1. First chapter of HTML5 For Web Designers

    jake on 2010.05.06 at 05:50 pm

    After reading the first chapter of A List Apart’s foray into books I can’t wait for it to arrive.

    After HTML 4.01, the next revision to the language was called XHTML 1.0. The X stood for “eXtreme” and web developers were required to cross their arms in an X shape when speaking the letter.

    No, not really. The X stood for “eXtensible” and arm crossing was entirely optional.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  2. More SimpleXML to display OPML

    jake on 2010.04.22 at 05:28 pm

    Matt Katz recently sent in an email regarding the code we use to display our OPML lists. He needed a second pair of eyes to go over his new class. Turned out the bug wasn’t in his display function but the once over highlighted some other issues with ours.

    The pages here are now updated but we can’t keep this all to ourselves. Here’s the updated code for traversing an OPML file.

    function displayChildrenRecursive($xmlObj,$depth=1) {
    	$outPut = "";
    	if (count($xmlObj->children()) > 0) { $outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth).'<ul class="opmlGroup">'."\n"; }
    	foreach($xmlObj->children() as $child) {
    		if (isset($child['htmlUrl']) || isset($child['xmlUrl'])) 
    			$outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth).'<li>';
    			if (isset($child['htmlUrl']))
    				$outPut .= '<a href="'.htmlentities($child['htmlUrl']).'"';
    				$outPut .= (isset($child['description'])) ? ' title="'.htmlentities($child['description']).'"' : '';
    				$outPut .= '>'.$child['text'].'</a>';
    				$outPut .= $child['text'];
    			$outPut .= (isset($child['xmlUrl'])) ? ' [<a href="'.htmlentities($child['xmlUrl']).'">XML Feed</a>]' : '';
    			$outPut .= '</li>'."\n";
    		elseif (isset($child['text']) &amp;&amp; !isset($child['xmlUrl'])) 
    			$outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth).'<li><h'.($depth+1).'>'.$child['text'].'</h'.($depth+1).'>'."\n";
    		$outPut .= displayChildrenRecursive($child,$depth+1);
    	if (count($xmlObj->children()) > 0) { $outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth).'</ul>'."\n"; 
    		if ($depth > 1) { $outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth-1).'</li>'."\n"; }
    	return $outPut;

    Posted in: Programming · Web

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  3. Chrome 3 Has Issue With @font-face and letter-spacing.

    jake on 2009.12.01 at 03:20 pm

    While working on a friend’s wedding web site an oddity in Chrome’s handling of @font-face came to light. Paul Irish’s code works wonders for enabling the inclusion of alternative typefaces across browsers. Using Goudy Bookletter 1911 on a production site is exciting. But the navigation breaks when I load up my site in Chrome 3 at work.

    Navigation with @font-face being used.As you can see here, the letter spacing of .2em is not applied to the typeface.

    Navigation without @font-face being used.But as soon as I remove the “Goudy Bookletter” declaration from the CSS it magically starts working.

    A search through Google produces nothing relevant so I thought I’d document the problem here. Considering this does not affect the latest version of Safari I have no problem waiting for the fix to work its way into Chrome.

    Update: Just to clarify, Chrome 4 fixes this issue.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  4. O'Reilly: Soothsayer or Condemner

    brian on 2009.11.18 at 12:15 am

    Tim O’Reilly is getting a lot of links to his “War For the Web” piece. For the most part it’s worth a read. However, I wonder what goes through a “guru”‘s mind sometimes when they write lofty pieces like this. Do they just run it off all in one blast, (like I will on this post) or do they let it sit a couple days, edit, rethink and then post?

    I ask because in the middle of his piece, where he names those who “threaten” the future of the open web, he goes after Apple’s App Store policy, exposé-style:

    The Apple iPhone is the hottest web access device around, and like Facebook, while it connects to the web, it plays by a different set of rules. Anyone can put up a website, or launch a new Windows or Mac OS X or Linux application, without anyone’s permission. But put an app onto the iPhone? That requires Apple’s blessing.

    There is one glaring loophole: anyone can create a web application, which any user can save as clickable application on their phone. But these web applications have limits – there are key capabilities of the phone that are not accessible to web applications. HTML 5 can introduce all the new application-like features it wants, but they will work only for web applications, and can’t access key aspects of the phone with Apple’s permission. And as we saw earlier this year with Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application, Apple isn’t shy about blocking applications that it considers threatening to their core business, or that of their partners.

    So, because Apple limits what apps can be on the phone, they’re closing down the web? Um… wha? The iPhone is a bit more than just a web-access device, by the way.

    He says “one glaring loophole” as if Apple mistakenly forgot to lock down Safari to only approved websites. Name the last time Apple forgot to lock something down in error. The iPhone is not the web. iPhone Apps don’t alone give access to the web. The device, although popular with geeks, doesn’t have the marketshare it’s influence might lead you to believe.

    Secondly, there’s nothing in HTML5 that is available in the iPhone that Apple only allows access to by an App. No, a web app doesn’t have access to various APIs available in the iPhone, but those functions aren’t part of the (actually still incomplete) HTML5 specs. In other words, Apple hasn’t broken anything web related. In fact, they should be given credit for a) bringing HTML5 to the mobile world b) being a forebearer of HTML 5 in the first place… hello? WebKit? You know, free, open-source and the same thing Chrome and a number of mobile browsers are based on? C) bringing the real web of any kind to a phone.

    I’m all for a transparent App Store review process, and I’d love to see Google Voice natively on the iPhone. But this passage simply lacks logic. It’s more as if Mr O’Reilly needed more big names to bash in his piece.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology · Web

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  5. Need a Job? Interested in an Early Stage Startup?

    brian on 2009.09.28 at 05:17 pm

    Need a job? Are you a freelancer who knows me? I’ve done some advising for a very early-stage Internet dating startup (they have a clever new angle on the old idea) who are looking to build up a small freelance design and development team, and I’m looking for freelancers I know whose contact info I can pass along to the founders.

    Unfortunately, I can’t share many of the details publicly. However, I imagine they would share them with you directly if they make contact.

    Here’s what they’re looking for:

    • Front End Designer*
    • Front End Developer (CSS/HTML/JS)*
    • Back End Developer – fans of the LAMP stack preferred. Open to PHP, Ruby on Rails (or others if you can convince them why).

    *are you both an amazing designer and front-end coder? These two can be combined if the right person is found.

    These are very non-descriptive descriptions, I realize. Right now, they’ve worked more on the business and experience end of the spectrum, and less in the realm of nailing down specific technologies and techniques. This means the people working on the tech side will have a lot of influence on what gets built… a unique opportunity.

    If you’re the designer… you’ll work with the founders to bring their idea into a lucid reality. They have a solid idea of their customer’s experience with the site, but need you to carve that into something tangible.

    If you’re the front-end developer, you’ll take the tangible interface and carve it from standards-compliant code. Experience with mobile web interfaces is a plus here, as that is also in the cards.

    If you’re the back-end developer, you’ll be choosing the tools that are best to serve the data needs of the web app. You’ll have a considerable amount of influence over how this is will all be implemented and scale.

    That’s it. If you find this kind of openness exciting, drop me an email at my usual address and I’ll pass your information along. (I’ve disabled comments on this post.)

    Posted in: Web

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  6. SimplePie Shutting Down.

    jake on 2009.09.28 at 11:59 am

    Hopefully the open source project will live on in some form. Along with my personal site I just used SimplePie (along with Yahoo! Pipes) to add photos to a blog I keep with some old friends.

    So effective immediately, we are ceasing development of SimplePie and shutting down the project. We will shortly be pushing all code to GitHub. The mailing list will continue to serve users for the time being, but my sincerest hope is that someone will take up the charge to fork SimplePie, fix all of its issues, and continue on with this project that’s been such a huge part of my life for the past 5 years.

    SimplePie is ceasing development

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  7. Innovation Sometimes Moves Backwards

    brian on 2009.06.13 at 01:36 pm

    There’s a certain irony about CamelBak. Perhaps one of the most interesting innovations in sporting goods in the last 20 years was their invention of the “hydration system.” Essentially, it’s a rugged plastic bag with a hose and a bite valve that you drink water out of on the go. You keep it in a backpack. Since getting water from it is so much easier than stopping to access a bottle, you can suck down little bits much more often and stay hydrated more efficiently. And it holds a lot of water, and keeps it insulated for hours. It’s so effective that the U.S. military puts them on the back of every solider in the field. It’s a great product, and I’ve used one (I’m on my third) since their invention. The newest ones are really useful, sport-tailored bags, which increase their utility.

    So where’s the irony in that? There’s no irony in their outstanding product, which now has been copied by a hundred competitors. It’s in their web site. While their products have evolved to become more and more useful and innovative, their web site has gone in the opposite direction. I didn’t realize this until recently.

    Read on to see how their products and web presence diverge…

    Read More

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  8. The Vintage Web

    jake on 2009.03.13 at 05:10 pm

    Web sites in ads usually have a few extra pieces as filler, things like fake domain names and browser chrome. After viewing one such ad I went out and bought such a domain name. Just haven’t figured out what to do with yet.

    Perhaps it should morph into a satire blog like The Vintage Web. Vintage Web highlights sites’ current designs that look a decade old. Once you move beyond the dread these sites exist you’ll find hilarity ensues.

    via Mr. Kottke.

    Posted in: Design · Humor · Web

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  9. I'm taking requests

    brian on 2009.01.30 at 01:18 am

    Dear, loyal readers, I know there are a handful of you out there. I have not been treating you right and giving you useful thoughts to read. I apologize. At least I’ve been posting on my Tumblr blog. You did know I have a Tumblr blog, right? You know, right here?

    It’s for lots of things I don’t think fit in here. You should stop reading this now and subscribe to it, then rush back here. I’ll wait.

    Thanks. So, I’m not done writing on this blog. But please, tell me what you enjoy reading most here, and I will write more of it. Just for you. Do you like my Apple tips and tricks? How about things about web design? I haven’t talked about that in a while. Gadgets?

    Please let me know in the comments. In fact, if you read any of my stuff anywhere, please let me know what you think of that too, and if you’d like more or less of it.

    Posted in: Web

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  10. Rebuilding the inauguration with Photosynth

    jake on 2009.01.28 at 06:17 pm

    This week’s TWiT references an experiment CNN is doing with Microsoft Photosynth. They are piecing together inauguration photos from the crowd. You can now peer through the many eyes on hand for Obama’s swearing in ceremony1.

    Photosynth creates a panorama on steroids. The software pieces together many photos to make an approximate 3D representation. Pretty nifty technology.

    1 Requires Microsoft Silverlight.

    Posted in: Politics · Software · Web

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  11. A "Horrible" Halloween (Constructing Dr. Horrible)

    jake on 2008.11.11 at 06:28 pm

    Dr. Horrible PosterOrganizing a costume this year was a bit of a chore. Especially when the best idea presented was given to me two weeks before Halloween… And a week before a costume party in Salem. However Dr. Horrible was too good to pass up. I relished in the stress of putting the costume together.

    The majority of components were fairly easy to procure online. The only issue was expediting the shipping from so many vendors. Getting everything by Friday made it worth the extra cost. The following is exact pieces.

    The most difficult part was the lab coat. The only (relatively) close Halloween costume out there was a bust, no one had it in stock. After falling short on some custom costume web sites I tried Ebay. Paul Pape Designs was auctioning a good quality replica. It fit perfectly and really brought the look together. They shipped it overnight and can’t be thanked enough.

    Next year hopefully an idea will formulate well before the holiday. But even if I can’t decide I’ll always have the great Dr. Horrible to come back to.

    Posted in: Art · Holiday · Television · Web

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  12. A Good Day for the Internet

    brian on 2008.11.05 at 12:03 pm

    Tuesday, November 4th, Americans participated in a historic election. Record number of voters turned out to vote. When the returns were in, people in cities across the nation took to the streets in celebration, as if their town had just won the World Series.

    But a few other things happened that went almost unnoticed yesterday, that are relevant to our discussion on this blog.

    First, the election of this historic figure, Barack Obama, may not have been possible without today’s Internet. The Internet has played a significant role in at least the last two elections, but this campaign was different. The level of sophistication has reached a threshold level. In technological terms, household and business bandwidth and penetration have increased significantly since 2004. This allowed more people to use the Internet to learn about the candidates, discuss their opinions, like previous years, but more so.

    But this year we had much improved social tools to motivate and organize voters and volunteers. The official campaign website listed no less than 16 social networks they were active on. We had wide-spread text messaging and services like Twitter distributing precisely timed messaging directly to people’s phones. This was the first truly mobile-enabled election in the United States.

    One thing the Obama campaigned used their Twitter account for was notification of live streaming web broadcasts of their candidate’s many speeches. I think this was a key breakthrough for campaigns. Prior to this, it was difficult to see a candidate deliver an uninterrupted, unfiltered, un-sound-bitten speech. In a world of 24-hour new networks, this is the next step.

    Not only did they stream their live speeches, but then they archived them for any-time watching on their site, and they also made excellent use of YouTube as a distribution service. I’m on record for saying I hate the term “Web 2.0” but the things that people lump under that title… almost all of them contributed to the victory of the Obama campaign.

    But the most interesting part is yet to come.

    Mr Obama is a savvy fellow. He knew he had to build upon the groundbreaking technological grassroots (the so-called “netroots”) movement of the 2004 Howard Dean campaign. Luckily, Governor Dean is the current chair of the DNC. The people who backed Governor Dean never stopped developing and helped build Mr. Obama the most effective campaign in American history.

    After this amazing integration of technology and human get-out-the-vote machinery, will an Obama campaign move forward with making the White House more open to citizen involvement? Don’t forget, Sen. Obama was behind the legislation that created a public website that allows citizen to see how the budget is being used.

    Mr. Obama supports net neutrality. Also, Mr. Obama will be the first President with an iPhone.

    Lastly, one other thing remarkable happened yesterday. Broadband in the United States got a huge shot in the arm when the FCC OK’d the Unlicensed Use of Television White Spaces.

    If that means nothing to you now, it will. WiFi makes use of unlicensed radio spectrum to provide wireless, fast Internet in small spaces. The so-called “White Spaces” may have the same effect, except it will cover the same territory of broadcast television signals. That’s huge.

    In all, yesterday was a good day for America, democracy and technology.

    Posted in: Politics · Recent Events · Technology · Web

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  13. Netflix Now Streaming to Macs (beta)

    brian on 2008.11.02 at 07:00 pm

    Good news for Mac users who are Netflix subscribers, or thinking about becoming one. After over a year of PC-only Windows Media-based “Watch Instantly” video streaming from Netflix, they have now put streaming to Macs and Windows via Silverlight 2.0 into public beta.

    Of course, I signed up for the beta instantly and tried it out right away. Here’s what I found.

    I selected the first episode of season six of CSI: Miami, “Dangerous Son” to watch on my Mac mini*, which is connected to our 26” HDTV via DVI-to-HDMI. I chose CSI: Miami because of its use of fast, vivid imagry. The color saturation is artificially inflated like no show I’ve ever seen. The style of cinematography is full of fast cuts and fancy, whiz-bang transitions. The sound moves from quiet dialog to loud sound effects and lots of thumping music.

    The results were mixed. The color came through as strong as it does when we watch it in HD. The audio was good, not amazing, but plenty good for streaming. However, the fast moving video was not good. This is always the challenge to test video with because it stresses the encoding (it’s very hard to compress fast moving imagery) and the playback hardware (hard to compress means more data per second needs to be processed to keep up with the motion).

    Most of the video, that didn’t exhibit fast pans, or speeding objects, looked good. It did not look as good as an iTunes SD TV download, which is the standard I would compare any online video to, (as it is excellent) but it was good enough. However, watching an hour or more of video that had a lot of action would not be enjoyable.

    I left this feed back in the comments of their announcement blog post, because I couldn’t find an official beta feedback option. I look forward to seeing if the video improves.

    The only other video I can compare this too that was powered by Silverlight was the Olympics. I watched the two hour men’s mountain bike race from Beijing, which also exhibited some fast panning. I believe that quality was a little higher, though it’s been two months since I watched it, so my memory may not be perfect. But I’m sure I would have remembered a speed issue.

    Comparable to Sliverlight is Flash streaming video, which powers I have not watched action-packed video on Hulu, but I have watched a couple episodes of Saturday Night Live, and I also believed it’s video quality was a bit better. I basically forgot I was watching Internet video. I don’t forget that when I watch quality Flash video from places like YouTube.

    I still think Netflix has work to do, but I’m encouraged at what they’ve produced thus far. Besides, I get to watch it for free with my $11/month account. I can’t be too critical.

    • For reference, here are my Mac mini specs: 1.83 Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, Safari 3.1.2, Silverlight plug 2.0, OS X 10.5.5, Comcast cable connection tested at 18.4 Mbps (! – I pay for six! That may be burst speed, not sustained, but still impressive. I’m still investigating, but probably due to their DOCSIS 3.0 network upgrade.)

    [All the comparison video I mention above was watched on the same setup, full-screen.]

    Posted in: Media · Movies · Television · Web

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  14. Big News: SMC is Live!

    brian on 2008.10.19 at 09:22 pm

    Big news! The other day my good friend Howard Rheingold flipped the switch and the public web site for our project, the Social Media Classroom went live to the world!

    Logo of the Social Media Classroom

    The free (open source, no cost) software is combination of social media tools for use in education. It is designed to install right on top of Drupal, a popular open-source content management system.

    I did a good deal of research and wireframing of many of the interfaces and interactions that happen in the software. It was a valuable educational experience for me design wise.

    We got wrote up on Read Write Web.

    I did not have as much time as I would have liked to donate to the project. My day job, grad school and my new baby boy all made my time scarce. I feel there’s a lot more I could do for the project, design wise, if I can find a little time… oh, time.

    Special thanks to Sam Rose for all his hard work!

    Posted in: Design · Software · Web

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  15. On Ambient Intimacy

    brian on 2008.09.07 at 01:58 am

    I know I’ve posted articles about Twitter before, but this one is a must read. Clive Thompson in the New York Times Magazine discusses the Brave New World of Digital Intimacy. This guy really digs deep into the world of what’s becoming to be known as “ambient intimacy.” Talks about both Twitter and Facebook. Interestingly, I’ve met some of the people in this article, both online and off!

    I’m going to do a piss-poor job writing a thoughtful blog post about it, so instead, I’ll give you a lengthy, choice quote instead.

    In essence, Facebook users didn’t think they wanted constant, up-to-the-minute updates on what other people are doing. Yet when they experienced this sort of omnipresent knowledge, they found it intriguing and addictive. Why?

    Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it “ambient awareness.” It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye. Facebook is no longer alone in offering this sort of interaction online. In the last year, there has been a boom in tools for “microblogging”: posting frequent tiny updates on what you’re doing. The phenomenon is quite different from what we normally think of as blogging, because a blog post is usually a written piece, sometimes quite long: a statement of opinion, a story, an analysis. But these new updates are something different. They’re far shorter, far more frequent and less carefully considered. One of the most popular new tools is Twitter, a Web site and messaging service that allows its two-million-plus users to broadcast to their friends haiku-length updates — limited to 140 characters, as brief as a mobile-phone text message — on what they’re doing.

    I only wish a few more of my geographically dispersed friends would pick up Twitter. It’s so much more efficient than Facebook for keeping up with each other, though Facebook has the edge for richness.

    Posted in: Web

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  16. Where I Rant About a Poor Experience with Comcast Self-Service

    brian on 2008.08.03 at 12:22 am

    I went to Comcast’s web site tonight to attempt some web self-service. I realized that after my most recent TiVo difficulties, that once I got the software re-installed that a few video settings were still running on their defaults, which weren’t the proper settings for my HDTV. When it dawned on me why all my HD channels were letter boxed, I dug back into fix them. When I got to where I needed to change the setting, I couldn’t recall whether I was supposed to use 720i Fixed or 720i Hybrid. I remember researching this in the user manual for the box, but thanks to our office becoming a nursery, there was no way to find that manual without hours of digging.

    I thought to myself, “I remember seeing a QuickTips PDF on the TiVo portion of Comcast’s site. Maybe they have all the user manuals there too! That would make things much easier.”

    Instead, I got caught in a loop on this page I couldn’t escape. The service page said I could write an email to their head honcho of support, so I did. This is the part where I ranted.

    (more after the jump)

    Read More

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  17. WTF is Twitter?

    brian on 2008.07.08 at 09:40 pm

    I haven’t posted about Twitter in a while. I think Twitter posts make, like, half of my content on this blog over the last calendar year. Clearly, I can only post consistently if I talk about Twitter.

    That’s why I’m pleased to show you

    The problem: try explaining Twitter to a non-geek family member. OK, now try to do that in a sentence or two! Did they understand after either take?

    WTFisTwitter is short videos of people trying to explain what Twitter is.

    BTW, none of these explanations will remotely help you explain to someone what Twitter is. But they’re entertaining.

    (via Whitney)

    Posted in: Web

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  18. Belatedly Announcing My New Blog

    brian on 2008.06.09 at 01:45 pm

    I was holding off until I had a few posts in the system to announce my latest blog project, but then I simply forgot that I hadn’t ever noted its launch here! I had to read through our archives back till August of 2007 to make sure I hadn’t posted about it (when I first installed the software for the new blog.) Alas, I’ve buried the lead!

    I’d love for you to check out my new blog, Evolve.

    At Evolve I’ll be examining where education meets technology and design. I think so many people are focused on EdTech, but so few are focused on getting the user interaction right. Many think technology will make education better, but it can’t do that by itself. Like raw steel, it must be hammered and formed and bent into submission by skilled and passionate craftsmen, so that technology serves its masters. Much of that forming is experience and interaction and visual design. If books were as poorly designed as most educational web sites, no one would read.

    Join me in fighting the good fight at Evolve.

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  19. Tumble-hooked

    brian on 2008.04.24 at 01:19 am

    As if I didn’t have enough blogs (four, at last count) I post to, I began experimenting with Tumblr a few months back. It started out as a way to entice someone into posting more often. Then it became research on how to integrate that sudden flurry of activity into something importable into her normal blog (which, I hear, is being re-designed). Then it became something to investigate extending for a loved one to start using as she wanted to document an important time in her life.

