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Blackout

I’d like to say that my recent lack of posts has been because of some crazy kind of three day blackout in my suburb… but it’d take way too much effort to fabricate the evidence for that kind of lie. I’d likely have to falsify news reports on the problem, spoil all the food in my refrigerator, stay away from electrical appliances… it’s really not worth it. The truth of the matter is that this Foundation Day weekend has stirred up a proverbial shitstorm of activity in the hizzouse.

Dave, our brand new roommate, moved in with his massive collection of crap on Saturday, Sunday morning was spent bathtub shopping (motives to be revealed later), and today we painted said tub with speed stripes. Despite this apparent influx of fun, the nights have been a little disappointing: a so–so Friday night at Club Red Sea, a losing trip to the Casino on Saturday, and a drunken, debaucherous afternoon down at the Cottesloe Hotel just yesterday. Wait, that last one was OK as I recall. Never mind.


All fall down

The interview with Brian Countryman, Internet Explorer’s Program Manager, spells death to web standards; there is no way around that fact. “IE6 SP1 is the final standalone installation” of Internet Explorer for Windows. That’s it kids, pick up your shit and go home; there will be no significant advancement in the world of web design and development for another ten years. “But Chris,” I hear you say, “when Longhorn is released, there’ll be a shiny new version of Internet Explorer for all of us to marvel; Microsoft has stated it’s future commitment to web standards, too. We can all smile again.”

Doubt it.

Longhorn is currently slated for 2005, that’s Microsoftian for 2006. Given IE6’s current market share of roughly 60%, we could expect up to 85% of internet users worldwide to be using IE6 by the time Longhorn is released — and yes, Longhorn should deliver unto us the long–awaited IE7. The problem here isn’t the penetration of the browser… it’s the penetration of the OS: Windows XP has a current market share of less that 20%. If users of legacy operating systems (say… Windows 95 thru Windows XP: a solid 95% of computer owners today) can’t get to IE7, then IE7 won’t get anywhere.

Consider this: “[Longhorn] will not be compatible with your existing software, hardware or methods.” You’ll need a new computer to try their new operating system, you’ll need that new operating system to try their new browser; and considering that XP isn’t top dog with the unwashed masses (hell, they don’t even need a new computer to run XP) I don’t see Longhorn being adopted at any staggering rates either. Look at Mac OS X — less than 25% of their existing customer base has upgraded from OS 9 because they’re likely to require a hardware upgrade to do so. If there’s no perceived need to upgrade (apart from keeping up with the latest and greatest, which is default behavior for us dorks), Joe User won’t fork out the dough.

Rolling all of those considerations into one neat package: Joe User can’t download IE7, he just can’t. He probably won’t be buying a new computer until the old one breaks, so he won’t be using Longhorn any time soon either. The end result? IE7 won’t be a dominant browser until some time next decade. Until then, IE6 will continue to gain ground and will be the new “standard” in web development. Hey, if your design doesn’t work in IE6 (shitty as it is) then your design doesn’t work… period. Throw in the neat–o deal that AOL has recently struck with Microsoft (the “screw Netscape, we’ll be your bitch if you treat us nice” deal) and you have some serious stagnation in the browser market. Don’t kid yourselves, folks; just because great browsers exist doesn’t mean the masses will use them. Internet Explorer comes bundled, starts instantly, runs smoothly, and is already a de–facto standard of modern web design. Things can only go down from here.


Ripple Cut Fries: Boo

Apart from the (somewhat obvious) fact that I’ve been sampling Ripple Cut Fries (not to be confused with Crinkle Cut) and find them unimpressive, I’ve also begun a period of working–a–lot. My department manager at work has gone on holidays, meaning the rest of us shift up a notch in the command chain; Garth is interim manager and I’m interim Garth — whatever his official title is — so excuse the radio silence.


It’s certainly big

If I told you I had a big week, you probably wouldn’t be all that interested to hear my lame excuses for not posting. You’d likely yawn and fan yourself lightly. Let me break it down into small, easily digestible chunks for you… ungrateful asshole.


