last.fm is off the rails

pop up ads on window close? really guys? When you sold out I knew you were gonna sell out, but this is getting ridiculous. and fast.

what's with this browser skins trend?

Seriously. Chrome does it. Firefox does it. These aren't like themes, where you change the text size and color scheme to better suit your eyes. These fill up every available surface with images, usually of a product or women, and make the browser less usable.

It was stupid when winamp did it in 1995. What makes us think it's not stupid now?

Shit, chrome mac barely even works yet*, and yet they have skins going?

*started typing this in chrome mac and had to copy it to FF because it wouldn't save. the html was all screwed up when it got here too.

oh, awesome (bar)

As I mentioned a bit ago, I had all but stopped using Firefox recently. Now that I'm back, I'm struck again by how awesome the awesome-bar is.

During my time away I was using chrome and safari as my primary browsers. They have bars, but they are not even half as awesome. In fact, they are merely adequate. They are adequate-bars. Firefox still wins this one, hands down.

i can use firefox again!

So I've been complaining constantly that firefox is slow. But why is firefox slow? Apparently because it uses SQLite. The evidence is that a quick vacuum, as described by lifehacker, just made a noticeably huge improvement on startup time and interface responsiveness. Using FF isn't painful anymore.

Components.classes["@mozilla.org/
browser/nav-history-service;1"].
getService(Components.interfaces.
nsPIPlacesDatabase).DBConnection.
executeSimpleSQL("VACUUM");


This is great and all, but why do I have to do this again? Shouldn't firefox be able to tell when it's database is crufty, and run the vacuum itself? PgAdmin is quick to tell you when a postgres table needs a cleaning, and it's crap.

Come on Mozilla, this is huge. Huger than any new feature you're currently working on. Until today I was actively avoiding firefox for all but essential tasks. And this is me, the guy that was sad when Mozilla didn't hire him, but still kept telling everybody to use firefox. I haven't told anybody that for a while.

Firefox has always been a tinkerer's browser. It's gotten a lot more polish over the last couple of years, to where you start to think of it as mainstream. But as long as you have to know how the guts work to keep it going, it'll continue to be the linux of browsers.

Holy crap, it's nice out

It makes me happy. Just wish i brought a good camera

i broke my own rule, now i'm paying for it

[warning: rant]

I used apple software, other than the base OS. It's always a mistake. I know this.

And then, for some reason which I can't fathom, when I clicked on a flickr folder in iphoto it had some sort of trouble with the sync or something. Ok, so shit happens right? But knowing that there were a bunch of photos in there, and knowing that I took no action it thought that it should go ahead and modify the contents on the server to match it's own, wrong, internal state. Without asking it deleted most of the photos from the flickr set; a permanent, irrevocable action. I have the photos locally, but any comments or conversations are now gone forever*.

This is obviously inexcusable. I only have myself to blame, because I know better. Apple software should never, ever be relied on for anything you actually care about. But it was just so easy… Yes, I only have myself to blame, but I still blame apple. Windows 7 just keeps looking better and better.

*because flickr is run by chumps who can't be bothered to put a ui in to flip the 'deleted flag' back to false. You know they've had the backend for it since the beginning because a free->pro upgrade undeletes anything that falls off the bottom of your free 200 (or however many it is these days)

is it just me?

Maybe it's in comparison to newer, shinier browsers, but I'm really starting to think firefox is getting slower. I usually think about this during the two minutes between double clicking the icon and FF becoming responsive.

The small amount of research I've done revealed a comment thread about how Firefox uses the file system as a random number generator, and it needs a lot of random numbers at start up to establish security session variables and junk. While this sounds plausible, I can't just swallow it.

There are a few problems with the theory.
  1. The posts claimed it's a windows only, FF 3.5 problem. It's been happening on mr. mac here since 3.0.x
  2. A further claim was that it used, among other things, the IE temp folder. Now, I've met some people that make Firefox and they're not that silly. They want you to replace IE with FF, why would they introduce a dependence on IE?
  3. Forums are claiming it's fixed in 3.5.1. But it still happens to me.
It's probably a plugin. I'll blame firebug. Whenever it's a performance problem I blame firebug.

update.
I think this only happens after a full restart of the computer.

update 2.
Safari is now doing this to me. I think the aliens are trying to make me crazy. It won't work though. I have this had lined with tin foil...

using yahoo pipes to beautify facebook imports

UPDATE: Almost everything in this post is out of date and probably therefore wrong. I don't use facebook anymore, but I know their API has changed about a million times since this was originally posted. Storytlr is apparently still around but in a different form. You mileage is very likely to vary.

