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Home, hearth, and DSL

It’s a special kind of feeling when you ‘test the water’, so to speak, on your DSL hookup and find it available a full two days ahead of schedule. Props to my peeps at iiNet.

Yes, I’m back at last. Few people, least of all me, would’ve expected me to last almost two weeks without internet access — and I guess I went a little stir–crazy at times — but I pulled through and I’m a better person for it. A few billion emails, news items, and comics later and I’m back up to date. Sorry if I scared you.

Damn… twice

Downsides to being unplugged

  1. Completely missing Rands’ Call for Writers. God damn it.
  2. Completely missing Ryan Sias’ birthday. Happy Birthday, Ryan.
  3. Having nothing better to do, giving my ass ample time to develop a relationship with the couch.
  4. Spending said time on the couch watching terrible movies including, but not limited to, Rocky III and Rocky IV, Waterworld, and Robocop 3.
  5. Forgetting many of the wondrous things that have happened over the last twelve days because, well, I’ve had no means to archive them. I’ve found in the past that maintaining a weblog actually allows me to recall events and opinions, so I’m not left saying “I… don’t… know” when somebody queries what I did at the weekend.
  6. Not keeping up with the Camino nightlies.
  7. Not being able to respond to emails in a timely fashion… or at all.
  8. Being slugged with a hojillion new items in NetNewsWire, and knowing I’ll have to skip so many of them.

Better late than never

You know, I’m always amused by the search queries that lead people here… and June was no exception. Once again, I’d like to present to you the top ten accompanied by one particularly interesting outlier.

  1. decaffeinated
  2. pixadex serial
  3. chris clark
  4. speed download 2 serial
  5. i was raised by a cup of coffee
  6. meyer briggs intp
  7. download ie7
  8. making fun of vegetarians
  9. snow penis
  10. sarah jessica parker haircut

Obviously, we’re having a problem with people refusing to pay for software… assholes. But as you can see, we have the usual parade of morons hoping they can download Internet Explorer 7 ever, and the kind of people who like making fun of vegetarians. Whether these are all the same people, I leave for you to decide. But hey! I promised you an outlier, an oddity from the very depths of the search query logs, and here it is: “how to justify porn to your girlfriend”.

Well friend, it’s time you let your girlfriend know that she’s packed on the pounds since she settled in for the long haul with you, safe, boring, predictable you, and from time to time you need the kind of sexual relief she just can’t give you. Tell her she has a choice: she can either let you fantasize about gigantic black cocks filling the many voids of tiny white women or you’re just going to get out on the street corners and beg strangers for sex. I can only assume that’s all you’ll need to tell her to justify your addiction to internet porn. And no, nobody thinks you’re a loser.

Adjustments of the major variety

All my life I’ve been a night owl; late to rise, late to bed, loathing the cold and the bright of morning. Working a job such as mine doesn’t help, given that I finish around midnight every night, but I’ve made it work for me; all–nighters coding and styling the web away, handling all my business dealings in the short hours between my rise from the bedroom and the close of business, that kind of thing. Given that most of my readership are nerds, pure and simple, I’m sure it’s a problem we’ve all dealt with in our lives.

But this house, this new house, has set the wheels in motion for a catastrophic change.

I’ve never had an easterly–facing window before. Never. In the four houses I’ve lived in before now it’s been south, north, west, and another south… and given my experience I’ve obviously underestimated the sheer power of the sun. My bedroom window here in this new abode faces due east. The curtains are thin, and glow bright yellow in the dazzling morning sun; I’ve been awake before 10AM every day since we moved in. That, my friends, is a shift. Alarms are no longer required — I’m always wide awake before they’re due to go off — and staying awake until the wee hours coding seems like an impossible dream. Things are changing, and I’m not sure they’re for the better, but I guess I can only wait and see.