Old Man Winter

Any time during the summer months you could’ve heard me begging, pleading for winter’s break — since most of those summer days we spent boiling, in my underwear, fan at my back, peeling my sweaty arm from the “beech foil” laminate of my desk as my roommates and I played hour upon hour of Warcraft 3. Autumn came and was relished; there are no months I love more dearly than those that fall in the “mild” seasons. Autumn is great, I adore Spring (also quite possibly because my birthday falls in Spring) and, well, that’s really all the seasons there are to cover.

Winter is here, and now I’m wishing for Summer. I should really be wishing for Spring followed by an early Autumn, but that probably wouldn’t be practical from a tourism perspective. My clothes are wet; and I guess that’s the reason I started this entry in the first place. Washing is, for me, a tedious exercise and is one that I only bother with once my underwear supplies have run drastically low. In Winter this strategy just doesn’t work; in Winter, the clothes stay wet for days on end, leaving me little to wear but the shameful remnants of my wardrobe normally reserved for camping trips.

Then again, today is haircut day; so I guess I have something to look forward to.


Forgetfool

Having only done it once, I forgot about my monthly commitment to bringing you the more interesting search queries from my server logs. Unfortunately for those of you that crave entertainment or perhaps the absurd, it’s been a slow month — I haven’t been getting any queries for “i want to watch a live sex movie now without paying a single penny or writing an application” like I did last time. Maybe that’s for the best.


Speed Download 2

YazSoft today announced Speed Download 2… a total reworking of their original Speed Download download manager. It’s sporting a redesigned interface (ditching the very–OS9 look of the SD1.x releases) and a host of improvements under the hood. As usual though, I have a few gripes. Also as usual, they are purely aesthetic and have little impact on the quality of the application — I’ve always liked Speed Download, I like Speed Download 2, and I know I’ll be upgrading pronto. Bitchiness just seems to be my default setting today.

  1. The new logo isn’t as balanced as the old one, and looks a little odd on my dock (nice to start off my list of complaints with something as trivial as that, right?)
  2. The dock badging (why am I so caught up over badging these days?) is, strangely, in the bottom–right–hand corner of the icon. Once again, my experience with badging is limited to Apple Mail, Proteus, and NetNewsWire… but I thought top–right was the accepted standard.
  3. Why, oh why, oh why must the ‘Close Window’ behavior be so strange? Generally when I hit the close button, I expect to be able to re–open the window by clicking the dock icon. Try it in iTunes, Mail, Proteus, NetNewsWire, anything really… it seems pretty standard. Clicking the dock icon in Speed Download 2 (and in the original Speed Download) does nothing at all… you have to hit Command–1 or go to Window > Toggle Queue Window. It’s bizarre.
  4. What in the hell does the Floater do? Let me rephrase that, since I do in fact know what it does: What practical use does the Floater have? Wouldn’t a better implementation of its basic functionality would be to allow you to drag–n–drop downloads to the dock icon? Yes, that’ll do.
  5. Why is the application actually named Speed Download 2? If version numbers were part of the standard nomenclature for Mac OS X applications, I’d die of… uh… disappointment.

Loopholes are a guy’s best friend

When I signed up for this full–time gig at work I was made to sign an ‘interim contract’, a little piece of paper that officially recognizes that my usual roster will be changing drastically for the two weeks noted… and those two weeks only. This neatly sidesteps their usual method of roster–changing which, in these circumstances, could drastically backfire should I refuse to switch back after this two–week stint is over.

My manager, wonderful as she is, filled out my interim contract at a higher rate of pay than I am normally given. Hell, she basically filled it out at casual rates. I was a little surprised and a little excited, but who looks a gift horse in the mouth anyways? I signed on the dotted line without question. Now, just a week later, my paycheck comes in $100 lighter than expected. I scratch my head for a moment and think “didn’t that contract say I’d get $530? Why in the hell am I getting $430?” (don’t laugh, shitty work pays shitty wages) and then it clicks: a contract is a contract… legally binding.

I shall be having words with the cash–office ladies some time tomorrow, and look forward to that extra $100 padding my next paycheck. Hey, a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks, and I don’t plan to take any moral high ground against a bastard corporation like Woolworths Limited. I might even splash out on something… like a reduced credit card debt! Hooray!