I use facebook all the time. I pretty much hate every minute of it, but it's where everybody is, so what are you going to do. One of my major pain points is that I like to show stuff off, but I categorize my stuff across services. I have 3 blogs on different subjects, then there's tumblr, delicious, last.fm, etc.

services that facebook will importYou'll notice that there's only one blog/rss feed available, with no ui to add a second. And there's no tumblr either. So, that's easy, right? Just use a service like storytlr to combine up your feeds, then import it's feed. Simple. (I have one of those, btw)

Except it doesn't work. Facebook not only has only one rss importer, it has one crappy rss importer. Maybe storytlr's feed is slightly malformed, I haven't attempted to validate it. It does work fine in every feed reader everywhere, so I figure it's not very broken.

Anyway, Yahoo pipes to the rescue. My first attempt was pretty simplistic. It looked like this:

simple pipeAnd it worked up to a point. It succeeded in joining all the feeds together and getting the content on facebook. But facebook imports have this other quirk. The link, permalink, etc go unused. They basically use the title and the description. If everything you want to say is not in the description there is no way to get to it.

Facebook strips out embeds.

beforeBefore (that link goes to a facebook page)

So for videos on tumblr you get the title, and the 'uploaded by' string. That's it. I knew there must be a way to tart up my pipe to get something working. It took more digging around than I expected, because it's not immediately intuitive. But it works like this:

yahoo pipe combining feeds for facebookThe 'magic' is in the Loop element. It's wasn't obvious to me at first how to use it to modify the feed in place. But the concept is simple. The Loop goes through each item in it's input, and does the thing in it's box.

In this case, a String Builder lets me replace the description with a big long string made up of hand typed strings and fields from the item. It's not pretty, but I've got the link shoved on the end of my description.

afterAfter (look at that link!)

The union thing lets me do this only for tumblr, which is the only feed I have a problem with. Kind of a hack, true, but honestly that's what pipes is for.

returning from oblivion

I'm finally done with oblivion. Not that I finished everything. But I did get all the points, which I'm going to consider to be enough.

This game consumed me. I thought skate took a lot of my time, but thanks to raptr I know it was nothing compared to oblivion.
200+ hours later and I'm finally done. Now I'm at a sort of loose end. What can follow that kind of value for money?

city hall [architecture friday]

I know it's been a while. You know how it is. Work is busy. Life is busy. Actually, we're all so busy that we started a club at work to make ourselves go outside. It's the redfin friday photo club. And since we work downtown, there's good oportunities to get some architecture in.

enter the chamber
enter the chamber

Today we went to city hall. The red room and the blue stairs are my favorite.

american stairs
american stairs


r vs b
r vs b

It's a fun building overall. Here's some more pics.

up some stairs
up some stairs


yellow stairs
yellow stairs


inside
inside


long view
long view


from the bridge
from the bridge

you won't get nowhere watchin no animusic

animusic excerpts on pbs proves that pbs hates its viewers. animusic in general proves that there is no god.

iphoto 09 has few, if any, improvements

The big win, I thought, would be flickr integration. Turns out that the flickr integration is so incredibly bad that I will never ever, evereverever use it. I would write it all up, but that's already been done.

The basic point is that it's designed to treat flickr like mobileme galleries, which I guess is like picasa web albums or something. But we all know that flickr is not a photobucket. It seems that Apple doesn't understand flickr, or thinks their users don't. I don't know why I'm surprised; Apple software is crap (with a few exceptions like webkit and the os itself, which i love).

Just to round it out, iphoto 09's other features haven't helped much either. The places/geo coding thing looked like it was going to be cool, but the interface is terrible. You have to bring up the map for each photo. I want to be able to drag photos onto the map. Why? Because I like to be specific. I don't want to say "I took this picture at seattle center", I want to say "I took this picture at the international fountain at seattle center, and I was standing right about here". iphoto 09's one photo at a time approach makes that way too cumbersome. Am I being too demanding? I got this idea from flickr, which is a web app...

As for faces, I don't really take pics of people, so whatever.

What I really don't understand is how I'm so obviously in the target demo for apple hardware and os, but not for any of their software. I mean, they sell it all as a package. Seems weird.

this made me laugh so hard

Avatars are fun. I almost couldn't finish making it because I was laughing so hard.

thanks xbox.

manamana

Hahaha. I got Chotda, now it's your turn. Manamana!!!!

the children of men

Well, that certainly was a collection of words. Arranged in sentences. Endless streams of sentences.