In other moving–related news, let me assure you that the pencilnecks behind the discovery that moving house is on par (as far as stress levels are concerned) with a death in the family weren’t kidding. There’s no conspiracy to bring the real estate industry to a grinding halt (though that certainly has been happening lately), it really is that fucking stressful. I’m pleased to say, though, that the hard work cleaning our old house paid off; our bond, in its entirety, is on its way back into our hands. That’s despite the numerous chips we put in the walls and quickly puttied over, despite the permanent damage done to cream–colored carpets in bedrooms (who’d’ve thought foot traffic would be so heavy under a computer desk?), and despite the fact that we forgot to dust the venetians before we left. I guess they were so impressed with my work removing scum from the grout of the shower recesses that they decided to just let us have it. And I certainly can’t complain about that.

You’re invited

I’m often loathe to discuss my age on my weblog… it seems like the kind of thing that people would unduly judge you for. Would you, a mid–thirties web designer in a cushy government job think less of my opinions and indeed my feelings if you found out I were twelve years old? I probably would.

Regardless, you’re invited to my twentieth birthday party. Yes, twenty; older than Aaron Swartz and younger than Eric Barzeski, I’m year–of–the–pig buddies with Mitch Clem and Lauren Chalas. The invitation, for many of you, is a physical impossibility given that you live in other states or countries… but for some (Tom, Leia, the neighbors) it’s quite possible and I’d certainly get a kick out of your presence. You’re welcome to join us, but remember to dress nice.

And for god’s sake put on some pants!

Attention: Australian Government

I know you’re trying to save lives by making speeding as much a social faux pas as, say, drunk driving, but tacking “Motorsport is Dangerous” onto the end of all motorsport–related marketing material is not the way to go about it.

Yes, motorsport is dangerous… that’s why people think it’s so fucking cool. That’s why kids tear up the neighbors’ lawn in their shiny new V8’s, that’s why they race on the freeway, that’s why they take sharp corners at 70km/h. Hell, I like pulling 180–degree handbrake turns (Dukes of Hazzard style) from time to time too, I’m only human; I know it’s dangerous, but I also know it’s fun. I’ve been known to binge drink and associate with loose women too, two very dangerous hobbies, but I don’t see you tacking “Caution: Sluts are Dangerous” posters outside the local pubs and clubs.


If you value your brain, don’t see Identity. But, if you have a tendency to abuse said brain with riddles, ‘brain teasers’, alcohol, and pornography, feel free to go see it. I rate it M for Mindfuck.


All my life my mother has told me that my obsession with categorization and hierarchical storage stems from my birthdate, suggesting that tidiness is somehow a characteristic shared by all virgos. This I thoroughly disregard, since I place very little stock in astrology, so I tend to place the blame on some kind of latent homosexuality or estrogen overload.

The orderly ‘organization–freak’ behavior extends from the Home volume of my hard drive to the shoe rack in my closet, from my CD collection to my bathroom cabinet, and it generally saves me a lot of time when I’m looking for shit. My desk, though, is another matter altogether. As if some other ‘nest–building’ organization paradigm is at work, my desk is strewn with papers and sketches, receipts, comics, magazines, the yellow pages, various plugs and rechargers for my miniature gadget army, and a socket wrench. Without this shit surrounding me I can barely work at my computer, as if it serves as inspiration, and though I know that an empty desk cannot fill an empty head I’m often tempted to clean it. Why? I can’t use my desk for anything but computing.

It doesn’t matter how big the surface is, I’ll cover it. I used to sit my computer atop a 7' by 4' trestle table, and I’ve recently downsized to a simple 5' by 3'… it makes no difference. The desk isn’t a workspace, it’s an elaborate computer stand surrounded by garbage. I’ve actually considered bringing in a second desk for non–computing activities such as drawing and writing (yes, sometimes I write with a pen and paper, though my penmanship is officially fucked), but that just seems stupid. The solution? Well, there is no solution. Learning to love the mess is probably step one on the road to recovery. Maybe that second desk idea isn’t so stupid after all.

Mess Redux

While I was shooting my mouth off about how tidy my room/filesystem/sock drawer is (with obvious exception to my desk, which was the point of the post) it occurred to me that I was lying… lying through my teeth as though the lies themselves were clamping my jaw shut.

