Saturday, May 1, 2004

Miscellaneous notes on the first post of the month of May 2004

Blah blah blah blah.

Happy May 2004 to all.

I've started running Google AdSense ads. It's more an experiment than a desperate attempt to raise money. The site gets at most 150 page views per day. If I ever get off my duff and write more technical articles then they might generate something but for now it's just something to play with.

Lisa and I plan to go on a meander through Brooklyn today. The weather is just right. Our last meander was July 4th, and that ended up being too hot (byt the time we realized it was too hot of course we were a couple miles from the house).

Looked at a couple of function spaces yesterday for the impending event. No, we haven't made any decisions yet.

Oliver's latest show was written up in the Times yesterday.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:27 GMT on 1-May-2004 .

The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy

I prefer pop myself, but since moving to the East Coast I use pop and soda interchangeably: The Pop vs. Soda Page.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:17 GMT on 1-May-2004 .

Interview of Stephin Merrit

Interview & review with Stephin Merrit of Magnetic Fields: Arts & Entertainment | Irresistible forceStephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields may be the best writer of love songs around today. But that doesn't mean he has to be nice.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:14 GMT on 1-May-2004 .

Monday, May 3, 2004

Yearly suckage

So, four years ago today sucked.

e.p.c. posted this at 08:35 GMT on 3-May-2004 .

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Obviously a major DSL malfunction

I switched our DSL service over to Speakeasy.
They had a service level comparable to what we had at Cloud9 for about half of the cost.

The switch occurred this morning.

Unfortunately, the new modem has yet to arrive.

Various flailing and hand waving at the old modem has not succeeded in getting it to work with the new service. Not a huge surprise, but in theory it should be possible. Just no in practice.

So now I'm using dialup for the first time in many months. Oh, the pain, the agony.

Ok, actually it's not too bad but I'm avoiding doing anything of substance beyond posting here and fixing a couple immediate problems with something I run.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:27 GMT on 4-May-2004 .

I just may be a genius

I figured out how to get the Zyxel modem we have from Cloud9 working with Speakeasy. I know nothing about DSL, but I do know how to keep flipping bits and options until something works.

Ok, ok, I'm not a genius, I have techno-ADD.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:40 GMT on 4-May-2004 .

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

The last to fall is the first to rise

Rising Above Ground Zero, Tower Slowly Takes Shape

That skyscraper of muscular concrete and sinewy steel on Vesey Street is not just overlooking the World Trade Center site, it is part of it. Building No. 7, the last tower lost on Sept. 11, 2001, is the first to be rebuilt. Its emergence has surprised out-of-towners and even New Yorkers who have not been to Lower Manhattan in a few months.
Now 314 feet tall, the building is destined to reach 52 stories and 750 feet. It will be sheathed in sheer, water-clear glass, with a kinetic, sculptural, stainless-steel wall by James Carpenter Design Associates around the Consolidated Edison substation at the base.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:50 GMT on 5-May-2004 .

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage

Found this via Usability News - 5.2 2003 -- Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage. It looks interesting, I need to reread it a couple of times.
In this study, we designed the tasks such that navigational efficiency would be optimized through the use of a breadcrumb trail. Despite this, only 6% of the page clicks were accounted for by the breadcrumb. While 40% of the participants used the breadcrumb trail, usage was lower than that of other navigational means, such as the main navigation bar, the Back button, and embedded links.

Breadcrumb users were found to use the Back button less often than users who did not use the breadcrumb; however, no differences were found in the efficiency measures of total pages visited, navigation bar clicks, embedded link clicks, or time to complete the search tasks.[...]

Location of the breadcrumb trail did have an effect on usage. Breadcrumb trails positioned under the page title (at eye level and closer to other links on the page) were used more than breadcrumb trails positioned at the top of the page. [...] The results also suggest that exposure to a breadcrumb trail in a site may contribute to the type of site model formed by the user. Participants that used a site with a breadcrumb trail were more likely to choose a hierarchical model than those that used the non-breadcrumb site. [...]

e.p.c. posted this at 18:14 GMT on 6-May-2004 .

Some answers to more FAQs which are a direct result of completing some items on my todo list a couple weeks back

  1. Almost definitely October.
  2. And (almost) likely to be in New York City.
  3. Very likely to be in Manhattan, or Brooklyn.
  4. Highly unlikely to be in Staten Island, or the Bronx.
  5. There will be no Chicken Dance. Nor Electric Slide.
  6. The event will not be televised, nor webcast.
  7. It is highly unlikely that Macaroni & Cheese will be on the menu.
  8. I am toying with pushing for a gigantic, monstrous Pavlova for the wedding cake. This is unlikely to succeed.