    I got to really appreciate it’s elegance and simplicity, even if I didn’t have a need for it. Well, “need” is rarely a qualification for something I start using, at least when it comes to technology.

    Further experiments showed that Tumblr really excelled at video, mobloging, and with it’s stark modern aesthetic, it makes an excellent frame for photos.

    So if you want to see some photos I take from my phone, videos I make or just generally entertaining rubbish, have a look at

    Posted in: Web

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  20. DHH at Startup School

    brian on 2008.04.23 at 10:56 pm

    Have 5 minutes to spare? Start watching this:

    David Heinemeier Hansson at Startup School 2008

    Oh, the video is 30 minutes long, but you’ll have lost track of time and not realize that you didn’t mean to watch the video for that long.

    What is it about telling people looking to make a quick buck to get their heads out of their asses, that is so enjoyable to watch?

    The story never gets old for me: forget taking other people’s money, and other people’s expectations and their definitions of success. Find something you’re passionate about, something you enjoy doing. Balance it with a life. Solve problems, charge a reasonable fee, and keep it simple. If you’re living comfortably, that’s success. You don’t need to be the next big thing, or be totally original. You just have to do one thing better than other people, and find people that’s valuable to. Treat them well, and you’ll succeed.

    People forget the “Internet industry” isn’t a moneybin. It’s a place to conduct business. Businesses have been around a very long time, and almost none of the successful ones have ever taken the rocket trajectory to success. They score small wins, reinvest the profit and grow within their means.

    Like in almost anything, becoming a star by working hard, not by trying to be a star, is the best path to follow.

    Posted in: Web

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  21. Flickr Vids

    brian on 2008.04.11 at 01:08 am

    Flickr has added video clips. This is great and long awaited. However some Flickr die-hards think that video on Flickr is somehow blasphemy.

    My message to them is:

    Get a grip. If you need something to protest, go find that Olympic Torch. People are actually being oppressed in Tibet. You are not being oppressed by Flickr.

    End transmission.

    Posted in: Web

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  22. Audio/Video Internet Chat Tips

    brian on 2008.04.09 at 11:35 pm

    I’ve done a lot of live audio and video broadcasts on the web. I produce our virtual seminars (some people call them “webinars”) at work, and I’ve done a good deal of audio/video chats through both iChat AV and Skype. Here’s some tips and voodoo I’ve learned from that experience that should help the quality of your live, online audio and video.

    Read More

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  23. Photoshop Express

    brian on 2008.04.03 at 08:14 pm

    I’ve made an account at Photoshop Express and have been playing with Adobe’s online photo editor. It’s pretty cool. However, is it just me, or does it muck up your photos? The first image is from Adobe, the second is the same photo I posted on Flickr. Why does one look better than the other? Neither have any editing applied!

    Thu Apr 3 2008


    Click through for larger images.

    Let me know what you think!

    (PS- the photo is through a window, so it’s not stellar to begin with, but it seems to have been really uglified through Px!

    Posted in: Photography · Web

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  24. Safari 3.1 has new developer menu

    brian on 2008.03.18 at 06:46 pm

    If you download the latest official build of Apple’s Safari web browser, you’ll gain access to it’s new developer menu.

    Previously, you had access to a “Debug” menu, which gave you many options, mostly for’s use in debugging the browser. You had to set a hidden, command-line preference to access it. However, the latest build, the feature is available in the Advanced tab of the application preferences.

    Safari Preference Window

    The new Develop menu has (as far as I can tell) all the same functionality of the old Debug menu for web developers, but show much more succinctly. The big feature is the Web Inspector.

    Clicking “Develop > Show Web Inspector” brings up a an attractive window that allows you to inspect in part of the web page you’re viewing. From Safari’s Help menu:

    It lets you view and search the page’s source code, Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) information, DOM trees, visual DOM metrics, and DOM properties. The Web Inspector also contains the error console and network timeline.

    You optionally have the choice of attaching the inspector to the bottom of your browser window, like Firebug for Mozilla Firefox. The bottom left corner of the Inspector window contains a toggle button to attach/detach the Inspector.

    Safari Inspector and Rendered Page

    To use, the simplest thing to do is Right-click (or ctrl+click) the element in the web browser window that you would like to inspect. This will bring up your Inspector, with the element highlighted in the code. Additionally, Safari applies a nice dark grey-screen filter on the parts of the page you’re not inspecting. If you use the arrow keys to move up and down the code, or simply click on another code snippet in the Inspector, the highlight back on the rendered page adjusts in real time.

    Sadly, for now, it appears that you cannot live edit, as you can in Firebug. If I can find a way to do this, I’ll update this blog entry.

    Posted in: Apple · Standards · Web

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  25. Markup & Style Meetup

    brian on 2008.03.14 at 02:15 pm

    Had a great time last night at the Markup & Style Society in Boston. Saw many friends and won myself a nice door prize: a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium

    I took a handful of crappy iPhone photos at the event, which you are invited to see.

    Posted in: Standards · Web

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  26. More Twitter coverage

    brian on 2008.03.13 at 01:36 am

    I’m thinking of making a Twitter category. Here’s today’s helping:

    Our friends at Common Craft have made a Twitter in Plain English video. Excellent for attempting to cajole your non-geek friends and family onto Twitter.

    Second, a story of getting your family (or Nivin’s) onto Twitter.

    And lastly, a story of a New York Times writer unsuccessfully trying to get her three daughters to communicate with her more efficiently through Twitter than through other channels.

    Posted in: Web

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  27. HTML5 Doesn't Like You Citing People

    jake on 2008.02.21 at 12:01 am

    Yesterday Mark Pilgrim pointed out something odd in the HTML5 draft spec. In the reference for the cite element (including a snarky comment) the author has declared that people cannot be cited. At least not with the cite element (neither can ships, but they only really offer wisdom in cartoons). As we push for more semantics this draft pulls them away.

    A person’s name is not the title of a work — even if people call that person a piece of work — and the element must therefore not be used to mark up people’s names.

    Read More

    Posted in: Programming · Rant · Web

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  28. Disrespect via Twitter

    brian on 2008.02.01 at 01:43 am

    I’ve written here before about the misuse of Twitter. I write a lot about Twitter here, both because it’s an interesting new avenue for communications, and because it’s earned a place in my life. Sadly, I’m bringing it up again.

    Tonight the Democrats running for the the office of President of the United States held another debate, this time in Los Angeles, California. I was watching, as were many people on my Twitter stream. However, one person took it upon himself to completely force everyone else off of my stream. I follow only 46 people as of this writing. Some people follow thousands, I realize. Heck 108 people follow me (I’m sure a handful are bots, but still). But I couldn’t read most of their thoughts tonight because one person wanted to dominate the conversation. Actually, conversation is a poor term here. One person turned hijacked my Twitter stream for his personal commentary on every twitch of each candidate.

    After two hours of the debate, this person twittered 38 times.
    A small glimse of the take-over of my Twitter client

    Not one to shy away, I explained my feelings to the verbose one.

    And that’s when things got iffy. Read on for the full story.

    Read More

    Posted in: Web

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  29. Twitter Makes Me Cry

    brian on 2008.01.31 at 03:03 pm

    Poor Twitter has been offline a lot in the last week. I wish them the best in getting the service back up and running smoothly. It makes their bandwidth partners Joyent and their Sun/OpenSolaris servers look weak, too. Anti-Rails people blame Twitter’s Rails roots, as well. However, it’s most likely that Twitter’s user’s demands are simply outstripping what they’ve purchased from Joyent, but in the end it still looks bad.

    It’s a real shame, because the unreliability prevents Twitter from being a very useful communications channel that can reach your friends where ever they may be: email, IM, client, website, and especially mobile via SMS.

    I’m also worried that they have VC funding, but no (publicly announced) business model yet. How long can something exist without paying the bills? (or in their case, the investors)

    I’m looking forward to a future with a stable and available Twitter!


    Twitter and Joyent Divorce!

    The news came only an hour or so after this blog post!

    (source & wording stolen from here)

    Posted in: Web

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  30. Textpattern Plugin Preferences With set_pref

    jake on 2008.01.23 at 05:57 pm

    To insert preferences into the Textpattern database you use a function called set_pref. There is one area of the command that generated confusion while I was working on my latest plugin.

    set_pref($name, $val, $event, $type)

    Most of the information you pass to set_pref is straightforward. The $name and $val are simply the name of the variable for the database and the value of that variable. $event is what the preference is associated with, in this case the name of my plugin. But it’s harder to surmise the effect of $type. And a search through Google and the Textpattern forums returns no explanation.

    Originally I copied another developer and set this value to 0. While this works it also adds all the settings alphabetically to the main preferences tab. Because I already have a separate tab for my plugin (and this option adds clutter) having all the settings duplicated and unformatted is not ideal.

    Setting the $type variable to 2 creates a hidden preference. No more list in the main preferences yet I can access the information. This is how my plugin is now set up.

    I have not made attempts to set the value to 1 nor do I know if there are other possibilities. Please leave a comment if you can explain this further and help other developers.


    Thanks to Mary we now have clarification on the $type setting. If you go into Admin->Preferences you’ll see Basic and Advanced tabs. The 0 and 1 are to place preferences on these respective pages. The Basic tab is primarily for system settings. But the advanced can be used for a few, relevant options.In most circumstances managing the preferences on another page and using the 2 (hidden) setting makes the most sense.

    Posted in: Programming · Web

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  31. Twit or Twerp?

    brian on 2008.01.05 at 01:22 pm

    In this case it’s good to be a twit and bad to be a twerp. This article lays it out–one of a handful I’ve seen recently–so this Twitter-use issue is clearly bugging others in addition to me.

    Are you a Twit or a Twerp –via SteveGarfield of

    Case in point, I’ve been trimming my “following” list to cut out the “twerps.” One recent example is someone I’ve actually met in person, shares two key professional interests with me, is really sharp and friendly. But he would often break all the etiquette rules: tweeting 10 times an hour, having conversations over twitter, psuedo-spamming tweets that advertise every move he makes professionally. Repeat after me: Twitter does not exist to be your spam mechanism.

    The worst part was when he would tweet from church! I’m fine if you want to be open and excited about your faith. But I’m not OK with the play-by-play of the sermon. Four tweets in an hour, all preaching, all from a pew in church? That saddens me. What do his fellow worshippers think when they see him on his phone during the sermon?

    I don’t think that people who are that into church realize that excessive preachiness puts more people off from your faith than attracts to it. And again, Twitter does not exist to be your personal preaching mechanism. Unless you’re a pastor and the point of the account is to spread some faith to your flock. That would actually be a very cool usage of the service! The key here is that the tweet stream would not include tweets from the pastor when he’s annoyed standing inline at the grocery store. It would serve one purpose.

    So, if you want me to follow you on Twitter, be yourself, not a marketer (it’s OK to tell me you’ve launched a new product or made a new blog post so long as it doesn’t make up more than 20% of your content). If you feel there’s an audience for your marketing message via Twitter, please make an account just for that, so that I may opt not to follow it. But if you are interested in me following you, just tell me “What are you doing?”

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  32. Plugin To Import Tumblr Posts Into A Textpattern Site

    jake on 2007.12.30 at 07:50 pm

    Jess, a friend of Brian and I, has had a blog for a few years. And similar to me (and many authors out there) she can be sporadic at times and not post for weeks at a time (Hopefully this has nothing to do with the site needing a refresh).

    Supplementing her blog she’s been posting with Tumblr. Her Tumblog works great for short posts that don’t require a great deal of forethought. Each site handles a different style. Too bad they’re separate.

    To remedy the lack of continuity Brian suggested I build a plugin for her Textpattern site to pull in Tumblr posts. After working on it a couple weekends and going through some testing I’m ready to release my plugin to the masses.

    It is named vag_tumblr_import and now Jess has both sites meshed together. Regardless of where she posts the content is displayed on her primary site.

    More Information…

    Posted in: Programming · Web

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  33. Word of the Year 2007?

    brian on 2007.12.12 at 12:45 pm


    This is the word of the year? Surely, you must be kidding.

    I guess this cements the Internet’s place in influencing culture.

    (Had that not already happened?)

    Posted in: Web

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  34. Mahmoud the Mouth

    brian on 2007.12.05 at 07:47 pm

    Did you know Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad President blogs? At least by his interpretation.

    Does he link to Perez Hilton?

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  35. The Facebook is Following Me

    brian on 2007.11.12 at 02:14 pm

    This morning I went to get doughnuts at a local bakery. After I was done enjoying them, I went to to review the place, since I had read good reviews there and wanted to reciprocate.

    When I was done with the review and hit publish, I got a strange AJAXian popup crawl up on the bottom right corner of my browser window, in a familiar light-grey and blue hue.

    Yelp has sent this story to your Facebook profile.

    Oh, really? And how does Yelp know I have a Facebook profile, and when did they ask me if I was interested in allowing this in the first place?

    I headed to Facebook directly.

    At the top of the page, there was a notification in my news feed that Yelp wanted to send the story to Facebook. So it seems it had not yet made it on my page. There was a learn more link, so I did:

    You do all sorts of interesting things on the internet […]
    There’s no reason that actions like these wouldn’t be as interesting to your friends as the fact that you added a new photo album to Facebook. This is why we’ve created a mechanism by which other websites can, with your permission, publish stories into your Mini-Feed, and potentially into the News Feeds of your friends.

    Oh, really? The good news I found was this:

    If you are logged in to Facebook and take an action on an affiliated site, the website will alert you that it has a story it would like to send to your Facebook profile. You can then choose to take the following actions…

    Which include opting out of sending the story right then and there. Every time a site wishes to send a story, it must ask you first. In fact, there are two layers of privacy here, you can set a global Yes or No on Facebook for the sites that can send data, plus, you’ll always be notified by the affiliate site the moment they are about to send the story (which can then actually be detained by Facebook for your second approval if you so choose). So there are lots of controls to this possibly very cool and/or very invasive new feature.

    My take: Facebook may have another news feed fiasco on its hands. I was pretty startled by the unanticipated popup telling me some random site I was just on was reporting my actions to Facebook. My reaction was, in fact…

    Excuse me?

    Without letting me know ahead of time that this affiliate site program had begun, I had a strong sense of Big Brother. How did this site know I had a profile? Why is Facebook following me around the Internet? I’m thinking others may have a similar reactions.

    The second connection to the News Feed drama is that it is still a very cool feature – but the initial release was a communications failure!

    Posted in: Web

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  36. Leopard's Input Buttons Can Have Color?

    jake on 2007.10.30 at 02:09 am

    Back in college Brian used to randomly proclaim things he was reading online if he thought I’d be interested. He reenacted this over the weekend while I was visiting Boston. He stumbled upon some information involving Leopard’s rendering of submit buttons. Setting a background color removes Safari’s default aqua buttons and produces flat buttons with the declared background color.

    Mr Dominey’s solution of setting a class or removing the styles all together works for restoring the default visuals. But it makes more sense to simply change them from input type="button|submit" to button type="submit". Using button instead of input reaps similar benefits when it comes to inheritance in non Safari browsers too.

    Screenshot of the form test in Safari Beta for Windows Update: I spoke a little hastily last night. Brian thought it best that I test out my theory before mentioning it. Since I don’t have Leopard installed I had to use the Safari beta on Windows. It actually confirmed my hypothesis. Though in the beta Dominey’s solution actually failed. Can anyone take a look in Leopard?

    I also rediscovered that Safari 2 does not handle buttons the same when using the button element. Not too mention IE6’s issues with buttons. They’re still usable but can require a little hacking… but then again what in IE6 doesn’t require a little hacking? ;)

    Posted in: Design · Programming · Standards · Web

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  37. Adam Engst on Twitter

    brian on 2007.10.11 at 12:26 am

    Adam of Tid-Bits fame writes up Twitter, explaining why at first he thought it was useless until the network effect and good content from his friends came across. Offers practical advice to people just discovering Twitter…

    Confessions of a Twitter Convert

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  38. Three Tips for New Podcasters

    brian on 2007.09.25 at 09:46 pm

    This October will be my first anniversary in podcasting. I’ve learned a lot in that time, and still have plenty to learn I’m sure. Podcasting is still a young endeavor, but I’m happy find more and more quality podcasts daily. I’m happy to see so many new faces in the game. But, there’s a learning curve in podcasting. I offer this post as assistance to those who are just getting started. These are the things I’ve found most valuable about getting good audio fidelity, which is so important, in my opinion, to keeping listeners.

    Bonus Tip #–1 – If there’s a PodCamp near you, regardless of your experience, go to it! They’re phenomenally useful! What a great place to start.

    Bonus Tip #0 – buy a Mac. Don’t think you like Macs? Hear me out. The software the comes inside makes podcasting significantly easier. GarageBand is a great piece of entry-level software that no other piece of podcasting software matches when it comes to ease of use, and cheap power. If you use a PC, Audacity will probably be your free weapon of choice, and it’s powerful, but damn hard to use. However, Mac or PC, if you need a application to split stereo tracks into two separate files, Audacity is the only app I know which does this. Apple’s cheapest Mac is the Mac mini which is plenty powerful enough to do everything you need. As with any type of editing (video, audio, photo) more RAM is always better. An iMac or MacBook would also make awesome podcast rigs. Plug a USB mic in, like the Blue Snowball, or the dreamy Røde Podcaster, and you’re set for instant one-track recording.

    Tip #1 – learn how to speak into a microphone. Sounds stupid, but what you may not realize is that there’s technique here, that varies from mic to mic! Many microphones need to be address from only a couple inches away. Your mic should include documentation on how to “address” it, and there is a sweet spot. Also not all mics make all voices sound great. You may have to experiment. May I suggested not speaking directly into the mic, straight on, Instead, address it at a 30-45 degree angle. This is to reduce “plosives” the big bangs and pops of various consonants like “B” and “P.” If you’re blowing your air past the mic instead of directly into it, you can greatly reduce these without buying mic accessories. Oh, and don’t tap or bump the table your mic is on!

    Many more tips after the jump, read more!

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Hardware · Media · Podcasting · Software · Technology · Web

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  39. (not) A boring rant

    brian on 2007.09.03 at 05:07 pm

    The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: A boring rant Look at the management team at NBC Universal. Look at the GE board of directors. Do these people scare the living shit out of you? They sure scare the hell out of me. They’re all buffed and polished and about a hundred and fourteen years old. They look like cadavers who’ve been done up by the world’s best funeral home makeup artist.”

    Fake Steve Jobs has really hit the nail on the head with this post. I’ve been meaning to write something about the NBC and Universal iTunes breakups since first hearing the news last week that NBC was pulling (or iTunes was ceasing sale of) NBCs television shows from iTunes.

    First of all, think it’s a coincidence that NBC and Universal (same company, essentially) both have taken big shots at iTunes recently? First Universal decides to start selling DRM-free music, like Steve Jobs had suggested, but not through Apple. Second, NBC says “let us jack up our prices or we’ll walk” when it comes to iTunes negotiations; Apple replies “don’t let the door of the world’s leading digital entertainment store hit you on the way out.”

    What’s going on here is the beginning of the end: The networks and record labels have finally begun to see the writing on the wall. They’re dinosaurs looking to the skies and wishing away that incoming meteor. But it won’t change things. They are mostly middlemen. And the middlemen in the entertainment realm are quickly being replaced by the network – the Internet. Apple’s the tip of the iceberg of said Internet. The Wal-Mart of internet digital media retail, with 70% of the market in a strangle hold (a funny comparison considering Wal-Mart is actually in the digital media retail space, as well) These distributors want to have Apple’s dominant position, so they’re trying to play hard ball. But they can’t beat Apple because they simply don’t understand internet distribution. Apple does, and they’re willing to share. The studios shouldn’t reinvent the wheel – just use Apple (and Apple’s competitors) for digital distribution, and spend your time doing whatever else you guys do.

    We’ll continue to see media distributors attempting to fight Apple, tooth and nail, because it’s the only way to stave off their irrelevancy. But any injunction they come to will only be temporary. Apple will win, and thankfully for once, consumers will win because for the first time, consumers have a say: if you don’t give us the media we want, in the way we want it, we’ll go elsewhere to get it the way we want it, when we want it, and you won’t get a dime. We have BitTorrent. iTunes is currently the only seriously good alternative to BitTorrent.

    Free advice to the middlemen: stave off your irrelevance a little longer by flexing your editorial muscle and find really good material to sell – not the mind-melting junk you’ve spit out for years. And then sell it where and when the consumer wants at a reasonable price. Apple knows what consumers want and iTunes is a grand step in the right direction. Once all DRM is dropped (the vast majority of consumers won’t need piracy if they’re given a good product at a good price) we’ll be in the promised land of digital media commerce.

    Otherwise, you’re just fast-tracking yourself to a slow and painful demise.

    You need your customers more than they need you.

    Posted in: Apple · Media · Movies · Music · Television · Web

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  40. I wish you used Twitter

    brian on 2007.09.03 at 01:27 am


    It’s your friend Brian. Remember when we used know what each other was up to on a day-to-day basis? The good old days before we had jobs and lived in close proximity? Yes, life has lead us apart a little, as it does. Phone calls, email and even IMs dwindle unintentially. But, some geeks in San Francisco have made something that brings back a little of that day-to-day contact.

    I don’t want this to sound like an infomercial, but there’s this thing called Twitter, and its kinda wonderful. I’d love it if you signed up, and then you and I, and our common friends could all see what everyone else is up to. Its entirely free, and as simple as sending an instant message. 100s of 1000s are using it already, worldwide.

    What is Twitter?

    What is it? 
    Twitter is a community of friends and strangers from around the world sending updates about moments in their lives. Friends near or far can use Twitter to remain somewhat close while far away…

    Ok… so how does it work? You can send updates in three ways: send a text message from your mobile phone, type a message from the Twitter site, or instant message… (source: )

    Its a web service that asks you to simply type what you’re up to, in only 140 characters. Then the service sends your update (known as a “tweet”) to all your friends who you’ve let follow you on Twitter. Your tweet can be something profound or something random. Both are great!

