Archives: “geek love”

Mac Team TriOsby

I don’t understand how I’ve started slipping into posting once a month but I don’t like it. Things are hopping here so I guess I have an excuse. Still, my site has taken to leaving little post-its around the apartment with increasingly forlorn messages on them. — Are you okay? — Was it something I said? — You know, you can just write me a note if there’s something you want to talk about. — Why haven’t you returned my calls? — I’m going to mother’s and you can phone me there when you’re ready to talk.

Sigh.

Inexplicable high CPU usage on MacBook Pro

If you’re seeing high CPU usage on your MacBook Pro (or any Intel-base mac) that you can’t seem to track down in Activity Monitor or top, try checking the Sharing preference pane in System Preferences. If Windows File Sharing is checked, try toggling its checkbox off and on. I had this issue with a new MacBook Pro that was driving me nuts - nothing was listed in Activity Monitor or top, but the CPU was hovering at 80% and my machine was overheating.

Turns out samba (which powers the Windows File Sharing feature in OS X) was launching and then crashing over and over and over and driving CPU usage nastily high, but toggling the sharing pref fixed the issue.

Gotta love the Apple Store

Speaking of MacBook Pro’s, it turns out my new work machine has a buggered screen. It has a very strong blue / cyan cast that I can’t get rid of through calibration. So I went down to the new Eaton Centre Apple Store to visit the Genuis Bar for the first time.

I didn’t even have to show the issue to the technician. I explained the problem and she promptly asked, “do you have your receipt?” and said that I could exchange my machine for a new one if it was purchased within 14 days.

Unfortunately I was a few days past the cut-off date, but they’re going to order a replacement screen and logic board for me anyway. I explained that I can’t really go without the machine for too long as I need it for work, so they’re going to schedule the repair over the weekend. If that still doesn’t fix the issue she said they’d go ahead and replace the laptop with a brand new one, which is pretty cool. I’ll keep you posted how it turns out.

Oh, besides the screen issue it’s not too bad of a machine, though it does have the whining issue and did get rather hot until I installed the latest SMC firmware updater. But it’s fast and feels pretty much the same as my G4 Powerbook, which is a good thing.

Firefox 1.5.0.4

Jumping jehosophat, people, I know a new version of Firefox is out. I get the internets here too, you know.

I gotta say, every person who emails me or posts a comment that tries to:

  1. Guilt me into building a new version,
  2. Assume that insulting me or my intelligence will make a new build magically appear (if you really think this works, I fear for your loved ones), or
  3. Repeatedly email me every day asking when the new build will be available

… makes me not want to post builds at all. Here’s a hint: haranguing me just pisses me off. Please stop.

For everyone else who is patiently waiting for new builds, they’re coming, and if you could kick the idiots in your midst in the ass for me, I’d appreciate it.

For the record, the new builds will take a bit longer as I’m looking into how to set up a Firefox update server. I don’t want to have to build the entire application when it’s just a teensy update that’s been released, and I’m sure you would appreciate being able to update your optimized build from within the browser, too.

So give me a few days and hopefully I should have some new builds posted. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to shut the computer off and go have a life for a bit.

Phlegmy.

Vines

I’ve been keeping a fairly low profile since I got back from SXSW a couple of weeks ago. Upon my return I was immediately swamped by Stuff That Needs Immediate Attention, Too Many Clothes That Fail the Smell Test, and of course Quality Time With The Girlfriend and Cats — all priorities to be sure. Things were going just smashingly until last Saturday, when I got walloped by an über-cold that left me quivering, fragile, and phlegmy.

The cold I’m currently playing host to is one of those apocalyptic ailments that left me feeling literally like I was getting the snot kicked out of me (insert emphatic eeeewwwww). Needless to say I haven’t been good for much this week except shaking my fist feebly (but passionately) at shitty daytime television and making a casual attempt to read melodramatic American fiction written by uneasy, balding white guys.

One thing that I did ended up doing this week was start and scrap about a dozen attempts at writing my thoughts on SXSW 2006. My feelings about this year’s conference are complex to say the least, and I was getting stress wrinkles on the back of my neck trying to figure out a way to communicate how I felt.

