I got a 2-pack at Target a couple of days ago, one black and one blue. They had both the 0.7mm and 1.0mm varieties, but since I had just recently purchased a pack of 0.38mm pens, I decided to go big. After years of using fine point pens, the 1mm seems sort of like the old jumbo pencils that I used way back in kindergarten. The lines are big and bold. The tip just seems to flow across the page. It’s a really nice pen.
While I’m not quite on the Danny Gregory level of pen consumerism, I know a good pen the moment it hits my paper. Next, I will probably need to hit the opposite end of the spectrum and try out the Uni-Ball Signo Bit — a needle-like 0.18mm!
In the wake of some bold predictions by Robert X. Cringely, Google Talk advertisements were spotted on GMail today in a rather prominent location:
I’m trying out a beta of Amazon’s new web 2.0-compliant, buzzword-friendly, ajax-driven product previews on the site today. If you want to see the beta in action, hover over the following links. If not, please ignore this post.
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it odd that the Second Counselor to the President of the Church of Latter Day Saints is named Faust. That’s right: James E. Faust. I have nothing against the church or Mr. Faust. I just thought this to be an odd coincidence.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
A little tidbit for the SEO community slipped out on Matt Cutts’ blog yesterday:
“Just to give you a heads-up, I think a new set of backlinks (and possibly PageRank) will probably be visible relatively soon; IÃ¢m guessing within the next few days.”Even though he goes on to say that this will result in a bit of flux afterwards, I certainly hope that the Google results will be consistent after this is over. I have two laptops on the table in front of me right now. When I enter certain searches that I have been monitoring on Google, I see completely different results from the two machines. On one machine, I see that my site has some 40,000 pages in Google’s index. On the other machine, there are around 15 pages. This is not good. Hopefully they will fix this soon.
For quite some time, O’Reilly has been the trusted source for technical books in my household. I have a rainbow of O’Reilly books on my bookshelf. And while it is not as large as this library, the O’Reilly books still make up for over 50% of the books that I own. I have recently been shopping for books to add to my Amazon wishlist, and, feeling already overwhelmed with O’Reilly books and tech books in general, I’m needing some new ideas.
Has anyone read any good books lately? Amazon’s Best-Seller List has been dominated by Mr. Potter lately, so that’s not much help. And the New York Times Best-Seller Lists are full of authors I have never heard of.
I suppose I must call upon the powers of the great LazyWeb. Oh LazyWeb, help me! I need an authoritative site that lists good, modern books along with coherent reviews. Any takers?
I received a nice surprise in my inbox this morning:
Thank you for applying to participate in the Yahoo! Publisher Network beta program. We’re excited to let you know that your application has been accepted.Naturally, I signed up as quickly as possible and pasted some ad code into my site. This process was very straightforward, much like AdSense. But after I pasted the ad code into my site, I realized that YPN is nowhere near as refined as AdSense. According to the YPN FAQ, I should have seen public service ads while waiting for the context-targeted ads to appear.
Your Yahoo! Publisher Network ads will usually begin appearing within seconds of pasting the ad code into your web pages. If no ads are available, public service announcements will be displayed. If you prefer, you may select a Substitute Color that matches your web page background so that a solid color block appears in the meantime instead.But I didn’t seeing anything. All that the YPN code provided was an empty iframe. Sure, it had the CSS for the ads in place, but there was no content inside the body of the html document. The “substitute color” option worked, but I got no PSAs. This really looked bad on my sites, so I thought that I might not get to try out YPN.
Fortunately, however, the matter was resolved within a couple of hours. I went back to my test page after doing some other work, and the ads were there. When I have some solid data on the earnings, I will write up a summary of my experiences. I’ll leave you with this for now, though: Yahoo has a long way to go to catch up with AdSense.
Google has serious problems. It seems that they have given away a pr10 (Google cache). And Google employee Matt Cutts has been GoogleWashed—his site has had its content and PR stolen. The event has also been referred to as The Great Bacon Polenta Conspiracy, a name derived from a recent post on Matt Cutts’ blog.