    You can update and receive updates from the web site at, over an IM network (AIM, GTalk), over SMS (text message on your cell phone), and through other things like desktop widgets and plug ins on other websites, like Facebook.

    So, if you have a moment, sign up for Twitter. You won’t get spammed and its super easy to sign up and use. If you’re confused by anything I’ve talked about, email me and I’d be happy to entertain any questions, or send you a direct invite to Twitter. Here I am on Twitter: – my updates are public: anyone can see them and follow my updates. Many people choose to only let their friends follow.

    For the rest of this piece, I’m going to go a little more in depth on Twitter, especially on how to get the most out of it for the least effort.

    The very first thing to realize is that it may take a week or two to really get a lot out of Twitter, because you need to achieve critical mass. Stick with it! You probably need five friends or so to join up and post about three times a day to really get and enjoy Twitter immensely. So perhaps the first two things you should do are 1) commit to posting three times a day, 2) invite a bunch of your friends! You’re welcome to point them to this blog post if you need help explaining what Twitter is – its hard to explain, but easy to love!

    More important stuff is coming up, read on!

    Read More

    Posted in: Cool Info · Technology · Web

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  41. Unstoppable Robot Ninja

    jake on 2007.08.15 at 02:13 pm

    I just wanted to say a quick congratulations to Mr Marcotte for his new site. I love the blinking eyes.

    Patting Ethan on the back is becoming the meme of the day.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  42. Facebook and LinkedIn

    brian on 2007.08.07 at 10:42 pm

    Jeff Pulver writing in Business Week that he’s leaving LinkedIn for Facebook for his business networking. Ditto from his personal blog.

    Jeff pulver says he’s leaving LinkedIn for the Facebook. (Yes, actually that’s how the creator refers to it, The Facebook, but I’m going refer to it with out the “the.”) I have been on Facebook for a while, but recently I’ve been considering joining LinkedIn. Here’s why: social vs. professional. On Facebook, I only friend people I can have a non-awkward conversation with. Only people I would or have socialized with in real-life. It’s my offline life, online. As with Twitter, I find it loses value as you add people you only know tangentially, if that. I was looking for a place for personal connections, and I have a blog (actually a couple, and that’s growing too) that the general public can view, without having to know the ins and outs of my personal details.

    I like Facebook a lot. If it becomes a business hotspot, I would love to use it as such, but I couldn’t and will not use it as such in its current form. I need a wall between the personal and the business realm. A friends-facing Facebook and a colleagues-facing FB. I don’t want a potential future client to be reading the sexual bragging of my friends on my Wall. OK, none of my friends have actually done that yet, but since FB gives you that ability, it’s something to think about.

    I suggest making a simple check box when adding a friend, that is similar to a choice that Flickr gives you (Mark this contact as… [] Friend []Family) that would allow you to mark someone as business acquaintance and/or personal acquaintance, and then in the privacy settings you would choose what features are visible to which viewers.

    Will Facebook grow to allow this Janus1-like ability? Will people flock back to LinkedIn after their first personal/professional crossed signal? Only time will tell.

    1 fun fact: Janus–an ancient Italian deity, guardian of doorways and gates and protector of the state in time of war. He is usually represented with two faces, so that he looks both forward and backward.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  43. Sorry Our Servers are Taking a Smoke Break

    brian on 2007.06.28 at 02:27 am

    I’m a big fan of WGBH in Boston. Tonight, I’m doing some work and listening to their nightly jazz. It’s 11:30 and they’re playing a song that’s just great, and I want to know who it’s by. GBH is down

    Saunter over to and I see this note…

    This site is temporarily down as we are moving the servers to our new building in Brighton, Mass.

    Please pardon the inconvenience. We expect to complete the move quickly, and look forward to welcoming you back to all of our pages soon.

    Because they are handled by a different server, our donation pages are fully functioning and secure. You can still pledge or renew online right now. Thank you for your support.

    Donate using our online donation form

    Thank you for your patience, and come back soon!

    Ouch! So GBH is this world-famous media company (a non-profit, but a seriously successful one) and they have these wonderful new studios in Brighton… and they have to shut down their entire site to move the servers? Really?

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  44. First Personal Podcast

    brian on 2007.06.22 at 04:18 pm

    Last Wednesday, my colleague Josh Porter and I recorded an impromptu podcast as part of an experiment. The experimental software worked, and here’s part one of our podcast:

    Joshua Porter and Brian Christiansen: An Impromptu Podcast.

    In part one we discussed political campaigns’ use of the new “YouTube” medium.

    I hope to get part two up next week.

    Leave any comments here.

    Posted in: Service Announcement · Technology · Web

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  45. Myspace allows pound sign (#) for bands.

    jake on 2007.06.21 at 11:33 am

    Yesterday I was helping Kate out by tweaking the Myspace page for her radio program in Tassie. I discovered that, unlike on personal pages1, on a band’s page you can actually use the pound sign (#) in the edit boxes. This opens up a handful more hooks into the tag soup that is Myspace. My hatred level just went down .01 points.

    It’s no secret that Myspace makes me want to turn off my Internet. Facebook is better even though their new 3rd party applications are allowing morons, with a day of programming experience, to port over terrible Myspace features (I also like Virb)…

    But this means that when they were writing up the code for bands section they might have learned something from all the mistakes they made on personal pages. This isn’t exactly a revelation akin to them hiring some actual professionals to redesign and rewrite their code. But if you’re fighting with their code on a band (and possibly a film?) page at least you know about this one extra hook.

    1 For some help with personal pages go to Mike or Henrik.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  46. WWDC 07

    brian on 2007.06.12 at 12:02 am

    Today is WWDC Keynote day, and I have a lot to say about how today seems like a disappointment at first, until you dig deeper and see exactly what kind of profound effect these seemingly small annoucements could have on a couple of industries. If you agree (or not) please leave a comment, and link up the post. This has to get out to web developers and phone developers, and fast. I can see my jet pack now…

    Please read on, I think you’ll enjoy it.

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Standards · Web

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  47. Using PHP's SimpleXML to display OPML

    jake on 2007.05.19 at 06:25 pm

    We like sharing OPML files listing the feeds Brian and I read. Originally we used a simple script that just spit out a long unordered list without much structure. Over time the file it was based on disappeared and the code became muddled. It was time to start fresh.

    After some searching I found the Optimal OPML Browser which looked to be a good replacement with minimal effort. But after it failed to work I discovered that our host does not have all the requirements installed.

    What to do?

    In a recent article Tim Koschuetzki wrote about parsing, the more general, XML with PHP 5’s new SimpleXML. Using SimpleXML and a recursive function I could now sift through the OPML and write out some XHTML compliant code.

    First a recursive function modified from Tim’s simple indented text display.

    function displayChildrenRecursive($xmlObj,$depth=1) {
    	if (count($xmlObj->children()) > 0) { echo str_repeat("\t",$depth).''<ul class="opmlGroup">'."\n"; }
    	foreach($xmlObj->children() as $child) {
    		if (isset($child['htmlUrl'])) {
    			echo str_repeat("t",$depth).'<li><a href="'.htmlentities($child['htmlUrl']).'" title="'.htmlentities($child['description']).'">'.htmlentities($child['text']).'</a> [<a href="'.htmlentities($child['xmlUrl']).'">XML Feed</a>]</li>'."n";
    		} elseif (isset($child['text']) && !isset($child['htmlUrl'])) {
    			echo str_repeat("\t",$depth).'<li><h'.($depth+1).'>'.htmlentities($child['text']).'</h'.($depth+1).'>'."n";
    	if (count($xmlObj->children()) > 0) { 
    		echo str_repeat("\t",$depth).'</ul>'."\n"; 
    		if ($depth > 1) { echo str_repeat("\t",$depth-1).'</li>'."\n"; }

    The first thing you see is an if statement to check for children. When children are found it creates a new unordered list to wrap them in. It then loops through all of said children looking for new possible groups and any actual feeds. Notice the function being called within itself to spit out children’s children. And finally a check again to close out that depth’s list.

    Now that we have the function to parse through the file we need to create a new instance of the SimpleXML object and call the function.

    $opmlFile = new SimpleXMLElement("path to OPML file",null,true);

    One thing you may notice is that instead of referencing the entire object I target only the body with $opmlFile->body. This gives us the list of feeds instead of the entire file.

    Again we have a functional method for listing OPML files. And this more robust method leaves things open for future modifications. Please let me know if you have any questions about the above method.

    Posted in: Programming · Web

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  48. The Next NetNewsWire Loves Twitter

    brian on 2007.05.15 at 12:56 am

    The next revision of NetNewsWire will sport a feature to send a link to Twitterific.

    It will also support text resizing (long a complaint of mine) and microformats! Hooray for old-school usability and new school web2point0hishness.

    Posted in: Software · Standards · Web

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  49. News Writing for the Web

    brian on 2007.05.12 at 11:29 pm

    Cory Bergman – How to Write for the Web – Lost Remote

    I’ve been mulling over a “future of local news” post for a long time for this blog. I worked on it for a while today, some of my inspiration comes from Lost Remote. They’re an awesome resource for old media types looking to do the web right, or people watching old media crawl into the brave new world.

    I wanted to get this link out now, because I don’t know how many revisions its going to take to get my long piece out the door saying what I want it to say.

    If you’re interested in writing in a journalistic style, this guide is heavily grounded in the proper newspaper style, but a little more casual like the web. Quality advice.

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  50. Clean Archives in Wordpress

    jake on 2007.05.12 at 04:33 pm

    While working on Kate’s site recently I stumbled upon an issue with the SRG Clean Archives plugin I installed last year. When the plugin is displaying the archive it makes a lot of extra calls to the database. This slows down the page a lot just to display the number of comments a post has. And the more posts you have the slower it gets.

    My solution is to simply add a join to the second query so that it grabs the comment count for each post in one call. To implement this fix you replace the second query with the following (currently line 32).

     $arcresults2 = $wpdb->get_results("SELECT ID, post_date, post_title, comment_status, count(".$wpdb->comments.".comment_id) as comments_count FROM " . $wpdb->posts . " LEFT JOIN ".$wpdb->comments." ON ".$wpdb->posts.".id=".$wpdb->comments.".comment_post_ID AND (".$wpdb->comments.".comment_approved='1') WHERE post_date LIKE '$thisyear-$thismonth-%' AND $current_posts AND post_status='publish' AND post_password='' group by ID ORDER BY post_date DESC");

    Now you get comments_count almost (using $arcresult2->comments_count) just like before with the single call. The final step to showing the count is to uncomment the code toward the bottom, remember you only need the if statement and not the extra queries, and replace $comments_count with $arcresult2->comments_count.

    I sent these code updates to the original author Shawn Grimes. He has passed the plugin’s maintenance to another Sean so I thought sharing would be nice for both the new author and the general public. Please let me know if I let any bugs through or if anything is unclear. Thanks to Shawn and Sean for building this plugin in the first place.

    Posted in: Programming · Web

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  51. Daring Fireball is a Deadbeat.

    brian on 2007.05.01 at 09:10 pm

    UPDATED below

    What can you do when a favorite blogger breaks your heart?

    There’s been a recent trend: bloggers going full time, supported by their loyal readers. But what do their supporters get? For the most part, they get some quality content. But what happens when the bloggers let down their readership?

    Sadly this is happening to me. Someone whose opinion I respect greatly, John Gruber has let me down. Its clear that his business acumen is not what his Mac punditry is.

    I signed up to be a supporter of Daring Fireball’s during its first pledge drive. For the first year, John’s writing was of high quality, but poor frequency. He talked about various features (comments come to mine) that never materialized. I was disappointed in my investment. Additionally, I had originally signed up with an old AOL email address, because it was what was hooked up to my PayPal account. Attempting to leave that address I asked John to change my account over to a more current address. It took several months for that to occur. This was a bad omen. I continued to have a couple issues with the authenticated feed.

    DF’s frequency picked up dramatically about a month or so before his first year was up. It was reminiscent of a baseball player in the last year of his contract— batting average jumped 20 points.

    In response to this, I decided to re-up my membership. Additionally, I invested in one of his t-shirts, to say “I appreciate your new dedication, keep heading in this direction.” This was the end of October 2006.

    Today is the end of April of 2007. What can I do?

    Tonight, I sent John yet another email. I’ve been writing every few months. I’m very patient. But come April, I had had enough. Seeing him post about other blogger’s t-shirts, designing special editions of his t-shirts and selling those, reading Twitter posts about him sending out batches of aforementioned shirts. But yet, he can’t return my emails?

    Actually, John did respond to one email, March 25… to an email I had sent exactly one month earlier. It said,

    Ends up I never did add your order to the list. I’m sorry, it’s
    totally my fault.

    I’m printing a shipping label for you tonight. Size Medium,
    classic gray shirt…
    I’ve also added an extra year to your membership, extending it
    through October 2008, as a token of my thanks for your patience
    and support for DF.

    Well, half of that wound up to be true. If I log into his website, I can see my subscription was extended. This tells me that I’m at least in the database. I’ve sent at least three follow-up emails since then, asking what happened to the shirt that was suppose to ship. Dead air.

    But what can I do now? is just a busy signal for me.

    Has anyone considered the business practices of subscription bloggers? It’s one thing to try to eek out a living via Google ads and maybe the occasional speaking engagement, but when you openly solicit readers’ money, what recourse do readers have?

    Is anyone else having these problems? Is John, or any other for-pay bloggers, mistreating their customers? If so, how would anyone know?

    I’ve sent one final email to John before contacting my Credit Card company and PayPal to register a complaint. Since John’s a member of the Deck, I’m considering contacting them as well. They should know that his poor business practices are not reflecting on their brand and their advertiser’s brands well. I really don’t want to do this over $29. But it is simply insulting to take my money and then screw me over.

    UPDATED May 2

    My strategy was this: Write a final letter to JG Apr 30. Publish a blog post May 1, and if by the end of the night I didn’t hear anything, email various higher-profile bloggers to point out my post, in the hopes of gaining some attention, along with dropping a note to The Deck, his advertising network. If nothing happened by tonight, I would send a second round of emails to the various Apple blogs.

    Interestingly I found a priority mail envelope in my mail this afternoon containing one Daring Fireball T-shirt. No note saying “sorry about all this” or anything. It’s a shame JG couldn’t have responded to my email with the heads up before I sent out those emails. Not that this invalidates any of those. It’s still ridiculous that I had to go through all of this to get a stupid t-shirt. But at least I didn’t have to go to the second round.

    End Update

    Posted in: Web

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  52. National Geographic Doesn't Understand Podcasts

    brian on 2007.04.11 at 12:06 am

    I really enjoy the content National Geographic produces. They create some amazing things. However, they need to learn about podcasting.

    I’ve been listening to NatGeo podcasts for a couple weeks now, and boy do they bug me. There’s some great content in there, but to get to it, you have to listen to a deluge of blaring orchastral music (many times louder than NPR, and the music isn’t nearly as interesting) then you have to listen to a host with a near-characterization of a radio voice advertise the upcoming topics which will happen in about five minutes. Of course, they would be happening now if we weren’t listening to this damn list of story pitches.

    Then they mix in some lame segments where they talk really briefly to someone who talks as if he’s in his early 20s… as far as I can tell, that’s his only reason for being… they must think only teens listen?

    My advice, if I were asked how to improve the NatGeo podcasts: drop the intros, or make them just the titles of the segments, shorten the music until its just long enough to serve it’s purpose of story-spacer. Stop the radio-announcer impression, and speak as if I had your voice in my ear bud… which is to say, as if you had something cool to read me out of the National Geographic Magazine. Express the famous National Geographic personality that makes your magazine so great. Don’t pretend to be Fox telling NatGeo stories.

    To summarize, relax. You’re on the internet.

    FWIW – I’ve only been listening to the NatGeo News Podcast. There are several others also available that I have not listened to.

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  53. Blogging Involves People, Thus Inherently Broken

    brian on 2007.04.10 at 11:29 pm

    Many present the idea of a blogging code.

    I ask, why not just have a “humanity code?”

    This will be forgotten within months. Humanity will continue on the same. In the same vein, I don’t think Imus should be fired. People will say stupid things. Sometimes they will mean them, sometimes they just are temporarily idiotic. I don’t think Don Imus is a racist. Just an idiot. Occasionally. He does host some high-quality political banter some times. Baby meet bath water. If it’s OK to say “nappy headed hos” in a rap song on the radio, then Don Imus should be in no danger of firing.

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  54. Bad behavior in the blogosphere

    brian on 2007.03.29 at 09:40 pm

    Bad behavior in the blogosphere / Vitriolic comments aimed at tech writer make some worry about downside of anonymity

    An excellent summary and analysis the awful situation that has been surrounding Kathy Sierra this week.

    It’s truly sad that some people are still stuck in the stone ages. And not even that is an excuse worthy of this kind of filth.

    Here’s hoping Kathy can come back strong from this. Good luck Kathy.

    Posted in: Web

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  55. What to do at An Event Apart Boston

    brian on 2007.03.25 at 11:50 pm

    major UPDATE!

    Yeah, clearly, I cannot read simple tables. I thought there was two tracts, but clearly I am an idiot. So the below list of courses are one’s I’m looking forward to, not just the ones I’m attending, because I’m attending all of them. The upside is I get to see everything! (So I’ve re-written the post so that it makes sense.)

    Twelve hours out from An Event Apart Boston, and I’m trying to plan out what sessions I’m going to attend. It’s not easy.

    As of right now, this is my tentative schedule.

    • Good vs. Great DesignCameron Moll Looking forward to seeing Cameron in person!

    *Secrets of CSS JediEric Meyer This will be an in-depth exploration of how CSS really works, and how this knowledge can make your work easier.

    • Writing the User InterfaceJeffrey Zeldman :: I’ve never seen the “Z-man” in person (He probably couldn’t pick me out of a line up, though. But why would he need to?) so this should be great. That and the topic is really interesting, the idea of writing as design, which I think receives much less attention than it deserves.
    • Redesigning Your Way Out of a Paper BagJason Santa Maria :: We’re in the midsts of redesigning one of our sites at work (due out soon) and am interested.
    • The Web Usability DietSteve Krug :: Let’s see what Steve has to say. I really enjoyed reading his book when I first got seriously interested in usability.
    • Selling DesignJeffrey Zeldman :: The most successful designers can sell their ideas, not just make them beautiful. Z is certainly one of the best sellers of design out there, and I’m interested in hearing how.
    • Interface Design JugglingDan Cederholm :: I’m always reading about how hard Dan works on his presentations, so I feel I should see how they turn out. Forget that his work is some of the finest examples of understated elegance, executed in fine CSS, available.

    Wow, what a murderer’s row. I’m excited. I’m likely not to attend the post-conference party Monday night, since I live locally, won’t have anything to do during the hour gap between the end of the last session and the party, and thus I’ll be pretty wiped with the hour T commute both ways. So if you want to talk to me (I’m very popular) you’ll want to find me during the day. If the WiFi is good, I should also be twittering, so hopefully you can follow me on my Twitter feed.

    Looking forward to tomorrow.

    Posted in: Design · Standards · Web

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  56. Don't expose yourself on Facebook.

    jake on 2007.03.18 at 04:04 pm

    One of Facebook’s most exciting features is the news-feed. Whenever someone updates their information you get a little notice in your feed. Myspace on the other hand requires you to visit every friend’s page individually to find out one little tidbit of information has changed. Perhaps I’ve just been spoiled by RSS/Atom but I find that to be a big deal.

    The one issue that might crop up is that different people want to share different information. When the feature was first released many users grabbed their torches and pitchforks. This struck me as funny since all this information was already available.

    Luckily there is a solution to this imaginary conundrum. Change the security settings. The information covers more than just the mini-feed and I’d recommend evaluating how much you want to share before following it verbatim.

    Personally I left plenty of things exposed but who wants a secret getting to the wrong people?

    Found at Lifehacker

    Posted in: Web

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  57. Blogumentary

    brian on 2007.03.13 at 02:07 am

    I just finished watching “Blogumentary” a film by Chuck Olsen. You may recognize that name if you’ve watched Rocketboom, where he is an occasional contributor, or if you’re really into the vlogs, he is also Minnesota Stories.

    In truth, I was bored and had had the Google Video Player link sitting on my desktop for about two months staring up at me “Blogumentary.gvp” as if it were lonely. Other icons came and went, but this one held fast. I figured I’d give it a click, be bored after five minutes and be able to finally toss that sorry file into the trash can.

    Chuck Olsen, Blogumentary Maker

    One hour five minutes later, that didn’t happen.

    I’d like to recommend this film to people in our audience who fall in to two categories. First, if there’s anyone in the audience who has a blog they don’t write at much, or perhaps someone who is thinking about writing one. Maybe you use Facebook or MySpace, or maybe you just casually read some blogs, but you’re not an alpha-blog-geek. Perhaps you’re a professionally trained writer and you’re tempted to “do the right thing” and start a blog. I encourage you to watch the film. I think you’ll get a great background in blogs, and be inspired.

    Second, if you were a fan of the Howard Dean presidential campaign, you’ll really enjoy the section on the first campaign blog (Howard’s) and how the internet changed the face of American politics forever. Includes significant and insightful interview time with Joe Trippi, and footage inside the Dean HQ. Makes me want to cry this many years later, how much promise that campaign had, all ruined by a media smear campaign that may not be matched again in my lifetime. Coverage starts at about the 40 minute mark. Don’t think this is an unbalanced documentary, though. Chuck spends equal time with the people who think the New York Times is in the business of printing Democratic propaganda and that Democrats rule the media — the guys at

    [Transgression: This has nothing to do this the movie, skip to the next paragraph before this gets ugly… Question: if the Democrats have free reign in the media, then how would they have let it get this bad? Why would Democrats continue to look like bozos? People who think this also think people who believe climate change is a real threat have a hidden agenda. Yah, they’re going to get rich saving those spotted owls… somehow… and when we figure it out…]

    I don’t really have more to say about the film other than it was excellent. I encourage anyone to see it, if you are a web geek, you’ll see and hear “famous” web people in the flesh, instead of in phosphor, which is cool in and of itself. Go watch now. The video quality was excellent and the streaming of the data was flawless over WiFi to my beloved MacBookPro.

