Entries from February 2003


Something gave me pause this weekend. I was over at my parent's place for dinner on Sunday and decided it was time to weigh myself. It's something I almost never do, because my weight is usually pretty stable so it's not like I'm missing anything dramatic.

Actually, let me start over. The reason I was weighing myself was because I wanted to see how much weight my parent's dog had gained. The (very) good news is that my parent's dog seems to be going into remission. The drugs she's taking to treat her hepatitis seemed to be working their medicinal magic. One side effect of the drugs she's on, however, is a hugely increased appetite. So she's ballooning.

To weigh her, I was going to do the "I weigh this much alone, and this much with Cleo in my arms" bit. Math is an amazing thing.

I got on the scale, and was pretty flabbergasted to notice that I had somehow lost five pounds. Normally losing five pounds for anyone is either a celebration, or no big deal. But I'm already too skinny. In fact, I've been trying for years to gain weight as I've always kind of felt my average weight (around 145 lbs.) is way too low for someone my height (6 feet and a bit). Plus, my weight very rarely fluctuates more than plus or minus a pound or two. So, where the heck did the weight go?

More importantly, how the heck does someone actually gain weight? I mean, good, healthy weight, and not spare-tire-love-handles weight? I tried going to the gym and that just made my weight plummet.

I know Asians are usually (well, stereotypically at least) svelte, but the fact that I'm just barely weighing in at 140 lbs. kind of concerns me. Our family has always had a really high metabolism, and I try to eat fairly consistent, healthy meals, but I'm wondering if this is a healthy weight to be at.

Okay, enough self-absorption.

Making Contacts

I started wearing glasses when I was five years old. I suppose it's all part of having the astigmatism typical to Asian eyes: everyone in my immediate and extended family wears corrective lenses of some kind.

glassesMy eyes are also incredibly bad. If it wasn't for the rather incredible advances in lens thinning technology and high-index lenses, I would be The Coke Bottle Kid. I've been wearing glasses for what feels like forever, and they've become a part of my face. Needless to say, I feel naked and vulnerable without them on.

Today I went and got contacts.

I've been thinking about them for a while. My eyeglass perscription has gone so high, buying glasses is quickly becoming an event worthy of financing and six easy payments. The fact that I am still dealing with the annoyances of glaucoma hasn't help lower my perscription, either.

The glasses I have on my face right now as I type this were over $600, and that doesn't include the fancy pants designer frames, which I don't have. Who wants to pay a thousand dollars for eyeglasses?

So, after finding out that a year's worth of contacts would be under $220, I said, "why not?"

Wearing glasses, I've missed out on wearing all of the cheap-ass, bad motherfucker "I'm so ironic it's cool" gas station sunglasses. Plus, walking indoors after being outside in the cold has always resulted in the spectacle of me squinting half-blind through fogged-up glasses. Let's not even talk about trying to walk home in the rain or a snowstorm. Those rather pathetic looking eyeglass wipers almost look attractive when you can barely see through rain-splattered lenses.

I spent over an hour at the optician's, clumsily learning what any person that wears contact lenses must do naturally every day: Attempting to put the lenses in, and attempting to take the lenses out. Apparently (and I already kind of knew this) Asians tend to have some difficulty putting contacts in because we just don't have the ample eyelids that other races have.

Let's not forget that the act of putting one's finger in one's eye just doesn't seem as natural as one would hope. That said, I'm so used to getting probes and glowing rods and crap in my eyes because of the glaucoma, I could stick the blunt end of a summer squash in my eye and probably not blink.

After fumbling with the first lens almost a dozen times (falling on the floor, falling into my lap, getting lost in the the crotch of my pants as the friendly optician said, "I don't think I should help you find that one"), I finally managed to get it in place. I cursed these slanted-eyes and longed for a double-eyelid.

After repeated attempts, I finally got the damn things in. Looking up at the mirror with my contacts in, the strange image of my face sans glasses stared back at me from the mirror. I thought to myself, "After 32 years, this is the first time I have never seen what I really look like without glasses on."

Leaving the optician's with my new contacts in place, I went to put my glasses on. "You don't need those anymore," the optician said with a smile. Old habits die hard.

I walked triumphantly home through a blinding snowstorm. "Ha!" I thought to myself, "No more frozen snow stuck to my glasses! I am now free from the tyranny of near-sightedness!"

Later on that evening, I asked Renée what she thought of my contacts.

"You look like a turtle," she replied. Harrumph.