I have had a Philips Pronto Pro as my main universal remote for a while. The review on RemoteCentral.com, along with many comments in the RemoteCentral forums, identified this as the best consumer remote on the market at the time that I bought it. The remote was excellent at everything, truly exceeding my expectations. It arrived preconfigured to support every device that I own (and more). I was able to setup macros to control multiple devices with the touch of one button. I was even able to configure it to shut off all of the lights in my living room when I wanted to watch a movie.
But with time, I got tired of looking at the passive matrix LCD display. It’s just old technology that really doesn’t have a place in my “technologically advanced” household. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to these things. When I moved a year ago, I never even bothered unpacking the Pronto Pro. Instead, I am using several different remotes now. I have something like five different remotes on the coffee table, each of which can change the volume on the TV. Yes, I know, it’s disgusting.
It seems that there are some new options on the market these days, though. I first start looking into remotes today when I saw Matt Haughey’s post on the Harmony 880. The Harmony 880 is made by Logitech. I typically like their gear. But I’m really not too sure about this one yet. It looks nice, and as Matt entions, it has that TiVo-like peanut shape to it. But how would it stack up to the old Pronto Pro?
Well it turns out that there’s a new Pronto Pro out now. RemoteCentral has a review on it. This is going to be a tough decision. The new Pronto Pro now has a TFT display and more buttons as well. But I have become a bit spoiled by my DirecTiVo’s peanut-shaped remote lately. Time for more research.
I’m working on hacking my implementation of Movable Type to interoperate with Pingback servers. If all is well, I should show up here. I’m hoping to get my Pingback implementation stuffed into a plugin before I’m finished.
“Do NOT mix generating and editing. When youÃ¢re making a piece, donÃ¢t stop and get judgmental half-way through. If itÃ¢s a piece of crap, get that piece of crap out of your system Ã¢ donÃ¢t try to fix it mid-flow. Finish it, move on.”
It seems that the “Web Clips” feature of Google’s GMail has been around for a while now. I just saw it tonight for the first time and was quite surprised to see it. The new addition appears to be out in limited testing. Initial thoughts: I would certainly like to have the rotating headlines at the top of my GMail inbox.
I thought that I had seen it all when it comes to BitTorrent. It seems to me that there are plenty of resources out on the web that would tell a person everything he might ever want to know about the excellent file sharing program. But there had to be a “dummy” out there who would go out and write a book on how to use BitTorrent. Get your order in now. This book is scheduled for release on October 3, 2005, and I’m sure it will sell out quickly. ;-)
Does anyone around here know anything about the Magellan Roadmate 760 GPS? I am thinking about getting one of these. I miss the GPS navigation that I had in a previous car, but factory nav systems are just way too expensive.
Along with Movable Type 3.2 came a ton of new stylesheets from the good folks at Six Apart. And they even created a Style Library that lets you preview each of the new styles before downloading them. My favorite is Lilia Ahner’s Purple Crush. The library is AJAXified, so I haven’t found a way to link directly to the preview pages, but you will find Purple under the Bold Palettes category. For those of you using standard templates on your Movable Type blog, be sure to check out these great new templates.
Almost two months after I prematurely declared that Movable Type 3.2 was released, it is now here. Six Apart has the details. I actually saw Anil’s announcement first. But it was Brad’s post that really sparked my attention today:
The just-released Movable Type 3.2 includes both an OpenID server and consumer plugin. They’re not enabled by default, but this is a good first step.This seems like a step in the right direction. I know what I will be doing tonight.
A while back, I posted a link to SSHKeychain, an OS X tool that acts as a user-friendly graphical interface to the ssh agent. I didn’t begin to use this tool until a few weeks ago. It had been on my short list of new software that I needed to try, but I kept putting it off.
Well, I finally tried it, and I really like it! It just doesn’t get any easier than this. This is such a simple piece of software, but I don’t know how I have lived without it for so long.
First of all, the idea behind the ssh agent is to save time. The agent caches your public keys and uses them to log you in to servers. These keys are normally stored on your hard drive in an encrypted format. When loading them into the agent, they are first decrypted.