I continue to reserve the right to make up answers as I go along.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:57 GMT on 6-May-2004 .

Saturday, May 8, 2004



e.p.c. posted this at 13:03 GMT on 8-May-2004 .

Media Revolt: A Manifesto

I thought this was an excellent essay. I do not think the media today serves the public's purpose at all. It appeals to the lowest, basest denominator of what will sell. In Media Revolt: A Manifesto, David Neiwert writes: Journalism is kind of like the weather. We all like to complain about it, but none of us ever do anything about it. Some more excerpts:

How do we fight the war on terror? (Other than buying an SUV and being a good consumer and keeping your head down and voting Republican, that is.) Well, have you heard anything in the way of serious national dialogue about this point? I haven't, not to any great extent, and for a simple reason: The media have declined to facilitate that discussion.

They have instead defaulted to Position A: Whatever course of action George W. Bush takes is a priori good, and done for sound reasons. Neither, for that matter, is his competence ever seriously questioned.

The reality, as I've been discussing, is that Bush's "war on terror" is an incomprehensible exercise in increasing the likelihood that high radicalized, highly motivated terrorists will again strike on American soil. A serious war on terror would begin from a recognition of the nature of the threat, with a considered response that's both flexible and comprehensive. Bush's Iraq war is none of these.

And the American public will never hear this from its mainstream media, especially not the dysfunctional, inbred family that is the Beltway press corps.
For too long, the public has been forced to rely on the mass media as the means for obtaining and disseminating information. This was not a serious problem for most of our history. Though the means for spreading information had to go through the traditional filter of the media gateways (particularly editors and reporters), the system in fact worked generally well, as long as a measure of independence was present within the press itself.

As the conglomeration and consolidation of the mass media has proceeded apace through the past two decades unchecked, that independence has largely vanished or become effectively strangled, and with it a responsible treatment of the public interest by the nation's press. The traditional media filters have instead become bottlenecks, preventing information that is in fact vital for the public well-being from ever reaching them -- oftentimes for reasons that are trivial and puerile, not to mention geared toward the manipulation of the media in the service of corporate powers and their agenda.

Read more here.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:21 GMT on 8-May-2004 .

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

dodgeball: yet another social networking thing (for cellphones) :: location-based social software for mobile devices. Basically, you get yourself and a bunch of people you know to sign up with their cellphones and then, when you're somewhere and you want others in your clicque to know where you are, you sms to an address and it will broadcast to everyone in your network. One handy feature I'm sure I'll use: sms a location (eg: Bar Divine?) and it will reply back with the address and cross street of the location.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:55 GMT on 12-May-2004 .

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Oops. Boxed out by SixApart

MovableType has announced a new licensing regime to go along with a Developer's Release 3.0 and, well, I'm going to be migrating off MT.

I pay for software I like, and the rates that SixApart will be charging are quite in line with what I'd expect and would pay for.

But I don't pay for things which drastically limit what I can do.

As far as I can tell (and admittedly there's little to go on), it's the same software for personal and commercial users, whether you have 5 or twenty authors, or 1-20 weblogs, however the rates (and restrictions) vary depending on the number of authors, number of weblogs, etc.

It's frustrating for me personally because I could easily use MovableType for some of the commercial services I expected to offer this year. I 've gotten quite good at coding MT and combining MT and PHP.

I really like MovableType. I liked that it was portable, open (to the extent I could read and manipulate the code, and change it as necessary within the then existing license). There's a great developer community. And it felt baked, done, ready for use. Not some amorphous blob being developed en masse.

But, as far as I can tell, I still would not be able to offer any services based on MT, no matter what license I acquire for myself, nor recommend to my clients.

Furthermore, since I have started running Google Adsense ads on my personal sites (which have earned a whopping $0.24 to date), the only legitimate license option is a commercial license.

Even running the occasional Amazon tip jar, or a Paypal tip jar would prevent one from using the personal / non-commercial license.

Now, $699 seems hefty for a personal site, but I'd pay it if there were no limits on number of blogs nor number of authors, were there a license option that were applicable.

There isn't an applicable option though.

