1. Give a spider a fish... Teach a spider to fish...

    jake on 2003.07.30
    at 07:12 pm

    "It became a bit of a talking point. Every now and then it would lunge into the water and come out with this fish swinging between its jaws," he said.

    The Sunday Mail (Australia)

    Posted in: Science

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  2. Special Effects Vs. Plotline

    jake on 2003.07.30
    at 07:08 pm

    I read a story a couple days ago that oversimplified things and pretty much bothered me. By using the new Hulk movie as an example it discussed over the top special effects and the storylines that usually suffer as a result.

    In the visual-effects community, ILM’s Hulk was seen as a major achievement: the life in the creature’s eyes, the way light played naturally off its skin, its synthesis into its surroundings, all were deemed first-rate. Film critics, however, panned not only the movie but ILM’s work. The monster didn’t look real. Case closed. Moviegoers must’ve agreed, because after a huge opening weekend, “The Hulk” died at the box office.

    Hulk is a good movie. Spider-Man may have been better at this, but the character development was very good in the Hulk. You felt attached to the characters, even the big green guy himself. Using CGI the creators gave him facial expressions. In the scene where he saves Betty from the mutated dogs, he shows real life.

    It is possible to say, well in general he doesn't look realistic at all. Just because he can make a sad face, doesn't mean he looks real doing it. Well news flash, he isn't real! He's a 15′ green behemoth! The reason he doesn't look realistic is because nothing like the Hulk exists in our world. It's impossible to make him look 100% real because we have no basis for him in our brains.

    Movies are entertainment, we all need to suspend some disbelief. I'm tired of people not just relaxing and watching a movie for what it is.

    Posted in: Movies · Rant

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  3. Octodog

    jake on 2003.07.30
    at 05:54 pm

    Hotdog in the shape of an Octopus. Weird, but cool.

    Octodog [from Simplebits]
    followup - Simplebits

    Posted in: Rant

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  4. Icon Masking

    jake on 2003.07.30
    at 01:33 pm

    Simplebits has a post about setting the negative space of an image to the same color as your background. Then you can set the positive space to transparent and change the color of the icon at will. I have done something like this before, but I'll let Dan do the talking.

    Posted in: Design · Standards

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  5. 25 to 10

    brian on 2003.07.30
    at 02:21 am

    Ford's original Model-T, 25 miles to the gallon.

    GM's 2004 Hummer H2: 10mpg

    You do the math. Where has 100 years of technology taken you?


    Posted in: Rant

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  6. Extra Ordinary in Ways Unseen

    brian on 2003.07.28
    at 05:17 pm

    An excellent title for the fourth story by Sally Jenkins, which ran in the Washington Post recently. All four stories July 10, 20, 23, 28, 2003 mostly focus upon Lance Armstrong, with the first (7-10, "There is no "I" in team or USPS") profiling the intriguing and motley members of his US Postal Service Team.

    The last three include inside portraits of Armstrong, and the author knows him well. She has ghost-written several books for him. Along with insight on Lance's incredible ability to be a good person, and a phenomenal athlete, at the same time, they also delve into the interesting (and foreign to most Americans) world of professional cycling. In what kind of sport do the competitors wait for a crashed leader to get back into the race?

    (last three links direct)
    Riding for his Life after Escaping Death
    Tour Cyclists: From Pain comes Pleasure highlights Tyler Hamilton, as well.
    Extra Ordinary in Ways Unseen

    (I don't know how long these links will remain live. Apologies if WaPo banishes them to a pay-only archive.)

    Posted in: Sports

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  7. Freelance Honesty

    brian on 2003.07.26
    at 02:31 am

    I like everything about this article.

    It is basically an outline of how tech support generally sucks, but that can be overcome for fun and profit, for the benefit small, underserved businesses. And they'll get a fair shake. And a talented person could work 20 hours a week and make a pretty good living.

    Posted in: Technology

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  8. Cantenna Cantina

    brian on 2003.07.26
    at 02:18 am

    Cantenna WiFi booster: takes the Pringles can concept to a new, premade yet affordable level. Good for them.