In order to use public key ssh authentication without an agent, you would have to type in the key password and then wait for the key to be decrypted before any authentication could take place. Or you could store unencrypted keys on your hard drive, but that’s not something that I want to do on a laptop. So the agent really makes a lot of sense, even if it’s just to save those few keystrokes each time I connect.
But this tool goes a bit further than an ordinary agent. It automatically adds your ssh private keys to the agent when you need them. Automatically. Even if your keys aren’t in the agent when you type your ssh command, they are added when you first use them. With other agents, you have to be sure that you manually load the keys before you ssh. This tool eliminates the need to even think about loading the keys.
Your key passwords are stored in your keychain, the standard OS X password store. This means that you truly have single signon. Log in to your Mac, and you are logged in to all of your servers, too.
And it is integrated so well that I don’t ever notice its presence. In fact, other than typing my password once to unlock my keychain after logging in to my iBook, the only thing I notice is that I don’t have to type passwords to log in to my servers any more. I have not clicked on the SSHKeychain icon on the menu bar once since I first installed it.
But best of all, it is completely free. And the source is available. It is actually donationware, so if you like, be sure to let the author know.
The tool also has support for tunnels, but as of this writing, I have not used that part yet. I am a huge fan of ssh tunnels, so I am sure that I will have more to say about this part soon.
GoogleX was a fine product of Google Labs. It was an homage to OS X’s dock. And as expected, Apple got mad and made them take it down. A search for GoogleX on Google still returns the original URL for GoogleX as the first (and second) search result, but the page only contains these words:
The requested URL was not found on this server.
I had completely forgotten about this site until yesterday, when I stumbled upon a mirror. And as luck would have it, the host of the mirror has the entire site zipped up in one small file for downloading. Now I have my own GoogleX mirror. :)
Jason Kottke exposed a delightful idea in a comment on one of his postings today:
Degradable interfaces…the more you use it the more wear it shows. Why does everything have to look like it has never been used? Give me hard edges that become blunt, rounded corners that get shiny, labels that wear off.
I love this idea. A couple of years ago, I was going to launch a design for kottke.org that changed the more you used it. First time users get new graphics but someone who’s visited the site 50 times gets a less “branded” version, the idea being that someone who’s been here 50 times knows where they are and doesn’t need any big logo or anything, just the info they’re after.
I have not seen any examples of this type of behavior on a website, but I would certainly love to see it in action.
Movable Type 3.2 has been portrayed as a worthwhile upgrade. It adds some neat new features. But today, I found out about a killer feature that makes me want this update now: better comment management.
And we’re not just talking about a minor improvement to the existing comment management functionality. We’re talking about a revolutionary change. HTML email notifications! And from within those notifications, you can read the comment, edit the comment, approve it, or delete it. For me, it just doesn’t get any better than that. This is a huge time saver.
Now here’s the only problem: To my knowledge, this feature hasn’t been announced for MT 3.2 yet. It’s just a new TypePad feature. If you are listening, Six Apart, please add this in 3.2!
Wow, I can’t believe it. It’s already been two years since the first post on this blog. To the loyal readers out there, thanks for your time. While the blog has been neglected at some points, it’s been a blast to publish content here!
Sam Ruby’s Shameless Pandering prompted me to link to his prior post on the problems with the way iTunes handles XML feeds. The comments in that post explain everything in full detail. If this topic is of any interest to you, please link to Sam’s post and help us get this in front of someone at Apple.
As if I didn’t have enough to do in my spare time already, I have joined Ignite Energy as a Sales Associate.
Ignite is a company that sells electricity in Texas locales that, thanks to recent deregulation efforts, offer a choice of utility providers (pdf link). The incumbent utility providers are typically the most expensive in town, and recent surveys have shown that around 85% of us have not switched to a cheaper provider. If you live in a part of Texas that allows you to choose who you buy your electricity from, I encourage you to visit the site and take control of your energy bill today.
Ignite also offers you the opportunity to sell their products as an affiliate. Visit the site for more information on those programs.
