please.
Why am I a Macintosh fanatic? The better question is "why isn't everybody?" That way you don't have to wait a year or two for Microsoft to "create" an inferior copy... you can have the superior original now (well, in mid-July actually). Of course, the unit is said to be "Windows compatible," so I suppose if you are intent on using a crappy OS and still want to have Airport Express, you still can (if you can keep Windows from getting a virus or from crashing long enough to do anything with it in the first place).
Oh look... just one day without candy and ice cream and I'm already a whiny little bitch! Go me.
If there was a single redeeming quality to Microsoft, it was that they manage to churn out some pretty good Macintosh software. Yes, they've had some problems along the way (MS Word for Mac version 6 was one of the single worst software applications ever) but, for the most part, MS Office for the Macintosh was always a step above anything that came out for Windows. Sure MS Office apps are bloated with unneeded features that slow down the programs on older machines, but I look on the bright side that at least I don't have to use Windows in order to run them.
Microsoft recently released Office:mac 2004 which updates their excellent Office:mac X suite. Fool that I am, I assumed it would be an improvement.
I was wrong. The latest version is such a huge step backwards, that I've just uninstalled it.
I'm left wondering if anybody at Microsoft bothered to test this product before release. Furthermore, I am wondering why they bothered to release it at all (the new feature set is hardly compelling or useful). In the two days I attempted to use it, I ran into numerous problems. My favorite is the fact that the installer allows you to skip installation of "Visual Basic for Applications," yet the programs complain constantly if it's not installed... if it's required, why allow us to skip installing it? There's more, of course, but I'm trying my best to forget about Office:mac 2004. I can only hope that they work up some patches so that one day it's actually useable.
UPDATE: Okay, there is something by Microsoft that I think is really cool... their TerraServer site. It's a mapping tool that lets you zoom in on any area of the United States to a ridiculous degree. Some urban areas even zoom in color, and you can get so close that people become visible! Here's a few shots as I descend on the Seattle Center and the Space Needle...
Originally created in 1998 as a showcase for Microsoft SQL Server, TerraServer creates map views based on U.S. Geological Surveys satellite data, and is a great way to kill some time.
Every once in a while, usually after being forced to use Microsoft Windows for some reason or another, I happily return to the serenity of my Macintosh and ponder... "Does Apple ever get tired of completely ruling over Microsoft when it comes to just how cool a computer can be?"
Apparently, the answer is "no." Apple just released some information on the next version of their OS that's coming out early next year: MacOS X v10.4 Tiger...
Naturally, I want it right now.
All the features are incredible, and will make their already superior operating system even better. I am particularly looking forward to "Spotlight" (global search tool that's a little bit reminiscent of LaunchBar on steroids), iChat AV (now you can video chat with three other people at the same time!), and "Automator" (a automation tool that I've been wanting for a long time).
There is a puzzling new feature, however, called "Dashboard." It's kind of a bunch of tools that you can have pop-up anytime you want without having to open anything new or disrupt your work...
Sure it looks cool, but there's a product that already allows you to do all that and more called "Konfabulator." At first I thought that perhaps Apple had bought out the app and integrated it into the OS... but, after visiting the Konfabulator site and seeing their rather humorous response, I guess that's not it...
I love my Mac. Knowing what's coming up, I love it even more.
UPDATE: There is a really good take on the entire "Dashboard vs. Konfabulator" controversy over at Daring Fireball. It would seem that "under the hood" there is more going on than meets the eye, and I do support the idea that Desk Accessories in the original MacOS are the inspiration for both. In the end, I think there is probably room for both. I like Dashboard for tools (like calculators) which I only need from time to time... and I like Konfabulator for things I want available all the time (like weather forecasts and world clocks and such).
It seems like every other day some "industry insider" is writing some lame-ass article about how Apple should just give it up and quit making Macs. Since Apple's demise has been greatly exaggerated for years, it's been pretty easy to ignore this crap. But now you have the former design head of Apple, Don Norman, saying " Apple should quit the mainstream PC market and concentrate instead on multimedia production and entertainment."
Of course, Norman is working for Microsoft now, so when he says dumbass things like "the world wants compatibility now. It wants to communicate, and this means one brand dominating," I can't help but laugh my ass off. Can this idiot actually be this clueless? I guess when the Borg assimilated him, they did a thorough job of it!
ATTENTION DON NORMAN: YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD, SO SHUT THE f#@% UP YOU MORONIC MICROSOFT PUPPET!!