$699 is not bad for a commercial license. But $699 is unacceptable with the restrictions in place.

And, since the text of the licenses is unavailable to review, I'm left with few options.

So effectively immediately I'm ceasing my development work with MovableType and putting together a migration plan off MT.

I dumped Radio Userland because of various restrictions and the yearly rental fee that was assessed. I have no idea what I would be signing up for if I did license MT.

So, I will route around the damage and find something else to use.

Related articles

e.p.c. posted this at 23:35 GMT on 13-May-2004 . , Comments [3]

Friday, May 14, 2004

On MovableType licensing

In the comments on my last post, someone pointed me to the new licensing terms for MovableType. I've read and re-read them, guzzled my morning Diet Coke, and re-read them and I stand by my interpretation last night: I cannot continue using myself or recommending MovableType.

There's a million CMS tools available, I've written a couple myself over the years, and I feel that MovableType is one of the best for its market. The key phrase there is for its market.

I got pointed to Mena's Corner: It's About Time and read that, and re-read it again. According to SixApart, the new licensing scheme allows and encourages the development of software and services paid or free. But, I've read that thing a number of times and I know I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see any text or phrases which address that goal.

It's an unfortunate turn. My goal was to use MovableType as part of a package but that seems impractical now. I can't recommend a set of tools to client which become more restrictive as they get popular within the organization.

Perhaps there's a Developer's License or a System Integrator's License hiding on the or websites, but I don't see any indication of either existing.

The problem for me isn't the cost, it's the restrictions. I've learned a lot from my experiments with MT, but rather than re-investing that experience back into MT I'll invest it elsewhere.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:34 GMT on 14-May-2004 .

Godzilla! (1954)

We met up with Wayne and Amy for an early dinner at Monster Sushi in the village. The choice of restaurant was completely, and totally intentional as the event for the evening was a screening of Godzilla (Gojira) at Film Forum.

This screening was based on the original 1954 Japanese film with some 30 minutes added. The original film is not what you normally see in the US. For starters its anti-nuclear stance coupled with references to the then-recent war were (and are) contrary to the US view of the way the world should be.

For whatever reason I was struck by how this must have been received by the Japanese audience in 1954. The war was relatively recent, there's various references to being evacuated again, various people have war-related scars, there's even a reference to someone having survived Nagasaki. I should mention I don't understand much japanese other than iee or hi so I was relying entirely on the subtitles.

I haven't seen the US version in many years, and don't recall much about it other than Raymond Burr is in many scenes as an American reporter, and the story line is completely different.

Anyway...if you're up for such things, I highly recommend seeing this release of the movie. I thought the print was rather dark, otherwise I enjoyed it.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:11 GMT on 14-May-2004 .

Saturday, May 15, 2004

A high-profile defection from MovableType

Following up on the MovableType licensing fiasco, migrated to Wordpress pretty much overnight: Freedom 0 [dive into mark].

I'm looking into wordpress, Textpattern, and even slash. I'm also holding off on anything major until I see how the whole MT licensing thing settles out.

I'm also toying with resurrecting my homegrown blog tools but I'd have to port them from the old AFS environment and add some code to write RSS and Atom feeds.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:27 GMT on 15-May-2004 .

Saturday doings

We met up with Cam at Noho Star for brunch. I had a fabulous Tomato and Thyme soup followed by a Ham & Cheese omelette.

We walked over to Seize sur Vingt to pick up some shirts for Lisa and then we headed to Crumpler and checked out the bags but managed not to buy any. They are all very cool, and we actually need a daypack sort of bag for Frisket's stuff but nothing caught our eyes.

Then we just sort of wandered around NoLita/SoHo and then home. I picked up Frisket from Monstermutt and dragged her back home.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:35 GMT on 15-May-2004 .

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Weekend notes

We've been getting a lot of thunderstorms this month, and as a result I'm getting a number of bruises on my chest.

Let me explain: Frisket is terrified of thunder. Thunder and fireworks are the two sounds that cause her to go into absolute the-world-is-ending terror. And when she's in this mode, the only thing that appears to comfort her is to be on me in some way shape or form. Slung over my shoulder, standing on my chest, etc. It's the standing on my chest bit that is getting to be a bit painful.

I'm getting a physical later this week, it will be interesting and a challenge to explain to the doctor the strange marks on my chest.