    Posted in: Media · Movies · Web

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  58. Still Hate MySpace

    brian on 2007.03.11 at 12:40 pm

    When last I left you, I had decided to join the social website evolution, and sign up for both Facebook and MySpace. Tellingly, MySpace was so broken that day that I never signed up, and I wrote a lengthy post to both whine about that and praise Facebook, which is a worthy waste of time.

    Time has past since that post, and now the update. I’ve endured every roadblock that NewsCorp has laid in my way, and joined MySpace too. And it sucks every bit as much as I thought it did before actually using it. I’m not surprised.


    What does surprise me is the level of suckiness that comes from MySpace’s IT. Their servers really suck. I wouldn’t be surprised if they ran on Windows. Every third page I attempt to load fails due to a server gasping for air. You’d think NewsCorp could spring for a couple extra 386 boxes for Tom to cram into his studio apartment. At least, that’s where I think this shit box is hosted. Unbelievable.

    OK, now that I have that out of my system (you know, “I’m right, but they’re billionaires anyway.”) I’d like to say I have reconnected with some old friends on there and I’m happy about that. However, the communications have already worn thin. So this may just have fizzled out quickly.

    Posted in: Web

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  59. Reaction from Tufte's Boston class

    brian on 2007.02.24 at 12:47 pm

    I had the good fortune to attend Edward Tufte‘s roadshow in Boston this past Thursday.

    Edward Tufte Presents

    I enjoyed the class immensely. I didn’t even get drowsy. Now, why would I ever endorse anything by saying I didn’t get drowsy? Well, first thing to know is that I have a predilection for sleep. Even if I’m doing something that interests me, if I’m sitting still long enough, especially if the room is darkened, I start to yawn and my eyelids start to droop. It’s not a reflection of the content, just the way I’m wired.

    This might seem somewhat off topic, but I contend it’s not. An understanding of Edward Tufte’s topic is necessary. One of ET’s favorite topics is how PowerPoint is not a good way of expressing content (or Evidence, as he usually calls information). So this means from 10am to 4:30pm he pretty much just talked. Nothing projected behind him, except five images, and one 10 second (slow-motion) video. And those took up maybe (generously) 1% of the time. So for the most part I sat at a table behind about 500 other people about 50 yards from ET, in a grand ballroom at the Park Plaza. Sounds awful. I even had my nose in a book much of the time.

    However, that’s where ET asked us to place our noses. He gave us his four books and that’s where most of his content was. It’s was just like high school, “Please turn to page to 102-103 in Beautiful Evidence“ and we’d look at something Gallieo made, hundreds of years ago. Of course, his coup de grace was that he would then send someone around with Gallieo’s actual first edition of the book — that was pretty incredible.

    There’s much more to this post, so please read on!

    Read More

    Posted in: Books · Design · Web

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  60. Fark.TV on Super Deluxe

    brian on 2007.01.26 at 03:14 am

    Fark.TV logoI’m not a regular reader of but tonight I stumbled upon Fark.TV at SuperDeluxe.

    (All videos thus far)
    SuperDeluxe Logo
    A backstory to Fark.TV

    The only problem I can see right now is that it’s not available as a podcast. If it were, instant subscribe.

    Also interesting, SuperDeluxe is a Turner site. Now I remember Dominey posting about it…

    ( thx. SteveGarfield of )

    Posted in: Humor · Media · Web

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  61. Now with Twitter

    brian on 2007.01.15 at 02:53 am

    I’m now a Twitter user. Thus far I’ve set it up to display on the front page of my homepage, and I’ve setup IM updating, so I can IM a twitter bot and have it automatically update. Very cool.

    Twitter people: you should totally set this up to integrate with Facebook, because your whole service does the exact same thing as their “status.”

    I hope to integrate my Twitter status on this and my other blog, as well. For now, I don’t see me using it on my cell phone. Do you have Twitter? If so, leave a comment and I’ll add you to my list!


    Got the second blog up and running already. :-)

    A terribly cute blue bird is the Twitterific by Iconfactory

    Update 2:

    Apparently the Mac world is in love with Twitter. Example one, Twitterific, a little psuedo-app for Mac OS X allowing interactivity with the Twitter service. And Example two is Chitter, a plug-in to iChat that combines your away messages with your Twitter status, which is frankly brilliant.

    At the moment Twitterific is at 1.0 but a lot of people can’t seem to get it to post, although they can read from it. And Chitter is pre-1.0. Nascent. But very promising.

    Plus Twitterific has the cutest icon, ever.

    Posted in: Web

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  62. is

    brian on 2007.01.10 at 01:07 pm

    Here’s an observation: it’s been long known that was owned by Apple and redirected to masks

    But now if you visit, it actually masks the whole URL, so you can go to any page within Apple’s site and its still “” like this screen shot I grabbed of

    If nothing else, that’s interesting.

    Posted in: Apple · Web

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  63. Making an Appearance on Facebook

    brian on 2006.12.23 at 11:44 am

    Many of you out there may have heard me proclaim, “MySpace? Yuck! Never.” Quite simply, it offended my design sensibilities. Actually, strike that. It still does. It’s a freaking mess. I also lumped Facebook in with that. Not because it was ugly, but because it was a walled garden that came out after I could have signed up from college, and it was sort of like MySpace, and I couldn’t really see in, so I just assumed.

    Well two things have happened since then. One, Facebook opened its doors to everyone, and two, I now work at a web think tank, where we tend to mention MySpace or Facebook daily. Finally, the other day I caved. Research, of course. Actually, I’ve decided that there are enough good things about the social networking sites that outweigh the bad (and in MySpace’s case, the awful). Mainly, I wanted a place where old friends from high school or college could stumble upon me. I’ve come to realize very few of my in-contact friends have ever visited my blogs, which is what I reasoned was my substitute for these sites. Thus, I doubted anyone would want to stumble over me so much that they would Google me, but there’s a significant chance that they would find me when browsing one of these sites for classmates. I attempted to sign up for both MySpace and Facebook.

    As if trying to sure-up my opinion about it, MySpace shit the bed while I was trying to sign up. “A Message was sent to our technical team.” Jake says “Their technical team is a bunch of 12 year olds.” So are their designers. Listen up: any site that auto-plays music deserves a good punch in the developer’s face.

    That sent me to Facebook.

    Read More

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  64. More Flickr to love

    brian on 2006.12.16 at 05:29 pm

    Flickr gift box
    Hey, great news for Flickr fans!

    “the two gigabyte monthly limit is no more (yep, pro users have no limits on how many photos they can upload)! At the same time, we’ve upped the limit for free account members as well, from 20MB per month up to 100MB (yep, five times more)!”


    Posted in: Photography · Web

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  65. Hitting it big on the Internets

    brian on 2006.11.12 at 08:22 pm

    A friend of mine from Apple is friends with a bunch of young guys. These guys made a website. People liked it. Most people have never heard of it, though. These guys came in several times to the store, and I helped them with their Macs a handful of times. They were all very pleasant. I didn’t recognize them at that point, except Aaron, who I had met at a Berkman meeting with Dave Winer.

    One day, my friend Emilie brought back a 12” PowerBook to me with some Reddit stickers on it. She asked if I could make some small repair to it, saying it was for a friend. I did, of course, and handed it back to her. I asked “Hey, what’s your friend’s connection to Reddit?”

    “Oh, he and a couple of my other friends made it. You’ve heard of it?”

    “Yes. Of course, I’m a web geek.”

    “Cool! They’ll be so happy you’ve heard of them, I’ll tell them!”

    When I came out of the back, trailing Emilie on her way to hand the machine back, I then realized I had helped the other guys a handful of times in the past.

    Of course, now a few more people have now heard of Reddit. Those pleasant people were acquired by CondeNast on Halloween.

    Good for them. Nice to see nice things happen to nice people. Of course, many of you would cry if you knew how young these guys are. Then again, Aaron was the co-author of the RSS 2.0 spec at age 15. He’s an old man now compared to then.

    Here are two of Aaron’s blogposts on the acquisition:

    and a summary of the news from around the techworld:

    Good Luck to them.

    Posted in: Web

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  66. Amazon Unlocks Scale for the Little Guy.

    brian on 2006.11.12 at 03:57 pm

    This article on Amazon’s non-retail services is terribly interesting, and I think, a great direction for Amazon to be going. I wouldn’t expect Wall Street to understand. They don’t like the long term view. Maybe a company like Amazon would be better off as a privately owned company…

    But, what’s more is that I think its good for more than just Amazon… I think these services have the chance of unlocking some of the advantages big businesses have over the little guy. Mom and Pop shops certainly can have a server farm in the back, or a network of retail distribution hubs… but now, they can.

    Take a look at the article. I like Bezos’ attitude.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  67. I hope you're having a Happy Halloween

    jake on 2006.10.31 at 03:38 pm

    It is very difficult figuring out if this is an awesome Halloween or a crappy one. I’m stuck at home sick today. This means I don’t get to dress up later and play Frisbee. It also means I get to watch scary movies all day and keep up the spirit in my Halloween pajama bottoms and a Halloweeny t-shirt.

    Being healthy and playing Frisbee is probably the optimum choice. Especially since it’s a typical cold that lends itself to being feverish and sporting a scratchy throat. If anything I write today sounds silly, just assume it’s the cold medicine.

    Here are some more Halloween themed links for any last minute preparations you might have.

    Have a Super Spooky Halloween!

    So everyone have a wonderful day. Now that The Price is Right is over I can concentrate on relaxing and trying to scare myself.

    Posted in: Art · Cool Info · Holiday · Recent Events · Web

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  68. Brian's New Job

    brian on 2006.10.06 at 01:37 pm

    Well, big news from my camp. I’m pleased to announce that I have accepted a job offer from User Interface Engineering. At UIE I look forward to working on some print design and layout, some website development, and some all-around general helping out, since they are a wonderfully small business where everyone has to help out with a little of everything. My first days with them will be helping out at their UI11 conference, which is starting this Monday 9-Oct (reception Sunday). I have no idea what I’ll be doing there, but I’ll be there! Logistics, I imagine.

    I met Jared Spool, the CEO/Founder of UIE, at PodCamp Boston 2006. I was excited to see he was on the presenter list and made sure to attend his session, which was one of the most interesting there. It’s clear why he’s such a popular speaker. Anyhow, I stalked him afterwards, and asked him “Where do you find employees?” He suggested I head over to their website, read a few things and email him with my thoughts. I did, and that’s turned out pretty well so far.

    I look forward to learning a great deal from my new co-workers. It will be great to get back to my roots of design, both digital and print. I look forward to the unknown factor as well… what else am I going to be a part of? I’m terribly excited.

    I looked at their website, and I have to say, I have no idea what they do there. -Dad

    There are downsides to the new position. One is that the office is in North Andover. OK, there’s nothing bad about that other than I have to drive from Medford to get there. Luckily it’s only about a 35 minute commute (I estimate), but I have to buy a car to get there. Now, personally, I love cars. But I’ll actually miss the public transit commute. Yes, believe it or not. I’ll also miss that I could ride my bike to work about 50% of the time. A lot. Most of my cycling was commuting. Now, I’ll have to find a new way to work that into my routine. But, now that I have my nights and weekends again, that remains a possibility. One major bonus is that my commute brings me right by the Harold Parker State Forest, which I hear is prime mountain biking terrain. I look forward to finding that out on my own. Clearly after I iron out the car, I’ll need to get a bike rack for it.

    On my other blog, I’m going to discuss the commute and the search for the new car, as well.

    Lastly, you might say What? Brian’s leaving Apple? Yes, I’m a pretty proud Apple employee. I look forward to continuing to use Apple products daily in my new job (still need to discuss this, but I have a good feeling about it). However, for the time being, I’ve mostly worked out staying on in a limited, part time role. So you’ll still be able to find me behind the Genius Bar. This is partly because I have such loyalty to my co-workers (they are truly great) and partly I have great deal of loyalty to Apple the company (they’ve earned it — I’m mostly leaving for family reasons [that is to say I need nights and weekends to see my wife and family]).

    Of course, Rain Hypertext is still alive and well.

    Posted in: Apple · Cool Info · Service Announcement · Web

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  69. Need a blog job?

    brian on 2006.09.28 at 01:19 am

    Hey, if I were qualified (lets say these aren’t necessary qualifications if you were any other genre of org) I’d apply for it, but look, NPR is hiring an official blogger.

    Host (Blogs), NPR News & Administration Hosts and writes for blog that serves as users’ daily guide to the events of the day and notable stories on the network and the Web; uses news judgment and a lively prose style to present a singular perspective, writing and reporting original items and drawing other NPR reporter/correspondents and listeners into analysis and discussion; may also host a podcast of the day’s top on-air stories; and may serve as a public representative of National Public Radio, Inc. Bachelor’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience. At least five years of journalism experience, preferably daily news; familiarity with the blog form and a passionate desire to join the blogger “A” list; demonstrated excellence as a writer and storyteller; demonstrated ability to communicate in a sparkling personality and unique perspectives in writing; demonstrated ability to understand the difference between having an attitude and taking a (political) stand in the written word; a broad range of general news knowledge; well-developed curiosity in a wide range of subjects; ability to work quickly and efficiently under deadline pressure; ability and willingness to relocate; proven ability to consistently work well with others, demonstrating at all times respect for the diverse constituencies at NPR and within the public radio system; and a desire to be part of a new NPR venture. Prefer broadcast experience, the ability to be a voice of a podcast; previous blog writing experience; and familiarity with and an appreciation for public broadcasting.

    So, go ready your resume. And your references, you’ll need to contact them. You always forget about them till the last minute…

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  70. Good video

    brian on 2006.09.07 at 12:49 am

    Watched Ze Frank’s 2004 appearance at TED today. Unfortunately there’s no download for it, just a Google Video. Of course, if you use Google Video Player, you could watch it outside of the browser.

    Also, Scoble linked up which has a ton of cool videos of people showing off their local communities. And the videos, about 4 mins each, flow into the next episode, so you don’t even have to “pick up the remote.” Check it out.

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  71. XCast is slick

    brian on 2006.09.01 at 01:18 am

    Even if you’re not interested in a new Podcasting client XCast logo(downloader) for your Mac, you should at least watch this screencast of XCast. It’s an attractive, well-designed and seemingly intelligent app yes, but the screencast is simply one of the best I’ve seen a developer give of his own app. Bonus points for the foreign accent!

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  72. Interactive Design Cert from BU

    brian on 2006.08.30 at 11:32 pm

    CDIA’s Interactive Design Certificate Program looks like a great way to learn how to make up some web goodness the right way. (thx, Dan )

    Posted in: Standards · Web

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  73. Flickr Maps

    brian on 2006.08.30 at 05:33 pm

    Have you had a look at Flickr maps yet? I have. And I’m impressed. It’s fairly simple to add your pics to the map (drag and drop them in the Organizr), although it’s not perfect. For example, when you drag a picture, the image that follows the mouse is a thumbnail, which has a point at its bottom. Cool idea, except when you drop the image, the point that’s created isn’t where the point of your mouse was. So it’s somewhat difficult to align it nicely. When dragging, the arrow that is going to pinpoint the map location of your picture should be centered on your cursor’s point, with the picture thumbnail growing out of that… picture using a quill… the thumbnail would be the feathery part, the point is where your make your mark in ink.

    Check it out. Geotagging for the masses.

    Posted in: Photography · Web

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  74. Who are you?

    brian on 2006.08.24 at 07:13 pm

    Who, who, who, who? – “The Who(The Who are an English rock band who first came to prominence in the 1960s, and grew in stature to become one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time)”:

    [Note to regular blog readers: This post is my introduction to other participants of 2006 PodCamp Boston. ]

    I’m Brian Christiansen and I’m a blogger. One who doesn’t particularly like the word “blog,” but I’ve been blogging since 2001, and reading them since before that.

    Read More

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  75. Great way to Not Work at Work

    brian on 2006.08.03 at 02:28 pm

    I count myself as extremely lucky to have a job where a) I don’t have to use Windows, and b) where I’m not bored enough to need to surf the web for junk in secret. In case a and b don’t apply to you, may I suggest you check out I think you’ll find it useful.

    Posted in: Web

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  76. CurrentTV

    brian on 2006.07.22 at 03:50 am

    Al Gore is everywhere these days. One of his current positions is as founder of CurrentTV, a cable video channel found on many digital cable systems and a website.

    I watched it for the first time for about a half-hour last night, and I must say that I was impressed. It gave the feel of a collection of really well-done video blogs.

    In August 2005 we launched a TV network with content created by, for and with an 18-34 year-old audience. Our unique programming shows young adults what’s going on in their world, in their voice and from their perspective. With a substantial portion of the network’s content provided by our viewers, we’re the first TV network in history whose programming is supplied and selected in part by the very audience who watches it. Current is available in 29 million cable and satellite TV homes.

    Their on screen motion graphics were something to behold. All the edginess of MTV graphics, without out all the tackiness (OK, that’s a little bit of a shot at MTV, some of their stuff is well done. But I like Current’s better) is also something that’s visually impressive, but it could use a little clarity. In general, though, an impressive display all around.

    Something to be aware of.

    Hey, maybe they should hire Amanda Cogdon for some lighter side stuff. Nothing says video blog better than the face of the movement herself… and she’s in need of a West Coast job…

    Posted in: Media · Politics · Television · Web

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  77. Searching for low cost flights

    jake on 2006.06.23 at 01:51 pm

    One of my best friends just left for an excursion abroad. One where if I want to see her I’ll have to fly to the other side of the planet. I’m trying to look beyond the lost day from flying and imagine all the things I can see by visiting her.

    The worst part I’ve found so far is locating a plane ticket that doesn’t cost more than a trip to Walt Disney World would. First Orbitz failed me with a ticket over two-grand. Travelocity let me seach in huge blocks and I found a ticket to at least Sydney for 2/3 Orbitz’s price.

    I’m hoping that FlySpy or FareCast will possibly help with prices. But they’re not released to the pulic yet.

    Kottke had a look at FlySpy back in February. It seems to inform you when to book a flight based on a block of available departures. Similar to how I searched Travelocity by selecting an entire month I could hypothetically leave on some random Tuesday that is the cheapest price.

    FareCast beta LogoJason wanted a little more and discovered it in FareCast (Cory talked about it a week earlier). FareCast looks more at collected data and attempts to tell you when you should buy.

    It shows you the price history of a particular ticket and tells you what the price forecast is…if the price is trending up/down, how much confidence they have in that prediction, and whether you should buy your ticket now or not.

    Either way I hope that one of these two new sites will help me save some money to get to Australia. Anybody wanna pass me an invite to FareCast so I can check it out? Puhleeeeez…?

    I’m starting to read and sift through Jason and Cory’s sources.

    Update 1:

    Thanks Heather, FareChase is similar and another thing to check out. On the surface it’s still lacking the “time block” feature. With only a vague window of departure and open duration that will be the clincher for me.

    Also FareCast is out of closed beta. There are still only two airports for departure but at least everyone can check out the basic functionality. Currently FareCast is more of a novelty for me. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they’ll add some international destinations in the near future.

    Posted in: Travel · Web

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  78. Blogging from Flock 0.7

    brian on 2006.06.15 at 03:06 am

    Flock Logo

    I read a blog entry today, Introducing Flock Beta 1 which, oddly, translates to Flock 0.7.

    Flock was unveiled last year to much fanfare, finally a browser that got the “Web 2.0.”

    That was all well and good, until the beta showed there was much work to be done, much promise to be fulfilled.

    See how Brian fared with Flock beta 1 by reading on… (this post was written from within Flock)

    Read More

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  79. Utah Democrat uses wiki for promotion

    brian on 2006.05.02 at 04:09 pm

    There’s an interview in Wired News with the Democrat who is looking to unseat the senior Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch (aka, “The Man’s Right-Hand Man”) who is also noted for thinking the global climate crisis is “science-fiction.”

    Additionally, Pete Ashdown actually has a wiki where you can help shape his policy. His best policy is based around his support of transparency in government. Hallelujah.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology · Web

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  80. Visit Glacier NP Remotely

    brian on 2006.04.28 at 11:22 pm

    With birds singing, water gently lapping on the shore, a slight breeze, and temperatures in the high 60s, it was a glorious spring day at the foot of Lake McDonald. - photo courtesy David Restivo, for the NPS - used without permission,I don’t live anywhere near Glacier National Park in Montana. Anyone who knows me and my interest in wide-open spaces knows I wish I did. That’s why I’m thankful I found eHikes, an outstanding piece of “multimedia” (an overused buzz word that was sent out to pasture, but is actually the most descriptive in this instance, since the presentation made use of QuickTime video and VR, still photography and with Flash for interactivity) of a couple hikes within the park.

    Go now. Less talk, more clicking.

    PS – they also have ‘eTours,’ Podcasts (audio, video), and more still and moving imagery.

    Posted in: Nature · Science · Web

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  81. Save the Internet - Save Network Neutrality!

    brian on 2006.04.24 at 01:42 am

    Save The Internet

    I hope to bring your attention to something that’s kind of important, but is gliding under the radar right now. It’s called Network Neutrality, and it’s essentially the first amendment of the Internet…

    Congress is pushing through a law that would permit large telephone and cable companies, like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, to control what you do, where you go and what you watch online.

    Right now, these companies who are net work operators and internet service providers (they hook you to the net) want to give priority to certain packets of data from certain interests. What’s that mean to you? Barnes and Noble can pay AT&T to make sure their site loads faster than your local library’s site, or your favorite web bookseller’s… that’s under handed, but we’ve come to expect that from certain companies.

    But how about if you bought Internet Protocol phone service from Vonage for use over your broadband internet connection? Works now, because network neutrality exists. However, if this bill passes, you can guarantee that Verizon’s IP phone service will be the clearest on their wires… Comcast’ll have the best IP phone on theirs…. and Vonage’s will suck everywhere.

    So without network neutrality, your ISP will decide who you get to associate with on their wires. They don’t like AOL? Say good bye to your buddy list. Google doesn’t pay their tax? Bye bye useful and fast search and GMail…

    Get the point? Great, now go complain to your appointed congressional representative. I suggest visiting… for info on how, and a nice form that’ll allow you to write your rep with little or no effort. They’ll link you to this form here:

    If you support Network Neutrality, you’ll continue to reap the amazing benefits of innovation that has been fostered on an open internet. If you sit on your hands… then the net will become TV with a keyboard… you pay for it but what’s on it is their choice, not yours.