The Children of Men The Children of Men by P.D. James
rating: 3 of 5 stars

The thing about P.D. James novels is that they're intensely boring. This one is no exception. It didn't really start until chapter 6. And really, most of the first section (ie, book 1) should have been left out.

But, you know, they made a movie out of it so...

(posted more or less via)

blip is kinda fun

Blip.fm, it's a great way to clutter up your twitter.

architecture in dc

I didn't have much of a chance to get around scouting out fun buildings on the dc trip. But I did manage to snap some random shots. Too many, actually. So I'm just going to spit them out here.

stair rail
stair rail (at mom's)


Sursim Corda Community Library
Sursim Corda Community Library


NPR Building
NPR Building


NPR Building
NPR Building


Christ Church, alexandria, va
Christ Church, alexandria, va (George Washington's church)


DCA terminal A
DCA terminal A


DCA terminal A (gates)
DCA terminal A (gates)


DCA terminal A (exterior)
DCA terminal A (exterior)


angle building
angle building

President Obama

We got back from the inauguration trip yesterday. It was intense, both emotionally at the event, and travel wise. We were there and back again in 3.5 days. I apologize in advance for the unusually serious and verbose nature of this post. It's not something I can be silly about.

The inauguration was great, even if we didn't get in. We knew there would be mad security all over, but we didn't realize the entire mall would be fenced in. The jumbotrons were inside the fence. So we just wandered around and soaked up the energy of the crowd. There were still thousands of people around. Or maybe hundreds of thousands. Every break between the buildings had a mass of people standing around, trying to see, or at least hear, the history.


Line to get in, while the speech was in progress

Even though everybody outside of the fence was antsy about getting in, or not, the general mood of the crowd was still high. Every place with a tv or radio was packed. We listened to the speech on a police cruiser's radio. The police officers had blocked off the street with their car, and were there to keep the peace at the end of the line to get into the mall. Even though they were on duty they needed to hear the speech as much as anybody. So they threw open the doors and trunk of the cruiser and cranked it on the radio. When it was done we had to wait our turn to thank them.


Radio Car

This event meant a lot to me. I love my country and I'm happy to have hope for its future, but I'm just a white guy. There were so many people in that crowd for whom this meant so much more; African Americans who lived through the civil rights movement of the 60s, who still live with the sometimes subtle, sometimes overt racism that exists all across America even now. The inauguration of President Obama is proof that all the years of pain and effort were not in vain. The struggle isn't over, but it's working. Anything is possible now. Standing there, listening to the speech with that crowd, you could feel the possibilities, the hope, the joy. To be a part of that moment was an honor and a privilege.

video

Walking back, after the speech was over, we came across national guard guys stationed at street corners around the neighborhood. They laughed and joked with us as we passed, obviously as happy as we were to have a President Obama. We stopped for coffee and found a party. It's the first time my americano came with free champagne. What a great day.

video

Thanks to Calvo for letting us crash at his place, and sorry I'm such annoyingly snorey house guest!

More photos in rakka and my flickr sets.

Us

On the party plane! History here we come!

Testing the mobile blogger dealie

Test img

It's been a while, and I probably need it for the inauguration.

Going to DC for the inauguration

It's exciting! We leave in the morning on Monday. That's tomorrow, for the uninitiated. We'll be hanging with Calvo when we get there, then heading to the inaug first thing Tuesday (no, we don't have tickets. We're just going to stand around watching the jumbotrons).

Then I have a whole day with my family, which will be good too. Then it's back here, to the cats and good coffee. Although Big Bear looks like it has potential, I'm gonna try to stop in.

Anyway, expect a bunch of blurry cameraphone pics to show up here over the next few days. I'll probably resurrect the ol' twitter account too.

The roof of St. Pauls in LQA [architecture friday]

I grew up going to episcopal churches. Being dragged to, is more like it. But I do still tend to like the buildings. The LQA branch, St. Paul's, is particularly nice. What a roofline.

St. Pauls in lower queen anne, roofline
roof line

And then the verticals flair out at the bottom. They make for good shadows too.

St. Pauls in lower queen anne, vertical lines
verticals

Overall it makes for a nice building.

St. Pauls in lower queen anne
St. Paul's episcopal church

There's more to the building than just the roof, really. I should probably take some more pictures.