Thankfully I can unclench myself because my SXSW roommate / good buddy James McNally posted his thoughts on the conference. He nailed what I was feeling more eloquently, passionately, and succinctly than I could possibly have. Thanks, James! I’m still going to go next year, but my expectations will definitely be much lower.

Even with the somewhat disappointing SXSW, 2006 is turning into a very interesting year. There’s a very good chance in a couple of months I will leaving for Bogota, Columbia, where I’ll be staying for 3-6 weeks. If anyone reading this is or knows anyone from there, please get in touch or let me know in the comments any advice, places to visit, or things to see that you can recommend.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for the daily clearing of the lungs (A-HEM!) and a hearty session of researching the intricacies of FARC.

Firefox 1.5 Beta compatible extensions

FirefoxThe Mozilla organization released the first public beta of Firefox 1.5 yesterday. It boasts a zillion bug fixes, new features, and lots of improvements all around. Once Firefox 1.5 is out of beta and released I’ll build a G5-optimized version, as usual. You can also get a G5-optimized build of the beta on the Firefox nightly build page (the September 9th build is the beta).

The beta is great, but one problem is almost all existing Firefox extensions will not work without some tweaking. I’m an impatient (and rather nerdy) guy, so I whipped off Firefox 1.5-compatible versions of the extensions I use.

Download Firefox 1.5 Beta compatible extensions

Note: All I did was tweak the latest publicly available version of these extensions so that they would install on Firefox 1.5 beta. That doesn’t mean these are guaranteed to work, so caveat geek.

Click on the extension name to install — you’ll probably need to give permission to this site to install extensions.

As the underlying code for extensions have not been changed, these should auto-update when the developer posts a new version to the Mozilla Update site.

I did not create these extensions, so do not post support requests in the comments. These are not “official” releases, so you’re on your own.

Oh, and the ever-talented “Aronnax” has updated his gorgeous Mac OS X Firefox themes to work with the beta. The original domain redirection is down, but you can download them here. Here’s a preview to whet your appetite — this is detail from the themed called GrApple (Brazil Pro):

Grapplebrpro

Okay, now I really have to get back to what I was supposed to be doing. Enjoy, folks!

Geekery with an AirPort Express, a SMC 2804WBR, and WDS

APX and SMC(Editorial warning: incoming copious nerdish acronyms)

In the interests of adding this knowledge to the global encyclopedia, here’s how I managed to get my Apple AirPort Express to extend a wireless network created by a SMC Barricade 2804WBR vers. 2. This is accomplished using the Wireless Distribution System (WDS) that the AirPort Express supports. Unfortunately, Apple only provides instructions for setting up in conjunction with their AirPort Extreme base station.

But, it does work with other configurations, so read on for the gory, geeky details.

» Geekery with an AirPort Express, a SMC 2804WBR, and WDS continues...

Soda Pop and Graphic Design

guaranaI’m a sucker for a bunch of things, and one of them is soda pop from other countries. If I wanted to be all pretentious and self-serving, I’d say that this fascination stems from how “pop” is deeply woven into the mainstream of most cultures, and by drinking popular beverages from other cultures, I’m getting a part of that experience, albeit second-hand.

But I won’t be pretentious. The truth is that there’s way more variety in tastes and flavours from exotic pops than most North American ones, which tend to taste like liquified dust or syrupy, “HEY MAN, YOU’RE DRINKING ME!” sugar explosions.

Not international pop - it tastes good, man! Well, many of them do, though I haven’t had the privilege of trying Pocari Sweat yet. Maybe one day when I’m feeling daring.

Another thing that I really like about foreign soda is that they often have had some of the best poster art and graphic design attached to them throughout the years. Coca-Cola has had some great visuals in the past too, but the stuff tastes like crap so it doesn’t count here. smile

(Trivial note: The “Cola” in Coca-Cola comes from the Kola fruit, which was mixed with flavouring from the coca leaf to create the original taste of Coke. So Coke used to be a kind of fruit drink, though I highly doubt it tastes anything near what it used to taste like.)

» Soda Pop and Graphic Design continues...

Importing Contacts into Gmail

Gmail, gmail, gmail. Everyone is going gmail nutty. What’s worse than elitism? Nerd elitism, that’s what.