    Posted in: Web

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  82. NewsGator First Look

    brian on 2006.03.18 at 12:40 pm

    I signed up for NewsGator yesterday so that I could try out the new syncing features of my fav app NetNewsWire.

    The initial sync brought all my stuff over successfully, and this morning I took a look at the web version for the first time.

    Unfortunately, only the negative stands out at this initial point. First thing I noticed is that my finely-crafted hierarchy of folders is instantly undone – everything is now in alphabetical order. Not good.

    Second, the subscription list is not separate. So, when you scroll down, your list goes away, too, killing any chance of switching quickly to another sub quickly. A little, simple CSS could solve this.

    Also on the subs list, when you click on the name of a folder, it shows you all the contents of the folder’s feeds – as it should. However, there is not much visual feedback in the subs section to tell us we’re indeed looking at everything.

    Third, every time you click on something, the whole page refreshes. It’s time for some AJAX.

    Lastly (for now) it does not observe my refreshing preferences, thus folders of feeds I’ve not read for 6 months, but want to keep around for various reasons, there full of active stuff. I wish it was just left alone. (maybe it’s just me — I just don’t like it)

    These are just my initial thoughts, more may follow.

    Posted in: Web

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  83. NBC gets a clue

    brian on 2006.03.09 at 02:33 am

    NBC is catching on. First all their involvement with the iTunes store, and now this.

    NBC Video

    Now, instead of searching the web for “borrowed” NBC highlights, you can go to the source! We’ve taken your viral favorites and gathered them into one convenient location. Watch. React. Tell a friend.


    Posted in: Media · Technology · Web

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  84. Today's list

    brian on 2006.02.03 at 05:23 am

    Mass posting. Sorry. Here’s things that interested me from today:

    Cambridge city-wide WiFi by this summer, sponsored by MIT. Quote of the day: “Keville said he does not anticipate any problems because MIT’s bandwidth is ‘ridiculously high.’” When will Medford get WiFi sponsored by Tufts’ fat pipes?

    Transmit 3.5 update
    I use Transmit for our web work, and love it. Rumor has it that Transmit is faster for iDisk uploads, too. I have been able to document that scientifically, but cursory tests have resulted in a resounding “maybe.” Of course, it’s tough with Comcast’s “ridiculously low” upload bandwidth caps.

    iWeb. To try out this app, I built an experimental site for my parents business in one late-night session. Went crazy and bought them a domain, hosted it on our servers, and set them up with business email. The result was

    It’s not a big jump from the “modern” template, but I am impressed with the easy of use, and the ease to create a non-eye-sore site. I am productive in the Pages/Keynote/iWeb interface. I think this is going to be a big hit with the non-HTMLers out there.

    Of course, the code it produces is not the same as a pro-hand coder would produce. It’s use of style sheets could use some work. But it validates XHTML transitional, and I think that’s huge. One giant step in the right direction for Apple, and to think it’s only 1.0. I’d love to use this as a starting point for our hand-coded work. I hope one day the code will be there for me to really tweak out.

    Lastly, I enjoyed some RocketBoom via DTV. And I was exposed to this viral video. Now you’ll have to view it, too. Awww, yeah.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  85. Advice to the Grey Lady

    brian on 2006.01.27 at 03:32 am

    The other day, I came to the end of my rope.

    I enjoy reading David Pogue’s work. I was happy when he announced a while back that he would be beginning a blog at the New York Times.

    It has thus far been so-so. David’s a pro writer, so I suppose I expected more, but I suppose since he’s a pro writer, he writes so much stuff all over the place, there isn’t much left over for the blog. The tid-bits that fall through to this his last bastion of word and thought though, are enjoyable.

    I thus subscribe to his RSS feed. This is where my frustration began. His feed supplies only a title… not much to go on when deciding whether to click through to the piles of advertising that surrounds David’s work on the Times’ site. Annoying.

    But when you arrive and want to actually stay and read his blog, well, they make that difficult, too. Say I follow one link in. Then I want to get to the main blog page, or the next or previous entry.

    No links.

    Maybe I’ll hack the URL, and just shorten it down to the section’s root.

    Nope – the URL string is a dynamic fake.

    I was upset, so I sent David an email. I figured if other readers were annoyed, eventually something would change.

    “I’ll pass this along, Brian. All of this is way beyond me, but I will admit that I get a lot of complaint mail along similar lines!”

    It was really nice for David to write me back. Even if it didn’t change, a little human touch goes a long way.

    But, I may have had more influence than I had hoped. A day or two later, David writes again,

    “Hey Brian, your email has lit a fire under some people at the Times. These are only baby steps, but they wrote…”

    and there was a little more. Basically it says they were addressing the concerns I raised in my original email. Now, as soon as they roll out, I’ll feel like a feedback loop from your average Joe all the way to the most respected news organization in the world is beginning to become more responsive. Excellent.

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  86. Winter Desktops

    brian on 2005.12.22 at 05:24 pm

    Winter is my favorite season. Pray for Snow!

    Today, I went and grabbed some images from the web for my desktop. Inspired to look by my blushing (soon to be) bride, I found some great images of Montana under snow from Chris Lombardi via Flickr. I combined these with three from Mike Matas (all in the corporate family, I suppose). And one image of a lit (Maple?) tree from Canada from a gentleman who posted in the winter tag.

    Thanks all.


    Posted in: Photography · Weather · Web

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  87. Playing with Footnotes and Javascript

    jake on 2005.12.05 at 12:23 am

    A while ago lots of people were talking about footnotes and subsequently sidenotes on the web. There were lots of different opinions.

    John Gruber and Richard Rutter defended the idea that using built in HTML anchors is a perfectly acceptable method of creating footnotes. Joe Clark responded that not only are they not actually footnotes and that nothing exists to represent footnotes. Joe also was frustrated that John was getting heaps of praise for pointing out a fairly obvious solution to the problem. I’d say it wasn’t exactly obvious, it felt more like a brain teaser where when you see the solution you smack yourself on the forehead and go, “ohhhhhh, now I get it.”

    I had a little experience with the sidenote idea back when I was in college. I had a project in English where I created pop-ups with Javascript to show off the explanations my partner created for the project. It was a little messy and not semantic at all but it got the job done for 1999.

    I decided to play with the idea a little bit. I came up with a couple variations in my head to use Javascript to snazzy up the end result. The first variation uses a script to sift through the footnotes at the bottom of the page and when you mouseover the superscripted numbers you get a tooltip with the footnote. And it degrades nicely into a list similar to Gruber’s. Just try turning off Javascript.

    I’ve tested it in many browsers and the only problem I’ve found is that in Opera the tooltip can fall off the edge of the screen. I plan on cleaning it up, but let me know if you see anything I can do to fix it up but still keep it as simple as possible. I also hope to turn it into a full on Behavioral style script.

    So for now you’ll just have to live with the thrown together code. ;)

    Playing with Footnotes

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  88. Aardvark'd DVD

    brian on 2005.11.21 at 03:33 pm

    Watched Joel Spolsky’s documentary trailer today on Google Video. Looks like an outstanding film I’d very much like to see. However, I will not be buying the $20 DVD.

    To me, to see a film once is not worth $20. I have no desire to keep a copy of this potentially interesting film, and even if I loved it, I would never watch it again, and thus have no need for hard copy.

    I might go to a movie theater once or twice a year, and own no DVD movies I bought myself. I put my money where my mouth is. I do watch movies when they come to the small screen, but would watch more if I were allowed more control of where and when I could watch them. I would call this an untapped market.

    I’m certainly not saying everyone (or anyone) shares my views, but I feel Joel, as a leading software business mind, is missing on a big opportunity. Funny that its lacking considering his last entry on digital media distribution!

    I would have, in his shoes, chosen an H.264 download (with BitTorrent ) option alongside the DVD purchase option. There will be folk who want to keep a high-quality hardcopy, and they should get to have that. $20 is reasonable for that.

    However, I would like to download a copy for a more digestible $5. I think the sheer volume of downloads would offset any cannibalization of the DVD sales, in addition to the saved costs due to no packaging, two rounds of shipping, manufacturing… and BitTorrent would make the bandwidth very reasonable (ask Cringely ). Sounds lucrative.

    Afraid of piracy? Well, the tools to buy that DVD and change it into the format I described above exist in abundance. People will invite friends over to watch the movie, even! Gasp!

    If anything, a legal download provides a reasonable and easy alternative to piracy. It’s working for Apple right now. I don’t think FairPlay will be the end all of digital media rights management, but its a solid, first reasonable and reasonably successful attempt. The only thing I’d add to a download like Joel’s would be the downloader’s email address, which the downloader would a) know was attached, b) have to enter into the purchasing webpage to get emailed a link to the torrent file.

    Yes there are easy ways around these small features, but that’s the point. They keep honest people honest… if you share this on P2P nets and we see it, we’ll know you put it here. You can’t worry about those who will just strip it out, because of the DVD ripping issue I mentioned above.

    Piracy will be a given, but you can’t criminalize all your customers because of it. Give reasonable people reasonable options to stay above board, and this will put the piracy percentage to its minimum. That will net you all the profit you deserve.

    I cannot believe that digital delivery was not strongly considered by Joel. He’s a sharp mind. So even if we don’t get a downloadable option, I’d hope he’d post his thoughts on what made him go traditional in this case on his blog.

    Joel, I look forward to seeing your film, if you give me the opportunity to!

    Posted in: Media · Movies · Software · Technology · Web

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  89. SSE is to RSS as...

    brian on 2005.11.21 at 03:13 pm

    MS announces today SSE, Simple Sharing Extensions, a way to make RSS two-way communications. It was released under the same Creative Commons license as RSS.

    As I am not a developer of this sort, I am not qualified to say it’s a good spec or not, but the promises look… eh-hem, promising. Common, open specs are good all around. I’d love to see it integrated so that it can work with the vCard format for syncing contacts, and the iCal (.ics) format for lightwieght, standards-based calendaring.

    I propose that SSE is pronounced “Essex.” (Here’s what Essex is.) This would also help distinguish it vocally from Intel’s SSE. The next letter after the “E” in Extensions is an “x” so it would be a natural. Saying “Ess” gives a nod to the two “S’s” and avoids the trouble-prone option of calling it “sex.” The last thing anyone needs is more “sex” on the internets.

    Posted in: Standards · Technology · Web

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  90. Local News Blog

    brian on 2005.11.15 at 04:35 pm

    Local blogger Lisa Williams, author of H20Town has a great write up on her experience producing the local news site for fellow suburb Watertown. Long and interesting. Love to see someone with this kind of time start up in Medford. It certainly could help newbies like myself learn more about my surroundings.

    Posted in: Web

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  91. Explorer Destroyer

    brian on 2005.11.10 at 08:03 pm

    The authors of this blog wish to bring to your attention:

    Explorer Destroyer

    Heehee. And don’t miss its sister site, Kill Bill’s Browser. which is a checklist of the best reasons (in their opinion) to leave IE. I laughed out loud at reason number eight.

    We will not be employing any draconian devices to entice our readers to not use Internet Explorer. We support the use of any web standards compliant browsers, especially ones derived from open source projects.

    Personally I spend most of my time in Safari, with the rest of my time split between Camino (for you Windows users, that’s a Mac-only derivative of Firefox) and Firefox. I usually use the original Firefox when viewing image-intesive websites so i can use its Linky extension. I also use the Web Developer’s Extension toolbar for design and development.

    So if you haven’t got the gist yet, and you use Internet Explorer… get a clue.

    And tabs!!

    Posted in: Software · Standards · Technology · Web

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  92. OpenCourseWare continues growth

    brian on 2005.10.06 at 02:35 am

    I’ve been lax posting here for a while. Tonight, I’ll break that.

    I am a proponent of Open Content. I’m very interested in educational technology (truth be told I’ve thought about graduate study in this field about once a week since college). Certainly, there are cases and audiences for paid content. However, education is a basic human right, and whenever possible, that type of content should be available. Education benefits everyone. If your neighbor gets smarter, you benefit.

    On this topic, MIT bust on the scene a while back with the OpenCourseWare initiative. Others have come out to offer their courses, including my neighbor, Tufts. The downside of these, however, is that the majority of the courses are pretty high-end. Great if you’re already studying one of these topics in a doctoral program. Anyone up for Introduction to Applied Nuclear Physics? Not so great for the rest of us paying a mortgage with a 40-hr a week job.

    Today I discovered the Sofia Open Content program from Foothill and DeAnza Colleges. They have freshman-level courses. Two that have caught my eye are and Introduction to Programming Java, and Physical Geography. Outstanding.

    I’m interested in Introduction to Java Programming because I hear that java is a good programming language to learn first, both for its importance and ubiquity, and for it’s C-like-ness, and many other languages, like PHP are C-like. Versus say Ruby, which is supposedly easy to learn, but not terribly applicable to other languages… since many languages are C-like.

    Unfortunately, I am unlike Jake in that I just can’t find half-written tutorials on the web and be a zen-programming-master in two weeks. I need some structure to my learning.

    The intro to Physical Geography reads as such: Physical geography is the study of the earth’s dynamic systems – its air, water, weather climate, landforms, rocks, soils, plants, ecosystems and biomes – and how humans interact with the earth’s systems.

    Since I’m a weather geek, you don’t need me to tell you why this appeals to me.

    What could be better? A course to teach me to write a weather program that takes live data from a weather station, and do something cool with it, like archive to a database and show the observations live on the web.

    Anyhow, I’m glad to report that someone is making Open Courseware content for the rest of us.

    Posted in: Web

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  93. Donate to help Katrina Victims

    brian on 2005.09.01 at 08:51 pm

    Please give what you can to help those in the path of Hurricane Katrina.The American Red Cross

    Last night I gave to the American Red Cross. I had to decide between them and AmeriCares Domestic Relief Fund. I gave to the Red Cross in the end, hoping that perhaps my company might start a matching drive, and in the past they have given to the Red Cross. Today, I found that my friends at 37 Signals were matching their blog reader’s contributions up to $5,000. All you have to do is email your donation confirmation to Jason Fried. Maybe my donation will be matched several times.

    The web is mobilizing in response to the catastrophe. The always first-class Craigslist is doing what they do best… they sprung into action with new sites for cities hit the hardest. They are a great resource for people trying to find each other, help, and housing.

    Additionally, the people behind have set up a housing website, for people who have space to let someone without a home settle in until things start to improve.

    In addition to my donation, I’m hoping our good site’s stance with Google will help spread these links…

    Update— Apple has put up a donation link via the iTunes Music Store.

    Posted in: Recent Events · Weather · Web

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  94. Free Opera (not music) Today only.

    brian on 2005.08.30 at 12:35 pm

    Happy Birthday to the folks at Opera, the Norwegian web browser company. As thier present to us, we can register the full, ad-free version of the Opera web browser at no cost. (It’s usually $30)

    Go here to get more information and download Opera for free.

    This offer is valid from 12 a.m. Tuesday, August 30 to 12 a.m. Wednesday, August 31 2005 (PDT).

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  95. More Google Product Goodness.

    brian on 2005.08.24 at 11:54 pm

    Not only has Google come out with another innovative product, Google Talk, but they’ve also added a key feature to an existing product, GMail.

    Perhaps you loved the features of Google Mail but have your own domain. If you forwarded your email to GMail you could use their innovative webmail interface and large storage, but you couldn’t use GMail to send mail, or else you’d loose your domain name in the replies.

    Now you can set the ‘From’ field as well. Thanks Google. I don’t see using this personally, as I have both dotMac and pretty good squirrelmail interfaces. But it’s nice to have options.

    A little more on Google Talk, if you haven’t seen it. It utilizes the open-source Jabber protocol, and can be used with any client that supports it. I’ve used it in Apple’s iChat and it works well, and you can be online with your AIM network at the same time.

    It also has voice chat. Hope to try that out soon. Rumor has it that it works through iChat as well.

    Of course, all of this isn’t without a downside. Whereas I would probably always use this with iChat (if I have any use for another IM network) it is unfortunate that yet again Google has launched a piece of software that is only written for Windows. As with all their other software, they make vague claims of other OS compatibility (I for one have stopped holding my breath for Google Earth for Mac).

    If Google’s pushing for the Internet OS, they’re doing an awfully good job of supporting their major competition.

    Update: See this from Scott at Salon. He agrees with me on that last point.

    Posted in: Web

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  96. Guitar Solos, Storm Harvey, Fictional Critic, How to respond to jerky emails

    jake on 2005.08.04 at 12:44 am

    In this installment of link dumping we have some interesting tid-bits for all you readers out there. I’ll try and give my thoughts on the latest Harry Potter book if I get a chance. I finished reading it today.

    Posted in: Movies · Music · Recent Events · Web

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  97. J.K. Rowling(.com) trips...

    jake on 2005.07.23 at 12:52 am

    I’m still waiting for my brother to finish his copy of Half Blood Prince, he won’t let me near it till he’s done. In the meantime I’ll give some thoughts on Rowling’s “personal” web site.

    Zeldman has a lovely post about the flash side of JK Rowling’s web site. They just put out a new accessibility add-on to help visitors get around the site. It’s really top notch and I’m a fan of the flash portion of the site.

    The text-only version of the site is not quite so polished. In fact it’s pretty gruesome. It has a small amount of semantics, but no style. It needs a bit more structure. A while ago I started building a proof of concept but never got past the starting HTML. I planned on building a PHP app to grab the content and give it some more structure.

    Of course I’m not interested in getting lawyers sicced on me right now so I’ll just leave it be. At least till I get some inspiration to tackle it again.

    Posted in: Web

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  98. Thursday Night at Berkman

    brian on 2005.07.15 at 01:09 am

    What follows is a first draft of my impressions of going to the Berkman Center Thursday night for their Weblog meetup. This post is subject to change as I am still trying to get my head around some things I want to say… but as someone once said… artists ship…

    This got very long, so I will invoke the rarely used, but exciting, Recently “Excerpt” mechanism…

    Read More

    Posted in: Web

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  99. Watch le Tour

    brian on 2005.07.12 at 01:40 pm

    Hey, if you’re in the Boston area and have Comcast cable, they’ve added the Outdoor Life Network so that you can watch Le Tour De France. If you’re in Brookline, you’ll find it on channel 62.

    Side note: Dear OLN, why bother having the official American lTdF website if it is going to be so dreadfully slow? You attempts to style and brand the site is one of the reasons your site is so handicapped… you’re sucking bandwidth. Your costs are going up and readership down. I won’t wait a full minute for your site to load through my fast pipe. I’ll get my web coverage from the Tour Blog and ESPN’s Tour Tracker.

    Posted in: Bicycle · Media · Recent Events · Sports · Web

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  100. How to game Google.

    jake on 2005.07.10 at 08:16 pm

    It's not what you think...

    Not a very busy day around here. I went and saw Fantastic Four, definitely a good superhero movie. Batman edges them out but mostly for it’s beautiful style.

    Tom’s linkdump from today has a lot of good content. I’m going to try and separate my thoughts on each one.

    The first is a page of pointers on how to get high Google rankings. SEO is a tricky thing. At least it seems like it is. In reality it’s pretty simple.

    • Step One: Have quality content. – No matter how much you try and push your content to the top if it’s all fluff to game the system it won’t matter.
    • Step Two: Don’t try to cheat. – It seems the biggest reason to game the system without content is to continually game the system in the future. Without content you’re in an arms race with Google. And they’ll win, by removing you and affiliated sites from their database.
    • Step Three: Build with structure and clean code. – By using good code and building with structure you are giving Google more to work with. The more junk, the less useful it is for their Googlebot.
    • Step Four: Don’t forget the technical. – While having good content and structuring it is the most important. It helps a great deal to also do the little technical parts too. Don’t use long urls with twenty variables. Keep it simple. Also using robots.txt can help too. For telling what Google to grab, and what not to. I also didn’t know that using “?id=” in your urls actually tells Google to ignore your pages.

    Finally I’ll leave you with a quote that hits close to home. I get regular calls at work asking if I’d like to pay someone to optimize our site.

    Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

    Posted in: Web

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  101. Citizens Respond to London Attacks

    brian on 2005.07.07 at 01:41 pm

    In light of this morning’s bombing attacks in London, you may be interested in the web community’s reaction, and one place to look would be on Flickr. There is a London Bomb Blasts group with (at this moment) 200 pictures.

    It kinda sucks that a good number of the pics are TV captures and web page screen shots. But it’s the in-betweens that are golden citizen photographic journalism.

    One interesting pic that is a screen shot is this one

    Well, the picture is uninteresting, other than the BBC site is swamped… but the comments are cool… BBC employees are responding to the picture, and commenting on server load.

    You’re not going to get this on TV, radio or in newspapers.

    Update: See also WikiNews and WikiPedia for more outstanding citizen-based reporting.

    Posted in: Media · Photography · Recent Events · Web

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  102. Live 8, Uwe Boll needs a new job

    jake on 2005.07.05 at 07:24 pm

    There were a couple things I wanted to actually post about, but I’m distracted at work and can’t get my brain around them. I’ll just leave you with a handful of links to peruse.

    • Andy Budd has a Live 8 Funometer – I was busy with my bros’ (yes that’s plural) graduation parties so I missed it on TV. Though from what I understand, MTV really stunk with their coverage, filling it with ads and commentary instead of listening to the music. Hell, they probably sent some group of morons to the show and it’ll be some new reality series in a few weeks.
    • Uwe Boll has been killing movies for a while now, sign this petition to stop him. Too bad it’s not that easy.
    • Jason Kottke really gets around.

    Posted in: Movies · Music · Web

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  103. Zen Micro, Searching, Javascript

    jake on 2005.06.27 at 06:36 pm

    Just a new link list.