That’s not to say that my life isn’t ordinarily tidy and organized, ordinarily my story would be quite true… let’s just say I’m not properly moved in yet. Moving boxes cover the floor of my room, making it difficult and unreasonable to get out of bed in the morning. Crap adorns every surface, and CD racks teeter precariously on the shelf above my bed as though waiting to crush me in my sleep. Whenever I consider sorting things out I suddenly realize the magnitude of the task, weigh the time available against the time required, and end up sitting at my computer… procrastinating.

I think it boils down to the Incrementalists vs. Completionists argument Rands brought up a few days ago; I’m looking at the job as if it needs to be done all at once, when realistically it could be tackled one box at a time (or half a box at a time, or one item at a time). Having realized this just now, I think I might make a start; I’ll consider myself a success if any one item makes its way from a box to its new home. Wish me luck.

I’m picturing it more as a Sprite ad… or maybe Mentos

Erik J Barzeski, you are one nasty fuck.

Happy Birthday to…


New job

Just now I attended what I believe was the world’s quickest job interview — walk in, shake the boss–man’s hand, commence discussion regarding my impending resignation from my ‘previous’ job. Ah well, can’t argue with a man who wants you to have a job at his tavern.

Step away from your computer for five minutes…

I missed Jerkcity’s fifth anniversary. I’m a terrible, terrible, ass–licking whore. I know. I mean, here I am celebrating Gizmodo’s first anniversary and I can’t even sit at my computer for a lousy couple of days to celebrate another? For shame.

In other words, I’m kinda pissed (but also kinda giddy) about the fact that I haven’t had a day off since last Tuesday, and that situation doesn’t look to be changing until some time next weekend. Being ‘between jobs’ (and I mean that in a “I’ve started work at my new job before I my two weeks’ notice of resignation at the old job is up” way, not in an “unemployed” way) is a little exhausting.

Given the amount of time I’ve been spending at work, I’ve been loathe to spend too much time at my computer… which is in itself a little like working. It means I have a backlog of important shit I should write about, but it also means that my ass has had time to reacquaint itself with the couch. You see, one of my roommates likes to rent videos, and I take great pleasure in watching said videos if they’re any good. I think I’ve watched American Beauty about four times this week; and yes, I’m quite aware that it’s Tuesday morning.

Building a better newsreader

Brent Simmons has always been diligent in considering user–requested features and enhancements to his wildly popular NetNewsWire newsreader and recently asked his readers what they thought of integrated browsing.

The gist of the idea is this: when you want to read a full post (given that many, if not most, news feeds only post excerpts) you could view it right there: within NetNewsWire. There’d be no need to fire up an external browser, and the net result would (conceivably) be time saved. I’d like to consider Rick Gregory’s point when I say ‘include integrated browsing, but not this way.’ Rick says he’d rather see NNW made into “a better newsreader than an OK browser”, and I wholeheartedly agree.

NetNewsWire is not a web browser, that much is obvious. Things like tabs, printing, save–as–PDF, and popup blocking are not part of its feature set, and likely won’t be any time soon. And however much I may prefer opening news items in a tabbed browser running in the background, I think there’s a solution to this dilemma that satisfies the ‘wants’ and the ‘don’t wants’ while also (also!) borrowing a little something from Jonathan Rentzsch’s excellent Widescreen NetNewsWire hack.

Column View.

Yes, column view. Consider the Finder’s handling of column view: starting at the top level, you successively drill down through your folders until you hit the level you want. Likewise, NetNewsWire could start with your subscriptions at the very left, drilling down into individual subscriptions’ latest entries, down into the entry text (or excerpt, as the case may be), and finally down to the entry’s web page. It makes beautiful sense hierarchically, it successfully translates the Finder’s column view paradigm, and it’s extremely keyboard friendly — just hit the right–arrow to drill down one level. If you’d rather view the web page in your default browser, just don’t hit the right arrow! Hit Enter or Return.

I’ve mocked it up, if you need further convincing. But frankly, I think it rocks.

Do it yourself

Thirty–something days ago, when I moved house, my roommates and I left the old place in pretty damned good condition. The real estate agent’s property condition report confirmed this, and we were slated to receive our bond back in its entirety. $880 can’t go astray for anyone, let alone a couple of poor–ass jerks such as ourselves. Receiving our bond notice in the mail, however, proved otherwise.