Shizzopping

You’d be surprised how much shopping can be fit into a one–hour lunch break (dinner break) at 7PM on a Thursday night. It helps if your meal can be carried with you, say… a jaffle pie for instance, but it’s not necessary by any means. Today was the day I finally broke the barrier on my credit debt; it took a whole lot longer than anticipated due to laziness, a lack of goals, and a bunch of bills, but I feel it’s time to buy myself a little something to show me how much I mean to me.

First stop: Telstra Shop. I’ve been considering the purchase of a digital camera for some time now, largely due to the fact that iPhoto is a wholly–neglected application on my computer and that I never take photos because I can never be bothered having them developed. One thing that Scotty has shown me is just how incredibly valuable a digital still camera can be, and I seek to fill that still–photo void in my life.

Rather than acting like any rational, normal adult and shopping around for cameras I decided to check out the camera attachments available for my phone first; an accessory for an accessory. Mike got the attachment free with his T300, and it takes a reasonable photo (at 0.3 megapixels; but hell, all my photos are likely bound for the web anyways), but it turns out my T68i has a lower screen resolution than the T300 and has inferior imaging software. Fantastic. The long and short of it: any photos taken with my phone will likely suck ass, and possibly have a maximum resolution of 0.15 megapixels. Hooray for cameraphones. The price tag for this camera attachment? $299.

Second stop: Kodak. After that disappointment, I went to see what was on offer in the realm of normal digital cameras. As it turns out, $299 will get me a 2.0 megapixel Kodak. Then again; it’s a large, ungainly camera that wouldn’t fit in the pocket of even my baggiest of pants. Being utterly disappointed overall, I decide to leave cameras for another day and possibly sell my SLR before looking into digital again.

Third stop: Dymocks. Being on track to start a Computer Science degree next year, I’m interested in teaching myself a few basics of C; mostly so I can (finally) get started on teaching myself a little Objective–C, but also because it’s nice to be head of the class. As it would turn out, none of my local book stores carry books on C. Damnit. C++? Sure. C#? Definitely. I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year.

Fourth stop: Big W. Dragging my feet, I wandered the mall looking for somewhere that might sell something I might be interested in. Karrinyup is, by and large, a fashion mall. It’s 90% fashion stores, 3% food court, and 7% ‘other’; which means 99% of my shopping must be done in 7% of the stores. That’s not a ratio I’d wish upon anybody. Big W falls into the category of ‘other, and had the collected Chronicles of Narnia on sale. It had Lucky Bamboo too… but I didn’t think today was much of a day for Lucky Bamboo.

I ended up buying a tube of cookie dough, which I guess is all the reward I need.


What in the hell?

I was just reading the post titled ebenezer that I linked in my last entry. What the fuck was I thinking when I wrote that? 1¢ per milliliter? That would make a liter of Coke “good value” for $10. I guess it applies in some places… and others not.


Convergence

I’ve been thinking seriously about buying a digital camera. Yes, seriously. Some time this week I’ll try to flog my SLR (plus lenses, plus bag) off at the local Cash Converters to raise a little cash. It struck me, sitting there perusing the Harvey Norman catalogue, that even though I plan to buy a small camera my pocket space will be severely compromised.

Wallet and keys in the left pocket, mobile phone in the right — that’s been my default pant configuration for almost six years now. The phone got smaller and the keys got bigger, but the setup remained the same. Not carrying a bag very often, I suppose the camera will have to find a home in one of my pockets; something I’m finding a little bewildering. As has already been explored, buying the camera attachment for my phone is a useless endeavor; so I have no other option but to buy a real camera.

It got me thinking — what happens when the day arrives that I buy an iPod? (iPod purchase slated for 2007: the year I presume to have paid off my G5 PowerBook, slated for purchase in 2005) Unless Apple moves into the mobile phone market (it has been rumored, after all) and converges a phone, camera and hard–disk music player into the one device (goddamnit, that would be cool as hell) then my pockets will be looking mighty full. I long for the day that device arrives, but for now I guess I have to be content with what is available to me.


In–triguing

As if running some kind of race to annoy me, Fiona bought a digital camera today. Bitch. I’m not sure if she’s set it up for her computer yet, given that she isn’t a ‘computer person’, but I’ll no doubt be called over to sort it out for her… and I expect a few comments along the lines of “how come it just plugged in and worked fine on your Mac?” while I’m at it. Aside from that, it’s been an amusing day. I’m officially a student–no–more™, having called Curtin to check out what the hell has happened to my withdrawal application, and that little pay–packet padding came through as expected. Nice.

