Archive for February, 2004

No Updates This Week!

February 22, 2004

I’ve got a pretty busy week planned, so there won’t likely be any updates on bblog or Found on the Web.

I’ve got some ASP.NET training to attend from Monday through Wednesday at Microsoft’s Phoenix office. It’s kind of a refresher on the subject since we’re getting ready to start our big project and I took the Guerilla .NET training way back in August 2003. It’s a free seminar for Microsoft’s enterprise customers, which we are in a big way. Since this is really important material, I will probably be quite focused and intent—not good conditions for blogging.

Thursday will find me back in the office, but swamped with a million things to do and a kajillion emails to wade through.

I’m taking Friday off so that I can take The Girls in for their four-month-old series of vaccinations. Blogging while taking care of those little ones is all but impossible.

So have a good week. There’s lots of other stuff out there to read. If you’re really hard up, may I suggest Practical File System Design?

TOC Flight

February 21, 2004

Things aren’t looking up for The Objectivist Center. As noted by Noumenal Self, they’re suffering from a budget crunch and general lack of interest in what they’re selling.

More interesting is Diana Mertz-Hsieh‘s recent public repudiation of TOC on philosophic grounds. She lays out her objections with specific examples that illustrate the repulsive turns that organization has taken.

Kudos to her and I look forward to the end of that divisive, dishonest institute!

Public Service Announcement

February 20, 2004

I debated about posting these two articles I found because they’re somewhat out of character for this blog (though I’ve blogged the subject before). Ultimately, I think sex is important and that improving one’s technique is always of value. If you’re prudish, don’t click through. I’m not, so what the hell!

Mind-blowing cunnilingus: part 1 and part 2

As per my policy, I won’t be following up this post.

Guaranteed Winner

February 18, 2004

MacMerc suggests a way to guarantee an iTunes song with every Pepsi bottle you purchase. I wish someone would figure out how to do this for the 7-11 cups. I’m currently at 7 songs with 38 cups (18% win rate).

[UPDATE: Tried it with a Sierra Mist and it worked well. If only I liked the taste of Pepsi or Sierra Mist. 😦 Or if only the Mountain Dew-capped bottles weren’t so expensive!]

[UPDATE (2/19/04): As the Apple Turns has a hilarious take on tilting.]

Source Code Commenting

February 16, 2004

There’s a fascinating look at the Win2k source code comments over at Kuro5hin today. I’ve written plenty of source code (only several thousand lines as opposed to tens of millions) but I’ve never commented my source code like they have. I guess I just operate in a very different corporate culture than Microsoft’s.

My comments amount to explaining why I made choices I did, how a particular section works, and the purpose of different areas. They are at times humorous, mostly sterile, and never profane. I always assume that my co-workers are going to be reading them and that my boss might see it someday. I stay away from the redundant mode of commenting and try always to craft self-documenting code.

RSS/ATOM/Whatever

February 15, 2004

I’ve been avoiding RSS/ATOM/Whatever like the plague for the last couple of months. I tried paring down my subscription list from 180+ to 102 at present, but I still faced the problem of Shrook being a total pain in the ass piece of software to use.

I think an explanation of my general philosophy of software is necessary at this point. My primary deciding factor for a primary application in a particular category is its interface. If I like a program’s idiom, I’ll choose it even if it’s not the most featureful software in the category or if it costs money. For example, I use OmniWeb even though Safari is free and Mozilla is more powerful. It’s a great app and it’s getting better.

That’s not to say that the best program is static. I’ll gladly switch programs several times as new entrants come onto the scene. For example, I have a substantial library and I’ve always dreamed of cataloging the entire collection in order to really know what body of knowledge I’ve got on my shelves. To that end, I have purchased licenses for BookTracker and Library. But I’ve become recently enamored of Books very open way of doing things.

To those ends, Shrook is my news aggregator of choice. I’ve purchased a license of MacReporter, a Dock application that does the same sort of thing without using RSS, and used NetNewsWire since its beta days. I still use MacReporter on a daily basis, but NNW stopped impressing me once I discovered Shrook. Despite Shrook’s considerable flaws and insufferable performance, I still used it exclusively.

That is, until I couldn’t take it anymore. I had dutifully installed every point release of Shrook in the vain hope of ending the miserable performance (it would take twenty seconds or more to quit the app and it degraded the longer it was open, thus negating the power of a news aggregator—leaving it open all the time). Each time saw the addition of new and interesting features, makeup on a pig as they say.

Tonight I called up Shrook’s homepage and saw that the developer is posting a 2.0 preview. “Enh,” I thought to myself. “What have I got to lose? I’ve already paid for a license.” Katie bar the door! This preview of Shrook rocks. It quits like a regular program and the developer redid the interface in an even better style. Regrettably, he changed the keyboard shortcuts yet again but my muscle memory’s already picked up the changes, which have become more mnemonic thankfully.

If you’re looking for a different kind of news aggregator, I can’t recommend Shrook highly enough. It even has a web-based component that integrates nicely with the client for easy synchornization. And support good software!