In other news...there is no other news. I plan on going back to Chicago again once I confirm with my brother when he's going out (it's not going to be this week as I'm booked through the 24th). Finish up the house stuff, etc.

We hired a wedding planner...this should make the next few months easier. October is still holding as the timeframe for the festivities, no firm dates beyond that.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:43 GMT on 16-May-2004 .

Monday, May 17, 2004

Petaluma on First Avenue: Thumbs Down

Ate dinner last night at Petaluma on the Upper East Side. The service was amazingly, appallingly bad.

First, we were seated at a table with just napkins, no silverware, nothing else on the tablecloth.

Next, after we'd unfolded our napkins, we were offerred more napkins.

Not once, but three more times.

We asked for menus multiple times.

When we were ready to order, a waiter approached and then, psych, went to the table behind us to take their order first.

Then we waited.

And waited.

And...oh screw it, the service was horrible. The food was, well, edible but barely.

Dessert wasn't even an option. I mean, it was an option but I don't think we could have waited any longer to leave.

The only thing they were quick about was getting us the check.

The restaurant was maybe 50% full, and there were plenty of waiters and bus-people scurrying about. Perhaps the kitchen staff quit.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:37 GMT on 17-May-2004 .

My new tagline for the year

This just popped into my head:

2004 seems to be an exercise in all the different ways things can go bad.

And no, nothing has happened in the last 24 hours to make me think that. Just realizing it's been and continues to be a rather glum year all around.

e.p.c. posted this at 16:16 GMT on 17-May-2004 .

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

New toy

I bought a new Thinkpad x31 last night from CDW. I briefly considered buying directly from IBM but after spending twenty minutes configuring a model to match what CDW had available to ship, my system crashed with a blue screen of death. must have a shopper is defecting to another site test.

After rebooting, I skipped the mess and just bought online from CDW in about five minutes. The new system will have 512Mb RAM, 40Gb DASD, firewire, USB2, built-in wifi/bluetooth and 10/100/1000 ethernet. I will likely kick the memory up another Gb but 512 should be ok for starters (the current system, gettysburg, has 384Mb and a 20Gb drive).

Will need to pick a name for the system. Should I continue with the cities and towns of Pennsylvania theme I've been using since '94 or so?

For the few interested in useless minutiae, I've run through

  • allegheny,(the name of my work thinkpads, and the 240 I bought for use in Sydney)
  • edinboro,
  • meadville(was the pizza box under my desk in Armonk, then the name of my now-dead iMac),
  • gettysburg(my current stinkpad x21),
  • bala-cynwyd (a 43P I tortured for many years),
  • mars (a cappucino mini-PC which doesn't run too well)

Perhaps it's time for another naming scheme.

This was originally entitled Argh. because I hadn't received the system yet at 7:00 pm and I was rather frustrated at having paid next day air for something that obviously was going to arrive two days later. Of course, about ten minutes after I posted this the system arrived.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:58 GMT on 18-May-2004 . , Comments [1]

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Inflation attack: diet Coke's 33% price increase

I started drinking diet Coke some time in 1984. I was working at a Cock Robin restaurant (think McDonald's as it may have been in the 60s). I had unlimited access to the stuff, both there and then later at college when I worked in the dining hall.

I don't drink it because of its dietetic effects, which is kind of obvious. Although, from 1999 through 2000, I stopped drinking diet soda altogether after reading something about Aspartame and promptly gained ten pounds (I didn't consider ceasing drinking soda and just drank soda with corn syrup sweetener, nor did I consider the impact of drinking a zillion more calories per day).

Anyway, you may have heard or read about Coca Cola switching to 1.5 liter bottles, from 2 liter bottles.

Thing is, most places are keeping the prices constant, so instead of paying $1.49 for a 2L bottle, you're paying $1.49 for a 1.5L bottle, or from paying 75¢/L to 99¢/L, a 33% increase.

No, no inflationary trends in the consumer economy to worry about. It won't be inflationary if consumers cease purchasing things that go up this much this quickly.

I ran into this at our local deli which admittedly charges a lot for soda to begin with (a 2 liter bottle was $1.99, the 1.5L bottle is $1.69, still a 13% increase). I've checked FreshDirect and they've done the same thing, retaining the 99¢ price from the 2L bottle, but for the new 1.5L bottles.

Funny side note: if you go to the official diet Coke web site and try to submit a mesage through their Contact Us link you'll learn that Coke really doesn't want to hear from its customers (you get a server error on submitting a message).