    • Black Creative Zen MicroCreative Zen Micro — Thank God my little brother doesn’t read these pages, at least I don’t think he does. In any event, he choose the Zen Micro over an iPod mini (just barely) so I ordered one from ZipZoomFly and spent a little time loading CD’s into it for him. Now he has a bunch of good albums and it gives me a chance to play with it ;).
    • I’m not sure what to do about searching around here. Currently we just use Google. Which isn’t too bad since Google loves us. Or at least we like to think so. I’m also looking into just using Full-Text Search like Textpattern does. Another possibility is using The Search Engine Project.
    • Thankfully Javascript is making a comeback as a method for embelishing web sites (From Tom) like Gmail and Basecamp. The nicest part of these developments is separating the Javascript from the html code. Just like CSS from a few years ago we can clean out a little more of the soup in our code.

    Posted in: Hardware · Standards · Web

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  104. Uberpost (random links and info)

    brian on 2005.06.24 at 01:28 pm

    Things bouncing around my head that you should perhaps know about, in no particular order:

    • Camino 0.9a1 – I’m posting from this latest update, which has a lot of new goodness in it.
    • New music:
      • John Scofield That’s What I Say [ITMS] – Jazz guitar great’s tribute to the late genius Ray Charles, featuring other stars including John Mayer, Warren Hayes, Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples and Dr. John. OUTSTANDING Especially like What’d I Say featuring John Mayer, Hit the Road Jack, and I Don’t Need No Doctor.
      • Death Cab for Cutie Transatlanticism [ITMS] – To resist Ben Gibbard sticky bubblegum alt-pop rock is futile. Especially enjoying The New Year, Title and Registration, and We Looked Like Giants. Excellent. If you enjoyed The Postal Service, then don’t miss Ben’s regular gig with Death Cab. Not that this album, nor the band are new. In fact I have friends who have listened to Ben’s assorted works for a while, but I’ve just now bought in.
    • MIT Weblog Survey – Do participate if you are of the blogging persuasion. It’s fun, and very well made from a technical standpoint. Cam Marlow sez… “Thanks so much for the respect on the design, I did invest quite a bit of time into getting the AJAX to work” and work it does. Be sure to check thr results as well, when you’re done. Worth the effort. Cam’s behind Blogdex, as well.

    Posted in: Music · Standards · Web

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  105. Link Dump #43.6727

    jake on 2005.06.22 at 04:57 pm

    Well my PowerBook is back, my frisbee team isn’t doing too well and I got to see Batman Begins yesterday (my thoughts in a following post). But I haven’t posted in a few days, so let’s give anyone reading out there a little tidbit of what I’ve found interesting recently.

    Posted in: Movies · Recent Events · Web

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  106. Summer Mac Projects

    brian on 2005.06.12 at 06:15 pm

    It’s summer time and that means summer projects! So grab your favorite Mac and head over to this swell collection of Mac OS X how-to’s for cool things to do on your Mac when the the sun is out and you should really be outside enjoying it.

    Or I suppose you could take your PowerBook outside with you… may I suggest a sun umbrella and or Universal Access’ Switch to Black on White mode for outdoor viewing.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology · Web

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  107. Brian Blogs Again!

    brian on 2005.06.08 at 01:12 pm

    Hello. Sorry to be so MIA. Lately, I’ve been busy. Mainly buying a condo near Tufts in Medford. It’ll be nice. Just yesterday I set up a page on my free Backpack account to help us track stuff. Very useful.

    Jake and I also soft-launched a new blog on behalf of our friend Jess. I named it fish_epiphany which was sorta an inside joke, but it probably only makes sense to me. I told her she could change it, but right now, Jess seems so enamored by the site, that she’s yet to figure that it’s really her site and she can object to anything on it! Jake thought it’d be cool to purchase Jess’s somewhat rare last name as her URL. Not too many people in 2005 can buy their lastname(dot)com. Check out her site, it should be much more interesting than our own.

    I’ve also been working on another blog for myself and Amanda. The idea is that I could post stuff there of a personal nature that I wouldn’t want to muck this place up with. There’d be a combo blog (Amanda and I) that would be the front page, based on us putting the same category on the common interest post and then separate sections (defined by author) where we could put anything.

    What would I put there, that I wouldn’t put here? Well this blog is somewhat intended to be general (progressive geek) interest. We don’t do much personal posting about how our day went, or someone’s boss is a jerk, or the gory details about my surgery. For things that are borderline I would sway towards posting them on the other blog, then referencing them here. I’d love to set that to be automatic. If I could have a check box that said “cross-post excerpt to Recently” that would be way cool. I think that function’s going to be a full-manual mode unless Jake is so intrigued that he writes it up. That kid is amazing, not only did he write this place from scratch, but then just for kicks, he added reverse-engineered XML-RPC so we could post from blog writing software like MarsEdit or Ecto Incredible.

    A question I’m batting around is how public to make that other blog. I’ve wanted a place for information for my friends, for example should they be coming to visit they could have specialized directions to my pad. But that’s not information I’d want available to the general public. So I’d have to password protect it. I know Textpattern (generally the software we use to build sites when we don’t make them fully-custom) has the ability, but I’m going to have to figure out how to get it just right, so I can just have a post be categorized as private and it only appears in the protected site. It would not appear in public archives, etc. I’d love to have it be over SSL, too, but that’s a pain. I wish I could do that without having to pay for a certificate. I can create a cert, but then your browser will likely say “this proves nothing to me, since Brian isn’t a trusted source that I recognize.”

    Thanks for letting me think out loud. I’ll keep this site posted with updates on those developments. Maybe Jake will post with info on his bloggish side projects, for his friend and his band… and once we’re done with everyone else, maybe we’ll actually finish our professional services site.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  108. Missing links from this week

    brian on 2005.05.27 at 11:25 am

    Here are two links I’ve been meaning to blog for the past few days.

    The World’s wind can produce more energy than humans currently consume.

    Researchers at Stanford Univ. have done an exhaustive yet conservative estimate of the world’s potential in wind power. The conclusion: we can get more than we need, if we just tap the resource.

    The map, compiled by researchers at Stanford University, shows wind speeds at more than 8,000 sites around the world. The researchers found that at least 13 percent of those sites experience winds fast enough to power a modern wind turbine. If turbines were set up in all these regions, they would generate 72 terawatts of electricity, according to the researchers.

    That’s more than five times the world’s energy needs, which was roughly 14 terawatts in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Gimme the Geospacial Web!

    Tagging and “folksonomy” are huge right now, an explosion of meta data, tagging things in Flickr, Technorati, But what if we extended this idea to provide information about meatspace, the real world? GEOurl is one example of this now, but things could become much more rich.

    ‘Tag the world’ is sentiment of Mike Liebhold, writing on the O’Reilly Network. Let’s describe our world. Let’s have things like WiFi be contextually aware, that is to say, they contain information about where they are, for those who are nearby. Things like Google Maps are just barely scratching the surface of what Mike is proposing. Combine GPS, WLAN, RFID, mapping servers, GIS info, and embed them in everything. The cyber spills out and becomes real in the physical space. Have a look for yourself.

    …we can see the beginning shapes of a true geospatial web, inhabited by spatially tagged hypermedia as well as digital map geodata. Google Maps is just one more layer among all the invisible cartographic attributes and user annotations on every centimeter of a place and attached to every physical thing, visible and useful, in context, on low-cost, easy-to-use mobile devices. In a recent email, Nat Torkington, organizer of the upcoming Where 2.0 conference, said it this way: “Everything is somewhere. Whether you’re talking about assets, people, phone calls, pets, earthquakes, fire sales, bank robberies, or famous gravestones, they all have a location attached. And everything we touch in our lives, from groceries to digital photos, could have a location. From these locations we could learn a lot more about ourselves and build new economies.”

    Posted in: Science · Technology · Television · Web

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  109. Javascript: Insert text at the cursor point

    jake on 2005.05.22 at 11:34 pm

    One of the things that’s more difficult than it ought to be around here is adding images to posts. At least when it comes to remembering the steps.

    What I worked up the other day is some javascript to make it a little simpler. First I added a little call to only show the alt and title fields when adding images. And I added a little link to put the correct image tag into the textarea.

    The only problem was the simplest script can only throw the element in at the end of the text or replace the text completely. Through good old Google I found a script that Alex King discovered and posted to do exactly what I wanted. So now we have a script to insert the image element where your cursor is.

    But I had already built a variable along with adding in onfocus=";" to all the textareas to set the variable. In this case the main article and the excerpt. So I modified the javascript to use the variable and getElementById to paste the code into the correct textarea.

    It’s not a very complex little group of scripts but it adds in a nice little feature to our home grown system. And hopefully this can help someone else out there.

    Posted in: Web

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  110. Tag Clouds

    jake on 2005.05.16 at 05:49 pm

    Everybody loves tag clouds. Well for the most part. I don’t write enough about design. Maybe it’s because we haven’t modified this site since it’s inception in 2001. Well at least not cosmetically.

    In any event Zeldman has a little writeup about the subject. Tag clouds are supplemental data that users submit for “categorizing” the content. Naturally in a community where numerous people can all pick words that are relevant to their content you get a lot of unpopular data.

    Tag clouds are starting to be very popular as ways to navigate where simple category listings would suffice. Which is the main conundrum. Tag clouds work well for grouping popular information but they are flawed in that they can not give you all the information unless you only have a handful of tags.

    Zeldman’s right some instances need more structure and hierarchy. Hopefully after they are overused for a while developers will come up with some acceptable uses and swing the pendulum back. Tag clouds could be the next Flash.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  111. Myspace in the news

    jake on 2005.05.13 at 06:30 pm

    There are a couple things in the news about Myspace. Before I get into their discussions I’d like to talk about my experience with this social software. I’d like to point you to my profile, but they’re not functional right now. Which is my biggest gripe with the service currently. I realize that they’re a very large site and have seen explosive growth but as far as I can tell the underlying structure is flawed.

    The pages load fairly slow and the HTML is right out of 1999. The tables wouldn’t bother me so much if the site had at least valid code.

    They allow you to hack your profile page and adjust colors or add in backgrounds, etc. And while trying to work with the code I actually found one spot that I couldn’t adjust because the tag soup was so atrocious. We’re talking incorrect nesting here.

    I’m not saying the developers don’t have a lot to handle, and they’re probably more worried about keeping the servers online than cleaning up the code, but they’re not gonna last long without bringing the quality level up a couple notches.. Heck I still use the site regularly. I just can’t take them serious when the code is as mature as the thirteen year olds (claiming they’re sixteen) rambling on and acting “cool.”

    Which is a nice segue for the first Myspace article. MSNBC brings up Myspace a few times in their article discussing how kids are revealing too much information on the Internet. Nobody seems to be telling them that posting provocative photos and revealing information such as your full name and hometown is not a good idea. Though it seems to be moving away from chat rooms and IM in discussions and heading over to personal weblogs.

    I’m smart enough to know that I should only give out Brian’s information.

    The other article is Tom Coates commending Myspace for surpassing Friendster. Apparently he was quoted in a Guardian article on the subject. Good for you Tom.

    I wish I was quoted in a newspaper, but usually my posts just turn into rants like above. I’m not as cool or well spoken as Tom.

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  112. Boston: WiFi City

    brian on 2005.04.26 at 12:35 am

    An excellent story on WiFi and the considerations on going about making Boston a Wireless city, from the Boston Globe.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  113. New Safari 1.3

    brian on 2005.04.16 at 12:46 pm

    *Outstanding.* Dave Hyatt write on his weblog about the release of of Safari 1.3 along with Mac OS X 10.3.9 update. There are "thousands" of engine updates.

    Those of you running Panther can now update to 10.3.9. This update includes Safari 1.3 and new versions of WebKit, WebCore, and JavaScriptCore that contain thousands of improvements we've made to the engine since Safari 1.2.

    What you are getting is all of the new standards support, new WebKit capabilites, site compatibility fixes and performance optimizations that are also present in Safari 2.0 for Tiger. The layout engines for the two are virtually identical.

    Excellent. "Read more about the update on Dave's weblog.": There's a lot to mention, but how about improved JavaScript, adding XSLT, and um, 35% faster page loads? Oh, and for any of your other applications that use WebKit (ala "NetNewsWire": et al) they get all of the benefits, too! Nice.

    Posted in: Apple · Standards · Web

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  114. Design Links

    jake on 2005.04.14 at 03:31 pm

    • //// COLOURlovers — A place to peruse and evaluate colo(u)rs.
    • More Nifty Corners — Use some Javascript along with your CSS to generate rounded corners on specified page elements.
    • Drag and Drop Lists — Gotta love all the fancy Javascript stuff coming out these days.
    • Browser stickies — Some more Javscript dragging wizardry. Since they’re obviously tied to a particular web site, I don’t know if they’re much bigger than a proof of concept.
    • Fixing Intermittent Fusebox 4 “Circuit Not Defined” Errors — I’ve started using Fusebox 4 at work for a couple of internal projects. I came across this problem when trying to put the apps on our server. Took me a while to figure this out. Hopefully this’ll boost their Google ranking.
    • Recover Post — If you use Blogger this is a good thing. I wonder if I could implement some form of it here? I don’t know if it’s totally necessary, but it might be nice for version 1.1, if we ever get there…

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  115. I heart Google Maps (Satellite)

    brian on 2005.04.13 at 01:27 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed digging around Google Maps new Satellite views. Apparently I’m not the only one. Check out Google Sightseeing and Globe Trotting for various collections of interesting things to look at through Google’s eye in the sky. Groom Lake, Nevada is pretty cool, I’m surprised they have pictures as good as they do, considering it’s home to lots of top top secret military stuff.

    Posted in: Photography · Technology · Web

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  116. Meet Our Media

    brian on 2005.03.23 at 12:40 pm

    This should be interesting:

    We provide free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software. Forever. No catches.

    Very interesting. Could be a great backend for local grassroots media efforts, like Universal Hub aspires to be. Additionally, OurMedia is actually a Drupal front end for the Internet Archive.

    Posted in: Media · Technology · Web

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  117. Google X

    brian on 2005.03.16 at 03:12 am

    Rumor has it that GMail runs on XServes. Could this be further evidence?

    I preset thee Google X

    (actual story here: GoogleBlog hat tip: TUAW)

    Posted in: Apple · Design · Web

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  118. Well-Formed iPhoto Export

    brian on 2005.03.15 at 11:47 am

    I love iPhoto. However, there are times I wish I could use it to produce photo galleries that I could style on my own, using CSS.

    Now I can, introducing Well-Formed , from All That is Solid. And, not only does it produce xHTML and styles in CSS, but it can also produce XML and SQL. Excellent. Additionally, there is an “extras” section which includes a simple Flash gallery, to boot.

    Unfortunately, right now, the javascript-powered pop-ups in the simple xHTML gallery are crashing Safari, and in Firefox, they don’t pop, but do forward you to larger pic in the same window at least. Also, it seems the Flash gallery is broken as well. (This last part may be me, I’ve sent both bug reports to the author).

    At very least I have something that’ll export the thumbs, web-sized pics and a bare bones gallery for me to style on top of. That’s outstanding.

    Posted in: Photography · Software · Standards · Web

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  119. Hi-Fidelity Graphics and Music

    brian on 2005.03.10 at 02:44 am

    This evening, I decided to investigate this group that Mike Gordon has been playing with of late, Benevento-Russo Duo.

    Beautiful website. Has tables, but this isn’t a CSS-P rant. So I followed the “design by” link to Also attractive. No tables in sight. But what made me write this whole entry was the bio section.

    That was worth the price of admission right there. He says he still wants to write a screenplay. I think he’s over looking some great material.

    Posted in: Art · Design · Media · Web

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  120. Rumor Sites under Scrutiny

    brian on 2005.03.10 at 02:13 am

    I’m trying hard to keep my opinion about this whole situation to myself, but since Chuq has come out and written a very nice blurb on the whole situation, I simply must link him here. His family’s background in journalism helps him speak with authority.

    To me, it’s sad, some of the people in the blogosphere I respect the most are getting this one quite wrong. But differences in opinion are OK.

    Posted in: Apple · Recent Events · Web

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  121. Stewart on Blogging and Josh Gannon

    brian on 2005.02.19 at 10:45 pm

    1. Watch Jon Stewart on Blogging
    2. Laugh ass off.

    Posted in: Humor · Media · Politics · Television · Web

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  122. Holiday Update

    brian on 2004.12.28 at 03:33 pm

    Of course, posting traditionally lapses during the holidays. Mine thus far are going well, aside from having to sprint to southern New Jersey for a 24 hour visit before rushing back to work to deal with the 26th of December mobs. My back hasn’t yet recovered, and that’s partially due to the foot of snow dropped on us on the 27th.

    Recently, I’ve been playing with a few new acquisitions. I picked up an iSight camera , which I’ve temporarily deployed as a webcam in my front window. It’s running EvoCam from Amanda’s iBook, so when she returns from Connecticut after her extended stay, I imagine she’ll want to use it again. So be it noted, this link will break , rather it will still be there, but not updated as it is currently, starting by probably tomorrow. I’ll find another solution. BTW – you must refresh that image manually, since I’ve written no code for auto-refresh. It gets a new image every five minutes. They’re hardly ever anything interesting, and I apologize for the screen.

    Elsewhere, I have a new base-model G5 tower for our home server, and this is the first post from the new machine. I set it up just today, and I first wiped the drive and reinstalled the OS to make sure I have the bare minimum install (no extraneous foreign languages I’ll never use, for example) taking up the least space.

    I am currently backing up my life from my main PowerBook, via Target Disk Mode which is a fabulous invention. Recently, my PowerBook has been chirping and occasionally a clack can be heard as well. This worries me, thus, I have started the tower’s first purpose: backup vehicle. Soon, I will be adding a second SATA drive to the unit to improve upon the base storage (80GB), and some extra RAM as well. These will help me accomodate the second purpose of the tower: home media server, which will begin with hosting all of our iTunes and iPhoto needs. The third planned purpose is as in-house web server, and that’ll be the last thing I set up. I’ll likely start simple by adding controls for PHP, a little MySQL, and then probably in simple implementation of Instiki and lastly an install of TextPattern .

    More updates when time permits, but for now I’m off to work.

    Posted in: Apple · Cool Info · Hardware · Software · Technology · Web

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  123. Saving Blogging's Rep

    brian on 2004.12.22 at 12:46 am

    I have a friend, let's call him "Dave." Today he says to me "I hate blogs, and bloggers. They're always bitching and they should shut up." I had two thoughts race instantly my mind. 1) Hey, I'm a blogger. 2) Has he seen any other blogs than the three links I sent him? Reading my mind, he then continues "Not that I ever read blogs, just those links you sent me, but they pretty much turned me off."

    Well, I am responsible for the bad name blogs (I hate that word, from here out, "weblogs") have with him. I sent him three links to dopes who were complaining about our employer, who we happen to like.

    Tonight, I aim to reverse his opinion by finding some excellent links to good bloggers who aren't a) big bitches b) not web developers. The latter is mainly because something like 75% of the weblogs I read are by web geeks. OK, well if they post general interest stuff, they can squeak in. This post is for to all my non-blog-initiated friends...

    * Daring Fireball

    - Mac Punditry done right, by John Gruber.

    * "The Unoffical Apple Weblog":

    - A pretty generic Apple-centric blog, but entertaining

    * "Signals vs Noise":

    - Leaning toward web-geeks, but often just web and tech centric.

    * "AutoBlog":

    - Excellent for auto fans. Dave'll appreciate all the new Mustang coverage.

    * "":

    - Very infrequent posts nowadays, but I think he'll appreciate the attitude.

    * "Acts of Volition":

    - A web geek that doesn't often get into web geekery, good music info, and open-source and Mozilla stuff. Also, Canadian.

    * "Matt Haughey":

    - Matt made "MetaFilter(MeFi)": and I also read his "PVR weblog":, which is a great resource for TiVO fans.

    * "Lawrence Lessig":

    - If you're interested in what the government wants to do in regards to the law and the internet, this is _the guy_ to listen to.

    * "Engadget":

    - One of two of the definitive geek-toy blogs.

    * "Gizmodo":

    - Two of two of the definitive geek-toy blogs.

    Those, hopefully will get you started.

    Any other thoughts for good "starter" blogs for getting people hooked on blogs? Slight geek tilt OK for our purposes...

    Posted in: Web

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  124. Quick Complaint about Weather on the web.

    brian on 2004.11.26 at 11:21 pm

    Why is so damn slow?

    I swear if Weather Underground weren't so ghastly ugly (and unblockable DHTML pop-on-top ads! There's a big F*U to your users!), if NOAA wasn't so blasé, I'd switch in a second.

    Of interest: NOAA's Experimental Graphical Forecasts. Still ugly, but innovative. Why do we still have monospaced 60's-era-computing-aesthetic fonts on the web? They belong in a museum.

    Lastly, creatively autoloads NECN's video forecast into the page. I can't imagine what it does to a dial-up user's experience, but at least they had the good sense to have the sound auto-off by default. Also, I object to WindowsMedia, but what am I expected to do? Would Flash video be lighter weight? And of course, I'd like to know when the stupid thing was recorded, and how often its updated. The current conditions (like most sites) cite when its information was culled, why not the video?

    Posted in: Rant · Science · Web

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  125. Grey Album for the Eyes

    brian on 2004.11.17 at 01:09 pm

    Can I get an encore?

    Someone has taken the time to create a music video for DJ Danger Mouse's Beatles White Album / Jay-Z's Black Album mashup.

    Beautiful. See it before the man shuts the art down.

    The Grey Video

    Posted in: Media · Music · Web

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  126. Internet Politics

    brian on 2004.11.14 at 09:10 pm

    There's an awesome story about the Net effect on politics, written by Micah Sifry at The Nation.

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  127. Internet Vets for Truth

    brian on 2004.10.30 at 01:25 am

    Videos to inform your voting on Tuesday, November 2.

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  128. Political Comment Spamming Strikes Us!

    brian on 2004.10.21 at 03:01 pm

    Karl Rove's rogue mobs are attacking our site. One of his foot soldiers has made it to our little, Google-friendly blog. He cuts and pastes pre-made (probably not by himself, even) propaganda and posts it on totally unrelated blog posts, and then signs the huge, long thing:

    Richard Stewart
    22517 Winchester Dr
    Elkhart, IN 46514

    He's posted (and we'll delete) in "NPR and web standards" and "FOX News sues Franken".