Ah well. For all of you lucky dogs that have gmail accounts, here’s a little tip. One of the things that has annoyed me is how to get my Mac OS X address book contents into Gmail. I’ve heard about the trick of redirecting email with all of your contact’s addresses in either the To or CC fields, but that means sending everyone in your address book an email - not a very polite (or efficient) method.

It turns out that Google does provide a way of importing contacts into Gmail, but it’s a bit strange. This only works for Mac OS X users - sorry Windows folks, but I have no idea what might work with Windows. If you do, please post it in the comments.

» Importing Contacts into Gmail continues...

Things That Make Me Say “Damn” part 1

david

TV: The Office

I originally got turned on to this short-lived BBC series via Lana and her frequent declarations of love. With its combination of office politics, strange human behaviour, and cubicle humour, it seemed like a natural. It helps too that Renée has a deep, undying love of British humour, a love which I generally share, though I've never understood her appreciation for Kevin Turvey Investigates.

The first episode was funny, but didn't bowl me over, but by the second episode it was obvious that this was destined to become a home crowd favourite. How could you not love exchanges like this:

Gareth: What ones (catch phrases) are yours that I use?
David: Same shit, different day, that's mine. Exsqueeze me, instead of excuse me.
Tim: Wank you very much.
David: Yeah, I invented that.

This is possibly the first show I've ever watched where I cannot stand watching more than one episode at a time. This is even though we have the entire first season on DVD, and each episode is only 30 minutes, which practically invites devouring the entire season in one sitting.

But no. This is mainly due to the infuriating personalities of the Wernham Hogg crew, who simultaneously make me laugh so hard it hurts, and frustrate me because they are so... infuriatingly evocative. This is really the show's strength: the ability to be both shit-your-pants hilarious, and at the same time maddening beyond belief as it reminds you of past office horrors. Damn good.

» Things That Make Me Say “Damn” part 1 continues...

Power On Icon update

Well, the question I asked about the origins of the power on icon is still unanswered, but I do have an update.

Cameron (beautiful site, by the way!) mentioned in the comments that Don "Design of Everyday Things" Norman ran into a related problem when designing the power on icon for the Macintosh, I figured I'd throw caution to the wind and email Don directly. Seeing how he was intimately involved with the design of a power on icon, I was hoping he might be able to help.

I wasn't really expecting a response, but almost fell out of my chair when I received a reply back from him within eight hours. I love the Internet!

The icon you are talking about is a world-wide international standard,
either ANSI or ISO (that's the name of standards groups).

The | means "on" (as in 1 for one). The O means off (as in zero for off).
The | inside a circle means it is a push-button switch that toggles the
power on or off. The | inside a broken circle indicates that the power does
not go completely off. (Because if it did, you couldn't use a remote
control or tap on a keyboard key to turn it back on.) The standards
committee wanted to distinguish between closed circle and broken circle for
safety reasons.

He then mentioned that armed with this information, googling or searching for "ANSI ISO power switch standard" might help turn up something. I still haven't found any specifics on who exactly created the icon design, but I'm working on it.

Don (and Cameron) both mentioned this chapter, written by Don on the difficulties of designing the original Macintosh power on icon design:

And Don also mentioned this presentation by Jonathan Amsterdam on the same chapter.

The search continues...

The Power On Icon

heaterA few days ago I was talking to one of the tech support people at work, when I noticed a heater he had in the corner of his office. Our campus is apparently one of the "greenest" buildings in North America, which means that when it's freezing outside, it's freezing inside. Our campus is cold-blooded, you see.

Thus, the heater.

I noticed attached to his heater was a foot-activated switch that you stomped on when you wanted to turn the heater on. On this switch was the seemingly universal symbol for "Power", which up until this point I had only noticed on computers. I'm sure you've seen it before - it's the nearly closed circle with a gap at the top, and there's a short vertical line that passes from the outside of the circle partway into the centre via this gap.