While Fiona and I were sitting at Cash Converters, waiting for them to “value” my SLR camera, two plain–clothes police officers approached me and announced that they were the Police; and we had some talking to do. As it turns out, some other dude in the room had been trafficking stolen goods, committing fraud, and carrying illicit drugs on his person. I dare say seeing a bonehead thief being arrested right in front of me is the most amusing thing I’ve seen all week.

What I didn’t find amusing was Cash Converters’ valuation of my camera: $140. Five minutes later I’m standing on their sales floor looking right at an identical camera (it’s a Pentax MZ–50) that they’re selling for $580. Bastards. No doubt I shall be making a private sale of said camera; the world of digital photography will just have to wait.

For reasons still unknown, I’ll be picking olives tomorrow (note that when I make statements as to the time, like “today” and “tomorrow”, my brain hasn’t registered that it’s past midnight and “tomorrow” is now officially “today” and “today” is now “yesterday”. Just to stifle confusion) with Scotty. Meanwhile I’ve been eating a damn lot of ice–cream (long story) and drinking a lot of Cocksucking Cowboys. Don’t ask.


Yipes

For someone who thought he was scaling back on the work this week, I’ve somehow managed to find myself doing shifts Monday through Sunday (Wednesday being the notable olive–picking exception). This doesn’t bug me, since I could quite honestly do with the money (no more CentreLink means no more suckling from the government’s teat) and I’m still technically saving my ass off; so I should be grateful. What I shouldn’t be grateful for is the lack of decent soda in the house — Lemon Diet Coke tastes like a moist towelette… if you know what I mean.

I’ve really hit a wall with my digital–camera–buying plans; and it’s all because a trade–off between size and quality that I’m not ready to make. On the one had, I want a very compact camera. On the second hand, I demand a minimum resolution of 2 megapixels. On the third hand, I have a limited budget… let’s say I max out at $650. Let’s look at those first two hands in detail.

When it comes to size, a camera that I plan to carry in my pocket must (obviously) be very small. If it isn’t small enough to carry with me everywhere I go, I clearly won’t be carrying it with me everywhere I go. If I’m not carrying it with me everywhere I go, I’ll never use it. If I never use it, it’s a wasted investment… much like my other cameras. This is the rock, next comes the hard place.

Unfortunately for the many credit–card–sized cameras available, most have very limited resolutions (640 by 480, though they claim an “effective” resolution of 1.3 megapixels). Unfortunately for me, most of the higher–resolution ultra–hyper–compact cameras are well out of my price range. Picture quality is, though not paramount, of fair importance to me; it’s nice to be able to view your photos full–screen with no loss of quality, and even nicer to be able to print a decent–sized photo should the need arise. But for now, I’d best be getting my ass to work.


Back bitch

My roommate Dave fell off the back of a truck recently. That’s not to say he’s hot merchandise, but rather that he’s severely damaged. He won’t stop bitching about how much his back hurts, which is funny at first but gets tiresome quickly.


Dubya Dubya Dee See

Although I’d likely sell my Mother to actually be at the WWDC, I’m not there; I guess the part of me that can’t afford a trip to San Francisco is really holding me back, huh? No doubt I shall be watching the delayed–telecast webcast as soon as it becomes available, but for now I’m content to sit and read MacMinute’s live coverage as it ticks over with each passing minute… which is great, considering the site’s name.


Geekery

It just occurred to me that it’s two in the fucking morning here, and I’m all set to geek out ‘til light through yonder window breaks. My girlfriend has been sleeping quietly beside me for more than an hour now and all I can think about is “G5… wanna hear about the G5. Wanna download Safari 1.0… wanna hear about Panther.” There’s a level of hopelessness that I’m approaching that can’t be ignored.

In other news, if you’re wondering why I’m posting such short tidbits today it’s because I’m highly disappointed in my efforts this month; and I feel that short, pointless posts will weigh favorably for me in the great scales of webloggery.