If this isn't inflation, then what is it (other than a bad business move)?


I did some digging around after writing the first version of this and found Coca-Cola Bottling of New York introducing new bottle. Allegedly this is a regional test, with the target price range being between 85¢ and $1.20 per 1.5L bottle vs. $1.00 and $1.50 per 2L bottle. So, using those numbers as a guide, you still end up with a 13% price increase on the low end and a 7% increase on the high end. This price increase is being touted as a as convenience to consumers or an incentive to try other flavors.

I probably will try other flavors, just not of Coke products.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:48 GMT on 19-May-2004 . , Comments [1]

Sunday, May 23, 2004

On this date in 2004

We walked Frisket over to Monstermutt and then caught a nice brunch at The Hill Diner on Court Street. Lisa had some sort of swedish pancake concoction (cottage cheese in pancakes?) and I had a ham-swiss-eggs on focaccia sandwich.

We took the F to SoHo and wandered through a few stores, ending up at Barnes and Noble on USQ. I noticed a number of the books on display had to do with fear, like (I'm making up the titles): Dealing with Fear, Gaining strength from your inner fear. Did I miss a new social trend, are we supposed to be in fear now? I thought that was the theme of 2002.

I'm about to head out into the storm (I assume it's a storm, the sky is yellow and the trees are pointing north on Hicks St) to pick up Frisket.

Tomorrow I'm going to Personal Democracy Forum looked interesting and, amazingly, still looks interesting (sometimes you register for things and then a month later wonder what the heck you were thinking).

Oh, and last night we went to see Homebody/Kabul at BAM. I didn't love it. In fact, I struggled through the first "act". We left at the intermission since it was a long week and we just weren't up for another two hours of watching silly westerners in an islamic republic. I know, next time read up on the plot before buying the tickets (or at least check the running time, 3:45 was pushing it for us).

e.p.c. posted this at 17:12 GMT on 23-May-2004 .

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

16:42 LAX->SGP

Not sure I could do 16+ hours in a plane. JFK to Sydney ends up being around 22 hours but that's a 6 hour flight to SFO followed by about two hours on the ground, and then a 13-14 hour flight to Sydney. This new Singapore Airlines flight is 16 hours 42 minutes, coupled with the typical 90 minutes on the ground, you're in the plan for over 18 hours. Read more: One flight: 16 hours and 42 minutes.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:11 GMT on 25-May-2004 .

Friday, May 28, 2004

Detritus for the week of May 24, 2004

Heads up, I'm working on another clean up of

We have no plans for the weekend other than to relax, read some books, and possibly take Frisket on a meander through DUMBO.

I'm planning on returning to Downers Grove, IL next week, hopefully to start closing out the house and other remaining matters from my mother's estate.

I think we have a date and venue set for the event, more details will be posted to the Wedding blog (come on, of course we'd have a wedding blog).

And no, the URL for the blog won't be made public, it'll be on the invites and save-the-date cards.

I think I've completed migrating from my old laptop to the new IBM Thinkpad x31. Still have some kinks to work out (my cygwin environment is kind of hosed on the new machine and I seem to have misplaced some code I wrote). It's amazing how fast it reboots (it's running Windows so dwindling reboot time is something to enjoy). I still need to kick up the memory from 512Mb to either 1Gb or 1.5Gb.

One minor thing I learned in this process: it is entirely possible to move a Microsoft Office installation from one system to another. With all of the hoopla around activation and Microsoft anti-piracy efforts, I'd assumed that I'd have to fork over more $ to reinstall Office. But you can transfer the installation: you have to uninstall the program from the old system, this apparently tells MSFT that the software has been uninstalled. Then you can install and re-activate on the new system. That, or the whole activation thing is a scam.

Frisket has been kind of mopey during the week. She hasn't been to the dog run because of the rain this week, and I can't take her to MonsterMutt because they're packed for the holiday weekend. She has gotten some fun out of running into a cat on Henry Street. We'll be walking back from Cranberry's and this cat will dart out from a deli. Frisket and the cat tend to stare at each other, Frisket usually seems to be more concerned that the cat will take her newspaper than with its feline-ness.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:49 GMT on 28-May-2004 . , Comments [1]

Saturday, May 29, 2004


Bushgmae: The Anti-Bush Videogame

e.p.c. posted this at 00:24 GMT on 29-May-2004 .

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as

More about me here.