Safari Requests

Here's my wish list for David Hyatt and the team at responsible for the beta Web browser, Safari:

  1. Standards support.: What the world needs now is a browser with the best standards support going. I'm talkin' better than Gecko.
  2. Tabs, or some other way of dealing with multiple pages. Yes, I know everyone and his dog is clamouring for tabs, but it'd be nice to see something really innovative here.
  3. Reusable windows. Please add a preference setting to resuse existing windows for external links. I can't stand it when I keep getting windows all over the place from clicked URLs in my mail client, or NetNewsWire
  4. A specialized window for bookmarks. The iTunes-esque interface is an interesting idea, but I still like to have a browser window available to browse in while my bookmarks are open. Yes, I could just CMD+N for a new window, but then I'm left with this gigantic bookmark window hogging the screen.
  5. Better contextual menu support.
  6. More search options. I like how Chimera and Mozilla have keyword bookmarks, so I can create a bookmark that references http://imdb.com/Find?select=All&for=%s, attach the keyword "i" to it, and then type "i adrian Zmed" into the address bar to search IMDB.
  7. More Keychain support. Please add support for username and passwords present in page form elements, ala Chimera or Mozilla. It's darn handy.
  8. Add form auto-fill / autocomplete. I don't use this a lot, but it'd be a useful thing to have around.
  9. Kill the brushed metal look. Oh, please. If you implement only one thing on this list, please make it this one.

Playing with the latest beta today, and while this seemed to be a bug-fix release more than anything, it's still getting better and better. Things are looking up.

Movable Type + Textile

The new version of Movable Type is now available and installed on the site. The big new feature is support for text formatting plugins, which allow Web authors to easily mark up their text.

For example, by adding asterixes around text, it will displayed with strong emphasis. Chevron-type things mean superscript, and a blogging favourite, strikethrough, can be accomplished with simple dashes.

To get this loveliness, you'll need to install Master MT Plugin author Brad Choate's version of Textile, which is a port of an original idea by Dean Allen. And why wouldn't you? It's spiffy.

Kung-Log Good

Hot on the heels of the new and improved Movable Type comes another release of Adriaan Tijsseling's Kung-Log.

kunglog.jpgWith the greatly expanded XML-RPC support that Movable Type 2.6 now has, Kung-Log now has the ability to not only leverage MT's new text formatting functionality, it can also handle image uploads and email notifications from within the application itself.

This entire entry was created from within Kung-Log, without having to log into Movable Type's web interface. How cool is that?

Adriaan has also put together a rather spiffy (if incredibly geeky) Kung-Log FAQ which might be of use.

Originus Geekus

Here's one for the geeks:

 II+My first real computer (as we know them to be now, and not the old microcomputers that you used to be able to build from Heathkit) was an II+ that my dad bought in 1980. I was ten.

It cost something like $3500, and I think it had 48kbs of ram, and a CPU that ran at a springy 1mhz.

For the longest time we used a standard audio tape player to load Breakout and other games onto the computer. Our monitor was a Baycrest 12" colour television (which cost a fortune back then, but still works to this day[!]).

Three relevations:

  1. My dad splurging one Christmas and buying two 51/4" disk drives, which meant we could actually play games like Ultima, Lode Runner, and Castle Wolfenstein. I worshipped at the altar of Br�derbund and Origin Systems.
  2. Learning how to program in BASIC by reading books like BASIC Computer Games by David Ahl.
  3. Being introduced to (and being consumed by) Bulletin Board Systems when we got a 300 Baud modem. Memories of my first email, my first chat with a Sysop, my first online game...

I "grew out" of computers by the time I turned 15 or 16. My interest had turned to the more tangible entertainments high school presented. Once I discovered partying, girls, and punk rock my time using computers seemed like a long forgotten memory.

I didn't use computers again seriously until just five or six years ago, where I first introduced to the Internet, and where I first saw glimmers of what would become a fond obsession, and a career.

What was your first experience with a computer?


Today was different than other days. It wasn't because the bus took an extra twenty minutes to arrive, or because the shy man who cleans the school quietly said, "hello" when I walked in the front door. It wasn't because I didn't have class today, or because there was a fierce snowstorm outside, no doubt remnants of the Big Eastern Seaboard Storm coughing out the last bits of a winter's fury.

Today was different because we found out that a student passed away yesterday. The student was very young, energetic, vibrant, and as far as I could tell, well liked. I walked into work this morning to a group of instructors standing together, brows furrowed, eyes downcast, deep in discussion.