    Posted in: Technology

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  9. Side of fries, and diesel.

    brian on 2003.07.26
    at 02:16 am

    Wired carries a story on the use of used fryer oil as vehicle fuel. I've followed the development of biodiesel, but was unaware of the use of (more or less) unrefined fryer oil as fuel.

    Ignore the fact that veggie fuel is cleaner for the environment, and would reduce our non-strategic dependance on foreign oil. There is hope that this would actually be much less expensive than fossil fuels. And we all know that this is the only thing that ever promotes change.

    Posted in: Technology

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  10. Diablo 3 Item Generator

    jake on 2003.07.25
    at 06:01 pm

    In the vain of the Castlevania Name Generator there is a Diablo item generator. Some of the names are amusing.

    Posted in: Software

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  11. Weak copy: BuyMusic? Buyer beware...

    brian on 2003.07.25
    at 01:52 am

    As with every good Apple idea, there will be a poor knock-off within the Wintel realm. That latest attempt is called Instead of personally deconstructing their poor attempt myself (even though their weak attempt at satire in their commercials really gets to me because I think its more grounds for a lawsuit than anything else), I'll simply link to some reviews of it from Windows users who have used it themselves. Here and here. Wink.

    Posted in: Music · Web

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  12. A couple of pretty, standards sites.

    jake on 2003.07.24
    at 01:12 pm

    Zeldman has been posting XHTML/CSS standards sites recently. A couple of them caught my eye as very well done. I'm a big fan of standards compliance, but making the site look good too is always a bonus.

    The first is a weather site for Lawrence, Kansas. I really love the image swapping at the top. It has an illustration along the top that depending on the weather changes for each day. The colors are nice and the fact that it's XHTML is great.

    The second site is a design group from England. It's fairly simple, minimalist, black text on a white background, but it looks good doing it. It also has fairly good semantics.

    Posted in: Design · Standards

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  13. Frolf aka Frisbee Golf

    jake on 2003.07.24
    at 12:10 pm

    Man I haven't posted in a while...

    Raffi went and played some frisbee golf recently. Apparently in MA they have an actual course about an hour from Boston. I've only played this once, it was fun, but I'm more of a ultimate fan I think...

    Posted in: Sports

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  14. Pete Rose on Trial

    brian on 2003.07.18
    at 01:24 am

    A fascinating special on ESPN this evening: "Pete Rose on Trial." First off, it was a mock trial. It was held at Harvard Law School. None other than Alan Dershowitz and Johnnie Cochran, lead the prosecution (Rose bet on baseball, thus should remain inelligible for teh Baseball Hall of Fame) and the defense (put the man in the Hall, regardless), respectively. The trial has a jury, and the preceedings are being prosided over by Catherine Crier, an Emmy-winning Court TV host, and former judge from the state of Texas. The witnesses included baseball royalty like Jim Palmer and Hank Aaron, and expert witnesses from the fields of law and medicine. Follow the link and learn more. What do you think?

    Posted in: Sports

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  15. More expensive Free software beats less expensive Microsoft bid?

    brian on 2003.07.18
    at 01:11 am

    When does a free product cost more than one that's not free? Well, here's a fascinating account of the city of Munich's search for a new IT vendor. It basically spun down to this: Microsoft made an expensive bid, $36.6 million. IBM/SuSE (Linux) came in a with a more affordable bid of $35.7 million. None other than Steve Ballmer comes to town, and slashes Microsoft's bid an astonishing 35%, to $23.7 million, instantly. City council picks the IBM/Suse (Linux) option, although it cost more. Why?

    Though Microsoft underbid IBM and SuSE by $11.9 million in Munich, city officials were concerned about the unpredictable long-run cost of Microsoft upgrades, says Munich council member Christine Strobl, who championed the switch to Linux. And the more Microsoft discounted, the more it underscored the notion that as a sole supplier, Microsoft could -- and has been -- naming its own price, she says.

    ''Microsoft's philosophy is to change our software every five years,'' Strobl says. ''With open-source, it is possible for us to make our own decision as to when to change our software.''

    ...the offer from IBM-SuSE better met ''strategic'' criteria set forth by the Munich council

    Posted in: Linux · Politics · Software

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  16. Microsoft Punishment Continues

    brian on 2003.07.18
    at 12:50 am

    (A bit belated, but that's this week's theme) Microsoft has been awarded a contract by the Department of Homeland Security to provide the software for servers and desktop computers. Microsoft software, besides seeming ubiquity, is known for one thing: security, or lack there of. It's also known to be convicted by this same government, for being in violation of federal statues. Some punishment.

