August 19, 2005

A Little Metal

All these months later, I have but one thing to complain about regarding my Canon Digital Rebel.

And it's not even part of the camera itself.

It's the battery charger.

For whatever crazy reason, Canon decided not to build a weight into the base. The end result is that the power cord is heavier than the entire charger, making the darn thing have a propensity to fly off wherever it's sitting until you put a battery in it.

On the one hand, the light weight makes it easy to just leave the thing in my camera bag and forget about it. Not that weight in a camera bag has ever stopped me before, really... I'd still carry it with me if it was a couple pounds.

On the other hand, it means I can't just leave the charger plugged in and waiting when I plan on shooting a lot. I suppose I could, but who knows how many pieces it would be in when I came back.

The other annoyance with the charger is that there's no indication the battery's actually done. The charger that comes with even the cheapest Canon PowerShots changes to green when the battery's charged to 100%. The Drebel charger light stops blinking as it nears the end of charging, at which point you're supposed to let it charge for another hour to have an actual 100% charge. If you're not babysitting the charger, you have no clue when the light went solid and how long it's been charging since.

Granted, the batteries last forever as long as you're not doing flash photography, but it's an annoyance that crops up whenever it's time for more juice.

Posted by Colin at 1:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 18, 2005

Scrawny

I do believe I've lost my mind. I didn't particularly care about being in the Zero Chin-Up Club in elementary school or junior high, and all my attempts since to build upper body strength have been abandoned within a couple months.

tonylittle.jpg

After managing a wholly pathetic 3.5 consecutive push-ups today, though, I have a renewed sense of commitment to improving my upper body strength.

Who knows, some day I might need it. Terrorists might attack, and I might have to shimmy out of a sun roof and climb up a cliff face using only my bloodied knuckles and a few precarious and convenient tree roots.

It's worth a shot; if I give up, I give up. As long as I don't end up looking like Tony Little, it's worth trying to add some developed muscle to my lack of body fat.

Posted by Colin at 3:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 12, 2005

Rooster Cogburn's Shutting Down

Bad news from the Interstate 10 and Picacho: D.C. "Rooster" Cogburn is planning to shut down Rooster Cogburn's Ostrich Ranch, following a deadly stampede in 2002. If you've driven down that way on the I-10, you know it's a fixture -- place has been there for a long time, and it's always fun to take visitors down there to check it out.

He lost a $3 million contract as a result of the stampede and doesn't feel he can recover from the loss at his age.

If you want to try to catch the experience before it closes (I honestly don't even know if the petting portion is still open), directions are at RoosterCogburn.com and you can call them at (520) 466-3658.

Posted by Colin at 11:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 10, 2005

Going Old? Font Tip.

I've been intending to redesign this blog for a while, but Movable Type 3.2 is finally goading me into it. Version 3.2 is going to have a brand new default layout, so I figured I'd sit down to both convert the current stylesheet and make a brand new one. Everything's better when you can make drastic changes with just CSS, after all.

I'd also been intending to try my hand at transforming something new into something vintage-looking. I did that today, and that served as the inspiration for my new design.

Starting with a photo I took a couple years ago, I opted to recall the days of square photographs. It went well. I even got some decent-looking wear on the white edges of the photograph. Heck, I even have one side where silverfish chewed the border away (my personal favorite touch, as I'm quite experienced in the "silverfish eating my paper things" department).

Something was lacking, though. It just didn't feel right.

And it hit me: a caption. Commercial photographs of that era had captions in a suitably stodgy typeface on the bottom border. Off to the races it was, and in a few minutes I'd found a winner amongst Ray Larabie's enormous body of work.

While not a dead ringer (a dirtied-up Courier with smallcaps would probably be what you want for accuracy points), Engebrechtre fits the bill nicely and looks right at home. Plus it's free, so no complaints there.