Bravado like this makes Microsoft look like frightened little pussies that have to constantly verbally attack the Mac or Linux because they don't have a superior product that can speak for itself. When are they going to realize that actions speak louder than words, and they should put up or shut up? Will the Mac always be new OS hotness while Windows will remain old and busted... doomed to forever trying to catch up? Go ahead and prove me wrong, but talk like this just makes me even more confident that "Longhorn" is going to be yet another inferior Mac clone. Well no thanks, I'll stick with the superior original.
Gee I love it when arrogant Microsoft idiots like Don Norman presume to speak for the world. It just makes them look all the more laughable and irrelevant to where the world is actually heading (not to mention giving me something to rant about here in my blog).
iMac: Apple announced their new G5 iMac at the AppleExpo Paris today. It's pretty sweet, though I wish that the bus was faster and it came with more than 256MB of memory. As always when Apple has something new, I want one even though I don't need one. My G4 Cube I use at home is still the most beautiful computer ever made, even though I admit the idea of an elegant, all-in-one computer that's only 2-inches thick (along with that speedy G5 processor) is tempting. Oh well, I think I'll keep saving my pennies for a G5 PowerBook when they (hopefully) debut next year.
Skype: Also announced at MacExpo Paris is that a beta of Skype has just been released for MacOS X. In case you've been living in a box for the past year or so, this program allows you to make free phone calls over the Internet to any other Skype user, and even allows you to call any phone in 22 countries at just 2¢ a minute. I have at least a dozen friends around the world that keep after me to "just buy a cheap Windows PC so we can Skype" (as if!) and it's a bit of a relief to know I won't have to worry about that anymore. UPDATE: Skype ain't no Apple iChat A/V... but the quality is very good, and seems to work great so far.
News: A note to the New York Times and any other news service which requires registration to view your crap: Unless you have photos of a UFOs invading the earth or Elizabeth Hurley naked, I'm not going to bother. When are you people going to get a clue?
Sharona: A television show I really like is Monk on USA Network. It's a series about an obsessive-compulsive detective (played by the always excellent Tony Shaloub) who solves crimes from a rather unique perspective. The problem is that sometimes the show goes too far, and the obsessive-compulsive bit gets annoying. The only thing that saves Monk at those moments is his nurse/assistant Sharona (played by Bitty Schram). But now Bitty is leaving the show. Something tells me Monk has just jumped the shark.
Rock: Finally got around to watching the Never Scared HBO Special from Chris Rock (from his Black Ambition tour). It never ceases to amaze me what that guy can get away with on stage. He truly is fearless, which makes him that much more of a genius in his work. Some of his observations are so brilliant that I wish he would film a G-rated version of the show so that more people could hear what he has to say. Sure such a show would be only 10 minutes long once the R-rated material was cut, but it would be a very important 10 minutes to watch.
Turns out I had a bit of extra time this morning before catching the airport shuttle, so my friend decided to brave the rain and take me to Bongeunsa, which is a Buddhist temple in the city. Sadly, most of the temple was destroyed during the Korean War (along with many other ancient structures and historic places) but it managed to survive, and is still being restored and expanded to this day. A courtyard featuring a giant stone Buddha is set away from the main temple and is surrounded by trees. This is kind of cool, because Buddha appears to be floating out of a small forest as you make your way there. As with most all statues of the Enlightened One, I am always moved by the look of calm and peacefulness depicted on his face (even with the rain pouring down around him!)...
Across the street from Bongeunsa is the Coex Mall complex, which has an "Apple Experience Center" in the middle...
Everything about the place (both inside and out) looks exactly like an official Apple Store, so I can only guess that it is sponsored by Apple in some part. Seems kind of silly that they don't just call it "The Apple Store" since that's obviously what it is. Sadly, they did not have a new model iMac to look at, nor the new aluminum wide-screen display (which was funny, because they had a poster advertising it hanging in the window).
This morning I went to burn a CD of the work I completed last night only to find that I didn't have enough disk space. Since I had just flushed all of my completed projects before my trip to Korea, I couldn't figure it out. What could be taking up all that space? Ultimately, I found out it was a couple of episodes of Cupid (the best television show ever made) which I had digitized for the trip (when are they going to release this show on DVD?).
Anyway, it wasn't the missing hard disk space that turned out to be the biggest surprise... along the way I discovered several musical scores I had written in Garage Band quite a long time ago. For anybody not familiar with this miraculous program by Apple, it's part of their $49 "iLife Suite" which allows you to create amazing music with absolutely no musical talent. Just use the music loops provided, arrange them as you wish, edit and adjust volumes, then mix and enjoy listening to the results. If you actually have musical talent, you can compose music with guitars, keyboards, drums, or any other MIDI compliant instrument. It's all very, very cool.