    Posted in: Politics · Software

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  17. Google Mozilla

    brian on 2003.07.18
    at 12:27 am

    An excellent idea from Anil Dash: Google should become Mozilla's new philanthropic crutch. In return for some excellent browsing code that would benefit the industry.

    "...a free, open-source browser with built-in hooks to Google services and APIs would be good enough to push increased usage of Google's revenue-generating services and advertising."

    Will it happen? Probably not. Would Google want to piss off Microsoft? Eh. But would I have guessed they would have bought Pyra/Blogger? Nope.

    Posted in: Web

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  18. 100 Years of Le Tour De France

    brian on 2003.07.13
    at 02:37 pm

    I have been terribly remiss in not mentioning one of my favorite annual events, le Tour de France. This is the 100th year of the world-famous event, which was initially conceived to help sell copies of a struggling (and long now defunct) sporting newspaper. It has since established itself as one of the most difficult sporting events in the entire world. The event covers 3,427.5 kilometres of the beautiful French countryside from July 5th to 27th.

    This year's event could make Lance Armstrong an immortal within the sporting world. Lance is going for his 5th consecutive general championship (overall victor, based on cumulative time, indicated by the current leader wearing "le mallot jaune" the "yellow jersey." Only a few of history's greatest riders have won five, and few (two, I believe) have won those consecutively.

    Lance is riding as an American on the only American-based team, whose title sponsor is the US Postal Service. Wearing blue, white and red, the team rides American-made, stock-production Trek OCLV-carbon racing bikes. They are only team not using fully custom bikes. There are a few other Americans on the team, along with riders from other countries, including Russia and Columbia. Other Americans are riding on European teams, like the talented Tyler Hamilton of Marblehead, MA who was a star for the USPS team before moving from under Lance's shadow to captain the Danish CSC team. Without doubt, Tyler is the second best American in the race, next to Lance, and just above Georgie Hancappie (USPS).

    These three represent US cycling very well. The US is certainly not considered a powerhouse within the sport of cycling which is huge in Europe and other countries. However, the US riders are certainly starting to reach world-class, just as our national soccer team is starting to achieve world-class status. All this while most of the country has no clue.

    As I type this, I'm listening to a live audio link to the 8th Stage, which is a climbing stage, going over the most famous climb in cycling, L'Alpe d'Huez. They have just reached the base of the big climb, and as expected the USPS team attacked, launching their main man, Lance, and his right-hand man, Roberto Heras, to the front of the field. Team tactics within cycling strategy are complex (yes, believe it or not, cycling is first and foremost a team sport), and I won't get into them here.

    Unsurprisingly, Lance attacked and shot straight up the mountain, just behind the stage leader Iban Mayo. However, the big surprise was Tyler Hamilton! Tyler crashed on the first stage of the race, double fracturing his clavicle. No one expected him to continue, let alone ride injured with Armstrong's chase group (including some of the sports best) on the the most famous climb in cycling. Amazing.

    Notice I said I was listening to the race. Normally, I would be watching this on the Outdoor Life Network. But for some reason they decided not to air the most dramatic stage live. Instead they are airing fishing shows! So I've tuned into their WMP audio stream. It's very disappointing. Never the less, the race is quite exciting, just wish I could see it!

    Epilogue: Iban Mayo, a Spanish rider from Team Euksatel, has taken the stage, by himself at the top, only two minutes or so ahead of Armstrong's chase group. Armstrong finished third, capturing the Mallot Jaune for the first time in this year's race.

    Posted in: Sports · Web

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  19. Random Bits

    brian on 2003.07.11
    at 12:37 am

    Apologies in advance for the recent lapse of posts from me. Busy week or so. First off, this is my first post from my new 12" Apple PowerBook. It's quite the machine. In other news, the other end of my local connection, and AirPort Base Station (wireless router) now (finally) terminates in a DSL modem. Speakeasy has been good thus far.