When Stupid People Congregate

February 13, 2004

Brian Carnell was in Michigan recently and chronicled what happens when stupid people start making protest signs.

(Side note to Brian: I notice the URL for this story is of the format /year/month/000000.html. Do you really foresee writing more than 99,999 articles in one month? That’s optimistic.]

Nerdiness Ensues

February 13, 2004

My adolescence was shaped profoundly by rap. I listened to Public Enemy, Geto Boys, NWA, Young MC, EPMD, Sir Mixalot, KRS-ONE, the Beastie Boys, and probably a dozen other rappers from about the age of 12 until I was 17. My adoption of Objectivism, my pursuit of intellectual endeavors, and my love of music were all influenced by the gangster and hardcore rap I pumped into my brain. Granted, much of the good stuff in my life was a reaction to the disgusting nature of the lyrics and the love of music leans heavily towards rhythm and speed. Influences are what they are.

Happily, I’ve lately come across a few intellectual rappers that have impressed me considerably. One of them, MC Frontalot, even calls his style “nerdcore hip-hop,” an appellation with which I completely agree and in which I delight. So this entry is about these nerdcore rappers and some of the choice discoveries I’ve found.

  1. MC Frontalot: He’s definitely the best of the bunch. While there’s a couple of his songs that I don’t like, the vast majority are clever, witty, and geeky. Oh, and unabashedly so!
    • Message No. 419: This is probably my favorite of his many works. It’s a rap about those annoying Nigerian scam spams that everyone gets dozens of every week. Favorite line (easily): She’s the LADY MARYAM ABACHA, deposed./These days can’t even get her caps-lock key unfroze
    • Floating Bridge: This rap is a riff off of a PBS special about bridges and features probably the only use of the word “cantilever” in a rap song ever. Favorite line: now I’m stacking little floaters and I’m banding them together,/I could travel in this manner over water to wherever
    • Yellow Lasers: It’s took me something like fifteen listenings before I realized the plot of this song fully. I’ll share it with you so you can appreciate its oddity and cleverness. Girl goes to a Star Wars convention and announces that she wants to make love to someone. Everyone’s agape and Frontalot steps up to the plate. They ascend to her hotel room. Frontalot is shackled, lady gets nude. She positions herself over his face and lets loose a golden shower, the figurative yellow laser beam. Frontalot’s not “overjoyed” as you can imagine. Okay, gross, but that’s a story that you wouldn’t think could be made into a kick-ass song—and you’d be wrong. Favorite lines: she was looking for love?/had to call her bluff, lady you don’t mean how that sounded/(the thousand-pound dude in the ‘no fat chicks’ shirt’s astounded)
    • Which MC Was That: Here Frontalot pays lip service to the traditional hip-hop dissing of other MCs except that he disses non-existent MCs. I envy his wordcraft and geekiness. Favorite lines (for their geekery): and whoever guessed closest wins a nine-sided die/and a gift certificate to fry’s/yo the moniker is MC Frontalot/I got a +1 bag of nerdcore hiphop/and my mail list busted a hundred so I’m famous
    • Indier Than Thou: Frontalot, self-declared as the “world’s 579th-greatest rapper,” skewers hipsters and the indie cult. My favorite slice is when he opens a fan letter and is worried that he might be popular, but is relieved when it turns out to be hate mail. Interesting line: hipsterism is a religion to which you gotta be devout/must be seen as in between unpopular and hated/or else get excommunicated
  2. Tom Chi and Kevin Cheng: These cartoonists made a rap about usability called “We Got It” that is seriously geeky. It could only be geekier if it involved code.
  3. MC Hawking: Imagine the wheelchair-bound astrophysicist Stephen Hawking re-conceived as a gangster rapper and you’ve got MC Hawking. He’s at his funkiest with “What We Need More Of Is Science” but there are some other funny ones like “All My Shootings Be Drive-Bys” and the fact that his CDs are entitled A Brief History of Rhyme and E=MC Hawking. Priceless.
  4. MC:NP: He’s so far released only one single, “Algorithm of Love,” but it’s a good portent.
  5. Honorable mention goes to “Weird Al” Yankovic and his parody of Puff Daddy’s “It’s All About the Benjamins” entitled “It’s All About the Pentiums”, an incredible piece of wordcraft that I would love to think started the whole nerdcore rap scene.

RIP WebMonkey (1996-2004)

February 12, 2004

Wow, WebMonkey is dead. And it was an ignominious end, too; a throwaway line in a larger article (someone in a list noted with a chill the sponsored links at the bottom). I learned JavaScript, ColdFusion, and CSS there. It was cutting edge with its lively writing, quirky staff, and embracing of the Web.

I haven’t visited in ages, as my technical journey veered off the primarily designer course they charted. But I’ve always remembered the heady times of constantly refreshed content and steering of trends.

Presenting Better

February 12, 2004

Jeffrey Veen has a great entry about making better presentations with a bunch of great comments left by visitors. I would second his suggestions and add that people should read Weissman’s Presenting to Win as well. I especially like his suggestion about using PowerPoint unconventionally. People definitely would notice that.