After noticing the power icon on the heater, I looked around to confirm that yes, nearly every computer we had in the building had a power-on icon that looked exactly like this, or at least very close:

otherOnButtons

What I want to know is, who invented this icon? What products was it first used on? What's the story behind how it has spread into apparent ubiquity?

rockerOnOff.jpgI've tried to do some research, but googling has proved fruitless. The tech support guy postulated that it could have originally represented a graphically simplified finger pressing a button. I thought it might something to do with the amalgamation of the old binary-style rocker on-off switch's icons.

Either way, even if one of us is close on how the symbol originated, we still have no idea on its genesis. Anyone?

Shapeshifter

Milk

Shapeshifter + Milk = UI bliss

POPFile “OS X”-esque Skin

POPFile imageThe spam-filtering POPFile system is powerful, great, and makes dealing with the torrents of spam I personally receive every day much, much easier. But the various "skins" that it ships with look, frankly, not very hot. They remind me of something out of a bad, 1996 web service, nutty descriptive names notwithstanding ("Strawberry Rose", "Lavish", the spine-chilling "Outlook" or "Windows").

I don't mean to totally diss the developers who have created or contributed to POPFile; I know they are trying to reach a broad audience, and have to make some concessions for the diverse number of platforms POPFile can run on. But, I can be an interface asshole sometimes, and today, instead of carping about how POPFile looks, I tried to do something about it.

So: as a more design-friendly counterpoint to my decidely geeky instructions on how to install POPFile on Mac OS X, here's a skin I whipped together. I called this skin "os x", even though it doesn't really look like an OS X application. The overall OS X feel was what I was trying to accomplish, albeit sans images.

Installation of this (or any other POPFile skin) is simple: it's a single, lone CSS file. Just download the CSS file (right-click and save to disk), and put it in the skins directory inside your POPFile folder. My POPFile folder is located at /Library/POPFile; yours may be in a different location, depending on where you installed it, or if you're running a different operating system.

To get POPFile to recognize the new skin, you'll need to restart POPFile. If you're running the default settings, clicking here should stop POPFile.

To restart POPFile, either restart your computer (if you've installed the StartupItem, or if you're running POPFile as a Windows service), or launch a terminal window and start it up manually. Again, this really depends on your OS, so I'll leave this in your hands.

Now click on the Configuration tab, and you should see a "Use Skin" select menu. Select the item called "osx", and hit apply

Hope you like it. Drop me a line if you have any comments or suggestions. Keep in mind that I spent a grand total of 15 minutes creating this, so it's not the best design or code ever. But, it's better for me, and I guess that's all that mattered at the time.

Installing POPFile on Mac OS X

popfile_logo.gifSpam sucks the whole day long.

I've used many different programs to filter spam out of my inbox, and what I've found works the best is a combination of Spam Assassin running on the server, and the open source POPFile running locally. I'm running at around a 99.5% accuracy rate, with zero false positives.

The other great benefit of POPFile is that it doesn't just filter spam. You can set it up to use Bayesian filtering for all kinds of email. POPFile filters email into "buckets", and learns what kind of email belongs in what bucket as you train it. I have buckets for personal email, email subscriptions, email from clients, and of course, for spam. POPFile can add a header to the email with the bucket it thinks the email belongs in, or can also add a prefix to the subject line.

You then set up your email client to fetch email through POPFile, and filter on the header, or the subject line. It kicks butt, and is way easier to set up than my rambling explanation would belie.

The new version of POPFile has been greatly changed to now use the BerkeleyDB software to store its information and data in. This means that POPFile is much, much faster than before. This also means that the install process is that much more difficult.

Here, I've documented what I did to get POPFile 0.2.0a running on Mac OS X. I'm definitely no Unix or Perl guru, so these instructions should definitely be taken with a big ol' your mileage may vary. But, after fussing with it for a while, I think I've got it figured out.

Drop me a line if these instructions help you get POPFile and the BerkeleyDB installed successfully. I'll try to help if you have problems, but like I said, I'm no expert.

» Installing POPFile on Mac OS X continues...

Geek Potpourri

  1. A tip for folks upgrading to the shiny new 15" Powerbook (aka "the albook"), a word of warning: This machine will not boot up any OS lower than 10.2.7. You read that right: someone at Apple is smoking some seriously mind-numbing weed, and has locked out booting any OS released before August 2003.