    One of the first things I watched with my new high speed (although, not officially "broadband" which 1 Megabit and higher, I get around half that) connection was a sequel to the classic "Napster Bad" animation, "Sue All the World." Not quite as good as the original, but what else is new. It's funny.

    Lastly, a new must have gizmo: Kensington WiFi Finder.

    Posted in: Technology

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  20. adaptive path redesign

    jake on 2003.07.10
    at 07:24 pm

    I saw this mentioned at a couple places. The design is clean XHTML and CSS, it's awefully pretty too. The design is by Doug Bowman.

    adaptive path [from asterisk*, simple bits]

    Posted in: Design

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  21. Linux and Movie Magic

    jake on 2003.07.10
    at 07:11 pm

    Linux clusters have been taking over studio render farms for a while. Including being used in the new movie Sinbad. eweek has an article about the trend. I was amazed by the comments about what 64-bit computing does to the process...

    "DreamWorks had, for example, one sequence that took 24-hours to be rendered on a 32-bit system, but which took just 20 minutes on Itanium-based servers…"

    That's crazy!!

    Posted in: Linux · Movies

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  22. Interview with Linda Bergkvist about her work in EXPOSÉ 1 book

    jake on 2003.07.10
    at 05:39 pm

    Interesting interview where Linda goes through her work in the EXPOSÉ 1 book. I especially found this interesting since I ordered one of these nifty digital art books myself.

    interview [from Gfxartist]

    Posted in: Art · Books

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  23. MTV does Spider Man

    jake on 2003.07.10
    at 04:59 pm

    Tomorrow night is the premiere of a new Spider-Man cartoon on MTV. I guess I better set my VCR since I'll be out. It looks to be done in 3D with cell shading. The video they have on the web site looks a little rough around the edges. It looks more like I'm watching a video game versus a real cartoon. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt since I'm such a big fan of all things Spidey.

    One of the interesting things is the cast. What seem to be the main three characters, voiceovers consist of, Peter (Neil Patrick Harris,) MJ (Lisa Loeb,) Harry (Ian Ziering.) And apparently Peter and MJ are already dating, no build up of their relationship. Some plot modifications in general I guess.

    I'll just keep my fingers crossed. July 11th, 10:00pm EST.

    Posted in: Television

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  24. Double sided OLED phone?

    jake on 2003.07.05
    at 02:04 am

    Japanese company ELDis has produced a cell phone with an OLED display on both the inside and the outside. I have to agree with Gizmodo, I'd like to see more OLED displays in general. This seems more like a gimmick.

    The Straits Times [from Gizmodo]

    Posted in: Technology

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  25. Sanyo moving toward more OLED production

    jake on 2003.07.03
    at 04:22 pm

    Sanyo will be moving production of 60% of panels to OLED from LCD by the Spring of 2004.

    DigiTimes [from Anandtech]

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  26. Analysis of analysis of recent American actions

    brian on 2003.07.02
    at 05:43 pm

    Also, submitted without opinion. Victor Hanson on War (National Review). It's hard to judge the author's stance. It could be "these actions may not have been the best, but let's do our best given the situation, not expect quick results, and we'll measure our effectiveness by the lack of gratitude." It can also be described as "When we act, we're blamed. When we stay out of it, we're blamed. It's always our fault, and that's the burden 'number one' shoulders perpetually." A lot of interesting thoughts, and no apologies, in this piece.

    ...we must not necessarily confuse the activities of the Taliban, the Baathists, Hezbollah, and other Dark-Age cadres with the majority wishes of the Arab people... If given ample respect and consideration, they will confess that their own theocracies and autocracies, not Western colonialists, are culpable for failing to provide the security and prosperity necessary to accommodate their exploding populations...

    The angry and ignorant will always be misled by mad clerics and uniformed thugs if they offer easy solutions without costs, specifically that the easily blamed Jews and Americans, and not their own incompetence and venality, are the real sources of their catastrophe...

    The key is to allow the Middle East choices — isolation from the West, or peaceful coalition and interaction under their own auspices, or military defeat and subsequent regime change should their terrorists and leaders seek to threaten, attack, or kill Americans.

    ...for all the doom and gloom we are making amazing progress.