Sign me up

Talking to Grace on Sunday (during a volleyball grand final, which is another matter altogether) brought up a few interesting topics — the construction of chocolate leaves in cake decoration, why it is that professional gymnasts are so stunted; the usual stuff — but none piqued my interest more than the news that she was recently given a free Apple iBook. Yes, free.

Grace is apparently involved in one of those lifetime experiment programs — screwed if I know what it’s called or what they do for fun — and was asked this week to wear a pedometer. Yes, a pedometer. For one week, Grace must wear a tiny machine on her belt that will count how many steps she takes. For one week, she must report her daily total into an application on the previously–mentioned iBook. What does she get in return for this week of mind–bending toil and drudgery? A god–damned computer!

The downside to this fantastic new acquisition is that those science chumps didn’t give her any access priveleges and crippled her account quite severely; I’m not exaggerating when I say that the only application she’s able to run is the one she uses to report her pedometer stats. Brilliant. I’m guessing they’re either going to give her an administrator account once this whole pedometer ordeal is over, or we’ll be doing a little target–disk–mode formatting and starting her off from scratch; which I think would be kinda fun.

Despite my obvious jealousy, it’s nice to know somebody in meatspace that uses a Mac… they’re hard to find in a city like mine. I’m guessing I should really, really look into offering myself up for scientific experimentation. If these are the kind of payouts involved, what could go wrong? After all, it’s worked so well for me in the past.


Uhhh

No offense meant to Apple, nor to designer extraordinaire Jonathan Ive, but this brushed metal bullshit has gone on for far too long. Not only must we endure the onslaught of ‘textured window’ applications on the OS (keep in mind the Finder becomes metal in Panther) but the new G5 PowerMac is a big, brushed–metal, grates–on–the–front–and–back bucket of aluminum ass.

Where the hell are our shiny plastics and curved surfaces? Where is the sex? Where is the love? Crap like this didn’t earn Ive the title of Designer of the Year, objects of beauty and art like the iMac and the iPod did. Clearly the new cooling system is worthy of praise; and an all–metal housing obviously offers advantages over polycarbonates in that respect, but “banning the beige box” doesn’t translate to “ushering in the metallic era”… to my mind.

Aside from that aesthetic complaint (why is it that 99.9% of my complaints come down to aesthetics nowadays?), Panther and the G5 look solid; features like Exposé are the reason Apple is renown for innovation. When G5 PowerBooks become a reality, count me in.


Testing… 1, 2

Something that has long been a problem with Movable Type is the “Convert Line Breaks” feature. It basically takes any text with line breaks around it (whether you’ve entered it from MT’s web panel, Kung–Log, NetNewsWire, or whatever) and wraps paragraph tags around it. This is great, since it saves you from sullying your entries with raw HTML, but it occasionally goes awry.

Here, on this very entry, I’ve enabled the “Convert Line Breaks” feature. Normally I do not. So far, so good, right? This is fairly simple text, written in a paragraph. What could go wrong?

Well, what if I wanted to throw an unordered list in… maybe to list a few of Mac OS X 10.3’s new features? Last time I checked, MT wrapped paragraph tags around the list — a big validation no–no. Of course, that was a few installations ago; so I feel it’s time to have a look–see and find out if the problem has been solved.

Update: Hallelujah


Now that I’ve embarrassed myself…

OK— Convert Line Breaks works fine, something that makes me happy. Of course, now I must search/replace the billions of paragraph tags I’ve typed since I started this weblog and change the default setting. No biggie.

Fooling around with crap like this is what makes life worthwhile… or not. Whatever floats your boat.


Purchases

For the last week or so I’ve been contemplating the multitude of options available to me on the digital camera front; size, resolution, price… it’s all a fine balancing act. Of course, overcontemplation leads to indecision, which leads to me completely snapping and making poor decisions. I bit the bullet and decided to fuck quality right off, thinking “all my photos are likely bound for the web, why do I need anything greater than 640 by 480?”

Fuji SlimShot With that in mind I waltzed down to the local Harvey Norman and bought a Fuji Slimshot; it’s incredibly small, only $130 and takes photos at 640 x 480; what could go wrong? Getting it home and out of its box revealed, well… everything. The size is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, it’s apparently the world’s thinnest camera (at 6mm) and it’s only the size of a credit card; unfortunately it has no flash, which leads to terrible picture quality in poor lighting conditions (read: indoors, or anything but a cloudless day). Also quite unfortunate is the fact that it just don’t work with OS X. No iPhoto integration, doesn’t even mount the volume when you plug it in, no drivers available. Dizzamn.