Sorry for the blatant plug. Back to the regularly scheduled content.
This new release is full of new features. Trackback moderation is finally here! There is also a Junk folder where hopefully all of the trackback and comment spams will appear — instead of appearing on the blog. Feedback Rating is another new feature. Think of this as SpamAssassin for your blogs’ comments and trackbacks — all built-in. The System Overview provides a high-level view of the entire MT installation, spanning all blogs.
In all, there are 32 new features. This should be a very impressive release.
Update: It seems that the new software isn’t actually out yet. 6A is just hyping the new release at this point. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Flickr just announced Yahoo’s new My Web 2.0. This is Yahoo’s first shot at Social Search. The relevancy of the results is somehow determined by a combination of the standard relevancy algorithms and the preferences of your friends. It should be interesting to see how this develops over the coming weeks.
There’s a blog, too.
Update: Nike has apologized. I’m impressed.
I have way too many tabs open in Firefox, so I’m cleaning things up with this post. If you’re not interested, feel free to move along.
This is impressive! If that link didn’t work for you, open a command prompt or terminal window and type in:
telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl. And supposedly there are extra features if you visit via IPv6, although I have not confirmed this myself (yet). [via Brad]
“As you’ve probably figured out by now, I think that paper is complete garbage. Unfortunately it’s actually one of the better academic papers on BitTorrent, because it makes some attempt, however feeble, to do an apples to apples comparison. I’d comment on academic papers more, but generally they’re so bad that evaluating them does little more than go over epistemological problems with their methodology, and is honestly a waste of time.”
Adding to the already excellent collection of Power Tools for Movable Type, the Tags Power Tool was released today. Think Flickr/del.icio.us meets blogs. I expect to see some interesting development coming out of this.
Thanks to Julie Chadwick of the Dallas Observer, the #1 weekly newspaper in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, this site’s URL made its way onto the most read newspaper page in Dallas, the back page of the Dallas Observer.
Upon opening Limewire for the first time since installing Tiger on my iBook today, I was notified that I was not running the latest version of Java. Normally, on a PC, I would just head over to java.com and download the latest version. I know that Apple has spent a lot of time and money optimizing their Java runtime for OS X, and I certainly would not want to lose the performance enhancements that come with that optimization. So I was extremely happy to find out that Apple already has the first release of J2SE 1.5 for Tiger available on their website. Thanks, Apple.
Yesterday marked the arrival of my shiny new Dyson DC07 Animal. I have been borrowing a vacuum for a while and recently decided that it was just time to get my own. After reading many praises of the Dysons, I was nearly certain it had to be the right choice. A bit of further research confirmed (enough for me anyway) what I had already suspected: the Dyson vacuum is a superior product when held in comparison with all others in its price range.
When I first arrived at home with the new box, I immediately felt as if I was carrying home an extremely heavy Apple product. This thing has almost the same carrying handle as my iBook’s box. Opening the box wasn’t quite as pleasing as opening an Apple box, but it was certainly simple. After breaking some adhesive strips along the top and sides of the lid, the box was completely open with little effort. The literature inside made me think “Apple” again. The guides to using different parts were extremely simple, multi-lingual, and had pictures with every step. I spent so much time initially reading the glossies that I almost forgot to take the vacuum out of its box.
As I skimmed through what seemed to be a quick-start guide (but later turned out to be the actual product manual), I quickly learned how to assemble the machine. I had the entire unit pieced together and working in under five minutes.
After a quick run around the homestead with the vacuum, I was very impressed. This is one amazing piece of machinery! There are so many little pieces that will snap off in the event that it becomes clogged. There’s a little tube near the bottom rear of the unit, another just above that on the top, and another on the top left near the gigantic hinge. And when you remove the dirt container, it seems like half of the machine comes with you.