This means that all of the troubleshooting utilities that have to be run from bootup (DiskWarrior is a biggie) will not work. I shake my head in disbelief.

  1. That said, the new powerbooks are more rugged, and slightly faster than the 667mhz machine I used to be running. I'm not sold on having all of the ports on the sides, however - my powerbook now looks like its caught in the throes of some twisted cable nightmare when everything is plugged in.
  2. After playing around with the just-released Dreamweaver MX 2004, I can now say that it eats pants big time. So incredibly slow, even on my Quicksilver 1.2ghz tower, to be almost unusable. Does Macromedia beta test their software, or what?
  3. iTunes for Windows - now my dad can finally buy that iPod he's been lusting over... and I can finally try to sell my parents on the benefits of Macs. I hope it doesn't suck.
  4. New versions of the Mozilla web browser, the Thunderbird email client, and the Mozilla Firebird web browser were released, along with a redesigned Mozilla.org web site. Open source sweet and tasty for everyone!
  5. DEVONAgent released - this application kicks some serious search-app ass. If you do lots of research and searching online (and run Mac OS X), check it out.

Ad Blocking in Safari (Firefox, OmniWeb, etc.) Using CSS

(Updated September 25, 2005 with rules to hide Tribe.net ads, seeing how there seems to be a lot of people being referred from there. Folks, the instructions below have been amended and are now current.

safariIcon.gifOne thing I've really missed in Apple's Safari was the ability to block ads. This is something I've taken for granted after using Mozilla and Camino [nee Chimera]; once you've gotten used to surfing without the visual noise of ad banners, it's pretty damn hard to go back.

Mike Solomon's Pith Helmet came to the rescue early on by tapping into private APIs built into Safari to block ads. And it was good.

Well, you have to wonder how seriously some people are taking their NDAs seeing how often leaked builds are getting posted online. The good news is that the leaked builds have something that everyone has been talking about: Tabs.

The bad news is that the latest leaked builds broke Pith Helmet's filtering completely. Mike has been good about releasing a fix within a day of the leaked builds hitting the Web, but the fix isn't working quite right. Plus, I don't believe Pith Helmet can filter out iframe or JavaScript ads, which are omnipresent online. (Edit: Mike informs me that Pith Helmet can filter iframe and Javascript ads.)

Cascading Style Sheets to the rescue! I was pretty chuffed to discover that the CSS3 selectors trick that works in the Gecko browsers (Mozilla, Firefox) seems to work just fine in Safari. Want to learn how to use this technique?

» Ad Blocking in Safari (Firefox, OmniWeb, etc.) Using CSS continues...

Colour links

I came across a bunch of really cool colour links today, and I don't want to forget them, so here there are:

  1. EasyRGB Color Harmonizer
  2. Eric Meyer's Color Blender
  3. Colorblind Web filter

(I already know about Visibone, but are there any others that I should know about?)

Stuff for Sale

As an avowed (and sometimes guilty) geek, I've got my share of computer equipment that I just don't use anymore, for a seemingly endless list of reasons.

Well, my loss is your gain: buy my stuff for cheap! (All prices are negotiable - make me an offer I can't refuse.)

What do I have to sell? A computer! A monitor! A printer! A scanner! A laptop! Read on for the savoury details...

» Stuff for Sale continues...

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´┐Żderbund 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?

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.

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.

Safari

Well, went and released its own browser, and completely confounding expectation, they didn't use the Gecko rendering engine.

What does that mean? Well, that means that for some reason I haven't figured out yet, Safari will sometimes load the BeatnikPad homepage and display just the background image (of the lovely lady). Yet if I hit "reload" a bunch of times, the page contents will intermittently appear and vanish, like a really nasty shell game. A-troubleshootin' I go...

It's still in beta, so I can understand the flakiness, but damn! What's with that godawful brushed metal that insists on besmirching their applications with? Thank god there's Demetallizer.

Posting from NetNewsWire

I'm just beta-testing Ranchero Software's newest release: the long-awaited NetNewsWire Pro. If you're reading this, it's working.

Edit: Hm. I just realized that NNW doesn't support Movable Type categories yet. Pity, that.