Mira aquí: engebtxt.jpg

Posted by Colin at 5:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 9, 2005

Tax code is insane

I've been looking at doing the startup thing for a while, and finding the requisite information from the state and the city has been easy as pie. The State of Arizona even has an easy-to-read "magazine" for entrepreneurs that pretty much goes through the process soup-to-nuts, including what kind of entity to incorporate as.

State, city: Love ya. Thanks for the help.

Federal: Holy friggin' crap. I'm not sure it could get any more convoluted. To their credit, the IRS tries to be helpful. Unfortunately, the United States tax code is such a rambling mess that even simple questions require reading numerous articles at the IRS site. And not everything referenced in those articles is linked (though most of it is), so part of the reading process is interrupted with the occasional use of the IRS search box.

After getting anywhere near Federal tax requirements, it's obvious why you don't see tax lawyers and CPAs crowding the line at the unemployment office. Sheesh.

Posted by Colin at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 8, 2005

Frontpage makes me want to die.

If there's one product that's a scourge on the Internet despite years of refinements and improvements, it's Microsoft FrontPage.

My parents are part owners in a business venture. The lot of the owners being non-technical folks, they were sold on a Microsoft solution including FrontPage for their IT needs. I'm not rabidly anti-Microsoft by any means; Windows Server 2003 is an excellent product and Exchange, while exorbitantly priced, is pretty much unmatched. Microsoft and the web don't get along very well as a rule, though. Internet Explorer and FrontPage are both horrible abominations.

The business' web site is a tacky default FrontPage theme, so it hardly stands out from the competition and it certainly isn't attractive. Worse, though, FrontPage is apparently still in the 2003 version spitting out invalid HTML that browsers and the W3C Validator choke on. The IIS web server is even contributing to the mess, reporting everything as UTF-8 encoded although the pages are actually Western European ISO encoded.

Internet Explorer, of course, displays the crap HTML correctly. Mozilla browsers, through their extensive quirks mode, do the best they can. Opera and Safari don't fare so well, with the text being rendered completely invisible thanks to Microsoft's noncompliance with web standards.

Many small businesses are hardly putting their best face forward on the web, and most of them probably aren't even aware of it because FrontPage purports to "make web pages," though what it's spitting out doesn't quack, doesn't waddle, and is hardly a duck.

On the one hand I want to say something about the site, on the other I really don't want to play "fight with FrontPage" or have anyone try to guilt me into doing pro bono work.

I'll never understand why small businesses are willing to spend a ton of money on a logo designer but then go and build a total crapfest for their web site.

Posted by Colin at 4:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 3, 2005

Love Ya, Pogue

Wonderful tip courtesy of David Pogue about Mac OS X Tiger:

Added in the print dialog is a new feature -- "Save as Web Receipt". It's simple, it's unassuming, and I didn't even know it was there. But there it is, and I'll be using it religiously from now on.

With one click, the current web page is saved in a folder titled "Web Receipts" in your Documents folder. One place to look for all those Amazon receipts, without the intermediary "organize it yourself, human!" step.

Yes, computer, do my work for me. Muahahaha!

Posted by Colin at 7:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Frothing at the Mouth with Doom

The Mac media have all lost their minds lately. Accuracy and facts have been eschewed in favor of wild-assed guessing and shocking attempts at driving readership with fear and bullshit. Apparently they've taken a page out of the American news media's playbook.

What's the latest awful example? The Mighty Mouse. Yesterday, Apple launched a sleek new multi-button mouse with a scrollball. Publications are pissing all over themselves with nonsense like "OMG, it's the end of one-button mice!" and "APPLE IS DYING!!!1one" to draw in ad clicks.

It's not the end of one-button mice; it is a one-button mouse unless you want it to be a four-button mouse. Apple could replace every shipping Pro Mouse with it tomorrow and nobody would notice (except for the scrollball).

Two choice quotes from the dumbest Macworld UK article I've ever read:

Apple's latest product, Mighty Mouse, has a tiny secret - it's another Windows-compatible product from the Cupertino company.