  1. Thirty dollars for extra rent. We figured that since rent day was a Friday we could move out on a Friday without any trouble… it turns out we were wrong and must pay for that one lousy extra day.
  2. Twenty dollars in excess water. This one is understandable, bills can’t be expected to match up to our ins and outs, can they?
  3. Sixty–five dollars for the replacement of tap washers.

What. The. Fuck.

Tap washers? Those eight–cent pieces of tin that prevent taps from dripping? Those things we could’ve replaced ourselves at a total cost of zero had we been warned ahead of schedule? Those things that we could’ve asked them to replace for us while we were living there, and they would’ve had to shoulder the cost? Awesome. God damned awesome.

A phone call to the fair trading commission has proved that Davey is indeed entitled to charge us for that maintenance, as weird as that may sound, so we’re stuck with it. Even though it’s only $65, a cost to be shared between us, it still seems like a jip. So much for ‘general wear and tear’.

A thought

I’m not sure if anybody else thought of this, since my Google finger is a little lazy tonight, but isn’t there likely a better reason for Microsoft’s acquisition of Virtual PC? Last I checked, everyone was bleating (or clucking, perhaps) about the sky’s impending descent upon our heads. Conspiracy theories abound, and concerned Mac users believe that Microsoft has acquired Virtual PC from our old pals at Connectix so they can simply discontinue it.

As I said, isn’t there a less paranoid possibility? Like… they plan to include the technology as part of a legacy emulation layer in Longhorn? It seems likely; they’d be stupid not to include some kind of ‘Classic’ environment, their fledgling OS would be completely useless without compatible software. We all know we can’t expect developers (developers! developers!) to jump on the new–tech bandwagon any more than we can expect consumers to, and as much as I’d like to disagree with myself, Microsoft aren’t idiots.

A simile, or metaphor; whichever you prefer

Jeffrey Zeldman has cracked the case wide open at last: spelling is to validation as grammar is to semantics. As a sentence is not complete without the two, neither is a “modern” design in today’s world wide web.

Finally, a simile we can all bandy about like it’s our own; delirious in our fight for a brave new world of accessibility and style. Now only if we could find this kind of groundbreaking linguistic iconoclast in other arenas; particularly the subject of Apple’s market share. Frankly, I’m sick of hearing Apple’s tiny piece of the pie justified because Apple is ‘the BMW of personal computers’. The car metaphors are a little overdone.

Truthfully, you could exchange BMW’s name for any high–margin brand–name item: try comparing a royal blue tie by Giorgio Armani (in Italian silk, no less) to that cornflower blue polyester job you picked up at K–Mart last week. Now compare the price. Now compare the market share of Giorgio Armani and K–Mart, respectively. Fight the power! New metaphors for the people!


Just a few hours ago I punched that little six–digit number into Woolworths’ (WA) Pty Ltd ’s biometric scanner for the last time. Confirming my fingerprint and signing off, I walked through the staff exit door. No fanfare, no handshake, just another face in the mélange of employees leaving the premises. At least I’ve never worked in a fast food restaurant, right?

I felt like I should’ve turned around, reminisced a little perhaps. But honestly, after four years of thankless grunt work, would you? Four years… christ. That’s a fifth of my life we’re talking about. I’m not even sure I’ve ever spent that much time living in the same house, let alone with the same woman. Just another chapter of my life closed, I guess.

In the last month I’ve moved house, changed jobs, and broken up with my long–time girlfriend, Fiona. Pretty soon I’ll be redesigning this web site, and you know that’s the herald of something new.

Forward ho.

Again with the sky

I only touched on this the other day, but it seems that paranoia is hard to stave off.

It’s warm now

Yes, the party last night was a roaring success. The key to fun, I’ve decided, lies in providing an outrageous quantity of champagne. Not everybody that was invited decided to turn up, which is in itself a disappointment and a blessing — it means that we still had plenty of fun, but it didn’t get completely out of hand.

Given the number of photos that were taken, I think it’s high time I started that photolog I was talking about so long ago. Perhaps soon, with the new design.