Standards, baby, yeah

I've been working (for the weekend - sorry, couldn't help myself) on some course material that I'll be teaching late next year on XHTML, standards, and using cascading style sheets for layout. Luckily, there's no end of great, inspiring stuff online to help communicate the power (and non-stop geek cool) of the separation of design and content.

Some good recent 'uns:

If your interested in reading a great, great book, Eric Meyer: on CSS kicks it hard. How can one man know so much?

I'm working on some CSS stuff that you'll hopefully see in the near future. It's time to get this party started.

Where stuff happens

Freshly posted to Jason Perkins' Workspace Exhibit:

My Workspace

Birthday of a Dinosaur

(Cross-posted at the reBlog.)

nn4Someone pointed it out to me on a mailing list just recently: Today (or yesterday, depending on which report you believe) marked the fifth birthday of Netscape 4.

Now, the non-Web designing folk who frequent the BeatnikPad will probably give about as much a hooey about this as a cat does for raw vegetables (which is, probably nil). But, any person who has designed their own journal Web site or blog, or who designs Web sites for a living, knows the agony that is Netscape 4 and the havoc he wrecks with the most carefully planned layouts.

» Birthday of a Dinosaur continues...

Great Moments in Design

phonepadI'll freely admit it: I'm a total hypocrite. For years I've pish-poshed the whole concept of owning a cellphone. Even when I worked for the Internet division of Canada's largest telco and cellphones were everywhere, I resisted. It just seemed silly and superfluous. After all, there's payphones, right?

Alas, at my last job I was forced to own a company cellphone by management. After hearing all of the reasons why they wanted me to carry one, I begrudgingly joined the rest of the cellphone-toting world.

As expected, I've come around to realizing (duh) how convenient they really are. I still think they're noisemakers for the devil though - I still cringe and think violent thoughts when some goofball's cellphone playing some lame-ass tune pierces my eardrums...

One thing that still drives me nuts about phones, though, is trying to use the useless keypad. There's nothing more trying than entering in some long name into a phone with an alpha-numeric keypad. Try typing a name like "occhionero" into your phone and see how long you last before you go insane. These days, cellphones have a ton of cool functions (calendar, phone book, reminders), but getting all of your info into it is an exercise in frustration.

So it was very cool to read this BBC article about a company that redesigned the phone keypad in a completely ingenious way. They basically gave each letter its own button, and fit the entire keyboard into an area 1/3rd the size of a business card. What I wanna know is: can I upgrade my phone?

Killing the Biggest Myth in Web Design

Some thoughts about the Web:

"But how long must we infantilize the very people we're building sites for? Why must we make these blanket judgements about the way all users read, based on the dimmest bulbs in the pack? Can we not acknowledge that the web is now a pretty big place, and generalizing about user behavior is pretty sketchy? Where is the room to say, if I treat my readers like adults, perhaps they're more likely to act like adults?"

Ahem, brother.

Tongue to Ass syndrome

The Failure of Tech Journalism: This is more like it. A scathing, inflammatory examination of just why techonlogy journalism sucks rocks, and how more and more of the media we consume ever day is tainted by commerce. Nothing like a good, spirited read to wake the brain up on a dozy Saturday morning…

SEO: the dub remix

Get Crawled!: Search Engine Optimization’s role in the wooly, bully Web site world is kind of like the bass player’s role in a band - it sits in the back overlooked and appears less sexy and alluring than the front players, but if you have no bassist, your band probably sucks and no one will come and see you. (Unless you’re one of these bands.) Plus, bassists gets all of the chicks. This well-written article helps to decipher the arcane wizardry that is SEO.

the brand, the buzzword

Good Grips: Disability & Branding A double-whammy from usability expert AskTog extolling the virtues of good usability before branding.

"MBAs tend to be monomaniacal. They pick up one buzzword, then run with it for the next several years. Not long ago, it was 'due diligence.' They couldn't buy a pack of chewing gum without first performing due diligence. Now, it's branding, and they are running amok."

A interesting read.

blessed be the CMS

Content Management for the Masses: an excellent article about how content management systems are becoming more and more available, and at lower prices (or free!). This is a good overview (albeit a bit ‘techie’) for those interested in publishing on the Web.


ISSN 1499-7894
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