In fact, I suggest going to your local Apple Store right now and asking for a Garage Band demo. Just play around with it for a few minutes and don't be surprised if you end up buying a new Macintosh (if you don't already have one) just to be able to goof around with this one program.
But I digress.
As I listened to the tracks I created... everything from synth-pop tunes to beautiful mandolin-infused melodies... I realized something was missing. Sure they were all terrific songs that are fun to listen to, but there's an element absent from my compositions that kept them from greatness. Something profound and haunting that was needed to elevate my works from the mundane to immortality. But what was it? After a second listen, it suddenly occurred to me:
Where's the cowbell? I NEED MORE COWBELL!
YEAH BABY! Now we are rockin' the house! Nothing like a little cowbell cranked up to 11 to make even the worst songs worth listening to. So now I am adding cowbell to all my tracks and loving it! I hope that Apple comes out with a Jam Pack extension that contains nothing but funky cowbell riffs. Because, in a world of confusion and uncertain times, a little cowbell is all we need to feel good again.
For a long time now I've wanted to convert my Hard Rock site, DaveCafe, over to a database so that it would be easier to maintain and update. I had played around with using PHP and MySQL to do this, but I'm just not talented enough to figure it out. Then it occurred to me that I might be able to use my blogging system, Movable Type, to run the site. It ended up working out amazingly well. The development curve went something like this:
10 MINUTES: Approximate time it took to figure out how to store variables in my blog by using a terrific Movable Type plugin called KeywordVariable.
20 MINUTES: Approximate time it took to convert the seven templates required for the site over to Movable Type and test all of them.
30 MINUTES: Approximate time it took to automate and convert the 100 Hard Rock Cafe reviews from an Excel spreadsheet to MT blog entries, thanks to the delicious scriptability of ecto (the blogging software I use). That's astoundingly fast... AppleScript rules!
And that was it! Thanks to Movable Type, ecto, AppleScript, and my Mac, I was able to completely create a database-driven web site in one hour with no database ability! Amazing. Simply amazing. At least it was, until the final step...
THREE HOURS AND COUNTING: Amount of time it's taking me to figure out why the pages will display perfectly in every browser I can find EXCEPT Internet Explorer in Microsoft Windows.WHAT THE f#@%?!?
Seriously. This is stupid, STUPID, STUPID!!! I just don't get it. Why doesn't Microsoft feel any obligation whatsoever to fix rendering bugs that ONLY appear in their browser? I'll tell you why... they don't give a shit. And why should they? 90% of the people on earth are using their shitty software, so web designers have no choice but to grab their ankles and waste hours and hours of time trying to make sites compatible with a bug-ridden pile of crap browser. Microsoft is law unto itself and is apparently not accountable to their customers, web standards, the US government, or anybody else.
What this boils down to is that if you are using Internet Explorer, odds are that many of the web sites you visit are not looking as they were intended to be displayed. That defeats the entire purpose of the web, and is just wrong. Not only that, but the security holes in Explorer are opening your computer up to all kinds of spyware, nasty viruses and other problems. Microsoft sucks total ass, and I can only hope that one day in the near-future people will wake up and start refusing to put up with their crap.
So do yourself (and the entire web-using universe) a favor... dump Internet Explorer if you are still using it and get a real browser. Go grab yourself a copy of Firefox right now and be amazed at how a browser is supposed to work. You might just be surprised, and web designers will thank you.
Adobe makes some of the most astoundingly useful software on the planet, but doesn't seem to listen to their customers. For nearly a decade I have begged them to allow turning off the clipboard export in Illustrator. Six versions later (and a move to MacOS X), and they still haven't done it. So if there's something in your clipboard and you shut down your computer, Illustrator will cancel the shut down. Too many times I've come into work in the morning to find my computer's power still on and sporting a dumbass dialogue box that says: "Do you want to leave the clipboard data for other applications?"
That's about the time everybody in the office has to listen to me go: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME... I DON'T EVER WANT TO EXPORT THE CLIPBOARD YOU MORONS!! DIE YOU EVIL ADOBE BASTARDS! DIE! DIIIIIIIIEEEEE!!!!
The clipboard thing is irritating, but not fatal. I live with it because Adobe Illustrator is the cat's meow when it comes to vector illustration software.
But here's something new. Every time I run their Adobe InDesign program, some of the text in several applications mysteriously turns to gibberish...
This is a big problem, and I haven't been able to fix it. I've even gone so far as to do a fresh install of MacOS X (I have to do a clean re-install on Windows machines all the time but, on a Mac, this is a truly rare event). It doesn't work. Nothing I try works, and I can't find anything on their forums or support section about it.