    [link thanks to Textism sidebar]

    Posted in: Politics

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  27. Political Statements you wear

    brian on 2003.07.02
    at 04:42 pm

    Submitted without opinion:

    Do look around at the other shirts and quotes as well. Can you figure out the point of the yellow striped ones?

    Posted in: Politics

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  28. Adventures in Broadband

    brian on 2003.07.01
    at 09:07 pm

    Yesterday, I joined the present and ordered a DSL connection for my apartment. I had held off for financial reasons: in our household (two people) we had one full-time student, and one half income. Now we have one full-time income, and one almost half income, that stands to leapfrog the other's full-time income shortly. Broadband is expensive. In general, the slowest residential connection will set you back $50 per month, plus taxes. Verizon is offering a $34.95 per month deal, but it's terribly hard for me to decipher what I have to do to get that, and if it stays at that rate.

    At the moment we have contracts with Verizon for our local landline telephone and our wireless phones. We have long distance through some other company who I can't name, because they signed Amanda up over the phone. We have no contract, but service with Comcast for very basic cable television. It ain't much, but we're ecstatic that it's under $10 a month. I said basic. Bottomline is that none of these companies could break the $50 a month barrier, even in a package deal with our existing packages. Verizon claims to, but they would want to have us pickup a long distance plan as well, but we don't use landline long distance: their wireless division handles all the distance we need. What we'd add in per month extras to the long distance would essentially cover what they were going to knockoff in DSL charges.

    Anyone who knows me knows I prefer smaller, more customer-centric companies. So I went looking for one in the broadband market. The first one I encountered was RCN. We tried to sign up with them the day we moved to Brookline. Seeing their manholes on either side of our apartment lead us to believe this would be easy. Not so. After having their helpful agent enquire, we found they service all of our neighboring buildings, just not ours. However, they were looking to continue construction of their network that coming spring, and might hook our building up then. That spring came, went, without any RCN trucks on my street. One unanswered email to their company later, I left them for dead. A shame, considering their local telephone/ digital cable / broadband package looks to be the best deal I've seen anywhere. Talking to local customers with them confirmed those suspicions. So I moved on.

    Further research lead me to the independent DSL ISP "Speakeasy." I had heard mumblings about their "legendary" customer support around the web, so I investigated their service. Well, it's seemingly no bargain, at $49.99 a month for 608 kbps down, 128 kbps up. That's basically the same as everyone else. The difference, comes in the people running the company. They support Mac and Linux, and when you call, reports have it they are actually helpful. When you sign up, they don't even ask you what OS you're running. They don't care. How refreshing.

    Should service be needed, you get live, online tracking of its progress. Right now, I'm tracking the progress of my connection set up. I called to sign up last night, at 8pm, and at 3pm today I received an automated email that said at noon their vendor had set up the date to hook me into the central office, which will be July 7th. That seems to to be a ways a way, but I appreciate the up-to-the-minute status reports, which I can log into my account page and see in even more technical detail. I also received my IP addresses. Did I mention static IPs? That's terribly unusual. And a good thing: they're cool with you running servers!

    What's more, they are pro-WiFi. Yes, use wireless, and they think it's a good thing. Want to share with your neighbors? Go right ahead! You can start your own WiFi ISP, they call it NetShare. You get to choose what to charge your neighbors, Speakeasy takes care of their billing, and sets up email accounts, web space and other services for them. Of course, Speakeasy pockets 50% of your customer's bill, and you have to buy the WiFi equipment yourself, maintain it, and provide up-and-running tech support to your neighbors, but that other 50% goes towards your monthly bill.

    So now I have a week to see if I can find someone to sign up for their NetShare plan. I already own the WiFi gear, so why not try to make some money back? If I get enough interested souls, I might even be able to jump up a level in speed. They offer DSL at up to 3Mbps down/ 768 kbps up! I can't afford it, but if I have enough help... And if you're reading this from near the intersection of St. Paul and Parkman streets in Brookline, email me now! I'm not looking to run at a profit, so the more people I find, the less we all pay. By the way, if you think you might check out Speakeasy after reading this, please do so through the Speakeasy links I've provided here. I'll get $25 credit if you sign up as a residential customer, $50 if you're a business. Just stay a customer for 7 days, so the credit will go through (you have 25 days to back out, if you don't like their service). Thanks!

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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