Ugh, no. It's not like the engineers and designers at Apple sat around and said "Hey, let's make a Windows-compatible mouse!" This is a base misunderstanding of how one designs USB mice and keyboards. I'll give you a hint: every other Apple mouse and keyboard to this point has been PC-compatible too! Run for the hills, they're going to make you all use Windows!

When you make a USB keyboard or mouse, you make it comply to the USB Human Interface Device (HID) spec. In the absence of any more advanced driver, a base USB HID driver takes over and any compliant device will just work. This is why any multi-button USB mouse works in Mac OS X. This is why the Mighty Mouse works on Windows; this is also why it only works as a multi-button mouse on older versions of Mac OS X lacking the special driver that lets you program the extra buttons. (The lack of drivers for older versions of OS X isn't going to stop anyone; USB Overdrive will undoubtedly easily fill the same programmability niche Apple's own drivers do.)

Same goes for Bluetooth. When you design a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard, you design it to comply to the Bluetooth's HID protocol. Hence it's no gigantic surprise Apple's Bluetooth keyboards and mice work just fine in Windows.

NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin told the San Francisco Chronicle: "We've seen a pattern of Apple introducing Mac-only products and modifying them later to make them more broadly compatible. But now, the trend is to make them compatible out of the box."

And what products would that be, ya idiot? I can think of the iPod, and... um... err... the iPod. Except the iPod was introduced as a Mac-only product and was later modified to be more broadly compatible.

You could argue AirPort base stations, but they've been Mac- and Windows-compatible from the administration side for a long time. The fact they allow any computer to connect stems from the fact it's a standard communications protocol, not some master plan at 1 Infinite Loop to make every product Windows-compatible.

This bright "analyst" could also be referring to Apple's redesigned Cinema Displays, I suppose, but that's bunk too. The Apple Display Connector (ADC), which Apple previously used, was expensive to produce and grew to be only rarely available on after-market video cards. It was also on the market long before DVI LCDs appeared in any quantity; in fact, ADC was initially used to connect CRT displays.

ADC never caught on outside Apple (particularly as many pro users still swear by CRTs still using a standard DB-15 VGA connector) and they were able to cut costs and get up-to-date by switching to DVI. Again, there was no conspiracy at Apple to make Cinema Displays usable on Windows PCs. DVI's a standard and monitors don't need drivers. You hook 'em up, they work.

Wait, wait, I've got it! The increased number of cross-platform products is -- get this -- the iPod mini, the iPod shuffle, and the Mighty Mouse! Oooh, three products, two of which are an extension of an existing line that was already dual-platform, and one which is Windows-compatible by the fact it has to be!

Holy crap, Apple must be going out of business. Call up The Mac Observer and increase the Death Knell Counter; Apple's becoming a peripheral company!

Not.

Is being as stupid as Rob Enderle a requirement to be an analyst these days, or what? Seriously, I would never make an investment based on what some analyst for a research group says. They're so far from reality these days I'm not sure they're within the earth's gravitational pull anymore. Don't let facts get in your way, kids, just make something up to earn that paycheck. "Analyst" and "Analyze" are related for a reason; the idea is to analyze facts and come to a conclusion, not just fart out whatever makes a nice sound bite.

Posted by Colin at 8:17 AM | Comments (0)

Storm Time

Have I mentioned yet that I absolutely love Arizona's monsoon season? I absolutely love Arizona's monsoon season! Especially this year, as it is actually (to some degree) approaching the kinds of storms we used to have years ago. Tonight, for example, it started pouring like the end of the world here in Chandler. Noisy, tons of flooding, everything absolutely soaked. The streets were running. Not too long after the downpour started, the water level was climbing up my tires, ending up just below the wheel. The *sidewalks* had a current of running water, easily an inch or more deep. Booming thunder, shaking everything, coming just after lightning strikes, indicating the storm was directly overhead... Man, it was great. Good storm. Came down a little too fast to be terribly beneficial to the soil, but it was good to have that powerful weather.
Posted by Colin at 12:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Refugee

Melissa Etheridge covering Tom Petty's "Refugee"? Awesome.

Posted by Colin at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)