Sony CyberShot Taking it back to Harvey Norman and bitching my ass off really had little effect, but they let me return it without too many questions and trade it up… up a lot. In the end I went with the Sony CyberShot, which is fucking awesome. 2 megapixel res (1632 by 1224 pixels), it has a flash, works perfectly on my Mac, and looks cute as a button to boot. It ain’t as tiny as the SlimShot, but it fits nicely in my pocket and I haven’t stopped carrying it since I bought it. I’m considering starting a photolog… stop me while you can.


Mysteries of life

Why is it that whenever we have a rent inspection, I’m invariably vacuuming at 3AM? It’s bizarre, looking through the house when it’s all clean and shit — it’s a really nice place. Pity it can’t stay that way for more than five minutes.


Firebird redux

I’ve been glancing through some of my older posts and stumbled upon my first impressions of Mozilla Firebird. Those observations still hold true, no doubt, but the Windows version of Firebird is another matter altogether.

When it comes to Windows, Firebird is now most definitely the best browser available. It renders quickly, looks great, and has a host of features that the average Windows ‘net user only dreams of. Just today I watched my roommate battle recurring popup ads, thinking “hmm… I bet if I changed the default browser to Firebird he wouldn’t even notice.” And I think I just might. Tabbed browsing would be, for the times I’m on the PC, a lifesaver. Once you get used to tabs, right–clicking and selecting ‘Open in new window’ seems like a chore — never mind dragging your ass down to the taskbar to switch windows.

All in all, with Internet Explorer on its ass, Firebird really is the web designer’s only hope. If you have relatives you care for, or even just yourself, switch to Firebird today. Please, think of the web designers.


Really simple site summary syndication

As if the title weren’t adequate forewarning, I’ve been tweaking the RSS feed templates (and updating Movable Type to version 2.64 while I’m at it) and adding an RSS 2.0 feed to the site; complementing the existing RSS 1.0 thingamajigger.

Sooner or later someone will explain to me why it’s a good idea to have two “parallel standards” (RSS 2.0 and RSS 1.0) filling approximately the same role, based on different web technologies (XML and RDF, respectively). In the mean time it’s no skin off my nose to support them both — though I have chosen to make a rather rude change to my 1.0 feed; there are to be no more excerpted entries. All feeds now send full entries, I apologize to those of you that enjoy reading a twenty word excerpt only… but you’ll live. Fuckin‘ weirdos.


More fun than a ferret in your trousers

Happy 200th entry, humans.


Anecdotes from a life that isn’t mine

A few of my friends were riding the train from Perth to Warwick station a couple weeks ago, somewhere around 2AM on a Friday (well, a Saturday if you want to get picky about it). The usual post–party crowd were aboard, the usual drunks and toothless hippies (I was probably at work, gimme a break), and one sick–feeling passenger made it all worth repeating here. This guy (let’s call him Charlie, since only he knows who he really is), obviously having had one too many out on the town that night, sidled up to the security officers onboard and asked politely if there was anywhere he could throw up.

“Hey, umm… hnnn… is there anywhere… mhmm… anywhere I can spew on here?”

“Uh, no. Sorry mate. You’ll have to wait until we reach Warwick. We’ll be there in a couple of minutes, hold on.”

Charlie returned to his seat, breathing deeply and sweating profusely — his eyes wide with fear. Having been told he just couldn’t do it anywhere on the train, he pulled open the collar of his shirt, put his face inside, and puked his guts up. Withdrawing his face for a second (and looking mighty proud of himself), he smiled at the other passengers before retreating to the confines of his shirt… to vomit a little more.

Feeling better, Chuck removed his shirt; balling it up in his hands to contain the puke and, to a lesser degree, the stench. The train arrived at Warwick train station, where Charlie alighted the train, and the guard patted him on the back.

“Good job, mate. You did good.”

Shirtless and standing out in the winter air, Charlie felt a cold breeze that bristled the hair on the back of his neck. With that, he pulled his shirt back on and started to walk home.