    I've emailed him the following:

    Stop comment-spamming us. You're type of comment spam is the most un-American type. Ever heard of freedom of speech? You have an opinion? Start your own weak-minded, Google friendly blog, and stop fucking with ours.

    What do you think? Leave a legit comment below. We never delete on-topic comments, even if we disagree with them. See our Livestrong bracelet barter thread for proof. (FYI currently 3rd on Google for "livestrong band")

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  129. Jon Stewart on CNN's Crossfire

    brian on 2004.10.19 at 02:54 pm

    If you haven't seen Jon Stewart telling the Crossfire shmucks 'what's up' then you should really go do that.

    Lisa Rein has QuickTimes, points to WMVs, and a BitTorrent link to boot (fastest).

    Download now. Rumor has it (via BB [see also]) that more people have seen this video than who watched it live on CNN. That's where the internet is going, damnit!

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  130. Can you find a job?

    brian on 2004.10.12 at 03:13 am

    • Go to

    • Find the employment section (as in to get a job at the college, not like career help for students).

    Posted in: Web

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  131. Recent Reading

    brian on 2004.10.07 at 11:52 am

    The Long Tail: A fascinating tale of the future of books, music, movie distribution from Wired Magazine.

    Wikis as intranets. Particularly interesting to me, as I've just recently been experimenting with the thoroughly enjoyable, infinitely simple Instiki.

    Interesting Web Design Strategy from our friends at 37Signals. There are so many ways to start a site, and this seems to be an excellent one.

    A Night at the Hip-Hopera. In the vein of the Grey Album. Wonderful.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  132. More dotMac

    brian on 2004.09.29 at 02:18 pm

    Swinging by the dotMac website today, I noticed Apple upgraded the standard account to give you 250mb of storage to split amongst your iDisk and your Mail (with a 50mb cap on the email). Previously it was 100mb/15mb. Also, they now allow upto a 10mb attachment per email. Great. One gig is what you need? $50/year more.

    Posted in: Apple · Web

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  133. Multiple CSS Classes

    jake on 2004.09.23 at 07:02 pm

    I'm sort of surprised that I stumbled upon this on Richard@Home. I'm pretty certain in all my travels looking at stylesheets from around the enormous web I've never seen someone use multiple classes in an element. Have many people out there used this before? It's well documented.

    To do it you simply provide a space between the items.


    I have set up an html file for now which demonstrates this. I'll look into something that is a bit more permanent in the grand scheme of things.

    This allows for even more reusable code. I have encountered in the past a situation where I needed to style certain elements while not others, like when you style alternating rows. I used a wrapper where the outer object could have two different classes. The objects were nested in a way that applying it to the unclassed object would have changed many other elements on the page. By using this technique I could have selectively inserted the extra class code and removed the wrapper.

    So far I have tested this on IE 5,5.5,6, Firefox 1.0rc1, and Opera 7.5, all for windows. I will test Apple browsers tonight. It seems to be something that's just not widely used but implemented in modern browsers. I also will hopefully write a second draft which is less hasty.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  134. If Google Makes a Browser...

    brian on 2004.09.22 at 04:10 pm

    If Google makes a browser, it should follow this formula: It should be based on FireFox. It should be available from Google via download, and all of Google's special features that would be in addition to the built in functionality of FireFox, should be simply extensions and theme sets pre-installed and activated. All of which should be user-disable-able.

    Why? Easy. It takes the most advantage of excellent, existing, popularly-supported code. It makes friends in the OpenSource community because bug fixes would be available to the public. It means the least work for Google, and would build upon the tremendous momentum FireFox is enjoying right now, growing from a geek audience to the general public.

    FireFox will benefit from the Google brand's validation of the browser, Google will benefit from having a lot of talented help to produce a product clearly superior to that of it's closest competitor, Internet Explorer. If Microsoft were to try to leverage its monopolistic position to nudge Google to the fringe on systems running the WinOS, by trying to steer people to IE and MSN Search, this would be another tool for Google to nudge back. Certainly, computer makers would be interested in providing an IE/MSN Search alternative, if that alternative came from the popular icon Google. Google on the desktop has a nice ring to it, if you're stuck in a Windows world. Speaking of a Windows world, if Google leveraged FireFox/Mozilla/Gecko, even ThunderBird, it would already have ports to every consumer platform. No extra cost!

    If Google makes a browser, let's hope they don't call it GBrowser. Let's do hope they give us all sorts of cool ways of utilizing Google's technology to sort through the mess and gold mine that simultaneously is the Internet. These additional abilities would have a precursor competitor in A9. Competition is good, since it can breed creativity as necessity.

    Posted in: Web

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  135. NetNewsWire 2 in Public Beta

    brian on 2004.09.22 at 04:05 am

    Perhaps my favorite application is NetNewsWire. I've been anxiously anticipating NNW2, which I will get a free upgrade to for buying a 1.0 license. I would have almost bought the upgrade sight-unseen. Version 1 is that good. Tonight I have downloaded v.2 Beta. Now I'm off to play.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  136. My day with AudioBlogs

    brian on 2004.09.17 at 09:39 pm

    Last week, I listened to "Live from the Formosa Tea House" recorded by three two of the guys from SilverOrange, and one from Reinvented (sorry, Pete!). I listened to to it while I had a day off and was sitting at the computer doing my normal blog readings, writing, etc. It was nice, since I was the only one home, it was as if I were out to lunch with my buddies. I don't tend to get lonely, but this could have been a nice accompaniment should I ever find my self so.

    Today, a second experiment in consuming AudioBlogs. I had to work late and would not be riding my bike to work as I usually do, since my pathways are not lit sufficiently to commute home at 10:30pm. Thusly, I knew I'd be on the T (Bostonian for public transit, light rail and bus) for at least an hour, so I had some quality iPod time. When I saw that a sequel to Live from Formosa had been posted, I downloaded that. I also noted that Dave Winer had something new called "Trade Secrets" and I decided to give that a whirl, too, although the audio file was unnecessarily enormous.

    Formosa: 1:03:26, 11.8mb 25kbps (VBR) 11.025kHz Sample rate Mono.
    Trade Secrets: 1:06:20, 60.8mb, 128kbps, 44.1kHz Sample Rate, Joint Stereo.

    To be honest, the only reason I downloaded Trade Secrets was because of the tagline: "This is a bad place for fans of George W Bush." More on "Secrets" later.

    Off to the train, iPod loaded and on. Formosa first. Listening to three guys get lunch while standing on a crowded trolley is an unusual experience. As unusual as hearing someone talk about "FireFox 1.0 Preview Release" while I glide down the middle of Beacon Street.

    It was quiet enjoyable. The guys improved their schtick a little from the previous week, in that they had some prior laid plans this time. This helped keep things a little more focused. They improved their seating arrangements as well, so that the ambient noise (esp the background music) were less intrusive. I don't even recall hearing them start to eat.

    To be honest, I haven't listened to Acts of Volition Radio at all. Acts Radio is by Steve Garrity, one of the voices on Formosa. Perhaps when I start riding the train more in the winter I'll be looking for new content.

    I missed the last few minutes of the show when I got to work. But oddly enough, work was short lived. I apparently was supposed to be off today, to make up for some extra work I had put in the previous week, but apparently everyone was in the loop except for me. So once I left work, I had another hour to kill, and another hour log audioblog/ radio program (Maybe they should be called RadioBlogs... oh wait... how about BlogRadio?) to listen to.

    When the last ten minutes of Formosa wouldn't play, I skipped ahead to Winer/Curry's Trade Secrets, and was promptly caught off guard by some 90's hip hop intro music. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the show, I don't always agree with Winer, and although I'm familiar Curry's name, that was about it. After the overly long intro music, they transitioned into some politics talk, and then to some technology talk. And of course, talk about the upcoming BloggerCon.

    It was incredible the quality that Adam was able to record at utilizing iChat AV. In contrast, it was sad the low quality the Dave achieved on his PC. Was it simply the better hardware used by Adam, or was it that he was doing the recording locally and Dave was the remote end. Eitherway. the quality was passible. But "for Murphy's sake" if you're going to use MP3, you need to whip out the variable bit rate encoding. The file size is ridiculous.

    But what I wanted to touch upon here was the audioblogging format, not so much a review of the content of these two shows. I was really against audioblogging when it first started trickling out. I want to read your comments, not to be inconvenienced by listening to your voice in your file format of choice. However, I never viewed in another light. Throwing it on an iPod allows me to take blogging somewhere I previously could not enjoy weblogs... in a train tunnel. When viewed in this light, audioblogging is downright brilliant. Plus there is a sheer cool factor that one minute you're having lunch in a maritime Canadian province, or your chatting with a friend in Seattle from your home in Belgium over the net, then a day later, some guy is listening to your voice and idea on his iPod, in a train tunnel a country or continent away. When viewed in this light, audioblogging is actually pretty cool. Just so long as I don't always have to listen to you... I can mostly read about you in NetNewsWire.

    The other thing that's key is that if you have something really important to say, instead of just analyzing something already known about... what's important is that it's written somewhere, and not just in an audio file, because I don't think this will catch on quite as wide as written text. Audio and video will likely remain icing for the near future. But hopefully it'll be growing, improved icing.

    Posted in: Web

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  137. My Community Contribution

    brian on 2004.09.17 at 02:49 am

    Today I happened upon Jon Udell's LibraryLookup script. Very cool. Imagine you're looking at some page (say an Amazon or B&N page) and want to see if you can get that book at your local public library (peer to peer book networking?). Well with Jon's little bookmarklet (that's a bit of code that resides inside a bookmark in your browser) will scrape the book's serialized number, and search your local library's online catalog. Certainly cool.

    The one down side for me was it didn't work for my public library. It seems since Jon put this together in January (at least that's when his little how it works videos are from) Brookline switched systems. I'm guessing the whole MinuteMan library network (much of Eastern MA) is the same.

    So I fixed it. And as a public service, here it is:

    Search Brookline Public Library

    First, you can't click on this link, you must first save it to your browser. You can Ctrl+click (Mac) or right-click (Windows, others) on the link and choose to save it, preferably to your bookmarks bar. You'll want to rename the link once you save it so that it fits better in your bookmarks bar. Mine says simply BPL

    While I've got your attention, Brookline Public Library people: please address your website (not the search one, just the regular one.) It needs serious help. In 1995 it was OK to use FrontPage to design your website, no one knew any better. But today, letting aside the heinous visual design and usability, it simply can't adhere to accessibility standards (section 508, et al) and it takes much more bandwidth to serve and download than it should. It all starts with standards. The New York Public Library is an excellent example of standards and design in action for a public library website.

    Not one to simply bitch and run, I'd gladly speak with whomever oversees the site on what could be done with it so that it serves the community better.

    Posted in: Books · Web

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  138. Bush Docs Probably Authentic

    brian on 2004.09.11 at 12:49 am

    Looks like CBS did their fact checking well. Despite a weblog entry that claimed CBS's papers documenting the strings that got pulled for the President in the Texas Air National Guard were forgeries...

    There's an excellent debunking of the forgery claims here.

    So, let's all go back to believing we now have evidence of what we previously had only strong suspicions: that our President is a slime ball.

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  139. More trip pics

    brian on 2004.09.10 at 01:14 pm

    A while ago, I posted a link to the first of my cross continent road trip pictures. Now I've completed the task, putting 343 pictures online for your viewing pleasure.


    My Cross Continent Pictures

    Posted in: Photography · Web

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  140. Web biz

    brian on 2004.09.09 at 01:10 am

    When I was searching for a position in web development, I had two major interests. Interacting with clients so that they could get the most out of a project would be a natural fit for me. I have an unusually uncommon ability to discuss technical issues in meaningful ways with non-technical people (this is why and how I have my current job). In the new media area its so important for clients to have good communications with their developers, to get the most out of their investment they need to truly know what's going on, and communicate their needs and desires, and get the proper content out.

    Point one is illustrated in this blog post by Drew McLellan. I believe that good client liasions are hard to come by, and why I thought I'd have an easy time getting a job in the field. In contrast, I had a terrible time even getting interviews, where I could then demonstrate that talent. Of course the state of the economy was pretty awful, too, so I'm sure that didn't help.

    The second big interest I had can be generally called Information Architecture. Basically, I had the belief that there are plenty of pretty (from a design standpoint) websites built by the "best" studios in the world. But they were also plenty ugly when it came to actually use by humans.

    It is my theory that better forethought and planning (along with usage of web standards, so everyone can play) would make pretty sites usable. Organizing information is another strength of mine, but I struggled to show that in my portfolio. I have a keen knowledge of what makes a site successful in comparison to other sites that are unusable, but couldn't figure how to demonstrate that knowledge in a portfolio.

    Michael has a great blog post on how to set yourself up to apply for these IA-types of positions. Info I could have used two years ago.

    Problem with the post is the whole experience to get a job to get experience to get a job to get experience... the vicious circle is so difficult to penetrate. That's where networking and luck come into play.

    There are still so many shops making pretty sites for big dollars, which ignore standards, IA, usability... but these shops have connections and relationships with clients... and the clients don't know any better, so the entrenched continue to get paid while the clients keep getting sub optimal work, and the real losers are the public who are trying to spend money with the aforementioned clients.

    It goes to show, the more technology advances the more things stay the same... companies continue to invest in poorly deployed technology, because they think technical innovation can exist in a vacuum from basic communications principals.

    What's the connection between my two points here? Easy. An IA who plans the basis of site who has great client communications can better lay the groundwork for a successful site.

    But as long as the job application loop stays closed, the more the workers in the pool stay the same...

    Posted in: Web

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  141. Meet the Bloggers

    brian on 2004.09.08 at 11:24 am

    It's been "Meet The Bloggers" week for yours truly.

    Last Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Cederholm of SimpleBits at a Web Standards Meetup, along with a few other local web geeks. Good time, look forward to doing it again.

    Yesterday, none other than noted author and bOINGbOING's own Cory Doctrow saddled up to the bar at work.

    If you're a blogger, you should swing by and shake my hand. It's only right. Of course recently, it's been so phenomenally busy that you may have to wait an hour to do so.

    Posted in: Web

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  142. New

    brian on 2004.08.31 at 11:30 pm

    Congrats on the new website, Mozilla. They got awesome talent to build it, and it has come.

    Posted in: Web

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  143. Junk Mail attack!!

    brian on 2004.08.03 at 09:53 am

    Apple's Junk Mail filter is impressiveI awoke this morning to 1084 Junk emails. Usually, after sleeping for 7-8 hours, I would get 40-60. Wow. Luckily, Apple Mail's junk filter caught every single one, without a false positive (I scanned through the folder). Normally, I'd bounce all of that straight back to sender, but I didn't want my ISP to mistakenly tag me as a spammer for trying to return almost 1100 junk mails at once.

    What could of happened to nail me this bad? Well, I tried out Acquisition overnight, first time I've ever done that (and not to steal music, mind you). Is Acquisition spyware? Could it have gotten my email address? My email app has four active addresses, but most if not all the junk was addressed to only one.

    Posted in: Web

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  144. BugMeNot

    brian on 2004.07.27 at 09:39 pm

    A blessing. Bug Me Not. Allows you go to sites that are registration-only access, most notably the New York Times.

    Don't miss the bookmarklet on the front page which you can have in your bookmarks bar and fire up when you hit a registration site. The bookmarklet will query the BugMeNot database for the site you're at, and show you a user name in a pop up window for instant access. Beautiful. Also, Mozilla/FireFox extensions for similar usage.

    Posted in: Web

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  145. DNC- Live from Boston (blog)

    brian on 2004.07.27 at 01:51 am

    So apparently the codeword at DNC Boston is "blog." It'll get you everywhere. I can tell you since I'm there (er, here). Of course, since this is the internet, you can't tell that I'm in Boston (I am) or if I'm across town (also true).

    Well, blog, blog, blog. I'm terribly sick of the word. Weblog is much classier, but I'm so sick of it, I'm on the verge of calling it an Interweb journal. Anyhow, as someone who is a bit of a current events junky, and a web junky, the thought of having fellow web heads (noxious or not) at the convention cross town is quite cool. A step forward for the American public's connection to its political process, which it hasn't been in touch with for many, many years. The penultimate point of that disconnect was four years ago November.

    Let's have a look at what blogs are giving us this week. A lot for a current events junky! So much so that not only have bloggers gone mainstream, and actually got credentialed and actually let in (and didn't have to sit in a janitor's closet or anything! Even WiFi, I hear!), but the main stream press have started their own blogs.

    Different strategies: Dave Weinberger, is a legit blogger, and author of two important books about what the internet is really about (disclosure: I'm a slacker and still haven't read them, though I mean to). He's in at the DNC, but adopted by the Boston Globe, so he's getting a wider audience, they get "street cred" (yeah, the mean streets of the net).

    Dave Winer, a forefather of blogging is going straight up: nothing different except for one week his focus will be a little different. Dave tends to bug me (he still uses Internet Explorer for one, despite the fact he should know better), but I still read his stuff because I try to get multiple angles on things. Dave also was one of the originators of RSS, which is one of my all-time favorite things on the web. On top of that, big ups on his aggregated site of credentialed bloggers (along with other feeds of similarly minded bloggers and some main stream sources). It looks very good. Which is hard for anything that Dave is related to. Anything Radio or Manilla is simply heinous, visually. Props to Bryan Bell for doing his best with a bad lot. Those icons are hideous. Find some good icons.

    Mainstreamers: CNN and MSNBC are attempting their own blogs manned by talking heads and political pundits you'd recognize. Interesting both, but certainly don't have the spontaneity of a real blog or the real feel. The better of the two is definitely Hardball's It has a terrible name, but it has Joe Trippi and Ron Regan on top of the normal lot of boredom, stupidity (Scarborough) and the only talking head on TV that I trust, Chris Matthews.

    CNN's Convention Blog (went with a too boring name. Somewhere between that and Hardblogger is a good name) gets second place, and only gets mention for having the former The Daily Show correspondent Mo Rocca on board. He'll also be on Larry King Live all week. Nice.

    I'll have Boston DNC updates here all week, if I see anything worth writing about. Today, about half of our employees rode their bikes to work. That's up from 1/3. I think that's great. I was once the only of of the current crew who did, so I'm proud to see if grow. On my ride home I saw the Massachusetts State Police shutting down Memorial Drive for the night. Helicopters patrolling up and down the Charles River on my ride to and from work.

    My take on the convention tonight is that there have been excellent speeches from Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, and currently, as I type Bill Clinton is putting one over the wall as well. Bill has always been a phenomenal speaker. Like him or not, he's a talented orator. Al only learned to speak after he lost the 2000 election, which is too bad. Jimmy Carter is certainly aging and his accent made him sound like he had had a stroke. Reports say his speech read (on paper) even better. So the Democrats are having a very good first inning. Can they keep up the pace?

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  146. Image formats: GIF vs. PNG

    jake on 2004.07.22 at 06:20 pm

    Now that the patent for the GIF image format has expired internationally GD, a popular image image processor, has added support back in.

    This is all important around here because of the way images are submitted for your viewing pleasure. In the past we've had to make sure that they were jpgs, if they were gifs the script I have would not resize them correctly for the front page. Now I can rewrite it to handle pngs and gifs and hopefully everything will be happy and wonderful.

    Vagari IconThere is a debate on Slashdot because of this where a lot of people keep saying the same thing, png's are better than gif's for animation. Regardless it got me thinking because one of the comments pointed out pngout by Ken Silverman. Apparently since I'm currently stuck with an older version of Photoshop at work I can't compress pngs correctly. pngout would have solved that problem for me. pngout shrunk the size of that little guy on the left by about half. And it was already a very small file. He's what I use as my icon/avatar on a few sites. To learn more about pngout and how Photoshop used to stink at compressing the files you can read these articles:

    So now I know that after all this time I had a solution under my nose and I didn't implement it. How irritating. Of course there's plenty of other things around here that I've been interested in adding that are in the to-do list and won't see the light of day in the near future.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  147. New iPod Crashes Websites...

    brian on 2004.07.18 at 02:05 pm

    Windows IIS can't handle the trafficIt seems Windows Server is no match for the new 4th Gen. iPod. Maybe you can get through by the time you click this link...MSNBC's Newsweek Section. No wonder Steve is smiling on the cover... that and he gets all the best toys first.

    Posted in: Web

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  148. DMB enters right race, but bets on a lame horse

    brian on 2004.07.15 at 10:46 pm

    As a follow up to a previous story, today, the Dave Matthews Band announced an exclusive online music downloads deal with Napster.

    Previously, the DMB had only sold limited music via its own website. Is it possible for their downloads to go from bad, to worse?

    Why? First of all, file format: Napster uses the Windows Media Format. Problem one, proprietary format. Problem two, poor musical quality. Problem three: draconian DRM. Problem four: requires Windows (2000/XP) and the dangerously insecure Internet Explorer. Problem five, requires a player blessed by Microsoft. Problem six: the tracks you download will not work on the world's most popular and iconic digital music player, the Apple iPod. Problem seven, the tracks will not play on computers that were likely actually used to make the music, and I'm willing to bet are used by some of the band members: the Macintosh.

    "So, Brian," you say. "You're a bit biased."

    I agree. But facts are facts. AAC is an open-format, one of the highest audio quality formats, that works on any platform (granted, the FairPlay DRM-enabled AAC tracks only play on Windows and Macintosh.) Oh, and sold on what is by far and away the world's most popular online music service. Which by the way, happens to work on the world's most popular music player... yeah, you know which one.

    "But, Brian," you say. "FairPlay DRM AAC is just restrictive as WMP."

    Yes, and no. First off, iTunes software and its legal agreements allow you to use your music on seven machines, Mac or WinPC. Napster? Three PCs. Also, iTunes let's you use your music elsewhere, without tethers: you can write a downloaded track to CD an unlimited number of times, which then you can use anywhere you want.

    So, do I sound like sour grapes? Maybe. But, I understand that DMB's management make TicketMaster look friendly. For example, many bands have a fan club. Most are free. Some who offer more charge a menial $5 or $10 a year. DMB's "The Warehouse" cost $30/year. I was one of the very first subscribers. Without question, I thought I'd get a lot for my money. What did I get that first year? A sticker, a five-track live CD, and access to a members' only site with very little content and rarely updated. I also had the chance to buy tickets for any concert before they went on sale to the general public.