And here's where the rant sets in: when I call tech support, they want to charge me for the call.
Uhhh... say what? This is obviously some kind of bug in THEIR software, yet I am supposed to PAY to get help in solving it? Lovely. Given that logic, when am I going to start getting paid for using other people's toilets?
Apple! I wish I were in London right now. Not just because I love the city and have a number of friends living "over the pond," but because Europe's first Apple Store is opening up there this weekend on Regent Street (in a pretty cool location just off Oxford Circus). Sure it looks to be much like the stores in Chicago, New York, L.A., and Tokyo that I've already been to, but these "flagship" Apple Stores are all so cool that I'd like to keep up with them as they open up if I can.
Ze! It's always cool when one of my favorite sites gets a little notice, and this time it's a really good one. Ze Frank's latest triumph: "Punctuation Substitution for Passive Aggressive Communication Solutions" is making its way around the blogosphere, and is too funny. If you like it, be sure to check out all of the other crazy and cool things he's made for ZeFrank.com ("How to Dance Properly" is what he's most known for, and is still one of his best).
Berg! The site for Blade: Trinity seems to have been updated with more images and information. While I enjoyed the previous Blade films, this one has me really anxious because it has one of the funniest guys on the planet in it... RYAN RENOLDS!! First coming to prominence as "Berg" in Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place Renolds then drifted through a number of guest appearances in films (like Dick) and TV shows (like Scrubs) before hitting the big time in Van Wilder. Now he's got a primo part in the latest Blade film, and seems to have really buffed up in a bid to become an action hero...
Of course, it doesn't hurt that hottie Jessica Biel is along for the ride playing Whistler's daughter...
Porn! My workload is so overwhelming just now that I can't really take on anything more, but every once in a while an offer of work comes my way that I'm sorely tempted to take anyway. This morning I got a rather serious email wanting me to develop an e-commerce site for porn! I've accumulated a pretty diverse body of work over the years, but haven't done any work involving pornography before. Sadly, I don't have any time available before Spring of next year, so I had to decline. Such a shame, because having porn in my portfolio would certainly spice things up a bit!
Rated! Also in my email box was a request from a "concerned parent" to add ratings to my blog so that it can be properly identified as "adult content." Apparently, her 14-year-old son was searching for cartoons on the internet, stumbled across the "DaveToons" here on Blogography, saw a cartoon image of me being Janet Jackson at the SuperBowl, then became "traumatized." To this I can only reply: what the f#@%?!? I assume this is the image in question:
Well, whatever. I certainly don't want to be in the business of "traumatizing" any kids. But then I took a look at the RSACi web site to figure out exactly how I am supposed to rate my site, and am even more dumbfounded. I mean, take a look at what your options are! How am I supposed to choose?
In all honesty, I think this is pretty ridiculous, and have to wonder what the ramifications of adding a rating to your site might be. I mean, if I rate my site as "Mild expletives" and somebody comes along and decides that "crap" isn't "mild" can I be sued? Will Google refuse to index my site if I have ratings in place? Does it really matter anyway? Geez. Maybe I'll just forget about it and instead request that parents monitor their kid's activities on the internet rather than asking me to babysit for them.
I worship Steve Jobs (head of both Apple Computer and Pixar). Everything he touches turns to gold, and he has this magnetic personality when you meet him that is so powerful you have to do a heterosexuality-check once you leave his presence just to be sure you are in love with him for the right reasons. At least, guys do. Well, I do. I don't know about any other guys. Maybe it's a genetic defect in my DNA or something.
Anyway, given my love of all things Steve Jobs, it pains me to say that I totally disagree with his view that there should be no video iPod. He says something like "who would want to watch video on such a tiny screen?" to which I have to answer... "me." And probably a lot of other people too.
Sure I can watch DVDs on my PowerBook or a portable DVD player... but, by the same token, I can also listen to music on my PowerBook or a portable CD player. The thing that's so remarkable about the iPod is the stylish way that you can access digital content for music in such a compact, easy-to-manage device. Why wouldn't I want to do the same thing with video content? No need to boot up the PowerBook (especially, heaven forbid, if I am flying coach) in order to have something to watch - just turn on your Video iPod which you've synced with your TiVo, and you can take the latest round of television shows and movies with you in a convenient, pocket-PDA-sized, easy-to use player.
Ever since I started flying Alaska Airlines and renting their DigePlayer, I'm enraptured at the thought of being able to sync content with my TiVo and catch up with all the TV shows I like on the go. I think about it A LOT. On my long, long, flight home last night I thought about it while sketching on my PowerBook.