One of the students, upon hearing the news, locked himself in one of the offices and had to be quietly cajoled to unlock the door. In the hallway, groups of students stood together, eyes red and stained with tears.

There was little in the way of classes today, for many of the students.

Death is never easy. A creative soul extinguished far too early is an unjust, cruel thing.

Path Finder and ChangeDesktop

Path FinderPath Finder is Cocoatech's überpowered replacement for Apple's Mac OS X and its anemic Finder. It taps into a lot of Mac OS X's command line power by putting a friendly interface onto some of X's Unix underpinnings, adds plenty of time-saving functionality, and basically does everything you would expect 's Finder to do (but doesn't).

On the Cocoatech Web site, there's a rather lengthy and convoluted process to get OS X to use Path Finder as a complete replacement for the Finder. The basic gist is that 's Finder literally gets replaced by Path Finder - you remove the original Finder and put Path Finder (renamed "Finder.app") in its place.

The big problem here is that this kills software updates that update the original Finder. Plus, it's just too much work. Things don't need to be this complex, however.

All you need to do to get Path Finder to run as your Finder is to:

  1. Launch 's Terminal.app, usually located in /Applications/Utilities
  2. Copy and paste the following command:
      defaults write com.loginwindow Finder "/Path/To/Path Finder.app"
    (Don't forget to change /Path/To to the actual location of Path Finder, make sure there's a space between Path and Finder, and yes, you need the quotes. This all goes on one line, too.)
  3. Quit the Terminal.app, and logout.

When you log in, Path Finder should automatically launch as your filebrowser. Hallelujah!

ChangeDesktopOne thing that's currently missing from Path Finder is the ability to randomly display desktop backgrounds. Brian Bergstrand comes to the rescue with the freeware (and insanely great) ChangeDesktop, which works splendidly with Path Finder. Make sure that "Notify Applications" is checked in the ChangeDesktop preferences, and you're all set!

My personal wishlist for Path Finder:

  1. Speed, speed, and more speed. Path Finder has made major advances in application speed, but it could still be springier. Path Finder is noticeably slower when drawing windows, especially in column view, and drawing menus. Speaking of springy...
  2. Support 's method of spring-loaded folders. There is spring-loaded functionality already, but there's no way to trigger the "spring" (ie. with the spacebar), and no way to shorten the wait before the folder springs open. Also, it'd be really nice to actually have context-friendly spring-loadedness (open the folder in a new column when in column view, open a new window in icon view, and trigger the disclosure triangle in list view).
  3. Allow for folder-specific view settings. At the moment Path Finder only has settings for icon, list, and column view - there's no way to set a single folder to a specific setting.

Still, for day-to-day use, Path Finder's advanced functionality more than makes up for missing features, and developer Steve Gehrman is one of the hardest working coders around, releasing point-one updates that have more additions than most company's point-zeros. In a word: Worthy!

Life in point-form

Just a few things to bide time until a better post comes along:
(because of #1, and because I'm feeling like a rather grumpy old man who doesn't want to have anything to do with this site right now.)

  1. I'm sick. The flu, I think.
  2. I'm addicted to Fresca.
  3. I'm cranky and tired, and ready for spring to come any day now, thanks.
  4. Renée is sick of seeing exclamation points at the end of sentences!!!
  5. I'm getting really sick of getting email involving poorly spelt, rather violent acts performed on women / horses / children / dogs / pasta pots / toupees / bums / toner cartridges. If you're going to send me your spam, for god's sake at least run it through a spellchecker first.
  6. I know, I know, they gotta get around my stone-cold hardcore motherfucker Bayesian filters somehow. Still: Rapps? Nekid? Anale? Yeesh.
  7. Bad coffee in the morning is much, much better than no coffee at all.
  8. I'm really missing my old work cronies these days.

I will write a real post soon. Or not.

Prairie Pop Tarts

It's always heartening to finally see long-deserving folks get their dues in the mainstream media. Local record label endearing gets the Globe and Mail treatment in this full page article. It's about time.

Speaking of good local tunes, bands signed to endearing that are worth checking out include Projektor (heavy, brooding rock music with a melodic soul), Novillero (pastoral, brit-pop goodliness), and The Waking Eyes (AM radio re-interpreted by XTC). Winnipeg is a fertile ground for some damn fine music, and I'm not just saying that as a hometown boy. Go and discover.

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