    About those tickets, did my membership get a discount? Nope, full price-gouged. How about great seats? Ha! I was entered into a lottery! Someone in the general public who got tickets over the phone could easily get better seats than me. The first time I used the lottery, I got stuck so far off to the side at Foxboro, that I could only see Dave's nose around the stack of speakers! I was very pissed. I had better luck in other lotteries (my best being 7th row center), but that's not the point. Fan clubs are meant to treat a band's greatest fans with extra special treatment since they are the bands' best supporters, both financial and otherwise. But the DMB used the Warehouse as a way to keep their fans close as to keep them within gouging distance. Needless to say I haven't been a member since that first year (or was it two, I think I gave them one more chance to underwealm me). They disrespected me.

    This brings me back to my point: once again, the management is doing something good for them, not the fan. More of their fans use iTunes and iPods than likely all the other players and services combined. But because the management doesn't want to trust the fans to buy the whole album (iTunes only sells your album if you allow someone to buy the individual tracks from your album), don't expect DMB's management to do the right thing for its fans. By the way, at least 40% bought on the iTMS is bought as full-album. With the DMB's album being traditionally designed as such (versus say, a Brittney Spears album which may have one popular song, and a collection of unrelated ones), it's full-album percentage would likely be much higher.

    So what do I do as an iPod using, DMB devotee? Same as always: by the CD, and rip it. And then condemn it to a life as a high-fidelity backup. What would I do if tomorrow DMB released its music on iTunes? Same. Why?

    Well, as great as I feel iTunes is for me, I feel its much better for your average music fan. I buy a large percentage of my music on iTunes. But for certain music, I buy a CD. Why do that? Audio fidelity. I listen to my music at a higher bit rate than iTunes Music Store currently provides. Most people can't tell the difference, so iTunes is perfect for them: good prices, fast downloads.

    Where as I prefer to get my music via the internet, the only lossless place I can do that at the moment is, which I do use regularly. Until iTunes provides a lossless download option, I will continue to buy lossless music (currently mostly CDs) from my most-favorite artists, like Dave Matthews Band (and other DM stuff) Phish studio stuff, Soulive, etc. I rip it to a high-quality AAC. Should audio trends change (say, like last year when I switched wholesale from MP3 to AAC) I have the original lossless files to reimport. With the switch from MP3 to AAC, I got better sounding music, and 20% more space to store it. I expect that to happen again. Perhaps soon.

    What would I do, if I were in charge of DMB's audio download strategy? First, I'd sign up for iTunes. Right now. No brainer. Second, provide for lossless non-proprietary downloads from our site (FLAC or SHN) for our album work, like they do now for their live downloads. If Apple ever came around to lossless, I would then switch that to their servers, and save our bandwidth. Personally, I would also not bother with the cost of DRM... all it takes is one person to crack it, and your music is everywhere. So to cripple all your music is useless. IMO, iTunes uses reasonable DRM to satiate the music industry, until they can learn that protection is lose-lose game. If you can make your music worth its price tag, then people will support you by buying. Respect is a two way street, artist and music industry should respect their fans' fair use, and then fans can respect their artists by monetarily supporting them.

    Respect starts at $0.99 a song.

    Posted in: Music · Web

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  149. A bunch of Spider-Man related things

    jake on 2004.07.07 at 03:13 pm

    Wow, there’s a lot of Spidey 2 buzz out there. I saw the movie agian with my mom and youngest brother on Monday. Nothing really new to add. I pretty much covered it in that other exhaustive post. But I have been noticing many things around the net in the last few days.

    Posted in: Movies · Web

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  150. Pledge Drive: Daring Fireball

    brian on 2004.06.30 at 08:37 pm

    Have you pledged your support yet? Freeloader! How will NPR, PBS, or John Gruber survive if only 10% of their users pay for their content?

    I have subscribed to support Daring Fireball. I appreciate John's insight on the industry. You might see similarities between my post on Dashboard and his own. The reason to pay him is that his is a lot more complete or indepth than my own. Mine came first, though. ;-)

    I've subscribed for one other reason, to help John lead a live as I might one day wish to: self-employed. Good luck John!

    Posted in: Apple · Web

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  151. Dave Going Digital?

    brian on 2004.06.25 at 02:43 pm

    This rumor at Digital Music News says Dave Matthews Band will soon release its catalog in digital format to digital music stores.

    The rumor says the roll out will make the downloads album-only, which theorhetically excludes the only store to get downloads done right: iTunes. It also mentions "involve a tie-in with a major electronics retailer." Strike two for iTunes.

    I would hope for two things: 1) iTunes, obviously. I feel its best for most music fans. 2) High-quality downloads (lossless: FLAC, SHN, AL) like Phish does via Live Phish, for audiophiles. And people, like myself, who just think they are.

    Posted in: Music · Web

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  152. Yahoo! releases and 100MB email and screws me by deleting my account from 1996

    jake on 2004.06.15 at 01:44 pm

    So after having a really old email address (savior@rocketmail, don't ask) forever Yahoo! has decided to delete it from my paying service because of inactivity. Huh, I coulda sworn my inactivity was because I couldn't log in for the past 4 months. Now since it's from an acquired (rocketmail) entity the only recourse I have is opening a whole new acount. So thanks Yahoo!, now I have been paying you for the past two years to screw me over and destroy my first ever email address. It probably wouldn't bother me as much, but I am a bit nostalgic about it. Maybe I can get my money back or something.

    Update: I have just been issued a refund (after being on the phone for 50 minutes) and been told my only course of action is to sign up again from scratch. I'm debating this since I don't really want as an email address. But I am curious about the updated look , etc. and since I would need to be invited to Gmail I'll just ponder this some more...

    Update: Well I gave in and got a new address, thought it's not what I would call "good." But I do like the the interface a little better. Now the question is, do I upgrade and add pop-access back into the equation? And what the heck do I possibly use this address for since I have control over my own domain? Who knows.

    Posted in: Rant · Web

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  153. AutoBlog

    brian on 2004.06.06 at 07:30 pm

    I've been enjoying AutoBlog for the last week or so.

    Posted in: Auto · Web

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  154. Ben and Mena Interview, MT pricing commentary

    brian on 2004.05.18 at 03:54 am

    I downloaded and enjoyed this audio interview that was conducted with Ben and Mena Trott of Six Apart. It accompanied me to work on the train via the blessed iPod. The interview was recorded just prior to their Moveable Type 3.0 licensing announcement that stirred up such a storm and has ruled the web development world over the last week or so.

    For the record, these guys deserve to make a buck after giving away their excellent product for like 3 years. Forget the rest, and pay up. Even if you qualify to use it for free, pay up, in my opinion. Could their commercial pricing schemes use a little reconsideration? Yeah, I would say so. But are there plenty of alternatives on the market, many excellent and free? Yes. Will the market eventually determine the legitimacy of the price? In this market, free from unusual instances that exist in, say, the desktop operating systems market, I would say the market will lead to their adjustment, but as a nod to Six Apart's unique personality as a progressive company, one day after their price announcements, they published clarifications, realignments, etc. when the announcement met with questions. That shows that they really care about the community that's grown up around their software. I think the people crying that the Trotts are bowing to the commands of their investors who are handing down this pricing structure simply don't understand what these two are about. If you don't like it, don't upgrade, or move on. It's simple.

    By the way, thanks to Jake for not making me pay for using this weblog. If Jake hadn't hand-forged this place, I'd likely be on TypePad or something. Actually, I'd probably be hand coding in the style of Zeldman. You should be as lucky as I to have a talented coder whom you can persuade to build you software under the guise that when it was done, he might enjoy using it, too.

    Posted in: Web

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  155. Tabs... Begone!!

    jake on 2004.05.06 at 05:53 pm

    That is all for now. Enjoy.

    Posted in: Music · Politics · Web

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  156. RSS Readers ruining it for the rest?

    jake on 2004.04.30 at 01:27 pm has an article about how RSS could overwhelm the Internet's pipes. At frist I was frustrated cause it sounded one sided but they touched on the problems by the end.

    Mark Fletcher, chief executive of Bloglines, said he agrees that many desktop readers are broken.

    "Several clients default to polling every half hour, which on a per-user basis ends up generating a lot more traffic than if the user was just going to the website himself," he said. "A user generally doesn't go to the same website every 30 minutes looking for changes."

    That's exactly what I did at work. My boss noticed my reader was polling regulalry (even though it really wasn't that much) so he had me change it to every 2 hours for every feed I subscribe to. And as far as I know the 2 apps that I can't decide between only download if there are changes. (At home I use NetNewsWire).

    If everyone followed rules of etiquette and the readers were forced to not allow anything less than an hour between checks then it would help a lot with these problems. Mostly I think it's the check for changes thing though. Not the frequency of checks (within reason).

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  157. Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing

    brian on 2004.04.14 at 04:25 pm

    FOLDOC is the Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing. I found this today after looking up the word "twain" as in "Ne’er the twain shall meet" which is said to give birth to the term TWAIN, a standard technology which brought together personal computers and scanners. TWAIN is not an acronym, but that did keep popular folklore from making up an extension for it, "Technology Without An Interesting Name."

    By the way, "twain" means a lot of things, but "pair" is one of the fitting definitions in this case.

    Lastly, FOLDOC is supposed to be found at but the first time I typed that, it didn't connect. Subsequently, it redirected to the above linked site. Additionally, there are mirrors of the Imperial College (UK) FOLDOC site.

    None of this has the least to do with Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Sorry for any confusion.

    Posted in: Standards · Technology · Web

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  158. "I love death" stick figure animation

    jake on 2004.03.04 at 12:15 pm

    A bit crude but "I Love Death" is a well done Flash animation. I didn't have a problem, but it might not be work safe for you.

    Posted in: Art · Music · Web

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  159. MacMinute's RSS in-feed ads

    brian on 2004.02.20 at 04:42 am

    MacMinute has begun putting advertising in their RSS feed. Previously, the feed was just the first few lines from a story. Now its a few lines, plus a complete ad, with link. I think it should be one way (blurb to pull me to the site to see ads, understandable) or the other (full post, plus ad to pay for it, understandable) but not both (blurb + ad... just not fair).

    What's your thoughts? Seen ads in your RSS feeds?

    Posted in: Apple · Web

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  160. Apple goes RSS

    brian on 2004.02.17 at 04:38 pm

    Apple now has a page with all of its RSS feeds in one place. Score.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology · Web

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  161. Frontpage slip

    jake on 2004.02.08 at 01:46 am

    I've never been a fan of Microsoft Frontpage, it's about one step up from designing with Word. But Microsoft is trying to "clean up" its image, too bad Dave found a flaw in one of their ads.

    Posted in: Humor · Standards · Web

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  162. Zeldman with a warning

    jake on 2004.01.30 at 01:07 pm

    Don’t design on spec points out the problems with doing work for someone before you get the contract.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  163. ESPN Reporter Goes GaGa in interview of Stefan Lessard

    brian on 2004.01.28 at 02:32 pm

    ESPN (uh, EXPN, for eXtreme! sports! EXTREME!!) reporter Mary Buckheit goes crazy when she meets Stefan Lessard, bassist for the Dave Matthews Band at the Winter X-Games. Not a bad article once you sort through they 'teenaged-girl-meets-hunky-hero-star' junk.

    [PS- Stefan loves his iPod and the iTunes Music Store...]

    Posted in: Media · Music · Web

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  164. People's Court Meets Web Design

    brian on 2004.01.20 at 01:35 am

    It seems that a friend of mine may be making an appearance on The People's Court. (I refuse to link to the website, which just redirects to a contact form. Pathetic for a TV show that has been on since 1981, and developed a genre of show!)

    She has a web client who has not paid for her site. So, she has filed a grievance in small claims court to get her client to pay up.

    And yesterday, she received a letter in the mail... on "The People's Court" letterhead. That invited her to appear on the show to settle her case with her client. She suspects that perhaps the client, who's in the media industry in New York City, maybe knew the producers. Anyhow, she is considering the appearance. It pays, win or lose. Will it be good exposure? Does she want that kind of exposure? What kind of potential client would be watching The People's Court?

    Posted in: Web

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  165. Current Events Spam

    brian on 2003.12.14 at 03:06 pm

    Found in the junk-inbox just now:

    "Sender: News Service, Subject: Saddam Captured.. Get it first with Dish, Sent 11:34:47 AM EST"

    The body of the email was mainly images (purposely blocked by's anti-spam utilities, thanks) but the text at the bottom was actually just a news blurb, no selling nor porn. I'm not curious enough to load the pics, and give away my existence. Instead, I'll bounce it back to them, as I do about a hundred times a day, spamming the spammers.

    Posted in: Recent Events · Web

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  166. FU H2!

    brian on 2003.12.14 at 12:10 am

    "Welcome to, home of the official Hummer H2 salute."

    Posted in: Politics · Rant · Web

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  167. Community Building ("for America")

    brian on 2003.12.08 at 03:36 am

    I haven't made my final decision on whom to support for President (right now its just anyone but who comes up when you search Google for "miserable failure" and press the "I'm feeling lucky" button), but I have been seriously impressed by the community (virtual, etc) that has sprung up around Howard Dean.

    The New York Times Magazine has a great story on some of the people who make "Dean for America" go. It's quite the page turner. Highly recommended.

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  168. Add Your Own

    brian on 2003.12.01 at 07:20 pm

    What happens when the Zagat Guide meets Craigslist?

    A: BYO restaurant reviews at AddYourOwn. Boston section is quite new, and hopefully linking it up will lead to some reviews. Help it out!

    Posted in: Web

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  169. Cool Tools: site find of the day

    brian on 2003.12.01 at 03:48 pm

    Cool Tools by Kevin Kelly is a site not unlike Gizmodo: a blog-esque site detailing cool gadgets. There's one important difference. When you write in, the gadget must be one you've used extensively and evangelize strongly. That's the point: good stuff, well liked, that stands up. Also, the gadgets don't have to be electronic.

    Bonus points for nice clean site layout (powered by MT) and the BIG bonus: RSS feeds!

    Posted in: Web

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  170. New Color Chooser

    jake on 2003.11.17 at 04:24 pm


    ColorMatch Remix, best I've seen so far, good job Twyst.

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  171. Mozilla Mechandise Coming Soon!

    brian on 2003.10.21 at 04:08 am

    Support la resistance starting 23 October by buying Mozilla merchandise! I'll certainly be there, will you? 'Zilla branded-trucker hats, anyone?

    Posted in: Software · Web

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  172. className saves the day

    jake on 2003.10.10 at 04:18 pm

    the className pictureA couple things brought me to research this technique. One was that I wanted to be able to style things in the manner of Jeff Croft. You can notice that on his blog when you mouseover an entry the links highlight. Their color goes from a dark grey (the rest of the text is a lighter shade) to orange.

    The second was that a few web sites use the style display: block to create some fancy looking links. A couple of them are; Adaptive Path, and twothirty. Adaptive Path uses the technique to highlight two boxes towards the bottom left which contain pictures and some extra text besides just a generic link. On the twothirty page it is used to bring out their two primary services, website design, and web application interface design.

    I wanted to combine these two techniques because to add any block elements, like a form, inside the link tag would function, but not validate. And Jeff's nice little highlight feature uses the :hover declaration on something other than a link. This validates, but does not function on many browsers.

    I've seen something similar done using inline code and setting things like, but that destroys the whole notion of CSS. Also this would get even more unruly trying to style other elements within the text block.

    So... I tried using javascript but naturally all I need is someone turning it off, and the whole thing breaks down...

    Update: now I feel silly, just goes to show how testing throughly is a good idea. What I did is actually javascript, however, it cleans up the code a little. And the reason I didn't notice it at first was because I only turned off the javascript in Firebird. Firebird could still see the hover declaration and worked as intended. IE just stops all together. Oh well, maybe it'll still help someone out there.

    To view what the heck I'm talking about, I have set up a local page. I tried to give the code some structure, but if anyone has problems with figuring it out, I can try and clean it some more.

    Posted in: Design · Standards · Web

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  173. Breaking Political Blog News: Clark and Cam

    brian on 2003.09.29 at 09:24 pm

    Breaking news from the land of Blog, Cameron Barrett, proprietor of the blog-world-famous is the head of blogging team for Democratic newcomer and presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.).

    A big congratualtions is in order to Cam on this huge new project, and we wish him the best of luck.

    This story was broke by Dave Winer, announcing that Cam will be a guest at BloggerCon 2004 at Harvard this coming weekend. Here's hoping Cam will swing by and say hello at the store!

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  174. BBC grasps the potential of the net

    brian on 2003.08.26 at 12:55 am

    In an announcement that hopefully will influence the future of the Internet in all nations, the BBC has announced its intent to release all of its media holdings, online, free for private use. Let's hope everyone else catches on.

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  175. Seattle Wireless TV

    brian on 2003.08.24 at 11:27 pm

    This is what makes the web amazing. These guys at Seattle Wireless produce their own TV show for viewing on the web. Really well made. However, downloading the MPEG at 182mb is a little ridiculous. I watched the Real Player stream instead. Although the quality suffered because of it, it was good enough for me. The other option was WiMP. Kudos to these guys. Well done. Go watch the 15 minute episode!

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  176. Web Standards on NPR

    brian on 2003.08.21 at 02:27 am

    Paul Ford had a commentary on NPR's All Things Considered August 7th regarding the messed up language of the web and how it really should follow web standards. Wonder how many people driving their cars at that time fell instantly asleep? (It made sense to me, at least, nor did I doze off...)

    Posted in: Web

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  177. New Modded Mini-Tabs

    jake on 2003.08.19 at 03:28 pm

    Dan has pushed mini-tabs to a new level by incorporating images. These also work in vertical.


    Posted in: Design · Standards · Web

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  178. Politics and Science, and Lies.

    brian on 2003.08.10 at 11:54 pm

    A website, built by a member of Congress('s staff, that is) that details specific instances where the all the Presidents men have distorted scientific fact, or in other cases flat out gone against science, all for political gain.

    Politics & Science: Investigating the Bush Administration's Promotion of Ideology Over Science.

    The Bush Administration has manipulated, distorted, or interfered with science on health, environmental, and other key issues.

    Not that this is unimaginable considering the White House's current resident, but why isn't this on the Evening News? What if the President told (a/countless) lie(s) and nobody cared?

    Posted in: Politics · Web

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  179. Blogs at Harvard

    brian on 2003.08.10 at 05:53 pm

    Since I'm in Boston, should I make some attempt to attend BloggerCon?

    I've long been muling my Thurday night activities, and whether they should include a trip to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, at Harvard Law School. The Berkman hosts Thursday night sessions on weblogs with blogging-famous name/ fellow Dave Winer.

    Perhaps if Jake would take a Friday off, we could check it out.

    Posted in: Web

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  180. Maher rides again, uncensored.

    brian on 2003.08.10 at 05:15 pm

    Bill Maher has a weblog. Cool.

    Posted in: Cool Info · Web

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  181. 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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  182. 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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  183. 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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  184. 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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  185. Nationwide WiFi: Free.

    brian on 2003.06.25 at 02:30 am

    Nationwide WiFi for free... if you live on the South Pacific island of Niue. The Polynesian island has led the way in internet technology for its 2,000 citizens by roling out free email since 1997, free connectivity since 1999, and now island-wide WiFi.

    The nation fund this development and costly satellite driven internet from the proceeds from selling the registration for the nation's .NU top-level domain.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  186. PBS: Lessig v. RIAA, interpretations

    brian on 2003.06.14 at 02:55 am

    PBS Online has an excellent piece with Prof. Lawrence Lessig and the RIAA's Matt Oppenheim going to back and forth to answer tough questions on copyright, DCMA, fair-use, P2P, and the like. Very informative. The RIAA, while still obviously more interested in profit versus progress, sounds the most level headed I've ever heard it.

    Posted in: Media · Music · Politics · Technology · Web

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  187. EU wants to tax net sales, expects US companies to collect

    brian on 2003.06.14 at 01:50 am

    The European Union is looking to assess its heavy sales taxes (VAT: 15%-25%) upon e-commerce sales. While that may not be surprising unto itself (unless you never realized how heavy European sales taxes are!), what may surprise you is the collection scheme. They expect companies on the net, who don't reside in European countries, to collect the taxes for them anyhow, on purchases shipped to Europe. And they're serious.

    What's worse is that it seems to be have a good deal of momentum. AOL has already started to arrange for more staff in its Luxembourg office for this purpose. If you have an office in Europe, you only need to assess that country's tax (Lux has the lowest, at 15%). Otherwise, you need to collect in varying degrees based upon the shipping destination, for each country you ship to.

    US businesses have already moved to push the Bush Administration to issue a grievance at a World Trade meeting. That might be the first intelligent thing this administration will do. And I'll be the first to say it, too.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology · Web

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  188. Type Pad compliant!

    brian on 2003.06.09 at 01:13 pm

    Yes, today in an article on A List Apart (for people who make websites) Six Apart, the makers of the smash hit Moveable Type weblog/website software, have announced that their new product, TypePad, will be focused on adhering to W3C Web Standards. This is great news, seeing that the product, which is essentially a hosted Moveable Type, is targeted to folk who don't have any knowledge of making websites, or even know what standards are. It just does all the heavy lifting for them. Bless Six Apart.

    Posted in: Web

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  189. BoingBoing... barf and bravo.

    brian on 2003.06.03 at 02:09 am

    One of my favorite weblogs is BoingBoing. Often times you'll see very similar content here and there. However, they've added a new guest blogger to the mix who will receive zero attention from us here (outside of this rant). That's because they've invited John C. Dvorak to be their guest blogger. Yup, the pretentious, self-important blow-hard who's famous for running off at the mouth... and not much else. Puke. We have an unspoken "no-posting-JC.D-articles-policy" here.

    On the upside, check out Mark Frauenfelder (of BB)'s side-site, The Island Chronicles. He's moving to various South Pacific Islands with his wife and two young girls, and blogging what he can. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, he's also known as a Switcher.

    Posted in: Rant · Web

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