Inspired by the iPod Mini, this is what it looks like on the front, featuring a hi-res, 4-1/2 inch diagonal widescreen display (click on image to see the full-size version)...
It would flip open to display the controls if you should need to access them. Volume (and everything else) can be controlled from the click-wheel, just like an iPod, but an infinity scroll-wheel on the side allows easy volume control without having to flip open the panel. I also dropped in a small speaker for those times you might want to share the experience... it doesn't have to be anything great, just good enough to hear what's going on (click on image to see the full-size version)...
Of course, you can still play music in either of the above configurations, but a second "regular-sized" iPod display would be included, so you could turn the unit over to easily control it when listening to music without having to flip it open (click on image to see the full-size version)...
Naturally, you could store and view your photos, just like an iPod Photo, and it would also inherit the "video-out" port so you could look at your photos or watch video content on a television. Next-generation Video iPods could have "video-in" ports for recording video as well (although I still think some kind of sync feature like we have now with iTunes is a better option).
With all due respect to Mr. Jobs, I think this would be an insanely great product. I would sell my liver to buy one, and would freak with joy to be able to have an elegant Apple-designed product instead of the clunky alternative digital video players that are out there now.
Come on Steve... prove to me that my love for you is not in vain and make me a Video iPod!
Back in the days when I wasn't using one-word titles for my entries, I would have called this one "Red Wizard Shot the Food!"
I love my GameBoy Advance. Since I spend so much time traveling, it makes a great time-waster while hanging around in airports because of canceled flights, unscheduled delays, and a multitude of other unpleasantries that come with flying. The only problem is that so many of the games now-a-days are hopelessly complex. There are exceptions but, for the most part, modern video games are annoying to play because you have to read a manual 1-inch thick in order to know what's going on.
Fortunately, Nintendo has started releasing "retro-arcade" classics that are pretty much direct ports of the original NES-adapted games. Unfortunately, they are stupidly priced at $24 each (HOLY COW! THESE GAMES ARE DECADES OLD AND REQUIRED NEXT TO NO EFFORT TO RELEASE!). Even more stupid... rather than create an emulator to play a copy of a copy of the original, why not just emulate the original from the arcade? You can't get more authentic than that! I dunno... maybe when these games are in the bargain bin at $9.99 I'll consider it, but over $20? Forget it.
And now we have the new GameBoy Advance DS (dual screen) with even more complicated games and voice/touch input.
I guess I'll continue to play original arcade games on my laptop for free using MAME. This incredible software lets me play all my "old-time favorites" (albeit illegally) and leave the cluttered and complex world of "modern" videogames behind. Back then, graphics were crappy and memory expensive... so you focused on excellent and exciting game play (while the exact opposite seems to be true today).
Take Donkey Kong, for instance...
This masterpiece from 1980 (24 years ago!) consumed untold hundreds of hours of my life, and did it in an astounding 60K of memory. That's 60 kilobytes. Not megabytes... not gigabytes... that's measly kilobytes.
And then came the astounding NEXT GENERATION of arcade titles in the latter half of the 80's, giving us 10 times the memory, higher-resolution graphics, voice synthesis, and fantastic games like Gauntlet II...
In just 600K, this marvel ate away at my college years with a vengeful fury (probably because you could play with three friends all at once, rather than having to take turns). Sometimes, in the dead of night, I can still hear it speaking to me... "RED WIZARD SHOT THE FOOD!", and "BLUE VALKYRIE NEEDS FOOD BADLY!" (and, since somebody else probably just gobbled the food you needed so badly, your only option was to drop in more quarters so you could continue playing... my mind boggles at how much money these machines must have raked in with four people spending quarters continuously to keep playing).
I guess for now I'll hang on to my GameBoy Advance and hope that the classic games start being released at a classic price. Maybe I'll change my mind when the new Playstation Portable comes out, but somehow I doubt it.
One of these days I need to compile a list of my top-ten favorite arcade classics... but first I'm going to have to figure out just how high Q*Bert would be on a list like that. I totally owned that game.
This is a long, drawn-out entry which will probably not appeal to very many people (though, there are pretty pictures, so maybe that will entertain some?). In the text that follows, I feebly analyze icon images and come to the conclusion that Adobe sucks ass when it comes to crafting an icon that's worth a crap (I could say the same about their bug-ridden applications, but we'll save that for another time). I am not a computer interface expert. I am not a human useability analyst. I am not even remotely knowledgeable about how the human brain associated an image with an item. But lack of credentials has never stopped me from stating my opinion in the past, and I'm certainly not going to let it stop me now.
You've been warned. To continue reading, click on the link below...
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