Speaking of the dirt bin, there’s another treat. Emptying out the waste is an extremely well-engineered and simple process. All that you have to do is hold the container over a waste receptacle and pull the trigger. A door in the bottom drops out, and all of the dirt goes with it. The door is, of course, hinged, so it doesn’t actually fall out. Once you’ve released the waste, a quick nudge of the clean side of the door will close the container back up. This was especially nice for me since most bagless vacuums produce clouds of sneeze-inducing dust when they are emptied. But when I emptied the Dyson, there was no sneezing whatsoever.
On to the attachments — six in all. Frankly, I’m not really sure that I will ever use all six, but they’re there if I do need them. There’s a carpet cleaning attachment, an attachment specially made for pet hair, a stair-cleaning attachment, and an attachment designed specially for cleaning under low chairs and such. The remaining two attachments are the old standards: a wedge-shaped tube and a small brush.
The number of ways to attach the attachments is impressive, too. First of all, there is the standard method. The handle of the vacuum is released from the unit by the press of a button. This handle then becomes a hose with an attachment point at the end. Remove the host from the handle, and a two foot tubular aluminum wand is exposed. At this point, you have two choices: attach an accessory to the hose or reattach the hose to the other end of the wand. The former option is fairly straightforward, but the latter is very impressive. The hose gives you about seventeen feet of working room away from the unit. The wand extends your reach so that you can easily get to ceilings and high fixtures without the need for a chair or ladder.
Overall, I really like my new vacuum. I cleaned with the borrowed vacuum the day before the Dyson arrived, and yet the Dyson still collected a large amount of dirt and lint on its first use. This machine really does suck better than its competition.
As recently as a few weeks ago, I thought that the Dyson vacuums were overpriced. I thought that they were the product of a brilliant marketing department. But while the marketing is certainly commendable, the product definitely lives up to the hype.
Tiger Arrived today. Well, technically it was yesterday, but I haven’t slept yet since I’ve been having so much fun with my new OS. I was driving home from work and noticed the FedEx truck parked at the office of my apartment building. I quickly parked and ran in to meet up with the FedEx guy who handed me the package.
First impressions are that the Dashboard is really slick, and the boot time is probably about 1/4 of what it used to be. This product is highly recommended. If you are a Mac user and haven’t ordered it yet, you really should.
In order to claim this site as mine on Technorati, I give you the following link to my Technorati Profile. Sorry for the trouble.
Also on the Movable Type front, a workflow plugin has been released. This fills one of the few remaining voids in making MT into a serious CMS.
Amazon.com has Tiger available for pre-order with a $35 rebate. That brings your cost for Tiger down to $94.99+tax if you opt for the free shipping. I just placed my order.
Update: Tiger is now shipping, and Amazon is still offering $35 in rebates!
“Although the record industry is having a tough time selling more records every year, the music business is bigger than ever.”
Gareth Simpson put together a slick little Greasemonkey user script to strike through any rel=”nofollow” links on any website. I quickly found that this didn’t quite work on all sites, especially WordPress sites.
The default for links in WordPress 1.5 blogs is
rel="external nofollow". Because Gareth’s script was dependent on the
rel attribute having the exact text
nofollow, it failed on the newer WordPress sites.
There are other uses of the
rel attribute as well. For example, Technorati Tags use a
rel="tag" attribute. And the XHTML 1.0 Strict DTD states that the value of the
rel attribute should be a “space-separated list of link types.” So you could put together something like
rel="tag nofollow external", and it would be perfectly valid.
So instead of just complaining about the minor problem with Gareth’s excellent script, I created a version that works the way it should. See the Greasemonkey site for info on how to use the script. [Found here.]
The new rel=”nofollow” syntax for html
a tags has caused quite a stir on the web this week. It seems that almost all of the blogs that I read are abuzz with opinions and comments regarding this impressive feat of cooperation amongst the major search engines. Here are the official announcements:
Apple unveiled many new products at the MacWorld SF Expo today:
I saw a mention of the ‘Global White Space Reset’ technique on someone’s website several weeks back. Ever since then, I have been thinking of the many different ways I could use it. The problem was that I couldn’t remember what it was called or where I had seen it. But tonight, after an hour or so of Googling for it, I finally found it. I am certain that I will use this in my next web design project.